On Karl Freund


Tribute now to the great cinematographer and movie director Karl Freund (1890-1969). A key figure of German Expressionism and its exportation to Hollywood, his name is usually associated with Gothic horror, having shot The Golem (1920), Metropolis (1927), Dracula (1931) and Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) and directed The Mummy (1932) and Mad Love (1935). He only directed a dozen pictures (with Mad Love being his last, and Moonlight and Pretzels being one of our favorites) but he was cinematographer on scores of films of all genres, including such classics as The Good Earth (1937) and Key Largo (1948). Having started in films in 1911, he can be said to have been one of the pioneers of the medium, as well as the originator of the “unchained camera”.

Freund also made his mark in the field of television, having devised the system of three camera switching still commonly used on sit coms, a technique he developed for I Love Lucy. Freund was director of photography on that show and on Our Miss Brooks until 1956, when he retired.

For more on early film history don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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