Rouben Mamoulian Overview:

Director, Rouben Mamoulian, was born on Oct 8, 1897 in Tiflis, Russian Empire [now Tbilisi]. His best known films include The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, Silk Stockings, Queen Christina and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Mamoulian died at the age of 90 on Dec 4, 1987 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn (Glendale) Cemetery in Glendale, CA.


The innovative Rouben Mamoulian was fond of orchestrating effects likely to make 'knowing' audiences burst into applause. 'My aim,' he once said, 'was always rhythm and poetic stylization.'  Any number of five-minute sequences from Mamoulian films could be (and hopefully are) shown to film students as living examples of the largely lost art of cinema. These would certainly include the entire opening sequence of Applause (sights and sounds of the city apparently organized to the beat of a metronome), City Streets (the camera discreetly observing Gary Cooper and Sylvia Sidney), Becky Sharp (the remarkably intelligent use of color), The Mark of Zorro (the duel between Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone in a confined space), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (the transformation scene), and Love Me Tonight (the big, densely populated musical set-pieces).

One of Mamoulian's most enjoyable films is his last, Silk Stockings, a musical remake of Ninotchka, which Mamoulian packs with color and humor, and in which he brings winning performances by each of his stars.

Mamoulian had come to America at the age of 25, still very much a director of traditional Russian theater. His experience in opera led him to the stage version of Porgy and Bess, and the formulation of the Mamoulian style, which held early sound audiences in thrall.  Mamoulian was certainly among the liberators of the cinema -- blending sound, visuals and camera movement with montage effects to capture the atmosphere of his setting and create the rhythm of his film, a world beyond the reach of most of his contemporaries.

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Film Directors).



He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. In addition, Mamoulian was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame .

BlogHub Articles:

City Streets (1931, )

on Apr 29, 2020 From The Stop Button

The first third of City Streets is this awesome bit of experimenting from director Mamoulian as he tries to figure out how to make a sound picture. Lots of great shots and camera setups, usually with too dawdling cuts. William Shea holds everything just a few seconds too long. But the montage imager... Read full article

Becky Sharp (, 1935)

By Judy on Jan 22, 2015 From Movie Classics

This is my contribution to the Miriam Hopkins Blogathon, which is running from January 22 to 25. Please do visit and read the other postings! ?I’ll admit I expected a lot from Becky Sharp.?It has a great star, Miriam Hopkins, in a powerful role giving her plenty of scope, and a great director ... Read full article


By Will McKinley on Jul 26, 2012 From Cinematically Insane

’s RINGS ON HER FINGERS (1942) ?has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the year for me, classic-film-wise. I reviewed the new DVD from the Twentieth Century Fox Cinema Archives Collection for Cinema Sentries this week, and I’m still thinking about how much I enjoy... Read full article

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Rouben Mamoulian on the
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Rouben Mamoulian Facts
Producers were so terrified that the opening sequence to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) would turn out badly - Mamoulian shot it all from the perspective of the protagonist - that the re-release of the film omitted the first few minutes of the film. It wasn't until the 1970s that this was added on again and Mamoulian's brilliance returned to one of his greatest films.

In the late 1920s when sound was introduced into motion pictures, beginning with The Jazz Singer (1927), many directors were left stranded, as they could no longer move the camera. The sound of the dolly or the camera itself was recorded on the soundtrack and sounded awful and distracting. Mamoulian was one of the first to introduce the blimp, a box that encased the camera and isolated the sound the camera made. He also refused to let the sound of the dolly or of the camera operators stand in his way and quite often moved the camera regardless. This was rare in the 1930s and made Mamoulian unique. He'd move the camera even if the audience would hear it on the soundtrack, arguing that they would be so engrossed in the scene they were watching that they would not notice. He was right.

His creative influence was so great that his films sometimes carried the credit 'A Rouben Mamoulian Production', even though he never produced any films.

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Theater Hall of Fame

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