Born: 28 May 1931
Birthplace: Queens, New York
Best known as: The cinematographer of The Godfather movies
Gordon Willis is a cinematographer best known for his work on Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather and its sequels. Born to a couple of New York entertainers, WIllis got into filmmaking while in military service during the Korean War. After a decade in the commercial and documentary business, he became a director of photography in 1969. During the 1970s, he shot some of the decade's best known films, from The Godfather and Klute, to All The President's Men and Annie Hall. Willis is credited with creating a "painterly" look on screen, an artful balance between light and shadow (he's been nicknamed "the prince of darkness" for his use of underexposed film). He's also credited with helping Woody Allen emerge from gag comedies to more serious filmmaking; Willis shot eight films with Allen between 1976 and 1985, including Manhattan, Stardust Memories, The Purple Rose of Cairo and Zelig. Despite his reputation as one of the best and most influential cinematographers in the business, Willis has been nominated for Oscars only twice, for the third movie in The Godfather trilogy (1990) and for his wizardry in Zelig (1983). He retired after 1997's The Devil's Own.
Gordon Willis also worked with Alan J. Pakula on four films: Klute (1971), The Parallax View (1974), All the President’s Men (1976) and The Devil’s Own (1997).
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