An Ulmer Matter: Unearthing an Overlooked Master

Posted by Erik Luers on 1.9.2014

A scene from the documentary Edgar G. Ulmer: The Man Off-Screen

It goes without saying that some auteurs deserve a second look (but we’ll say it anyway). Beginning Friday, the Film Society of Lincoln will present "Edgar G. Ulmer: Back From the Margins," a seven-film series (six Ulmer-directed and one 2004 documentary on Ulmer's work) dedicated to the work of the late Hungarian-born filmmaker.

Although there needn’t be a specific reason to honor a director of Ulmer’s caliber, there are nonetheless some to be found. The series was co-curated by Noah Isenberg, a Professor and Chair of Culture & Media and Director of Screen Studies at The New School. Isenberg’s new book Edgar G. Ulmer: A Filmmaker at the Margins was released this week to glowing reviews ("A fascinating, meticulously researched, and most welcome biographical study of the life and films of Edgar G. Ulmer,” raved Peter Bogdanovich), and the scholar will be here in person this week to discuss specific films in-depth.

Ulmer is best known for the film noir classic Detour (1945) and the Béla Lugosi and Boris Karloff-starring horror gem The Black Cat (1934). If you’re unfamiliar with the rest of his oeuvre, the screening schedule starts off with an introductory cinematic lesson: Michael Palm’s acclaimed biographical documentary, Edgar G. Ulmer: The Man Off-Screen, screens on Friday at 4:15pm. Afterwards, The Light Ahead, a selection from Ulmer’s shtetl canon focusing on European Jews, screens at 6:30pm in 35mm. Co-founder and Executive Director of National Center for Jewish Film Sharon Pucker Rivo will discuss the film with Isenberg following the January 10th screening. Isenberg will also be on hand for The Naked Dawn, a film which François Truffaut once described as a “small gift from Hollywood.”

Arianne Ulmer in Beyond the Time Barrier

Ruthless, starring Zachary Scott and Sidney Greenstreet, screens on Saturday afternoon (The New Yorker’s Richard Brody noted that “Ulmer's approach is monumental and detailed, baroquely gestural and coldly violent”), followed by a screening of the impeccably titled Murder is My Beat, which Film Comment’s Violet Lucca classified as “a poverty row noir” (the film screens again on January 17th, where a discussion will be lead by Austrian film critic and Ulmer scholar, Stefan Grissemann).

The following weekend brings two more Ulmer features and a second chance to view the ones you missed on the 10th and 11th. In 1930, Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann and Ulmer joined forces for People on Sunday, a silent tale set in Berlin that jumpstarted the filmmakers' careers. Beyond the Time Barrier, a science fiction oddity in which Ulmer directed his daughter, also screens on Friday with Arianne Ulmer in person.

With the help of some very distinguished guest speakers, we will be going Ulmer crazy over the next two weekends. Ready to join us? Take advantage of a three-film Discount Package!

Friday, January 10
9:00pm  THE NAKED DAWN (82m)

Saturday, January 11
1:15pm  RUTHLESS (104m)
4:00pm  MURDER IS MY BEAT (77m)

Friday, January 17
5:15pm  PEOPLE ON SUNDAY (73m)
9:45pm  MURDER IS MY BEAT (77m)

Saturday, January 18
1:00pm  THE NAKED DAWN (82m)
3:30pm  RUTHLESS (104m)

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