Michael Curtiz was one of Hollywood’s most prolific and colorful directors. Born to a well-to-do Jewish family in Budapest, he ran away from home at age 17 to join a circus, then trained for an acting career at the Royal Academy for Theater and Art. He worked as a leading man at the Hungarian Theatre before directing stage plays and then films. His first cinematic effort was Az Utolsó Bohém (1912), which was also the first feature-length film ever made in Hungary. Curtiz soon moved on to the more progressive Danish film industry, returning to his homeland in 1914 and serving a year in the Austro-Hungarian infantry before resuming his film career. While it may be arguable that Curtiz was Hungary’s finest director, he was certainly its busiest, making no fewer than 14 films in 1917, most of which starred his first wife, actress Lucy Dorraine. When the Hungarian film industry was nationalized by the new communist government in 1919, Curtiz packed his bags and headed for Sweden… read more
Curtiz crafts fascinating cinematic poetry with normally droll farming politics. When juxtaposed against 1870s city stock-trading Oil men, de Haviland's "Sprat" comes to represent both the old (making a living by farming wheat) and the new (the newspaper, the lightbulb) when it becomes apparent she is a threat and not of the fashion. Her country yellow dress strangely comes to represents an alternative to Gold: Hope.