This article's lead section may be too short to adequately summarize the key points.(August 2015)
Joseph Otto Mandl
January 7, 1880
|Died||April 29, 1954 73) (aged|
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Film director, producer|
Joe May (born Joseph Otto Mandl; 7 November 1880 – 29 April 1954) was an Austrian film director and film producer and one of the pioneers of German cinema. 
After studying in Berlin and a variety of odd jobs, he began his career as a stage director of operettas in Hamburg. In 1902 he had married the actress Mia May (born Hermine Pfleger) and took his stage name from hers.
As Joe May, he made ten films for Continental-Kunstfilm GmbH in Berlin; the first, In der Tiefe des Schachtes (In the Depths of the Pit) was released in November 1912, followed by Vorglühen des Balkanbrandes (The Balkan Traitors) (starring Ernst Reicher). 
In the spring of 1914 May directed the first three of the 'Stuart Webbs' films, a popular series in which Reicher played a gentleman detective modelled on Sherlock Holmes: Die geheimnisvolle Villa (The Black Triangle); Der Mann im Keller (The Man in the Cellar); and Der Spuk im Haus des Professors (The Spook in the Professor's House). 
May and Reicher fell out with the managers of Continental over the 'Stuart Webbs' films, and left Continental together.  Having formed their own production company, Stuart Webbs-Film GmbH, they made the next in the 'Stuart Webbs' series, Das Panzergewölbe ( The Armoured Vault ) in June 1914, using Continental-Kunstfilm's new studios at 9 Franz Joseph-Strasse, Weissensee Studios, for the filming.
When the First World War broke out in August 1914, May had to return to his native Vienna to do his military service, and on his return to Berlin he and Reicher split up.  May's last film at Continental was Der geheimnisvolle Nachtschatten (The Secret Shadows of Night) which he produced in December 1914, with Harry Piel directing. Reicher then leased the studio at 9 Franz Joseph-Strasse from Continental, and continued to make the 'Stuart Webbs' films with his Reicher & Reicher company until 1918.
In 1915 he founded his own film production company, May-Film GmbH  and began to produce a successful series of crime films, whose detective hero went by the name of Joe Deebs. Some of these were directed by May himself, others by Harry Piel; Max Landa and later Harry Liedtke played the title role. In 1917 May gave Fritz Lang one of his earliest breaks in the film industry as screenwriter on the film Die Hochzeit im Excentricclub (Wedding in the Eccentric Club) and Lang also worked on other May films at this time.
After the end of World War I May-Film leased the double glasshouse studios at 5–7 Franz Joseph-Strasse (belonging to Deutsche Vitascope) in 1919 for 600,000 marks, which became known as the May-Atelier.   He also built a film studio in Woltersdorf a village northeast of Berlin in Brandenburg. There he went on to produce and direct a series of popular and exotic adventure films, among them the monumental three-hour-long Veritas vincit (1919), the eight-part series Die Herrin der Welt (The Mistress of the World) (1919–20) as well as the two-part adventure film Das indische Grabmal (The Indian Tomb) (1921) starring Conrad Veidt and written by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou.
These featured Mia May in leading roles and she regularly worked under her husband's direction in a number of melodramas like Tragedy of Love (1922/23) co-starring Emil Jannings. Their teenage daughter Eva May (born 1902 in Vienna) tried to build her own career as an actress but committed suicide in 1924 after the end of her third marriage with the film directors Manfred Liebenau, Lothar Mendes and Manfred Noa.
Towards the end of the 1920s, May moved away from adventure films and produced more realist works, notable among them the World War I love-triangle Heimkehr (The Return Home) (1928) and the contemporary thriller Asphalt (1929). During the early years of sound film he worked as a producer for Erich Pommer at Ufa then for different production companies in Germany, Austria and France directing a series of multilingual versions in German and French among those is Ihre Majestät die Liebe / Son altesse l'amour (1930) one of the best musical comedies of the Weimar Cinema.
In 1933 he and Mia, along with many others in the German film industry, emigrated to the United States where he was able to establish himself as director, mainly for Universal Pictures, although his work was mainly on what would be regarded as B movies.
His most notable works of this period were the Kay Francis vehicle Confession , a remake of the 1935 German film Mazurka , The House of the Seven Gables and The Invisible Man Returns (1940). He also worked with the Dead End Kids during this period, helming two films, You're Not So Tough (1940) and Hit the Road (1941), despite constant friction with his juvenile delinquent cast members.
Confession is especially interesting, in that May's film is an exact copy of German director Willi Forst's Mazurka , right down to the last fade and dissolve, with every shot timed to run exactly the same length, and using the same music as Forst's original film.
