Gerald Ehrlich

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Gerald Ehrlich (1915-1995) was a film editor and stage director.


German-born Gerhard (Gerald) Heinz Ehrlich was born in Berlin on 23 February, 1915, to Jewish parents and came to South Africa in 1936 at the age of 22. His father, mother and younger brother made it to the United States in late October 1939, not long after the outbreak of World War II.

Prior to his arrival in this country he had worked in France and locally he found employment first with C. Francis Coley’s Union Films, which was heavily involved in the production of informational and propaganda shorts for the war effort. Later he was recruited by African Film Productions and worked on Donald Swanson’s independently produced The Magic Garden (1951). He edited no fewer than eight feature films for Pierre de Wet, as well as the two films Bladon Peake made for AFP and several documentaries. His last film for AFP was Matieland! (1955), which he edited with Barney Joffe. When he left, Peter Grossett, who had trained with him, took over.

His brother Kurt (by then Curtis) Ehrlich had settled in Louisville, Kentucky and suggested Gerald join him in the running of the Frisch franchise that owned three restaurants in the city. The two brothers and their wives were all involved in the business until, in 1974, Curtis was murdered.

Gerald retired in 1980 and died 1995. He had married Ilse Mathias, a fellow German emigrant, and they had two children. He passed away in Louisville, Kentucky, 25 April, 1995


In a 1990 interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, Ehrlich recalled the following: In 1951, he was working for Swan Films in Johannesburg, where he was visited by a young teacher who had, almost single-handedly, created a 16mm color film that he thought worthy of national distribution. The would-be filmmaker needed help with his creation, which focused on an unlikely series of slapstick adventures in the African bush. The homemade film, Ehrlich recalled, was "amateurish and atrociously edited," yet had a certain unassuming, mischievous charm. After transferring the film to 35mm, Ehrlich led the teacher through a process of editing and post-synching that lent his movie a more professional gloss. Even so, the teacher never found a national distributor for his movie and resorted to renting halls where he could screen it for small audiences. But the film did lead to his being hired by African Film Productions, a prestigious company for which Ehrlich also had worked. The film was Daar Doer in die Bosveld and the film-maker was, of course, Jamie Uys. (FO)

Filmography (all as editor)


Geboortegrond (Pierre de Wet/1946), Simon Beyers (Pierre de Wet/1947), Die Kaskenades van Dokter Kwak (Pierre de Wet/1948), Kom Saam Vanaand! (Pierre de Wet/1949), The Magic Garden (Donald Swanson/1951), Altyd in my Drome (Pierre de Wet/1952), Hans-die-Skipper (Bladon Peake/1952), Inspan (Bladon Peake/1953), ‘n Plan is ‘n Boerdery (Pierre de Wet/1954), Vadertjie Langbeen (as sound editor) (Pierre de Wet/1955), Matieland! (with Barney Joffe; Pierre de Wet/1955).


Ubique / Gunners (Arthur Bennett/1941), Heritage (Arthur Bennett/1942), Manne van die See (with Hyman Kirstein) (unknown), Outpost of War / Voorpos in Oorlog (G. Grayson/194*), White Harvest / Wit Oes (unknown)1944), Arches of Faith / ‘n Volk se Erfenis (Kurt Baum/1949), Die Verhaal van die Voortrekkermonument (Kurt Baum/1950), Daar Onder in die Mielies (Donald Swanson/1952), More Precious than Gold / Kosbaarder as Goud (Emil Nofal/1953), Mau Mau (Donald Swanson/1954), South Africa: Champion Country / Suid-Afrika: Kampioeneland (not credited/1955).


Gerald Ehrlich was the producer of an all-African variety show called Jabulani, which was presented at the Temple Shalom in Orange Grove, Johannesburg on 29 and 31 January 1951. The leading artists were the stars of the film The Magic Garden, directed by Donald Swanson, and included Dolly Rathebe, Matome “Tommy” Ramokgopa and Willard Cele, with Dan Twala as the compere. The proceeds went to the M.C. Weiler School for African Children in Alexandra, which still exists. Ehrlich, of course, was the editor of The Magic Garden.

Five years later he produced a sequel entitled Jabulani 1956, presented from 19 to 23 May 1956, also at the Temple Shalom.


Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm

Courier-Journal, Louisville, 12 August 1990

Courier-Journal, Louisville, 27 April 1995

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