Haskell Wexler died yesterday, cinematographer for countless great movies, including the under-appreciated Bound for Glory, not to mention other lefty faves including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, as well as Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, to me arguably his best work, although Wexler went uncredited.
Roger Ebert appreciated him in his time, as in this discussion of Bound for Glory:
The film opens in a gas station in Woody’s home town; he sits around with a few friends and the sun beats down and the flies buzz and we can almost smell the dust. A stranger drives up and buys a nickel Coke, and we can taste it. The whole movie’s seen that well, especially in its most spectacular moments.
There are two in particular: One is an awesome shot showing a dust storm approaching the little town, and another is a shot on top of a freight train, held for minutes without a cut, while Woody and a fellow hobo exchange philosophies while the train moves past the endless fields, disappears into the darkness of a tunnel, emerges, seems ready to run forever. Shots like those have rarely, if ever, been handled so well.