Lesson 15 Table of Contents Lesson 17

L e s s o n 16


1. Key personalities

Erich von Stroheim (1885-1957). Born in Vienna, he immigrated to the U.S. before World War I and was working as a director and actor from 1919. His career as a Hollywood director ended with the unfinished Queen Kelly in 1928. He subsequently appeared as an actor in French films such as Grand Illusion (1937) and in Hollywood, making a notable appearance with Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard (1950).

Josef von Sternberg (1894-1969). Born in Vienna, he was brought to the U.S. as a child and grew up on Long Island. He became an established director in Hollywood during the 1920s and went to Berlin in 1930 to direct The Blue Angel starring the young Marlene Dietrich. During the 1940s he directed a series of Hollywood films in which Dietrich appeared.

Fritz Lang (1890-1976). Lang was born in Vienna and emerged as a major director of German films during the 1920s. Arriving in Hollywood at the end of the 1930s, he directed such films as The Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street (1945).

Ernst Lubitsch (1892-1947). Born in Berlin, Lubitsch began his career as a comic actor and by 1912 was working in films in Berlin. By the 1920s he was an established film director in Hollywood, where he became famous for satiric comedies featuring "the Lubitsch touch." Ninotchka (1939) is probably his best known sound film.

Otto Preminger (b. 1906). Born in Vienna, Preminger came to the U.S. in 1935 after beginning his career as a film director in Europe. His film The Moon Is Blue (1953) was instrumental in breaking the sway of the Hollywood Production Code. Among his notable films are Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and Exodus (1960).

Peter Lorre (1904-1964). Born in Hungary, Lorre began his acting career on the stage. He became suddenly famous when Fritz Lang chose him to play the leading role of a psychological killer in M (1931). Escaping the Nazis, Lorre acted in several British films before coming to Hollywood in the late 1930s. He is best remembered as a character actor in such films as The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Casablanca (1942).

Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992). Born in Berlin, Dietrich emerged as a major film star after her appearance in the role of the seductive Lola Lola in The Blue Angel (1930). Coming to Hollywood, she at first made a series of films directed by Josef von Sternberg. Among her notable later films are Destry Rides Again (1939) and Judgement at Nuremberg (1961).

2. Main trends

Going back to the silent era, filmmakers from Germany and Austria have long played a prominent role in the American film industry. Carl Laemmle (1867-1939), the founder of Universal Studios, was one of the earliest Hollywood film magnates. Among the many Hollywood directors of German or Austrian origin were Billy Wilder and William Dieterle. Some of the immigrant actors in Hollywood were Paul Henreid, Conrad Veidt, and Lilli Palmer. Felix Bressart, Walter Slezak, and Sig Ruman were all character actors specializing in comic roles. The actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Austria and Roy Scheider comes from a German-American family. In recent years a number of German actors have appeared in American movies. The list includes Curt Jurgens, Maria Schell, Maximillan Schell, Romy Schneider, Hardy Krueger, Horst Buchholz, Natassia Kinski, and Peter van Eyck.

The music in Hollywood films has been greatly influenced by such composers as Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Max Steiner. Steiner is best remembered for the expansive score he composed for Gone with the Wind (1938).

Many of the German and Austrian directors, actors, and technicians in Hollywood during the 1940s were refugees from the Nazis, including Anton Walbrook and Lotte Lenya. The writer Bert Brecht and the composer Hannes Eisler were Marxists who left the U.S. in the 1950s and settled in East Germany.

3. Suggested further reading

John Russell Taylor. Strangers in Paradise: The Hollywood Emigrants 1933-1950. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c. 1983.

Cornelius Schnauber. German-speaking Artists in Hollywood. Emigration between 1910 and 1945. Bonn: INTER NATIONES, 1996.

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Created: 4 August 1998, SEL
Updated: 17 November 2007, BAS
Comments to: Eberhard Reichmann, reichman@ucs.indiana.edu
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URL: http://www.ulib.iupui.edu/kade/merrill/lesson16.html

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