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Mary Beth Hurt

An appreciation: Cinematographer Gordon Willis

An appreciation: Cinematographer Gordon Willis

When I think of cinematographer Gordon Willis, I think of “Manhattan," one of his signature efforts. Working with director Woody Allen, as he would do so many times, they drenched the city in such exquisite light and shadows that you can stop the film on almost any frame and be stunned by the artistry in the composition of that moving picture made still.

Quintessential New Yorkers both — Willis born in Queens, Allen in Brooklyn — they treated “Manhattan” like a wanton woman, something to be desired, appreciated but never trusted. That is the way Willis made the pictures speak. Indeed, his way of translating a director’s vision made the films he shot feel of a piece, with...

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