Cast, Director, Assistant director, Screenplay, Director of photography, Producer, Unit production manager
Königinhof an der Elbe, Böhmen (heute Dvur Králové nad Labem, Tschechien) Santa Monica, Kalifornien, USA

Biography

Karl Freund was born January 16, 1890, in Dvur Králové nad Laben, Bohemia. In 1901, he moved to Berlin with his parents Julius Freund and Marie, née Hermann. After graduating from school, he did an apprenticeship at a stamp factory. In 1906, he became a projectionist at Alfred Duskes' Kinematographen und Film-Fabriken GmbH. In 1907, he went to work for the Internationale Kinematographen- und Licht-Effekt-Gesellschaft.

It was probably here that he worked on his first short films as either a cinematographer or an assistant: "Das Lied von der Glocke" and one of the first short films about the "Captain of Köpenick". Both movies are mentioned in Luft’s portraits, which were based on interviews with Freund. However, they must be considered lost.

In 1908, he became a Pathé Frères newsreel cameraman. In addition, he worked as a technical assistant to Oskar Messter. In 1911, Freund went to Belgrad to set up a film laboratory for the brothers Savić. One year later, he worked on his first feature film, the melodrama "Jadra Majka" (Poor Mothers), which was probably directed by Boža Savić. The Austrian playboy and film pioneer Count Alexander ("Sascha") Kolowrat-Krakowský hired him as one of the first staff members of his Vienna-based film company Sascha-Film-Fabrik. In 1912, Freund worked on "Naturaufnahmen" as well as on some burlesque films starring Max Pallenberg: "Pampulik als Affe", "Pampulik kriegt ein Kind", and "Pampulik hat Hunger". The movies were a failure, however, and have never been screened.

In 1913, Freund returned to Berlin where Paul Davidson hired him as a cameraman for the Projektions-AG Union (PAGU). Here, he collaborated with Axel Graatkjaer on the "Asta Nielsen / Urban Gad series 1913/14".

Prior to this, Freund allegedly assisted Friedrich Weinmann on the films "Eine Venezianische Nacht" and "Die Insel der Seligen", which were directed by Max Reinhardt and shot in Venice.

 

In 1915, Freund joined the Austrian army but was released after only three months due to being overweight. From 1916, he worked for the Messter newsreel and photographed feature films produced by the Messter-Film GmbH and directed by Robert Wiene and Rudolf Biebrach, including the Henny Porten series 1916/1917.

From 1915 until 1918, Freund was married to the daughter of the music antiquarian Leo Lippmansohn and became the father of a daughter. While working on Richard Oswald's "Die Arche" ("The Arc"), Freund met the actress Gertrude Hoffmann whom he married on May 31, 1920.

In 1919, Karl Freund established his own company. With a daily output of 1500 meters, the Karl-Freund-Film GmbH provided film and photo operations, ranging from the development of photographic negatives to the distribution of "first-class operators", instruments, and movies. In spring 1921, Freund made his directing debut with "Der tote Gast".

Supported by his longtime assistant Robert Baberske, Freund worked as a cinematographer on large-scale movies produced by companies such as Decla-Bioscop, Gloria, and Oswald-Film. Some of the directors he has collaborated with include Ernst Lubitsch, Richard Oswald, Fritz Lang, Ludwig Berger, Paul Wegener, Paul Czinner, E. A. Dupont, and Carl Theodor Dreyer. In the latter's film "Michael" Freund also portrayed an arts dealer.

Freund, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, the set designers Robert Herlth and Walter Röhrig, as well as the screenwriter Carl Mayer, constituted the most important team of artists in German silent cinema. Most of their movies were produced by Erich Pommer.

In 1924, Mayer encouraged Freund to develop the "unleashed camera" – an engine-driven camera which was either fastened at his chest or to a bicycle. His innovative cinematography on E. A. Dupont's "Varieté" gained him fame in the USA.

By now regarded as the most significant German cameraman, Freund's colleagues elected him chairman of the "Klub der Kameraleute". Enjoying huge commercial success, Freund was able to afford a manor near Berlin, a personal butler, as well as several luxury cars. With his film laboratory he engaged in numerous experiments concerning new film techniques such as Blattnerophone (used in magnetic sound recording), Tri-Ergon (optical sound), or the special effect known as "Schüfftan process" (using miniature backgrounds with action foregrounds).

After he finished work on Lang's "Metropolis", Freund was appointed head of production at Fox-Europa Filmproduktion. Freund used this position to support young talents. Under his direction, Fox-Europa Filmproduktion produced such movies as Walther Ruttmann's "Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Großstadt" ("Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis", based on an idea by Carl Mayer) and Berthold Viertel's "K 13 513. Die Abenteuer eines Zehnmarkscheines" (in collaboration with Béla Balázs).

In 1928, Freund worked in London where he collaborated with Lupu Pick on "A Knight in London" (co-produced by the Blattner Picture Corporation, for which he also shot a series of short films). Furthermore, he established the company Movie Colour Ltd. and began experimenting with techniques for filming movies in color (Keller-Dorian cinematography). In 1929, Herbert Kalmus, head of Technicolor Corporation, invited him to come to the United States to continue with his experiments.

Alongside Eastman Kodak's John Capstaff, Freund pursued his color film experiments at Paramount's Astoria Studios in New York before moving to Hollywood.

Upon his arrival he was signed as a cinematographer by Carl Laemmle's Universal and went to work straight away, developing the final sequence of Lewis Milestone's Remarque adaptation "All Quiet on the Western Front". Other movies he shot for Universal include the horror classics "Dracula" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue" – both starring Bela Lugosi in the leading role – as well as the seminal zombie movie "The Mummy", starring Boris Karloff in the title role. With "The Mummy", Freund made his debut as a Hollywood director.

