Dir. Edgar G. Ulmer (87min, USA, 1940)
Yiddish // Restored and with new English subtitles by The National Center for Jewish Film

Sponsored by the Arthur “The Street Singer” Tracy endowment fund honoring the memory and musical legacy of Arthur Tracy.

Leo Fuchs, known on Second Avenue as “the Yiddish Fred Astaire,” plays an elegant and eligible bachelor who can never seem to close the marriage deal. An art deco romantic comedy about male ambivalence and Jewish assimilation, Edgar G. Ulmer’s last Yiddish movie was also his most modern. With its urbane, neurotic hero, American Matchmaker heralds the films of Woody Allen.

Co-Sponsored by the Esther Saks Abelman Yiddish Culture Fund

Sunday, February 22, 12:30 pm
Goethe Institut Washington
814 Seventh Street NW
Washington, DC


Sunday, March 1, 1:00 pm
JCC of Greater Washington (Rockville)
6125 Montrose Road
Rockville, MD

Speaker & Events
National Center for Jewish Film Co-Director Lisa Rivo will introduce the film on Sunday, February 22 only.
Edgar-GOne of the most versatile and resourceful filmmakers in movie history, Edgar George Ulmer (1900-1972), worked in a bewildering variety of genres, countries, and languages. Ulmer was born in what is now the Czech republic and raised in imperial Vienna; originally a student of architecture, he broke into the film industry as a teenager and, serving mainly as a set designer, shuttled back and forth between Berlin and Hollywood through the early ‘30s. After directing a highly successful horror film, The Black Cat, for Universal in 1934, Ulmer relocated to New York City where for five years he directed an assortment of independent “ethnic” features—including a quartet of Yiddish-language talkies that have since become classics. (Jewish, but not Yiddish-speaking, Ulmer worked with many of the leading actors and writers of New York’s Yiddish theater.)

In 1941, Ulmer returned to Hollywood. There, among many other low-budget genre films, he made the quintessential film noir, Detour in 1945; his last movies were produced in Europe. An underground auteur, largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Ulmer has since taken his place among cinema’s legendary figures—an inspiration for the French new wave and a precursor of the American independent film movement, as well as an innovative and unique stylist in his own right. -J. Hoberman

“As in the best Yiddish theater traditions, there is a successful combination of humor and schmaltz with the sentimentality at the end well-earned by the comic insights along the way… None is more charming than American Matchmaker. The title says it all – a clash between the urbane, slick manners of the new country and the old, busybody communal ways of the shtetl.”Films, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1983