Dupont, E.A.

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Nationality: German. Born: Ewald André Dupont in Seitz, Saxony, 25 December 1891. Education: University of Berlin. Career: Film critic for BZ am Mittag, Berlin, from 1911; story editor for Richard Oswald, 1916; directed first feature, Das Geheimnis des Amerika-Docks, 1917; director in Hollywood, 1926; signed for British-International Pictures, London, 1928; returned to Berlin, 1931; director for Universal, Hollywood, 1933–36; signed to Paramount, 1936–37; signed for Warner Brothers, 1938; dismissed from Hell's Kitchen, began editing Hollywood Tribune, 1939; formed talent agency, 1941; returned to directing, 1951. Died: Of cancer in Los Angeles, 12 December 1956.

Films as Director:


Das Geheimnis des Amerika-Docks (The Secret of the America Dock) (+ sc)


Es Werde Licht (Let There Be Light) part 2 (co-d, co-sc); Europa-Postlagernd (Post Office Europe) (+ sc); Mitternacht (+ sc); Der Schatten (Der lebender Schatten) (+ sc); Der Teufel (+ sc); Die Japanerin (+ sc)


Grand Hotel Babylon (+ sc); Die Apachen (Paris Underworld) (+ sc); Das Derby (+ sc); Die Würger der Welt (+ sc); Die Maske (+ sc); Die Spione (+ sc)


Der Mord ohne Täter (Murder without Cause) (+ co-sc); Die weisse Pfau (The White Peacock) (+ co-sc); Herztrumpt (+ sc); Whitechapel (+ sc)


Der Geier-Wally (Ein Roman aus den Bergen; Geierwally; The Woman Who Killed a Vulture) (+ sc)


Kinder der Finsternis (Children of Darkness) part 1—Der Mann aus Neapel (The Man from Naples) (+ co-sc); Kinder der Finsternis part 2—Kämpfende Welten (Worlds in Struggle) (+ co-sc); Sie und die Drei (She and the Three) (+ sc)


Die grüne Manuela (The Green Manuela); Das alte Gesetz (Baruch; The Ancient Law)


Der Demütige und die Sängerin (The Humble Man and the Singer; La Meurtrière) (+ co-sc); Variété (Variety; Vaudeville; Varietes) (+ co-sc)


Love Me and the World Is Mine (Implacable Destiny) (+ co-sc)


Moulin-Rouge (+ sc, pr); Piccadilly (sound version released 1929) (+ pr)


Atlantic (+ pr); Atlantik (German version) (+ pr, co-sc)


Atlantis (French version) (co-d, pr); Cape Forlorn (The Love Storm) (+ pr, co-sc); Menschen im Käfig (German version) (+ pr); Le Cap perdu (French version) (+ pr); Two Worlds (+ pr, co-story); Zwei Welten (German version) (+ pr); Les Deux Mondes (French version) (+ pr)


Salto Mortale (The Circus of Sin)


Peter Voss, der Millionendieb (Peter Voss, Who Stole Millions) (+ co-sc)


Der Läufer von Marathon (The Marathon Runner)

(in United States):


Ladies Must Love


The Bishop Misbehaves (The Bishop's Misadventures)


A Son Comes Home; Forgotten Faces


A Night of Mystery (The Greene Murder Case); On Such a Night; Love on Toast


Hell's Kitchen (co-d with Seiler, uncredited)


The Scarf (The Dungeon) (+ sc)


Problem Girls; The Neanderthal Man; The Steel Lady (Secret of the Sahara; The Treasure of Kalifa)


Return to Treasure Island (Bandit Island of Karabei); Miss Robin Crusoe (co-d, uncredited)

Other Films:


Rennfieber (Horse Race Fever) (Oswald) (sc); Der Onyxkopf (May) (sc); Sturmflut (Zeyn) (sc); Die sterbende Perlen (Meinert) (sc); Die Faust des Riesen parts 1 and 2 (Biebrach) (sc)


Ferdinand Lassalle (Meinert) (sc); Der Saratoga-Koffer (Meinert) (sc); Die Buchhalterin (von Woringen) (co-sc); Nur um tausend Dollars (Meinert) (sc)


Madame Pompadour (Wilcox) (sc)


Magic Fire (Dieterle) (sc)


By DUPONT: articles—

Varieté, with Leo Birinski, in Antologia di Bianco e nero, Rome, 1943.

