(Stuttgart 1885Hollywood 1929)
Director and set designer. Leni begins his career as graphic designer and painter. As of 1910, he also works on stage designs. His first designs for films are for Die Geier-Wally (dir. E.A. Dupont, 1921), Lady Hamilton (dir. Richard Oswald, 1921), and Die Hintertreppe (dir. Leopold Jessner, 1921), which owes much of its athmosphere and visual power to its sets. The menacing horror film Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (1923), his first work as director and starring Emil Jannings and Conrad Veidt, is a huge critical success and one of Weimar cinema's enduring classics. Invited to Hollywood by Carl Laemmle, he continues his career as master of menace with The Cat and the Canary (1927) and The Man Who Laughs (1928) before a case of fatal blood poisoning brings his career to an abrupt halt.