Biography of Michael Curtiz (1886-1962)

Film director American born on December 24, 1886 in Budapest (Hungary) and died on April 10, 1962, in Hollywood. His real name was Mihály Kertész.

Born in a wealthy family (his father was an architect), Kertesz decided to join a circus when he was seventeen. In 1906 he graduated at the school of dramatic art and became a leading figure within the Hungarian theatre. His first film, entitled Az Utolsó Bohém (1912), saw the light with the circumstance of being the first feature film that was held in Hungary. As in his country the industry did not have the media enough, Kertesz moved to Denmark and there became acquainted with new technological achievements and the equipment of the Nordisk Film Studios. In 1914 he returned to Hungary and a season worked in the factory of Jenö Janovics, in Cluj. Kertész became one of the most prolific Hungarian directors. Only in 1917 directed fourteen titles, mostly by his wife, Lucy Doraine. In 1919, the Communist Government nationalized film industry, and Kertész began to travel throughout Europe performing his works in Sweden, France, Germany or Austria, until in 1926 the director was brought to Hollywood by Warner Bros.

The first films under the sign of the Warner provided the Director, now with the name of Michael Curtiz, means that until then had not had at his disposal. However, it did not have a spectacular production to the Noah's Ark (1929), which was a box office hit and gave him great prestige in the United States. It also served to gain a reputation as a dictator in the plate, on the line of Erich von Stroheim and Otto Preminger. The production of the film, by spectacular, included scenes posed a high risk situations that make more attractive the biblical story; This resulted in several dead extras when surprisingly (to give more drama) tonnes of water dropped them over. For this reason, director of photography, Hal Mohr, abandoned film when its recommendations on the dangers of filming these scenes were voicelessness. Noah's Ark was hailed as the first epic film within the sound.

Curtiz was not defined as promoter of their own projects, but it was limited to the orders and demands of Warner, making a success of all what they played, especially after the emergence of the sound. Captain Blood (1935), based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini, and which was nominated for the Oscar for sound, soundtrack and film director; The charge of the light brigade (1936), nominated to the soundtrack, the sound and the Assistant Director, and was responsible for the emergence of an act of Congress that protected, from then on, the animals in the movies (died two hundred horses during the filming); Angels with dirty faces (1938), in which James Cagney, Michael Curtiz and James Brown (as screenwriter) were nominated for the Oscar; or Casablanca (1942), in which director, film and screenplay obtained the statuette; They confirmed also as the possessor of a full range of genres, including horror title crimes of the Museum (1933), a film that was believed lost until he reappeared in the 1960s.

In 1945, the Warner Bros. began to suffer strikes of its own employees, who were branded by Communist supporters. With the "witch hunt", 1947 was a black year for the study. At the age of fifty-seven, and after two productive decades with Warner, Curtiz expressed his intention to leave the Studio. The first offer came from the then independent study Liberty Pictures, which had been founded by Frank Capra, George Stevens and Howard Hawks. But Jack Warner made a counteroffer: the Executive production of a separate unit within the company. Curtiz agreed, and the Michael Curtiz Productions Inc. was officially established in February 1947. However, the freedom that Warner had promised him was not such, and work as producer did not satisfy him, so he returned to sign a contract as director, returning to the position which had split in 1949. And Flamingo Road (1949), starring Joan Crawford, would be his last attempt as a producer.

Following a logical progression, Curtiz continued the study until 1953. Thereafter he worked as independent director. By then already had directed some of their best titles, such as Casablanca (1942) and soul in torment (1945), showing a great knowledge of the mechanisms of film noir became a master of the sinister atmosphere, skill inherited by being in contact with German expressionism. The applied elements of film noir became the film of Curtiz also protagonists, accepting to be the symbol of the psychology of the characters; in many titles cul-de-sacs will clearly be the translation of your destination. The director also helped to promote a more progressive image on the population of color; in Young Man With a Horn (1950) she portrayed a musician black, exponent of the integration that went abroad in the 1950s. And though Curtiz was not explicitly considered a director of actresses, showed the process of the emancipation of women in titles like soul in torment, and knew how to get the best out of their female protagonists, such as which starred Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.

Their latest titles, in the Decade of the 1960s, formed a compendium of what was his career, a range of proposals in which the specialization only referred to the thoroughness with which he worked. Huckleberry Finn (1960) faithfully adapted the novel by Mark Twain demonstrating that Curtiz was knowing the mechanisms to take advantage of any genre without sacrificing the sense of humor. Co-producing with Austria and Italy, he directed scandal in court (1960), with Sophia Loren in a record that had also been played by Audrey Hepburn. In 1961 Curtiz directed his last two titles: the Comancheros and Francisco de Asís; the first, a western based on the novel by Paul Wellman, John Wayne and Lee Marvin in front of the cast; and the second, adapted from the novel by Louis De Wohl which already denoted the tiredness of the director, who died a year later in California.


