Edgar G. Ulmer
Known For: Directing · Birthday: 1904-09-17 · Deathday: 1972-09-30 (68 years old) · Gender: Male · Place of Birth: Olmütz, Moravia, Austria-Hungary [now Olomouc, Czech Republic]
Also Known As: John Warner · Edgar George Ulmer · Edgar Georg Ulmer · Ove H. Sehested
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Edgar Georg Ulmer (; September 17, 1904 – September 30, 1972) was a Jewish-Moravian, Austrian-American film director who mainly worked on Hollywood B movies and other low-budget productions. His stylish and eccentric works came to be appreciated by auteur theory-espousing film critics in the years following his retirement. Ulmer's productions include The Black Cat (1934) and the film noir Detour (1945).
Ulmer was born in Olomouc, in what is now the Czech Republic. As a young man he lived in Vienna, where he worked as a stage actor and set designer while studying architecture and philosophy. He did set design for Max Reinhardt's theater, served his apprenticeship with F. W. Murnau, and worked with directors including Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann and cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan, inventor of the Schüfftan process. He also claimed to have worked on Der Golem (1920), Metropolis (1927), and M (1931), but there is no evidence to support this. Ulmer came to Hollywood with Murnau in 1926 to assist with the art direction on Sunrise (1927). In an interview with Peter Bogdanovich, he also recalled making two-reel westerns in Hollywood around this time.The first feature he directed in North America, Damaged Lives (1933), was a low-budget exploitation film exposing the horrors of venereal disease. His next film, The Black Cat (1934), starring Béla Lugosi and Boris Karloff, was made for Universal Pictures. Demonstrating the striking visual style that would be Ulmer's hallmark, the film was Universal's biggest hit of the season. Ulmer, however, had begun an affair with Shirley Beatrice Kassler, who had been married since 1933 to independent producer Max Alexander, nephew of Universal studio head Carl Laemmle. Kassler's divorce in 1936 and her marriage to Ulmer later the same year led to his being exiled from the major Hollywood studios. Ulmer was relegated to making B movies at Poverty Row production houses. His wife, now Shirley Ulmer, acted as script supervisor on nearly all of these films, and she wrote the screenplays for several. Their daughter, Arianne, appeared as an extra in several of his films. Consigned to the fringes of the U.S. motion picture industry, for a time Ulmer specialized first in "ethnic films," in Ukrainian—Natalka Poltavka (1937), Cossacks in Exile (1939)—and Yiddish—The Light Ahead (1939), Americaner Shadchen (1940). The best-known of these ethnic films is the Yiddish Green Fields (1937), co-directed with Jacob Ben-Ami. Ulmer eventually found a niche making melodramas on tiny budgets and with often unpromising scripts and actors for Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), with Ulmer describing himself as "the Frank Capra of PRC". His PRC thriller Detour (1945) has won considerable acclaim as a prime example of low-budget film noir, and it was selected by the Library of Congress among the first group of 100 American films worthy of special preservation efforts. In 1947, Ulmer made Carnegie Hall with the help of conductor Fritz Reiner, godfather of the Ulmers' daughter, Arianné. The film features performances by many leading figures in classical music, including Reiner, Jascha Heifetz, Artur Rubinstein, Gregor Piatigorsky and Lily Pons. Ulmer did get a chance to direct two films with substantial budgets, The Strange Woman (1946) and Ruthless (1948). The former, featuring a strong performance by Hedy Lamarr, is regarded by critics as one of Ulmer's best. He directed a low-budget science-fiction film with a noirish tone, The Man from Planet X (1951). His last film, The Cavern (1964), was shot in Italy. Ulmer died in 1972 in Woodland Hills, California, after a crippling stroke. He is interred in the Hall of David Mausoleum in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, CA. His wife, Shirley Ulmer, is interred nearby. Commemorating the 30th anniversary of his death, a three-day symposium of lectures and screenings was held at New York City's New School in November 2002. In 2005, researcher Bernd Herzogenrath uncovered the address where Ulmer was born in Olomouc. A memorial plaque commemorating Ulmer's birth home was unveiled on September 17, 2006, on the occasion of Ulmerfest 2006—the first European academic conference devoted to Ulmer's work. The moving image collection of Edgar G. Ulmer is held at the Academy Film Archive. The film material at the Academy Film Archive is complemented by material in the Edgar G. Ulmer papers at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library.
Movies & TV shows
The World's Greatest Sinner
A bored insurance salesman quits his job to go into politics. He first starts preaching about how man is greater than he thinks and that man can live forever. He ends up forming his own political part...
The Amazing Transparent Man
An ex-major forces a scientist to develop a invisibility formula, with which he plans to create an invisible army and sell it to the highest bidder. However there are side effects to the formula.
Beyond the Time Barrier
A pilot testing an experimental new rocket powered craft manages to fly into the future and land at the now deserted airbase he left. He ends up in a city with people who are suspicious he is a spy an...
