John F. Seitz


John Francis Seitz, A.S.C. (June 23, 1892 – February 27, 1979) was an American cinematographer and inventor.[1]

John F. Seitz, A.S.C.
BornJune 23, 1892 (1892-06-23)
DiedFebruary 27, 1979(1979-02-27) (aged 86)
OccupationCinematographer and Inventor
Years active1916–1960
Spouse(s)Marie Boyle

He was nominated for seven Academy Awards.


His Hollywood career began in 1909 as a lab assistant with the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company in Chicago. He went to work as a lab technician for the American Film Manufacturing Company (known as "Flying A"), also in Chicago.[2]

Seitz got his first chance to establish himself as lead cameraman in 1916, and he achieved great success with the director Rex Ingram, most famously on the Rudolph Valentino film, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921).

Highly regarded by director Billy Wilder, Seitz worked with him on the film noirs Double Indemnity (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), and Sunset Boulevard (1950), receiving Academy Award nominations for each.

During his career he received seven nominations for Academy Award for Best Cinematography. In 1929 he served as president of the American Society of Cinematographers (A.S.C.) for a year, and had been a member since 1923. The A.S.C. named the 2002 Heritage Award after Seitz.[2]

Seitz retired in 1960 and devoted himself to photographic inventions for which he held 18 patents.[2] An example of a Seitz invention is the matte shot: a large painting is photographed separately and later added to a scene to expand it, add effects, and/or create a sense of depth in backgrounds. He was also noted for his innovations with low-key lighting, which enhanced the film noir style.[3] A widower, he married screenwriter Marie Boyle in 1934 who raised his daughter Margaret Alice Marhoefer and later gave birth to a son, John Lawrence Seitz.

Burial: Holy Cross Cemetery.




  • Look Magazine Award: Cinematography The Lost Weekend; 1946
  • ASC Monthly Film Award: Sunset Blvd.; August 1950
  • George Eastman House Medal of Honor: (Outstanding Contribution to the Art of Motion Pictures 1915–1925); 1955



  1. ^ John F. Seitz at IMDb.
  2. ^ a b c Steeman, Albert. Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers, "John F. Seitz page," Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2007. Last accessed: December 13, 2007.
  3. ^ John F. Seitz at AllMovie.
  4. ^ Goble, Alan. The Complete Index to World Film, since 1885. 2008. Index home page.

External linksEdit

  • John F. Seitz at IMDb
  • John F. Seitz at AllMovie
  • John F. Seitz at the TCM Movie Database  
  • John F. Seitz at Film Reference
  • John F. Seitz short film clips of his cinematography work at YouTube