Robert Florey


 Born September 14th  1900  Paris

Died  May 16th               1979 Santa Monica,  California


Robert Florey was a French-American director, screenwriter, film journalist and occasional actor.

Florey was born and grew up in Paris near the studio of George Melies, and as a young man served as assistant to Louis Feuillade. As a film journalist he moved to the US in September 1921. In his role as a director, Florey’s most productive years were the 1930’s and 1940’s where he worked  on relatively low-budget productions for Paramount and Warner Brothers. He is best known for his  avant-garde expressionist style, which was most evident in his early career, but also for  his work as a fast, reliable studio-system director when called in to finish troubled projects, such as 1939’s Hotel Imperial.

During a long career he directed over 50 movies. His most popular film some think was the first Marx Brothers feature The Cocoanuts of 1929, but his 1932 foray into Universal-style horror, namely Murders in the Rue Morgue is regarded by horror fans as his finest work. In the 1920’s he worked as a Hollywood journalist,  as assistant director to Josef von Sternberg, shooting newsreel footage in New York. He made his feature directing debut in 1926.

In the late 1920s he produced two experimental (and very inexpensive) short films, The Life and Death of 9413 : a Hollywood Extra (1928) co-directed with Slavko Vorkapich, and Skyscraper Symphony the following year.

Florey made a significant, but uncredited contribution to the script of the 1931 version of Frankenstein. He was to be given the job of directing Frankenstein and filmed a screen test with Bela Lugosi playing the monster, but Universal Pictures assigned him and Lugosi to Murders in the Rue Morgue instead. Florey, with the help of cinematographer Karl Freund and elaborate sets representing 19th century Paris, made Murders into an American version of German expressionist films such as Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). His work on Murders in the Rue Morgue rather than Frankenstein was our gain.

For some , Florey’s finest works were in  these modest low-budget productions and he arguably hit his  peak at Paramount in the late 30s with Hollywood Boulevard (1936), King of Gamblers (1937), and Dangerous to Know (1938). For horror fans it was Rue Morgue.

He was also associate director to Charlie Chaplin on Chaplin’s film Monsieur Verdoux (1947).

With the arrival of television, Florey was one of the first seasoned feature directors to turn to this mode. He worked here for over 10 years and produced shows for The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Twilight Zone. All great series renowned for their quality and now of course cult series.  He also wrote a number of books, including Pola Negri (1927) and Charlie Chaplin (1927), Hollywood d’hier et d’aujord’hui (1948), La Lanterne magique (1966), and Hollywood annee zero (1972).

In 1950, Florey was made a knight in the French Légion d’honneur. In 2006, as his 1937 film Daughter of Shanghai was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, Florey was called “widely acclaimed as the best director working in major studio B-films” As a fan of the B movie I consider this to be a worthy tribute.

Film History

1964 The Outer Limits (TV Series) – 1 episode

1959-1964 Twilight Zone (TV Series) – 3 episodes

1962-1963 Going My Way (TV Series) – 4 episodes

1962 The Dick Powell Theatre (TV Series) – 1 episode

1961-1962 Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV Series) – 5 episodes

1962 Alcoa Premiere (TV Series) – 1 episode

1962 Thriller (TV Series)- 1 episode

1960-1962 Adventures in Paradise (TV Series) – 8 episodes

1960-1961 The Barbara Stanwyck Show (TV Series) – 3 episodes

1961 Hong Kong (TV Series) – 1 episode

1960 Michael Shayne (TV Series)   2 episodes

1960 Checkmate (TV Series) – 1 episode

1958-1960 The Texan (TV Series)  – 7 episodes

1959-1960 Markham (TV Series)  – 9 episodes

1960 The Untouchables (TV Series) – 1 episode

1956-1960 Zane Grey Theater (TV Series) – 6 episodes

1959 Lock Up (TV Series) –  1 episode- Change of Heart (1959)

1959 The David Niven Show (TV Series) – 1 episode

1959 The Rough Riders (TV Series) – 1 episode

1959 Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse (TV Series) –  1  episode

1959 Black Saddle (TV Series) – 1 episode

1958 Alcoa Theatre (TV Series) – 12 episodes

1958 Goodyear Theatre (TV Series) – 4 episodes

1957 Wagon Train (TV Series) – 2 episodes

1957 M Squad (TV Series) – 1 episode

1952-1957 Schlitz Playhouse (TV Series) – 31 episodes

1956-1957 Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (TV Series) – 2 episodes

1956 Studio 57 (TV Series) – 1 episode

1956 Telephone Time (TV Series) – 1 episode

1956 Wire Service (TV Series) – 1 episode

1956 Ethel Barrymore Theater (TV Series) – 1 episode

1952-1956 Four Star Theatre (TV Series) – 38 episodes

1955 The Star and the Story (TV Series) – 2 episodes

1954 Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (TV Series) – 2 episodes

1953-1954 The Loretta Young Show (TV Series) – 36 episodes

1953 Your Favorite Story (TV Series) – 2 episodes

1951 The Walt Disney Christmas Show (TV Movie)

1951 Adventures of Captain Fabian (uncredited)

1951 Operation Wonderland (Documentary short) (uncredited)

1950 Charlie’s Haunt

1950 One Hour in Wonderland (TV Special)

1950 Johnny One-Eye

1950 The Gangster We Made

1949 The Crooked Way

1949 Outpost in Morocco

1948 Rogues’ Regiment

1948 Tarzan and the Mermaids

1946 The Beast with Five Fingers

1945 San Antonio (uncredited)

1945 Danger Signal

1945 God Is My Co-Pilot

1944 Man from Frisco

1944 The Last Gangster

1943 The Desert Song

1942 Lady Gangster (as Florian Roberts)

1941 Dangerously They Live

1941 Two in a Taxi

1941 Meet Boston Blackie

1941 Behind the Mask

1940 Women Without Names

1940 Parole Fixer

1939 Death of a Champion

1939 The Magnificent Fraud

1939 Hotel Imperial

1939 Disbarred

1938 King of the Alcatraz

1938 Dangerous to Know

1937 Daughter of the Orient

1937 This Way Please

1937 Mountain Music

1937 King of Gamblers

1937 Outcast

1936 Hollywood Boulevard

1936 Till We Meet Again

1936 The Preview Murder Mystery

1935 Ship Cafe

1935 The Payoff

1935 Don’t Bet on Blondes

1935 Going Highbrow

1935 Casino de Paree (uncredited)

1935 The Florentine Dagger

1935 The Woman in Red

1934 I Am a Thief

1934 I Sell Anything

1934 Hit Me Again

1934 Registered Nurse

1934 Bedside

1933 The House on 56th Street

1933 Ex-Lady

1933 Girl Missing

1932 50-50

1932 Those We Love

1932 The Man Called Back

1932 Murders in the Rue Morgue

1931 Black and White (co-director)

1930 Love Songs

1930 El amor solfeando (uncredited)

1930 The Road Is Fine

1929 Skyscraper Symphony (Short documentary) (uncredited)

1929 Battle of Paris

1929/I Night Club (Short)

1929 The Cocoanuts

1929 The Hole in the Wall

1929 Pusher-in-the-Face (Short)

1928 Hello New York!

1928 The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra (Short)

1927 Johann the Coffinmaker (Short)

1927 The Love of Zero (Short)

1927 Face Value

1927 The Romantic Age

1927 One Hour of Love