Elwood Bailey Bredell (24 December 1902 – 26 February 1969) was an American cinematographer and child silent screen actor. He is sometimes credited as Woody Bredell or Elwood Dell. Although he worked in many genres, mostly at Universal, Bredell is best known for his film noir cinematography on such movies as Phantom Lady (1944), Lady on a Train (1945) The Killers (1946), and The Unsuspected (1947). Famed Warner Bros. editor George Amy said Bredell could “light a football stadium with a single match.”
Bredell was the son of stage actress Mary Palmer Nields. He was named Jesse B. Bredell, Jr., after his father. Nields later married Vaughn "Val" Paul, a silent film actor turned production manager. (Paul's son with Nields, Vaughn Jr., was Deanna Durbin's first husband.)
After working as an adolescent actor in silent films, Bredell took a job as a studio lab technician while he cultivated a talent for photography. From about 1929–34, Bredell worked as a still photographer at RKO and Paramount, coinciding with his stepfather's tenures at those studios. At Paramount, Bredell apprenticed under veteran cinematographers Charles Lang and Arthur C. Miller. In 1936, Val Paul brought Bredell to Universal, where he continued his training under the studio's best cinematographer, Joseph Valentine. Bredell was promoted to cinematographer the next year, when Val produced Reckless Living (1938).
Bredell's work on horror films such as Black Friday (1940), The Mummy's Hand (1940), and Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), anticipated his work in film noir. He also photographed Deann Durbin musicals and comedies such as Hold That Ghost (1941), Hellzapoppin' (1941) and The Inspector General (1949). His final credit was on the 1955 B-movie Female Jungle.
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