Michael Curtiz

Director, Producer, Actor
One of the most prolific directors in the history of the cinema, Hungarian-born Michael Curtiz thrived in the studio system as the top helmsman at Warner Bros. Studio in the 1930s and 40s. Tirelessly hammering out four ... Read more »
Born: 12/24/1886 in Budapest, HU

Filmography

Director (75)

Francis of Assisi 1961 (Movie)

(Director)

The Comancheros 1961 (Movie)

(Director)

A Breath of Scandal 1960 (Movie)

(Director)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1960 (Movie)

(Director)

King Creole 1958 (Movie)

(Director)

Proud Rebel 1958 (Movie)

(Director)

The Hangman 1958 (Movie)

(Director)

The Man in the Net 1958 (Movie)

(Director)

The Helen Morgan Story 1957 (Movie)

(Director)

The Best Things in Life Are Free 1956 (Movie)

(Director)

The Scarlet Hour 1956 (Movie)

(Director)

The Vagabond King 1956 (Movie)

(Director)

We're No Angels 1955 (Movie)

(Director)

The Egyptian 1954 (Movie)

(Director)

White Christmas 1954 (Movie)

(Director)

The Boy From Oklahoma 1953 (Movie)

(Director)

The Jazz Singer 1953 (Movie)

(Director)

Trouble Along the Way 1953 (Movie)

(Director)

Jim Thorpe - All American 1950 (Movie)

(Director)

The Breaking Point 1950 (Movie)

(Director)

Young Man With a Horn 1950 (Movie)

(Director)

Life With Father 1947 (Movie)

(Director)

Mildred Pierce 1945 (Movie)

(Director)

Janie 1944 (Movie)

(Director)

Passage to Marseille 1944 (Movie)

(Director)

Casablanca 1942 (Movie)

(Director)

Mission to Moscow 1942 (Movie)

(Director)

This Is the Army 1942 (Movie)

(Director)

Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942 (Movie)

(Director)

The Santa Fe Trail 1939 (Movie)

(Director)

Virginia City 1939 (Movie)

(Director)

Dodge City 1938 (Movie)

(Director)

Sons of Liberty 1938 (Movie)

(Director)

The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938 (Movie)

(Director)

Angels With Dirty Faces 1937 (Movie)

(Director)

Four Daughters 1937 (Movie)

(Director)

Kid Galahad 1936 (Movie)

(Director)

The Charge of the Light Brigade 1935 (Movie)

(Director)

Black Fury 1934 (Movie)

(Director)

Captain Blood 1934 (Movie)

(Director)

Female 1933 (Movie)

(Director)

The Mystery of the Wax Museum 1932 (Movie)

(Director)

Doctor X 1931 (Movie)

(Director)

20,000 Years in Sing-Sing (Movie)

(Director)

Bright Leaf (Movie)

(Director)

Bright Lights (Movie)

(Director)

British Agent (Movie)

(Director)

Captains of the Clouds (Movie)

(Director)

Daughters Courageous (Movie)

(Director)

Dive Bomber (Movie)

(Director)

Four Wives (Movie)

(Director)

Four's a Crowd (Movie)

(Director)

Front Page Woman (Movie)

(Director)

Gold Is Where You Find It (Movie)

(Director)

Good Time Charley (Movie)

(Director)

Jimmy the Gent (Movie)

(Director)

Mammy (Movie)

(Director)

Mandalay (Movie)

(Director)

Mountain Justice (Movie)

(Director)

My Dream Is Yours (Movie)

(Director)

Noah's Ark (Movie)

(Director)

Romance on the High Seas (Movie)

(Director)

Roughly Speaking (Movie)

(Director)

Stolen Holiday (Movie)

(Director)

The Cabin in the Cotton (Movie)

(Director)

The Kennel Murder Case (Movie)

(Director)

The Mad Genius (Movie)

(Director)

The Perfect Specimen (Movie)

(Director)

The Sea Hawk (Movie)

(Director)

The Sea Wolf (Movie)

(Director)

The Story of Will Rogers (Movie)

