Robert Siodmak


Director
Robert Siodmak

About

Birth Place
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Born
August 08, 1900
Died
March 10, 1973

Biography

Master craftsman of suspense and crime films who, in the mid-1940s, applied his Germanic sensibility to a series of exquisitely styled Hollywood thrillers including "The Spiral Staircase" and "The Killers" (both 1946).Born in the USA but raised in Germany (from age one), Siodmak began working for UFA in 1925 and directed his first film, the landmark pseudo-documentary "People on Sunday,"...

Photos & Videos

Bibliography

"Robert Siodmak: A Biography"
Deborah Lazaroff

Biography

Master craftsman of suspense and crime films who, in the mid-1940s, applied his Germanic sensibility to a series of exquisitely styled Hollywood thrillers including "The Spiral Staircase" and "The Killers" (both 1946).

Born in the USA but raised in Germany (from age one), Siodmak began working for UFA in 1925 and directed his first film, the landmark pseudo-documentary "People on Sunday," in 1929. The film launched the careers not only of co-directors Siodmak and Edgar Ulmer, but of co-screenwriters Billy Wilder and Curt Siodmak (Robert's younger brother), cinematographer Eugen Schufftan and his assistant, Fred Zinnemann.

Siodmak's first solo feature was "Farewell" (1930), a kind of working-class "Grand Hotel." Scripted by Emeric Pressburger (whom Siodmak had earlier "discovered" while working as a writing scout), its technical accomplishment and experimental verve heralded an important new talent in German cinema. Three years and three films later, however, the Jewish Siodmak was forced into exile, first in France, where he made, among others, the enjoyable "42nd Street" clone, "La Crise est Finis" (1934) and the darker drama "Pieges/Personal Column" (1939), and then, in 1941, to Hollywood.

After making several light, highly enjoyable B pictures for various studios, Siodmak hit his peak at Universal making deft, noirish thrillers like "Phantom Lady" (1943), "The Suspect" (1945), "Uncle Harry" (1945), "The Dark Mirror" (1946), and an especially superb pair of crime dramas, "Criss Cross" (1949) and "Cry of the City" (1949, for 20th Century-Fox). Central to the success of all of these is Siodmak's ability to evoke a sinister mood, a fear of each and every dark shadow, while maintaining a taut narrative drive.

Siodmak's last great Hollywood product was the parodistic swashbuckling classic "The Crimson Pirate" (1952). He then returned to Europe and, with the exception of such mature efforts as the very fine German-made melodramas and crime dramas "The Rats" (1955), "The Devil Strikes at Night" (1957), and "Dorothea Angermann" (1958) turned out mostly unexceptional films into the 60s.

Siodmak's brother Curt enjoyed success as a writer of horror films ("I Walked With a Zombie" 1943, "The Beast With Five Fingers" 1947) but earned less acclaim for his directing work.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Custer of the West (1968)
Director
Die Pyramide des Sonnengottes (1965)
Director
Pyramid of the Sun God (1965)
Director
Der Schatz Der Azteken (1965)
Director
Magnificent Sinner (1963)
Director
Escape From East Berlin (1962)
Director
Portrait of a Sinner (1961)
Director
L' Affaire Nina B (1961)
Director
Mein Schulefreund (1960)
Director
Dorothea Angermann (1959)
Director
The Devil Strikes at Night (1959)
Director
Mein Vater, der Schauspieler (1956)
Director
The Rats (1955)
Director
Le Grand Jeu (1954)
Director
The Crimson Pirate (1952)
Director
The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951)
Director
Deported (1950)
Director
The File on Thelma Jordon (1950)
Director
Criss Cross (1949)
Director
The Great Sinner (1949)
Director
Cry of the City (1948)
Director
Time Out of Mind (1947)
Director
The Killers (1946)
Director
The Spiral Staircase (1946)
Director
The Dark Mirror (1946)
Director
The Suspect (1945)
Director
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945)
Director
Phantom Lady (1944)
Director
Cobra Woman (1944)
Director
Christmas Holiday (1944)
Director
Someone to Remember (1943)
Director
Son of Dracula (1943)
Director
The Night Before the Divorce (1942)
Director
My Heart Belongs to Daddy (1942)
Director
Fly-by-Night (1942)
Director
West Point Widow (1941)
Director
Pieges (1939)
Director
Ultimatum (1938)
Director
Cargaison Blanche (1937)
Director
Mollenard (1937)
Director
Parisian Life (1936)
Director
La Vie Parisienne (1935)
Director
La Crise Est Finie (1934)
Director
Le Sexe Faible (1933)
Director
Brennendes Geheimnis (1933)
Director
Autour d'une enquete (1931)
Director
Voruntersuchung (1931)
Director
Der Mann, der Seinen Morder Sucht (1931)
Director
Abschied (1930)
Director
People on Sunday (1930)
Director

Writer (Feature Film)

L' Affaire Nina B (1961)
Screenwriter
Conflict (1945)
Original Story
Der Mann, der Seinen Morder Sucht (1931)
Screenwriter
People on Sunday (1930)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

The Devil Strikes at Night (1959)
Producer
The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951)
Executive Producer
Time Out of Mind (1947)
Producer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)
Other

Life Events

1925

Entered German film industry as title writer for imported US movies

1926

Began working as editor

1929

Directorial debut, "People on Sunday"

1941

First US film, "West Point Widow"

Photo Collections

Phantom Lady - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Phantom Lady - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Killers - Movie Posters
Here are a few original release American movie posters for Universal's The Killers (1946), starring Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner.

