Edgar G. Ulmer: The Man Off-Screen (2005)
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Edgar G. Ulmer was one of the most fascinating figures of Hollywood's Golden Age. While Ulmer directed the occasional big-budget major studio film (most notably The Black Cat starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi and The Strange Woman with Hedy Lamarr), Ulmer was a maverick who valued his creative freedom and he most often worked for"Poverty Row studios, most notably PRC, where he was allowed to make films as he pleased as long as they were done fast and cheap. Ulmer made a handful of small masterpieces for the minor league studios, most notably Detour, The Naked Dawn, Bluebeard, and Ruthless, and he also directed several important Yiddish-language films as well as an early all African-American cast musical. However, Ulmer's own version of his life was often dotted with creative embellishment and stories that no one could verify (particularly pertaining to his early career in Germany), and despite his very real degree of ability and influence, much of Ulmer's story remains shrouded in uncertainty. Documentary filmmaker Michael Palm explores both the art and the illusion of this singular artist in Edgar G. Ulmer: The Man Off-Screen, which features interviews with some of Ulmer's more noted admirers (Peter Bogdanovich, Wim Wenders, Joe Dante), actors who worked with him (John Saxon, Ann Savage), and members of his family (Arianné Ulmer Cipes). … More
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Critic Reviews for Edgar G. Ulmer: The Man Off-Screen
The documentary employs many of Ulmer's trademark techniques, such as rear-projection, and tries to open up the usual talking-head format by taking the camera outside, in and around Hollywood.
This 77-minute primer sheds partial light on this B-movie legend who, unlike his contemporaries like Lang, never managed to ascend to the A-list.
Despite some excellent talking heads, Palm's good-natured attempt to stuff Ulmer's life into a B-movie mold of its own ultimately lacks the lean crackerjack narrative stylization that marked the emigre helmer's best works.
The subject and the film clips are great, although the documentary as a whole is a bit gimmicky.
[A] well-wrought investigation of the often mysterious life of Edgar G. Ulmer.
Michael Palm's film remains earthbound despite its interesting, offbeat subject.
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