Edgar G. Ulmer helmed the classic horror film “The Black Cat” (1934) and the low-budget film noir favorite “Detour” (1945) but also toiled in the field of indie ethnic films, now largely forgotten. This four-disc set from Brandeis U.’s National Center for Jewish Film provides digitally remastered copies of all four of Ulmer’s Yiddish-language films. Had he only known — Ulmer died in 1972 — he might have been better prepared to provide the expected extras.
The films are supplemented largely by text, much of it written by film critic J. Hoberman or adapted from his standard reference on Yiddish cinema, “Bridge of Light.” There are some additional materials that should delight specialized audiences as well.
“Green Fields” comes with a half-hour audio interview with Ulmer conducted by Peter Bogdanovich, as well as some excerpts from “The Yiddish Cinema” docu with members of the cast. Docu also provides clips of David Opatashu for “The Light Ahead” and Leo Fuchs for “American Matchmaker.” Latter also features Fuchs and Yetta Zwerling in an eccentric Yiddish short entitled “I Want to Be a Boarder,” where a squabbling married couple renew their romance by pretending to be a boarder and a landlady.
No such material exists, alas, for singing star Moishe Oysher, who wowed Jewish audiences in both the synagogue as a cantor and onstage as an entertainer. Instead what’s offered is the trailer for his final film in English, “Singing in the Dark.”