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Joseph H. August
Birth: Apr. 26, 1890
Idaho Springs
Clear Creek County
Colorado, USA
Death: Sep. 25, 1947
Culver City
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Cinematographer. A Hollywood pioneer, August was among the earliest in his craft to create a distinctive visual style, typified by low-key lighting and a flair for dramatic compositions. He received Academy Award nominations for "Gunga Din" (1939) and "Portrait of Jennie" (1948). A graduate of the Colorado School of Mining, he entered films in 1911 as a camera assistant for Thomas Ince and was promoted to director of photography in 1914. He became a favorite of William S. Hart and photographed nearly all of the cowboy star's features, from "The Disciple" (1915) to his swansong "Tumbleweeds" (1925). In 1919 he was one of the 15 founders of the American Society of Cinematographers and the first to use the initials "ASC" after his name on screen credits. Following Hart's retirement he worked for Fox and RKO, most often with director John Ford, who encouraged his later penchant for expressionism. Freewheeling and versatile, August loved technical challenges and tried to give each film its own special look. His outdoor lensing for the Hart westerns is acutely sensitive to landscape; he experimented with two-strip technicolor in "Fig Leaves" (1926) and with underwater photography in "Men without Women" (1930). Some of his gritty images for the gangster drama "Quick Millions" (1931) have been mistaken for newsreel footage. Faced with having to shoot Ford's "The Informer" (1935) on pre-existing sets, he artfully concealed their secondhand appearance with deep shadows, backlighting and fog, in many cases allowing the lighting itself to become the decor. This did not go unnoticed by RKO producers, who would use this very technique for its low-budget film noirs and Val Lewton horror flicks of the 1940s. Also outstanding among August's 170 films are "Hell's Hinges" (1916), "Two Arabian Nights" (1927), "Twentieth Century" (1934), "A Damsel in Distress" (1937), "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939), "Primrose Path" (1940), "The Devil and Daniel Webster" (aka "All That Money Can Buy", 1941), and "They Were Expendable" (1945). As a Naval Commander during World War II, he served with John Ford's OSS unit and was wounded filming the Oscar-winning documentary "The Battle of Midway" (1942). August died of a heart attack on the set of "Portrait of Jennie" at the RKO-Pathe studio, shortly before its completion. Screenwriter Dudley Nichols later said of him, "Joe August was a great cameraman, perhaps the most experimental and audacious I have ever known".
 (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Anthony J August (____ - 1925)
 
 Spouse:
  Mary T. August (1891 - 1965)*
 
 Children:
  Joseph S. August (1916 - 2006)*
 
 Sibling:
  Joseph H. August (1890 - 1947)
  Ethel Dorothy August Lambert (1905 - 1975)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Inglewood Park Cemetery
Inglewood
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: Pinecrest, lot 1340
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Fritz Tauber
Record added: Apr 08, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35644994
Joseph H. August
Added by: B.J. Waters
 
Joseph H. August
Added by: B.J. Waters
 
Joseph H. August
Cemetery Photo
Added by: James Seidelman
 
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