Otto Preminger
Director, producer, actor
Otto Preminger
Otto Ludwig Preminger was an Austro–Hungarian-American theatre and film director. After moving from the theatre to Hollywood, he directed over 35 feature films in a five-decade career. He rose to prominence for stylish film noir mysteries such as Laura (1944) and Fallen Angel (1945). In the 1950s and 1960s, he directed a number of high-profile adaptations of popular novels and stage works.
Biography
Otto Preminger's personal information overview.
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News
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Movie Listings for Sept. 2-8
NYTimes - over 5 years
Movies Ratings and running times are in parentheses; foreign films have English subtitles. Full reviews of all current releases, movie trailers, showtimes and tickets: nytimes.com/movies . ‘Amigo’ (R, 2:08, in English, Tagalog and Spanish) Though it is set in a Philippine village around 1900, this tale of counter-insurgency, democratic
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The Big Interview: Kim Cattrall - Toronto Star
Google News - over 5 years
Film director Otto Preminger visited the school, was impressed with Cattrall and cast her in his film, Rosebud. But not only did she find the experience of working with the dictatorial man “disheartening”, she didn't have a green card and had to return
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Why we should give remakes a chance - Salon
Google News - over 5 years
The Contender is a remake of Otto Preminger's Advise/Consent. 3. Whom did James Toback ask permission from when he was adapting The Gambler for his original film? A slightly different case, admittedly. 4. Remakes are old, old, news
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Five Great Courtroom Dramas - HeyUGuys.co.uk
Google News - over 5 years
Otto Preminger's Anatomy of A Murder caused quite a stir on its release. Given that this was the tail end of the 1950′s, a film about the trial of a man who murders the rapist of his wife and then pleads temporary insanity was something of a hot
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Linda Darnell Movie Schedule: FALLEN ANGEL, HANGOVER SQUARE, DAY-TIME WIFE - Alt Film Guide (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Dir: Otto Preminger. Cast: Alice Faye, Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell. BW-97 mins. 8:00 PM A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1948) A small-town seductress notifies her three best friends that she has run off with one of their husbands. Dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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'Porgy and Bess' revived - and so is debate - Philadelphia Inquirer
Google News - over 5 years
Otto Preminger directed Porgy and Bess in 1959, when everybody still thought it was a Broadway musical, but with beautifully composed panoramic shots, operatic in scope and style. Sadly, that version has been out of circulation for decades
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Tinseltown stuntman shares A-list tussles in memoir - Vancouver Sun
Google News - over 5 years
The mention of John Wayne, for instance, immediately prompts Needham to launch into a tale about how the Duke ratted him out to Otto Preminger, the iconic if somewhat tyrannical director of 1965's In Harm's Way. For a fight scene, he was ordered to get
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Movie Listings for Aug. 19-25
NYTimes - over 5 years
Movies Ratings and running times are in parentheses; foreign films have English subtitles. Full reviews of all current releases, movie trailers, showtimes and tickets: nytimes.com/movies . ‘Another Earth’ (PG-13, 1:32) The director Mike Cahill and his star, the promising newcomer Brit Marling, wrote this moody, modest science-fiction
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James Stewart on TCM: THE STRATTON STORY, NO HIGHWAY IN THE SKY - Alt Film Guide (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Otto Preminger must have left the flag-waving, anti-sex freaks of the Production Code Administration all apoplectic with this tale of rape, murder, and lack of ethics in the US Justice System. Stewart is actually fine as the defense attorney — nothing
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Fresno theater alumnus resurrects classic 'Stalag 17' - Fresno Bee
Google News - over 5 years
But this 1951 Broadway play, which inspired the famous 1953 film starring William Holden and Otto Preminger, adds a suspenseful twist. One in their midst is on the other side, but the airmen don't know his identity. Director Duane Boutte, one of Good
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COMMENT
NYTimes - over 5 years
Here's a reader's comment about Dave Kehr's Video column about the 1968 movie ''Skidoo,'' a psychedelic generation-gap comedy by Otto Preminger that has just been released on DVD. Groucho Marx played God in the film. ''I was delighted that Mr. Kehr reviewed 'Skidoo,' one of my favorite wannabe countercultural films of the late 1960s. But I'd like
