Seymour Nebenzal

Active - 1928 - 1961  |   Born - Jul 22, 1897   |   Died - Sep 25, 1961   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Fantasy, Thriller, Romance

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Seymour Nebenzal was one of the more notable film producers in Germany during the 1920s and early '30s, and went on to a significant career in France and then in America. What made him unusual, apart from the quality of the movies that he produced in Germany, was that he was born in America and immigrated back to Europe to start his career. Born in New York City to a Jewish family at the end of the 19th century (some sources list his year of birth as 1897, others as 1899), Nebenzal moved to Germany in the 1920s and began his film career in Berlin during 1924, when he and director Richard Oswald formed Nero Films. Nebenzal went on to produce such movies as G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box, The Threepenny Opera, and Kameradschaft, Fritz Lang's M and Testimony of Dr. Mabuse, and Paul Czinner's Ariane. He also bought the film rights to Pierre Benoit's L'Atlantide, which he filmed in 1932 as Die Herrin Von Atlantis, directed by Pabst, which was also released in an English version called Lost Atlantis. During his period in Germany, he was usually credited as Seymour Nebenzahl or simply as S. Nebenzahl. The rise of the Nazi Party made it impossible for Nebenzal to remain in Germany, and he moved to France in 1933. His productions during the mid-'30s included Mayerling by Anatole Litvak and Werther by Max Ophuls. Nebenzal returned to America at the end of the '30s and resumed movie production at the outset of the new decade with We Who Are Young and Prisoner of Japan. In 1942, Nebenzal became an investor and producer at PRC, where he worked with director Douglas Sirk on Hitler's Madman (and later, separate from PRC, on Summer Storm), and he was also responsible for getting Edgar G. Ulmer involved in the company. Together, the two made the crime/thriller Tomorrow We Live (1942) at the studio. Nebenzal produced a trio of eclectic mainstream movies immediately after WWII, the film noir The Chase, adapted from a story by Cornell Woolrich, the drama Whistle Stop, co-starring George Raft and Ava Gardner (both films which were done in association with screenwriter Philip Yordan), and the Western/fantasy film Heaven Only Knows. His most visible activity, however, was as the producer of remakes of two valuable properties that he owned: Die Herrin Von Atlantis as Siren of Atlantis, starring Maria Montez and Jean-Pierre Aumont, and Joseph Losey's American version of M, starring David Wayne. Nebenzal made his final film, The Girl From Hong Kong, in 1961, the year of his death.

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