Robert Siodmak Biography

(Film Director)

Birthday: August 8, 1900 (Leo)

Born In: Dresden, German Empire

Robert Siodmak was a German film director who made a number of films in America and Europe. His films were known for their German-French-American synthesis also known as film noir. He had a talent for adapting himself to the film industries of three different countries at the same time and he was bracketed with Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock. It was said that his American films were more Germanic than his German ones. He was totally a cosmopolitan man, directing films in America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Though he made his debut in films in Germany he had to flee from the country before the premier of his movie ‘Burning Secret’ to avoid being arrested by the Gestapo because the Nazi boss of propaganda Joseph Goebbels thought it contained ‘sick sultriness and airless muddle-headedness’. He first fled to Paris just like all other German film-makers earlier and then made his way to America. He was initially signed up for a two year contract with ‘Paramount Pictures’ and then for a seven-year contract with ‘Universal’.
Quick Facts

German Celebrities Born In August

Died At Age: 72


Spouse/Ex-: Bertha Odenheimer

father: Ignatz Siodmak

mother: Rosa Phillipine Blum

siblings: Curt

Directors German Men

Died on: March 10, 1973

place of death: Locarno, Switzerland

City: Dresden, Germany

Childhood & Early Life
Robert Siodmak was born in Dresden, Germany on August 8, 1900. His father was Ignatz Siodmak and his mother was Rosa Phillipine Blum.
He had a younger brother named Curt.
He attended the ‘University of Marburg’ in mid-1920s and began working for the state run German film company, ‘Universum Film A.G.’ founded by General Erich Ludendorff and supported by the Third Reich.
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Robert Siodmak made his debut in directing films with the ‘Menschen am Sonntag’ or ‘People on A Sunday’ in 1930.
While in Germany he made ‘Abschied’ or ‘Farewell’ in 1930, ‘Der Mann, der seinen Morder sucht’ or ‘Looking for his Murderer’ in 1931, ‘Voruntersuchung’ or ‘Inquest’ in 1931 based on his own writing, ‘Sturme der Leidenschaft’ or ‘Storms of Passion’ in 1932 and ‘Quick I and II’ in 1932.
His film ‘Brennendes Geheimnis’ or ‘Burning Secret’ made in 1933 was an adaptation of a Stefan Zweig novel and was banned because it was considered against the Nazi German society.
He fled to Paris in 1933 to avoid German persecution where he made ‘Le Sexe faible’ or ‘The Weaker Sex’ in 1933, ‘La Crise est finie’ or ‘The Depression is Over’ in 1935, La Vie parisienne or ‘The Parisian Life’ in 1935, ‘Mister Flow’ in 1936, ‘Symphonie D’Amour’ in 1936, ‘Cargaison Blanche’ or ‘Woman Racket’ in 1937, ‘Mollenard’ or ‘Hatred’ in 1938, ‘Ultimatum’ in 1938 and ‘Pieges’ or ‘Personal Column’ in 1939.
He moved to America in 1939 just one day before the start of the Second World War and signed up with ‘Paramount’ in 1941. He made three films ‘West Point Widow’ in 1941, ‘Fly-by-Night’ in 1942 and ‘My Heart Belongs to Doddy’ also in 1942.
In 1943 he made ‘Someone to Remember’ and then ‘Son of Dracula’ for the ‘Universal Studios’ based on his brother, Curt’s story.
His next film was ‘Cobra Woman’ in 1944 in Technicolor starring Maria Montez.
He made ‘Phantom Lady’ in 1944 which was produced by Joan Harrison, and starred Ella Raines.
His third film in 1944 was ‘Christmas Holiday’ in which Deanna Durbin starred opposite Gene Kelly.
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Siodmak directed ‘The Suspect’ in 1944 starring Charles Laughton and ‘The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry’ in 1945 starring George Sanders.
He was loaned to the ‘RKO Studios’ in 1946 and made a thriller ‘The Spiral Staircase’ reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock.
Siodmak made ‘The Killers’ in 1946 starring Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner.
His next films for ‘Universal’ were The Dark Mirror’ (made in 1946), starring Olivia de Havilland and ‘Time Out of Mind’ in 1947.
In 1948 he made the film ‘Cry of the City’ while on loan to ‘20th Century Fox’ and returned to ‘Universal’ to make another thriller ‘Crisis Cross’ also in 1948 starring Burt Lancaster and Yvonne De Carlo.
He worked with Budd Schulberg on his next film ‘On the Waterfront’ produced by Louis De Rochemont but was dumped from the project.
He made the films ‘The Great Sinner’ in 1949 for MGM, ‘The File on Thelma Jordan’ in 1950, ‘Deported’, his last one for ‘Universal’, in 1950 and ‘The Whistle at Eaton Falls’ in 1951 for ‘Columbia Pictures’.
In 1952 he directed Burt Lancaster in ‘The Crimson Pirate’ in Europe and stayed back there. He made films in Britain, France, West Germany, Italy and Spain such as ‘The Card of Fate’ in 1954, ‘Flesh and the Woman’ in 1954, ‘Die Ratten’ or ‘The Rats’ in 1955, ‘Mein Vater, der Schauspiler’ in 1956, ‘Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam’ or ‘The Devil Came at Night’ in 1957, ‘Dorothea Angermann’ in 1958, ‘The Rough and The Smooth’ in 1959, ‘Adorable Sinner’ in 1960, My School Chum’ in 1960, ‘The Nina B. Affair’ in 1961, ‘Escape from Berlin’ in 1962, ‘The Shoot’ in 1964 and ‘The Treasure of the Aztecs’ in 1965.
Siodmak dabbled in the ‘O. S. S.’ series shown by British television during the period 1957 to 1958.
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He also made some West German-Italian epics such as ‘Pyramid of the Sun God’ in 1965, an adaptation of Karl May’s novel, and ‘The Fight for Rome I and II during 1968 to 1969.
In between he made ‘Custer of the West’ in 1967 in Spain in Cinerama. The film was heavily re-edited before being shown in America. It was the only western made by Siodmak.
He ended his film making career with the epic ‘Kampf um Rom’ in 1968.
Awards & Achievements
Robert Siodmak received Oscar nomination for ‘The Spiral Staircase’ and ‘The Dark Mirror’ in 1946.
In 1946 he received Oscar nomination for ‘Best Director, ‘Best Screenplay’ and ‘Best Score and Editing’ for ‘The Killers’.
In 1947 he won the ‘Edgar Allan Poe Award’ for ‘Best Motion Picture’ and shared it with Anthony Veiller and Mark Hellinger for ‘The Killers’.
In 1954 he was nominated for the ‘Grand Prize of the Festival’ at the ‘Cannes Film Festival’ for ‘Le grand jeu’ or ‘Card of Fate’.
In 1955 he won the ‘Golden Berlin Bear’ award at the ‘Berlin International Film Festival’ for ‘Die Ratten’ or ‘The Rats’.
In 1958 he won the German Film award for ‘Best Direction (Beste Regie)’ and the ‘Best ‘Director’ award at the ‘Karlovy Vary International Film Festival’ for ‘Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam’ or ‘The Devil Came at Night’.
In 1971 he won an ‘Honorary Award’ for his continuous and outstanding contributions to the German cinema over the years.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Bertha Odenheimer in 1933 and lived with her until her death on January 20, 1973. He had no children from this marriage.
Robert Siodmak died in Locarno, Switzerland on March 10, 1973.
The ‘British Film Institute’ conducted a retrospective on Robert Siodmak in April and May, 2015.
Robert Siodmak was also known as a thriller specialist.

See the events in life of Robert Siodmak in Chronological Order

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