Robert Siodmak (born August 8, 1900 in Dresden , † March 10, 1973 in Locarno ) was a German film director , screenwriter and film producer . With the film Menschen am Sonntag in 1929 he made one of the most important representatives of the New Objectivity . He fled Germany from the National Socialist dictatorship and made a name for himself in Hollywood in the 1940s as a director of thrillers and film noirs , such as The Spiral Staircase and Avengers of the Underworld , which are classics of their genres .
Siodmak came from a Jewish family. His parents were the businessman Ignatz Siodmak and his wife Rosa Philippine, née Blum. Ignatz Siodmak came from Silesia , had emigrated to America and then, as a US citizen, settled in Germany in 1899, where he married. Robert's younger brother Curt Siodmak was born here in 1902 . His mother died of cancer before her 40th birthday, and his youngest brother Rolf committed suicide at the age of 20. Robert broke with his father in his youth.
Siodmak attended grammar school in Dresden and took acting lessons from Erich Ponto . In 1918 he joined a touring stage . In 1921 he worked as an accountant at the Mattersdorf and Schermer banks in Dresden, in 1924 he founded the Robert Siodmak publishing house and briefly published the magazine Das Magazin .
One of Siodmak's first film commissions was the translation of the subtitles for Lewis Milestones Die Schlachtenbummler (1927). At Nero-Film AG in Berlin, which is managed by his uncle Heinrich Nebenzahl , he established himself as an editor and assistant director for films by Harry Piel and Kurt Bernhardt . Finally, Siodmak was able to persuade Nebenzahl to provide him with the starting capital for his debut film Menschen am Sonntag .
Career in Germany and France 1929–1939
In Menschen am Sonntag (shot in 1929, premiered in 1930), Robert Siodmak, together with Edgar G. Ulmer , directed for the first time himself. Due to the success of this semi-documentary film, which was exclusively made up of amateurs , he received a contract with Universum Film (UFA) , for which he directed film dramas , crime films and film comedies . The actors Siodmak worked with quickly included film greats like Emil Jannings and Hans Albers . When he did not reply to FP1 in 1932 , a film adaptation of Curt Siodmak's novel, was passed over because of his Jewish roots, he left the UFA. Burning Secret , Siodmak's screen version of Stefan Zweig's novel Burning Secret, was published in 1933 . The performance of the film was banned by Joseph Goebbels ' recently established Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda , which suspected allusions to the Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933.
After the " seizure of power " by the National Socialists, Siodmak left Germany and went to France . In Paris he worked, among other things, for the Néro-Films of his cousin Seymour Nebenzahl , who like Siodmak had to emigrate. The greatest public success of this creative period was the film Girl Dealer (Pièges) with Maurice Chevalier , Marie Déa and Erich von Stroheim in 1939 . Siodmak's plan to film Ödön von Horváth's novel Jugend ohne Gott failed due to the author's sudden accidental death.
The American years 1939–1952
With the beginning of the Second World War , Siodmak emigrated to the USA. He initially worked for Paramount Pictures , 20th Century Fox and Republic Pictures . His application to Mark Hellinger , then a producer at Warner Brothers , was unsuccessful, although Hellinger later hired him for Avengers of the Underworld . In 1943 he made his first film with Dracula's son for Universal Studios , with which he remained under contract until 1950. In retrospect, Siodmak made derogatory comments about his American films made before a witness wanted (1944), which he viewed as pure bread-making.
Witness wanted heralded a series of thrillers and film noirs, some of which are now classics of their genres. Witness Wanted , Avengers of the Underworld (1946), and Daring Alibi (1949) promoted the careers of Burt Lancaster , Ava Gardner , Ella Raines and Tony Curtis . "If you are successful with one type of film, you get the contract to shoot more of this type," Siodmak explained in 1959, explaining the weighting of his films from those years. In these works, film historians discovered the examination of “pathological psychology” (Charles Higham) and “obsessive love and hate” (Colin McArthur) as well as “German lighting and expressionistic transformation of external reality” (Foster Hirsch) as similarities in content and style . David Thomson, on the other hand, described Siodmak as a pure "commissioned director" and doubted whether one could speak of artistic authorship in his case. Universal also repeatedly "loaned" Siodmak to other studios, such as RKO Pictures for Die Wendeltreppe (1945), 20th Century Fox for Schrei der Großstadt (1948) and MGM for the Dostoevsky film adaptation of The Player (1949).
