Colloquium | Noah Isenberg

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 12:00pm

Noah Isenberg

The Afterlives of Edgar G. Ulmer

The near-forgotten émigré filmmaker Edgar G. Ulmer enjoyed a thirty-five year career as a director. Born in Olmütz (in what is today the Czech Republic) in 1904, and raised in Vienna, he first traveled to America in 1924 with Max Reinhardt’s theater company to help stage The Miracle in New York. His sprawling, eclectic body of work includes: such daring and original horror films as The Black Cat (1934) and Bluebeard (1944); a startling variety of ethnic films, ranging from an all-black musical drama, Moon Over Harlem (1939), to a pair Ukrainian operettas and four powerful Yiddish features, most notably The Light Ahead (1939); numerous acclaimed B-pictures of diverse genres, including science fiction, melodrama, and the western; and, finally, such film noir classics as Detour (1945), his best-known film. Long overshadowed by the more celebrated careers of his fellow Austrian- and German-born peers, Ulmer’s work is now finally, over four decades after his death, receiving a new wave of critical appreciation.

Noah Isenberg is Director of Screen Studies and Professor of Culture and Media at the New School, author of Detour (BFI Film Classics, 2008), and editor of Weimar Cinema: An Essential Guide to Classic Films of the Era (Columbia University Press, 2009).

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