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Max Ophuels

(1902 - 1957)

OPHUELS, MAX (1902–1957), film director. He was born in Saarbruecken, Germany, as Max Oppenheimer. He directed plays in many German theaters and, starting in 1925, worked at the Vienna Burgtheater. Antisemitic letters made the head of the Viennese theater fire him, and in 1926 he moved back to Frankfurt am Main together with his wife, the actress Hilde Wall. There he directed and wrote plays and, after 1931, also made films. Ophuels became an antifascist before the Nazi rise to power, and his engagement grew after 1933. In 1935 the business of the Oppenheimer family in Saarbruecken was "aryanized," and the family emigrated to Paris. Ophuels received French citizenship in 1938 and worked in Paris as a filmmaker and writer of radio plays. After the occupation of France in 1940 Ophuels escaped to unoccupied France and later to the United States. In 1941 he settled in Los Angeles where he continued to direct movies in Hollywood. He returned to Germany in 1949, where he stayed for the rest of his life. Among his works are the early successes Liebelei (1933) and La Signora di Tutti (1934). Other films were Letter from an Unknown Woman (Hollywood, 1948), the French La Ronde (1950), and The Earrings of Madame de… (1953). His expressionist film Lola Montez (1955) aroused controversy among film critics in the United States after the showing of its complete version there in 1969.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: H.G. Asper, in: Max Ophuels (1989), 73–108; L. Bacher, Max Ophuels in the Hollywood Studios (1996); H.G. Asper, Max Ophuels: Eine Biographie (1998).

[Noam Zadoff (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.