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.
Wim Wenders Looks Back on the Digital Future He Predicted
From search engines to all-engrossing handheld devices, the technologies that the German director conjured for his 1991 opus Until the End of the World are now common features of contemporary life.
John Bailey Breaks Down a Tour de Force of Gothic Lighting
The veteran cinematographer takes a close look at the highly stylized and atmospheric lighting in one of the most pivotal scenes in pre-Code classic The Story of Temple Drake.
All About Mankiewicz
One of the most celebrated Hollywood writer-directors of his time, Joseph L. Mankiewicz offers a window into the way he sees his characters in this illuminating clip from an archival interview.
Charisma to Burn: Béatrice Dalle’s Incandescent Debut in Betty Blue
The young French actor didn’t require much direction for her first screen role. As the film’s director and cinematographer recall, she quickly proved herself to be a born star.