Interview with Ezra Goodman, in Daily News (Los Angeles), 10 April 1950.

On DUPONT: books—

Kracauer, Siegfried, From Caligari to Hitler, Princeton, 1947.

Eisner, Lotte, The Haunted Screen, Berkeley, 1968.

Luft, Herbert, E.A. Dupont, Anthologie du Cinéma, Paris, n.d.

On DUPONT: articles—

Weinberg, Herman, in Take One (Montreal), January/February 1970.

Luft, Herbert, "E.A. Dupont 1891–1956," in Films in Review (New York), June/July 1977.

Pinto, A., letter in Films in Review (New York), October 1977.

"E.A. Dupont," in Film Dope (London), January 1978.

"E.A. Dupont—Der Augenmensch," in Film und Fernsehen (East Berlin), no. 11, 1983.

Brandlmeier, T., "Porträt: Ewald André Dupont," in EPD Film (Frankfurt), vol. 9, no. 2, February 1992.

* * *

Some directors are able to maintain a steady flow of talent in all their work. Others, like E.A. Dupont, are remembered for one outstanding moment in their career. Variété, or Vaudeville as it is also known, was one of the most exciting films to come from Germany in the 1920s. Dupont made many other good films, but his career as a whole is a rather tragic one. This was partly due to personal deficiencies and partly due to circumstances over which he had no control. Some European directors flourished in Hollywood; Dupont was not one of them.

Dupont had been a film critic and a film scriptwriter before becoming Richard Oswald's story editor and contributing to Oswald's sensational sex film Es werde Licht. In 1917 he began to direct thrillers like Das Geheimnis des America Docks and Europa Postlagernd. Recognition came with Die Geierwally in 1921. This Henny Porten film was distinguished by the settings of Paul Leni and the camerawork of Karl Freund. It also popularized William Dieterle. Dupont had previously launched the careers of Paul Richter and Bernhardt Goetzke, later featured in the films of Fritz Lang. Freund also photographed Dupont's next film, Kinder der Finsternis, a film of two parts that featured striking sets by Leni.

1923 was a bumper year for Dupont. His Die grüne Manuela, about a young dancer who falls in love with a smuggler whose brother gives his life to ensure their happiness, won international appreciation. His next film, Das alte Gesetz, garnered a similar response. It told the story of a young Jew's flight from his orthodox home to seek fame in the Austrian theater. In the depiction of Jewish rituals and the life of the Austrian court and theatre, the film had a rich authenticity.

Dupont worked outside the then-current German expressionist style, being more human and realistic in his approach to filmmaking. This was evident in his tour de force Variété, a tale of jealousy and death amongst trapeze artists. Its powerful realism, visual fluidity, and daring techniques, coupled with the superb performances of Jannings, Lya de Putti, and Warwick Ward, made it stand out in a year rich with achievement. The virtuoso camerawork of Karl Freund contributed not merely to the spatial and temporal aspects of the film but in the revelation of motive and thought. The uninhibited sensuality depicted by the film led to censorship problems in many countries. Inevitably, Dupont went to Hollywood, where he directed a not entirely successful Love Me and the World Is Mine for Universal. In 1928 he made two stylish films in England: Moulin Rouge, which exploited the sensual charms of Olga Tschechowa, and Piccadilly, with Gilda Gray and Anna May Wong (Charles Laughton made his film debut in a small role).

With the coming of sound, Atlantic, made in German and English, proved a considerable version of the Titanic story. But the two British sound films that followed suffered from weak acting that belied the striking sets. With Salto Mortale, made in Germany in 1931 and featuring Anna Sten and Adolph Wohlbruch, Dupont returned to the scene of his earlier Variété. Two more films were made in Germany before he found himself a Jewish refugee in Hollywood. Here his career was uneven. Factory-produced B pictures gave him no scope for his talents.

Dupont was dismissed for slapping a Dead End Kid who was mocking his foreign accent. This humiliating experience played havoc with his morose and withdrawn personality. He became a film publicist, a talent agent, and wrote some scripts. He returned in 1951 to direct The Scarf, a film of some merit for United Artists. Dupont also dabbled in television. He wrote the script for a film on Richard Wagner that was directed by his former protege William Dieterle in 1956. In December of the same year he died of cancer in Los Angeles. A sad case. Sad too to see the name of his great photographer Karl Freund on the credits of I Love Lucy.

—Liam O'Leary