Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Famed cinematographer László Kovács died over the weekend at the age of 74. Kovacs photographed over seventy films in a career that began in the sixties on a series of low budget exploitation films including THE NOTORIOUS DAUGHTER OF FANNY HILL (1966) and HELLS ANGELS ON WHEELS (1967). By the seventies he became one of the most respected directors of photography in Hollywood and shot some amazing films ranging from Bob Rafelson's FIVE EASY PIECES (1971) to Hal Ashby's SHAMPOO (1975) to Sylvester Stallone's PARADISE ALLEY (1979). Kovac's was also side by side with a crazed Dennis Hopper for EASY RIDER (1969) and THE LAST MOVIE (1971).
My favorite films that Kovac's shot though were the films he did for Peter Bogdanovich. The two shared a real connection and complimented each other perfectly. Starting with TARGETS (1968), Kovacs shot many of Peter's best films including WHAT'S UP DOC (1972), PAPER MOON (1973), AT LONG LAST LOVE (1975), NICKELODEON (1976), and MASK (1975). PAPER MOON really meant a lot to me growing up and Kovac's incredible black and white photography is chief among its biggest assets. I'm including a small picture of him and talented young Tatum O'Neal on the set.
The best of his post seventies films include Graeme Clifford's FRANCES (1982) and Bonnie Hunt's lovely and underrated RETURN TO ME (2000).
The Budapest born Kovac's reportedly died in his sleep and will be fondly remembered for shooting some of the most important films of America's second golden age in the late sixties and early seventies.