Gregg Toland , (1904 – 1948) was an American cinematographer noted for his innovative use of lighting and techniques such as deep focus, an example of which can be found in his work on Orson Welles‘ Citizen Kane . He first demonstrated his chiaroscuro, side-lit style on the short film The Life and Death of 9413: Adventures of a Hollywood Extra, on which one of the two 400W bulbs they had available burned out, leaving only a single bulb to light with.
He was nominated five times for the “Best Cinematography” Oscar, including a win in 1940 for his work on Wuthering Heights. He worked with many of the top directors of his era, including John Ford, Howard Hawks, Erich von Stroheim, King Vidor, Orson Welles, and William Wyler.
Just before his death, he was concentrating on the “ultimate focus” lens, which makes both near and far objects equally distinct.
Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and starring Orson Welles, Cinematography Gregg Toland. The picture was Welles’s first feature film. The film was nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories. Considered by many critics, filmmakers, and fans to be the greatest film ever made, Citizen Kane was voted the greatest film of all time in five consecutive Sight & Sound ’ s polls of critics. Citizen Kane is particularly praised for its cinematography, music, and narrative structure, which were innovative for its time.The story is a film à clef that examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles, a character based in part upon the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Chicago tycoons Samuel Insull and Harold McCormick, and aspects of Welles’s own life.
Some film historians believe Citizen Kane’s visual brilliance was due primarily to the contributions of Toland. The Welles movies that most resemble Citizen Kane (The Magnificent Ambersons, The Stranger, and Touch of Evil) were shot by Toland.