A Carthaginian general attempts to cross the Alps with an army of elephants in order to conquer Rome.
The Naked Venus
A young American painter and his French wife move with their small daughter to the US when the husband's father dies. His mother takes an instant dislike to the wife, and when she finds out that her d...
Swiss Family Robinson: Lost in the Jungle
After having been recently shipwrecked, a group of survivors begin dealing with both the reality of being stranded on a remote island as well as with feelings of alienation and isolation. Adapted from...
Murder Is My Beat
Mr. Dean's body is found face down in the fireplace, burned beyond recognition. Nightclub-singer Eden Lane is convicted of the crime. She is escorted to prison by one of the arresting detectives when ...
The Naked Dawn
Santiago, a jolly modern bandito, has just lost his partner when he happens on the isolated farm of young Manuel and Maria Lopez...
The Fate of Two Queens
Hedy Lamarr plays 2 queens in a film. Ulmer was the one who directed the Genoveffa di Brabante part while Allégret was in charge of the Josephine section.
Loves of Three Queens
A young man should choose the most charming woman at a wedding party. The professor remembers the troubles caused by Paris in a similar situation.
St. Benny the Dip
A gang of con artists disguise themselves as clerics in order to pull off a job, but soon find that even pretending to be religious people is having an effect on them.
The Man from Planet X
While watching for a planet that may collide with earth, scientists stationed in Scotland are approached by a visitor from outer space.
The Pirates of Capri
A group of men calling themselves 'The Pirates of Capri", headed by Captain Sirroco, who is really Count Amalfi, are trying to restore freedom to the people of Naples. The Queen is advised of the pira...
Horace Vendig always gets what he wants. Even as a poor youth, he charmed his way into high society by getting the father of his friend, Martha, to foot the bill for his Harvard education. When Vic, a...
A young Irishwoman comes to the United States to live and work with her mother as a cleaning lady at Carnegie Hall. She becomes attached to the place as the people she meets there gradually shape her ...
Her Sister's Secret
A WWII tale of romance that begins during New Orlean's "Mardi Gras" celebration when a soldier and a girl meet and fall in love. He asks her to marry him but she decides to wait until his next leave. ...
The Strange Woman
The beautiful and very young Jenny is the subject of a 19th-century businessman's attention. Their love affair quickly turns sour after she accepts his marriage proposal. The college-age son of the pr...
The Wife of Monte Cristo
In this sequel to the original story, Monte Cristo count Edmund Dantes (Martin Kosleck) returns to Paris to get revenge but soon finds himself pursued by a cruel policeman (John Loder). The count's br...
Al Roberts, a New York nightclub pianist, hitchhikes to Hollywood to meet his girlfriend Sue. The gambler he's riding with, Charles, unexpectedly dies. Afraid the police wouldn't believe the truth, Al...
A doctor (Tom Neal) answers a suicide call in a Latin nightclub.
An adolescent believes that his widowed mother's suitor may have murdered his father.
Unusually elaborate for a PRC film, Minstrel Man is a lively musical drama built around the talents of veteran vaudevillian Benny Fields. The star is cast as Dixie Boy Johnson, who rises from the rank...
Young female models are being strangled inexplicably. Will law enforcement be able to stop the crime wave before more women become victims?
Danger! Women at Work
Three women inherit a 10-ton truck and decide to go into business. Hi jinks ensue.
Isle of Forgotten Sins
An evil sea captain and the forces of nature threaten two divers' search for a fortune in gold in the South Pacific.
The story of the assassination of Heydrich by Czech partisans and the reprisals inflicted by the Nazis on the Czechs.
A doctor and his staff in a hospital on the Philippine island of Corregidor shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor try to treat the sick, injured and wounded as American and Filipino troops...
My Son, The Hero
Learning that his long-unseen son is soon to arrive for a visit, a small-time con-man enlists the help of his cronies to help him pretend to be a wealthy and important businessman. Comedy.
Girls in Chains
A fired teacher (Arline Judge) finds work at a girls reform school and helps a detective (Roger Clark) on a case.
A young classical musician becomes the conductor a high-school all-girl jive band to entertain the troops.
The Turbosupercharger - Master of the sky
Training film demonstrating the usage of the turbosupercharger, a device for providing greater engine capability at high altitude. Various techniques for operating and servicing the turbosupercharger ...
Prisoner of Japan
An American astronomer living on a Pacific island attempts to thwart the Japanese during WWII.
Tomorrow We Live
Julie Bronson, whose father operates a desert cafe, is attracting the unwanted attention of a half-crazed gangster known as The Ghost who runs a desert night club several miles away.
Another to Conquer
Boasting the assistance of the Navajo Service and the Untied States Office of Indian Affairs, Another to Conquer was targeted at Native Americans and features stunning location shooting. Nema and Don,...
Nat Silver has been engaged 7 times already. This time, his 8th, he's really going to get married. But a visitor shows up, Shirley's old boyfriend. With a gun ! He'll kill himself unless he can have S...
