A playwright and theatrical producer in Austria, Czinner directed his first film in Vienna in 1919. He scored a success in the German film industry with his 1924 drama Nju (aka Husbands or Lovers), starring Elisabeth Bergner. She went on to act in most of Czinner's films, and the two married in 1933. That same year they fled the Nazis and moved to England, where their films included Catherine the Great and As You Like It. In the '40s they lived in America, working on the Broadway stage. Returning to England in the '50s, Czinner filmed dance (The Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet) and opera (Don Giovanni, Der Rosenkavalier) using his own innovative multi-camera methods.