Star Archive

Bernard Vorhaus (1904 - 2000)

Bernard Vorhaus wasn't much appreciated when he was working here, and even less appreciated when he worked in America; but he stands as proof-positive that no matter how low the budget or how bad the script, a good director can make a difference.

Born in New York, he was educated in Harvard and was destined for the family law firm. However, Vorhaus' elder sister worked in the East coast film studios as a scenario writer, and he developed the movie bug from an early age. 

By the mid-twenties he was working steadily as a writer in Hollywood. He wanted to be a director and he scraped together enough money to fund a short, Sunlight, which he co-directed. It was well-received, but Vorhaus couldn't get it sold to distributors. He decided to blow the last of his money on a trip to England.

He fell in love with the country and found writing work in the film industry which was undergoing a production boom. He managed to fund two productions to direct before joining Twickenham Studios. There he found himself at the heart of the quota-quickie system. 

These movies were produced quickly for under 1 a foot of film to a maximum of 6000 ft (approx 66 mins. running time). Within these constraints Vorhaus managed to create little miracles of inventiveness. His work covered thrillers, musicals and melodramas. The jewel in this collection is The Last Journey. It's a speedy tale of a mad train driver and his runaway train. Possibly the fastest movie of the 30s, it's more fun than any Hollywood B-movie of the period. 

By the time Twickenham collapsed, Vorhaus had already been head-hunted by Hollywood. Sadly, the bit of Hollywood he ended up in was Republic Pictures. It proved to be even harder to be creative at Republic than at Twickenham. 

During this period he got involved in Hollywood's Anti-Nazi League. This "premature anti-Fascism" got him mentioned in the HUAC and he was blacklisted in 1951. Before this happened he moved to Europe where he made a couple of minor films.

He returned to England and set up business in flat conversions. His films were rediscovered in the 80s. He died in November and the NFT are mounting a tribute to his work in March. 

(Details taken from Geoff Brown's essay Money For Speed in The Unknown 1930s

Filmography (features only)

1933 On Thin Ice
1933 Money for Speed
1933 The Ghost Camera
1933 Crime on the Hill
1933 The Broken Melody
1934 Night Club Queen
1934 Blind Justice
1934 Ten Minute Alibi
1934 Street Song
1935 The Last Journey
1935 Dark World
1936 Dusty Ermine
1936 Cotton Queen
1938 King of the Newsboys (U.S.)
1938 Tenth Avenue (U.S.)
1939 Fisherman's Wharf (U.S.)
1939 Way Down South (U.S.)
1939 Meet Dr Christian (U.S.)
1940 The Courageous Dr Christian (U.S.)
1940 Three Faces West (U.S.)
1941 Lady from Louisiana (U.S.)
1941 Angels with Broken Wings (U.S.)
1941 Hurricane Smith (U.S.)
1941 Mr District Attorney in the Carter Case (U.S.)
1942 Affairs of Jimmy Valentine (U.S.)
1942 Ice-Capades Revue (U.S.)
1947 Winter Wonderland (U.S.)
1947 Bury Me Dead (U.S.)
1948 The Spiritualist (U.S.)
1950 So Young So Bad (U.S.)
1950 Pardon My French (Fr.)
1952 Luxury Girls (It.)

 Bernard Vorhaus at Amazon UK

 Bernard Vorhaus at Amazon US