Arthur Edeson

Arthur Edeson, A.S.C. (October 24, 1891 – February 14, 1970) was a film cinematographer, born in New York City.[1] His career ran from the formative years of the film industry in New York, through the silent era in Hollywood, and the sound era there in the 1930s and 1940s. His work included many landmarks in film history, including The Thief of Bagdad (1924), Frankenstein (1931), The Maltese Falcon (1941), and Casablanca (1942).

Arthur Edeson, A.S.C.
Promotional portrait
Born(1891-10-05)October 5, 1891
New York City, New York
DiedFebruary 14, 1970(1970-02-14) (aged 78)
Years active19141948
TitleA.S.C. Founding Member
Board member ofA.S.C. President (19531954)

He was one of the founders of the American Society of Cinematographers, and was nominated for three Academy Awards in his career in cinema.


Edeson began his career as a still photographer, but turned to movies in 1911 as a camera operator at the American Éclair Studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey when it and many other early film studios in America's first motion picture industry were based there at the beginning of the 20th century.[2][3][4]

When the Éclair Studio was reorganized as the World Film Company, he was promoted to chief cinematographer assigned to the star Clara Kimball Young.[5] Throughout the twenties, Edeson photographed a number of important films, including Douglas Fairbanks' Robin Hood (1922) and The Thief of Bagdad (1924), and the groundbreaking special effects film The Lost World (1925).

When sound came in, Edeson experimented with camouflaging the microphones in exterior shots. In Old Arizona (1929), the first sound film to be shot outside a studio, provided evidence to Hollywood executives that talking pictures need not be confined to the sound stage. The western The Big Trail (1930), starring John Wayne in his first starring role, was also filmed by Edeson in the 70mm widescreen process, known as "Fox Grandeur".[6]

In the early 1930s, perhaps his most memorable creative partnership was formed with director James Whale, for whom he photographed the first three of Whale's quartet of horror films: Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), and The Invisible Man (1933).

According to critic M.S. Fonseca, Edeson was one of the "master craftsmen" of the old American school. His principal work was on the side of realism, which is considered by most film historians to represent the "zenith of Hollywood photography." Edeson built on the influence of German Expressionism, brought to the America cinema by German cinematographers during the 1920s.[7]

In 1919, Edeson was one of the founders of the American Society of Cinematographers.[8]

Arthur Edeson died on February 14, 1970 in Agoura Hills, California.[9] He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, California.[10]





  • Academy Awards: Oscar, Best Cinematography, for In Old Arizona, 1929
  • Academy Awards: Oscar, Best Cinematography, for All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930
  • Academy Awards: Oscar, Best Black and White Cinematography, for Casablanca, 1943
  • In 1955 and 1957, Edeson was awarded the George Eastman Award, given by George Eastman House for distinguished contribution to the art of film.


  1. Arthur Edeson on IMDb. Last accessed: December 17, 2007.
  2. Koszarski, Richard (2004), Fort Lee: The Film Town, Rome, Italy: John Libbey Publishing -CIC srl, ISBN 0-86196-653-8.
  3. "Studios and Films". Fort Lee Film Commission. Archived from the original on 25 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  4. Fort Lee Film Commission (2006), Fort Lee Birthplace of the Motion Picture Industry, Arcadia Publishing, ISBN 0-7385-4501-5
  5. Steeman, Albert. Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers, "Arthur Edeson page," Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2007. Last accessed: December 14, 2007.
  6. Erickson, Hal. Allmovie, "Edeson Biography," 2007.
  7. Fonseca, M.S. Film Reference, 2007. Last accessed: December 18, 2007.
  8. "Arthur Edeson - About This Person - Movies & TV -". Retrieved 2016-02-27.
  9. "American Cinematographer: The Founding Fathers". Retrieved 2016-02-27.
  10. "Arthur Edeson (1891 - 1970) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2016-02-27.
  11. Goble, Alan. The Complete Index to World Film, since 1885. 2008. Index home page.
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