Oscar Directors: Dmytryk, Edward (Nomiee)–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography

Research in Progress (October 14, 2021)

Edward Dmytryk Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class: working class; parents Polish immigrants; upward mobility

Nationality: US; Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada; family moved to LA

Education: Hollywood High School

Training: messenger boy; projectionist; editor

First Film: The Hawk (1935); age 27

First Oscar Nomination: Crossfire, 1947; aged 40

Other Nominations: DGA, The Caine Mutiny, 1954

Genre (specialties): thriller, noir, courtroom drama

Signature: Versatile (every genre)

Collaborators: 2 films with Bogart

Last Film: The Human Factor, 1975; aged 67

Contract: Various studios; RKO

Career Output: about 50

Career Span: 1935-1979; 44 years

Marriage: actress Jean Porter, 1948.

Politics: Blacklisted. one of Hollywood Ten

Retirement: 1975-1999; 24 years (became academic)

Death: 1999; aged 90

Memoirs: “Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten.” 1996.

Edward Dmytryk (September 4, 1908–July 1, 1999), Canadian-born American director, known for his 1940s noir films, earning of Oscar nomination for Best Director for Crossfire (1947).

House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)

In 1947, he was named as one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of blacklisted film industry professionals who refused to testify to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in their investigations during the McCarthy-era ‘Red scare’. They all served time in prison for contempt of Congress.

In 1951, however, Dmytryk did testify to HUAC and rehabilitated his career. He was first hired again by independent producer Stanley Kramer in 1952.

Dmytryk is best known for directing The Caine Mutiny (1954), a critical and commercial success. The second-highest-grossing film of the year, it was nominated for Best Picture and several other awards at the 1955 Oscars. Dmytryk was nominated for a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures.

Dmytryk was born on September 4, 1908, in Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada. His Polish-Ukrainian immigrant parents were Frances (Berezowski) and Michael Dmytryk, a disciplinarian who bounced among jobs as truck driver, smelter worker, and motorman.

The family moved to San Francisco, California, and then to Los Angeles. After his mother died, his father remarried.

Dmytryk worked as a messenger at Famous Players-Lasky (forerunner of Paramount) for $6 per week while attending Hollywood High School. He then worked as projectionist, film editor, and by age 31, a director and a naturalized citizen of the U. S.

Dmytryk worked as editor on The Dance of Life (1929), Only Saps Work (1930), The Royal Family of Broadway (1930), Make Me a Star (1932), The Phantom President (1932), and If I Had a Million (1932).

He helped edit two Leo McCarey movies: Duck Soup (1933) and Six of a Kind (1934).

He edited College Rhythm (1934), and then did Leo McCarey’s Ruggles of Red Gap (1935).

Dmytryk made his directorial debut with The Hawk (1935), a low-budget, independent Western.

Editor at Paramount

He returned to editing duties at Paramount, but was assigned to B films: Too Many Parents (1936), Three Cheers for Love (1936), Three Married Men (1936), Easy to Take (1936), Murder Goes to College (1937), Turn Off the Moon (1937), Double or Nothing (1937) with Bing Crosby, and That Navy Spirit (1937). Dmytryk also edited Bulldog Drummond’s Peril (1938) and Prison Farm (1938).

From B to A Movies

He moved his way to A movies with the editing of Zaza (1938), directed by George Cukor.

Leo McCarey asked him over to RKO to edit Love Affair (1939).

He returned to Paramount to edit the Bob Hope comedy Some Like It Hot (1939).

Dmytryk did uncredited directing on Million Dollar Legs (1939) with Betty Grable.

This encouraged Paramount to allow him to direct Television Spy (1939).

He followed it with Emergency Squad (1940), Golden Gloves (1940), and Mystery Sea Raider (1940) with Carole Landis.

Dmytryk went to Monogram Pictures to direct the musical Her First Romance (1940).

Columbia: B-Unit

He went over to Columbia to direct for its B picture unit: The Devil Commands (1941) with Boris Karloff, Under Age (1941), Broadway Ahead (1941), Hot Pearls (1941), Secrets of the Lone Wolf (1941), Confessions of Boston Blackie (1941), and Counter-Espionage (1942), a “Lone Wolf” movie.

