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Shamroy

While director Andrew Stone agreed that Leon Shamroy was a fine cinematographer, he suspected that, in order to justify his inflated salary, he took an inordinate amount of time to light his sets. Stone was particularly peeved when Shamroy demanded an entire day to light a large set during the production of Stormy Weather (1943). Shamroy would sit in the sun, reading a newspaper, until the gaffer arrived and tapped him on the shoulder. The cinematographer would then pace around, pointing to various lights, without speaking a word. The gaffer would nod and Shamroy would return to his reading. Some time later the gaffer would reappear and the procedure would begin anew. "All done in silence, for dramatic effect," Stone recalled. "Just an absolute act."

One Saturday morning, Stone asked Shamroy to return to the set to shoot some additional footage. Though he agreed, Shamroy was peeved because he had made plans to attend the Stanford football game and feared that he would miss his plane. "Look," Stone bluntly remarked, "you're not fooling me. I'm onto the charade. Nobody is here -- it's Saturday. I'm not going to tell anybody, so why don't you just light the set in ten minutes and get your plane?" Fifteen minutes later, the scene had been lighted and shot, and Shamroy was on his way.

[Shamroy was nominated for an incredible 18 Oscars (and won four). He is one of a handful of cinematographers honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.]

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