Articles on this Page
- 07/19/14--23:00: _Beata Tyszkiewicz
- 07/20/14--23:00: _Mrs. Patrick Campbell
- 07/21/14--23:00: _Jason Connery
- 07/22/14--23:00: _Olga Baclanova
- 07/23/14--23:00: _Franciska Gaál
- 07/24/14--23:00: _Elissa Landi
- 07/25/14--23:00: _Oskar Werner
- 07/26/14--23:00: _A donation of rare ...
- 07/27/14--23:00: _Roland Verhavert (1...
- 07/28/14--23:00: _Marguerite Moreno
- 07/29/14--23:00: _Maj-Britt Nilsson
- 07/30/14--23:00: _Tala Birell
- 07/31/14--23:00: _Jean Mounet-Sully
- 08/01/14--23:00: _Giulietta Masina
- 08/02/14--23:00: _Siegfried Breuer jr.
- 08/03/14--23:00: _Laetitia Casta
- 08/04/14--23:00: _Maria Solveg
- 08/05/14--23:00: _Lyudmila Savelyeva
- 08/06/14--23:00: _Frankie Vaughan
- 08/07/14--23:00: _Mylène Farmer
- 07/19/14--23:00: Beata Tyszkiewicz
- 07/20/14--23:00: Mrs. Patrick Campbell
- 07/21/14--23:00: Jason Connery
- 07/22/14--23:00: Olga Baclanova
- 07/23/14--23:00: Franciska Gaál
- 07/24/14--23:00: Elissa Landi
- 07/25/14--23:00: Oskar Werner
- 07/26/14--23:00: A donation of rare postcards and other memorabilia
- 07/27/14--23:00: Roland Verhavert (1927-2014)
- 07/28/14--23:00: Marguerite Moreno
- 07/29/14--23:00: Maj-Britt Nilsson
- 07/30/14--23:00: Tala Birell
- 07/31/14--23:00: Jean Mounet-Sully
- 08/01/14--23:00: Giulietta Masina
- 08/02/14--23:00: Siegfried Breuer jr.
- 08/03/14--23:00: Laetitia Casta
- 08/04/14--23:00: Maria Solveg
- 08/05/14--23:00: Lyudmila Savelyeva
- 08/06/14--23:00: Frankie Vaughan
- 08/07/14--23:00: Mylène Farmer
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 176/70, 1970. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Linke.
Big East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 127/71, 1971. Retail price: 0,50 MDN.
A Humorous, Male-fantasy Set After A Mythical World War III
British actress Mrs Patrick Campbell (1865-1940) was by far the biggest name on the London stage of the belle époque, famous for her wit, temperament and beauty. She was the original Eliza Dolittle in Pygmalion (1914) a part written especially for her by her lifelong friend George Bernard Shaw. In her later years, ‘Mrs. Pat’ made notable film appearances as a dowager in One More River (1934) and in Crime and Punishment (1935).
British postcard by Rotary, no. 359 A. Photo: W. & D. Downey, London.
British postcard in the Glosso-graphs series by Misch & Co., no. 4008/2. Photo: Dover Street Studios.
Juliet, Ophelia and Lady MacBeth
Mrs. Patrick Campbell was born Beatrice Rose Stella Tanner in Kensington, London, in 1865. Her parents were John Tanner and Maria Luigia Giovanna, daughter of Count Angelo Romanini.
She studied for a short time at the Guildhall School of Music. She was well-known as an amateur before she made her stage debut in 1888 at the Alexandra Theatre, Liverpool, four years after her marriage to Patrick Campbell.
In March 1890, she appeared in London at the Adelphi, where she afterwards played again in 1891–1893.
She became successful as a result of starring in Sir Arthur Wing Pinero's play, The Second Mrs Tanqueray, in 1893, at St. James's Theatrewhere she also appeared in 1894 in The Masqueraders.
As Kate Cloud in John-a-Dreams, produced by Herbert Beerbohm Treeat the Haymarket in 1894, she made another success, and again as Agnes in The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith at the Garrick (1895).
Among her other performances were those in Fédora (1895), Little Eyolf (1896), and her notable performances with Johnston Forbes-Robertson at the Lyceum in the roles of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Ophelia in Hamlet, and Lady Macbeth (1895–1898) in Macbeth.
In 1994 she had married Patrick Campbell, and they had two children, Alan Urquhart ('Beo'), who was killed in WWI, and Stella, who married an American and moved to Chicago. Campbell’s own marriage ended with the death of her husband in the Boer War in 1900.
Fourteen years later, she became the second wife of Major George Frederick Myddleton Cornwallis-West, a dashing writer and soldier previously married to Jennie Jerome, the mother of Sir Winston Churchill.
British postcard by Langlier.
British postcard by The Biograph Studio, London. Sent by mail in 1902.
Grand Sense of Humor and Outstanding Charm
In 1902, Mrs. Patrick Campbell made her debut performance on Broadway in New York in Hermann Sudermann’s Magda, a marked success.
Subsequent Broadway roles included The Joy of Living (1902), as Melisande to the Pelleas of Sarah Bernhardt in Maurice Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande (1904), as Hedda Gabler in Henrik Ibsen’s play of the same name (1907), The Thunderbolt (1908), Lady Patricia (1911), and Bella Donna (1911).
She would return to perform there on a number of occasions until 1930. She was described by one American producer as a temperamental actress whose "grand sense of humor and outstanding charm made you laugh instead of strangle her".
One of her most famous quotes was " It doesn't matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don't do it in the streets and frighten the horses."
In 1914, she played Eliza Doolittle in the original production of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion; though much too old for the part at 49, she was the obvious choice, being by far the biggest name on the London stage, and Shaw would have seen it no other way since he wrote the play for her in particular. She and Shaw conducted a famous correspondence for many years.
Despite her second marriage, to George Cornwallis-West, she continued to use the stage name Mrs Patrick Campbell. Her last stage appearance came in 1933.
British postcard. Sent by mail in 1905.
British postcard by Rotophot, no. 9194. Photo: Stereoscopic Co.
Astonishingly Inappropriate Remarks
Mrs. Patrick Campbell had made her film début in the silent British film The Money Moon (Fred Paul, 1920).
When the sound film came along, she went to Hollywood and appeared in The Dancers (Chandler Sprague, 1930) with Lois Moran and Mae Clarke.
She also became a speech teacher and dialogue coach and made instructional films for aspiring actors who wanted to break into the sound film.
Campbell herself made some notable film appearances, including Riptide (Edmund Goulding, 1934) starring Norma Shearer, One More River (James Whale, 1934) with Diana Wynyard, and as the villainous pawnbroker in Crime and Punishment (Josef von Sternberg, 1935) featuring Peter Lorre.
She was legendary for making astonishingly inappropriate remarks. She undoubtedly lost her chance for a career in Hollywood when, at a party, she approached MGM executive Irving Thalberg, married to Norma Shearer, and said: "Dear Mr. Thalberg, how is your lovely, lovely wife with the tiny, tiny eyes?".
Mrs. Patrick Campbell died in 1940 in Pau, France, at age 75. The onset of WW II had caught her in the French Pyrenees, ill and destitute. She could not return to England because quarantine laws would have imprisoned her Pekinese, Moonbeam.
Her nurse cabled Sara and Gerald Murphy for funds, which were sent but arrived too late and were used to bury the former diva in the Cimetiere Urbain at Pau.
British postcard by Rotophot, no. 9163. Photo: Stereoscopic Co.
British postcard in the National series by Millar & Lang Art Publishers, Glasgow and London. Photo: Lafayette.
George Alexander, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Rosalie Toller and Allan Aynesworth in The Importance of Being Earnest.
Sources: Hans J. Wollstein (AllMovie), Harry Rusche (Shakespeare’s World), Encyclopaedia Britannica, Wikipedia, and IMDb.
British actor Jason Connery (1963) is the son of actors Sean Connery and Diane Cilento. He had his breakthrough role as Robin Hood in the TV series Robin of Sherwood (1986). Since then, Connery appeared in over 30 films, television movies and series, and nowadays he also works as a film director and producer.
German collectors card by Bravo.
British postcard by Santoro Graphics, London, no. BW 136. Photo: Paul Cox / Idols.
A plausible philandering wastrel
Jason Joseph Connery was born in London, England in 1963. His parents are the film actors Sean Connery and Diane Cilento.
