Karl Brown

Active - 1914 - 1953  |   Born - 1895 in McKeesport, PA  |   Died - Mar, 1990 in Woodland Hills, CA  |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Adventure, Comedy, Crime

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The son of stage actors, Pennsylvania-born Karl Brown was far more intrigued by the technical end of show business; while in his teens he became a lab assistant, then a still photographer. Brown's celebrated association with D.W. Griffith began when the director cast him as a juvenile player in 1914. Before long, Brown was made the assistant of Griffith's trusted cameraman Billy Bitzer, and in 1916 Brown distinguished himself by concocting the special effects for the crucifixion scenes in Griffith's Intolerance (1916). As a cinematographer in his own right, Brown became a close associate of director James Cruze, cranking the camera for Cruze's money-making epic The Covered Wagon. Brown himself turned director in the mid 1920s, but outside of Stark Love (1927), a remarkable semi-documentary account of North Carolina mountain folk, his films were unmemorable. He also wrote several screenplays, among them the above-average Boris Karloff "mad doctor" quickie The Man With 9 Lives (1939). As work opportunities dwindled, Brown lived on the fringes of poverty, all but forgotten until he was rediscovered by film historians anxious to pick Brown's brain about the Griffith years. Karl Brown assembled many of these reminiscences in a book, Adventures with D. W. Griffith, published in 1973.

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