John Alton Overview:

Director, John Alton, was born Johann Altmann on Oct 5, 1901 in Sopron, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary). Alton died at the age of 94 on Jun 2, 1996 in Santa Monica, CA .



John Alton was nominated for one Academy Award, winning for Best Cinematography for An American in Paris in 1951.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1951Best CinematographyAn American in Paris (1951)N/AWon

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Best Cinematography Oscar 1951

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John Alton Facts
Although he had been a cinematographer since at least 1927, he didn't shoot his first color film until 1951, An American in Paris (1951) -- which got him an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

He was replaced after two weeks of shooting Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)) by Burnett Guffey.

He became one of the most controversial cinematographers during the 1940s and 1950s in Hollywood, causing all of the MGM cinematographers to file a complaint with studio head Dore Schary and MGM exec E.J. Mannix and the AMPAS regarding his contribution to An American in Paris (1951). The charges were refuted by the film's director Vincente Minnelli and star 'Gene Kelly (I)' . Alton further incited the wrath of American cinematographers by charging that the use of light beds above the sets was not only unnatural but forced cinematographers to work more slowly. He was a brilliant iconoclast who was forced to work on low-budget features because of his flamboyant behavior, which was considered outside of the norm for a very flamboyant Hollywood.

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