Edward Dmytryk

Edward Dmytryk, director, editor (b at Grand Forks, BC 4 Sep 1908; d at Encino, Ca 1 Jul 1999). Edward Dmytryk was the son of poor Ukrainian immigrants. The family moved across the BC border to Northport, Washington, and after Dmytryk's mother died, to San Francisco and eventually Los Angeles.

Edward Dmytryk

Edward Dmytryk, director, editor (b at Grand Forks, BC 4 Sep 1908; d at Encino, Ca 1 Jul 1999). Edward Dmytryk was the son of poor Ukrainian immigrants. The family moved across the BC border to Northport, Washington, and after Dmytryk's mother died, to San Francisco and eventually Los Angeles.

By the age of 15, Dmytryk was working for Paramount Studios as a messenger boy. He moved up through the ranks to assistant editor, counting among his credits Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) with Charles Laughton. His first directing assignment came in 1935 with The Hawk, but it was the anti-fascist drama Hitler's Children (1943) made for RKO that caused critics to take notice. Next he directed Dick Powell in 2 suspense thrillers, Murder, My Sweet (1944), based on Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely, and Cornered (1945).

Edward Dmytryk won critical praise and was nominated for an Oscar for Crossfire (1947), Hollywood's first serious attempt to deal with the subject of racial discrimination, starring Robert Young and Robert Mitchum. That year he was brought before the US House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and found guilty of communist affiliations. As a former party member (he was a lifelong socialist and briefly joined the Communist Party in 1945), he refused to testify and was branded one of the original "Hollywood Ten." He was sent to jail for 6 months and blacklisted.

When released from prison, he went into self-imposed exile in England, where he directed 3 films, including the socially aware Give Us This Day (1949). He returned to the US in 1951 to give testimony before the second round of hearings by HUAC ("naming names," although he later claimed that all those he named were already known to the FBI) and was once again allowed to direct in Hollywood.

His later films lacked the originality of his earlier efforts, but he was able to work with bigger budgets and some of the biggest names in the business: Spencer Tracy (Broken Lance, 1954), Humphrey Bogart (The Caine Mutiny, 1954, and The Left Hand of God, 1955), Clark Gable (Soldier of Fortune, 1955), Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift (Raintree County, 1957), Marlon Brando (The Young Lions, 1958), Jane Fonda (Walk on the Wild Side, 1962), and Bette Davis (Where Love Has Gone, 1964).

Edward Dmytryk directed his last film in 1976 and began teaching film at the University of Texas. In 1981 he was appointed a filmmaking professor at the University of Southern California.


Further Reading

  • Edward Dmytryk, It's a Hell of a Life but Not a Bad Living (1978); and Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten (1995).