Videos

Movie Clip

Conflict (1945) - Are Your Ears Burning? Leaving a party, Richard (Humphrey Bogart) driving, with wife Kathryn (Rose Hobart) and her sister Evelyn (Alexis Smith), whom he prefers, then director Curtis Bernhardt's take on losing consciousness, in Conflict, 1945.
Conflict (1945) - You're Walking Without Help! Kathryn (Rose Hobart) driving to a mountain retreat, surprised to find injured husband Richard (Humphrey Bogart) awaiting her, a fulfilling murder scene by director Curtis Bernhardt in Conflict, 1945.
Phantom Lady (1944) - I Slept Like A Guilty Man First scene together for New York engineer Henderson (Alan Curtis) and devoted secretary Carol “Kansas” (Ella Raines), after he’s been convicted of murdering his wife, which we know he didn’t do, Robert Siodmak directing from a Cornell Woolrich novel, in Phantom Lady, 1944.
Phantom Lady (1944) - Too Spoiled And Too Beautiful We learn here that Alan Curtis is professional engineer Henderson, returning home after a date with a mystery woman, with whom he shared a Broadway ticket after his wife stood him up, greeted by cops Regis Toomey, Joseph Crehan, and Thomas Gomez as Burgess, early in Robert Siodmak’s Phantom Lady, 1944.
Phantom Lady (1944) - It Would Be Fun To Laugh Nobody gets a name here, the actors are Alan Curtis, Fay Helm, and Andrew Tombes as the bartender, Robert Siodmak directing, from the first novel by writer Cornell Woolrich written under his “William Irish” pseudonym, in Phantom Lady, 1944, also starring Ella Raines and Franchot Tone.
Phantom Lady (1944) - You Sure Know How To Beat It Out Incredible scene from director Robert Siodmak and cinematographer Woody Bredell, heretofore reserved Carol (Ella Raines) now vamped up to get at jazz drummer Cliff (Elisha Cook Jr.), who’s known to be hiding evidence that could have cleared her boss, who’s been convicted of murder, best-known men in the band are Barney Bigard on clarinet and Freddie Slack on piano, in Phantom Lady, 1944.
Phantom Lady (1944) - A Pair Of Hands Carol (Ella Raines), hoping to get her bosses’ murder conviction reversed, flees the rooms of drummer Cliff (Elisha Cook Jr.), after he realized she was seducing him to get information, so as she calls her cop friend, we meet top-billed Franchot Tone, nearly 50 minutes into the picture, who seems to be the guy who paid him to lie, in Phantom Lady, 1944.
Conflict (1945) - Burst Of Youthful Romance Opening chat between Kathryn (Rose Hobart) and Richard (Humphrey Bogart), on the evening of their fifth wedding anniversary, her sister Evelyn (Alexis Smith) joining, in Curtis Bernhardt's Conflict, 1945.
Criss Cross (1949) - Everything That Went Before Director Robert Siodmak’s high octane opening, Burt Lancaster as Steve and Yvonne De Carlo as Anna, urgent and passionate outside a Los Angeles night club, her husband the seething “Slim” (Dan Duryea) giving the headwaiter (Vincent Renno) a hard time, in Criss Cross, 1949.
Criss Cross (1949) - He Tries To Work It Out The bit-player cast as the dance partner of Anna (Yvonne De Carlo) is Tony Curtis, duly mesmerized as she digs into “Jungle Fantasy” by Puerto Rican musician Esy Morales and his band, Burt Lancaster as her ex-husband Steve narrating the back-story, in Robert Siodmak’s Criss Cross, 1949.
Criss Cross (1949) - It All Went One Way Heretofore 100% honest armored car driver Steve (Burt Lancaster) with colleague and family friend Pop (Griff Barnett) not knowing about the heist, recalls his ex-wife (Yvonne DeCarlo) and how he first got involved, Percy Helton the bartender, in Robert Siodmak’s Criss Cross, 1949.
Killers, The (1946) - The More I Know Of Love The song wasn't much but jaws dropped, as Kitty (Ava Gardner, her own vocal, her breakthrough role) made her first appearance, Swede (Burt Lancaster) falling hard, joined by Sam and Lily (Sam Levene, Virginia Christine) in The Killers, 1946.

Trailer

Family

Curt Siodmak
Brother
Screenwriter, director.

Bibliography

"Robert Siodmak: A Biography"
Deborah Lazaroff