Michael Curtiz
Hungarian-American film director
Michael Curtiz
Michael Curtiz was an Academy award winning Hungarian-American film director. He had early credits as Mihály Kertész and Michael Kertész.
Biography
Michael Curtiz's personal information overview.
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Photo Albums
Popular photos of Michael Curtiz
News
News abour Michael Curtiz from around the web
Twilight Time Acquires Columbia Library Titles for Blu-ray - Blu-ray.com
Google News - over 5 years
Currently, Twilight Time also have a licensing agreement with Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment, and recently released on Blu-ray Michael Curtiz's The Egyptian (1954). According to a statement released by Twilight Time, only 3000 units of each title
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TV mini or film? 'Mildred' blurs line - Variety
Google News - over 5 years
Haynes' adaptation looks more closely to the 1941 James M. Cain novel about a newly-divorced woman who battles to support her family than to the 1945 Michael Curtiz version. Many would say it's one of the "Far From Heaven" helmer's best: a tragedy of
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'Romance On The High Seas' With Doris Day at New Britain Library - Hartford Courant
Google News - over 5 years
The 1948 comedy-musical directed by Michael Curtiz is about a battling couple who hire secretly private detectives to spy on each other. The wife, as a ruse, hires a young woman (Day) to pose as her. But the detective her husband hired doesn't know
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Joan Crawford Movie Schedule: FORSAKING ALL OTHERS, POSSESSED - Alt Film Guide (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Dir: Michael Curtiz. Cast: Joan Crawford, Zachary Scott, Sydney Greenstreet. BW-94 mins. 4:15 PM TORCH SONG (1953) A tempestuous musical theatre star falls for a blind pianist. Dir: Charles Walters. Cast: Joan Crawford, Michael Wilding, Gig Young
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Film series to screen Warner Bros. films - Arizona Daily Sun
Google News - over 5 years
20: "Mildred Pierce" directed by Michael Curtiz; starring Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Anne Blythe, Eve Arden; 1945, 111 min., NR. It starts with a murder. It ends with Joan Crawford's Best Actress Oscar for this film noir soap opera about a determined
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EMMYS: Ann Roth of 'Mildred Pierce' - Deadline.com
Google News - over 5 years
Director Todd Haynes' adaptation of James M. Cain's classic novel had to distinguish itself through story and look from Michael Curtiz's 1945 original adaptation starring Joan Crawford. Roth says that Haynes didn't want to see a single shoulder pad in
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Remembering Elvis Presley in New Orleans - and Joe Clay, Harvey's almost-Elvis - NOLA.com
Google News - over 5 years
By Alison Fensterstock, The Times-Picayune With songs like “New Orleans” and the film “King Creole” (directed by “Casablanca” director Michael Curtiz, it's still considered one of Elvis' best movies) Elvis Presley – who, after all, grew up only 6 hours
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Nostalgia fades to noir - Sydney Morning Herald
Google News - over 5 years
It's directed by Todd Haynes, who is turning out to be our generation's Michael Curtiz, who, coincidentally, directed the black-and-white original. And if it could be done properly in 111 minutes in 1945 for $1453000, just imagine what 60-plus years,
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DVD; Desert Tales, Centuries Apart
NYTimes - over 5 years
The Egyptian It must have seemed to Michael Curtiz that he was returning to Square 1 when he was assigned to direct ''The Egyptian,'' the 1954 historical spectacular that 20th Century Fox intended as a showcase for the studio's new and improved CinemaScope process. This Hungarian director, born Mano Kertesz Kaminer, was beckoned to Hollywood by
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NYTimes article
Desert Tales, Centuries Apart - New York Times
Google News - over 5 years
It must have seemed to Michael Curtiz that he was returning to Square 1 when he was assigned to direct “The Egyptian,” the 1954 historical spectacular that 20th Century Fox intended as a showcase for the studio's new and improved
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Pioneer NFL filmmaker put a face on football - Columbus Dispatch
Google News - over 5 years
Michael Curtiz directed a star-studded cast (Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone and Claude Raines co-star) in the tale of Sherwood Forest. And on Wednesday, the conflict moves inside a computer. In Tron (1982), Jeff Bridges plays a hacker drawn into a
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Thinking Outside the Box Office: English comedy 'The Trip' crosses the pond ... - NOLA.com
Google News - over 5 years
This week: director Michael Curtiz's 1945 classic "Mildred Pierce" (noon Sat, Sun and Aug. 3), starring Joan Crawford, Jack Carson and Zachary Scott. Tickets are $5.25. Prytania Theatre Midnite Movies Series 5339 Prytania St., 891.2787
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“CASABLANCA” – The SF Symphony accompanies screening tonight, 7/22 - SanFranciscoSentinel.com
Google News - over 5 years
Within the first 20 minutes, director Michael Curtiz works in three major songs – including “The Very Thought of You” – that significantly support the dramatic flow, reveal a hidden agenda, embellish the dialogue, and fire-up the magic
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Gilda – review - The Guardian
Google News - over 5 years
More than ever, Charles Vidor's classic melo-noir Gilda from 1946 looks like the crazy evil twin of Michael Curtiz's Casablanca. But Gilda has a streak of irrational panic and hysteria alien to Bergman and Bogart. Glenn Ford plays Johnny, a wastrel who
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Software art's Marius Watz creates from the code - San Francisco Chronicle
Google News - over 5 years
The San Francisco Symphony continues its journey into pop culture with a screening at 8 pm Friday of the classic Michael Curtiz film "Casablanca," starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The orchestra, led by Michael Francis, will perform Max
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Michael Curtiz
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1962
    Age 75
    He died from cancer on April 10, 1962, aged 75.
