German 43: Exiles and Émigrés
 

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Bernhardt, Curtis

(Worms 1899–Pacific Palisades, California 1981)

Born as Kurt Bernhardt. Director. After successfully making the transition from stage to screen, he helped Marlene Dietrich to stardom by directing her in Three Loves (1929). He also directed Conrad Veidt in one of Ufa's first sound films, The Last Company (1930). In 1934 he left for France where he specialized in athmospheric thriller-melodramas such as Carrefour (1938). Known for his social commentary and strong political views, Bernhardt moved to the United States in 1939, where he signed a seven-year contract with Warner. During that time, he made several notable films, including My Love Came Back (1940, with Olivia de Havilland), Juke Girl (1942, with Ann Sheridan), Conflict (1943, with Humphrey Bogart) and Possessed (1947, with Joan Crawford in an Oscar-nominated role). Bernhardt is perhaps best known, however, for the MGM-produced noir, The High Wall, a quirky drama which showcases Robert Taylor as a victim of amnesia trying to clear himself of a murder charge. His later features are not impressive, but he did succeed in making a West German film in 1960, Stephanie in Rio. Mostly considered a director of melodrama and romance, Bernhardt has been unjustly by-passed by many film historians.


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