Cinematographer and Director and Producer. Nationality: Hungarian. Born: Rudolf Matheh in Cracow, Poland, 21 January 1898. Education: Attended University of Budapest. Career: Assistant cameraman for Alexander Korda in Budapest; then worked in Vienna and Berlin (apprentice to Karl Freund, assistant to Erich Pommer), and in France; 1935—emigrated to Hollywood; 1948—directed first film; TV work includes The Loretta Young Show. Died: 27 October 1964.
Films as Cinematographer:
Der Kaufmann von Venedig (Felner)
Michael (Dreyer) (co)
La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc) (Dreyer)
Le Manque de mémoire (Chomette)
Prix de beauté (Genina)
La Couturière de Linevile (Lachman); Le Monsieur de minuit (Lachman); Le Roi de Camembert (Mourre)
La Belle Marinière (Lachman); Monsieur Albert (Anton); Vampyr (The Dream of Allan Gray) (Dreyer)
Paprika (de Limur); Les Aventures du Roi Pansole (Granowsky); La Mille-et-Deuxième Nuit (Wolkoff); Une Femme au volant (Gerron and Billon); Dans les rues (Trivas)
Le Dernier Milliardaire (Clair); Liliom (Lang)
Dante's Inferno (Lachman); Dressed to Thrill (Lachman); Metropolitan (Boleslawsky); Beauty's Daughter (Dwan) (co); Professional Soldier (Garnett)
Charlie Chan's Secret (Wiles); Message to Garcia (Marshall); Our Relations (Lachman); Dodsworth (Wyler); Come and Get It (Wyler and Hawks) (co)
Outcast (Florey); Stella Dallas (K. Vidor); The Adventures of Marco Polo (Mayo)
Blockade (Dieterle); Youth Takes a Fling (Mayo); Tradewinds (Garnett)
Love Affair (McCarey); The Real Glory (Hathaway)
My Favorite Wife (McCarey); Foreign Correspondent (Hitchcock); Seven Sinners (Garnett)
Lady Hamilton (That Hamilton Woman) (A. Korda); Flame of New Orleans (Clair)
To Be or Not to Be (Lubitsch); It Started with Eve (Koster); The Pride of the Yankees (Wood)
They Got Me Covered (Butler); Sahara (Z. Korda)
Address Unknown (Menzies); Cover Girl (C. Vidor) (co)
Tonight and Every Night (C. Vidor)
Gilda (C. Vidor)
Down to Earth (Hall); It Had to Be You (+ co-d)
Films as Director:
The Dark Past
D.O.A.; Branded; No Sad Songs for Me; Union Station
The Prince Who Was a Thief; When Worlds Collide
The Green Glove; Paula; Sally and Saint Anne; Mississippi Gambler
Second Chance; Forbidden; The Siege of Red River
The Black Shield of Falworth
The Violent Men; The Far Horizons
Miracle in the Rain; Rawhide Years; Port Afrique; Three Violent People
The Deep Six; Serenade einer grossen Liebe (For the First Time)
Revak, lo schiavo di Cartagine (The Barbarians) (+ pr); The Immaculate Road; Il dominatore dei sette mari (Seven Seas to Calais) (co-d)
The Lion of Sparta (The Three Hundred Spartans) (+ pr)
Aliki (Aliki, My Love) (+ co-pr)
Film as Producer:
The Return of October (Lewis)
By MATÉ: articles—
Films and Filming (London), November 1955.
Nosferatu (San Sebastian), February 1994.
On MATÉ: articles—
Kine (London), 24 November 1955.
Luft, Herbert, in Films in Review (New York), October 1964.
Film Ideal (Madrid), 1 July 1965.
Kino Lehti (Helsinki), no. 2, 1970.
Film Comment (New York), Summer 1972.
Focus on Film (London), no. 13, 1973.
Film Dope (Nottingham), March 1989.
Liberti, F., and L. Franco, "Rudolph Maté," in Cineforum, no. 31, May 1991.
"The Dark Past," in Reid's Film Index (Wyong), no. 15, 1995.
"When Worlds Collide," in Midnight Marquee (Baltimore), no. 48, Winter 1995.
* * *
Rudolph Maté was a great cameraman whose film career divided neatly into three parts. In the first, he worked in Europe on major films such as Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc and René Clair's Le Dernier Milliardaire. He then came to Hollywood in 1935 and worked as a cameraman, earning five consecutive Academy Award nominations between 1940 and 1944. In the third phase, Maté switched to directing, principally of B-films in Hollywood, from 1947 until his death in 1964. Thus most historians see his as a career continually in decline, from the heights of the European art film of the 1920s to the schlock B-film of Hollywood in the 1950s.
In 1919 Maté set off on a remarkable 15-year career as a cinematographer in Europe. Alexander Korda gave him the needed break; Carl Theodor Dreyer guaranteed him a place in film history by having him photograph The Passion of Joan of Arc and Vampyr. It is not clear, however, how much Maté contributed to those films other than following Dreyer's orders. The remainder of his career would indicate that Dreyer offered the vision and Maté executed the orders.
In 1935 Maté left Nazi Germany for the United States. William Wyler gave him his break in Hollywood by hiring him to photograph Dodsworth and Come and Get It in 1936. It took Maté little time to reach the list of top Hollywood cinematographers. In 1940 he reached his peak by working as the director of photography for Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent. For this fine film Maté earned an Oscar nomination for cinematography in black-and-white. He then earned nominations for That Hamilton Woman, The Pride of the Yankees, Sahara, and Cover Girl.
After the Second World War, Maté got the itch to work on his own films and began to direct, at times even produce, features. In 1947 he entered this third phase of his career with his directorial debut: It Had to Be You, completed when Maté was 49 years old. He worked for a number of Hollywood studios until 1958, and then tried his luck with several European productions such as The 300 Spartans, released by 20th Century-Fox. He also directed 20 episodes of The Loretta Young Show TV series in the late 1950s.
There were some gems in the 29 feature films Maté directed. D.O.A., starring Edmund O'Brien, would seem to be Maté's finest directorial effort, a classic film noir. When Worlds Collide succeeds on the level of spectacular effects. But except for those two, critics seem to agree that Maté's directorial career is dotted with third-rate westerns and dramas. It is his career as a cinematographer for others which has secured Rudolph Maté's place in the history of film.