    More Details Hide Details At the time of his death he was living alone in a small apartment in Sherman Oaks, California. He is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California, near his younger brother, director and special effects artist, David Curtiz. Michael Curtiz has directed some of the most well-known films of the 20th century, achieving numerous award-winning performances from actors. Before moving to Hollywood from his native Hungary when he was 38 years of age, he had already directed 64 films in Europe. He soon helped Warner Brothers become the nation's fastest-growing studio, directing 102 films during his career in Hollywood, more than any other director. Jack Warner, who first discovered Curtiz after seeing one of his epics in Europe, called him "Warner Brothers' greatest director." He helped popularize the swashbuckler with unknown extra, Errol Flynn and little-known Olivia de Haviland, making them major stars in the 1930s. Overall, he made 12 films with Flynn, 8 with Humphrey Bogart, and 10 with Claude Rains. Along with Flynn, he introduced Doris Day and John Garfield to the screen, and made stars of little-known actors, Bette Davis, de Haviland, and Ann Sheridan.
  • 1961
    Age 74
    Curtiz was frequently unfaithful, and had numerous affairs; Meredyth once left him for a short time, but they remained married until 1961, shortly before Curtiz's death.
    More Details Hide Details She was Curtiz's helper whenever his need to deal with scripts or other elements went beyond his grasp of English, and he often phoned her for advice when presented with a problem while filming.
  • 1954
    Age 67
    After his relationship with Warners broke down, Curtiz continued to direct on a freelance basis from 1954 onwards.
    More Details Hide Details The Egyptian (1954) (based on Mika Waltari's novel about Sinuhe) for Fox starring Jean Simmons, Victor Mature and Gene Tierney. He directed many films for Paramount, including White Christmas (1954), starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye; We're No Angels (1955), starring Humphrey Bogart; and King Creole (1958), starring Elvis Presley. Curtiz always invested the time necessary to prepare all aspects of a film before shooting. "As far as I am concerned," he said, "the chief work in directing a film is in preparing a story for the screen... Nothing is as important... A director can be likened to the field general of an army. He should know more clearly than anyone else what is coming, what to expect... I believe this as a sound working plan." By putting time into preparation, he cut down on delays after production started which gave him the ability to put out on average six films a year until the 1940s. He turned out Front Page Woman in only three weeks, which contained rapid-fire newspaper dialog with Bette Davis, then turned around and made Captain Blood entirely on the sound stage without having to leave the studio.
    White Christmas (1954), Curtiz's second adaptation of an Irving Berlin musical, was a major box office success, the highest-grossing film of 1954.
    More Details Hide Details It starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. Another musical, King Creole (1958), starred Elvis Presley and Carolyn Jones. When asked to direct Elvis, who was then the "king of rock and roll," Curtiz could only laugh, assuming Elvis wouldn't be able to act. After a few conversations with him, however, his opinion changed: "I began to sit up and take notice," Curtiz said, adding, "I guarantee that he'll amaze everyone. He shows formidable talent. What's more, he'll get the respect he so dearly desires." During filming, Elvis was always the first one on the set. When he was told what to do, regardless of how unusual or difficult, he said simply, "You're the boss, Mr. Curtiz." The script, the music, and the acting all came together to produce a remarkable picture, the likes of which Elvis never matched in his career. It received good reviews: Variety magazine declared that the film "Shows the young star Presley as a better than fair actor". The New York Times also gave it a favorable review: "As for Mr. Presley, in his third screen attempt, it's a pleasure to find him up to a little more than Bourbon Street shoutin' and wigglin'. Acting is his assignment in this shrewdly upholstered showcase, and he does it, so help us, over a picket fence." Presley later thanked Curtiz for giving him the opportunity to show his potential as an actor; of his thirty-three films, Elvis considered it his favorite.
