Michael Curtiz (// kur-TEEZ; born Manó Kaminer; from 1905 Mihály Kertész; Hungarian: Kertész Mihály; December 24, 1886 – April 10, 1962) was a Hungarian-American film director, recognized as one of the most prolific directors in history.: 67 He directed classic films from the silent era and numerous others during Hollywood's Golden Age, when the studio system was prevalent.
December 24, 1886
|Died||April 10, 1962 75) (aged|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Other names||Mike Curtiz|
United States (after 1933)
(m. 1918; div. 1923)
Curtiz was already a well-known director in Europe when Warner Bros. invited him to Hollywood in 1926, when he was 39 years of age. He had already directed 64 films in Europe, and soon helped Warner Bros. become the fastest-growing movie studio. He directed 102 films during his Hollywood career, mostly at Warners, where he directed ten actors to Oscar nominations. James Cagney and Joan Crawford won their only Academy Awards under Curtiz's direction. He put Doris Day and John Garfield on screen for the first time, and he made stars of Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Bette Davis. He himself was nominated five times and won twice, once for Best Short Subject for Sons of Liberty and once as Best Director for Casablanca.
Curtiz was among those who introduced to Hollywood a visual style using artistic lighting, extensive and fluid camera movement, high crane shots, and unusual camera angles. He was versatile and could handle any film genre: melodrama, comedy, love story, film noir, musical, war story, Western, horror, or historical epic. He always paid attention to the human-interest aspect of every story, stating that the "human and fundamental problems of real people" were the basis of all good drama.
The death of 25 horses in The Charge of the Light Brigade under Curtiz's direction led to a near-violent confrontation between Curtiz and star Errol Flynn, which led to the U.S. Congress and the ASPCA to enact legislation and policy to prevent cruelty to animals on the sets of movies.
Curtiz helped popularize the classic swashbuckler with films such as Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). He directed many other dramas which are considered classics: Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), The Sea Wolf (1941), Casablanca (1942), and Mildred Pierce (1945). He directed leading musicals, including Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), This Is the Army (1943), and White Christmas (1954), and he made comedies with Life With Father (1947) and We're No Angels (1955).