(Director)

The Third Degree (TV Show)

Director

The Unsuspected (Movie)

(Director)

The Woman from Monte Carlo (Movie)

(Director)
Producer (3)

The Scarlet Hour 1956 (Movie)

(Producer)

Romance on the High Seas (Movie)

(Producer)

The Unsuspected (Movie)

(Producer)
Actor (2)

Atlantis (Movie)

(Actor)

It's a Great Feeling (Movie)

Himself (Actor)
Other (1)

Hearts and Minds 1975 (Movie)

film extract("This Is the Army" (1943)) (Other)

Biography

One of the most prolific directors in the history of the cinema, Hungarian-born Michael Curtiz thrived in the studio system as the top helmsman at Warner Bros. Studio in the 1930s and 40s. Tirelessly hammering out four or five films a year, Curtiz relentlessly tackled both low-budget pictures and more prestigious Oscar-baiting fare, all the while proving amazingly adept at creating lavish results on minimal budgets in a wide variety of genres. Autocratic and overbearing to the extreme, Curtiz clashed constantly with his actors, and his most famous player, Errol Flynn, finally refused to work for him after 12 pictures, including swashbuckler classics like "Captain Blood" (1935) and "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938). Yet for all his unsympathetic treatment of performers, Curtiz had a knack for detecting and fostering unknown talents, including Flynn, John Garfield - whom he introduced in "Four Daughters" (1938) - and Doris Day, among others. His highly developed visual approach combined with his technical mastery could elevate the most mundane material, and three of his finest films - "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942), "Casablanca" (1942) and "Mildred Pierce" (1945) - made a virtue of melodrama and sentimentality. Though he reached the culmination of his creative powers with "The Breaking Point" (1950), Curtiz entered a financially successful period with more crowd-pleasing pictures like "White Christmas" (1954) and "King Creole" (1958). Having tapped out with "The Commancheros" (1961), Curtiz was nonetheless a tireless director who left behind a rich legacy, some of which displayed the very best Hollywood had to offer.

Relationships

Father

Mother

Margaret Manhart

Sister

Regina Deregnyoi

Sister

Lucy Doraine

Wife
married in 1915 divorced in 1923 star of some of Curtiz's early films

David Kertesz

Brother
younger

Gabriel Kertesz

Brother
younger

John Lucas

Step-Son

Bess Meredyth Screenwriter

Wife
Married from 1929 until his death

Bess Meredyth

Wife
formerly married to actor-director Wilfred Lucas, with whom she had a son married in 1929 divorced remarried separated permanently in 1960 (although they remained on good terms and she maintained a room for him in her home) died on July 13, 1969 at age 79 adapted Charlotte Armstrong's novel for Curtiz's "The Unsuspected" (1947)

Katharine Radban

Daughter
mother, Lucy Doraine

EDUCATION

Markoszy University

Budapest

Royal Academy of Theater and Art

Budapest

Milestones

1961

Directed last film, "The Comancheros", starring John Wayne

1960

Helmed "A Breath of Scandal", adapted from fellow Hungarian Ferenc Molnar's play "Olympia"

1958

Ninth and last film with de Havilland, "Proud Rebel"

1954

After almost 28 years, ended exclusive affiliation with Warner Bros.; asked to accept a 50 percent cut in pay, refused and quit studio; also embroiled at this time in a paternity suit with a young actress which ultimately went expensively against him

1954

Enjoyed biggest commercial success of career, "White Christmas", for Paramount

1952

Fourth and last film with Day, "I'll See You in My Dreams", the formulaic musical biopic of Gus Kahn (played by Danny Thomas)

1950

Fifth and final film with Garfield, "The Breaking Point", a remake of "To Have and Have Not" that was more faithful to the Hemingway novel

1949

Final film from Michael Curtiz Productions, "Flamingo Road"; sold company to Warners, tired of exercising a nominal independence that gave final say to the studio

1948

First of four films with Doris Day, "Romance on the High Seas"; marked Day's film debut

1947

Formed Michael Curtiz Productions, an in-house company headquartered at Warner Bros.

