Joe May

Joe May

Additional Names: Fred Majo (Pseudonym); Julius Otto Mandl (Geburtsname)
Darsteller, Regie, Drehbuch, Bauten, Schnitt, Produzent, Produktionsleitung
*07.11.1880 Wien, Österreich; †29.04.1954 Los Angeles, Kalifornien, USA

Biography

The son of a wealthy industrialist family attended Leipzig's commercial college and studied at Landwirtschaftliche Hochschule Berlin. After his graduation, he lived the life of a playboy and spent his parents" fortune in several different jobs. In 1902, he married the operetta singer Hermine Pfleger and in the same year, their daughter Eva Maria was born who herself tried to start a career in the film business in 1917. From then on, Pfleger called herself Mia May and her husband took over her stage name as Joe May. In 1911, he made an introduction film for the revue "Rund um die Alster" in Hamburg, where Mia performed.

In 1912, May made his debut as a director and author with the love tragedy "In der Tiefe des Schachtes" for Continental-Filmkunst in Berlin. The film was also Mia May's movie debut. His next film, "Die geheimnisvolle Villa", was the first film of the series around the detective Stuart Webbs (played by Ernst Reicher). In 1915, May set up the production company May-Film in Berlin and finished "Das Gesetz der Mine", the start of the Joe Deebs detective series that mixed crime film elements with comedic elements. Besides, he produced a series that starred Mia May in melodramas and society pieces. Producer May partly used other directors for these films and promoted young, talented authors and directors like Thea von Harbou, Fritz Lang, and Ewald André Dupont. In 1918, the new production company Universum-Film AG (Ufa) took over May-Film GmbH but handed back their shares of May-Film to May one year later. However, Ufa still had a strong influence on May-Film that operated a film studio in Berlin-Weißensee and an outdoor area in Woltersdorf.


After the war, May started to shoot the pompous film "Veritas vincit". The success of this 3,5 hour long major production encouraged May to shoot the eight-part film "Die Herrin der Welt" ("Mistress of the World") that tried to persuade viewers with exotic locations, the appeal of artful decorations and alternating genres – from the melodrama to detective and travel movies and finally to parodic comedy. Again with Mia May in the leading role, he produced melodramas that were directed by Fritz Lang, Robert Dinesen, and Holger Madsen, among others. When American filmmakers set up Europäische Film Allianz GmbH (E.F.A.) as a reaction to Ufa in Berlin, May became one of their most important artists besides Ernst Lubitsch. For E.F.A., May finished the two-part film "Das indische Grabmal" ("The Indian Tomb") in 1921, based on a screenplay by Harbou and Lang. May's four-part society crime film "Tragödie der Liebe" ("The Tragedy of Love") also became an artistic success in 1922/23.

Because of the inflation, May restructured his company into the May-Film AG in 1923. After her daughter Eva's suicide, Mia May did not make another movie. "Der Farmer aus Texas" (1924/25), based on Georg Kaiser's play "Kolportage", was aimed at international markets but became a financial fiasco. May then directed several smaller films for other producers. Within Ufa's Erich Pommer-Produktion, May finished his last two silent films in 1928/29: "Heimkehr" ("Homecoming"), based on the Leonhard Frank's World War novella "Karl und Anna", and "Asphalt", a milestone of the Weimer cinema.

As Fred Majo, May together with Hans Székely wrote the screenplay to the first sound film by Pommer-Ufa-Produktion, "Ungarische Rhapsodie" ("Hungarian Rhapsody", 1928), directed by Hanns Schwarz, and produced Gustav Ucicky's sound film operetta "Der unsterbliche Lump" ("The Immortal Vagabond") and Kurt Bernhardt's "Die letzte Kompagnie" (Thirteen Men and a Girl), a film ballad about Prussia.

His first sound film as a director, "Ihre Majestät die Liebe" ("Her Majesty Love"), is considered to be one of the few milestones of German film comedies. The international entertainment movies "...und das ist die Hauptsache" ("That's All That Matters") und "Paris – Méditerranée" ("Companion Wanted") turned out to be the last productions by May-Film AG before it was liquidated in 1932.


