Edward H. Sloman

Active - 1916 - 1938  |   Born - Jul 19, 1887   |   Genres - Drama, Action, Comedy, Romance, Adventure

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Born to a Jewish family in London's East End, Edward Sloman left for the US at age 19, where he began his acting career in vaudeville. After running afoul of the United Booking Office, Sloman sought out work in Hollywood in the early teens. He played male leads at Universal Studios, then began writing scenarios in hopes of increasing his bank account; his switchover to directing in 1915 was likewise financially motivated. As the only director on the staff of Lubin's West Coast studios, Sloman turned out some interesting work, including a one-reel (!) version of Faust. With 1918's The Ghost of Rosie Taylor, Sloman became principal director for Mary Miles Minter, a beautiful ingenue of extremely limited skills. Because of his Jewish heritage, Universal president Carl Laemmle chose Sloman to direct the ethnic drama His People (1925), which was successful enough to secure Sloman the directorial post for two subsequent Jewish-themed features, His Country (1926) and We Americans (1927). It is hard to fully assess the quality of Sloman's silent films because so few still exist, though critics of the time commented on his ability to draw natural, unaffected performances from his actors. Evidently this skill vanished with the coming of sound: Sloman's talkies display a fine visual sense but extreme discomfort with dialogue sequences. Both the Harry Richman vehicle Puttin' on the Ritz (1930) and the Paramount horror/mystery Murder by the Clock (1931) are wonderful to look at but horrendously acted, with all the actors over-articulating their lines as though they'd just learned English. Sloman's best talkie was the child-oriented Dog of Flanders (1935), wherein the kiddie performers come off far better than the hammy adult actors. Edward Sloman left the movies in 1939 and spent the rest of his career in radio, where he worked as a writer, producer, director, and, to quote Sloman himself, "banker."

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