Connery attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Next he performed many roles in the theatre and subsequently had parts in several films.
His film debut was in The Lords of Discipline (Franc Roddam, 1983), set in a military academy. In the Australian film The Boy Who Had Everything (Stephen Wallace, 1984) he co-starred with his mother Diane Cilento as a university student and his alcoholic mother. The title of the film provided ammunition for those jaundiced critics who assumed that Jason's career was merely a by-product of his parents' fame.
In fact, Jason was talented enough to carve out a career without his lofty pedigree. On TV, he appeared in the Doctor Who serial Vengeance on Varos (Ron Jones, 1985).
The following year, he replaced Michael Praed as Robin Hood in the final season of the television series Robin of Sherwood (1986). The series combined a gritty, authentic production design with elements of real-life history, 20th century fiction, and pagan myth.
Robin of Sherwood is also notable for its haunting title music by Clannad and Connery became well known in the UK for this role. Ten years earlier, his father had played the same role in the film Robin and Marian (Richard Lester, 1976) with Audrey Hepburn.
In Italy, Jason Connery co-starred with Laura Antonelli in the erotic film La venexiana/The Venetian Woman (Mauro Bolognini, 1986). The film is a transposition of the anonymous 16th century comedy play with the same name.
Other Italian productions were the TV movie Il Treno di Lenin/Lenin… the Train (Damiano Damiani, 1988) with Ben Kingsley, and the war film Casablanca Express (Sergio Martino, 1989), about a Nazi plot to kidnap Winston Churchill. His co-star in this film was Francesco Quinn, the son of Anthony Quinn.
Connery then portrayed Ian Fleming in the television drama Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (Ferdinand Fairfax, 1990) with Kristin Scott Thomas. Fleming was the creator of the James Bond character, which had made Sean Connery into an icon.
Bob Highland at IMDb: “The choice of Jason Connery as the eponymous hero was certainly an exercise in the bleeding obvious, and transparently the casting decision of a cynical producer seeking a large audience of the curious; but Connery was arguably the perfect actor for the role. No doubt his looks owe more to the young Bond than the young Fleming, but he makes a plausible philandering wastrel from the British upper classes”.
There followed more roles in TV films, such as Mountain of Diamonds (Jeannot Szwarc, 1991) with Derek de Lint, the drama Jamila (Monika Teuber, 1994) and the fantasy film Merlin: The Quest Begins (David Winning; 1997).
British postcard by Statics, London, no. PC 101.
British postcard by Statics, London, no. PC 102. Photo: Brent Walker.
In 1996, Jason Connery married American actress Mia Sara, whom he had met during the making of Bullet to Beijing (George Mihalka, 1995) in Russia. They have a son, Dashiell Quinn Connery (1997), but the couple divorced in 2002.
In the new century, Connery starred mainly in B-films and TV productions. A notable exception was a supporting role in the popular Western comedy Shanghai Noon (Tom Dey, 2000) starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson.
Since then, he had starring roles in such feature films as the fantasy horror Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell (Chris Angel, 2001), Requiem (Jon Kirby, Mitchell Morgan, 2001), and Private Moments (Jag Mundhra, 2005).
On television, he guest-starred in popular series like Smallville (2001-2003) with Tom Welling, and he starred as a main character in two series of the children's show Shoebox Zoo (2004–2005). He also toured with a stage production of The Blue Room (2003).
He continued to play lead roles in undistinguished films as Night Skies (Roy Knyrim, 2006), Lightspeed (Don E. FauntLeRoy, 2006) and Brotherhood of Blood (Michael Roesch, Peter Scheerer. 2007). He also worked as a voice actor for animation series.
At the moment his acting career seemed to go nowhere, he chose another direction. In 2008, he made his directorial debut with the action-thriller Pandemic (Jason Connery, 2008) starring Ray Wise.
Since his directional debut, he directed three more B-films The Devil's Tomb (2009) starring Cuba Gooding Jr., 51 (2011) and The Philly Kid (2012).
At IMDb, the latter, an actioner about cage fighting, got positive reviews. Gradyharp: “The Philly Kid is a low budget little pertinent drama that for the genre is better than the usual. Written by Adam Mervis (who also acts the role of the main character's understanding parole officer) and directed with fine pacing by Jason Connery, the movie somehow catches fire - likely due to a cast of up and coming young actors.”
Connery combines directing with producing and acting. In 2013, he guest starred in the TV soap General Hospital and this year he can be seen in the horror film Butterfly (Robert Benavides Jr., 2014).
As an associate producer he works on a romantic drama, For You (Paul James McDonnell, 2015). Also planned is a new direction job: Tommy's Honor, a film celebrating the lives of golf pioneers Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris. Jason Connery lives and works in Los Angeles, US.
British postcard by Reflex Marketing Ltd., Wellingborough, no. PC 174, 1986. Photo: Paul Cox / Idols.
Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Angela Garcia (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3946, 1928-1929. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Docks of New York (Josef von Sternberg, 1928). Collection: Didier Hanson.
Worthy Artist of the Republic
Ólga Vladímirovna Baclanova (Russian: О́льга Влади́мировна Бакла́нова) was born in Moscow in the Russian Empire in 1896. Baclanova was one of the six children of Vladimir Baclanoff and his wife Alexandra, who was an actress in early Russian films.
Baclanova studied drama at the Cherniavsky Institute before being accepted into the prestigious Moscow Art Theatre (M.A.T.) in 1912.
During her apprenticeship she would often spend the summers in the Crimea, where unbeknownst to the directors of the M.A.T., Stanislavsky and Nemirovitch-Danchenko, many students including Olga were appearing, in one- or two-reel silent films, like the Alexander Pushkin adaptation Simfoniya lyubvi i smerti/Mozart and Salieri (Viktor Tourjansky (as Viktor Turzhansky), S. Yurev, 1914), Zhenshchina vampire/The Vampire Woman (Viktor Tourjansky, 1915) and Tot, kto poluchaet poshchechiny/He Who Gets Slapped (Aleksandr Ivanov-Gai, I. Schmidt, 1916).
Her films of this period may not be totally documented, but it seems that she starred or appeared in at least a dozen and a half films, bringing her into contact with directors and actors like Viktor Tourjansky, Richard Boleslawski, Maria Ouspenskaya and Michael Chekhov.
By 1917 Olga was appearing in the M.A.T. Parent Company Productions of works by Alexander Pushkin, Anton Chekhov, Ivan Turgenev, and in the M.A.T. first studio productions of works by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Ludwig Berger.
During the upheaval of the fall of the Czar, her father was murdered, and the family was confined to one room of their mansion. For sake of convenience, Olga married a lawyer named Vlademar Zoppi in 1922.
She had previously made the first communist agitprop film, Khleb/Bread (Richard Boleslawski, Boris Sushkevich, 1918) and as Paul Meienberg writes at his site dedicated to Olga Baclanova, she “knew her survival depended on her complicity with the New Regime's demands. Her mentor, Nemirovitch-Danchenko decided to form a new studio at M.A.T., the Musical Studio, which would present classical works with avant-garde staging.
Between 1920 and 1925 Olga would be the jewel around which five large-scale productions were staged. To prepare for this, she studied dance and voice with the great talents available at the M.A.T. In early 1925, Baclanova was given the highest award a Soviet artist could receive: ‘Worthy Artist of the Republic’ and she was highly praised for her contributions.”
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 387. Photo: Paramount, 1930.
Vintage card. Photo: Paramount.
In 1925, Olga Baclanova went to New York with the 1925 touring production of the Moscow Art Theatre's Lysistrata. Though the rest of the company returned to Russia in 1926, she stayed to pursue a career in the United States.
Baclanova quickly established herself as a popular actress in American silent movies and achieved a notable success with her part as George Bancroft’s wife in Josef von Sternberg’s masterpiece, The Docks of New York (1928).
Meanwhile, Paramount cast her opposite Emil Janningsin Street of Sin (1928), the final American film of Scandinavian director Mauritz Stiller.
By the spring of 1928, Paramount offered Olga a five-year contract. That year, she appeared in another silent classic, The Man Who Laughs (Paul Leni, 1928). She played Duchess Josiana, the femme fatale love interest to Conrad Veidt's disfigured hero.
In 1929, she finally received a divorce from her first husband in Russia and she married her fiancé, Nicholas Soussanin, a Russian actor whose minor career dwindled from bits to uncredited parts over a fifteen-year period.
