The Amazing Curtiz

15 Apr

Mano Kaminer > Mihaly Kertesz > Michael Courtese > Michael Curtiz

The Most Underated Director in the History of Hollywood?

“Curtiz was already a well-known director in Europe when Warner Bros. invited him to Hollywood in 1926, when he was 39 years of age. He had already directed 64 films in Europe, and soon helped Warner Bros. become the fastest-growing movie studio. He directed 102 films during his Hollywood career, mostly at Warners, where he directed ten actors to Oscar nominations. James Cagney and Joan Crawford won their only Academy Awards under Curtiz’s direction. He put Doris Day and John Garfield on screen for the first time, and he made stars of Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Bette Davis. He himself was nominated five times and won twice, once for Best Short Subject for Sons of Liberty and once as Best Director for Casablanca.”

“Curtiz introduced to Hollywood a unique visual style using artistic lighting, extensive and fluid camera movement, high crane shots, and unusual camera angles. He was versatile and could handle any kind of picture: melodrama, comedy, love story, film noir, musical, war story, Western, or historical epic. He always paid attention to the human-interest aspect of every story, stating that the “human and fundamental problems of real people” were the basis of all good drama.”

What was his Greatest Film? Who were his Greatest Stars?…?…

— Tim


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  1. shangheinz

    April 16, 2018 at 8:00 pm


    Curtiz and Elvis were a dynamic duo for sure. Let`s call them Reel`n`Roll shall we, Jailhouse Tim?…

    • Gentleman Tim

      April 17, 2018 at 12:30 am

      Wow, what a great review, hounddogheinz!…


  2. Karl

    April 16, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    AMAZING, indeed, Lord Tim!

    How did he do it… in spite of the fact that he was separated from ALL by his “uncommon” language.

    Whereas Hitchcock pre-planned everything (right down to the choice of actors himself) and so found the actual process of filming boring, Curtiz apparently had a different sort of tack not to mention tactic when it came to relating to people.

    Here are some quotes attributed to him, reported in papers of the day, as to (some of) his “process” on various film sets:

    “The next time I send some dumb guy, I go myself.” (4/28/36)

    For a thrilling scene in Robin Hood, Errol Flynn tossed a 15 pound spear across a room and is supposed to make it stick in the opposite wall. Flynn threw the spear but his aim was poor. Lucky for director Michael Curtiz that he ducked in time. The spear nipped off his hat pinning it to the floor of the stage. “Are you hurt?” screamed the frantic Flynn. “No I’m alright”, replied Mike “but look at my hat – she is dead”. (12/24/37)

    “We don’t make historical pictures, we make history.” (12/28/37)

    “The next time you bring me flashbulbs, test them first.” (3/14/38)

    “Make it more like high society. Look bored.” (3/23/38)

    “If there’s grease on that chair, I’ll let you eat it.” (3/23/38)

    “Pull out the horses. They sneeze and spoil everything.” (5/1/38)

    “In this scene I want that the dog should bark from right to left.” (6/7/38)

    “You speak with two much afternoon tea accent.” (7/17/38)

    “He love her. She love him. The father comes in the door and smells fish.” (7/17/38)

    “Sit a little more feminine.” (7/17/38)

    “Sherry (Shourds, assistantant director),“ he says, “in this scene behind EF and Olivia de Havilland should go by some boy cows.” “Okeh, Mike” replies Shourds, who promptly rounds up some of the 2000 steers that are working in the picture. “No, no Sherry,” exclaims Curtiz. “Boy cows I want.” “Well,” replies Shourds, puzzled, “those steers certainly aren’t girl cows.” “What I want to pass by in the scene,” explains Curtiz, “is the fellows who ride the horses- the boy cows.” “Oh” replies Shourds. “Yeah,” chuckles Mike. “Cowboys. I’m backed up again.” (11/24/38)

    “You should show more Essex-appeal.” (6/16/39)

    When he says “Essex”, it comes out “Issacs.” (6/10/39)

    “You are a bum. But I know why you get such a big salary. Your profile is so disgustingly beautiful.” (12/27/39)

    “Errol, you worked hard. But it’s all right. You can’t get anything for nothing unless you pay for it.” (2/29/40)

    • Gentleman Tim

      April 17, 2018 at 1:22 am

      Hysterical, Karl! How in the world did he make such literate films!?! … Though undoubtedly a genius, he may have been even more malaproper than Yogi?


      • Karl

        April 17, 2018 at 10:59 am

        At least Yogi KNEW what he was saying… even if it was in a SECOND language!

        • Gentleman Tim

          April 17, 2018 at 9:04 pm

          Yogi may have known half of what he was saying, Karl, but I think he may have been clueless about much of the other 90%! … But, like he said, you can’t hit and think at the same time.

          He was probably a distant cousin of Curtiz.


  3. twinarchers

    April 19, 2018 at 1:42 am

    Great post thanks. A great director and great photos here.

  4. Gentleman Tim

    April 21, 2018 at 11:45 am

    More on the many great talents of Mihaly:…

    • Karl

      April 21, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      What a WONDERFUL thumbnail of a SUPERSONIC flight path through an UTTERLY remarkable career…

      and it could also be said, altering the “characters” in that most descriptive Warner remark:

      Curtiz… a guy that pioneered the art of squeezing an ACTOR hard enough to make the “player” keel over!

      • Gentleman Tim

        April 21, 2018 at 2:55 pm

        “What a genius director this guy was.”…


        • Karl

          April 21, 2018 at 3:19 pm

          GREAT link Sir Tim… and now, how about the WHOLE enchilada:


          • Gentleman Tim

            April 21, 2018 at 4:23 pm

            Muchas gracias, Karlo! That is one enchilada excellente, indeed! Served up by Steven Spielberg and William Freidkin, among other big and notable admirers of Maestro Mihaly.

            • Karl

              April 21, 2018 at 4:53 pm

              BE WARNED, these OTHER movie essays are positively FASCINATING… the Casablanca piece is the next that follows.


              I’m wondering… are these the new form of (extended) film review?

              • Gentleman Tim

                April 21, 2018 at 9:00 pm

                Just what Doctor X ordered, Karl!



  5. Gentleman Tim

    April 21, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    If not for the Moon Over Israel”,, the world may never had the great fortune to see Errol Flynn as a Hollywood star. Here is that cinematic masterpiece, by “Michael Courtese”:

    “I was laid in the aisles by Curtiz’s camera work… [by] shots and angles that were pure genius.

    Jack L. Warner, after watching “Moon of Israel.””…

    Note the name of the producer on this poster!…

  6. Gentleman Tim

    April 27, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Some thought he knew bleeping nothing, but he knew bleeping all!… @ 12:25>


    • Karl

      April 28, 2018 at 8:31 pm

      Lord Tim…

      ABSOLUTELY magnificent interview with Niv in particularly fine form!

      What a tribute to him in his MARVELOUSNESS as both a raconteur and wit!

      Thank you for this GREAT find, indeed!

      • Gentleman Tim

        April 30, 2018 at 6:18 am

        Thank you, Karl. Here’s another great behind the scenes account from Niv, with a reference to Errol as “the Big White Hope” of Warner Brothers”:

        Getting the part in Charge, from Curtiz, the man in charge:… [Beginning at 1::32:57]