Friday, August 21, 2015

Focus Puller & Cameraman Kenneth Withers…Day 233 of Bond 365

Kenneth J Withers
Born this day in 1928
Camera Operator for Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond (TV Movie, 1967)
Focus Puller in You Only Live Twice

Kenneth Withers was born in Antwerp, Belgium and according to IMDB got his start as an uncredited clapper loader at the age of 24 in the UK/USA comedy You’re Only Young Twice (1952). He went on to work on some amazing and memorable films: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), tv mini-series Masada (1981), and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984). In addition to memorializing Sean Connery as James Bond in You Only Live Twice and the documentary Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond, Withers worked with another Bond, Pierce Brosnan on the 1980s show, Remington Steele.

Culling through some searches in Google, I came across a forum post on March 11, 2015 from “AO” (jwsound’s forums discussing a production shot from Lawrence of Arabia). The person mentioned having met Ernest Day, one of the camera operators in David Lean’s epic film, Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and related the following Withers’ story:

“My favourite story of Ken’s: he worked with a director one that declared he had worked with someone just prior that who was the focus puller on the famous shot of Omar Sharif riding through the desert haze. Ken embarrassed the director by setting the story straight, that he was the one. The irony of the gullibility of the director was that the gentleman professing to have done the shot was too young…As was the custom of the time, the same camera crew went on to shoot multiple David Lean movies.”

Here is the shot in question:

A Million Dollar Shot -  Widescreen Museum

Withers is listed as a retired member of the Guild of British Camera Technicians (GBCT).

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