Oswald (Ossie) Morris Papers

Scope and Content

This collection contains production material and some personal papers relating to Morris' films, including presscuttings, reviews and memos (including from David O. Selznick to production crew of Stazione Termini (1958) and A Farewell to Arms (1957). Also included: unpublished screenplays, shooting scripts and photographic shot lists, 20th c.

Administrative / Biographical History

Oswald ('Ossie') Morris (1915- ), cinematographer, OBE, BSC, was born on 22 November in Middlesex. One of the most significant cameramen of the post-war era, Ossie began his career working as a projectionist during his school holidays. In 1932, he left school to become an apprentice in the film industry, with his first job as a clapperboy on After Dark (1932) at Associated Sound Film Industries, Wembley. During WWII, Morris served as a bomber pilot for the Royal Air Force, and returned to the film industry when the war ended. After some experience as an operator at Pinewood in 1946, he was given his first film to light in 1950.

His career took off properly in 1952 when he was asked to take over the photography of the film Moulin Rouge, which was to become a milestone in Technicolour photography. He continued to develop new trends in colour cinematography in Moby Dick (1956). He was also equally at home in black and white, working with Vittorio De Sica on Selznick's Stazione Termini (1953). His first feature film as photographer was Look Back in Anger (1959), with well-known classics such as The Guns of Navarone (1961), Lolita (1961), The Hill (1965), Oliver! (1968) (nominated for an Oscar in 1968) and Goodbye Mr Chips (1969) following in quick succession. Pumpkin Eater (1964) won a BAFTA for Best Black and White Cinematography in 1964. He then won an Oscar in 1971 for Fiddler on the Roof (1971), which was shot through a brown silk stocking in order to portray the colours of the Yugoslavian landscape on screen. Other 1970s films include Sleuth (1972), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Man who would be King (1975) and The Wiz (1978) (nominated for an Oscar in 1978), a re-make of The Wizard of Oz. Prior to his retirement in 1982, Morris photographed The Great Muppet Caper (1981) and The Dark Crystal (1982) with Jim Henson. In 1997 he was awarded an OBE, and was a Recipient of a Fenton Medal, Royal Photographic Society in 2001.

Access Information

Usual BDC and EUL arrangements apply.


Biographical information taken from Duncan Petrie, The British Cinematographer, 1996, the International Movie Database (http://www.imdb.com) and the movies section of The New York Times website.

Other Finding Aids

Not currently listed.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Charlotte Berry, Archivist, 25 April 2005, and encoded into EAD 6 June 2005.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual BDC and EUL restrictions apply.

Custodial History

Donated to the BDC in 2001 at the suggestion of Dr Duncan Petrie, then Director of the BDC.

Related Material

None known.


It is not known whether this collection has formed the basis for publication.