Vernon Whitten

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Vernon Whitten (b. Walton-on-Thames, Surrey , 12/07/1908 - d. Carterton, Oxfordshire, 17/01/1982) was a cinematographer and director.


Vernon Norman Whitten was the son of actress May (Mabel) Clark (1889-1984) and actor/director/producer Norman Whitten (1881-1969). His mother, who was employed in the editing room by Cecil Hepworth, was chosen to play Alice in the first film version of Alice in Wonderland (1903) and also appeared in the famous Rescued by Rover (1905). Norman Whitten played the Mad Hatter in the Alice film and he and May were married in 1907. Vernon himself featured as the 10-year-old Patrick in In the Days of St. Patrick (1920), a silent Irish feature directed by his father.

He is reported to have worked as a colourist at Pinewood Studios, but in 1946 he is credited as the director of the British short Fun of the Fair. By 1950 he has travelled to Africa to shoot Kenya Capital for the East African Sound Studios, the home of the first independent East African record label, Jambo. The film celebrated the granting of a Royal Charter to the city of Nairobi. The travelogue The Land of Zinj, made for Caltex, stems from the same period. He also was on hand to act as second unit cameraman when John Huston came to East Africa to film The African Queen (1951). When J. Blake Dalrymple and George Groom took over the small laboratory of the company where he was working, he came with it and moved to Rhodesia to shoot Mary's Lucky Day (1952) and Mutiny in the Laundry (1952), two advertising shorts made for Dalrymple's Films of Africa. At that time they also made the delightful and more ambitious The Stolen Cigarette (1952) together.

Arriving in South Africa he worked as cinematographer on a number of features by the likes of Werner Grünbauer, Jamie Uys, Emil Nofal, Denis Scully, Mario Schiess and Daan Retief and no fewer than four films for Al Debbo. In 1963 he also worked on the second unit camera crew of Cy Endfield's Zulu. In addition he directed short documentaries for the South African Tourist Corporation. In 1971 he shot Sononder, Carel Trichardt's only production as director, which seems to have been his last film. He married Winifred Sarah Parkhouse in Lambeth in 1928 and both seem to have died in Oxford in 1982. (FO)


FEATURES (as cinematographer)

The African Queen (camera operator 2nd unit/uncredited) (John Huston/1951), Paul Kruger (Werner Grünbauer/1956), Rip van Wyk (Emil Nofal/1960), Hou die Blink Kant Bo (with Vincent G. Cox) (Emil Nofal/1960), Doodkry is Min (Jamie Uys/1961), Spore in die Modder (James Norval/1961), Boerboel de Wet (+ co-producer) (Al Debbo/1961), Journey Into Nowhere (camera operator) (Denis Scully/1962), Tom Dirk en Herrie (Al Debbo/1962), Geheim van Onderplaas (Al Debbo/1962), Gevaarlike Spel (Al Debbo/1962), Zulu (2nd unit crew member/uncredited) (Cy Endfield/1963), Die Vervlakste Tweeling 9operating cameraman) (Mario Schiess/1969), Dirkie / Lost in the Desert (lighting) (Jamie Uys/1969), Staal Burger (Daan Retief/1969), Die Onwettige Huwelik /Professor du Plessis (camera) (Mario Schiess/1970), Mister Kingstreet's War / Heroes Die Hard (camera operator) (Percival Rubens/1971, Breekpunt (lighting) (Daan Retief/1971), Sononder (camera with Mike Burts) (Carel Trichardt/1971).


Fun of the Fair (1946), South Africa's Animal Kingdom (1966), Business With Pleasure (1966), The Cape of Good Hope (1967), Orange Free State (1967), Natal (1969)

DOCUMENTARIES & SHORTS (as cinematographer)

Kenya Capital (East African Sound Studios/1950), The Land of Zinj (with others) (East African Sound Studios/1950), Mary's Lucky Day (J. Blake Dalrymple/1952), Mutiny in the Laundry (J. Blake Dalrymple/1952), The Stolen Cigarette (J. Blake Dalrymple/1952), A Plan for Progress (with J. Blake Dalrymple) (J. Blake Dalrymple/1953)The Fox Has Four Eyes (Jamie Uys/1959), Medisyne Sonder Pille (Jamie Uys/1960) / Place of Refuge / Fort Merensky Herleef (1963), On the Move / Opsaal (with James Robb) (J. Blake Dalrymple/1964)


Hepworth, Cecil M. - Came the dawn

Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm

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