After the premiere of Jan Kiepura's film "Ein Lied für Dich" ("A Song For You") in April 1933, May emigrated to Hollywood via London where he was commissioned by Pommer to direct the musical "Music in the Air". The film – the first Hollywood film with fundamental participation of emigrants from Nazi Germany – flopped at the box office, just like his court melodrama "Confession" (1937) for Warner Bros.

Since 1939, May focused on directing B movies for Universal. In 1943, he directed the anti-Nazi film "The Strange Death of Adolf Hitler" about a fictional murder conspiracy against the "Führer". The war comedy "Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Anymore" was Joe May's last film as a director.

In 1949, Joe and Mia May who had already run the restaurant "Piowati" in Berlin opened the restaurant "The Blue Danube" in Los Angeles but had to close already a few weeks later.

Filmography

1957/1958 Das gab's nur einmal
Participation
 
1943 The Strange Death of Adolf Hitler
based on
 
1940 Die unsichtbare Frau
based on
 
1939/1940 The Invisible Man Returns
Director, based on
 
1934 Music In the Air
Director
 
1933 Tout pour l'amour
Director
 
1932/1933 Ein Lied für Dich
Director
 
1932 Voyage de noces
Creative supervisor
 
1932 Hochzeitsreise zu Dritt
Creative supervisor
 
1931/1932 Zwei in einem Auto
Director, Producer, Unit production manager
 
1931 ...und das ist die Hauptsache
Director, Producer, Unit production manager
 
1930/1931 Ihre Majestät die Liebe
Director, Producer, Unit production manager
 
1930 Son altesse l'amour
Creative supervisor, Co-Producer
 
1929/1930 Die letzte Kompagnie
Producer
 
1929/1930 Der unsterbliche Lump
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1928/1929 Asphalt
Director, Screenplay
 
1928 Ungarische Rhapsodie
Screenplay
 
1928 Heimkehr
Director, Screenplay, Editing
 
1927/1928 Die Durchgängerin
Producer, Unit production manager
 
1926 Staatsanwalt Jordan
Producer
 
1926 Derby. Ein Ausschnitt aus der Welt des Trabersports
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1926 Dagfin
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1924/1925 Der Farmer aus Texas
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1924 Die Liebesbriefe der Baronin von S...
Producer
 
1923/1924 Der geheime Agent
Producer
 
1922/1923 Tragödie der Liebe. Teil 4
Director, Producer
 
1922/1923 Tragödie der Liebe. Teil 3
Director, Producer
 
1922/1923 Tragödie der Liebe. Teil 2
Director, Producer
 
1922/1923 Tragödie der Liebe. Teil 1
Director, Producer
 
1922/1923 Tragödie der Liebe
Director, Producer
 
1921/1922 Scheine des Todes
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1921 Das indische Grabmal, Teil 2 - Der Tiger von Eschnapur
Director, Producer
 
1921 Das indische Grabmal (2 Teile)
Director, Producer
 
1921 Das indische Grabmal, Teil 1 - Die Sendung des Yoghi
Director, Producer
 
1921 Am Webstuhl der Zeit. Dramatisches Zeitbild aus schweren Tagen in 6 Teilen
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1921 Tobias Buntschuh
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1921 Die Erbin von Tordis
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1921 Ilona
Producer
 
1920/1921 Der Leidensweg der Inge Krafft
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1920/1921 Junge Mama. 5 lustige Akte
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1920-1921 Die Frauen vom Gnadenstein
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1920 Das wandernde Bild
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1920 Die Schuld der Lavinia Morland
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1920 Die Legende von der heiligen Simplicia
Director, Producer
 
1919/1920 Die Herrin der Welt, Teil 8 - Die Rache der Maud Fergusson
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1919/1920 Die Herrin der Welt, Teil 7 - Die Wohltäterin der Menschheit
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1919/1920 Die Herrin der Welt, Teil 6 - Die Frau mit den Milliarden
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1919/1920 Die Herrin der Welt, Teil 5 - Ophir, die Stadt der Vergangenheit
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1919/1920 Der Amönenhof
Producer
 
