Did any other director have such a varied output as Michael Curtiz.I wonder. This is the man who did Casablanca, Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Angels with Dirty Faces, Mildred Pierce, The Sea Hawk, White Christmas , The Best Things in Life Are Free.
A fantastic career. Silents, swashbucklers, social drama, musicals, gangster movies , comedies. He did it all .
In a 2020 auction ( oak auctions.com), 22 letters written by celebrities to Curtiz’s daughter, Candace ,were auctioned.
There was to be a biography of the great director, but,for whatever reason, the book never materialised. I don’t know what the letters sold for.
Some of the comments ( written in the mid 1970s):
Ingrid Bergman : “ Curtiz and Wallis fought over the story every lunch break…..he was extremely nice to me during the shooting of “Casablanca.”
Olivia De Havilland: “As I know you understand, working with your father could be exigent, emotional and even harsh.”
(I confess to looking up the meaning of ‘exigent’ – demanding, exacting. That seems to sum up the director’s manner.)
Lauren Bacall: “He was a character indeed, and a genius with the camera.”
Kirk Douglas: “He was a man of tremendous vitality…..how many of the movies were typically American films by someone who was not born here.”
Michael Wilding: “ Suddenly he screamed, ‘Ze man in the white clothes, what the hell do you think you are doing!’
500 of us whirled around in panic in case one of us had caused his rage. Such was his power, and ,curiously, his charm.”
(Anyone know what film is being referred to?)
- Ronald Reagan: “On ‘Santa Fe Trail’, much of the story concerning John Brown in that picture was gleaned from a book called ‘God’s Angry Man’.
Guess what your father was named before the picture was finished! Yes, the title of the book. But, believe me, this was always done with affection.”
A fine biography of Michael Curtiz (1886-1962) was written by Alan K. Rode.