Edward Dmytryk was a Canadian-born American film director who rose to prominence in the 1940s for his film noirs. Throughout his career spanning more than four decades, he had directed and edited a large number of films in a variety of genres. Some of these were mega-hits for which he continues to be renowned. Sam Wood, a fellow film director, identified him as a communist sympathizer. Dmytryk refused to answer the questions posed by the infamous ‘House Un-American Activities Committee’ (HUAC) and was banned from working in Hollywood along with nine others. He moved to England but returned to the United States to renew his passport, was arrested, and sentenced to six months in prison by Congress. In order to protect his family and profession, he agreed to appear before HUAC, for which he was never forgiven by a significant number of actors, actresses, scriptwriters, and others who had been harmed by the McCarthy Era’s draconian rules. Despite the fact that his reputation as a person remained tarnished for the rest of his life, he directed a huge number of excellent films after the HUAC episode.
Youth and Early Life
Edward Dmytryk was born on September 4, 1908, in Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada.
His father, Michael Dmytryk, was a Ukrainian immigrant, and his mother was Frances Berezowski. There were three of his siblings. Arthur was one of his siblings, and his stepmother was Clara Mertz.
After his mother’s death in 1913, the family moved to Los Angeles, California.
In Hollywood, California, he attended ‘Hollywood High School’ for his secondary education.
At the age of 14, he ran away from home in 1923 and began working as a messenger and office boy at “Famous-Lasky Studios.” Additionally, he learned how to splice film and run the projector.
He earned a scholarship to study filmmaking at the ‘California Institute of Technology’ but was unable to continue beyond his freshman year, so he returned to his former studio, now known as ‘Paramount Pictures’.
Edward Dmytryk’s Career
After returning to Paramount Pictures, Edward Dmytryk became an editor and edited the pictures ‘Only Saps Work’ (1930), ‘The Royal Family of Broadway (1931), ‘College Rhythm’ and ‘Belle of Nineties’ (1934), and ‘Ruggles of Red Gap’ (1935).
In 1935, he made his directorial debut with the western film The Hawk.
He edited “Too Many Parents,” “Easy to Take,” “Three Cheers for Love,” and “Three Married Men” in 1936.
He returned to editing with ‘Murder Goes to College,’ ‘Turn Off the Moon,’ ‘Double or Nothing,’ and ‘Hold ‘Em Navy!’ in 1937, ‘Bulldog Drummonds Peril,’ and ‘Prison Farm’ in 1938, and ‘Some Like it Hot,’ ‘Love Affair,’ and ‘Zaza’ in 1939.
He was not recognized for ‘Million Dollar Legs’ in 1939, even though he completed it on time after Paramount fired the film’s director, Nick Grindle.
He directed several B-movies, including “Television Spy” in 1939, “Emergency Squad,” “Her First Romance,” “Golden Gloves,” and “Mystery Sea Raider” in 1940, and “Secrets of the Lone Wolf,” “Under Age,” and “Sweetheart of the Campus” in 1941.
In 1940, he left Paramount and joined Columbia Pictures, where he produced seven B-movies in one year, including “The Devil’s Commands” in 1941, “The Blonde from Singapore” in 1941, “Confessions of Boston Blackie” in 1942, and the “Counter Espionage” in 1942.
In 1942, he moved to RKO and produced thrillers such as ‘Captive Wild Woman,’ ‘Behind The Rising Sun,’ ‘The Falcon Strikes Back,’ ‘Seven Miles from Alcatraz,’ and ‘Hitler’s Children,’ a 1943 war propaganda film.
His debut A-film, “Tender Comrade,” was released in 1944 and featured Marxist sentiments that landed him in difficulty during the McCarthy Era.
His subsequent films, “Murder, My Sweet” (1944) and “Cornered” (1945), were produced in conjunction with screenwriter John Paxton and producer Adrian Scott.
The combat drama “Back to Bataan” (1945), “Till the End of Time” (1946), and “So Well Remembered” (1947) were all profitable.
1947’s ‘Crossfire’ was the pinnacle of his directing ability, but the HUAC indictment halted his career abruptly.
In 1949 and 1950, he produced the films “Obsession” and “Give Us This Day” in England. He returned to the United States to renew his passport but was detained upon arrival and sentenced to six months in prison. He regained his freedom by testifying before HUAC.
His subsequent films were ‘Eight Iron Men,’ ‘Mutiny,’ and ‘The Sniper’ in 1952, ‘The Juggler,’ ‘The Broken Lance,’ and ‘Caine Mutiny’ in 1953 and 1954, respectively.
In 1955, he directed the films Soldier of Fortune, The End of the Affair, and The Left Hand of God, followed by The Mountain in 1956 and Raintree County in 1957.
In 1958, he produced the military film The Young Lions, followed by the westerns The Blue Angel in 1959, Warlock in 1959, and Walk on the Wild Side in 1962.
These were followed by “The Reluctant Saint” in 1962, “The Carpetbaggers” in 1963, and “Where Love Has Gone” in 1964, a family melodrama. 1966 saw the release of his psychological thriller “Mirage” and the Civil War film “Alvarez Kelly.” It was the final film he produced in the United States for the following decade.
In 1968, he returned to England to shoot the western film Shalako and then traveled to Italy to direct the World War II epic Anzio.
In 1972 and 1975, Dmytryk directed the thrillers “Bluebeard” and “The Human Factor.”
His final picture as a director was 1976’s “He Is My Brother,” following which he resigned from the film industry.
After his retirement, he provided articulate interviews for the 1976 and 1986 documentaries Hollywood on Trial and 50 Years of Action. In 1988 and 1994, he did interviews for the CBS programs “Hollywood: The Golden Years” and “When America Trembled: Murrow/McCarthy.”
He taught film at the University of Texas and the University of Southern California in his later years.
Edward’s Major Opera
Edward Dmytryk released a series of film-related publications in 1984, 1985, and 1988, including “On Film Editing,” “On Screen Writing,” and “Cinema: Concept and Practice.”
Awards & Achievements
1947’s ‘Crossfire’ garnered Edward Dmytryk his lone Oscar nomination for ‘Best Director in his entire career.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1932, he wed Madeline Robinson, whom he divorced in 1947. Michael J. was his son from this union.
In May 1948, he wed the actress Jean Porter, with whom he had a son, Richard, and two daughters, Victoria and Rebecca.
Edward Dmytryk died of heart and kidney failure on July 1, 1999, at the age of 90, in Encino, California.
Estimated Net Worth
Edward is one of the wealthiest and most well-known directors. According to our research, Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Edward Dmytryk has an estimated net worth of $1.5 million.
Edward Dmytryk was the only member of the “Hollywood Ten” who testified before HUAC.