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Kim Cattrall: Leaves Sex and The City behind for new film Monica Velour - Daily Mail
Google News - over 5 years
When Kim Cattrall was a 17-year-old innocent in Hollywood, making her debut in a film called Rosebud, she was called to one side by the director, Otto Preminger and told she reminded him of Marilyn Monroe. Then came the punchline
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Bernadette Peters to be Honored at Westport Country Playhouse Annual Gala - Minuteman News Center
Google News - over 5 years
She made her theatrical debut in This Is Goggle, starring James Daly and Kim Hunter, directed by Otto Preminger. Peters made her Broadway debut in 1967 in Johnny No-Trump, and in 1968 starred with Joel Grey in the musical George M!, earning a Theatre
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Otto Preminger's 'Skidoo' a curious relic of the '60s - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
Initially known for such obsessive noirs as "Laura" and "Fallen Angel," Otto Preminger enjoyed a long run in the 1950s and '60s as one of Hollywood's most ambitious practitioners of the issue movie
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Gleason as Tripster, Groucho as God - New York Times
Google News - over 5 years
In Otto Preminger's 1968 comedy “Skidoo”: from far left, John Phillip Law, Frankie Avalon, Alexandra Hay and George Raft. By DAVE KEHR Stanley Kubrick's “2001” may have been billed as “the ultimate trip,” but attention must also be paid to another
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DVD OF THE WEEK: Skidoo - GreenCine
Google News - over 5 years
Otto Preminger's 1968 satire Skidoo takes its title from a word dating back to the 1920s, meaning to get out while the getting's good. "Perhaps the first truly national fad expression and one of the most popular fad expressions to appear
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Rewind: 'Skidoo' the kind of crazy I need to see - amNY
Google News - over 5 years
Directed by Otto Preminger, this comedy also co-stars Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon, Frank Gorshin, John Phillip Law, Peter Lawford, Mickey Rooney, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith and, as if that's not enough, Groucho Marx as a mob boss named, um, God
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Otto Preminger
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1986
    Age 80
    Otto Preminger died in New York City, New York in 1986, aged 80, from lung cancer while suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
    More Details Hide Details He was cremated and is interred in a niche in the Azalea Room of the Velma B. Woolworth Memorial Chapel at Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx, New York. Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. He was twice nominated for Best Director: for Laura and for The Cardinal. He won the Bronze Berlin Bear award for the film Carmen Jones at the 5th Berlin International Film Festival. Journals Books Interviews
  • 1966
    Age 60
    It was not until 1966, when Preminger was 60 years old and Erik was 22 years old, that they were to meet finally as father and son.
    More Details Hide Details
  • FIFTIES
  • 1965
    Age 59
    Beginning in 1965, Preminger made a string of films in which he attempted to make stories that were fresh and distinctive, but the films he made, including In Harm's Way (1965) and Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970), became both critical and financial flops.
    More Details Hide Details In 1967, Preminger released Hurry Sundown, a lengthy drama set in the U.S. South and partially intended to break cinematic racial and sexual taboos. However, the film was poorly received and ridiculed for a heavy-handed approach, and for the dubious casting of Michael Caine as an American southerner. Hurry Sundown signaled a rather precipitous decline in Preminger's reputation, as it was followed by several other films which were critical and commercial failures, including Skidoo (1968), a failed attempt at a hip sixties comedy (and Groucho Marx's last film), and Rosebud (1975), a terrorism thriller which was also widely ridiculed. Several publicized disputes with leading actors did further damage to Preminger's reputation. His last film, an adaptation of the Graham Greene espionage novel The Human Factor (1979), had financial problems and was barely released. The Academy Film Archive has preserved several of Otto Preminger's films, including "The Man With the Golden Arm," "The Moon is Blue," and "Advise & Consent."
  • FORTIES
  • 1953
    Age 47
    At the New York City Opera, in October 1953, Preminger directed the American premiere (in English translation) of Gottfried von Einem's opera Der Prozeß, based on Franz Kafka's novel The Trial.
