Robert Florey (14 September 1900, Paris - 16 May 1979, Santa Monica, California) was a French screenwriter, director of short films, and actor who moved to Hollywood in 1921. In 1950, Florey was made a knight in the French Légion d'honneur.
Florey worked as assistant director to Josef von Sternberg and others before making his feature directing debut in 1926. He directed more than 50 movies through 1950, from the first Marx Brothers movie The Cocoanuts (1929), to the Bette Davis melodrama Ex-Lady, to horror movies such as Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) starring Bela Lugosi, and skillful film noir The Crooked Way (1949) and the first Hollywood film about the Vietnam war, Rogues' Regiment (1948) with Dick Powell and Vincent Price .
Florey made a significant but uncredited contribution to the script of the classic 1931 film adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein. Florey was also originally slated to direct Frankenstein but was assigned by Universal Pictures to direct Murders in the Rue Morgue instead. Florey, with the help of cinematographer Karl Freund and elaborate sets representing 19th century Paris, made Murders into an American version of German expressionist films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).
For many film historians, such as William K. Everson, Florey's finest work is in these low-budget programmers and B movies. Florey hit a peak at Paramount in the late 30s with films including Hollywood Boulevard (1936), King of Gamblers (1937), and Dangerous to Know (1938), all distinguished by their fast pace, cynical tone, and striking use of moody, semi-expressionistic camera angles and lighting effects. His thriller, Daughter of Shanghai, starring Anna May Wong (one of three films Florey did with her) was added to the National Film Registry in 2006.
Other notable films include two experimental short films The Life and Death of 9413--a Hollywood Extra (1928) co-directed with Slavko Vorkapich, Skyscraper Symphony (1929), and the horror classics The Face Behind the Mask (1941) and The Beast with Five Fingers (1946), both starring Peter Lorre. He was also associate director to Charlie Chaplin on Chaplin's film Monsieur Verdoux (1947).
Florey wrote the screenplay for A Study in Scarlet (1933) (Florey is credited for the screenplay and "continuity and dialogue" is credited to star Reginald Owen) which follows a strikingly similar plot to Agatha Christie's 1939 novel And Then There Were None. It is a Sherlock Holmes movie but bears no resemblance to Arthur Conan Doyle's original story of the same name. Florey "doubted that [Christie] had seen A Study in Scarlet but he regarded it as a compliment if it had helped inspire her".
Florey was one of the first seasoned feature directors to turn to television in the 1950s, working in the new medium for over a decade and producing shows for The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Twilight Zone.