Tribute: Haskell Wexler

Posted on December 27, 2015 at 12:00 pm

We mourn the loss of Haskell Wexler, one of the greatest cinematographers in Hollywood history, the director of the pioneering film “Medium Cool,” and the subject of a documentary by his son, Tell Them Who You Are.

The International Cinematographers Guild voted him one of the ten most influential in his field. He began doing television (including “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”), documentaries, and ads. He made an enormous impression with the black and white “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” for which he won his first Oscar.

His other films include Best Picture Oscar winners “In the Heat of the Night” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” as well as “Bound for Glory,” and “Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip.” He made “Medium Cool” in the midst of the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention, filming in the midst of protests. Famously, you can hear one of his crew say, “Look out, Haskell, it’s real!”

Wexler’s son Mark also became a filmmaker, pointedly on the other end of the political spectrum from his outspokenly liberal father. Like My Architect and The Man Nobody Knew, Tell Them Who You Are is part of an arresting new genre of documentary as therapy, with sons (mostly) exploring and putting their own stamp on their father’s lives.

May his memory be a blessing.

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