California-born Russell Harlan broke into movies as a bit player and stuntman in western movies. But he had a hankering to enter the technical end of the business, so he was given his first opportunities as a cinematographer on Paramount's Hopalong Cassidy series. Harry "Pop" Sherman, producer of the Cassidy pictures, liked what he saw and retained Harlan for his bigger-budgeted productions of the '40s, including Silver Queen (1942) and American Empire (1943). Harlan began his fruitful association with director Howard Hawks on Red River (1948). Hawks again utilized Harlan's talents on The Thing (1951), The Big Sky (1952), Land of the Pharoahs (1955), Rio Bravo (1959) and Hatari (1962). Facing up to any and all challenges in his five-decade career (including conveying the rich colors of Van Gogh's canvases in Lust for Life  using only the muddy hues of Eastmancolor) Russell Harlan retired in 1970 after finishing work on Blake Edwards' Darling Lili.