Portrait of Anatole Litvak.Anatole Litvak (Russian: Анато́ль Литва́к; May 21, 1902 – December 15, 1974) was a Ukrainian-born filmmaker who wrote, directed, and produced films in various countries and languages. He was best known as the Academy Award nominated director of The Battle of Russia (1943) and The Snake Pit (1948).
Born Mikhail Anatol Litvak in Kiev, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire, Litvak grew up in a Lithuanian Jewish family. As a teenager, he worked at a theater in St. Petersburg and took acting lessons at the state drama school. Litvak worked with Leningrad's Nordkino Studios where he was assistant director for nine silent films. For political and ideological reasons, and especially because Russian theaters were nationalized in the 1920s, he fled Russia for Berlin in 1925.
In Germany, Litvak made his first few films at the beginning of the 1930s before the rise of the Nasis. He later fled to France prior to the Nasi invasions of World War II.According to film historian Ronald Bowers, Litvak became skilled in using location shooting and realistic documentary effects as early as the 1930s. He also became known in the industry for emphasizing sound effects over dialogue in sound films as well as using camera tracking shots and pans. As a result of having made Paris his home after fleeing Germany, the city would later become his favored locale for shooting films; thirteen of his thirty-seven films were set in Paris, including 1936's Mayerling. Max Ophüls, who worked as Litvak's assistant in France, would later become a recognized director.Mayerling, which starred Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer, is credited with establishing Litvak's international reputation as a producer and director, with the film widely praised by critics  Some reviewers called it "one of the most compelling love stories the cinema has produced," and "a romantic tragedy of the highest order." American writer Lincoln Kirstein claimed the film became "a kind of standard for the romantic film in an historical setting." In describing Litvak's cinematography style in the film, critic Jack Edmund Nolan writes that it is "replete with the camera trackings, pans and swoops, techniques which later became the trademark of Max Ophuls."
In 1937, Litvak became the third husband of American actress Miriam Hopkins; their short-lived marriage ended in divorce in 1939. His second marriage was in 1955 to the model Sophie Steur. They remained married until his death.Anatole Litvak died in 1974 in the Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine.For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Litvak has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6633 Hollywood Blvd.
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