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Obituary: James Glennon 1942-2006


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#1 Michael Coate

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 08:58 PM

James Glennon, 64; cinematographer won an Emmy for the HBO series 'Deadwood'
By Valerie J. Nelson
Times Staff Writer
November 4, 2006

James Glennon, a cinematographer known for his evocative camera work on the 1983 film "El Norte" and who also won an Emmy last year for the HBO series "Deadwood," has died. He was 64.

Glennon died of prostate cancer Oct. 19 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Barbara Halperin, his agent.

"He was the king of all sets," actress Laura Dern told The Times earlier this week. "He was the stand-up comic of the set, the meditative easer of all tensions for the crew. And he was the greatest gift to any actor &. He made the performance better, always."

His "masterful photography" helped turn "El Norte" into a "brilliant film," the Omaha World-Herald said in 1995. Gregory Nava's independent film, which follows the plight of a brother and sister who illegally emigrate from Guatemala to Los Angeles, is credited with helping to bring the immigrant experience to Hollywood's attention.

For "El Norte," Glennon had to figure out how to light the set in Central America without using electricity. At night, he moved around groups of lighted votive candles, and during the day he relied on mirrors to reflect light onto the set, he recalled in an interview on Kodak.com.

Of the more than 40 films he worked on, Glennon made a trio "Citizen Ruth" (1996), "Election" (1999) and "About Schmidt" (2002) with director Alexander Payne that he felt were among his best work, his agent said.

"Above and beyond his remarkable talent as a cinematographer, he was so full of positive energy," Payne told The Times on Thursday. "He was the master of the art of the possible and one of the funniest men I have ever met.

"I make comedies, and I felt so blessed to have such a visually funny man working with me."

Dern, who worked with Glennon on "Citizen Ruth" and other films, said he had an intuitive approach that came from growing up on film sets. His father, Bert, was a noted cinematographer who received an Oscar nomination for "Stagecoach," the 1939 John Ford western that starred John Wayne.

Glennon "could problem-solve in the great old-school way," Dern said. "If you didn't have the money, time or equipment, he had an unbelievably inventive way to get the shot. It could be using a wheelchair or a skateboard. He didn't need a dolly."

He remained proud of his cinematography on the 1986 science-fiction adventure "Flight of the Navigator," his agent said. The Times' review called the film "handsome" and his work "first-rate."

For the title sequence of "Ordinary People" (1980), Glennon had a visitor to the set his wife, Charmaine pose in a red coat on a bench, he said in the Kodak interview.

He also shot the U.S. sequences for "Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" (1983).

In television, Glennon got his start on two shows from the 1960s, "Batman" and "Gilligan's Island," and listed about 30 series among his credits, including HBO's "Big Love."

James Michael Glennon was born Aug. 29, 1942. His mother, the former Mary Coleman, was a script supervisor.

At UCLA, he earned a bachelor's in filmmaking in 1968 and started his career in the mailroom at Warner Bros. He often delivered mail to studio President Jack Warner because "the other mail boys were terrified to walk into his office," Glennon recalled in the Kodak interview.

Warner advised him to buy a camera, rent it out for $100 a day and throw in his services for free. That led to Glennon's first feature film, "Jaws of Death" (1977), about killer whales off Vancouver Island.

Combined, the careers of Glennon and his father spanned 90 years in the film business, A.C. Lyles, a longtime producer at Paramount who worked with Glennon on "Deadwood," told The Times.

Glennon is survived by Charmaine, his wife of 29 years; children Meghan, Allison, Andrew and Juliet; and three brothers.

A public memorial service will be held at 9 a.m. today at the Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.

Memorial contributions may be made to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Box 951622, Los Angeles, CA 90095; or the Cedars-Sinai Prostate Cancer Research Institute, P.O. Box 48750, Room 2416, Los Angeles, CA 90048.

Edited by Michael Coate, 10 November 2006 - 08:59 PM.

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#2 Michael Coate

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 01:06 AM

He also shot the U.S. sequences for "Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" (1983).


