Josef von Sternberg

QUESTION:  Which of the following Austrian immigrants never directed a film in the English language?
A). Erich von Stroheim
B). Michael Haneke
C). Alexander Kolowrat
D). Billy Wilder
ANSWER BELOW

Immigrants make up the United States.  Without the act of immigration, the population of this great nation would include quite a lot of squirrels and perhaps not much else. George Washington's and Abraham Lincoln's lineages trace to England. Barack Obama's father was from Kenya, and Donald Trump's grandfather was German born, and changed his name from Drumpf!  In the movie business, immigration is much more common than even politics, and today's blog is going to honor a great Austrian-American film director.  Jonas Sternberg was born in 1894 in Vienna, to a Jewish soldier. Looking for work, Jonah's dad moved to the United States, and brought the rest of the family. It didn't go so well, though, so they moved back to Vienna. Then back again to the United States. As a boy, Jonah dropped out of high school to work with his dad at a lace warehouse, before moving into a menial job at a film studio repairing movie prints. The studio was the World Film Company of Fort Lee, New Jersey (loyal blog readers might remember that name from Friday's tale of Evelyn Brent). 

Truly starting at the bottom in movies, the young Sternberg added a 'von' to his name, implying nobility status and changed his first name to Josef.  He worked his way up at the studio with the help of interested mentors. He made his directorial debut in 1925 with a film called The Salvation Hunters (amazingly, the film still exists!). Within a few years, he had made some tremendously popular films, including 1927's Underworld and the next year's The Last Command, but it wasn't long before the jobs slowed down. So he went to Germany and directed the up-and-coming Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel, which would prove highly influential the world over. Sternberg and Dietrich worked together on six films. He made her a star, and he continued making movies into the 1950's, with varying success. By the end of the '50's, he could no longer get funding and he took a job teaching film at UCLA, where his classes impacted young musicians Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, who accredited Sternberg with heavily influencing the music of their band The Doors. He died in 1969 at the age of 75.

ANSWER:  C). Alexander Kolowrat