1947

Last film with Rains, "The Unsuspected"; initial movie made under the Michael Curtiz Productions banner

1944

Directed "Mildred Pierce", starring Joan Crawford who won a Best Actress Oscar

1943

"Passage to Marseilles" reunited him with four from the "Casablanca" cast (Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Rains)

1942

Last film with Costello, "This Is the Army"

1942

Earned Best Director Academy Award for the classic Oscar-winning Best Picture "Casablanca"; the Epstein twins and Howard Koch picked up Best Adapted Screenplay statue as well

1941

Fourth and last film with Cagney, "Yankee Doodle Dandy", superb biopic of George M Cohan which earned Cagney the Best Actor Oscar; scripted (with others) by the Epstein brothers

1940

12th and last film with Flynn, "Dive Bomber"; director and star were barely speaking, and Flynn refused to work with Curtiz afterwards

1940

Reteamed with Robinson for "The Sea Wolf", adapted from the Jack London novel

1939

Phillip G Epstein teamed with brother Julius on screenplay for "Daughters Courageous"

1939

Helmed "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex", with Bette Davis and Errol Flynn

1939

Directed the Academy Award-winning two-reel short "Sons of Liberty", a Warner Historical Featurette

1938

First of five films with John Garfield, "Four Daughters"; Garfield's feature debut

1938

Helmed perhaps the finest swashbuckler, "The Adventures of Robin Hood", starring Flynn and de Havilland; Korngold earned his second Oscar for the film's score

1938

Reunited with Cagney for "Angels With Dirty Faces"

1937

Directed "Kid Galahad", featuring a bravura performance by Edward G. Robinson as a ruthless (but ultimately soft-hearted) boxing manager

1936

First of 10 films with Claude Rains, "Stolen Holiday"

1936

Reteamed Flynn and de Havilland in "The Charge of the Light Brigade"; climactic charge was then one of the most dangerous scenes ever filmed with one man dying, several more badly injured, and so many horses killed that the SPCA raised a public protest

1935

Directed first film with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, "Captain Blood"

1935

Initial collaboration with screenwriter Julius Epstein, "Little Big Shot"

1934

First film with James Cagney, "Jimmy the Gent"

1933

Helmed the well-regarded, all-color horror flick "The Mystery of the Wax Museum"

1932

Directed Hollywood's first all-color horror film, "Doctor X"

1929

Scored substantial box-office success with "Noah's Ark"; Erich Wolfgang Kornholder provided the first of his six scores for the director

1926

Brought to Hollywood by Jack Warner who had been impressed by Curtiz's camera work for "Moon of Israel" (1924), produced by Alexander Korda; directed first US film, "The Third Degree"; first of eight collaborations with Warner Bros. star Dolores Costello

1923

Directed the acclaimed "Sodom and Gomorrah", featuring Walter Slezak

1919

Fled Hungary when Bela Kun's Communist regime nationalized film industry

1917

Worked as managing director of Hungarian Phoenix Studios; helmed several films which starred first wife Lucy Doraine

1914

Returned to Hungary

1914

Directed at least 37 films, many of which--following the Scandinavian example--showed a preference for outdoor locations

1912

Film directing debut (although no director credited), "Today and Tomorrow"; also played a leading role; film announced as 'The First Hungarian Dramatic Art Film'

1906

Ran away to join a traveling circus at age 17, performing with them as strongman, acrobat, juggler and mime

1897

Made first stage appearance in an opera starring his mother

Worked at Nordisk Studios in Denmark learning filmmaking techniques; assisted both Victor Sjostrom and Mauritz Stiller

Helmed at least 21 films for Sascha Films of Vienna, credited as Michael Kertesz

After completing studies, joined the Hungarian National Theatre, eventually working as actor and director

Honored posthumously with a career retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art entitled "Michael Curtiz: From Hungary to Hollywood"

Drafted into Austo-Hungarian artillery, but through use of connections obtained transfer to the film unit and then was discharged

Reputedly was a member of the Hungarian fencing team at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games

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