  • 1951
    Age 64
    Also in 1951, he directed another biopic, I'll See You in My Dreams, with Doris Day and Danny Thomas.
    More Details Hide Details The film is a musical biography of lyricist Gus Kahn. It was Day's fourth film directed by Curtiz, who first auditioned her and gave her a starring role in her debut film, Romance on the High Seas (1948). She was shocked at being offered a lead in her first film, and admitted to Curtiz that she was a singer without acting experience. But what Curtiz liked about her after the audition was that "she was honest," he said, not afraid to tell him she was not an actress. That, and the fact that "her freckles made her look like the All-American Girl," he said. Day would be the discovery he boasted about most later in his career. The Story of Will Rogers (1952), also a biography, told the story of well-known humorist and movie star Will Rogers, played by Will Rogers, Jr., his son.
  • 1947
    Age 60
    In 1947 he directed William Powell and Irene Dunne in Life With Father, a family comedy.
    More Details Hide Details It was a big hit in the Unites States, being nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Powell. During Powell's career he acted in ninety-seven films, and this was his third and last nomination. One review stated, "He is magnificent in the role, imbuing it with every attribute of pomp, dignity, unconscious conceit and complete loveableness! His is one of the really great screen performances of the year... that crowns a long screen life." Curtiz set up his own separate production company in the late 1940s, with his films to be released through Warner Brothers. "I'm going to try to build my own stock company and make stars of unknowns. It is getting impossible to sign up the big stars, because they are tied up for the next two years," he said. He also pointed out that he was less concerned with looks than personality when using an actor. "If they are good-looking, that's something extra. But I look for personality."
  • FIFTIES
  • 1942
    Age 55
    Also in 1942, Curtiz directed Casablanca (1942), a World War II-era romantic drama that many consider to be the most popular motion picture from Hollywood’s golden age, and is today considered a classic.
    More Details Hide Details Among its stars were Humphrey Bogart, playing an expatriate living in Morocco, and Ingrid Bergman, who was trying escape the Nazis. The film is widely considered to be one of the finest films ever made, receiving eight Academy Award nominations and winning three, including one for Curtiz as Best Director. Another patriotic Curtiz film was This Is the Army (1943), a musical adapted from the stage play with a score by Irving Berlin. As America was engaged in World War II, the film boosted the morale of soldiers and the public. Among its nineteen songs, Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" was one of the highlights of the film. As a result of the film's numerous popular and generic elements, such as ground and aerial combat, recruitment, training, and marching as well as comedy, romance, song, and dance, it was the most financially successful war-themed film of any kind made during World War II.
    In 1942 Curtiz directed another air force film, Captains of the Clouds, about the Royal Canadian Air Force.
    More Details Hide Details It starred Jame Cagney and Brenda Marshall. According to Hal Wallis, its producer, because it was being filmed soon after the U.S. and Canada entered World War II, it became Warners most extensive and difficult production, and everything had to be relocated to Canada. Like Dive Bomber, the vivid aerial scenes filmed in Technicolor were another feature that garnered critical attention, and the film was nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Color Cinematography. That same year Curtiz directed the musical biopic,Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), a film about singer, dancer and composer, George M. Cohan. It starred James Cagney in a role totally opposite from the one he played four years earlier in Curtiz's Angels with Dirty Faces (1938). Where the earlier film became a career high point for Cagney's portrayals of a gangster, a role he played in many earlier films, in this film, an overtly patriotic musical, Cagney demonstrates his considerable dancing and singing talents. It was Cagney's favorite career role.
  • 1941
    Age 54
    Edward G. Robinson starred in his second film directed by Curtiz in 1941, The Sea Wolf.
    More Details Hide Details He portrayed the rampaging, dictatorial captain of a ship in an adaptation of one of Jack London's most famous novels. Robinson said the character he portrayed "was a Nazi in everything but name," which, Robinson noted, was relevant to the state of the world at that time. John Garfield and Ida Lupino were cast as the young lovers who attempt to escape his tyranny. Some reviews described the film as one of Curtiz's "hidden gems one of Curtiz's most complex works." Robinson was impressed by Garfield's intense personality, which he feels may have contributed to his death at age 39:
  • FORTIES
  • 1935
    Age 48
    But it was not until 1935 that Curtiz's career really took off.