Olga however was a star and she was billed as the ‘Russian Tigress’. The birth of her second son was front page news in 1930.
The introduction of sound film proved difficult for Baclanova, and her stagey mannerisms and heavy Russian accent relegated her to supporting roles.
Her film career was in decline when MGM offered her the role of the evil circus performer Cleopatra in Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932). Director Browning took the exceptional step of casting real people with deformities as the eponymous sideshow ‘freaks’, rather than using costumes and makeup. The physically deformed ‘freaks’ are inherently trusting and honourable people, while the real monsters are two of the ‘normal’ circus members who conspire to murder a midget to obtain his large inheritance.
Freaks was highly controversial and screened only briefly before being withdrawn. It would be 30 years before this curious horror film gained a cult following in midnight movie screenings. Freaks did not revive Baclanova's film career.
In early 1933 she left Hollywood and her husband Soussanin behind and headed for New York. Till 1943 Boclanova starred in various Broadway productions and then toured in road companies of Cat And The Fiddle, Twentieth Century, Grand Hotel and Idiot's Delight. She debuted on the London stage in 1936 in Going Places. Baclanova also hosted a radio show in the late 1930s.
In 1939, she married Richard Davies, a Russian with an anglicised name, who owned the Fine Arts Theatre in New York. One last big role as a flamboyant, worldly opera singer in the Broadway hit Claudia kept her busy for two years (1941-1943). She returned to Hollywood in 1943 to recreate her stage role in Claudia (Edmund Goulding, 1943).
After some more summer stock and occasional night club appearances, she retired in 1948. Olga Baclanova settled in Vevey, Switzerland, where she died in a rest home in 1974.
In 1994, Freaks was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4128/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Paramount.
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 620. Photo: Paramount.
Sources: Paul Meienberg (Olga Baclanova.com), AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.
Hungarian cabaret artist and stage actress Franciska Gaál (1904-1973) starred in several European comedies of the 1920s and 1930s. Later she went to Hollywood to star in Cecil B. DeMille's The Buccaneer (1938), and other films.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7612/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Angelo Photos.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 9054/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Rota.
Franciska Gaál (in Germany Franziska Gaal) was born Fanny Silberstein or Zilverstrich (according to Filmportal.de, while other sources also write Zilveritch or Silberspitz) in Budapest in 1904. She was the thirteenth child of an affluent Jewish middle-class family.
Fanny attended the Budapest Academy of Theatre and after the First World War, she made a name as a singer, dancer and actress. Her stage name Gaál was the name of one of her acting teachers.
Her film debut in Hungary was the short silent film Az Egér/The Mouse (Lajos Gellért, 1921). Two other silent films followed, A cornevillei harangok/The bells of Corneville (Antal Forgács, 1921) and New-York express kábel/New York Express cable (Márton Garas, 1921).
But after these films, she focused on the stage. Several plays were written especially for her, including A jó tündér (The Good Fairy, 1930) and Valaki (Violet, 1931) by Ferenc Molnár.
She was thus a highly successful stage actress, when producer Joe Pasternak engaged her for Universal's European subsidiary Deutsche Universal.
She started with Paprika (Carl Boese, 1932) opposite Paul Hörbiger, and went on to star in several features which highlighted her comic timing as well as her enchanting looks.
To her German films belong Gruss und Kuss, Veronika!/Greetings and Kisses, Veronika (Carl Boese, 1933) and Frühjahrsparade/Spring Parade (Géza von Bolváry, 1934), also starring Wolf Albach-Retty,Paul Hörbiger, Theo Lingen, Adele Sandrock and Hans Moser.
Producer Pasternak later remade Frühjahrsparade/Spring Parade in Hollywood as a Deanna Durbin vehicle.
Hungarian postcard. Publisher: Globus, Budapest. Photo: Angelo Photos. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z. Photo: Filma. Publicity card for Skandal in Budapest/Romance in Budapest (Steve Sekely, Géza von Bolváry, 1933).
Dutch postcard by Filma, no. 530. Franziska Gaal in Skandal in Budapest (Steve/Stefan Szekely, Geza von Bolvary, 1933).
Modern and Witty Screwball Comedies
After the Nazis' raise to power, the Jewish Gaal couldn't continue her work in Germany.
Between 1934 and 1936, she became the star of several independently produced films in Austria, which marked the height of her career.
Peter (1934) with Hans Jaray, Kleine Mutti/Little Mother (1935) with Enrico Benfer and Otto Wallburg, and Katharina – die Letzte/Catherine the Last (1936) had the same successful formula - light musical comedies built around the young soprano Gaal.
These modern and witty screwball comedies were all directed by Hermann Kosterlitz (later Henry Koster), written by Felix Joachimson and produced by Joe Pasternak for Universal Pictures in Europe.
The rights of Kleine Mutti were later acquired by RKO who remade it in English as Bachelor Mother (Garson Kanin, 1939) starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven.
Her final Austrian film was Fräulein Lilli/Miss Lilli (1936) with the Jewish actors Hans Jaray and Szöke Szakall as her co-stars. In order not to make his production company Projektograph film a target for anti-Semitic fanatics, producer Oskar Glück founded especially for this production the Opus Film GmbH.
As a director he contracted German emigrant Hans Behrendt. The shooting was turbulent and according to German Wikipedia the role of diva Gaál with her 'stormy temperament' was 'unfortunate'. She refused to work with Behrendt, nor with a second emigrant director Max Neufeld. So the film was finished by a third Jewish director, Robert Wohlmuth.
Nazi Germany banned the film, and also after the war the film was not a success.
Dutch postcard by City Film, no. 503.
Dutch postcard by City Film, no. 587. Publicity still for Gruss und Kuss - Veronika (1933) with Paul Hörbiger.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 9055/1. The photo is a still from Frühjahrsparade (1934), with Wolf Albach-Retty. The photo was cut out of the card by a former owner. We photo shopped the edges.
Impoverished and Unnoticed
In 1937, Franciska Gaál and the rest of the Universal-team left Austria and emigrated to the USA.
There she was groomed to become a Hollywood star by Cecil B. DeMille. Gaál co-starred in his epic adventure film The Buccaneer (Cecil B. DeMille, 1938) opposite Frederic March, but according to critics her performance was merely decorative.
Next she appeared at Bing Crosby's side in the musical Paris Honeymoon (Frank Tuttle, 1939), but again to no avail.
The last of her three Hollywood screen appearances was in MGM's Cinderella comedy The Girl Downstairs (Norman Taurog, 1939). She now starred as a scullery maid, who is romanced by callous playboy Franchot Tone.
In 1940, she returned to Budapest to attend to her mother's illness, and was then forced to remain in Hungary through WW II.
She survived the war and Nazi prosecution, hidden in a bombed-out estate.
After the war she tried to make a come-back opposite Theo Lingen and Hans Moserin Renée XIV (Ákos Ráthonyi, 1946), but the film was never completed.
In 1947, she returned to the US and replaced Eva Gabor in the Broadway production The Happy Time (1951). However, she didn't surface again as an actress.
Later, she worked as an acting teacher at the theatre school of Erwin Piscator.
Franciska Gaál was married to Dr. Francis Dajkovitch, who passed away in 1965.
In 1972, the former star of the German sound comedy died in New York, impoverished and unnoticed by the public.
Vintage postcard by EmBPo, no. 3175. Photo: Polarfilma.
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 1197. Photo: Paramount.
Sources: The West Australian (Trove), Filmportal.de, Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), AllMovie, Wikipedia (English and German) and IMDb.
Italian born actress and writer Elissa Landi (1904–1948) was rumoured to be a descendant of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria. During the 1920s she appeared in British, French, and German films before travelling to the United States. In Hollywood she became a popular star of the 1930s.
French postcard by Editions et Publications Cinématographiques, no. 21. Photo: Fox Film USA.
Dutch postcard, no. 92. Circa 1932. Photo: Fox.
Elissa Landi was born as Elisabeth Marie Christine Kühnelt in Venice, Italy, in 1904. She was the daughter of an Austrian military officer and the stepdaughter of an Italian nobleman. According to her mother. she was the grand-daughter of Elizabeth of Bavaria, wife of the Emperor Franz Josef of Austria.
Elissa was raised in Austria and later she was privately educated in England and Canada. Her first ambition was to be a writer, and she wrote her first novel at the age of twenty.
