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Overview for Edgar G. Ulmer
Edgar G. Ulmer

Edgar G. Ulmer



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Also Known As: Edgar Georg Ulmer,Edgar Ulmer,John Warner,Edgar Ulmer,Ove H. Sehested,John Warner [Edgar G. Ulmer] Died: September 30, 1972
Born: September 17, 1900 Cause of Death: stroke
Birth Place: Austria Profession: Director ... director screenwriter production designer actor assistant director set designer


Prolific director of relatively minor fare who nevertheless created a wide assortment of odd, low-budget gems. Originally a stage actor and set designer, Ulmer did his first film work as an art director as early as 1919, became an assistant to theater impresario Max Reinhardt and crossed the Atlantic several times, working in both theater and film. After serving as F.W. Murnau's assistant for six years, he made his feature debut in Germany, co-directing with Robert Siodmak the landmark documentary-style slice-of-life drama, "People on Sunday" (1929).

In 1931 Ulmer settled in the US, working first as a production designer and then a director of second features. He made one major studio picture, the Universal horror classic, "The Black Cat" (1934), but otherwise worked for a variety of low-budget outfits known collectively and colloquially as "Poverty Row" studios; Ulmer also worked on a number of films outside the Hollywood production apparatus, as with several Yiddish-language films. At "Poverty Row" in the 40s, he turned out a number of fast-paced programmers, including the grim and influential film noir classic "Detour" (1946), and entertaining programmers such as "Bluebeard" (1946) and "Ruthless" (1948).

Ulmer himself declared that he preferred to work in this milieu ("I did not want to be ground up in the Hollywood hash machine") and, despite budgetary constraints, he was awarded a degree of creative freedom that he would not have had with the major studios. The result is a distinctive personal stamp present on many of his films, partly thanks to his roots in the German expressionist movement and his experience in design.

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