As director:

1912: Az Utolsó bohem; MA is holnap (and actor). 1913: Rablelek; Hazasodik uram az; Atlantis (and actor); Marta. 1914: Az Éjszaka rabjai (and actor); To Tolonc; To Kolcsonkert csecsemok (Co-Director); To Hercegno Pongyolaban; Bánk Bán; AZ Aranyaso. 1915: Akit ketten călătorul (and actor); To Tanitono. 1916: Makkhetes; To Medikus; A Magyar ereje fold; A Karthausi; A Fekete sultans; Farkas; AZ Ezüst kecske (and actor); Doktor ur. 1917: Az Arendas zsidó; Zoárd mester; To Voros Samson; AZ Utolsó hajnal; Tavasz a telben; Tatárjárás; A Szentjobi titka erdö; A Senki fia; To Szamarbor; A Kuruzsló; EGY Krajcár világirodalom; Halalcsengo; To Fold embere; AZ Ezredes; To Beke utja.1918: A Napraforgós hölgy; AZ ÖRDÖG; To Vig özvegy; Varazskeringo; Lulu; Skorpio; Lu, to kokott; Judas; To Csunya fiu; Alraune (Co-Director); Kilencvenkilenc. 1919: Jon az ocsem; Liliom; Die Gottesgeisel; Die Dame mit dem schwarzen Handschuh; Wellington Rejtely; Doubts; To Cesunya Filu. 1920: Eminath; Miss Tutti Frutti; Herzogin Satanella; Boccaccio; Die Dame mit den Macedonia. 1921: Hours of anguish; Why does kill it?; Cherchez the femme. 1922: Sodom and Gomorrah (and screenwriter); Mrs. Dane´s Confession. 1923: Oath I forget; The modern Delilah (and costume design); Die Lawine; The young Medardus (Co-Director). 1924: Ein Spiel ums Leben; The Moon of Israel; Harun to the Raschid; General Babka. 1925: Poupée de Paris. 1926: The circus of death; Gold Butterfly; Car No. 13 1927: selling women; The crime of the Sun; Good Time Charlie. 1928: The ruse supreme; Noah's Ark. 1929: The Bibelot Miss; Flower of the underworld; The Gamblers; Hearts in exile. 1930: So I see...; Mammy; The marriage Bed; Bright Lights; A Soldier's Plaything; River´s End. 1931: Dämon des Meeres; God´s Gift To Women; The idol; The Woman From Monte Carlo. 1932: are there women as well?; Slaves of the Earth; The tenth doctor; Twenty thousand years in Sing-Sing. 1933: The crimes of the Museum; The worldly; Private detective 62; Astray; Killing in the shade; Goodbye Again; From Headquarters; Female. 1934: Mandalay; Jimmy The Gent, The Key; The British actor. 1935: bet that his love; Casino de Paris; Black hell; Captain Blood; Little Big Shot; The Case of the Curious Bride. 1936: The dead walk; Knight Adverse; The charge of the light brigade; Stolen Holiday. 1937: The marked woman; The Battling Bellhop; The perfect heir. Mountain Justice. 1938: Robin Hood (Co-Director); Gold Is Where You Find It; For Daughters; Four's A Crowd; Angels with dirty faces; Sons of Liberty (short film). 1939: Blackwell completo Island; Dodge City without law; Daughters courageous; The lives of Elizabeth and Essex; Four Wives. 1940: Gold, love and blood; The Sea Hawk; Santa Fe Trail. 1941: The Sea Wolf; Dive Bomber. 1942: Captains of the Clouds; Yankee Dandy; Casablanca. 1943: This is the Army; Mission to Moscow. 1944: Janie; Passage to Marseille. 1945: Soul in torment; Roughly Speaking. 1946: Night and day. 1947: Living with dad; The Unsuspected. 1948: Romanza on the high seas. 1949: Flamingo Road; My dream Is Yours; The Lady Takes a Sailor. 1950: Young Man With a Horn; The Breaking Point; The King of tobacco. 1951: The force of arms; Jim Thorpe-All American; I'll See You in my dreams. 1952: The Story of Will Rogers; The Jazz Singer. 1953: A conflict in every corner. 1954: White Christmas; Sinuhe the Egyptian; The boy from Oklahoma. 1955: We are not angels. 1956: The Scarlett Hour (and producer); The Vagabond King; The Best Things in Life Are Free. 1957: for a single man. 1958: The neighborhood against me; The proud rebel. 1959: The Hangman; The Man in the Net. 1960: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Scandal at the Court. 1961: Francisco de Asís; The Comancheros.

Other works:

1921: Drakula halala (scriptwriter). 1935. Bright Lights (producer). 1943: Show Business At War (actor). 1949: It completo A Great Feeling (actor). 1951: The Screen Director (actor).


CALDIRON, o.: Michael Curtiz: a ungherese to Hollywood. Rome, Meridiana, 1992.

GUIDORIZZI, Mario: Michael Curtiz. A European in Hollywood. Verona, Maziana, 1981.