Curt Siodmak

Active - 1931 - 1969  |   Born - Aug 10, 1902   |   Died - Sep 2, 2000   |   Genres - Horror, Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction, Thriller

Share on

Biography by Hans J. Wollstein

The younger brother of director Robert Siodmak, Dresden-born author, screenwriter, and director Curt Siodmak broke into the film business as an extra in Fritz Lang's classic Metropolis (1926). Siodmak was a newspaper reporter at the time and was mainly interested in writing a story about Lang and his film. But screen work appealed to Siodmak's sense of adventure and in 1929, he and Billy Wilder co-wrote Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sunday) directed by brother Robert and the young Edgar C. Ulmer. Curt Siodmak enjoyed some success with the German science fiction thriller F.P. 1 Antwortet Nicht (Platform 1 Does Not Answer), but like so many of his contemporaries, he was forced to flee Nazi Germany in favor of first Great Britain and then Hollywood, where he finally arrived in 1937. Through a friend, German expatriate director Joe May, Siodmak landed with Universal where he wrote or co-wrote screenplays for a series of genre films that included The Invisible Man Returns (1940), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1942), the intelligent Son of Dracula (1942), and I Walked With a Zombie (1944). The last, written for producer Val Lewton, contains perhaps Siodmak's most haunting work and remains a classic of the horror genre. In 1942, Siodmak published the influential science fiction novel Donovan's Brain in which a scientist manages to keep alive the brain of a tyrannical industrialist with unexpected and horrifying results. Based in part on Siodmak's screenplay for Black Friday (1940) in which benign college professor Boris Karloff turns into a vicious gangster after a brain transplant, Donovan's Brain itself was filmed in 1944 as The Monster and the Lady, in 1953 under its original title, and in England in 1965 as simply The Brain. In the 1950s, Siodmak began a brief directorial career that included the dreadful but still eminently watchable voodoo "epic" The Bride of the Gorilla (1951); The Magnetic Monster (1953), which had special effects "borrowed" from the 1934 German Gold; and The Devil's Messenger (1961) starring Lon Chaney Jr. The last was made on nearly no budget at all and was mostly recycled footage from a 1950s Swedish television series No. 13 Demon Street. Siodmak returned to Europe in the 1960s, but his work there was mediocre at best. His last assignment as a director was the German Liebesspiel im Schnee (1967) released in America in 1969 as Ski Fever and mainly of interest for the appearances of Dean Martin's daughter Claudia and European television stars Vivi Bach and Dietmar Schoenherr.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography