Albert Whitlock was born in London in 1915 and showed an aptitude for art as a youngster. His career in film began as a "fetch and carry fellow" at Islington Film Studios. His humble duties included handing out bags of nails to carpenters, moving lights, building scenery and painting signs.
As a 19-year-old he had painted signs for several of Hitchcock's early classics, including "The Lady Vanishes" and "The 39 Steps" (1935) ), after first assisting the miniatures expert on the director’s "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1934).
Eventually he learned to paint scenic backings and made his first few attempts at matte paintings. He joined an the Rank Org. effects department at 1946 under Les Bowie supervision.
It was during World War II that Whitlock moved into doing matte work. The first glass shot he received full credit for was a ballroom scene that appeared in The Bad Lord Byron (1951). During these years, Whitlock apprenticed alongside artist Peter Ellenshaw under master matte painter Walter Percy Day
His big break came with a huge gamble.
In 1954, with the hint of a job opening at the Disney studio, he left England
for the United States with his family. After an anxious stint as a struggling
billboard artist in San Francisco, a Disney offer finally came through
and his Hollywood career commenced with his painting the titles for "20,000
Leagues Under the Sea." He quickly graduated to the matte department headed
by fellow Englishman Peter Ellenshaw, where he learned how to perfect his
craft working on classic Disney live-action releases.
He remained at Disney for seven years, and in addition to working on many films, he was involved in the design of Disneyland, before moving to Universal at 1961.
From his first Universal assignment, Doris Day's "That Touch of Mink," Whitlock became a mainstay at the studio until his retirement in 1985.
His cinematic magic is seen but
generally not noticed in more than 500 films and television shows, including
The Birds (1963), Tobruk (1967), The Sting (1973), Funny Lady (1975), The
Day of the Locust (1975), Bound for Glory (1976) and The Blues Brothers
Syd Dutton and Bill Taylor, ASC, two of Whitlock's Universal matte department stalwarts, would carry his influence with them when they formed Illusion Arts, a still-vital visual effects shop specializing in matte painting.
Albert Whitlock with one of the
paintings he made for the movie "Ghost story" 1981.
Whitlock in front of a paint made
for "Dune" 1984.
Al Whitlock painting a devastated city of Los Angeles for "Earthquake" 1974.
Albert Whitlock: -Great
pictures from the movie "The Birds", with some matte paintings.
- An extensive article about Whitlocck´s career.
- Written in German page about mattee painting; with some pictures
mattes and a nice photo of Whitlock in front of a "Dune" matte painting.
See more samples of his work and
full information about him at:
Albert Whitlock Archives.
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