1919 Die Herrin der Welt, Teil 4 - König Makombe
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1919 Die Herrin der Welt, Teil 3 - Der Rabbi von Kuan-Fu
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1919 Die Herrin der Welt, Teil 2 - Die Geschichte der Maud Gregaards
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1919 Die Herrin der Welt, Teil 1 - Die Freundin des gelben Mannes
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1919 Fräulein Zahnarzt
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1919 Der Henker von Sankt Marien
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1918/1919 Der blaue Drachen
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1918/1919 Der Muff
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1918/1919 Das Auge des Götzen
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1918/1919 Die Krone von Palma
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1918/1919 Veritas Vincit
Director, Story, Producer
 
1918/1919 Die närrische Fabrik
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1918 Diplomaten
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1918 Die Bettelgräfin
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1918 Die Ratte
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1918 Ihr großes Geheimnis
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1918 Das rollende Hotel
Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1918 Fünf Minuten zu spät
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1918 Das Opfer
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1918 Wogen des Schicksals
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1918 Die platonische Ehe
Screenplay, Producer
 
1918 Das Geheimnis der Cecilienhütte
Creative supervisor
 
1917/1918 Die Kaukasierin
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1917/1918 Der lebendige Tote
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1917/1918 Sein bester Freund
Creative supervisor, Screenplay, Producer
 
1917 Das Klima von Vancourt
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1917 Ein Lichtstrahl im Dunkel
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1917 Krähen fliegen um den Turm
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1917 Der schwarze Chauffeur
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1917 Der Onyxknopf
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1917 Hilde Warren und der Tod
Director, Producer
 
1917 Ehre
Director, Producer
 
1917 Die Hochzeit im Excentric-Club
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1917 Die Liebe der Hetty Raymond
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1916/1917 Die Silhouette des Teufels
Screenplay, Producer
 
1916/1917 Die leere Wasserflasche
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1916 Arme Eva Maria
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1916 Das rätselhafte Inserat
Screenplay, Producer
 
1916 Wie ich Detektiv wurde
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1916 Ein einsam Grab
Screenplay, Production design, Producer
 
1916 Der Floh-Zirkus
Producer
 
1916 Ein Blatt Papier
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1916 Nebel und Sonne
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1916 Des Vaters letzter Wille
Director, Producer
 
1916 Die Stieftöchter
Producer
 
1915/1916 Die Gespensteruhr
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1915/1916 Die Sünde der Helga Arndt
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1915 Der Geheimsekretär
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1915 Sein schwierigster Fall
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1915 Charly, der Wunderaffe
Director, Screenplay
 
1915 Violette Rosen
Director
 
1915 Das Gesetz der Mine
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1915 Der ewige Friede
Screenplay
 
1915 In der Nacht...
Screenplay, Producer
 
1914 Das Panzergewölbe
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1914 Der Spuk im Hause des Professors
Director
 
1914 Der Mann im Keller
Director
 
1914 Der geheimnisvolle Nachtschatten
Unit production manager
 
1913/1914 Die geheimnisvolle Villa
Director
 
1913/1914 Das Fischermädchen von Manholm
Director, Screenplay
 
1913 Die Mona Lisa von Groß-Kleindorf
Director, Unit production manager
 
1913 Das verschleierte Bild von Groß-Kleindorf
Director, Unit production manager
 
1913 Der junge Graf
Director, Screenplay
 
1913 Heimat und Fremde
Director, Screenplay
 
1913 Entsagungen
Director
 
1913 Die unheilbringende Perle
Director, Screenplay, Unit production manager
 
1913 Verhängnis
Unit production manager
 
1913 Geschwister
Unit production manager
 
1913 Das Werk
Unit production manager
 
1912 Iwo der Bucklige. 1. EP: Vorgluten des Balkankrieges
Cast, Director
 
1912 Vorgluten des Balkanbrandes
Director, Screenplay
 
1912 In der Tiefe des Schachtes
Director, Screenplay
 
1911 Die Fahrt nach Hamburg
Director
 

Overview

Literature

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