The Art of John Alton

I caught an old noir film the other night called “T-Men, ” directed by Anthony Mann. As 40s noir films go, it had pretty much all the ingredients – convoluted plot, hardboiled detectives with internal conflicts, twists and turns, etc. The only thing really missing was a true femme fatale. Maybe not on par with “The Big Sleep” or “The Maltese Falcon,” but overall enjoyable.

What stood out most to me was the cinematography. This was the first film where Anthony Mann teamed up with John Alton, who literally wrote the book on classic cinematography (“Painting with Light”). THey went on to do several movies together, and you can see why Mann wanted to hang onto him. There were some really amazing shots in the film, using light and shadow in brilliant ways, along with some interesting play with angles and reflections.

I found this video on YouTube with some samples of his work. Some pretty innovative stuff.


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