The criminal case Thelma Jordon (1950), staged for Paramount, ended Siodmak's Noir series. He turned down another seven-year contract offer from Universal. In 1952 Siodmak shot the adventure film The Red Corsair, his last American film before leaving his adopted country. The shooting was marked by ongoing arguments between him and lead actor Burt Lancaster, who had since become a star. Siodmak preferred the old Hollywood studio system, which was dying out in the late 1940s, to the new studio conditions, in which, in his words, “ anarchy ” prevailed and “egomaniacal” stars were in charge, and went back to Europe .
Curt Siodmak and film historian Hervé Dumont cited another reason for Siodmak's departure from Hollywood that he was targeted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in the 1940s and 1950s because of his personal acquaintance with Charlie Chaplin Checked filmmakers for their political leanings. Even if this claim has not been proven, the genesis of his last film in Hollywood, The Red Corsair, is an example of how a director could let the HUAC censors run and expose them. Siodmak is said to have rewritten the script, originally written by Waldo Salt , as a comedy within two days , after Salt was accused of being a communist eight days before shooting began and his script was therefore not allowed to be made into a film.
Back in Europe 1952–1973
In the mid-1950s, Siodmak settled in Ascona on the Swiss bank of Lake Maggiore and was again directing in Germany. Again he worked on such diverse fields as the thriller, the film drama, the Western and the historical film . “If, like Hitchcock, I had only made crime films my whole life, my name would be known as well. But that bored me and I tried different areas. "(Siodmak)
For Die Ratten (1955), his film adaptation of Gerhart Hauptmann 's play of the same name , he was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival . The night when the devil came by him in 1957 received numerous national and international awards, including an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film . The film deals with the case of the alleged serial killer Bruno Lüdke against the historical background of National Socialism. In his autobiography , Siodmak noted that of the films he made after returning from the United States, he was only proud of these two.
Siodmak shot with well-known actors such as Maria Schell , Curd Jürgens , Heinz Rühmann and Romy Schneider , and most of the films were profitable at the box office, if not always successful with criticism. My school friend (1960) and Affair Nina B. (1961) had National Socialism as a thematic background after the night when the devil came again. In 1964 and 1965, Siodmak directed three Karl May film adaptations with Lex Barker, produced by Artur Brauner : The Schut , The Aztec Treasure and The Pyramid of the Sun God . In Spain , Siodmak shot the western A Day to Fight for US producer Philip Yordan . In 1968 and 1969 the two-part monumental film Battle for Rome, again produced by Brauner, was released based on Felix Dahn's historical novel A Battle for Rome , published in 1876 .
The fight for Rome remained Siodmak's last directorial work, the planned project “Atrox” with James Mason was no longer realized. Regardless of this, he showed great interest in international cinematic events right up to the end, and was impressed by the French Nouvelle Vague , the Italian cinema and Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather . Siodmak made a brief appearance in Thomas Schamoni's film A Large Gray-Blue Bird (1970). His wife Bertha, whom he married in Paris on November 16, 1933, died on January 20, 1973. Two months later, on March 10, 1973, Robert Siodmak died of a heart attack at the age of 72 .
