A businessman and operetta director, Joe May, one of the founders of the German cinema, started directing films in 1911 and started his own production company a few years later. He gave famous German director Fritz Lang his start in films, employing him as a screenwriter in his early films. After the Nazi takeover, May fled to the United States where he directed several excellent action films for Universal, but never could quite break into the ranks of the "A" picture directors. May never bothered to completely learn the English language and was never popular with his casts and crews due to his dictatorial nature. He ended his career by directing his last film for Monogram in 1944 at the age of 64. He later briefly owned a restaurant in Hollywood that failed because, in keeping with his Teutonic roots, told customers what they should order.
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