If the U.S. sequences refer to both the Crescent City (the Ewok stuff) AND Yuma (Jabba's sail barge battle) shoots, then I'd say that comprised a significant portion of the film's shoot. Therefore, I want to know why Glennon did not receive a co-DP credit instead of the "smaller" credit which he received. Seems to me the Director of Photography credit should've read:

Directors of Photogaphy
Alan Hume, BSC & James Glennon
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#3 Tim Partridge

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 09:38 AM

No not at all.

Glennon only shot the majority of the redwood stuff, and Alan Hume did most of the stuff with the principals even on that. Also, most of the nighttime forest stuff was done on stage at Elstree (by Hume and possibly Jack Lowin). Hume shot most of the desert barge stuff.
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#4 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 11:07 AM

Don't forget either that according to an extended rumor, Alan Hume would have had a falling out with the producers of the film and it would have promoted Alec Mills (Hume's longtime camera operator) to DP for the last weeks of the shooting.
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#5 John Holland

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 11:35 AM

Could also have been that you needed a usa union Dp, at that time to shadow the Brit. Dp. John Holland ,London.
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#6 Tim Partridge

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 06:51 PM

Could also have been that you needed a usa union Dp, at that time to shadow the Brit. Dp. John Holland ,London.


Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but I am pretty sure Glennon wasn't a union DP when he did Jedi, and this was one of the reasons he was hired for the job.

Coincidentally, Don Burgess was non-union when he also shot second unit for Alan Hume on RUNAWAY TRAIN.
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#7 Pat Auge

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 10:32 PM

Pardon Me!!!

Correct me if Im wrong but this is a thread about the death of a Man. I think it is in very poor taste to bicker and hijack a thread in such a manner. Quite frankly who the hell cares about a credit on a film.

Perhaps some words of condolence is more appropriate at what would certainly be a very sad time for his family.

I did not know this DP but i certainly send my condolences to his family in their time of grief.

RIP



Pat Auge
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 04:03 AM

One of my last face to face conversations with Jim was about "Return of the Jedi" -- I can't speak for the credit issue, but basically Jim at the time was a well-known operator and one of the line producers on "Jedi" called him and said it was time he moved up to DP, and that they needed someone to do advance work for the U.S. portion of the "Jedi" shoot while Hume was busy in the U.K. shooting. So Jim did a lot of the scouting and testing, and then some shooting for the Yuma and Redwood City scenes.

Jim spoke more about it as being that the production was simply too huge for Hume to shoot all of it, but he wasn't boasting about being a co-DP or anything like that, more that he was helping out a producer friend and getting a shot at being a cinematographer on a major production. My impression was that his work would be more accurately called Second Unit on most movies, except that in some cases, he worked in advance of the Main Unit, and other times, he shot portions of some major action scenes.
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#9 Tim Partridge

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 09:13 AM

David,

I agree that Jedi for Glennon WAS a second unit assignment, but of course it could not be credited as such as Jack Lowin was the additional DP for the soundstage stuff in England (and then there's the Alec Mills rumour). This is where the confusion rises concerning the "location DOP" credit, because the only location work done for the movie was Stateside, all the rest (including the forest night scenes, as mentioned earlier) was done at Elstree.

Still, Hume certainly handled all the principal photography with the main cast that happened in the States. This is referenced in his autobiography, the JEDI AC special and Hume has told me himself personally.

Pat,

There is no bickering or hijacking of this thread, which is merely a link to an online obituary. Search this forum and you'll find the original thread on James Glennon's sad passing, started by David Mullen.

All our discussion on Jedi in this thread does is not miscredit and put the record straight on Glennon's contributions to a very significant film.
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#10 Matthew Buick

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 04:09 PM

A man has died here, and all you n00bs (even except David Mullen) can talk about is whether he worked on ROTJ, I think that is totally irrelivent in an R.I.P JAMES GLENNON thread.

My condolences to his family,
Matthew Buick.

Edited by Matthew Buick, 22 November 2006 - 04:11 PM.

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#11 JOHN LONGENECKER

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 12:23 AM

December 23, 1006

JAMES GLENNON
Directory of Photography American Unit
Return Of The Jedi

JAMES GLENNON photos:
http://jlphotosusa.com/Glennon.html

JAMES GLENNON tributes
http://jlphotosusa.com/Glennon.html

JOHN LONGENECKER

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