Kurt Neumann

Active - 1932 - 1990  |   Born - Apr 5, 1898   |   Died - Aug 21, 1958   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Action, Comedy, Western

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Biography by Hal Erickson

German-born director Kurt Neumann came to the US in the early talkie era, hired to direct German-language versions of Hollywood films. Once he mastered English and established himself as a competent technician, Neumann bounced from studio to studio, helming such economic programmers as The Big Cage (1932), Hold 'Em Navy (1936), Wide Open Faces (1937) (with Joe E. Brown) and Ellery Queen: Master Detective (1939). He was signed by producer Hal Roach in 1941 to direct a series of slick "streamliners," 45-minute features designed to fill out short double bills: among these 4-reel comedies were About Face (1942), Brooklyn Orchid (1942), Taxi Mister (1943) and Yanks Ahoy (1943). In 1945, Neumann switched his allegiance to producer Sol Lesser, who engaged Neumann as coproducer and principal director of the Tarzan series. Science-fiction film fans hold a special place in their hearts for Kurt Neumann due to his dextrous handling (as both producer and director) of such low-budget productions as Rocketship X-M (1950) and The Fly (1959). These fans are willing to forgive such lesser Neumann efforts as Kronos (1956) and She-Devil (1956) because they are aware that the director was himself a voracious reader of science fiction; he loved the genre, never regarding his work on fantastic films as "slumming" (as some A-list directors were wont to do). The credits of director Kurt Neumann should not be confused with those of a similarly named bit actor, who briefly showed up in "Nazi" roles during World War II.

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