Austrian émigré Edgar G. Ulmer may not have become a widely celebrated figure during his lifetime the way his compatriot Billy Wilder did, but his career was nonetheless a marvel of persistence and resourcefulness. By the late 1930s, the director, who enjoyed a brief stint at Universal Pictures, was operating on the sidelines of the industry, and his 1945 Detour shows off the power of his artistry under the scrappiest of conditions. A fatalistic tale of a down-and-out pianist who finds nothing but bad luck and the ever-looming specter of criminality on the road, the film suggests Ulmer’s own feelings of having been marginalized as an artist, while also serving as a testament to his ability to craft a masterpiece with a very tight shooting schedule and a tiny budget. In a new interview on our recently released edition, scholar Noah Isenberg details the director’s rocky road through (and beyond) Hollywood, and how the challenges he faced as a B-movie director prepared him for the most influential work of his career. Watch the above excerpt to see just how Ulmer was able to cut corners and make it all happen.
Robert Zemeckis Looks Back on His Debut-Film Jitters
In a new conversation with collaborators Bob Gale and Steven Spielberg, the director of I Wanna Hold Your Hand talks about the terror of being a first-time feature director.
How Carlos Reygadas Plans for the Unexpected
Storyboards have been an important part of the Mexican filmmaker’s process from the beginning of his career. In this interview, he talks about the freedom that meticulous pre-planning allows him on-set.
Charles Burnett Calls Forth the Ghosts of the Old World
In an interview program on our edition of To Sleep with Anger, the director and his actors discuss the African-American folkloric traditions at the heart of the film.