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Edgar G. Ulmer - The Man Off-screen (2004)

A documentary about the "King of B-Movies", Edgar G. Ulmer. It includes interviews with well-known filmmakers Roger Corman, Peter Bogdanovich, Wim Wenders, Joe Dante, and Ulmers's daughter, Arianne Ulmer.

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A documentary about the "King of B-Movies", Edgar G. Ulmer. It includes interviews with well-known filmmakers Roger Corman, Peter Bogdanovich, Wim Wenders, Joe Dante, and Ulmers's daughter, Arianne Ulmer.

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A Life Less Ordinary
22 December 2006 | by (NC) – See all my reviews

I did not know much about the life of director Edgar G. Ulmer save he directed one of my favourite Universal horror films - The Black Cat. I loved the way he set that film up, shot the interiors, and cluttered the film with all kinds of symbolically rich images, not to mention coaxing two great performances out of Karloff and Lugosi. This documentary, a labour of love in a way from his daughter Arianne Ulmer, looks more at Ulmer the man than Ulmer the director. There are lots of interviews by family friends, Ulmer's daughter, actors that worked for Ulmer, and other genre directors and historians that share their ideas about Ulmer's legacy to film. Opening the documentary are two genre historians, Tom Weaver and Gregory Mank, and their informal discussion really sets the way the whole documentary works: conversations with directors in cars(in the U.S. and Germany no less - the dialog between Joe Dante and John Landis was a real hoot), looks at sets of a bygone era(replicated), candid discussions about Ulmer's problems as well as successes, etc... Ulmer's life never rose really above the B picture level, and this documentary tries to explore why. It delves into Ulmer's Jewish films and Black films of the 40s(I didn't know anything about either of these). The interviews are a bit shorter than I would have liked, but most are very candid - not everyone showering Ulmer with praise. My biggest complaint about the documentary is that it tends to assume a bit much of the viewer. Not everyone is as familiar with Ulmer's work as the producers must have felt. I would also have liked more exposition on the films. They are only briefly examined. I did want to see some of his work after watching the DVD. I guess that shows that it did indeed succeed in its initial purpose of reminding everyone of a director that many of us have forgotten.


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