The obituaries in the Spiegel and in the New York Times both presented themselves with incorrect information about the life and work of the director: While the Spiegel moved Siodmak's birthplace to the USA (a legend that Siodmak himself created in the 1930s in order to obtain a foreign visa received), the New York Times awarded him the title "Master of the low-key thrillers of the 1950s". For the first edition of Siodmak's ( posthumously published) autobiography, the editor Hans-Christoph Blumenberg wrote : “He made films about murderous obsessions, about unstable weaklings who are hopelessly entangled in morbid family ties and who try to free themselves through crimes [...] about lonely, unhappy people Men in the thicket of cities [...] but it would be impossible to discover a definitive Siodmak touch: stylistic and thematic constants that hold the whole work together, which was spread over exactly forty years and many countries. ”1965, when Siodmak's career was already developing Pauline Kael stated in I Lost It at the Movies : “I suspect that anyone interested in films uses the name of a director as a guide […] in the 1940s my friends and I were looking for them Films by Robert Siodmak [...] [these were] often wrongly attributed to other directors or media present producers. "
In 1980 the National Film Theater in London showed a retrospective of Robert Siodmak's films. In 1998 the Berlin International Film Festival dedicated a retrospective to the Siodmak brothers , which Curt Siodmak, who died two years later, attended.
- 1929: People on Sunday
- 1930: The fight with the dragon or: The tragedy of the subtenant
- 1930: Farewell
- 1931: Autour d'une enquête
- 1931: The man who is looking for his murderer
- 1931: preliminary investigation
- 1931: Storms of Passion
- 1932: tumult
- 1932: Quick
- 1933: Burning secret
- 1933: La sexe faible
- 1934: La crise est finie
- 1936: Parisian life (La vie parisienne)
- 1936: Le grand refrain
- 1936: Mister Flow
- 1937: White freight for Rio (Cargaison blanche)
- 1938: Mollenard
- 1938: Ultimatum (directed by Robert Wiene )
- 1938: Les frères corses
- 1939: Girl trafficker (Pièges)
- 1941: West Point Widow
- 1942: The Night Bevore the Divorce
- 1942: My Heart Belongs to Daddy
- 1943: Someone to Remember
- 1943: Dracula's son (Son of Dracula)
- 1944: The Serpent (Cobra Woman)
- 1944: Witness wanted (Phantom Lady)
- 1944: Christmas holidays (Christmas Holiday)
- 1944: Under Suspect
- 1945: Uncle Harry's Strange Affair (The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry)
- 1945: The spiral staircase (The Spiral Staircase)
- 1946: Avengers of the Underworld (The Killers)
- 1946: The black mirror (The Dark Mirror)
- 1947: Time Out of Mind (also production)
- 1948: Cry of the City (Cry of the City)
- 1949: The player (The Great Sinner)
- 1949: Daring Alibi (Criss Cross)
- 1950: Thelma Jordon criminal case (The File on Thelma Jordon)
- 1950: Abgeschoben (Deported)
- 1951: The Whistle at Eaton Falls
- 1952: The Crimson Pirate (The Crimson Pirate)
- 1954: The last stage (Le grand jeu)
- 1955: The rats
- 1956: My father, the actor
- 1957: At night when the devil came (also production)
- 1957: Operation Football (TV series OSS , also production)
- 1957: Operation Flint Ax (TV series OSS , also production)
- 1957: Operation Powder Puff (TV series OSS , also production)
- 1957: Operation Eel (TV series OSS , also production)
- 1959: The Bitter and the Sweet (The Rough and the Smooth)
- 1959: Dorothea Angermann
- 1959: Katja, the uncrowned Empress (Katia)
- 1960: My school friend
- 1961: Affair Nina B. (L'affaire Nina B.)
- 1962: Tunnel 28
- 1964: Der Schut (also screenplay)
- 1965: The Aztec Treasure
- 1965: The pyramid of the sun god
- 1967: A Day to Fight (Custer of the West)
- 1968: Battle for Rome (two parts)
- 1947: Oscar nomination (Best Director) for Avengers of the Underworld
- 1955: Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Die Ratten
- 1958: Golden Bowl ( best full-length feature film ), film tape in silver (best feature film with special state-political content) and film tape in gold ( best director ) for the night when the devil came
- 1958: Karlovy Vary Film Festival Award (Best Director) for Night When the Devil Came
- 1958: Berlin Senate Prize for Night when the Devil Came
- 1958: Oscar nomination (Best Foreign Film) for The Night When the Devil Came
- 1971: Filmband in gold for many years of outstanding work in German film
- Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. Published by Hans C. Blumenberg . Herbig, Munich 1980, 295 pages, ISBN 3-8004-0892-9 .
