William A. Fraker lensed some of the most critically and commercially successful films of the 1960s and '70s. Considered a giant of his profession, he was the man behind the camera on Rosemary's Baby (1968), Bullitt (1968), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), and Heaven Can Wait (1978). MovieMaker magazine referred to him as "a kind of Yoda of cinematography" in a 2004 profile. Fraker was nominated five times for the Best Cinematography Oscar, and served as president of the American Society of Cinematographers (A.S.C.). In 2000, the A.S.C. honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. His L.A. Times obituary states that he passed away Friday, at the age of 86. He is survived by his wife and step-son.
Fraker's work on Bullitt is a model of the cinematographer's dedication. While the film's climactic car chase is justifiably legendary, there's more to the story than what you see on screen. Steve McQueen and several accomplished stunt drivers maneuvered the vehicles through the streets of San Francisco, at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. William A. Fraker and his camera were strapped to one of those vehicles, suspended just six inches from the ground. Watch this clip, and I think you'll agree that it was worth the ride.
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