She took up the stage merely as a means to an end. She had always wanted to be a novelist and playwright, but she found the technique of the theatre a little difficult, so in order to overcome this joined a repertory company.
She started with the 1924 London stage production The Storm. The play lasted for five months and she received rave reviews for her performances. This led to meaty leads in Lavendar Ladies and other plays.
Film producers took notice of the photogenic beauty and Elissa starred in eight European films over the next two years. Her first film was the British production London (Herbert Wilcox, 1926), starring Dorothy Gish.
Other films were the working-class love story Underground (Anthony Asquith, 1928) and the Swedish production Synd/Sin (Gustaf Molander, 1928). Her career didn't impress critics, though, until she played Anthea Dane in The Price of Things (Elinor Glyn, 1930).
British postcard in the Filmshots series by Film Weekly . Photo: Fox. Publicity still for The Warrior's Husband (Walter Lang, 1933) with David Manners.
British postcard by Real Photograph, London, in the Picturegoer Series, no. 533b. Photo: Paramount.
Headway in the USA
Elissa Landi felt that she would make more headway in the USA, so in 1931 she travelled to New York to star in a Broadway production of A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway. Although the play flopped, Hollywood sat up and took notice of the young star.
She was signed to a contract by Fox Film Corporation, and she soon appeared in Body and Soul (Alfred Santell, 1931) opposite Charles Farrell, and in Wicked (Alan Dwan, 1931), opposite Victor McLaglen.
Next she played the heroine in Cecil B. De Mille's biblical epic The Sign of the Cross (1932). The film was a smash hit but Elissa's ethereal, virtuous performance as the early-Christian heroine was overshadowed by Claudette Colbert who played the flashier role of the temptress Poppea.
Elissa scored again in The Warrior's Husband (Walter Lang, 1933), a film about the intrigues and intricacies of the old Roman Empire.
Charming was her comedy By Candlelight (James Whale, 1933) about a butler (Paul Lukas) who pretends to be a Lord to seduce a great lady (Landi), who is actually a maid. Hal Erickson writes at AllMovie: "Based on a play by Siegfried Geyer, By Candlelight is chock full of delightfully double-entendre pre-Code dialogue and dextrous directorial touches."
In 1934 Landi co-starred with Robert Donat in the box office hit The Count of Monte Cristo (Rowland V. Lee, 1934). The next year saw her in an odd bit of casting as an Opera prima donna in Enter Madame (Elliott Nugent, 1935). The film follows the turbulent relationship between the Opera singer and a wealthy fan (Cary Grant) as her career frequently interferes with the quality of their off-again/on-again marriage.
Then Landi's contract with Fox was abruptly cancelled in 1936 as a result of her refusal to accept a particular role. MGM signed her to a contract and after a couple of romantic dramas she played the cousin of Myrna Loy in the very popular After the Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke, 1936).
Her screen career came to an end in 1937. She spent her last acting years on Broadway save for an unexpected return before the cameras in the low-budget war film Corregidor (William Nigh, 1943) for Poverty Row Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC).
She became a naturalized US citizen in 1943, and dedicated herself to writing, producing six novels and a series of poems.
In 1948 Elissa Landi died of cancer in New York, just 43 years old. She left behind her husband, Curtiss Thomas, and their four year old daughter, Carolyn.
Dutch postcard, ca. 1934.
British postcard by Milton, no. 104. Photo: Paramount Pictures.
Trailer of The Count of Monte Cristo (Rowland V. Lee, 1934). Source: weild1977 (YouTube).
Sources: Operator99 (Allure), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia, and IMDb.
Talented Austrian actor Oskar Werner (1922-1984) was Jules in François Truffaut’s Nouvelle Vague classic Jules et Jim (1962). He is also known for international films like Ship of Fools (1965), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Fahrenheit 451 (1966) and The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968). Werner received an Academy Award nomination and won a Golden Globe Award in 1966.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 12/80, 1979. Photo: publicity still for Voyage of the Damned (Stuart Rosenberg, 1976).
Decision Before Dawn
Oskar Werner or Oscar Werner was born Oskar Josef Schließmayer in Vienna, Austria in 1922.
His parents divorced when he was fairly young. Oskar spent much of his childhood in the care of his grandmother, who entertained him with stories about the Burgtheater, the Austrian state theatre.
Performing in school plays also aroused a deep desire to act. His father (Wikipedia) or his uncle (IMDb) helped him to get parts as an extra in films like Geld fällt vom Himmel/Money falls from the sky (Heinz Helbig, 1938) and Hotel Sacher (Erich Engel, 1939).
He decided to drop out of high school in order to pursue acting roles. In 1940, director Lothar Müthel accepted the then eighteen years old as a member of the Burgtheater. Oskar was the youngest person ever to receive this recognition.
He made his theatre debut using the stage name Oskar Werner in October 1941. Two months later, Werner was drafted into the Wehrmacht.
As a pacifist and staunch opponent of National Socialism, he was determined to avoid advancement in the military. He finagled his way into KP duty feigning incompetence and was assigned to peeling potatoes and cleaning latrines instead of being sent to the Eastern Front.
In 1944, he secretly married actress Elisabeth Kallina, who was half-Jewish. They immediately had a daughter, Eleanore. That December, he deserted the Wehrmacht and fled with his wife and daughter to the Wienerwald, where they remained in hiding until the end of the war.
Werner returned to the Burgtheater, and also acted in productions at the Raimund Theater and the Theater in der Josefstadt, frequently playing character roles.
He made his film debut in Der Engel mit der Posaune/The angel with the trumpet (Karl Hartl, 1948). The following year he portrayed Ludwig van Beethoven's nephew Karl in Eroica (Walter Kolm-Veltée, 1949).
In 1950, Werner journeyed to the United Kingdom to reprise the role he had played in Der Engel mit der Posaune in its English-language version, The Angel with the Trumpet, under the direction of Anthony Bushell.
He and his wife divorced at about this time but remained friends.
He appeared in a few more German–Austrian films before going to Hollywood for a lead role as a German prisoner of war in the war film Decision Before Dawn (Anatole Litvak, 1951) opposite Richard Baseheart. The 20th Century Fox production was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Film Editing and Best Picture.
Werner was ripe for film stardom, but the subsequent roles promised by the studio failed to materialize. Hurt and disappointed, he returned to Europe and settled in Triesen, Liechtenstein, in a home he designed and built with a friend.
He returned to the stage and during the 1950’s he performed in Hamlet, Danton's Death, Henry IV, Henry V, Torquato Tasso, and Becket, among others.
In 1954 he married Anne Power, the daughter of French actress Annabella and adopted daughter of Tyrone Power.
After a period of inactivity in the cinema, Werner appeared in five films in 1955. Among them were the war drama Der letzte Akt/The Last Ten Days (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1955) about Hitler’s last ten days, Mozart/The Life and Loves of Mozart (Karl Hartl, 1955), in which he played the title role, and Lola Montès (Max Ophüls, 1955) as a student opposite Martine Carol.
Gary Brumburgh describes him at IMDb as “An aloof, handsome blond with wide-set, hooded eyes and quietly solemn features”. Despite his good looks and obvious talent, it would take seven more years before he began to draw critical acclaim and international recognition in the cinema.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H. Minden/Westf., no. 1719. Photo: Gamma / Union / Vogelmann. Publicity still for Lola Montez (Max Ophüls, 1955) with Martine Carol and Ivan Desny.
Jeanne Moreau. French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 1017. Photo: Sam Lévin.
Jules et Jim
In 1962, Oskar Werner's final breakthrough came with the French film Jules et Jim/Jules and Jim (François Truffaut, 1962) based on Henri-Pierre Roché's semi-autobiographical novel about his relationship with writer Franz Hessel and his wife, Helen Grund.
Werner became an international sensation as the highly romantic and intellectual Austrian Jules who falls in love with the same woman, Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), as his best friend Jim (Henri Serre).
Jules et Jim is one of the seminal products of the Nouvelle Vague, the French New Wave. Wikipedia describes it as “an inventive encyclopedia of the language of cinema that incorporates newsreel footage, photographic stills, freeze frames, panning shots, wipes, masking, dolly shots, and voiceover narration (by Michel Subor).”
Werner's then portrayed the philosophical Dr. Schumann in Ship of Fools (Stanley Kramer 1965), which recounts the overlapping stories of several passengers aboard an ocean liner bound to Germany from Mexico in 1933. His role won him the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, and the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor.
