Damaged Lives (June 13, 1933)
Released on June 13, 1933: A young businessman about to be married has a one night stand with a woman who may have given him a life-ending disease.
Produced by J.J. Allen, Maxwell Cohn and Nat Cohn
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Written by Eugène Brieux with screenplay by Donald Davis and Edgar G. Ulmer
The Actors: Diane Sinclair (Joan Bradley), Lyman Williams (Donald Bradley Jr.), Harry Myers (Nat Franklin), Marceline Day (Laura Hall), Jason Robards Sr. (Doctor Bill Hall), Charlotte Merriam (Elise Cooper), Murray Kinnell (Doctor Vincent Leonard), George Irving (Donald Bradley Sr.), Cecilia Parker (Rosie), Almeda Fowler (Mrs. Bradley), Harrison Greene (policeman), Victor Potel (unknown), Harry Semels (waiter)
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Edgar Ulmer, Director Extraordinaire
Papa was a preacher, and he would tell fellows that it would be foolish to go out and chase after gingham when you have silk waiting for you at home. I remember the saying because as a little kid I didn’t understand it, and often puzzled over the words. Now as a much older man I understand and would give the same advice to young men and women. The problem is . . . . When young men and women go out to have fun, they meet other young men and women . . . . Sometimes the silk at home seems to be gingham, and sometimes the gingham that we meet when out having fun looks a lot like fine silk. Another saying that papa often said while smiling and shaking his head was ‘Too soon old, too late smart’ and that one I understood even as a young man.
Edgar G. Ulmer was a Jewish director who learned his craft from Max Reinhardt and F.W. Murnau in Vienna. Before I tell you about his first movie in America, let me tell you about his second movie. Edgar Ulmer directed his second feature film for Universal Studios starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi and it became the biggest moneymaker for Universal that year, and a large part of the credit went to Edgar Ulmer for his amazing and unique style of framing the scenes. Unfortunately Ulmer’s career then crashed because he had an affair with and subsequently married the wife of the nephew of the head of Universal. The head of Universal was quite a powerful man in Hollywood, and no major studio would ever hire Edgar Ulmer after that. From that time on he was only hired by poverty row small-time movie studios and independent producers, and his artistic style made many low-budget stories become breathtaking. He directed many Ukrainian ethnic movies, including the Yiddish ‘Green Fields’ with director Jacob Ben-Ami. Then in 1945 the poverty row studio Producers Releasing Corporation hired him to direct a noir thriller, and it became such a cult favorite that the Library of Congress included it when it selected 100 motion pictures worthy of special preservation. Producers Releasing Corporation went out of business and did not renew the copyright on that movie and you can watch it here: Detour (1945). So, Edgar Ulmer’s second movie was a hit, and later Detour was a big hit, but do you wonder what the first motion picture that he directed was like? Wonder no more, this is it. Actress Ida Lupino was famous for directing several ‘Mothers warn your children’ movies, and in this story Edgar Ulmer tries to create a ‘Fathers, warn your sons’ movie . . . . But for my money this story isn’t an exploitation style ‘let’s use the subject matter as an excuse to film a racy and controversial movie’ . . . No, Edgar Ulmer turned a low-budget exploitiation story into a love story . . . . A love story with several scenes and camera shots that are worthy of an art gallery. You probably won’t even notice that the bed scene where Donald and Joan are spooning and hugging lovingly would not be permitted on film a couple of years later – without that scene the love story would not develop nearly as well. And the ending . . . . Wow . . . . May I describe a suicide scene as a tender love scene? The slow and dance-like, trance-like movements of Joan . . . . The soft orchestra music melting the heart . . . . Her face and hand filling the screen as she gently clasps Donald’s hand . . . . I will definitely watch this story again . . . . Thank you, Edgar Ulmer.
Charlotte Merriam kisses Lyman Williams
Charlotte Merriam meets Lyman Williams
Diane SInclair and Lyman Williams spooning
Diane Sinclair and Lyman Williams
Diane Sinclair and Marceline Day
Diane Sinclair and Lyman Williams
Harry Myers and Cecilia Parker
Harry Myers, Charlotte Merriam and Lyman Williams
Jason Robards Sr. and Marceline Day
Jason Robards Sr.
Lyman Williams and Charlotte Merriam