Screenwriter Carl Mayer played a key role in the development of a German cinema. Mayer was known as a perfectionist and a writer of unequaled principal. If he was not happy with a script, he would never release it, no matter how many problems that may have caused for producers and directors. Mayer was born in Graz, Austria. When he was 16, Mayer and his three younger brothers were orphaned. To support his siblings, Mayer did a variety of odd jobs that ranged from selling barometers to sketching portraits to playing small roles in local theater.
By the end of WWI, Mayer was living in Berlin. It was there that he teamed up with Hans Janowitz, a Czech poet, and wrote the script for the seminal German expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. In addition to having great effect on expressionism, Mayer also helped develop the Kammerspiel (chamber dramas) films. Mayer often wrote scripts for F.W. Murnau and went to the U.S. with him in 1927. Once in Hollywood, Mayer penned the script for Sunrise, a film notable for its reliance on imagery rather than dialogue titles to advance the plot. In 1930, Mayer went back to Germany for a short time. Murnau died the following year and Mayer went to France to pen a pair of scripts for Paul Czinner and Elizabeth Bergner. He moved to England in 1932 and though he never wrote another entire screenplay, he did occasionally work uncredited on the scripts of others, most notably Pygmalian (1938).