Cast & Crew
Edgar G. Ulmer
In New York, Nat Silver, who has become wealthy through hard work, is given a bachelor party two weeks before his planned wedding to his eighth bride-to-be. Although Nat is unsure why the previous weddings were all called off at the last minute, he wonders if it could be because of his lack of spunk or nerve, or that he does not want anyone to marry him for his money. He thinks, however, that this time there is real love. That night, a man visits Nat, and after pulling a gun, identifies himself as Joe Pinches, the childhood sweetheart of his bride-to-be Shirley. After Joe accuses Nat of stealing Shirley and threatens to shoot himself, Nat agrees to break the engagement. When Nat breaks the news to his mother and sister Elvie, his mother laments that broken engagements run in the family and tells about Uncle Shya, a matchmaker in Europe, who never married and thought that by helping others he might help himself. With his uncle in mind, Nat, who tells his mother and sister that he is going to Europe, secretly opens offices in the Bronx, under the name of Nat Gold, as an adviser in human relations. With the assistance of a doctor, psychiatrist, lawyer and rabbi, Nat attempts to "scientifically" examine all clients and, with an elaborate filing system, perfect the art of matchmaking. In addition, Nat, who refuses to accept money for his services, gives in to the entreaties of a persistent publicity man and allows him to run a campaign as long as Nat's photograph is not part of it. When pickets led by Simon P. Schwalbenrock protest that Nat is hurting the business of other schadkens , or matchmakers, Nat offers to hire the schadkens and pay their wages once they have proven themselves. As the business prospers, Nat is visited by Mrs. Aarons, who is worried because her daughter Judith is dating "all sorts of crackpots," including artists, actors and dancers. Judith is stubbornly set against having others make a match for her, but Nat, taking this as a challenge, offers to introduce her to worthy men from good families. Judith sees the sadness in Nat's life, and as he finds a match for her, she investigates him and learns that he has done a lot of good for others. At dinner in the city, Nat talks up his match for Judith, Milton Geller, an athlete and scholar. Judith tries to flirt with Nat, but when he says that he will be happy if she accepts Milton, she agrees in frustration. When Elvie comes to the office for advice about her brother, Nat, shrouded in darkness, listens as she confesses her love for him and her desire to see him happy. Nat then reveals himself and embraces his sister. As Judith prepares for the wedding to Milton, her mother realizes that she loves Nat, and that she is going through with the wedding only to make Nat happy. Before the wedding, Nat, the best man, brings Judith the ring to see if it fits, but when she pointedly asks him to put it on her finger, he refuses in embarrassment. He does put a bracelet on her wrist, but fails to realize or acknowledge that she loves him. At the wedding, Nat receives a telegram from Milton saying that he is unable to go through with it and is leaving for South America. Nat blames himself for ruining Judith's life, whereupon Judith pushes him into a chair, calls him an idiot and says he still has a chance to make good by marrying her himself. Shocked, Nat is further surprised when she kisses him. He kisses her back and they get married.
Edgar G. Ulmer
J. Burgi Contner
Hans E. Mandl
Edgar G. Ulmer
Ulmer also produced and photographed The American Matchmaker, which was written by his wife, Shirley. The movie stars Leo Fuchs, who has been called "the Yiddish Fred Astaire," as Nat Silver, a wealthy and debonair New Yorker who decides to open a matchmaking business in the Bronx after his eighth planned marriage fails on the way to the altar. Hired by a local housewife to find a match for her daughter (Judith Abarbanel), Nat discovers that the young woman is falling in love with the matchmaker himself. Fuchs also plays his Uncle Shya, whose luck in matchmaking in the old country has inspired his nephew to follow suit.
The film spoofs the idea of matchmaking, with Nat turning the enterprise into an American-styled business with staff meetings and elaborate advertising -- though traditional old-country values win out in the end. Although some 90% of the dialogue and lyrics is in Yiddish (with the remaining 10% in English), Ulmer himself did not speak the language.
The Austrian-born Ulmer, who settled in Hollywood in 1930, also made Ukrainian films and an all-black-cast musical (Moon Over Harlem, 1939), during his "ethnic" period. He reportedly had been driven out of mainstream movie-making after The Black Cat because he had an affair with Shirley Castle, then married to Max Alexander, nephew of powerful Universal studio tycoon Carl Laemmle.
Ulmer and Castle later enjoyed a marriage that lasted until his death in 1972. Shirley Ulmer acted as script supervisor on nearly all of her husband's films from 1934 on. She also wrote books, taught classes in script supervision and, after her husband's death, spoke at many tributes to him.
Producer, Director, Cinematographer: Edgar G. Ulmer
Screenplay: Shirley Ulmer, from story by Gustav H. Heimo
Production Design: William Saulter
Original Music: Sam Morgenstern
Editing: Hans E. Mandl
Principal Cast: Leo Fuchs (Nat Silver/Uncle Shya), Judith Abarbanel (Judith Aarons), Judel Dubinsky (Maurice), Anna Guskin (Elvie Silver), Celia Brodkin (Mother Silver), Rosetta Bialis (Mother Aarons).
by Roger Fristoe
The English language title of this film is American Matchmaker. According to New York Times, it was shot in the Bronx. S. Castle is a pseudonym for Shirley Ulmer, the wife of the director.