During the following two years, he directed a string of Universal movies from different genres. His credits include the musical comedy "Moonlight and Pretzels" (featuring "several catchy songs and a good cast"), the espionage movie "Madame Spy" (a remake of the German Universal production "Unter falscher Flagge"), as well as "The Countess of Monte Cristo" (the American version of Karl Hartl's Ufa film production from 1932).

Other films include the stage comedy adaptation "Uncertain Lady" (starring Edward Everett Horton), the tragic family story "I Give My Love" (written by Vicky Baum) and "The Gift of Gab", which featured a huge cast of radio stars and left the critic of the New York Times with the impression of having looked at "an endless and progressively soporific procession of one-reelers" (9/26/1934).

At the instigation of Irving Thalberg, Freund signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1935 and directed Peter Lorre's Hollywood debut "Mad Love". Ironically playing with elements from horror films and featuring expressionistic camera work, the remake of "Orlacs Hände" (Robert Wiene, 1924) was the last film that Freund directed.

Being bound to M-G-M due to a fixed-term contract, Freund went back to cinematography and worked on two movies starring Greta Garbo. In 1937, he received an Academy Award for his camera work on Irving Thalberg's last production, "The Good Earth".

In 1938 and 1939, Freund worked for different producers, eventually returning to M-G-M in late 1939. In 1947, he signed with Warner Bros., for which he shot his last feature film in 1950: Michael Curtiz's western "Bright Leaf", starring Gary Cooper and Lauren Bacall.

In order to expand his research on film and camera techniques, Freund established the Burbank-based Photo Research Corporation in 1944. In addition to developing technologies for the military, the company also generated devices such as the Norwich photometer, instruments used to measure color density as well as innovative television cameras.

In 1950, the successful TV celebrities Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball hired Freund as a supervising photographer for their production company Desilu. Alongside Arnaz, Freund developed the so-called "Multicam" system, which involved three simultaneously operating motion picture cameras. Although the system allowed for fast production, it also caused peculiar difficulties concerning the lighting of shows such as "I Love Lucy", "December Bride" and "Our Miss Brooks".

In 1960, Freund retreated to his farm in the San Fernando Valley. He devoted himself to his research projects, attended film symposiums all over the world, and hosted cinematography seminars in Hollywood.

Karl Freund died May 3, 1969, at the St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica.

FILMOGRAFIE

1949/1950
  • Director of photography
1947
  • Director of photography
1945
  • Director of photography
1944
  • Director of photography
1941
  • Director of photography
1940
  • Camera operator
1940
  • Director of photography
1939
  • Director of photography
1937
  • Director of photography
1936
  • Director of photography
1935
  • Director
1932
  • Director of photography
1928/1929
  • Director of photography
1928
  • Director of photography
1927
  • Screenplay
  • Assistant camera operator
  • Line producer
1927
  • Unit production manager
1927
  • Director of photography
1927
  • Unit production manager
1926/1927
  • Producer
1926
  • Creative supervisor
1926
  • Creative supervisor
1926
  • Creative supervisor
1926
  • Creative supervisor
1925/1926
  • Director of photography
1925
  • Director of photography
1925
  • Director of photography
1924
  • Director of photography
1923/1924
  • Cast
  • Director of photography
1923/1924
  • Director of photography
1923
  • Director of photography
1923
  • Director
  • Director of photography
1922
  • Assistant director (other)
  • Director of photography
1922
  • Director of photography
1922
  • Director of photography
1921/1922
  • Director of photography
1921/1922
  • Director of photography
1921
  • Director of photography
1921
  • Director of photography
1921
  • Director of photography
1921
  • Director of photography
1921
  • Director
  • Director of photography
  • Producer
1921
  • Director of photography
1920/1921
  • Director of photography
1920/1921
  • Director of photography
1920/1921
  • Director of photography
1920/1921
  • Director of photography
1920
  • Director of photography
1920
  • Director of photography
1920
  • Director of photography
1920
  • Director of photography
1920
  • Director of photography
1919/1920
  • Director of photography
1919/1920
  • Director of photography
1919/1920
  • Director of photography
1919/1920
  • Director of photography
1919
  • Director of photography
1919
  • Director of photography
1919
  • Director of photography
1919
  • Director of photography
1919
  • Director of photography
1919
  • Director of photography
1918/1919
  • Director of photography
1918
  • Director of photography
1918
  • Director of photography
1918
  • Director of photography
1918
  • Director of photography
1918
  • Director of photography
1918
  • Director of photography
1918
  • Director of photography
1918
  • Director of photography
1917/1918
  • Director of photography
1917
  • Director of photography
1917
  • Director of photography
1917
  • Director of photography
1917
  • Director of photography
1917
  • Director of photography
1917
  • Director of photography
1917
  • Director of photography
1917
  • Director of photography
1916/1917
  • Director of photography
1916/1917
  • Director of photography
1916
  • Director of photography
1916
  • Director of photography
1916
  • Director of photography
1916
  • Director of photography
1916
  • Director of photography
1916
  • Director of photography
1916
  • Director of photography
1916
  • Director of photography
1915/1916
  • Director of photography
1914/1915
  • Director of photography
1914/1915
  • Director of photography
1914/1915
  • Director of photography
1914/1915
  • Director of photography
1914/1915
  • Director of photography
1914-1916
  • Director of photography
1914
  • Director of photography
1914
  • Director of photography
1913/1914
  • Director of photography
1913/1914
  • Director of photography
1913/1914
  • Director of photography
1913
  • Director of photography
1913
  • Director of photography
1913
  • Director of photography
1913
  • Director of photography
1913
  • Assistant camera
1912
  • Director of photography
1912
  • Director of photography
1912
  • Director of photography
1907
  • Director of photography
1907
  • Director of photography