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The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)

Robert Krasker collected a no-contest Academy Award for photographing Carol Reed’s The Third Man and was worshipped by his collaborators (including actors: Terence Stamp called him the “J.M.W. Turner of light”). But collaborating with directorial heavyweights like Carol Reed, David Lean, Luchino Visconti, William Wyler, and Anthony Mann has arguably consigned his name to the fine print of film history. Brief Encounter, The Third Man, and Billy Budd—a trio of black-and-white films playing on TCM this month and all lensed by Krasker—offer a reminder of this great mid-20th-century craftsman’s indelible contribution to the films he photographed and to the evolving commercial art form he helped refine.

A formative interest in fine art and in cameras lured Robert Krasker from his home in Australia to Paris and then Weimar Berlin. There, psychologically determined,…

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