A storied career as cinematographer, a strong directorial resume and a vision for what appeals to the eye, faintly describes the work of Rudolph Maté. The Passion of Joan of Arc in 1928, started Maté’s rise in the film-world, almost meteoric in scope and with The Passion of Joan of Arc, Rudolph Maté was involved in shooting some of the finest close-up shots (if not the best example) in film history, this with director Carl Theodor Dreyer; his next unusual entry was the experimental, expressionistic Vampyr, 1932, again with master director Dreyer, offering some of the most eclectic use of moving- images ever put on celluloid.
Once in Hollywood we see his solid hand in Dodsworth and Come and Get It, both in 1936, Stella Dallas, 1937 and Love Affair, 1939. But it was to be in the 1940’s where Maté’s fame was polished (although no better quality than what had gone before, either in Europe or the States) with 5 consecutive Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography; in 1940 Foreign Correspondent with director Alfred Hitchcock; That Hamilton Woman, 1941, directed by Alexander Korda; in 1942, The Pride of the Yankees; Sahara, directed by Zoltan Korda in 1943 and Cover Girl (Best Color Cinematography shared with Allen M. Davey). Rudolph Maté’s activities as a cinematographer ended with his uncredited work on The Lady from Shanghai, 1947, while in the same year beginning the directorial phase of his artistic journey with the fantasy-comedy-romance It Had to Be You (starring Ginger Rogers and Cornell Wilde).
D.O.A. from 1950, starts with what has to be accounted as one of the most dramatic and memorable movie-opening-lines with the conversation between lead character Frank Bigelow and the Captain of Homicide Detectives: Frank Bigelow: “I want to report a murder.” Homicide Captain: “Where was this murder committed?” Frank Bigelow: “San Francisco, last night.” Homicide Captain: “Who was murdered?” Frank Bigelow: “I was.” D.O.A. stands as a hallmark for Film-Noir and was just the fourth movie directed by Maté. Not to be roped into the Noir or Thriller genres Rudolph Maté made When Worlds Collide, a taunt record into the Sci-Fi -history-roll. The Black Shield of Falworth, a historical, adventure-romance tale, 1954, The Violent Men (a westerner with Glen Ford, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson), 1955, Miracle in the Rain (a fanciful wartime romance starring Jane Wyman and Van Johnson), 1956 and the Greek historical-actioner, The 300 Spartans (with such notables as: Ralph Richardson, Richard Egan, Ralph Richardson and Diane Baker), 1962; these films stand as testament to the directing skills of the photographic-maestro. Get your DVD, your Blu-Ray or Stream yourself and yours a Maté matinée or star-filled evening performance of any of the works of director and cinematographer Rudolph Maté.
By C. S. Williams