Biography of William Dieterle (1893-1972)

German filmmaker born in Ludwigshafen on July 15, 1893 and died in Taufkirchen (Germany) on December 8, 1972.


Example of artist politically committed to the delicate social moments that lived you, William Dieterle knew however mix propaganda agitation with commercial success demanded by the Hollywood industry, so far erected thanks to its films in the chronicler par excellence of some of the main events of the world, in a "modern Plutarch" history (as it was called at the time) capable of recounting the most significant moments of the biography in images of beings so distant in time and space as Louis Pasteur, Émile Zola, Maximiliano Juarez or Richard Wagner.

Seventh son of a modest working family, Wilhelm Dieterle - his real name, until it changed during his tenure in the United States - from small showed a great interest for the study of the history and drama. In order to be able to afford her studies in both subjects, he/she worked for a while selling manure and doing errands for a small local haberdashery. However, his family convinced him so you learn the trade of Carpenter, which always could take refuge if his acting career is a failure.

In 1920 it would be however found in the amateur by the legendary Theater stages Max Reinhardt, an institution of the German scene that prevailed the actor above the text and whose assemblies were characterized by an extreme Baroque. Dieterle remained Reinhardt orders for more than four years, which would open you pass the doors of the cinema. After several films starring, had the opportunity to debut behind the scenes in 1923 with Der mensch an wege, first step of his career in Germany, where alternated historical themed films (Ludwig der zweite, König von Bayern, 1929) with musicals (Eine stunde Glück, 1930). But overwhelmed by economic growing debts caused by several of these films, whose high cost made complicated their rapid depreciation in the lockers, in July of 1930 decided to take the final step: starting to United States hired by Warner with a significant salary for the time. This production company was looking for European talents with experience in the theatre to undertake sound films, a technological novelty that they themselves had been responsible for launch to the market roaring.

His breakthrough in Hollywood couldn't have been less fortunate: the last flight (1930), according to the autobiographical novel by John Monk Saunders, was a successful drama of aviation able to stay ahead of their time and whose notorious eccentricity to the canons of the time was seen as an attempt to capture the attention of an audience something more elitist of the conventional. Aupado to that pedestal of filmmaker for intellectuals that could however be well accepted by the popular spectators, Dieterle chained a battery of series B, as the futuristic melodrama productions six hours of life (1932), the cosmopolitan historical drama Scarlet Dawn (1932), Adorable exotic operetta (1933) or the police Fog over Frisco (1934). This latest film, starring Bette Davis and still deserves the honors of being the most restless of the history of the cinema film, links at breakneck speed panoramic cascade, angulation, successive chained fades or changes exciting tracking shots, with the addition of an image shot at 22 frames per second to accentuate the feeling of speed in the projections.

Madame Du Barry (1934), a magna overproduction of era, said his promotion to the rank of director-star of Warner. This circumstance, coupled with the old relationship of friendship, he/she become the supervisor of the dream of a summer night (1935), adaptation of the classic written by William Shakespeare in charge of the theatre mentor of William Dieterle, Max Reinhardt.

After this experience, not at all well received by viewers, he/she would begin his long series of biographical adaptations with the tragedy of Louis Pasteur (1936), which was almost immediately followed the life of Emilio Zola (1937) or Juarez (1939). A dispatch from Reuters (1940), where the figure of Paul Julius Reuter, is glosaba creator of one of the major global news agencies, showed that vein of the epic biographies of historical characters was coming to an end, by what Dieterle decided to reorient his career toward anti-war propaganda.

Just leave Warner, and after making a brief foray into United Artists with Blockade (1938) - a film set in the Spanish Civil war that took clear split by the side Republican-nazi propaganda services leaked false rumors about the alleged intentions which had Dieterle offer their services to Adolf Hitler, lying that motivated a close eye to the director by the FBI. That moment of personal difficulty it would go up by launching his own production company to shoot the man who sold his soul (1941), the fantastic story of a devil that offers social mobility in Exchange for the soul of his victim. This magical story similar to that of many legends and tales, which in some ways is a variation on the "Faust" of Goethe and combining medieval mysteries with reflections on morality, aspired to mixing realism with supernatural aspects, while criticizing the effects of capitalism on the humble people and political corruption. Cult film praised by world film critic, the man who sold his soul did however a lack of success in its premiere that nevertheless not intimidated to Dieterle. Nor would do so shortly after the nightmare that for all the Hollywood industry meant Tennessee Johnson (1942), whose manufacturing process has lived since the tragic death of the producer until the threat of destroying the original negative for fear of racist riots.

The definitive comeback occurred with Jennie (1948), whose complex filming because of the demands of the producer David o. Selznick went on however to the mythical Hollywood: nine months of filming where everything was rewritten or refined an average of four times for a film whose nonsensical cost proved impossible to pay off at the box office. However, this work admired by European intellectuals and especially by the surrealists (Luis Buñuel titubearía not in catalog as one of the ten most beautiful films in the world) knew how to mix poetic form of dream and reality, giving his images a beautiful character of magical tale where death is defeated by the true love.

