Changes between Initial Version and Version 1 of Ellis R. Duncan

May 25, 2012, 11:49:22 AM (10 years ago)



  • Ellis R. Duncan

    v1 v1  
     2== Ellis R. Duncan == 
     4Tamil director and American cinematographer 
     5aka Dungan. Born in Ohio; graduate of UCLA 
     6and the American Institute of Cinematography 
     7and worked in Hollywood as a cameraman 
     8(1927). Came to India (1935) to sell camera 
     9equipment and stayed for 17 years making 
     10several major Tamil films, starting with Sati 
     11Leelavathi, based on S.S. Vasan’s novel and 
     12introducing MGR. M.L. Tandon, who had 
     13earlier met Duncan at UCLA, got him to direct 
     14films. Iru Sahodarargal, also with MGR, 
     15made him the top director of a nascent Tamil 
     16film industry, also editing his own work and 
     17integrating music and comedy routines into the 
     18plot, which was perhaps his most influential 
     19contribution. A series of hits followed: 
     20Ambikapathy with M.K. Thyagaraja 
     21Bhagavathar at Salem Shankar Films; 
     22Shakuntalai and the memorable Meera with 
     23the singer M.S. Subbulakshmi at 
     24Chandraprabha Cinetone. Best-known work at 
     25Modern Theatres: Ponmudi and the seminal 
     26MGR hit Manthiri Kumari (which was 
     27completed by T.R. Sundaram). Although 
     28Duncan did not know Tamil (his interpreters 
     29were known as ‘ rush directors’), his work is 
     30remembered for its emphasis on Tamil 
     31dialogue: the famed scenarist Elangovan 
     32débuted in his Ambikapathy while Ponmudi 
     33remains one of the poet Bharatidasan’s bestknown 
     34scripts; Manthiri Kumari was 
     35Karunanidhi’s first major literary contribution 
     36to cinema. Duncan worked with well-known 
     37actor-singers such as G.N. Balasubramanyam, 
     38M.S. Subbulakshmi (the two acting together in 
     39Shakuntalai), and T.N. Rajarathnam Pillai (who 
     40featured in Kalamegham). Credited with codirection 
     41of an Indo-US co-prod. The Jungle 
     42(William Berke, 1952), starring Rod Cameron, 
     43Marie Windsor and Caesar Romero, later 
     44dubbed into Tamil as Kaadu. During WW2 
     45made propaganda shorts (e.g. Returning 
     46Soldier with T.S. Balaiah), and after 
     47Independence was commissioned by the 
     48government to film the transfer of power ritual. 
     49In the 50s returned to live in Wheeler city, West 
     50Virginia, occasionally working in India, e.g. as 
     51a 2nd unit photographer for Hugo Fregonese’s 
     52Harry Black (1958) and John Guillermin’s 
     53Tarzan Mera Saathi (1962). 
     55FILMOGRAPHY: 1936: Sati Leelavathi; 
     56Simantini; Iru Sahodarargal; 1937: 
     57Ambikapathy; 1940: Shakuntalai; 
     58Suryaputri; Kalamegham; 1943: Daasi Penn; 
     591945: Valmiki; Meera; Returning Soldier; 
     601949: Ponmudi; 1950: Manthiri Kumari; 
     611952: Kaadu.