Edgar G. Ulmer – Ruthless (1948)


Multi-millionaire Horace Woodruff Vendig (Zachary Scott) shows himself to the world as an ambitious philanthropist, but that’s far from the case. Even as a young man he starts to exhibit an obsessive and selfish urge to make more and more money, loving and leaving women at will to further this end. Vendig steps on and rolls over anyone who stands in his way, including his lifelong friend Vic Lambdin (Louis Hayward), utilities executive Buck Mansfield (Sydney Greenstreet) and various women, among them his first and only love, Martha Burnside (Diana Lynn), socialite Susan Duane (Martha Vickers) and Buck’s wife, Christa Mansfield (Lucille Bremer). It is a tribute to the acting skills of Scott that he makes his despicable character somehow likeable and sympathetic. The stellar cast includes Raymond Burr, Edith Barrett, Dennis Hoey and Joyce Arling. One of the few big-budgeted projects helmed by cult director Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour). Continue reading

Edgar G. Ulmer – Detour (1945)


“Detour” is a movie so filled with imperfections that it would not earn the director a passing grade in film school. This movie from Hollywood’s poverty row, shot in six days, filled with technical errors and ham-handed narrative, starring a man who can only pout and a woman who can only sneer, should have faded from sight soon after it was released in 1945. And yet it lives on, haunting and creepy, an embodiment of the guilty soul of film noir. No one who has seen it has easily forgotten it.

“Detour” tells the story of Al Roberts, played by Tom Neal as a petulant loser with haunted eyes and a weak mouth, who plays piano in a nightclub and is in love, or says he is, with a singer named Sue. Their song, significantly, is “I Can’t Believe You Fell in Love With Me.” He wants to get married, she leaves for the West Coast, he continues to play piano, but then: “When this drunk gave me a ten spot, I couldn’t get very excited. What was it? A piece of paper crawling with germs.” Continue reading

Edgar G. Ulmer – Her Sister’s Secret (1946)


A well-crafted film, 24 February 2001
Author: jeffreynothing from Toronto, Canada

I saw this film at a screening several years ago at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The picture was actually introduced by Mr.Ulmer’s daughter. It’s a typical 1940’s melodrama that is well directed. It is apparent in viewing the film that Ulmer knew exactly what he was doing when he made a movie. It was only the second Ulmer film I had seen, the first being the superior Detour. I can’t remember the plot in too much detail because it was a while ago, but it involves an illegitimate child. It has a good social message in that it sheds light on how so-called “bastard” children are sometimes the subjects of social discrimination. I’m surprised it hasn’t received more votes. I guess I was lucky to catch that screening. Continue reading

Robert Siodmak & Edgar G. Ulmer & Billy Wilder – Menschen am Sonntag (1930)

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A tale of five young Berliners – a taxi driver, a travelling wine dealer, a record shop sales girl, a film extra and a model – spending a typical sunday. In this vivid snapshot of Berlin life, a trip to the countryside reveals the flirtations, rivalries, jealousies, and petty irritations common to any group outing. All too soon it is the end of the day, and the prospect of Monday looms, and the return to weekday routine.

Considered one of the most important works of the German film Avant-Garde of the 1920s, and a huge influence on the French New Wave and Italian Neorealist movements, People on Sunday also marked the start of the film careers of six cinéastes who would go on to great success: Billy Wilder, Robert and Curt Siodmak, Edgar G Ulmer, Eugen Schüfftan and Fred Zinnemann.

The original negative of the film is lost and no complete copy exists, but this restored version has been reconstructed by the Netherlands Film Museum and contains important scenes previously missing. This version also features a vibrant new score by Elena Kats-Chernin. Continue reading