    More Details Hide Details Soprano Phyllis Curtin headed the cast. He also adapted two operas for the screen during the decade. Carmen Jones (1954) is a reworking of the Bizet opera Carmen to a wartime African-American setting while Porgy and Bess (1959) is based on the George Gershwin opera. His two films of the early 1960s were Advise & Consent (1962): a political drama from the Allen Drury bestseller with a homosexual subtheme and The Cardinal (1963): a drama set in the Vatican hierarchy for which Preminger received his second Best Director Academy Award nomination. Laurence Olivier, who played a police inspector in the psychological thriller Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965), which was shot in England, recalled in his autobiography Confessions of an Actor that he found Preminger a "bully". Adam West, who portrayed the lead in the 1960s Batman television series, echoes Olivier's opinion. He remembers Preminger when he worked in a guest role in the series, as being rude and unpleasant, especially when he disregarded the typical thespian etiquette of subtly cooperating when being helped to his feet in a scene by West and Burt Ward. Preminger played Mr. Freeze in the "Green Ice/Deep Freeze" episodes.
  • 1947
    Age 41
    After the modest success of Daisy Kenyon, Preminger, an avid careerist, saw That Lady in Ermine as a further opportunity. Betty Grable was cast opposite Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. The film had previously been another Lubitsch project, but after his sudden death in November 1947, Preminger took over.
    More Details Hide Details When the film opened to modest business in July 1948, it received better notices than it deserved, as reviewers scrambled to discern traces of Lubitsch's hand. Preminger's next film would be another period piece based on a literary classic, Oscar Wilde's play Lady Windermere's Fan (1897). Over the spring and early summer of 1948 Otto renovated Wilde's play into The Fan, which starred Madeleine Carroll. As Preminger expected, The Fan (1949) opened to poor notices. Several of his films in this period broke new ground for Hollywood in tackling controversial and taboo topics, thereby challenging both the Motion Picture Association of America's Production Code of censorship and the Hollywood blacklist. The Catholic Legion of Decency condemned the comedy The Moon Is Blue (1953) on the grounds of moral standards. Based on a Broadway play which had not inspired mass protests for its use of the words "virgin" and "pregnant", the film was released without the Production Code Seal of Approval. Based on the novel by Nelson Algren, The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) was one of the first Hollywood films to deal with heroin addiction.
  • 1946
    Age 40
    The reviews and box office draw were tepid when the film was released in July 1946, but by the end of that year Preminger had one of the most sumptuous contracts on the lot, earning $7,500 a week.
    More Details Hide Details Forever Amber, based on Kathleen Winsor's internationally popular novel published in 1944, was Zanuck's next investment in adaptation. Preminger had read the book and disliked it immensely. Preminger had another best seller aimed at a female audience in mind, Daisy Kenyon. Zanuck pledged that if Preminger did Forever Amber first, he could go to town with Daisy Kenyon afterwards. Forever Amber had already been shooting for nearly six weeks when Preminger replaced director John Stahl. Zanuck had already spent nearly $2 million on the production. First, Preminger decided the script needed to be completely rewritten, and Peggy Cummins, the film's leading lady, would have to be replaced, because he regarded her to be "amateurish beyond belief". Only after turning to his revised script did Preminger learn Zanuck had already cast Linda Darnell in place of Cummins. The heroine in the novel was blonde, and Preminger was convinced it was necessary to cast a true blonde, Lana Turner, who was under contract to MGM. Zanuck protested, and was convinced that whoever played Amber would become a big star, and wanted that woman to be one of the studio's own. Zanuck had bought the book because he believed its scandalous reputation promised big box-office returns, and was not surprised when the Catholic Legion of Decency condemned the film for glamorizing a promiscuous heroine who has a child out of wedlock. Forever Amber opened to big business in October 1947, and garnered decent reviews.
    Although Preminger and Marion had been estranged for years, he was surprised when in May 1946 she asked for a divorce.
    More Details Hide Details On a trip to Mexico she had met a very wealthy (and married) Swedish financier, Axel Wenner-Gren. The Premingers' divorce ended smoothly and speedily. Marion did not seek any alimony, just a few personal belongings that would be picked up in a few days by her fiancé's private plane. Mrs. Wenner-Gren, madly jealous of her rival, began to stalk Marion and was not willing to grant a divorce. Marion even went as far as to claim that Mrs. Wenner-Gren attempted to shoot her at a post office in Mexico. Marion returned to the Preminger home in New York City feeling embarrassed and shamed. She resumed her appearances as Preminger's wife, and nothing more. Preminger was enjoying his escapades as a freewheeling man-about-town and had begun dating Natalie Draper, a niece of Marion Davies. While filming Carmen Jones (1954), Preminger began an affair with the film's star, Dorothy Dandridge, which lasted four years. During that period, Preminger advised her on career matters, including an offer made to Dandridge for the featured role of Tuptim in the 1956 film of The King and I. Preminger advised her to turn down the supporting role, as he believed it to be unworthy of her. Dandridge later regretted accepting Preminger's advice. Their affair was depicted in the HBO Pictures biopic, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, in which Preminger was portrayed by Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1937
    Age 31
    In November 1937, Zanuck's perennial emissary Gregory Ratoff brought Preminger the news that Zanuck had chosen him to direct Kidnapped, which was to be the most expensive feature to date for Twentieth Century-Fox.
