Edgar G. Ulmer


Director
Edgar G. Ulmer

About

Also Known As
Edgar Georg Ulmer, Edgar Ulmer, John Warner, Ove H. Sehested, John Warner [Edgar G. Ulmer]
Birth Place
Austria
Born
September 17, 1900
Died
September 30, 1972
Cause of Death
Stroke

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 assistan...

Photos & Videos

Detour - Publicity Stills
Her Sister's Secret - Movie Poster
Beyond the Time Barrier - Lobby Cards

Family & Companions

Shirley Castle
Wife
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.

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.

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" (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.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Journey Beneath the Desert (1967)
Director
The Cavern (1965)
Director
Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
Director
The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)
Director
Hannibal (1960)
Director
The Naked Venus (1959)
Director
Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957)
Director
The Naked Dawn (1955)
Director
Murder Is My Beat (1955)
Director
The Loves of Three Queens (1954)
Director
Babes in Bagdad (1952)
Director
St. Benny the Dip (1951)
Director
The Man from Planet X (1951)
Director
The Pirates of Capri (1949)
Director
Ruthless (1948)
Director
Carnegie Hall (1947)
Director
Detour (1946)
Director
Her Sister's Secret (1946)
Director
The Wife of Monte Cristo (1946)
Director
The Strange Woman (1946)
Director
Strange Illusion (1945)
Director
Club Havana (1945)
Director
Bluebeard (1944)
Director
Jive Junction (1943)
Director
Girls in Chains (1943)
Director
My Son, the Hero (1943)
Director
Isle of Forgotten Sins (1943)
Director
Tomorrow We Live (1942)
Director
Americaner Schadchen (1940)
Director
Cossacks in Exile (1939)
Director
The Light Ahead (1939)
Director
Moon over Harlem (1939)
Director
The Singing Blacksmith (1938)
Director
Natalka Poltavka (1937)
Director
Green Fields (1937)
Director
From Nine to Nine (1935)
Director
The Black Cat (1934)
Director
Thunder over Texas (1934)
Director
Mr. Broadway (1933)
Director of flashback scene
Damaged Lives (1933)
Director
Aloha (1931)
Assistant Director
People on Sunday (1930)
Director

Cinematography (Feature Film)

The World's Greatest Sinner (1962)
Director of Photography

Writer (Feature Film)

The Wife of Monte Cristo (1946)
Adaptation
Isle of Forgotten Sins (1943)
Based upon an Original story by
My Son, the Hero (1943)
Original Screenplay
Girls in Chains (1943)
Based upon a story by
Danger! Women at Work (1943)
Story
Corregidor (1943)
Original story and Screenplay
Prisoner of Japan (1942)
Story
The Light Ahead (1939)
Screenwriter
The Black Cat (1934)
Story
We Live Again (1934)
Contract Writer
Mr. Broadway (1933)
Wrt of flashback scene
Damaged Lives (1933)
Story

Producer (Feature Film)

The Cavern (1965)
Producer

Art Director (Feature Film)

Journey Beneath the Desert (1967)
Production Design
Babes in Bagdad (1952)
Production Design
Bluebeard (1944)
Production Design
Minstrel Man (1944)
Production Design
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Assistant art Director

Art Department (Feature Film)

The Light Ahead (1939)
Landscapes and settings

Production Companies (Feature Film)

Americaner Schadchen (1940)
Company
Moon over Harlem (1939)
Company
Green Fields (1937)
Company

Life Events

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

1929

Returned to Berlin to collaborate with Robert Siodmak directing the semi-documentary, "Menschen am Sontag/People on Sunday"

1933

Directed first film in USA, "Mr. Broadway"

1934

Teamed Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in "The Black Cat"

1945

Helmed the cult classic "Detour"

1946

Formed own production company Mid-Century

1965

Made final film, "The Cavern"