Dmytryk signed a contract to RKO, where he continued to direct B movies, starting with Seven Miles from Alcatraz (1942).

Turning Point: Hitler’s Children

However, he then made Hitler’s Children (1943), which turned out to be a massive “sleeper” hit, earning over $3 million.

It did not immediately change his career; he stayed doing B movies such as The Falcon Strikes Back (1943), and then went to Universal for Captive Wild Woman (1943). Back at RKO, he directed Behind the Rising Sun (1943), a Hitler’s Children-style thriller about the Japanese. It was another box-office sensation, and Dmytryk was promoted to A films.

Tender Comrade: Starring Ginger Rogers

Dmytryk directed Ginger Rogers, RKO’s biggest star, in the melodrama Tender Comrade (1943), which was a huge hit.

He followed it with Murder, My Sweet (1944), adapted from Raymond Chandler’s novel Farewell, My Lovely by John Paxton and produced by Adrian Scott; the star was Dick Powell, whose performance as Philip Marlow completely revitalized Powell’s career.

Dymtryk did Back to Bataan (1945), a war film starring John Wayne, then he was reunited with Powell, Paxton, and Scott for the popular film noir Cornered (1945).

He made Till the End of Time (1946), a drama about soldiers coming back from the war, which was a big hit.

He went to England to make So Well Remembered (1947) with Paxton and Scott.

Crossfire

Dmytryk, Scott, and Paxton then collaborated on the hugely successful thriller Crossfire (1947), for which Dmytryk received a Best Director Oscar nomination. This movie established him as RKO’s leading director.

HUAC

After the war, many Americans were alarmed by Soviet actions in Europe, and by reports of covert Communist activity in the U.S. This period has been dubbed the Second Red Scare. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated Communist Party influence in the film industry, and Dmytryk was among those called to testify about it before HUAC in 1947. Dmytryk briefly had been a Communist Party member in 1944 and 1945. He was persuaded by his former party associates to join nine other Hollywood figures in a public refusal to testify. The Hollywood Ten were cited for contempt of Congress and sentenced to prison terms.Dmytryk was fired from RKO.

Dmytryk fled to England and unofficially was ostracized. In England, he made two films for producer Nat Bronstein: a thriller Obsession (1949), and Give Us This Day (1949), a neo-realistic movie sympathetic to the working man, based on the novel Christ in Concrete. The latter movie, which was successful in Europe, was released as Christ in Concrete in the U.S. and quickly suppressed. When his passport expired, Dmytryk returned to the US, where he was arrested and imprisoned.

After several months behind bars, Dmytryk decided that he had been duped by the Communists. They had cost him exile and imprisonment so they could win sympathy for the “Ten” as persecuted innocents. He agreed to testify and to name people he claimed were Communist Party members. He served four months and 17 days in Millspoint Prison, West Virginia.

On April 25, 1951, Dmytryk appeared before HUAC for the second time, answering all questions. He spoke of his own brief party membership in 1945, and named party members, including 7 directors — Arnold Manoff, Frank Tuttle, Herbert Biberman, Jack Berry, Bernard Verhous, Jules Dassin, and Michael Gordon, and 15 others. He said he was prompted to change his mind by the Alger Hiss case, the discovery of spies in the U.S. and Canada, and the invasion of South Korea. He said that John Howard Lawson, Adrian Scott, Albert Maltz, and others had pressured him to include Communist elements in his films. His testimony damaged several court cases that others of the “Ten” had filed.

He recounted his experiences of the period in his 1996 book “Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten.”

Dmytryk’s first film after his testimony was Mutiny (1952) from the King Brothers. Independent American producer Stanley Kramer then hired Dmytryk to direct a trio of low-budget films for Kramer’s company, which released through Columbia: The Sniper (1952), Eight Iron Men (1952) and The Juggler (1953) with Kirk Douglas. In between, he directed Three Lives (1953), a short film for the United Jewish Appeal,.