Goodbye, Mr. Germ
A doctor explains to his children the dangers of tuberculosis, what it is and how to prevent against contracting it.
Cossacks in Exile
Director Edgar G. Ulmer executed the low-budget COSSACKS IN EXILE (1939), for Ukrainian-Canadian producer Vasile Avramenko, with a stylish flair; this obscure little operetta contains many pleasant mo...
The Light Ahead
The Light Ahead is possibly the greatest of Edgar G. Ulmer’s shtetl films. Here, the director counterpoints his pastoral Green Fields to criticize the poverty and superstition that oppress a pair of s...
Moon Over Harlem
Hardworking Minnie (Cora Green) marries "Dollar" Bill (Bud Harris) a shady gambler after her money and her attractive daughter, Sue (Izanetta Wilcois). Sue meanwhile, is in love with Bob (Carl Hough),...
The Singing Blacksmith
Moishe Oysher, the renowned cantor and star of Yiddish radio, stars in Edgar G. Ulmer’s musical version of David Pinski’s play Yankl der Shmid. Singing, dancing, and flashing his eyes, Oysher gives hi...
Ulmer's soulful, open-air adaptation of Peretz Hirshbein's classic play heralded the Golden Age of Yiddish cinema. When an ascetic young scholar ventures into the countryside, searching for the city o...
Little Man, What Now?
A young couple struggling against poverty must keep their marriage a secret in order for the husband to keep his job, as his boss doesn't like to hire married men.
I Can't Escape
An ex-convict, unable to get a good job because of his prison record, gets mixed up in a phony stock scam.
The Black Cat
The American honeymooners, Joan and Peter, were involved in a road accident in Hungary. The house of the renowned architect Hjalmar Poelzig is where werdegast can find refuge.
Queen Christina of Sweden is a popular monarch who is loyal to her country. However, when she falls in love with a Spanish envoy, she must choose between the throne and the man she loves.
Thunder Over Texas
A cowboy is trying to protect a young woman whose father was murdered because he had railroad maps that showed the location of a proposed new line. The killers think she has the maps.
In the South Seas, a half-caste island girl refuses to follow tradition and marry a fellow islander, instead falling in love with a white man and heir to an American fortune.
The Secret Six
Johnny Franks recruited a crude working man to join his gang, which was masterminded by a crooked criminal defense lawyer. A secret group of 6 masked businessmen have him prosecuted and sent to the el...
In this classic German thriller, Hans Beckert, a serial killer who preys on children, becomes the focus of a massive Berlin police manhunt. Beckert's heinous crimes are so repellant and disruptive to ...
The youngsters Matahi and Reri are in love with each other. The old warrior Hitu announces that Reri is to be the new chosen virgin for the gods. This means she must stay untouched, otherwise she and ...
People on Sunday
The 1930 German silent film was created by amateur filmmakers with a small budget. It's the first film from Billy Wilder and Fred Zinnemann, and it has authentic scenes of the metropolis city of Berli...
A waitress from Chicago falls in love with a man from rural Minnesota and marries him, with the intent of living a better life - but life on the farm has its own challenges.
The mastermind behind a ubiquitous spy operation learns of a dangerous romance between a Russian lady in his employ and a dashing agent from the government's secret service.
The film historian and collector is William K. Mary Duncan lost the print that she borrowed from Fox Studios, according to Everson. He explained in the December 1974 issue of "Films in Review" that on...
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
A married farmer falls under the spell of a slatternly woman from the city, who tries to convince him to drown his wife.
The son of the city's mastermind fell in love with a prophet who predicted the coming of a Savior in a futuristic city that was sharply divided between the working class and the planners.
The Border Sheriff
Carter Brace is out to murder Belden. Collins who was sent to bring in the border gang led by Brace, saves Belden's life in San Francisco. When they all reach the border, Brace tries again.
During the period of Austrian postwar hyperinflation, we follow two women, Marie and Grete, from the same poor Viennese neighborhood, as they try to improve their lives for themselves and their famili...
The Saga of Gosta Berling
Gösta Berling is a young and attractive minister. Because of his alcoholism and his daring sermons, he is finally defrocked. He becomes a tutor of countess Marta's stepdaughter and they fall in love. ...
The Finances of the Grand Duke
The Grand Duke of Abacco is in dire straits. The main creditor is looking forward to expropriating the entire Duchy because there is no money left to service the debt. A crucial letter of hers about t...
The Last Laugh
An aging doorman, after being fired from his prestigious job at a luxurious Hotel is forced to face the scorn of his friends, neighbours and society.
Sodom and Gomorrah
Exposed to bad influences since childhood, Mary, a young girl is pushed by her mother to approach an elderly banker by the name of Harber. After almost driving her fiancee to suicide and seducing his ...
The Golem: How He Came into the World
Under the rule of a tyrant in the 16th century, a rabbi created a giant warrior to protect his people. Sculpted of clay and animated by the secrets of the Cabala, the Golem was a seemingly unstoppable...
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