Photo Collections

Detour - Publicity Stills
Detour - Publicity Stills
Her Sister's Secret - Movie Poster
Her Sister's Secret - Movie Poster
Beyond the Time Barrier - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Beyond the Time Barrier (1959), directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Man from Planet X - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from The Man from Planet X (1951). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Her Sister's Secret (1946) - My Past Is An Open Bottle After apparently genuine New Orleans Mardi Gras footage, director Edgar G. Ulmer taking full advantage of an elaborate set, introducing Pepe (Felix Bressart), his lead Toni (Nancy Coleman), her escort (George Meeker) and an admiring soldier (Philip Reed), in Her Sister's Secret, 1946.
Detour (1946) - That Rotten Tune Crisp opening from director Edgar G. Ulmer, Tom Neal, narrating, as "Al," Esther Howard the waitress, Pat Gleason the truck driver, bargain lighting by Benjamin H. Kline, from the legendary no-budget Noir Detour, 1946.
Detour (1946) - There Was A Woman Rightly troubled Al (Tom Neal), on his first day impersonating the deceased Haskell, comes upon Vera (Ann Savage), on whom he has extensive comments, her first scene in her now-celebrated Noir role, in Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour, 1946.
Detour (1946) - He Died Of Old Age Cruel hitcher Vera (Ann Savage) and nervous drifter Al (Tom Neal) arriving in Los Angeles, she having taken charge upon revealing that she knows he is not the dead salesman he's been impersonating, cold business, in Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour, 1946.
Black Cat, The (1934) - The Years Have Been Kind After their bus wreck, Peter (David Manners) and unconscious bride Joan (Jacqueline Wells) are led, maybe not by accident, by Dr. Werdegast (Bela Lugosi) to the home of his old acquaintance Poelzig (Boris Karloff), in The Black Cat, 1934, directed by Edgar Ulmer.
Black Cat, The (1934) - All-Consuming Horror Released prisoner Dr. Werdegast (Bela Lugosi) and host Poelzig (Boris Karloff) have just been arguing over old feuds when tourist Peter (David Manners), joins them, with a cat, then his wife (Jacqueline Wells), in The Black Cat, 1934.
Murder Is My Beat (1955) - I Don't Think I'll Ever Get Clean Opening grim and getting worse, director Edgar G. Ulmer introduces characters Bert Rawley (Robert Shayne) then Ray Patrick (Paul Langton) who, we soon learn, are both cops, expressing disgust and regret leading to the initial flashback, in Murder Is My Beat, 1955, also starring Barbara Payton.
Murder Is My Beat (1955) - I'm Not On The Vice Squad LA cop Ray (Paul Langton), who we know winds up disgraced, continues his first flashback, after finding a corpse in a fireplace, meeting a barkeep (Jay Adler), then the roommate (Tracy Roberts) of the chief witness and/or suspect, in director Edgar G. Ulmer’s Murder Is My Beat, 1955.
Murder Is My Beat (1955) - I'd Seen Too Much Killing From the screenplay by Aubrey Wisberg, LA cop Ray (Paul Langton) narrates his arrival in snowy northern California where we meet Eden (Barbara Payton), at the cabin owned by the guy she’s presumed to have killed and left in a fireplace, in director Edgar G. Ulmer’s Murder Is My Beat, 1955.
Her Sister's Secret (1946) - The Best Way To Forget Some craft from director Edgar G. Ulmer, as Toni (Nancy Coleman) has hurried to New York to visit married older sister Renee (Margaret Lindsay), and reveals that she is, as we suspected, pregnant by her soldier boyfriend, whom she thinks abandoned her, in Her Sister's Secret, 1946.
Bluebeard (1944) - Opening Credits pening credit sequence followed by violence and warnings giving 19th century Parisians substantial cause for alarm in Edgar G. Ulmer's Bluebeard, 1944, starring John Carradine.
Bluebeard (1944) - Too Many Questions Soldat (Emmett Lynn) escorts seamstress Lucille (Jean Parker) to the studio of painter and puppeteer Gaston Morrell (John Carradine) in director Edgar G. Ulmer's creepy Bluebeard, 1944.

Trailer

Family

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

Companions

Shirley Castle
Wife
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.

Bibliography

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.