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Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film (Screen Classics) Hardcover – October 18, 2017
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"Alan K. Rode's intensely personal biography provides the reader with a complete, well-researched, comprehensive, and critical career study of a brilliant yet complicated artist. A wonderful read and an accurate source for future reference, Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film is thoroughly satisfying, highly intelligent, and a delicious, rich dessert for any serious lover of film and film history. Indulge."―Stephen Michael Shearer, author of Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life
"A superbly researched, highly compelling account of one of cinema's most gifted and underrated directors, Rode provides a vivid description of Curtiz's personality and working methods. It is difficult if not impossible to imagine a more complete account of his life."―Steven C. Smith, author of A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann
"Finally! In Alan K. Rode's deeply researched and compelling biography, Michael Curtiz gets long overdue recognition as one of the cinema's greatest storytellers. Casablanca is merely the most renowned of the man's many masterpieces, and Rode does the director justice by leaving no stone unturned in his examination of Curtiz's life and career. This book is a significant addition, and at times a valuable corrective, to existing scholarship on Hollywood, the studio system, and the auteur theory. Bravo!"―Eddie Muller, author and Turner Classic Movies host
"Michael Curtiz is the best director most people have never heard of. Yet until now nobody has taken up the case for Curtiz in a soup-to-nuts biography. The good news is that Alan Rode's massive book is exhaustively researched, well written and frequently witty.
[Curtiz] amassed a body of work without parallel at a great movie studio [Warner Bros.]. His films are his best advocate of that, but Alan Rode's book is a close second."―Wall Street Journal
"Rode's book is entertaining and informative as it takes measure of a director who has received less credit than he deserves."―Milwaukee Express
"Rode's evenhanded, impressively researched, engrossing book amply conveys its subject's "incandescent mania for filmmaking.""―Film Comment
"[The book is] spry and confident, pulsing with tasty quotes and catchy proseanecdotes, side-shots, insights, ironies. An abundant, 698-page, six-course meal."―Hollywood Elsewhere
"In the impressive and entertaining new book Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film, author Alan K. Rode illustrates why Curtiz has been undervalued for so many years. I can't imagine a more thorough account of any director's life and work. I devoured this book and give it my highest recommendation."―Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy
"Alan K. Rode's Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film is engaging from the start and doesn't let up. With a sure hand, good research and a knack for amusing ironies, author Rode really brings Curtiz to life.
Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film puts Alan K. Rode in with today's best writers on film. The book is a keeper that will go on the "read again soon" shelf."―CineSavant
"This biography (the first about Curtiz) is thorough and vastly entertaining."―Roundup Magazine
"After years of neglect and even scorn, [director] Michael Curtiz is finally getting some respect. Michael Curtiz: A Life in Films [is] a thoroughly researched biography by Alan K. Rode."―Los Angeles Times
"With thorough knowledge of film history, telling anecdotes, and interviews, the author illuminates Curtiz's colorful career while also providing insightful portraits of actors, writers, and studio heads. Highly recommended."―Library Journal
"Rode isn't here to bury Curtiz or to unconditionally praise him but to convey a fully rounded portrait of a highly complex―even contradictory―personality who made his mark. To that end, he has succeeded admirably. A Life in Film is so thoroughly, assiduously researched that it's hard to fathom a more comprehensive, or compelling, biography of Michael Curtiz than this."―YES! Weekly
"Rode's research into the director's films is quite impressive."―History News Network
"A treat for classic film buffs who have waited a long time for a book-length biography on this director."―Ann Blyth blog
"It's a serious, critically acclaimed survey of the director's long career. Some in Hollywood loved [Curtiz]; some hated him. But one thing's for sure―without him, Hollywood would have been a much less interesting place."―Beverly in Movieland blog
About the Author
Writer and film scholar Alan K. Rode is the author of Charles McGraw: Film Noir Tough Guy. He is the host and producer of the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs, California, and director-treasurer of the Film Noir Foundation.
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Michael Curtiz (he had several name changes before settling on this one! was born into the family of a poor Jewish bricklayer in Budapest Hungary in 1886. Curtiz studied acting and soon became involved in all aspects of film. He directed many films in his native Hungary later moving to Vienna and Berlin. He briefly served as a cavalry officer in the Hungarian Army during World War II. Curtiz caught the eye of Harry Warner on a European jaunt to discover new talent. Curtiz moved to Hollywood in 1926 where he directed over 180 films for the studio! His output far exceeds that of such legends as John Ford and Cecil B. DeMille. Curtiz won the Academy Award for Best Director in 1944 for the iconic Casablanca. Other great films include:
Yankee Doodle Dandy with best actor Jimmy Cagney
Virginia City, Dodge City, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Robin Hood and several other films with his swashbuckling discovery the Australian Errol Flynn. The two men did not get along but made wonderful films!
Young Man with A Horn with Kirk Douglas
Mildred Pierce starring Joan Crawford who won Best Actress for her role.
The Four Daughters series featuring the Lane sisters
King Creole with Elvis Presley
The silent epic Noah's Ark
Curtiz was noted for treating for not treating his actors well and making them work hard. He was sometimes accused of abusing animals used in his pictures but this was common practice among filmmakers in his day. Curtiz had a love hate relationship with Hal B. Wallis on the lot and got along fairly well with Jack Warner. His wife Bess was a screenwriter who helped his career. He had at least three illegitimate children in Europe and had countless affairs. Curtiz loved making movies, sex and polio! He mangled the English language. Most people have never heard of him but remember his great films such as White Christmas. He was expert at moving large crowds of extras and his cinematic eye was superb. Alan K. Rode has written a wonderful book filled with countless pictures and anecdotes about the colorful Hungarian artist. A book to savor and enjoy and learn about a great director and a golden era in American cinema.
In addition to learning the correct pronunciation of the great director's name, it was a real pleasure to read such a meticulously researched history of American filmmaking that sparkles with astute reflections, anecdotes, and a lively style of writing. The Burt Lancaster episode is priceless ("...Vhat the hell I say to him that make him so mad with me?"). We eagerly await Alan Rode's next project.