Dmytryk, Edward


Dmytryk, Edward
▪ 2000

      Canadian-born American film director (b. Sept. 4, 1908, Grand Forks, B.C.—d. July 1, 1999, Encino, Calif.), was one of the “Hollywood Ten,” film-industry personnel who were jailed and blacklisted following their refusal to answer when the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) asked if they had been members of the Communist Party. He later admitted that he had been a member for a short time and gave HUAC the names of others whose membership he could confirm. Thereafter he was allowed to return to Hollywood, but his recantation was denounced by many of his colleagues. Dmytryk began his cinema career as a messenger boy at the Famous Players–Lasky studios (later Paramount Studios) when he was 15, and by 1930 he had worked his way up to film editor. His first film as director was the independently made The Hawk (1935). Beginning in 1939 he made a number of “B-grade” films, including entries in the Boston Blackie and The Falcon series and the propaganda piece Hitler's Children (1943), which became a surprise box-office hit. It was followed by two more propaganda films, but it was with the 1945 film noir classic Murder, My Sweet (also titled Farewell My Lovely) that Dmytryk made his mark. Such other successes as Cornered (1945), Till the End of Time (1946), and Crossfire (1947) followed, but in 1947 he was subpoenaed by HUAC, cited for contempt of Congress when he refused to name names, and blacklisted. Dmytryk directed in England before returning to the U.S., serving time in prison for contempt, and then cooperating with HUAC by testifying. With the blacklisting lifted, he went on to direct over 20 more motion pictures, including The Sniper (1952), The Caine Mutiny (1954), The Young Lions (1958), and Mirage (1965). He subsequently taught at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California. Dmytryk wrote a number of books, among them his autobiography, It's a Hell of a Life, But Not a Bad Living (1978).

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▪ American film director
born Sept. 4, 1908, Grand Forks, B.C., Can.
died July 1, 1999, Encino, Calif., U.S.

      American motion-picture director, who was one of the “Hollywood Ten,” (Hollywood Ten) a group of film-industry people who were blacklisted for their alleged communist association. His notable films include Crossfire (1947), The Caine Mutiny (1954), The Young Lions (1958), and a film noir classic Murder, My Sweet (1945; also entitled Farewell My Lovely, and based upon the Raymond Chandler (Chandler, Raymond) novel of that name).

      Dmytryk was the son of Ukrainian immigrants. He left home at the age of 14 and soon found a job as a projectionist for the Famous Players–Lasky studios. He completed one year of college before returning to work full-time as a projectionist. During the 1930s he worked as a film editor for Paramount studios and became involved with other aspects of filmmaking. His first film, The Hawk, was independently made in 1935. He became a U.S. citizen in 1939. In 1939–40 he made several low-budget films for Paramount, but he hit his stride with the film Murder, My Sweet. The huge success of Crossfire, which received five Academy Award nominations, was marred by Dmytryk's subpoena to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) for his alleged collusion with others in a conspiracy to take over the Screen Directors' Guild in the interests of the American Communist Party. When he refused to answer charges, he was cited for contempt of Congress and was blacklisted.

      In 1948 Dmytryk went to England and made two films there—notably Salt to the Devil (1949; U.K. title Give Us This Day)—before being ordered to the United States to renew his passport. He was forced to serve six months in prison for contempt of Congress and then made the controversial decision to become a friendly witness for HUAC, thereby ending his Hollywood blacklisting. Thereafter he made The Sniper (1952), The Caine Mutiny, The Young Lions, and a great many lesser motion pictures. He taught at the University of Texas and at the University of Southern California. His autobiography, It's a Hell of a Life, But Not a Bad Living, was published in 1978. His 1995 book Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten recounts his role in the American Communist Party and the HUAC hearings.

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Universalium. 2010.

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