Edward Dmytryk

Edward Dmytryk (September 4, 1908 – July 1, 1999) was a Canadian-born American film director. He was known for his 1940s noir films and received an Oscar nomination for Best Director for Crossfire (1947). In 1947, he was named as one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of blacklisted film industry professionals who refused to testify to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in their investigations during the McCarthy-era 'Red scare'. They all served time in prison for contempt of Congress. In 1951, however, Dmytryk did testify to HUAC and rehabilitated his career. First hired again by independent producer Stanley Kramer in 1952, Dmytryk is likely best known for directing The Caine Mutiny (1954), a critical and commercial success. The second-highest grossing film of the year, it was nominated for Best Picture and several other awards at the 1955 Oscars.[1] Dmytryk was nominated for a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures.

Edward Dmytryk
Born(1908-09-04)September 4, 1908
DiedJuly 1, 1999(1999-07-01) (aged 90)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
OccupationFilm director, film editor
Years active1929–1979
Spouse(s)Madeleine Robinson (1932–47; divorced; 1 son Michael)
Jean Porter (1948–99; his death; 3 children)


Dmytryk was born on September 4, 1908, in Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada. His Polish-Ukrainian immigrant parents were Frances (Berezowski) and Michael Dmytryk,[2] a severe disciplinarian who bounced between jobs as truck driver, smelter worker, and motorman.[3] The family moved to San Francisco, California, and then to Los Angeles. After his mother died, his father remarried.


Dmytryk worked as a messenger at Famous Players-Lasky (forerunner of Paramount Pictures) for $6 a week while attending Hollywood High School. He progressed to projectionist, film editor, and by age 31, a director and a naturalized citizen of the United States.


Dmytryk worked in the editing department on films such as The Dance of Life (1929), Only Saps Work (1930), The Royal Family of Broadway (1930), Make Me a Star (1932), The Phantom President (1932), and If I Had a Million (1932). He helped edit two Leo McCarey movies, Duck Soup (1933) and Six of a Kind (1934).

He edited College Rhythm (1934), and then did Leo McCarey's Ruggles of Red Gap (1935).

Dmytryk made his directorial debut with The Hawk (1935), a low-budget independent Western.[4] He returned to editing duties at Paramount, but was assigned to B films:Too Many Parents (1936), Three Cheers for Love (1936), Three Married Men (1936), Easy to Take (1936), Murder Goes to College (1937), Turn Off the Moon (1937), Double or Nothing (1937) with Bing Crosby, and That Navy Spirit (1937). Dmytryk also edited Bulldog Drummond's Peril (1938) and Prison Farm (1938). He moved his way back up to A movies with Zaza (1938), directed by George Cukor. Leo McCarey asked him over to RKO to edit Love Affair (1939). He returned to Paramount to edit the Bob Hope comedy Some Like It Hot (1939).

Dmytryk did some uncredited directing on Million Dollar Legs (1939) with Betty Grable. This encouraged Paramount to allow him to direct a B movie, Television Spy (1939). He followed it with Emergency Squad (1940), Golden Gloves (1940), and Mystery Sea Raider (1940) with Carole Landis.

Dmytryk went to Monogram Pictures to direct a musical with Edith Fellows, Her First Romance (1940).

He went over to Columbia to direct for their B picture unit: The Devil Commands (1941) with Boris Karloff, Under Age (1941), Broadway Ahead (1941), Hot Pearls (1941), Secrets of the Lone Wolf (1941), Confessions of Boston Blackie (1941), and Counter-Espionage (1942), a "Lone Wolf" movie.

Dmytryk signed a contract to RKO, where he continued to direct B movies, starting with Seven Miles from Alcatraz (1942). However, he then made Hitler's Children (1943), which turned out to be a massive "sleeper" hit, earning over $3 million.[5][6]

It did not immediately change his career; he stayed doing B movies such as The Falcon Strikes Back (1943), and then went to Universal for Captive Wild Woman (1943). Back at RKO, he directed a Hitler's Children-style thriller about the Japanese, Behind the Rising Sun (1943). It was another box-office sensation, and Dmytryk was promoted to A films.[7]

Dmytryk directed RKO's biggest star, Ginger Rogers, in the melodrama Tender Comrade (1943), which was a huge hit. He followed it with Murder, My Sweet (1944), adapted from Raymond Chandler's novel, Farewell, My Lovely by John Paxton and produced by Adrian Scott; the star was Dick Powell, whose performance as Philip Marlow completely revitalised Powell's career. Dymtryk did a war film starring John Wayne, Back to Bataan (1945), then he was reunited with Powell, Paxton, and Scott for the popular film noir Cornered (1945). He did a drama about soldiers coming back from the war, Till the End of Time (1946), which was a big hit, and went to England to make So Well Remembered (1947) with Paxton and Scott.

Dmytryk, Scott, and Paxton then collaborated on the hugely successful thriller Crossfire (1947), for which Dmytryk received a Best Director Oscar nomination. He was established as RKO's leading director.

Hollywood Ten

After the war, many Americans were alarmed by Soviet actions in Europe, and by reports of covert Communist activity in the U.S. This period has been dubbed the Second Red Scare. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated Communist Party influence in the film industry, and Dmytryk was among those called to testify about it before HUAC in 1947. Dmytryk had briefly been a Communist Party member in 1944 and 1945. He was persuaded by his former party associates to join nine other Hollywood figures in a public refusal to testify. The Hollywood Ten were cited for contempt of Congress and sentenced to prison terms.[8] Dmytryk was fired from RKO.

