(Kiev 1902Neuilly, France 1974)
Born as Mikhail Anatol Litwak. Director. Trained as stage director and actor in St. Petersburg, he joined the Nordkino studios in Leningrad in 1923, and left for Germany in 1925 where he worked as assistant director and director until 1933. When the Nazis came to power, Litvak, a Jew, was forced to emigrate to Paris where he directed four more films, including Mayerling (1936). In 1937, he signed with RKO and a year later with Warner Bros., where he directed his next nine films, including the early anti-Nazi film Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939). He received an Academy Award nomination for the lavish All This, and Heaven Too (1940). After the United States entered the War, he worked with Frank Capra on the Why We Fight series of documentaries. When the war ended, Litvak turned to noir films, directing and producing the very popular Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). The Snake Pit (1948) brought him another Academy nomination, this time for best directing; the thriller Decision Before Dawn (1951), starring a young Oskar Werner as a double agent spying on the Nazis for the United States, is notable for its use of German locations. Among a wealth of weighty melodramas made during the 1950s, Anastasia (1956, with Ingrid Bergman) stands out as a highlight.