Born in London on December 22, 1917, Francis' early career included working as a clapperboy for BIP and British & Dominions, and as a director-cameraman of training films for the Army's Kinematograph Unit.
As camera assistant, he worked for some of the world's leading directors, including Michael Powell, Carol Reed and John Huston, before becoming DoP in his own right on A Hill in Korea (1956). He shot many Brit classics before winning his first Oscar for Best Black and White Cinematography for Sons and Lovers (1960).
His 1961 directorial debut Two And Two Make Six, set him on the directing path and he made many films over the next 20 years, mostly in the horror genre for Amicus and Hammer Films, before retuning to cinematography in 1980 with David Lynch's The Elephant Man.
Among others, he shot The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), Clara's Heart (1988), Cape Fear (1991) and David Lynch's The Straight Story (1999).
Francis won two Oscars - Best Black-and-White Cinematography for Sons And Lovers (1960, directed by Jack Cardiff); and Best Cinematography for Glory (1989, directed by Ed Zwick).