Mayer, Carl

FILM WRITER (AUSTRIA)
BORN 20 Nov 1894, Graz - DIED 1 Jul 1944, London
GRAVE LOCATION London: Highgate Cemetery East, Swain's Lane, Highgate

Carl Meyer was the son of a stock speculator who committed suicide. He had to leave school at 15 to work as a secretary. Mayer moved away from Graz to Innsbruck and then Vienna, where he worked as a dramatist. Meanwhile, the events of the First World War turned him into a pacifist.

In 1917 he went to Berlin, where he worked at the small Residenztheater. He befriended Gilda Langer, the leading actress of the theatre and probably fell in love with her. He was tired of his job at the theatre when he wrote the script for "Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari" (1920) together with Hans Janowitz. It is thought that Gilda Langer was supposed to star in the movie, but she suddenly engaged herself with director Paul Czinner and then unexpectedly early in 1920. Mayer took care of her tombstone and notes from Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" were engraved in it (this was found out by Olaf Brill who rediscovered the tombstone in 1995).

"Das Kabinett" made Mayer famous and soon he was a leading film writer, working with the best directors in Germany. He worked with F.W. Murnau on "Der Letzte Man" (1924, known as "The Last Laugh" in the USA) and he also wrote the scenario for Murnau's "Sunrise" (1927). But he was a perfectionist who worked slowly and this frequently resulted in conflicts or financial trouble.

Beeing a Jew as well as a pacifist, he had to flee Germany in 1933 after the nazi's came to power. He went to England, where he worked as an adviser to the British film industry. In London he became friends with director Paul Rotha.

In 1942 he was diagnosed with cancer. Near the end of his life he wanted to make a documentary on London, but due to anti German sentiments he was unable to find a producer. His illness was maltreated and he died in 1944, poor and almost forgotten. All he left was 23 pounds and two books. He was buried at Highgate Cemetery and his epitaph reads 'Pioneer in the art of the cinema. Erected by his friends and fellow workers.' The city of Graz named a prize after him.

Related persons
• was a friend of Langer, Gilda
• cooperated with Murnau, Friedrich Wilhelm

Sources
Internet Movie Database
filmhistoriker.de
ESSL MUSEUM - Kunst der Gegenwart Startseite

Images

The grave of Carl Mayer at Highgate Cemetery (East), London.
Picture by Androom (18 Mar 2006)

 

The grave of Carl Mayer at Highgate Cemetery (East), London.
Picture by Androom (18 Mar 2006)

 

The grave of Carl Mayer at Highgate Cemetery (East), London.
Picture by Androom (18 Mar 2006)

 


Mayerhofer, Elfie

Published: 1 Jan 2006
Last update: 17 Dec 2006