PHANTOM LADY (Robert Siodmak, 1944)

The contrived story counts for little except to erase the taint of misogynism, which at least figures into the appearance of most film noir. (Actually, The Maltese Falcon, John Huston, 1941, and Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder, 1944, ambiguate that impression.) Among the living, three female characters are associated with bedeviled civil engineer Scott Henderson, who, […]

THE KILLERS (Robert Siodmak, 1946)

Although it pales beside Andrei Tarkovsky’s version of the same 1927 Ernest Hemingway story, “The Killers,” ten years hence, Robert Siodmak’s version is entirely different. Whereas Tarkovsky’s film conforms to the story, exhausting it and being exhausted by it, only the opening of Siodmak’s film conforms to the text, which is a springboard for the […]

THE DEVIL STRIKES AT NIGHT (Robert Siodmak, 1957)

Having left Hollywood and now back in Germany, Robert Siodmak took up the Lüdke case in Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam. It swept the German Film Awards, winning as best film and for Siodmak’s direction, and in eight other categories, including best actor Hannes Messemer and best cinematographer Georg Krause for his high-contrast black-and-white work. […]

SNARES (Robert Siodmak, 1939)

Someone whose face the camera doesn’t show us is mailing something-or-others; he is also dispatching victims, whom he entices with newspaper ads for lonely young women. When her friend, a sister taxi dancer, joins the murdeed ones, Adrienne works undercover for the police to ferret out the killer’s identity, making herself another potential victim while […]

PEOPLE ON SUNDAY (Edgar G. Ulmer, Robert and Curt Siodmak, Fred Zinnemann, 1929)

A documentary fiction, a fictional documentary: Menschen am Sonntag, ein film ohne Schausppieler, written by Curt Siodmak and Billy Wilder, and directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, Robert and Curt Siodmak and, to a minor extent, Fred Zinnemann, is the last notable silent film from Germany—an experiment in which young filmmakers flex their love of cinema. […]