Robert Siodmak

“Dynamic American director who trained in France and Germany and developed a masterly technique with powerful suspense melodramas such as The Spiral Staircase (1945), and crime thrillers such as The Killers (1946), Cry of the City and Criss Cross (1949).” - The International Encyclopedia of Film, 1972

Robert Siodmak

Director
(1900-1973) Born August 8, Dresden, Saxony, Germany

Key Production Countries: USA, France, Germany, West Germany
Key Genres: Film Noir, Crime Drama, Thriller, Drama, Psychological Thriller, Crime, Mystery, Crime Thriller, Police Detective Film, Adventure
Key Collaborators: John B. Goodman (Production Designer), Arthur Hilton (Editor), Hans J. Salter (Composer), Samuel S. Hinds (Character Actor), Burt Lancaster (Leading Actor), Ella Raines (Leading Actress), Elwood Bredell (Cinematographer), Martin Obzina (Production Designer), Richard Brooks (Screenwriter), Joan Harrison (Producer), George Robinson (Cinematographer), Paul Ivano (Cinematographer)

"The reputation of Robert Siodmak rests on a number of thrillers made during a few brief years in the '40s. Although his work in Europe both before and after that period is now rarely seen, he remains an important, if underrated, figure in the development and exploration of the style now known as film noir... Siodmak's murky, morbidly fatalistic and expertly crafted thrillers focussed on a gallery of vividly drawn characters involved in deathly struggles... Time and again, the pitfalls of melodrama are avoided by finely judged performances and the director's astute, economic characterisation through visual means. In the '50s Siodmak's career went into decline... But his late '40s crime films have rarely been bettered, and his work is ripe for reappraisal." - Geoff Andrew (The Film Handbook, 1989)
"Siodmak's most successful projects - Phantom Lady, Christmas Holiday, The Suspect, Uncle Harry, The Spiral Staircase, The Killers - represent a fortuitous conjunction of such attractive actresses as Ella Raines, Dorothy McGuire, Ava Gardner, and even an absurdly lurid Deanna Durbin, with perverse subjects and expert technicians all whipped together with a heavy Teutonic sauce and served to the customers as offbeat art." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
"Being Jewish, Siodmak had to flee the Nazis, arriving in Hollywood in 1940. Film noir gave him the opportunity to use his pictorial sense and his narrative skills, and he directed a string of atmospheric thrillers, including Phantom Lady (1944), The Killers and The Dark Mirror (both 1946), Cry of the City (1948) and Criss Cross (1949)." - The Movie Book, 1999
"An innovative and cinematic director, he explored the criminal or psychotic impulses in his characters through the ambience of his elegant mise-en-scène. The control of all cinematic tools at his command - camera angle, lighting, composition, movement, and design - was used to establish effectively a world of fate, passion, obsession, and compulsion. Although his reputation has been elevated in recent years, his name deserves to be better known." - Jeanine Basinger (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 1991)
"During the 1940s, Siodmak developed into a formidable director of suspense and crime films. He was influenced by the German schools of expressionism and realism prevalent in the 20s. Both rubbed off into a blend which distinguishes his Hollywood period." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
“Robert Siodmak evokes the night world of film noir: Alan Curtis stalking the streets and bars in search of the mysterious Phantom Lady; Burt Lancaster in the deep shadows of his room, stoically awaiting the arrival of The Killers; mute Dorothy McGuire, watched in the darkness by a maniac bent on murder in The Spiral Staircase. For a period of time in the forties, mostly at Universal, Robert Siodmak directed these and other tense thrillers with forthright assurance.” - Ted Sennett (Great Movie Directors, 1986)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Phantom Lady (1944) ✖︎, The Spiral Staircase (1945) ✖︎, The Killers (1946) ✖︎, Criss Cross (1949) ✖︎
Recommended
People on Sunday (1929) [co-directed by Edgar G. Ulmer] , The Suspect (1944) ✖︎, The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945) ✖︎, The Dark Mirror (1946) ✖︎, Cry of the City (1948) ✖︎, The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) ✖︎, The Crimson Pirate (1952)
Worth a Look
Abschied (1930), The Burning Secret (1933), Son of Dracula (1943), Christmas Holiday (1944) ✖︎, The Devil Strikes at Night (1957)
Approach with Caution
Preliminary Investigation (1931), Cobra Woman (1944)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films ✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
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