Curtiz | SFJFF In Good Company


Michael Curtiz directed some of the most well-known films of the 20th century. The Hungarian native, perhaps the most underrated figure in Hollywood history, directed nearly 200 films in his lifetime. In this noir-ish dramatization of the making of his most famous film, Casablanca, for which he won the Oscar for Best Director, Curtiz is shown as a man in quiet turmoil. As he was filming-in a real-life story that parallels that of the movie-Curtiz was struggling to save relatives caught up in the Nazi dragnet of Jews. Bergman, Bogart, Conrad Veidt and crackerjack dialogue writers the Epstein brothers come across as consummate professionals. But every story conference, every plot point, was plagued with conflict and disagreement. The Tinseltown bigwigs (with the exception of Curtiz's friend Hal Wallis) are shown as a gaggle of simpletons who made good movies in spite of themselves, thanks to people like Curtiz who deflected their inane story ideas. Ultimately Curtiz succeeded in getting his mother to the U.S. However, he could not rescue his sister, her husband or their three children, who were sent to Auschwitz. All that personal agony went into the making of Casablanca, imbuing the film with the bittersweet quality that, in World War II, characterized even a victory.  - Miguel Pendás

noir city at the festival
Post-film conversation hosted by Eddie Muller
Saturday, July 20 | following screening | Castro Theatre

About the evenings host: As founder and president of the non-profit Film Noir Foundation, Eddie Muller has been instrumental in preserving America's noir heritage through the FNF's NOIR CITY film festivals. San Francisco's NOIR CITY is the largest retrosepctive of noir films in the world. Eddie also programs his own weekly TMC program Noir Alley.

Film Noir Foundation founder and president Eddie Muller in conversation with Curtiz biographer, Alan K. Rode in San Francisco

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Tamas Topolanszky