- Hervé Dumont: Robert Siodmak: Le maître du film noir. L'age d'homme, 1990
- Wolfgang Jacobsen: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 24, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-428-11205-0 , p. 475 f. ( ). In:
- Wolfgang Jacobsen, Hans Helmut Prinzler (eds.): Siodmak Bros. Berlin - Paris - London - Hollywood. Deutsche Kinemathek Foundation and Berlin International Film Festival, retrospective 1998. Argon, Berlin 1998, 438 pages, ISBN 3-87024-469-0
- Deborah Lazaroff Alpi: Robert Siodmak. A biography, with critical analyzes of his films noirs and a filmography of all his works. McFarland, Jefferson, NC, and London 1998, 406 (XI) S., ISBN 0-7864-0489-2
- Kay Less : 'In life, more is taken from you than given ...'. Lexicon of filmmakers who emigrated from Germany and Austria between 1933 and 1945. A general overview. P. 459 ff., ACABUS-Verlag, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-86282-049-8
- Guest of Robert Siodmak. TV interview, CHE / FRG 1971
- Every day is not a Sunday. Robert Siodmak and his films. TV portrait by Norbert Grob , FRG 1998
- Literature by and about Robert Siodmak in the catalog of the German National Library
- Robert Siodmak in the Internet Movie Database (English)
- Robert Siodmak at filmportal.de
- Robert Siodmak at prisma.de
- Robert Siodmak at www.cyranos.ch
- Pronunciation of the name Siodmak on Forvo.com
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. Herbig, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-8004-0892-9 , p. 20, pp. 26-28.
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. Pp. 39-40, p. 42.
- According to the opening credits and Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. Pp. 42-43.
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. Pp. 56-57.
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. Pp. 79-81.
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. Pp. 117-118.
- Joseph Greco: The File on Robert Siodmak in Hollywood, 1941–1951. Dissertation.com, 1999, ISBN 1-58112-081-8 , pp. 7-9.
- "Films and Filming", 1959, quoted in: Joseph Greco: The File on Robert Siodmak in Hollywood, 1941–1951. P. 10.
- Quoted in: Joseph Greco: The File on Robert Siodmak in Hollywood, 1941–1951. P. 6.
- David Thomson, quoted in: Joseph Greco: The File on Robert Siodmak in Hollywood, 1941–1951. P. 5.
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. P. 210.
- Joseph Greco: The File on Robert Siodmak in Hollywood, 1941–1951. P. 164.
- Joseph Greco: The File on Robert Siodmak in Hollywood, 1941–1951. Pp. 20-21, p. 162.
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. P. 11; Joseph Greco: The File on Robert Siodmak in Hollywood, 1941–1951. P. 162.
- Jürgen Müller, Nothing to swear to the director, FAZ, Natur und Wissenschaft, July 18, 2018
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. P. 102.
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. P. 232.
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. P. 17.
- Joseph Greco: The File on Robert Siodmak in Hollywood, 1941–1951. P. 9.
- Robert Siodmak . In: Der Spiegel . No. 12 , 1973 ( online - obituary).
- Robert Siodmak, Film Director, 72; Master of Low-Key Suspense in the 1950's Is Dead , obituary in the New York Times, March 12, 1973, accessed January 6, 2013.
- Robert Siodmak, Hans C. Blumenberg (Ed.): Between Berlin and Hollywood. Memories of a great film director. Pp. 12-13.
- Quoted in: Joseph Greco: The File on Robert Siodmak in Hollywood, 1941–1951. P. 5, p. 185.
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||American and German film director, screenwriter and film producer|
|DATE OF BIRTH||August 8, 1900|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Dresden , German Empire|
|DATE OF DEATH||March 10, 1973|
|Place of death||Locarno , Switzerland|