Dmytryk fled to England and was unofficially ostracized. In England, he made two films for producer Nat Bronstein: a thriller Obsession (1949), and Give Us This Day (1949), a neo-realistic movie sympathetic to the working man, based on the novel Christ in Concrete. The latter movie, which was successful in Europe, was released as Christ in Concrete in the United States and quickly suppressed. When his passport ran out, Dmytryk returned to the United States, where he was arrested and imprisoned.

After several months behind bars, Dmytryk decided that he had been duped by the Communists. They had cost him exile and imprisonment so they could win sympathy for the "Ten" as persecuted innocents. He agreed to testify and to name people he claimed were Communist Party members. He served four months and 17 days in Millspoint Prison, West Virginia.[9]

On April 25, 1951, Dmytryk appeared before HUAC for the second time, answering all questions. He spoke of his own brief party membership in 1945, and named party members, including six directors (Frank Tuttle, Herbert Biberman, Jack Berry, Bernard Verhous, Jules Dassin, and Michael Gordon), and 16 others. He said he was prompted to change his mind by the Alger Hiss case, the discovery of spies in the US and Canada, and the invasion of South Korea.[9]

He said that John Howard Lawson, Adrian Scott, Albert Maltz, and others had pressured him to include Communist elements in his films. His testimony damaged several court cases that others of the "Ten" had filed.[10][9] (He recounted his experiences of the period in his 1996 book, Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten.)


Dmytryk's first film after his testimony was Mutiny (1952) from the King Brothers.[11] Independent American producer Stanley Kramer then hired Dmytryk to direct a trio of low-budget films for Kramer's company, which released through Columbia: The Sniper (1952), Eight Iron Men (1952) and The Juggler (1953) with Kirk Douglas. In between, he directed a short film for the United Jewish Appeal, Three Lives (1953).[12] Kramer then selected Dmytryk to direct Humphrey Bogart and Van Johnson in The Caine Mutiny (1954), a World War II naval drama adapted from Herman Wouk's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel which proved to be a great critical and commercial success for Columbia Pictures. It was the second-highest-grossing film of the year, and in 1955, received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, and other awards.

Dmytryk went over to 20th Century Fox, where he directed Spencer Tracy and Robert Wagner in Broken Lance (1954). He went to England to do The End of the Affair (1955) for Columbia, then returned to Fox to make Soldier of Fortune (1955) with Clark Gable, The Left Hand of God (1955) with Bogart, and The Mountain (1956) with Tracy and Wagner. Dmytryk produced the latter. Dmytryk went to MGM, then under his old RKO boss Dore Schary, to make Raintree County (1957) with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. At Fox, he did a popular war film with Clift and Marlon Brando, The Young Lions (1958), then a Western, Warlock (1959) (which he produced), and a flop remake of The Blue Angel (1959).

Dmytryk made Walk on the Wild Side (1962) for producer Charles Feldman. He produced and directed The Reluctant Saint (1962). He had a huge hit with The Carpetbaggers (1964) from the novel by Harold Robbins for producer Joseph E. Levine. He was promptly given another Robbins adaptation by Levine, Where Love Has Gone (1964). This was followed by a Gregory Peck thriller Mirage (1965), the William Holden Western Alvarez Kelly (1966), a war film Anzio (1968) and a Western with Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot, Shalako (1968).

Dmytryk wrote and directed Bluebeard (1972) with Richard Burton. He did the little-seen He Is My Brother (1975) and The 'Human' Factor (1975). His last film was a short, Not Only Strangers (1979).

In the 1980s, Dmytryk entered academic life. He taught about film and directing at the University of Texas at Austin, and at the University of Southern California film school. He wrote several books on the art of filmmaking (such as On Film Editing and On Screenwriting). He also appeared on the lecture circuit, speaking at various colleges and theaters, such as the Orson Welles Cinema.

Personal life and death

Dmytryk married actress Jean Porter on May 12, 1948.[13] He died age 90 on July 1, 1999 in Encino, California, from heart and kidney failure. He was buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in Hollywood.[14]

Legacy and honors


This filmography lists all the feature films Dmytryk directed and may be complete:

See also


  1. "The 27th Academy Awards (1955) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  2. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8J7-G6J
  3. Dunbar, David L. (November 16, 2015). "The Hollywood Ten: The Men Who Refused to Name Names". The Hollywood Reporter.
  4. Vallance, Tom (July 3, 1999). "Obituary: Edward Dmytryk". The Independent. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  5. "Which cinema films have earned the most money since 1947?" The Argus (Australia), March 4, 1944, p. 3. Retrieved: April 22, 2018.
  6. "Top Grossers of the Season." Variety, January 5, 1944, p .54.
  7. Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994
  8. "Hollywood Ten". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
  9. By CP TRUSSELL Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (1951, Apr 26). ONCE A COMMUNIST, DMYTRYK REVEALS. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/112000467
  10. The case of edward dmytryk. (1951, Apr 27). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166238047
  11. Schallert, E. (1951, May 15). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166225323
  12. Schallert, E. (1951, Jun 01). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166231060
  13. Actress, Director Wed May 12, 1948 in Ellicott, Maryland
  14. NNDB
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