Classic Movie Hub (CMH)


Edgar G. Ulmer

Edgar G. Ulmer

Actor Peter Marshall reminisces about the making of Ulmer's final film The Cavern (1964) in the book "A Sci-Fi Swarm and Horror Horde" (McFarland & Co., 2010) by Tom Weaver.

Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945." Pages 1107-1112. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.

Cousin of Gustav H. Heimo.

Despite being the resident "artist" at PRC, after signing his long-term contract with the studio it immediately assigned Ulmer to direct a series of short subjects produced by the R. Wolff Advertising Agency for Coca-Cola. The project took some five months and kept him busy while the studio was involved in a substantial upgrade resulting from its purchase of various bankrupt properties along "Poverty Row".

Father of Arianne Ulmer.



Historian/critic/director Peter Bogdanovich praises Ulmer's directorial work on low-budget movies like The Naked Dawn (1955) and The Cavern (1964), which he considers "classics", adding that "the astonishing thing is that so many of Ulmer's movies have a clearly identifiable signature [despite being] accomplished with so little encouragement and so few means...". Ulmer worked in set design beginning as a teenager for Austrian director Max Reinhardt. He came with Reinhardt to the US in 1923 with the play "The Miracle", which opened on Broadway. He was blackballed from Hollywood work after he had an affair with Shirley Castle (he eventually married her and she became known as Shirley Ulmer), who at the time was the wife of B-picture producer Max Alexander, a nephew of powerful Universal Pictures president Carl Laemmle. Ulmer spent the bulk of his remaining career languishing at PRC, the lowest rung on the ladder of Hollywood's poverty row studios. He signed a long term contract there in October, 1943 after directing the "bi

Interviewed in Peter Bogdanovich's "Who the Devil Made It: Conversations With Robert Aldrich, George Cukor, Allan Dwan, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Chuck Jones, Fritz Lang, Joseph H. Lewis, Sidney Lumet, Leo McCarey, Otto Preminger, Don Siegel, Josef von Sternberg, Frank Tashlin, Edgar G. Ulmer, Raoul Walsh." NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

Many of his films involved pure geometric patterns.

Profiled in Lizzie Francke's "Retrospective". [1997]

Profiled in John Belton's "American Directors, Vol. 1". [1983]

Ulmer's father was a soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I and was killed in battle in 1916, when Ulmer was just 12 years old.

Ulmer's wife Shirley Ulmer discusses the life and career she shared with him in an interview in Tom Weaver's book "I Was a Monster Movie Maker" (McFarland & Co., 2001). Their daughter Arianne Ulmer shares her memories of Ulmer in Weaver's "Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Flashbacks" (McFarland & Co., 1998).

While at the poverty row Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), he became the de facto head of production, overseeing productions by other directors and aiding the president of the company in planning the year's production schedule.


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