Born July 15, 1893, in Ludwigshafen. American motion picture director; German by birth.
Dieterle was an actor in M. Reinhardt’s theater (Berlin). In 1913 he made his motion-picture debut. During 1923–29 he shot insignificant feature films in Germany; in 1930 he moved to Hollywood, where he produced melodramas and fictional historical films. In the late 1930’s he produced a series of historical biographies that portrayed progressive men who overcame fanaticism, ignorance, and narrow-mindedness in their struggle for scientific and social progress. These films— The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), and Juarez (1939)—were characterized by the contemporary ring of the deliberate parallels between reactionary forces of the 19th and 20th centuries and by an antifascist tendency. Democratic views were also displayed both in his treatment of the war in Spain in Blockade (1938) and in his film The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939, based on the novel by V. Hugo). During the 1950’s, Dieterle produced commercial films in Hollywood, Italy, and the Federal Republic of Germany.