His portrayal of Jewish East German spy Fiedler in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Martin Ritt, 1965) won him another Golden Globe Award and his second BAFTA nomination. Gary Brumburgh calls Werner’s acting style “remote, rather morose and, as a result, intriguing“.
In 1966, he played book-burning fireman Guy Montag in François Truffaut's film adaptation of the cult-classic Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The relationship with Truffaut was irreparably damaged over artistic differences while filming. The unhappiness of that film experience triggered an already burgeoning drinking problem and the decline of his career.
Werner next played an orchestra conductor in the British drama Interlude (Kevin Billington, 1968) and a Vatican priest loosely based on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in the American drama The Shoes of the Fisherman (Michael Anderson, 1968).
That same year he divorced Power and put his film career on a hold. He returned to the stage and spent time travelling in Israel, Italy, Malta, France, and the United States.
He appeared in an episode of the TV series Columbo (Bernard L. Kowalski, 1975) featuring Peter Falk, and the following year he made his final screen appearance in Voyage of the Damned (Stuart Rosenberg, 1976) as Faye Dunaway’s Jewish husband.
The story was inspired by true events concerning the fate of the MS St. Louis ocean liner carrying Jewish refugees from Germany to Cuba in 1939. For his part he received another Golden Globe nomination.
Werner was an alcoholic, which was a deciding factor in the decline of his health and career. He lived most of the time retired in his house in Liechtenstein. His last stage appearance was in a 1983 production of The Prince of Homburg, and his last public appearance was at the Mozart Hall in Salzburg ten days prior to his death.
On 22 October 1984, Werner cancelled a reading at the Hotel Europäischer Hof in Marburg because he was feeling ill. He was found dead of a heart attack the following morning, only two days after François Truffaut had died.
Oskar Werner was 61. He is buried in his adopted country of Liechtenstein.
He had two children, his daughter Elinore (1944) with Elisabeth Kallina, and son Felix (1966) with the American model Diane Anderson.
Trailer Decision Before Dawn (1951). Source: UmbrellaEntAU (YouTube).
Trailer Jules et Jim/Jules and Jim (1962). Source: UmbrellaEntAU (YouTube).
Sources: Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.
When we returned from our holidays in Italy, there was this little package from East-Hartford, USA, waiting for us at our neighbour's house. It contained rare postcards, photos and a clipping on the silent, Ukranian-born film star Xenia Desni and her daughter Tamara Desni, who had an impressive film and stage career herself in Great Britain. Of course, we were very happy with the content. The postcards were sent to us by a relative of the Desni's, their niece Tatiana. In the past, Tatiana already had sent us some scans of the postcards of Tamara Desni and she gave us 39 Ross postcards, which she had collected as a little girl. EFSP did a post on this collection. And of course, we share this beautiful new donation with you too.
Austrian photo by Willinger, Wien. From Tatiana. Xenia Desni and Willy Fritsch in the German silent film Ein Walzertraum/The Waltz Dream (Ludwig Berger, 1925), based on the Oscar Strauss operetta.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 886/2, 1925-1926. Photo: Decla / Ufa. From Tatiana.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 886/1, 1925-1926. Photo: Decla / Ufa. From Tatiana.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1069/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa. From Tatiana.
Ukrainian-born actress Xenia Desni (1894-1954) was a star of the German silent cinema. Xenia - also known as Dada - was born in Kiev, but travelled at the beginning of the 1920s to Berlin.
She made her film debut with Sappho (Dimitri Buchowetzki, 1921). She often worked with director Johannes Guter such as for her breakthrough film Die Prinzessin Suwarin/The Princess Suwarin (1923) starring Lil Dagover.
In the next years followed other successful productions such as Die Andere/The Other (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1924). An international hit became the silent operetta Ein Walzertraum/A Waltz Dream (Ludwig Berger, 1925) with Willy Fritsch.
This was followed by Familie Schimeck/The Schimeck Family (Alfred Halm, Rudolf Dworsky, 1926), Madame wagt einen Seitensprung/Madam dares an Escapade (Hans Otto, 1927), and Erzherzog Johann/Archduke John (Max Neufeld, 1929).
After the coming of sound film, her career soon ended. But Xenia helped to shape the film and stage career of her beautiful daughter.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1026/4, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa. From Tatiana.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1028/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa. From Tatiana.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1026/3, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa. From Tatiana.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 571/3, 1919-1924. Photo: A. Eberth, Berlin. From Tatiana.
Tamara Desni (1910–2008) started her stage and film career as a child in Berlin. Tamara acted in three German sound films before leaving with her mother to Great Britain.
In 1931, she made her triumphant London stage debut in the operetta White Horse Inn. For this spectacular production, the entire Coliseum theatre was transformed into the Tyrol. The production was based on the German operetta Im weissen Roessl. White Horse Inn was a smash hit and ran for 500 performances at the Coliseum. The production is even credited with saving the theatre, which was faltering as a music hall.
Tamara followed this up with another leading role in a German import at the Coliseum, the musical Casanova, featuring music by Johann Strauss, Jr.
Desni's British film career took off with the comedy Falling for You (Robert Stevenson, Jack Hulbert, 1933), supporting the popular musical comedy team of Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge.
Later films included the thriller Forbidden Territory (Phil Rosen, 1934), another Jack Hulbert comedy Jack Ahoy (Walter Forde, 1935) and the historical drama Fire Over England (William K. Howard, 1937), with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.
Tamara Desni’s film career continued through 1950. After that she moved to the South of France, where her bar and restaurant L'Auberge Chez Tamara, became a popular attraction around Grasse in the Alpes Maritimes.
German postcard for Otto Kurt Vogelsang Lichtbildner, Berlin. From Tatiana.
British postcard. From Tatiana.
British postcard. From Tatiana.
British photo by Vivienne 20th Century Studios Ltd, London. From Tatiana.
Dear Tatiana, thank you so much for this wonderful donation!
Om Friday 26 July 2014, Belgian film director Roland Verhavert passed away. He directed 44 films between 1955 and 1993. In 1955, he had his breakthrough when he co-directed the film Meeuwen sterven in de haven/Seagulls Die in the Harbour (1955), which was entered into the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. In 1974, his film De loteling/The Conscript (1973) was entered into the 24th Berlin International Film Festival. Verhavert died of a heart attack, aged 87.
Belgian postcard by Ed. Prevot, Antwerp. Photo: Metropool Film. Publicity still for Meeuwen sterven in de haven/Seagulls Die in the Harbour (1955) with Julien Schoenaerts.
Seagulls die in the harbour
Meeuwen sterven in de haven/Seagulls die in the harbour/Les mouettes meurent au port (1955) was a Belgian thriller, directed by Roland Verhavert, Rik Kuypers and Ivo Michiels, who also wrote the script.
It starred Julien Schoenaerts as the stranger and Dora van der Groen as a prostitute, but also the city itself played an important part.
The story deals with a tormented, nameless man, on the run after the murder on his wife, ending up in harbour town Antwerp. He is only understood by a little orphan and two women who want to help him, but then others force him to kidnap the child.
The film meant the film debut of Schoenaerts and was also the breakthrough for Van der Groen as film actress. Because of its theme and its expressionist style, the film reminds of The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949) and On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954).
Meeuwen sterven in de haven/Seagulls Die in the Harbour was well received nationally and internationally, and was selected for festivals like Cannes, where it was even nominated for a Golden Palm.
After being shown at the Belgian Week in Moscow, the film was sold to the Soviet Union where it became a hit.
In Belgium it was praised for its fresh look and - in contrast to the usual local comedies - its international appeal. Flemish critics hailed it as the first Flemish film, others even as the first Belgian one.
Belgian postcard by Ed. Prevot, Antwerp. Photo: Metropool Film. Publicity still for Meeuwen sterven in de haven/Seagulls Die in the Harbour (1955) with Dora van der Groen.
Source: Wikipedia (Dutch, French and English) and IMDb.
Marguerite Moreno (1871-1948) was a famous French stage and screen actress.
French postcard. Editions Cinémagazine, no. 52. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinema. Marguerite Moreno as Anne d'Autriche in the Dumas adaptation Vingt ans après (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1922).
The Muse of the Symbolists
Marguerite Moreno was born in Paris in 1871. She was the daughter of Pierre Monceau, teacher in mathematics, and Charlotte Lucie Moreno.
