Oswald Morris

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Oswald Morris
Born Oswald Norman Morris
(1915-11-22)22 November 1915
Ruislip, United Kingdom
Died 17 March 2014(2014-03-17) (aged 98)
Dorset, England, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Occupation Cinematographer
Years active 1947–1982

Oswald Norman Morris, OBE, DFC, AFC, BSC (22 November 1915 – 17 March 2014) was a British cinematographer. Known to his colleagues by the nicknames "Os" or "Ossie",[1] Morris' film cinematography career spanned six decades.

Early life and career[edit]

Morris grew up in what was then Middlesex (now the London Borough of Hillingdon), and attended the Bishopshalt School. His interest in the cinema began at an early age; during summer vacations, he would work as a projectionist at the local movie theatre. Dropping out in 1932, he started working in the film industry at Wembley Studios as an unpaid gofer for Michael Powell, among others, eventually graduating to the positions of clapper boy and camera assistant on quota quickies. His career was interrupted by World War II, during which he served as a bomber pilot with the RAF, achieving the rank of Flight Lieutenant and winning both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Force Cross.

After leaving the service, he joined Pinewood Studios as an assistant to such people as Ronald Neame and David Lean at their company Cineguild, before acting as director of photography for the first time on Golden Salamander (1950). Neame has referred to Morris as "probably the greatest cameraman in the world".[1] In the 1960 film of John Osborne's The Entertainer, on which Morris was the cinematographer, his name was incorporated into the story in one scene where a radio transmission mentioned the fictional "Sergeant Ossie Morris".

Morris collaborated with film director John Huston on eight films, beginning with Moulin Rouge in 1952. Although his previous experience with Technicolor had been limited, he devised many stylish effects - through the use of diffused and filtered light, fog, and bold color choices - for the film, and his innovations drew critical praise from the critics. He received three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, for his work on the musicals Oliver! (1968), Fiddler on the Roof (1971), and The Wiz (1978), and won the award for his work on Fiddler on the Roof. Morris' brother Reginald Herbert Morris was also a cinematographer based in Canada.

Morris was a Fellow of The Royal Photographic Society and was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1998. He published his memoirs, Huston, We Have a Problem: A Kaleidoscope of Filmmaking Memories (ISBN 978-0810857063), in 2006. He was featured in the book Conversations with Cinematographers by David A.Ellis, published by Scarecrow Press.

Morris had three children, named Gillian, Christine and Roger.


Morris died at his home in Dorset, England at the age of 98.[2]

Additional credits[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1953 British Society of Cinematographers Golden Camera (Moulin Rouge, winner)
  • 1956 British Society of Cinematographers Golden Camera (Moby Dick, nominee)
  • 1965 BAFTA for Best British Cinematography, Black-and-White (The Pumpkin Eater, winner)
  • 1966 British Society of Cinematographers Golden Camera (The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, winner)
  • 1966 BAFTA for Best British Cinematography, Black-and-White (The Hill, winner)
  • 1967 British Society of Cinematographers Golden Camera (The Taming of the Shrew, winner)
  • 1967 BAFTA for Best British Cinematography, Black-and-White (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, winner)
  • 1969 Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Oliver!, nominee)
  • 1971 British Society of Cinematographers Golden Camera (Fiddler on the Roof, winner)
  • 1972 Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Fiddler on the Roof, winner)
  • 1972 BAFTA for Best Cinematography (Fiddler on the Roof, nominee)
  • 1974 BAFTA for Best Cinematography (Sleuth, nominee)
  • 1976 BAFTA for Best Cinematography (The Man Who Would Be King, nominee)
  • 1979 Academy Award for Best Cinematography (The Wiz, nominee)
  • 1999 American Society of Cinematographers International Award (winner)


In June 2009, the recently completed central building of the National Film and Television School was officially named – and vividly labelled – The Oswald Morris Building in his honour.


  1. ^ a b Matthew Sweet (19 October 2003). "Ronald Neame (2003 interview at the National Film Theatre)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 27 December 2008. 
  2. ^ R.I.P. Cinematographer Oswald Morris.

External links[edit]