    More Details Hide Details Zanuck himself had adapted the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, set in the Scottish Highlands. After reading Zanuck's script, Preminger knew he was in trouble since he would be a foreign director directing in a foreign setting. During the shooting of Kidnapped, Preminger had the first of his notorious tantrums. While screening footage of the film with Zanuck, the studio head accused Preminger of making changes in a scene; in particular, one with child actor Freddie Bartholomew and a dog. Preminger, composed at first, explained, claiming that he had shot the scene exactly as written. On the other hand, Zanuck insisted that he knew his own script. The confrontation escalated and ended with Preminger exiting the office and slamming the door. Days later, the lock to Preminger's office was changed, and his name was removed from the door. After his parking space was relocated to a remote spot, Preminger stopped going into the studio. At that point, an official of Zanuck's offered Preminger a buyout deal which he rejected: Preminger wanted to be paid for the remaining eleven months of his two-year contract. Preminger searched for work at other studios, but received no offers – only two years after his arrival in Hollywood, Preminger was unemployed in the movie industry.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1935
    Age 29
    In April 1935, as Preminger was rehearsing a boulevard farce, The King with an Umbrella, he received a summons from American film producer Joseph Schenck to a five o'clock meeting at the Imperial Hotel.
    More Details Hide Details Schenck and partner, Darryl F. Zanuck, co-founders of Twentieth Century-Fox, were on the lookout for new talent. Within a half-hour of meeting Schenck, Preminger accepted an invitation to work for Fox in Los Angeles. Upon the Premingers' arrival in Hollywood, Schenck introduced the couple to M-G-M's array of movie royalty, including Irving Thalberg, Norma Shearer, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, and Greta Garbo. Preminger's first assignment was to direct a vehicle for Lawrence Tibbett, whom Zanuck wanted to get rid of. Preminger worked efficiently, completing the film well within the budget and well before the scheduled shooting deadline. The film opened to tepid notices in November 1936. Zanuck promoted him to the A-list, assigning him a story called Nancy Steele Is Missing, which was to star Wallace Beery (who had won an Academy Award for The Champ a few years earlier.) Beery, however, refused to do the film, saying, "I won't do a picture with a director whose name I can't pronounce".
  • 1931
    Age 25
    It was not until the spring of 1931 that Preminger's carefree bachelor lifestyle was threatened when he met a Hungarian woman named Marion Mill. The couple married soon afterwards in the summer of 1932 in a plain ceremony on the bride's birthday, August 3, only thirty minutes after her divorce from her first husband had been finalized.
    More Details Hide Details The couple moved into an apartment of their own. Preminger immediately informed his wife that she could not pursue a theatrical career.
    From 1931-1935, Preminger directed twenty-six shows.
    More Details Hide Details Among the performers he hired were Lili Darvas, Lilia Skala, Harry Horner, Oskar Karlweis, Albert Bassermann, and Luise Rainer, who was to win back-to-back Academy Awards in 1936 and 1937.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1924
    Age 18
    When the theater opened, on April 1, 1924, Preminger appeared as a furniture mover in Reinhardt's comedia staging of Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters.
    More Details Hide Details His next, and more substantial appearance came late the following month with William Dieterle (who would also later move to Hollywood) in The Merchant of Venice. Other notable alumni with whom Preminger would work the same year were Mady Christians, who died of a stroke after having been blacklisted during the McCarthy era, and Nora Gregor, who was to star in Jean Renoir's La Règle du jeu (1939). Reinhardt may have had reservations about Preminger's acting but he quickly detected the young man's abilities as an administrator. He appointed Preminger as an assistant in the Reinhardt acting school that opened in the theater at Schönbrunn, the former summer palace of the emperor. The following summer, a frustrated Preminger was no longer content to occupy the place of a subordinate and he decided to leave the Reinhardt fold. His status as a Reinhardt muse gave him an edge over much of his competition when it came to joining German-speaking theater. His first theater assignments as a director in Aussig were plays ranging from the sexually provocative Lulu plays, and from Berlin he imported Roar China!, a pro-Communist agitprop. Preminger displayed pleasure in discovering new talent, but also created pitfalls with his unruly temper and disdain for directorial collaborations.
