German 43: Exiles and Émigrés

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Photo of Henry KosterKoster, Henry

(Berlin 1905–Camarillo, California 1988)

Born Hermann Kosterlitz. Director. Before 1932, he is primarily a writer of humorous and light screenplays, often in close collaboration with Kurt Bernhardt. His first film as director is Das Abenteuer der Thea Roland (1932). Because of the takeover of the Nazis, he cannot stay to see the premiere of his second feature, Das hässliche Mädchen (1933), starring Dolly Haas, and co-written with Felix Joachimson. Kosterlitz firsts emigrates to France, then to Budapest and Vienna where he works with Joe Pasternak. Via Italy and the Netherlands he arrives in the US in 1936, hired by Carl Laemmle for Universal. Now calling himself Henry Koster, he teams up again with Pasternak and Joachimson—who now calls himself Jackson—to direct Three Smart Girls (1936), a sensational success which turns the unknown teenager Deanna Durbin into a major star. A slew of films starring Durbin establishes Koster as commercially highly successful director. For The Bishop's Wife (1947), he receives an Oscar nomination. Harvey with James Stewart (1950), Desiree with Marlon Brando (1954), and The Robe (1954), the first cinema scope film, after a script by Gina Kaus, are other highlights of his prolific career. A citizen as of 1942, Koster is a founding member of the European Film Fund and instrumental in helping many writers and filmmakers escape from Nazi Germany.

GERMAN 43: Exiles and Émigrés
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