When I covered The Spiral Staircase (1946, dir. Robert Siodmak) a few days ago, it dawned on me just how versatile Robert Siodmak was. In fact, he was so prolific, he may have overshadowed the success of his younger brother Curt Siodmak, the subject of this year’s Classic Horror Month’s SCREENPLAY BY.
Born in Germany in 1902, Curt Siodmak earned a PhD in Mathematics, before becoming a reporter and writer. In 1927, he was hired as an extra on Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) and thus was able to get a story on Lang and his film. In 1929, he invested his royalties from his books in the silent fim People on Sunday (1930), a docu-style chronicle about the lives of four Berliners on a Sunday. The film was – get ready – co-directed by his brother Robert, Edgar G. Ulmer and Fred Zinnemann, and written by himself and Billy Wilder – I’d have fainted at the mere sight of all that talent in one room!
In 1932, Siodmak wrote the novel F. P. 1 Doesn’t Answer, later adapted into a film, and in 1937 he moved to Hollywood. His most profilic period was arguably the 1940s, during which he wrote the classic science fiction novel Donovan’s Brain, as well as the screenpays for The Invisible Man Returns (1940, dir. Joe May), The Wolf Man (1941, dir. George Waggner), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943, dir. Roy William Neill), I Walked with a Zombie (1943, dir. Jacques Tourneur) and Son of Dracula (1943, dir. Robert Siodmak), among others.
He continued to write throughout the following decades, and in 1998 he won the Berlinale Camera at the Berlin International Film Festival, before passing away in 2000 at the age of 98.