  • 1923
    Age 17
    In 1923, when Preminger was seventeen, his soon-to-be mentor, Max Reinhardt, the renowned Viennese-born director, announced plans to establish a theatrical company in Vienna.
    More Details Hide Details Reinhardt's announcement was seen as a call of destiny to Preminger. He began writing to Reinhardt weekly, requesting an audition. After a few months, Preminger, frustrated, gave up, and stopped his daily visit to the post office to check for a response. Unbeknownst to him, a letter was waiting with a date for an audition which Preminger had already missed by two days. Feigning illness, Preminger skipped classes and began to hover near the stage door hoping to encounter Reinhardt associate Dr. Stefan Hock, begging for another audition. Preminger explained to his father that a career in theater was not just a ploy to excuse himself from school. This was a way of life, and it was the only one he wanted. In order to obtain his father's full blessing, Preminger finished school and completed the study of law at the University of Vienna. He juggled a commitment to the University and his new position as a Reinhardt apprentice. The two developed a mentor-and-protege relationship, becoming both a confidant and teacher.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1916
    Age 10
    Markus moved his family to a more fashionable district in 1916.
    More Details Hide Details As the war came to an end, Markus formed his own law practice. Markus instilled in both his sons a sense of fair play as well as respect for those with opposing viewpoints. As his father's practice continued to thrive in postwar Vienna, Otto began seriously contemplating a career in the theater.
  • 1915
    Age 9
    In 1915, Markus relocated his family to Vienna, the city that Otto later claimed to have been born in.
    More Details Hide Details Although now working for the emperor, Markus was a government official, respectable, but not part of the highly prized inner city. As a result, the family started their new lives with rather modest quarters. Vienna was still an imperial capital with an array of cultural offerings that tempted Otto. At ten, he was already incurably stagestruck. Preminger's first theatrical ambition was to become an actor. In his early teens, he was able to recite from memory many of the great monologues from the international classic repertory, and, never shy, he demanded an audience. Preminger's most successful performance in the National Library rotunda was Mark Antony's funeral oration from Julius Caesar. As he read, watched, and after a fashion began to produce plays, he began to miss more and more classes in school. Austria's failing fortunes during the war had no impact on the Premingers.
  • 1914
    Age 8
    After the assassination in 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne, which led to the Great War, Russia entered the war on the Serbian side.
    More Details Hide Details Like other refugees in flight, Markus Preminger saw Austria as a safe haven for his family. He was able to secure a job as a public prosecutor in Graz, capital of the Austrian province of Styria. Preminger prosecuted nationalist Serbs and Croats who had been imprisoned as suspected enemies of the Empire. When the Preminger family relocated, Otto was nearly nine, and was enrolled in a school where instruction in Catholic dogma was mandatory and Jewish history and religion had no place on the syllabus. Ingo, not yet four, remained at home. After a year in Graz, the decisive public prosecutor was summoned to Vienna, where he was offered an eminent position, roughly equivalent to that of the United States Attorney General. Markus was told that the position would be his only if he converted to Catholicism. In a gesture of defiance and self-assertion, Markus refused but he received the position anyway.
  • 1905
    Born
    Preminger was born in 1905 in Wiznitz, Bukovina (east of Galicia), Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Vyzhnytsia, Ukraine), into a Jewish family.
    More Details Hide Details His parents were Josefa (née Fraenkel) and Markus Preminger born in 1877 in Czernowitz (Czernovic), capital of Bukovina (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine, Duchy of Bukovina#/media/File:Bucovina.JPG east of Wiznitz). As an Attorney General of Austria-Hungary, Markus was a proud public prosecutor on the verge of an extraordinary career defending the interests of the Emperor Franz Josef. The couple provided a stable home life for Preminger and his younger brother Ingo Preminger, later the producer of the original film version of M*A*S*H (1970). Otto recalled:
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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