This monument to the passion of love closed the triumphal Dieterle in the Mecca of the film cycle. Thereafter alternated routine projects (city in shadows, 1950, or only a flag, 1951) with commercial films of adventure full of topics (the path of the elephants, 1954). His return to Europe after the second world war and toilsome recollections of the old splendor in the treatment of famous biographies-torn (magical fire: the story of Richard Wagner, 1956) nor helped to improve the Outlook. Since the beginning of the 1960's, William Dieterle decided to focus on the world of theatre and television.


As director:1923: Der mensch an wege (and screenwriter and actor). 1927: König für einen tag; Das geheimnis des Abbé X.1928: Die heilige und ihr narr (producer and actor); Chains (and actor). 1929: the triumph of love (and actor); Fruhlingsrauschen (and actor); Das schweigen im walde (and actor). 1930: Ludwig der zweite, König von Bayern (and co-writer and actor); Eine stunde Glück (and co-writer and actor); Der tanz geht weiter (and actor); Die maske fällt; Kismet.1931: Die Heilige Flamme (Co-Director); The last flight; Her majesty love.1932: female diplomacy; Jewel robbery; The crash; Six hours of life; Dawn Scarlet; Leyes.1933 man: the great play; Adorable; The diablo sports; From headquarters; The altar of fashion; Female (Co-Director). 1934: Fog over Frisco; Dr. Monica; Madame Du Barry; The firebird; The wedding secreta.1935: the dream of a Midsummer night's (Co-Director); Dr. Socrates; The tragedy of Louis Pasteur.1936: Satan met a lady; White angel; The great O'Malley. 1937: Another dawn; The Prince and the Pauper; The life of Emilio Zola.1938: Blockade.1939: Juarez; Esmeralda, the Gypsy; Dr. Ehrlich completo Magic Bullet.1940: A dispatch from Reuters.1941: the man who sold his soul (and producer and co-writer). 1942: Syncopation: The story of a Nation from Ragtime to Boogie-Woogie (and producer / co-writer); Tennessee Johnson.1944: Beggar Prince; You'll see; Letters to my beloved; Since you left (Co-Director). 1945: slave of a meeting (Co-Director); How I loved you, you quiero.1946: duel in the Sun (Co-Director); The searching wind.1948: Jennie; The accused; Bitter desquite.1949: rope of sand; Vulcano; September affair.1950: City in shadow; Only a bandera.1951: Beijing; Boots Malone; A man acusa.1952: salome.1953: the trail of the elephants; Joseph and his Brethren.1954: Magic fire: the story of Richard Wagner (and producer). 1956: Omar Khayyam; One Against Many (cortometrje). 1958: Il vendicatore / Dubrovsky (and actor). 1960: the mysteries of Angkor (Co-Director); Die fastnachtsbeichte.1964: The confession.

Works for television:1960: Ich fand Julia Harrington.1961: Die Große Reise; Spiel um Job.1962: Die Karthothek; Gabriel Schillings Flucht; Das Vergnügen, anstandig zu sein; Antigone; Two Große Vorbild.1964: Macbeth; Ein Engel hkommt nach Babylon.1965: Ein Sommernachtstraum.1966: Samba; Die Mongolenschlacht.

Works like actor:1913: Fiesko (short film). 1915: Der erbfoster.1918: Der rattenfänger von Hameln.1920: Die Vermummten / Sensationsdrama.1921: Die Geier-Wally; Hintertreppe; Fräulein Julie; Die silbermove.1922: Frauenopfer; It is leuchtet meine liebe; Der graf von charolais; Lucrezia Borgia; maría Antonieta.1923: Bohemia; Die pagode; Die Grüne Manuela; Der zweite schuss; Die Austribung / Die macht der zweiten; The figures of cera.1924 man: Carlos und Elisabeth: Eine herrschertragodie; Ehen Moderne; Hrichy v manzeltsvi; The fate of the hijos.1925: Wetterleuchten; Die blumenfrau vom Potsdamer Platz; Lena Warnstetten; Moral und Sumpf; Die vom niederrhein; Der hahn im korb; The pink diamond; Die Dame aus Berlin; Die Gesunkenen.1926: Die Mühle von Sanssouci; The daughter of Ranger; Qualen der nacht / Das schiksal dreier menschen; Familie schimeck / Wiener Herzen; Fausto; Russia; Your Highness, I love you; Hölle der liebe / Erlebnisee aus einem tanzpalast; Bleibe ich jung und Schön wie; Der Jäger von fall; Der pfarrer von kirchfeld; Behind closed doors; Violantha / Die Königin der berge; Droomkoninkje / Die vom schicksal verfolgten.1927: the King of the Gypsies; Am rande der welt; Die weber; ICH habe im Mai von der liebe geträumt (and producer); Women of Satan; Petronella: ein hochgebirgsdrama; The nostalgia of the patria.1928: Frau Sorge; Diebe: 10,000 mark belohnung; Ritter der nacht.1929: Durchs Brandenburger tor.1931: Dämon des meeres.


DUMONT, H.: William Dieterle: anti-fascism and romantic commitment, San Sebastián-Madrid: Filmoteca Española/Festival international de Cinema of San Sebastián, 1994.

L Fernández Colorado