January 2, 2017


Erwin Hillier (1911-2005) b. Berlin, Germany.

Erwin Hillier

Trained at Germany’s UFA studios, cinematographer Erwin Hillier‘s was assistant cameraman Fritz Lang’s classic M (1931). After moving to the UK, he quickly found work as a camera assistant at Gaumont, where he contributed to films by Alfred Hitchcock and Victor Saville. It was whilst working on "quota quickie" The Girl in the Crowd (1935) that he came to the attention of director Michael Powell, and it was The Archers duo of Powell and Pressburger that afforded Hillier his breakthrough in Britain on the offbeat Kentish A Canterbury Tale (1944) and romantic drama I Know Where I’m Going! (1945). In these films Hillier showed his affinity for high-contrast, chiaroscuro lighting, angled compositions, and a keen eye for landscapes. The association came to an abrupt end when Powell decided to use Jack Cardiff on A Matter of Life and Death (1946); this was despite Powell offering Hillier a shared credit. After the war, he became a regular collaborator of director Michael Anderson, where Hillier’s work retained a strong noirish feel in films including Chase A Crooked Shadow (1957) and The Quiller Memorandum (1966), although their best-known work together is The Dam Busters (1955), with its spectacular aerial shots. Hillier also conjured up similar gloomy atmosphere for Roy Ward Baker’s psychological thriller The October Man (1945). Hillier retired in 1968 after his last two films were completed in the United States, Shoes of the Fisherman (1968) and The Valley of Gwangi (1969).

blog comments powered by Disqus