Anatole Litvak was a Jewish Russian-born filmmaker who wrote, directed, and produced films in a various countries and languages. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for the film The Snake Pit. He was born Mikhail Anatol Litwak into a Jewish family in the city of Kiev in what was then part of the Russian Empire. As a teenager, he worked at a theater in St. Petersburg and took acting lessons at the State drama school. Before the rise of the Nazis, he lived and worked in Germany where he made his first few films at the beginning of the 1930s, but quickly fled to England and France, where he made several successful films leading to a contract offer from a Hollywood studio. In 1940, his film All This and Heaven Too was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture.
Litvak served with the United States Army during World War II and joined with fellow director Frank Capra to make the Why We Fight film series. Because of Litvak's ability to speak Russian, German, and French, he played a key role as the head of the army's photography division responsible for documenting the U.S. D-Day landing on Normandy.
At the end of the war, he returned to filmmaking and, in 1948, Litvak was Oscar nominated as Best Director for The Snake Pit. This film and his 1951 production of Decision Before Dawn were both nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. After the mid-1950s, he began filming in Europe. Most notable was Anastasia filmed in Paris and starring Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner and Helen Hayes. The film was a fictitious imagining of the mystery surrounding the Grand Duchess Anastasia. The movie enjoyed huge commercial success. In 1961, at the Cannes Film Festival his Goodbye Again was nominated for the Palme d'Or.