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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, screenwriter, production designer, actor, assistant director, set designer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

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"...

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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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  The Cavern (1965) Director
3.
  Hannibal (1960) Director
4.
5.
  Beyond the Time Barrier (1960) Director
6.
  The Naked Venus (1959) Director
7.
  Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957) Director
8.
  Murder Is My Beat (1955) Director
9.
  The Naked Dawn (1955) Director
10.

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

:
While student, was employed as actor and assistant set designer at Burg Theater in Vienna
1918:
Designer for Decla-Bioscope film company, Berlin
1919:
Worked as set designer and assistant director on Max Reinhardt's stage productions
1922:
Worked with Murnau as assistant and art director on "The Last Laugh" and "Faust"
1923:
Travelled to US with Max Reinhardt's production, "The Miracle"; stayed to design sets for Martin Beck on Broadway and Universal in Hollwood
1925:
Returned to Germany; became director F.W. Murnau's assistant
:
Accompanied Murnau to Hollywood and assisted him on "Sunrise" and "Tabu"
1929:
Returned to Berlin to collaborate with Robert Siodmak directing the semi-documentary, "Menschen am Sontag/People on Sunday"
:
Worked as art director at MGM and stage designer for Philadelphia Grand Opera Company
1933:
Directed first film in USA, "Mr. Broadway"
1934:
Teamed Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in "The Black Cat"
:
While under contract with Universal, directed Western films under the pseudonym John Warner
1945:
Helmed the cult classic "Detour"
1946:
Formed own production company Mid-Century
:
Filmed in Italy, Germany or Spain during the last 15 years of career
1965:
Made final film, "The Cavern"
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Education

University of Vienna: -
Academy of Arts: - 1918

Notes

There is some question as to whether Mr. Ulmer was born in 1900 or 1904. Sources are divided on this issue. This database is using 1900 based on information from the 1930s.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Shirley Castle. Author, actor, script supervisor. Married in 1930s; wrote story on which Ulmer's film, "Thunder Over Texas" (1934) was based; was formerly married to producer Max Alexander; died in L.A. on July 6, 2000 at age 86.

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Arianne Ulmer Cipes. Actor. Appeared in several of father's post-war films; mother, Shirley Castle.

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