    More Details Hide Details When the early 1930s had Warners struggling to compete with studio giants like MGM, which was releasing blockbuster costumed hits like Queen Christina (1933), with Greta Garbo, Treasure Island (1934) and The Count of Monte Cristo (1934), they decided to take a chance and produce their own costumed drama. Until then, it was a genre they had assumed could never succeed during the years of the Great Depression. But in March 1935 Warners announced it would produce Captain Blood (1935), a swashbuckler action drama based on the popular novel by Rafael Sabatini, and that Curtiz would direct. It would star a then unknown extra, Errol Flynn, alongside little-known Olivia de Haviland. The film was a major success with positive critical reviews. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and, despite not being nominated, Curtiz received the second-greatest number of votes for Best Director, solely as a write-in candidate. It also made major stars out of both Flynn and de Haviland, and it elevated Curtiz to being the studio's leading director.
  • 1930
    Age 43
    In 1930 Curtiz directed Mammy (1930), Al Jolson's fourth film after being in Hollywood's first true talking picture, The Jazz Singer (1927).
    More Details Hide Details During the 1930s Curtiz directed on average at least four films each year. Although rare for Warners, the studio produced two horror films that Curtiz directed, Doctor X (1932) and Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), both in color with numerous atmospheric scenes filmed on the studio's back lot. The look of Doctor X was unique in that besides being in color it had less grain than other color films as it used the new Technicolor process. Another breakthrough film came in 1932 with 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932), starring little-known actors Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis in one of their earliest films. MGM head Louis B. Mayer saw the film and was impressed enough by Tracy's acting that he hired him on to MGM's roster of stars.
  • 1929
    Age 42
    Wallis' wife, the actress Louise Fazenda, and Curtiz's third wife, Bess Meredyth, an actress and screenwriter, had been close since before Curtiz's marriage to Meredyth in 1929.
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  • 1927
    Age 40
    On a visit to Hollywood in 1927, Ilya Tolstoy, Leo Tolstoy's son, who had been a friend of Curtiz in Europe, wanted him to direct several films that would be based on his father's novels.
    More Details Hide Details He chose Curtiz because he already knew the locale and its people. It was during this period that Warner Brothers began experimenting with talking films. They assigned two, part-silent and part-talking pictures for Curtiz to direct: Tenderloin (1928) and Noah's Ark (1928), both of which also starred Costello. Noah's Ark included two parallel stories, one recounting the biblical flood, and the other a World War I-era romance. It was the first epic film attempted by Warner Brothers, and in handing production over to Curtiz, they were hoping to assure its success. The climactic flood sequence was considered "spectacular" at the time, notes historian Richard Schickel, while biographer James C. Robertson said it was "one of the most spectacular incidents in film history." Its cast was made up of over 10,000 extras. However the re-issue of the film in 1957 cut an hour off the original two-hour fifteen-minute film. The story was an adaptation written by Bess Meredyth, who would marry Curtiz a few years later.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1926
    Age 39
    He arrived in the United States in the summer of 1926. and began directing at Warner Brothers under the anglicised name "Michael Curtiz".
    More Details Hide Details It marked the beginning of his 28-year career at Warners, where he directed 86 films, which included his best work. Although he was an experienced filmmaker, now age 38, Warners assigned him to direct a number of average quality films to break him in, the first being The Third Degree (1926). Curtiz's unique camerawork technique was used throughout, visible in dramatic camera angles, in a style which one critic assumed other directors would likely envy. Learning English quickly was an immediate handicap, however, since he had no free time. When Jack Warner gave him the film to direct, Curtiz recalls, "I could not speak one word of English." It was a romantic story about jail life and gangsters in Chicago, a place he had never been to about American underworld figures he had never met. To gain some direct experience about the subject, Curtiz convinced the Los Angeles sheriff to let him spend a week in jail. "When I came out I knew what I needed for the picture."
    But Moon of Israel caught the attention of Jack and Harry Warner, and Harry went to Europe in 1926 just to meet Curtiz and watch him work as director.
    More Details Hide Details The Warners were impressed that Curtiz had developed a unique visual style which was strongly influenced by German Expressionism, with high crane shots and unusual camera angles. The film also showed that Curtiz was fond of including romantic melodrama "against events of vast historical importance, for driving his characters to crises and forcing them to make moral decisions," according to Rosenzweig. He offered Curtiz a contract to be a director at his new film studio in Hollywood, Warner Brothers, where he would direct a similar epic that had been planned, Noah's Ark. By the time Curtiz accepted Warner's offer, he was already a prolific director, having made sixty-four films in countries including Hungary, Austria, and Denmark.
