Alfred L. Werker

Active - 1925 - 1959  |   Born - Dec 2, 1896   |   Genres - Drama, Western, Action, Comedy, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

In films from 1917, director Alfred L. Werker was either a competent craftsman or talented hack, depending on which of his colleagues you consulted. After paying his dues in a series of secondary production jobs, Werker began directing Fred Thompson westerns in 1925. He began his long association with Fox Studios (later 20th Century-Fox) with 1928's Chasing Through Europe. When Erich Von Stroheim was pulled off his 1932 directorial effort Walking Down Broadway, Werker took over, finishing the film (released as Hello Sister) minus screen credit. The Werker and Stroheim sequences were as different as night and day, fueling the rumor that Werker was, at base, a second-rater. How, then, does one explain such excellent Werker productions as House of Rothschild (1934) and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939), the latter regarded by many as the all-time best of the Rathbone/Bruce "Holmes" pictures. During the early 1940s, Werker was assigned several comedies, notably Disney's The Reluctant Dragon (1941; live-action sequences only), Laurel & Hardy's A-Haunting We Will Go (1942) and Milton Berle's Whispering Ghost (1943); none were particularly distinguished. Briefly associated with the young-and-hungry Eagle Lion studios in the late 1940s, Werker turned out some of his best work, including the intriguing murder melodrama Repeat Performance (1947). Outwardly, his finest achievement during this period was He Walked By Night (1948), though much of this film was the handiwork of an uncredited Anthony Mann. Werker retired in 1957.

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