Moreno studied in Paris and Bretagne, then entered the Paris Conservatoire, in the class of Gustave Worms. She was engaged by the Comédie-Française in 1890, and acted on stage with the famous names of the French stage: Charles Le Bargy, Mounet-Sully, Julia Bartet, Coquelin sr. and Paul Mounet.
She became the 'muse of the Symbolists', and poet Stéphane Mallarmé’s close friend, but nevertheless she didn’t manage to convince him to stage his Hérodiade. It was Moreno who in 1898 organised his funeral at he church and graveyard of Samoreau près la Seine where he had his country house.
After being the mistress of poet Catulle Mendès (their son would die of meningitis), Moreno married in Britain writer Marcel Schwob in 1900. Unfortunately Schwob fell ill and died in 1905, at the age of 37.
In 1903, Marguerite Moreno left the Comédie-Française and joined the Théâtre de Sarah Bernhardt, and afterwards the Théâtre Antoine.
In 1908 she remarried with actor Jean Daragon. For seven years she ran in Buenos Aires the French section of the Conservatory. When the First World War broke out, she was active at the military hospital in Nice.
French postcard. Photo Saul Boyer, Paris, no. 1/11. Marguerite Moreno in La Sorcière at the Theatre Sarah Bernhardt, Paris. Moreno performed in this play by Victorien Sardou in 1903.
Ringed eyes and a rosebud mouth
From 1915, Marguerite Moreno discovered the cinema. In the silent era she played together with her second husband Jean Daragon in Vingt ans après (1922) by Henri Diamant-Berger.
Vingt ans après/Twenty Years After (1922) was the sequel to Les Trois Mousquetaires (1921), the first film version of Alexandre Dumas, père's novel The Three Musketeers. Both films were directed by Diamant-Berger.
Moreno impersonated Queen Anne of Austria “under a plaster-like make-up, with ringed eyes, and a rosebud mouth”, as Olivier Barrot and Raymond Chirat wrote in Noir & Blanc: 250 acteurs du cinéma français 1930-1960 (2000).
Daragon played Beaufort in Vingt ans après, but it was to be his last film. A year later, in 1923, he died.
Moreno acted in several other films by Diamant-Berger: Paris pendant la guerre (1916), Le Mauvais garçon (1923), opposite Maurice Chevalier in Gonzague (1923), L'Accordeur (1923) and L'Emprise (1924), starring Pierre de Guingand and Pierrette Madd.
In the late 1920s she also acted in films like Le Capitaine Fracasse by Alberto Cavalcanti (1929), starring Pierre Blanchar and Lien Deyers.
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 60. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinema. Jean Daragon as De Beaufort in the Dumas adaptation Vingt ans après (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1922).
Countesses, duchesses and queens
When sound cinema arrived in France, Moreno had an enormous increase in film roles. In 1930-1932 she played at least one film part each month, a number which slowly went down in the course of the 1930s.
On instigation of her friend and soulmate, the writer Colette, Moreno started playing comedy, and in 1920, she had had a big success on stage with Le Sexe faible by Édouard Bourdet. Here she played “an old Slavic countess who hires beautiful boys to pass boredom”, as Maurice Martin du Gard mentioned in his Carte rouge (1930).
Moreno repeated the part in the adaptation filmed by Robert Siodmak in 1933 and starring Victor Boucher. Moreno often played countesses, duchesses and queens, though she included the lower classes as well.
In the interbellum years Moreno installed herself in a an estate at the Lot province. It was renovated by her cousin, actor Pierre Moreno, who lived and acted with her and was her lover too.
Moreno spread her career between the stage and the screen, and according to Barrot and Chirat, “she accepted all that was offered her. The average spectator’s laugh at each of her performances was enough for her.”
She appeared e.g. in Un trou dans le mur (1930) by René Barberis, Tout va très bien madame la marquise (1936) by Henry Wulschleger, and La Fessée (1937) by Pierre Caron.
However, Moreno was also directed by Raymond Bernard in Les Misérables (1934), where she and Charles Dullin played the evil couple Thenardier opposite Harry Baur as Jean Valjean.
She played again aristocrats in Jean Delannoy's Paris-Deauville (1933) and in La dame de pique (1937) by Fedor Ozep.
She did various parts in films by Sacha Guitry: Faisons un rêve, Le Roman d'un tricheur and Le Mot de Cambronne in 1936, Les Perles de la couronne in 1937, Ils étaient neuf célibataires in 1939, and Donne-moi tes yeux in 1943.
French postcard, no. 559. Collection: Didier Hanson.
You cannot be ugly with such an expressive face
Marguerite Moreno worked with several interesting film directors.
With Marcel Pagnol she played in Regain (1937) starring Fernandel, and the uncompleted film La Prière aux étoiles (1941).
With Christian-Jaque she made Carmen (1942) and Un revenant (1946) with Louis Jouvet, and with Claude Autant-Lara she acted in Douce (1943).
In 1945, Marguerite Moreno was a giant succes on stage as Aurélie in La Folle de Chaillot, written for her by Jean Giraudoux.
Marguerite Moreno died in Touzac (Lot) on 14 July 1948. Her last film, L'assassin est à l'écoute (Raoul André, 1948), was released a few weeks after her death.
Her house and estate La Source bleue (The Blue Source) in Touzac was transformed in an inn by her heirs.
Paul Valéry consided her the only one capable to recite poems, so he invited her to recite them during his courses at the Collège de France.
Paul Léautaud wrote on her: “Tonight while listening to Moreno in Aricie, I was crying softly…” and “People say she is ugly, but you cannot be ugly with such an expressive face, and so delicate at the same time – her eyes, her nose, her mouth are so full of wit. Moreover, she has it in such a way as seldom to be found in a woman. She is female malice and satire embodied.”
The Marguerite Moreno Papers were purchased by Yale University in 2009.
Sources: Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.
Maj-Britt Nilsson (1924-2006) was the first leading lady of the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. She featured in three of his films of the early 1950s. Her later film work was pale in comparison, but she had an impressive stage career.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf. Photo: Constantin Film. Publicity still for Was die Schwalbe sang/What the swallow sang (Géza von Bolvary, 1956) with Claus Biederstadt.
Maj-Britt Nilsson was born in Stockholm in 1924. Aged 17, Nilsson got her first uncredited screen role as a schoolgirl in Tänk, om jag gifter mig med prästen/And If I Marry the Pastor (Ivar Johansson, 1941) starring Viveca Lindfors.
Nilsson gained experience in such films as Resan bort/A Journey Away (Alf Sjöberg, 1945). A few years later, she got her first leading parts, in Gustaf Molander's comedy Det är min modell/Affairs of a Model (1946) opposite Alf Kjellin, and the dramatic Maria (Gösta Folke, 1947).
At the same time, she studied at the drama school of the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm, then under the direction of Mimi Pollak. Nilsson appeared in several plays of the Royal Dramatic Theater.
Her breakthrough came in 1948, when she and Anita Björk starred in a stage production of Jean Genet’s The Maids.
After this triumph Nilsson starred as a young wife of an adulterous orchestra player in the film Till Glädje/To Joy (1950), directed by the then 32 year old Ingmar Bergman. In his excellent obituary on Nilsson in The Guardian, Ronald Bergan wrote that the title of the film "derived from the choral movement of Ludwig vonBeethoven's Ninth Symphony that ends the film on a note of hope. In it, as in many later films, Bergman focuses on the female face in close-up, and Nilsson's delicate features admirably bears the scrutiny of Gunnar Fischer's camera."
Bergman’s next film, Sommarlek/Summer Interlude (Ingmar Bergman, 1951), is generally considered as his first mature picture. For the female lead of a ballerina, he chose again the then 27-year-old Nilsson.
Ronald Bergan noted in The Guardianthat this film was Bergman’s "first to create the atmosphere of nihilism and stark beauty that would become his trademark. (...) Summer Interlude dealt with adolescent love, the subject of much of Bergman's early work, and had Nilsson looking back on the idyllic summer she had spent several years earlier on an island near Stockholm with the boy she loved. But the affair comes to a tragic end when he dies in an accident. Nilsson, with the looks of a young, dark-haired Ingrid Bergman, brilliantly manages the shift from ecstatic young love to bitterness and emptiness, and then to the expression of a different kind of love."
At Alt Film Guide, Andre Soares cites Ingmar Bergman saying about Nilsson: "she could do anything. She did it instantly and delivered her lines with absolute naturalness."