  • 1925
    Age 38
    He married his second wife, Lili Damita, in 1925 and they divorced in 1926.
    More Details Hide Details When he left for the United States, he left behind an illegitimate son and an illegitimate daughter. While Curtiz himself had escaped Europe before the rise of Nazism, other members of his family were not as lucky. He once asked Jack Warner, who was going to Budapest in 1938, to contact his family and help them get exit visas. Warner succeeded in getting Curtiz's mother to the U.S., where she spent the rest of her life living with her son. But he could not rescue Curtiz's only sister, her husband, or their three children, who were sent to Auschwitz, where her husband and two of the children died. Curtiz paid part of his own salary into the European Film Fund, a benevolent association which helped European refugees in the film business establish themselves in the U.S. In 1933 Curtiz became a naturalized U.S. citizen. By the early 1940s Curtiz had become fairly wealthy, earning $3,600 per week and owning a substantial estate, complete with polo pitch. One of his regular polo partners was Hal B. Wallis, who had met Curtiz on his arrival in the country and had established a close friendship with him.
  • 1918
    Age 31
    Around 1918 he married actress Lucy Doraine and they divorced in 1923.
    More Details Hide Details
    By 1918 he had become one Hungary's most important directors, having by then directed about 45 films.
    More Details Hide Details But following the end of the war, in 1919, the new communist government nationalized the film industry, which made him decide to return to Vienna to direct films there. Curtiz then briefly worked at UFA GmbH, a German film company, where he learned to direct large groups of costumed extras, along with using complicated plots, rapid pacing, and romantic themes. His career truly started due to his work for Count Alexander Kolowrat (known as Sascha) with whom he made at least 21 films for the Count's film studio, Sascha Films. Curtiz later wrote that at Sascha he "learned the basic laws of film art, which, in those days, had progressed further in Vienna than anywhere else." Among the films he directed there were Biblical epics such as Sodom und Gomorrha (1922) and Die Sklavenkönigin (1924) (titled Moon of Israel in the U.S.). He also made Red Heels (1925) and The Golden Butterfly (1926), and once directed 14-year-old Greta Garbo in Sweden. During this period he tended to specialize in directing two kinds of films, either sophisticated light comedies or historical spectaculars. He launched the career of Lucy Doraine, who went on to become an international star, along that of Lily Damita, who would later marry Errol Flynn.
  • 1917
    Age 30
    He was then assigned to make fund-raising documentaries for the Red Cross in Hungary. In 1917 he was made director of production at Phoenix Films, the leading studio in Budapest, where he would remain until he left Hungary.
    More Details Hide Details However, none of the films he directed there survived intact, and most are completely lost.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1914
    Age 27
    After World War I began in 1914, he returned to Hungary where he served in the army for a year, before he was wounded fighting on the Russian front.
    More Details Hide Details Curtiz wrote of that period:
  • 1913
    Age 26
    In 1913 Curtiz began living in various cities in Europe to work on silent films.
    More Details Hide Details He first went to study at Nordisk studio in Denmark, which led to work as an actor and assistant director to August Blom on Denmark's first multi-reel feature film, Atlantis (1913).
  • 1912
    Age 25
    He was also on the Hungarian fencing team at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.
    More Details Hide Details
    He worked as Mihály Kertész at the National Hungarian Theater in 1912.
    More Details Hide Details That same year he directed Hungary's first feature film, Ma és holnap (Today and Tomorrow), in which he also had a leading role. He followed that with another film Az utolsó bohém (The Last Bohemian (1912)).
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1888
    Age 1
    Curtiz was born Mihaly Kertesz to a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary in 1888 (then Austria-Hungary), where his father was a carpenter and his mother an opera singer.
    More Details Hide Details Curtiz had a lower to middle-class upbringing. He recalled during an interview that his family's home was a cramped apartment, where he had to share a small room with his two brothers and a sister. "Many times we are hungry," he added. After graduating high school, he studied at Markoszy University, followed by the Royal Academy of Theater and Art, in Budapest, before beginning his career. Curtiz became attracted to the theater when he was a child in Hungary. He built a little theater in the cellar of his house when he was 8 years old, where he and five of his friends would reenact plays. They set up the stage, with scenery and props, and Curtiz would direct them. After he graduated college at age 19, he took a job as an actor with a traveling theater company where he began working as one their traveling players. From that job, he became a pantomimist with a circus for a while, but then returned to join another group of traveling players for a few more years. They played Ibsen and Shakespeare in various languages, depending on what country they were in. They performed throughout Europe, including France, Hungary, Italy and Germany, and he eventually learned five languages. He had various responsibilities:
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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