Paul Ivano

Active - 1923 - 1968  |   Born - Jan 1, 1900   |   Died - Jan 1, 1984   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime, Musical

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Biography by Bruce Eder

Cinematographer Paul Ivano came to Hollywood with an extraordinary background in European cinema and amassed a record of achievement in America during the silent era that should have made him a legend. Originally a still photographer for the renowned comic actor/filmmaker Max Linder in the early '20s, Ivano was brought to Hollywood to serve as technical director on Rex Ingram's 1921 epic The Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse. Ivano spent the silent era working with a series of legendary directors, including Josef Von Sternberg and F.W. Murnau, on films that were later lost, among them Murnau's Four Devils, on which he directed the second unit footage. He also photographed Erich Von Stroheim's notorious Queen Kelly. Ivano entered the sound era in less prestigious surroundings, much of his work in the 1930s confined to Poverty Row studios like Monogram Pictures and various independent producers. His luck changed in the early '40s when he photographed Von Sternberg's The Shanghai Gesture. He moved to Universal Pictures in 1943, working on everything from low-budget comedies like You're a Lucky Fellow Mr. Smith (inspired by a hit song by the Andrews Sisters) to Julian Duvivier's ambitious all-star dramatic ghost story Flesh and Fantasy. The latter film, along with the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movie Pursuit to Algiers, is among the few films that Ivano shot during this period that are still shown with any frequency. During the late '40s, Ivano photographed the first helicopter aerial shots ever used in an American feature film, for Nicholas Ray's film noir They Live By Night, opening up a whole new dimension of cinematography in thrillers amd dramatic films. At the dawn of the 1950s, Ivano was working on independent productions, among them a pair of notable period cult films: The Gold Raiders starring the Three Stooges (which, ironically, is a lost film like many of the silents that Ivano shot) and Richard Whorf's early television satire Champagne for Caesar. He spent much of his career during the 1950s at Columbia Pictures and photographed his last two feature films, the dramas The Naked Flame and Chubasco, in 1968.

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