Kramer then selected Dmytryk to direct Humphrey Bogart and Van Johnson in The Caine Mutiny (1954), a World War II naval drama adapted from Herman Wouk’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel which proved to be a great critical and commercial success for Columbia Pictures. It ranked second among high-grossing films of the year, and in 1955, received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor.

Dmytryk went over to 20th Century Fox, where he directed Spencer Tracy and Robert Wagner in Broken Lance (1954).

He went to England to do The End of the Affair (1955) for Columbia, then returned to Fox to make Soldier of Fortune (1955) with Clark Gable, The Left Hand of God (1955) with Bogart, and The Mountain (1956) with Tracy and Wagner. Dmytryk produced the latter. Dmytryk went to MGM, then under his old RKO boss Dore Schary to make Raintree County (1957) with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor.

At Fox, he did The Young Lions (1958), a popular war film with Clift and Marlon Brando, then the Western Warlock (1959) (which he produced), and a flop remake of The Blue Angel (1959).

Dmytryk made Walk on the Wild Side (1962) for producer Charles Feldman.

He produced and directed The Reluctant Saint (1962).

He had huge hit with The Carpetbaggers (1964) from the novel by Harold Robbins for producer Joseph E. Levine.

He was given Where Love Has Gone (1964), another Robbins adaptation by Levine. This was followed by the Gregory Peck thriller Mirage (1965), the William Holden Western Alvarez Kelly (1966), a war film Anzio (1968) and Shalako (1968), a Western with Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot,.

Dmytryk wrote and directed Bluebeard (1972) with Richard Burton.

He did the little-seen He Is My Brother (1975) and The Human Factor (1975).

His last film was Not Only Strangers (1979).

In the 1980s, Dmytryk entered academic life, teaching film and directing at the University of Texas at Austin and at the University of Southern California film school. He wrote several books on the art of film-making (such as On Film Editing and On Screenwriting). He also appeared on the lecture circuit, speaking at various colleges and theaters, such as the Orson Welles Cinema.

Dmytryk married actress Jean Porter on May 12, 1948.

He died at age 90 on July 1, 1999 in Encino, California from heart and kidney failure.

Legacy and honors
1948: Best Director (Oscar nomination) for Crossfire
1955: Best Picture (Oscars nomination) for The Caine Mutiny

1955: Directors Guild Award (nomination), Outstanding Directorial Achievement

Filmography

1930s: 3

The Hawk (1935)
Million Dollar Legs (uncredited; 1939)
Television Spy (1939)

1940s:

Emergency Squad (1940)
Golden Gloves (1940)
Mystery Sea Raider (1940)
Her First Romance (1940)
The Devil Commands (1941)
Under Age (1941)
Sweetheart of the Campus (1941)
The Blonde from Singapore (1941)
Secrets of the Lone Wolf (1941)
Confessions of Boston Blackie (1941)
Counter-Espionage (1942)
Seven Miles from Alcatraz (1942)
Hitler’s Children (1943)
The Falcon Strikes Back (1943)
Captive Wild Woman (1943)
Behind the Rising Sun (1943)
Tender Comrade (1943)
Murder, My Sweet (1944)
Back to Bataan (1945)
Cornered (1945)
Till the End of Time (1946)
So Well Remembered (1947)
Crossfire (1947)
Obsession (1949)
Give Us This Day (1949)

1950s:

Mutiny (1952)
The Sniper (1952)
Eight Iron Men (1952)
The Juggler (1953)
The Caine Mutiny (1954)
Broken Lance (1954)
The End of the Affair (1954)
Soldier of Fortune (1955)
The Left Hand of God (1955)
The Mountain (1956)
Raintree County (1957)
The Young Lions (1958)
Warlock (1959)
The Blue Angel (1959)

1960s:

Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
The Reluctant Saint (1962)
The Carpetbaggers (1964)
Where Love Has Gone (1964)
Mirage (1965)
Alvarez Kelly (1966)
Anzio (1968)
Shalako (1968)

1970s: 3

Bluebeard (1972)
He Is My Brother (1975)
The “Human” Factor (1975)