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. W 1654. Photo: Melodie / Herzog-Film / A. Grimm. Publicity still for Sommarflickan/Schwedenmädel/Swedish Girl (Håkan Bergström, Thomas Engel, 1955).
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf., no. 1662. Photo: Melodie / Sandrew / Herzog-Film / A. Grimm. Publicity still for Sommarflickan/Schwedenmädel/Swedish Girl (Håkan Bergström, Thomas Engel, 1955).
In her third and last film for Bergman, Kvinnors Väntan/Waiting Women (Ingmar Bergman, 1952), Maj-Britt Nilsson played one of four waiting sisters-in-law - Anita Björk, Eva Dahlbeck, and Aino Taube are the others.
Ronald Bergan notes that the film is “a good example of the director's concern for relations between the sexes, especially from a woman's point of view. While the women of the title wait for their husbands to join them for the summer, three of them recount decisive incidents in their married lives. Nilsson's episode has her in hospital about to go into labour, a situation she has kept from her husband.”
Receiving rave reviews for her work, it was expected that she would become a main staple of Bergman's prestigious company of players. Surprisingly she never made another film for him.
In 1951, after a brief marriage to singer and composer Anders Börje, she had married Per Gerhard, a theatre director and son of Karl Gerhard, a prominent Swedish singer.
She subsequently left the Royal Dramatic Theatre to work alongside him at Stockholm's Vasa Theatre. The couple would stay there for the next three decades. One of her stage roles was that of Maggie the Cat in a Swedish-language version of Tennessee Williams'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
The films she later made in her career were of far less significance than her early work with Bergman. Among the more interesting ones are the Swedish film noir Vildfåglar/Wild Birds (Alf Sjöberg, 1955) with Per Oscarsson, the Swedish-German coproduction Sommarflickan/Schwedenmädel/Swedish Girl (Håkan Bergström, Thomas Engel, 1955) opposite Karlheinz Böhm, and Hollywood director John Cromwell's last film, A Matter of Morals (1961). The film was made in English in Sweden, with Nilsson carrying on an adulterous affair with her brother-in-law (Patrick O'Neal).
Nilsson seldom strayed outside her homeland when it came to filming outside the rare occasion of the two Austrian films based on the popular trilogy by Trygve Gulbranssen about the Norwegian Björndal family, Und ewig singen die Wälder/Beyond Sing the Woods (Paul May, 1959) and Das Erbe von Björndal/The Heritage of Bjorndal (Gustav Ucicky, 1960).
Her last film appearance was in Bluff Stop (Jonas Cornell, 1977), which featured Björn Andrésen, the boy from Morte a Venezia/Death in Venice (Luchino Visconti, 1971), by then 22, in his first film after Death in Venice.
She retired completely in 1985. In the 1980s she and her husband took up residence on the French Riviera.
In 2006, Maj-Britt Nilsson died in Cannes, France, aged 82.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 2247. Photo: Berolina / Constantin / Wesel. Publicity still for Was die Schwalbe sang/What the swallow sang (Géza von Bolvary, 1956) with Gunnar Möller.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf. Photo: Constantin Film / Wesel. Publicity still for Was die Schwalbe sang/What the swallow sang (Géza von Bolvary, 1956) with Gunnar Möller.
Sources: Ronald Bergan (The Guardian), Andre Soares (Alt Film Guide), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 5327/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Manassé, Wien.
Tall and blond Tala Birell was born as Natalie Bierl in Bucharest, Romania in 1907. Her mother Stephanie Sahaydakowska, was a Polish baroness, and her father, Carl Bierl, an Austrian businessman. They were temporarily in Bucharest while he was overseeing his company there.
Nathale and her three sisters and one brother enjoyed an idyllic life, summering at the Polish estate of her aristocratic uncle. During WWI the family was in Berlin, where Nathalie studied at a private school. After the war her father died and her privileged childhood came to an end.
She dreamed of the theatre, and made her stage debut in Berlin in 1926 in The Mikado with Erik Charell.
That year, she also made her film debut credited as Thala Birell in a bit role in Man spielt nicht mit der Liebe/One Does Not Play with Love (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1926), starring Werner Krauss and Lili Damita. This silent German drama was an adaptation of the play On ne badine pas avec l'amour by Alfred de Musset, and is now considered to be a lost film.
The following year she played in Ich habe im Mai von der Liebe geträumt/In May, I dreamed of love (Frans Seitz, 1927) with Wilhelm Dieterle.
She was spotted by the famous stage producer Max Reinhardt, who put her in his production of Es Liegt in Der Luft (It’s in the Air, 1927) starring Marlene Dietrich. Birell was an understudy for Dietrich’s role until Dietrich left the show. Tala then became the star and took the show to Vienna. As a Reinhardt protégé, her reputation grew.
In Austria she played the female lead in the film Die Tat des Andreas Harmer/The act of Andrew Harmer (Alfred Deutsch-German, 1930).
Next, she went to England to appear in the drama Menschen im Käfig/The Love Storm (Ewald André Dupont, 1930) starring Conrad Veidt. This was the German-language version of the British film Cape Forlorn (Ewald André Dupont, 1931).
Then, a Universal executive signed her to come to Hollywood for a part in Liebe auf Befehl (Ernst L. Frank, Johannes Riemann, 1931), the German version of The Boudoir Diplomat (Malcolm St. Clair, 1930) with Betty Compson.
She stayed in Hollywood and Universal gave her a leading role in Doomed Battalion (Cyril Gardner, 1932), the American version of a German mountain film starring Luis Trenker. It was a critical and artistic success and was voted one of the ten best films of 1932 by the New York Times. Next she appeared as a European countess in Nagana (Ernst L. Frank, 1933) opposite Melvyn Douglas.
The studio promoted her as a second Garbo, due to her glamorous, a bit cold beauty. But just as with another European import Anna Sten, the publicity did not work. Garbo was unique.
In the following years Tirell only played small roles for Columbia Pictures in films like The Captain Hates the Sea (Lewis Milestone, 1934). She got the female lead in B-films like the aviation-themed science-fiction film Air Hawks (Albert Rogell, 1935).
She also had supporting parts in A-films like the musical comedy Let's Live Tonight (Victor Schertzinger, 1935) starring Lilian Harvey, Crime and Punishment (Josef von Sternberg, 1935) starring Peter Lorre, and the classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938).
British postcard in the Film Weekly Series, London.
In 1940 Tala Birell appeared onstage in My Dear Children at the Belasco Theatre in New York City.
During the 1940s she continued to appear in B-films like the action film Seven Miles from Alcatraz (Edward Dmytryk, 1942) with Bonita Granville, and One Dangerous Night (Michael Gordon, 1943), the ninth Lone Wolf film featuring Warren William as former jewel thief and reformed detective Michael Lanyard alias The Lone Wolf.
Her most often-seen performance is her brief role as the governess to the Empress's very young son in The Song of Bernadette (Henry King, 1943), who takes what is believed to be miraculous water from the grotto.
Her roles got smaller and she started to work for ‘poverty row’ studios as PRC and Monogram Pictures. For PRC she played in the Science Fiction/Horror movie The Monster Maker (Sam Newfield, 1944) starring J. Carrol Naish, and for Columbia she played in a film of another popular series, the mystery film noir The Power of the Whistler (Lew Landers, 1945) based on the radio drama The Whistler.
Several of her characters were linked with the anti-Nazi war effort: a courageous Russian in China (John Farrow, 1943), Madame Bouchard of the French Resistance in Till We Meet Again (Frank Borzage, 1944), the Nazi Doctor Elise Bork in the serial Jungle Queen (Lewis D. Collins, Ray Taylor, 1945), and Yvette Aubert, the French adventurer and entertainer in Women in the Night (William Rowland, 1948), who plays along with an extreme Nazi unit in Shanghai until she saves the world from a weapon of mass destruction with the sacrifice of her life.
After the war, she also had a small part in the biopic Song of Love (Clarence Brown, 1947) starring Katharine Hepburn as Clara Wieck.
Tirell returned to Germany and took up residence with her mother who was by then living in Munich. In 1951 she was appointed by the Special Service Headquarters of the U.S. Army in Nuremberg to organize theatrical productions in Germany, France, and Austria for the G.I.s. stationed there. Her title was Field Entertainment Supervisor, and sometimes took part herself in shows at military clubs in Munich and Nuremberg, and Orléans (France).
