Sure, you’ve seen a bevy of his films—everything from “Casablanca” to “Mildred Pierce” to “Angels With Dirty Faces” and “The Adventures Of Robin Hood”—but what do you really know about Hungarian American director Michael Curtiz? He is, indeed, perhaps the greatest director you’ve never heard of and you’ve unknowingly gone on for years captivated by Erroll Flynn, James Cagney, and Humphrey Bogart without taking a second to learn about the man behind the camera.
In this terrific 37-minute short documentary, Gary Leva explores what we don’t know about Curtiz, who made over 160 (!!) films in his brilliant, decade-spanning career. From humble beginnings in 1888, Curtiz worked his way up in show business, starting out as an actor and eventually making films in his native Austria-Hungary and Berlin. Curtiz’s work in America is unparalleled. He received an Academy Award for “Casablanca,” but in the words of Steven Spielberg, no other director has such an eclectic body of work. His range was uncanny, beginning in the Silent Era, then making westerns such as “Dodge City,” swashbucklers like “The Sea Hawk,” period pieces like “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” and (my personal favorite) the quintessential musical in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
Now, the only thing to do this weekend is go back and explore the classics you’ve always loved but known so little about, with a little preamble from this informative video doc. What’s your favorite Curtiz picture? Let us know in the comments below.