A student of art history, philology, design and theater at the Munich Art School and Munich University, actor/writer/director Helmut Kaeutner (usually spelled Kautner) launched his career with the Munich Student Cabaret, also known as "Die vier Nachrichter," in 1931. The following year, Kauetner entered films as an actor in Kreuzer Emden. After four years with the Cabaret, he worked as a theatrical actor and director in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He made his film directorial bow with the frothy musical Kitty and the World Conference (1939). His sympathetic portrayal of an English minister and his lightly satirical comments on the relationship between Italy and Germany angered Nazi minister of propaganda Josef Goebbels. As a result, Kauetner was careful to avoid any sort of political commentary in his wartime films, which had the salutary effect of keeping him out of trouble after Germany lost the war. Having previously specialized in Lubitsch-like escapist fare, Kauetner quietly switched gears after 1945, gradually accruing a reputation as a serious "prestige" director. This stylistic change would earn him international acclaim, even while his devotees bemoaned the loss of the director's light touch. In 1954, his The Last Bridge, a stark, realistic war drama, won the International Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. On the strength of Last Bridge, Kaeutner was brought to Hollywood by Universal Pictures; the resulting films were The Restless Years (1958) and Stranger in My Arms (1959). He then returned to Germany, turning out such intriguing films as The Rest is Silence (a 1960 update of Hamlet) before moving into television in 1969. On occasion, Kaeutner would return to acting, most memorably as the title character in Karl May (1974). Helmut Kaeutner was married to actress/director Erica Balque.