The movies Bullitt and Paint Your Wagon couldn’t be more different. One is a devil-may-care spy-type flick with the easy violence of Steve McQueen, and the other is a glorious musical with the sprawling West as a backdrop (a musical that got Clint Eastwood to sing).
So I was surprised to learn somewhere along the way that they were shot by the same man.
William Fraker was not only a visionary, he had something that few cinematographers possess: the range to shoot anything put in front of him. Bullitt was the introduction I had to Fraker’s work, but I’d go on to find a serious appreciation of almost everything he did. Of course, like any career, there are a few movies that aren’t great, but the common thread in all of them is that they look fantastic. His work elevated a picture no matter the script or the actors (or, sometimes, the director).
If you don’t know his name, you most certainly know his work. Films like The Professionals (which I would watch every day of my life), Rosemary’s Baby, Close Encounters, Heaven Can Wait, 1941, WarGames, SpaceCamp, Tombstone, Rules of Engagement…the man has had a phenomenal career.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fraker died Monday after a battle with cancer at the age of 86.
It’s impossible to choose a favorite from the films that the man made. His entire legacy is something worth celebrating.
Can you figure out a favorite from that varied, fantastic list?