May's last film was the wartime comedy featuring Robert Mitchum in a small role, Johnny Doesn't Live Here Any More , made in 1944 by the King Brothers and released through Monogram Pictures.
After retiring as a director, May and his wife opened the Blue Danube Restaurant in Los Angeles which was not a successful business venture. He died on April 29, 1954, after a long illness. He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.
May served as director unless otherwise noted.
UFA GmbH, shortened to UFA, is a film and television production company that unites all production activities of the media conglomerate Bertelsmann in Germany. Its name derives from Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft, a major German film company headquartered in Babelsberg, producing and distributing motion pictures from 1917 until the end of the Nazi era. The name UFA was revived by Bertelsmann for an otherwise unrelated film and television outfit, UFA GmbH.
Werner Johannes Krauss was a German stage and film actor. Krauss dominated the German stage of the early 20th century. However, his participation in the antisemitic propaganda film Jud Süß and his collaboration with the Nazis made him a controversial figure.
Heinrich Piel, known professionally as Harry Piel, was a prolific German actor, film director, screenwriter, and film producer who was involved in over 150 films.
Frederic Zelnik was an Austrian producer, director, and actor. He was one of the most important producers-directors of the German silent cinema. Zelnik achieved success through period operetta films in the 1920s and 1930s.
Luise Fleck, also known as Luise Kolm or Luise Kolm-Fleck, née Louise or Luise Veltée, was an Austrian film director, and has been considered the second ever female feature film director in the world, after Alice Guy-Blaché. Her son, Walter Kolm-Veltée, was also a noted film director. Technically, however, the second female feature film director in the world after Alice Guy-Blaché was chronologically Ebba Lindkvist, having debuted as a film maker one year before Luise Fleck.
Harry Liedtke was a German film actor.
Joseph Delmont was an Austrian film director of some 200 films, largely shorts, in which he was noted for his innovative use of beasts of prey. He was also a cameraman, actor and screenplay writer. During later life he was active as an author.
Die geheimnisvolle Villa is a 1914 silent German detective film directed by Joe May and starring Ernst Reicher. It is the first in the series starring the fictional gentleman detective Stuart Webbs, modelled on Sherlock Holmes. It also features Werner Krauss.
Ernst Reicher was a German-Jewish actor, screenwriter, film producer and film director of the silent era.
Jules Greenbaum was a German pioneering film producer. He founded the production companies Deutsche Bioscope, Deutsche Vitascope and Greenbaum-Film and was a dominant figure in German cinema in the years before the First World War. He is also known for his early experiments with sound films around twenty years before the success of The Jazz Singer made them a more established feature of cinema.
Eva Maria Mandl, known professionally as Eva May, was an Austrian actress. She was the daughter of the film director Joe May and his wife Mia May. In 1924, she committed suicide by gunshot.
Mime Misu was a Romanian ballet dancer, pantomime artist, film actor and director. In 1912 he wrote and directed the first feature film about the sinking of the RMS Titanic, In Nacht und Eis, released in August 1912 four months after the disaster.
Continental-Kunstfilm GmbH was a short-lived German film production company based in Berlin, formed in February 1912 by Walter Schmidthässler and Max Rittberger. A large number of Continental-Kunstfilm's productions are now probably lost, although some significant films have survived into the 21st century.
Mia May was an Austrian actress. She was married to the Austrian film producer and director Joe May and appeared in 44 films between 1912 and 1924. Her daughter was the actress Eva May.
Otto Rippert was a German film director during the silent film era.
Stuart Webbs was a fictional detective who appeared in a series of German films and serials during the silent era. Webbs was one of a number of detectives with English-sounding names to appear in German cinema of the era. Like his contemporaries such as Joe Deebs he was modeled on Sherlock Holmes. Webbs was the most popular of the group. His original film series ran from 1914 to 1926 and he continued to appear in other later films such as The Green Monocle (1929).
The Plague in Florence is a 1919 German silent historical film directed by Otto Rippert for Eric Pommer's Deutsche Eclair (Decla) production company. The screenplay was written by Fritz Lang. It stars Marga von Kierska, Theodor Becker, Karl Bernhard and Julietta Brandt. The film is a tragic romance set in Florence in 1348, just before the first outbreaks in Italy of the Black Death, which then spread out across the entire continent.
The Weissensee Studios was a collection of separate film production studios located in the Berlin suburb of Weißensee during the silent era.
Decla-Film was a German film production and distribution company of the silent era, founded by Erich Pommer and Fritz Holz in February 1915.