William Dieterle

Active - 1921 - 1964  |   Born - Jul 15, 1893   |   Died - Dec 9, 1972   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Crime

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A stage actor in Germany and Switzerland as a teenager, William (born Wilhelm) Dieterle began acting in movies by 1913, and appeared in such memorable '20s films as Paul Leni's Waxworks (1924) and F. W. Murnau's Faust (1926). In 1923 Dieterle also began directing himself in a series of films, including Geschlecht In Fesseln (Sex in Chains [1928]). He began his Hollywood career in 1930, directing German-language versions of Those Who Dance (1930), The Way of All Men (1930), and Kismet (1944). At Warner Bros., Dieterle scored with The Last Flight (1931), the W.C. Fields comedy Her Majesty (1931), and the elaborate A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), which he co-directed with Max Reinhardt. In the late '30s he helmed Warners' prestigious biopics for actor Paul Muni: The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), and Juarez (1939). Moving to RKO in 1939, Dieterle delivered two classics with The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo; and The Devil and Daniel Webster (aka All That Money Can Buy [1941]), with Walter Huston as the Devil. His subsequent Hollywood work of the '40s and '50s was well-crafted but impersonal, notable chiefly for his romantic dramas Love Letters (1945) and Portrait of Jennie (1948), and the crime films Rope of Sand (1949) and Dark City (1950). In the late '50s he returned to Europe and directed films in Italy and Germany.

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