Desmond Dickinson

Desmond Dickinson Photo [Source, Cinema Museum]
Family name: 
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Interview Date(s): 
5 Jul 1963
30 Jul 1972
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SUMMARY: This transcript contains two interviews, the first conducted in 1963 with Ralph Bond  ( Side 1 and 2) and the second in 1972 with Kevin Brownlow ( Sides 3-5). Several anecdotes feature in both sittings; a remarkable feat given the interval between them. Dickinson proves a lively and garrulous subject, but neither interviewer is able to keep him from digressing and so systematic details of his career, particularly the latter part, are hazy. Nevertheless, he provides some fascinating insights into working conditions, particularly in the 1910s and 1920s, and in the first interview he discusses the establishment of the ACT union. Much valuable technical information is also provided. Unfortunately, both interviews are periodically interrupted by breaks in the tape. It is unclear whether this is the due to censorship or to the recording being paused on site.  


BIOGRAPHY: Desmond Dickinson was one of the most prolific and long-serving cinematographers to work in the British film industry. By his own account, he started work at the Sopwith Aviation Company at the age of 13, before finding employment in the photographic department at Clarendon Film Company. In 1919 he moved again to the Stoll Picture Productions, where he remained for sixteen years, eventually graduating chief cameraman. He produced documentaries for the Ministry of Information during WWII, and in the postwar period he achieved renown for his photography on several high-profile projects, notably Hamlet (1948) for Laurence Olivier and The Browning Version (1951) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1952) for Anthony Asquith. He received his final credit in 1972.