Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film

Univ. Pr. of Kentucky. Nov. 2017. 630p. photos. filmog. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813173917. $50; ebk. ISBN 9780813173962. FILM
OrangeReviewStarOnce hailed as "the king of Warner Brothers," Hungarian-born director Michael Curtiz (Mihaly Kertesz) helmed such diverse classics as The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, Casablanca, and Mildred Pierce, along with other significant films. The first comprehensive, in-depth biography of Curtiz portrays him as a man who abandoned acting to make films in Hungary, was recruited by Jack Warner, and despite a formidable language barrier, transitioned to Hollywood. A lifelong workaholic, he was known for his explosive tirades and frequent malapropisms (referring to one film as "the pinochle of my career"). He was also notorious for his perfectionism and demand for realism, which led to verbal abuse of cast and crew members, working long hours and driving them to the breaking point; battles with studio bosses; and allegations of mistreatment of stunt animals. Rode (Charles McGraw: Film Noir Tough Guy) examines Curtiz's eye for new talent, intuitive storytelling sense, and fluid use of the camera. Although his name may not be well remembered outside Hollywood, his legacy is secure, with a body of work rarely matched in Hollywood.
VERDICT With thorough knowledge of film history, telling anecdotes, and interviews, the author illuminates Curtiz's colorful career while also providing insightful portraits of actors, writers, and studio heads. Highly recommended.
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