She later moved to Berlin with the title Command Entertainment Director and put on shows for U.S. troops and refugees from Eastern Europe. She retired in 1957 for health reasons.
Her final on-camera appearance was as the Queen of Cygni in an episode of the television series Flash Gordon (1955), based on the characters of the Alex Raymond-created comic strip.
Tala Birell died in 1958 in Landstuhl, Germany, aged 50. She is buried in the Bavarian village Marquartstein in a family tomb.
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, no. 774. Photo: Universal.
Sources: L. Paul Meienberg (Films of the Golden Age), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.
Striking presence, voice and vigorous acting
Mounet-Sully was born as Jean-Sully Mounet in Bergerac in the Dordogne, France in 1841.
He had his dramatic training at the Conservatoire in Paris, which he entered at the age of twenty-one. At the Conservatoire he took the first prize for tragedy.
He made his stage debut at the Odeon theatre in 1868, without attracting much attention.
His career was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, and his passion for his military career almost convinced him to give up the stage career.
In 1872 he had his breakthrough, when he could play Oreste in Jean Racine's Andromaqueat the Comédie-Française.
In the following years is striking presence, voice and vigorous acting made him one of the most important actors of the Comédie-Française. He played the great roles of the classic repertory, including Achilles in Racine's Iphigenie et Aulide, Rodrigue in Le Cid, Nero in Brittanicus, Hippolyte in Phèdre and the title parts in Victor Hugo's Hernani and Ruy Blas.
He reached his apex in 1881 with the première of L'Oedipe roi, a French version by Jules Lacroix of Sophocles' drama Oedipus Rex.
Mounet-Sully was innovating in thinking that an actor should lose his own personality and totally absorb that of his character, once on stage.
His Oedipus was such a performance that only until 1937, when Jean Cocteau's La Machine Infernale really revived Sophocles' play in a modernised version at the Theatre Antoine. It was also the adebut for actor Jean Marais.
Another triumph for Mounet-Sully was his Hamlet in the play by William Shakespeare in 1886. He was created chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1889.
French postcard by A.B. Photo: still of Mounet-Sully in the play Oedipe Roi/Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.
French postcard in the series Chanteurs des Cours, no. 7. Photo: A. Bergeret & Co., Nancy. Caption: "Avec une concurrence pareille, nous sommes f....us!" (With such a competition, we are lost!)
This postcard is from a caricature series on street singers. The names on the poster refer to well acclaimed actors around 1900: Sarah Bernhardt, Mounet-Sully and Jean Coquelin.
Film d'Art Cinema
Mounet-Sully also was a film actor during the short French 'wave' of the film d'art cinema.
In 1908 he acted in a film after his stage success Oedipe roi, directed by André Calmettes.
Soon other examples of his previous popular stage performances were transformed into film: Brittanicus (André Calmettes, 1908) opposite Gabrielle Réjane and Hamlet (Gerard Bourgeois, 1908).
In 1913 Mounet-Sully acted in another adaptation of Sophocles' play, entitled La légende d'Oedipe, and directed by Gaston Roudès. In this film also played his younger brother Paul Mounet and Joë Hamman.
When the First World War broke out and many actors were mobilised, he defended the interests of his Comédie-Française, where he had been a Doyen (dean) since 1894.
Although he was over seventy years old, he still played at the Comédie-Française from time to time. In 1915 he played here his last role, his former success Polyeucte.
Mounet-Sully died in 1916 in Paris. He was 75.
He was married to actress Jeanne Remy. Their daughter was the actress Jeanne Sully.
He was a good friend, co-performer, and one-time lover of legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt.
French postcard by FC & C, no. 83. Photo Saul Boyer. Collection: Manuel Palomino Arjona.
French postcard by FC & C, no. 438. Photo Saul Boyer. Collection: Manuel Palomino Arjona.
Sources: Encyclopædia Britannica, Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.
Italian film and stage actress Giulietta Masina (1921-1994) starred in the classics La strada (1954) and Notti di Cabiria (1957), both directed by her husband Federico Fellini and both winners of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The only 1,57 m long Masina was often called the ‘female Chaplin’. The skilled, button-eyed comedienne could deliver intense dramatic performances of naive characters dealing with cruel circumstances.
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 3381. Photo: N.V. Standaardfilms. Publicity still for La strada (1954).
Italian postcard by Casa Edite. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze (Florence), no. 3180. Photo: Titanus. Publicity still for Il Bidone (1955).
German postcard by ISV, no. D 15. Photo: ISV.
Giulia Anna Masina was born in San Giorgio di Piano near Bologna in 1921. Her parents were Gaetano Masina, a violinist and a music teacher, and Anna Flavia Pasqualin, a schoolteacher. She had three elder siblings: Eugenia, and twins Mario and Maria.
Giulietta spent most of her teenage years in Rome at the home of a widowed aunt, where she cultivated a passion for the theatre. She attended the Hermanas Ursulinas school, and graduated in Literature from the Sapienza University of Rome.
At university, she turned to acting. From 1941 on, she participated in numerous plays that included singing and dancing as well as acting, all in the Ateneo Theater of her university.
In 1942, she joined the Compagnia del Teatro Comico Musicale and played various roles on stage. After seeing her photographs, she was cast by Federico Fellini, who was writing the radio serial Terziglio about a the adventures of the newlyweds Cico and Pallina.
Masina and Fellini fell in love while working on the successful program and were married in 1943. Several months after her marriage to Fellini, in 1943, Masina suffered a miscarriage after falling down a flight of stairs. She became pregnant again; Pierfederico (nicknamed Federichino) was born on 22 March 1945, but died just a month later on 24 April owing to respiratory insufficiency. Masina and Fellini did not have another child.
Despite distancing herself from live theatre, Masina did return to the university stage for some time acting with Marcello Mastroianni. Her last stage appearance was in 1951.
Working together with her husband, Masina made the transition to on-screen acting. Half of her Italian films, the most successful ones, would be either written or directed by her husband.
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4154. Photo: Joachim G. Jung / Ufa.
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. V 169. Photo: Unitalia Film / Luxardo / Alessi.
German postcard vy WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 236. Photo: Filmpress Zürich.
Cabiria and Gelsomina
Giulietta Masina made her film debut in an uncredited role in the neo-realist war drama Paisà/Paisan (Roberto Rossellini, 1946), co-written by Fellini.
She received her first screen credit in the crime drama Senza pièta/Without Pity (Alberto Lattuada, 1948) starring Carla del Poggio, which was another adaptation by Fellini. Masina’s performance earned her a Silver Ribbon, Italy's most prominent motion-picture award, as Best Supporting Actress.
She then co-starred in Fellini’s début as a director, Luci del varietà/Variety Lights (Federico Fellini, Alberto Lattuado, 1950) with Peppino di Filippo and Carla del Poggio. It is a bittersweet drama about a bunch of misfits in a traveling vaudeville troupe.
A box office hit was the prostitution drama Persiane chiuse/Behind Closed Shutters (Luigi Comencini, 1951) with Massimo Girotti and Eleonora Rossi Drago. She had a supporting part in Europa '51/The Greatest Love (Roberto Rossellini, 1952) starring Ingrid Bergman.
She also appeared in the second film of her husband, the hilarious comedy Lo sceicco bianco/The White Sheik (Federico Fellini, 1952) featuringAlberto Sordi.
At AllMovie, Hal Erickson adds: “Featured in the cast is Fellini's wife Giuletta Masina as a prostitute named Cabiria, who'd be given a vehicle of her own, Nights of Cabiria, in 1955 (sic). Based on ‘an idea’ by Michelangelo Antonioni, The White Sheik was the main inspiration for Gene Wilder's The World's Greatest Lover (1977).”
After some lesser films by other directors she finally had her international breakthrough in Fellini's La strada/The Road (Federico Fellini, 1954), as the young Gelsomina, who is sold to the violent traveling strongman Zampano (Anthony Quinn) by her poor mother.
At IMDb, Matt Whittle writes: “Giulietta Masina is the highlight of the film. With a face like no other, it exudes a certain beauty but is also very odd, with a definite quirkiness to it.”
She was also co-starring in Fellini’s next, lesser known effort Il Bidone/The Swindle (Federico Fellini, 1955) with Broderick Crawford, Richard Basehart, and Franco Fabrizi as a trio of con artists who victimize the Italian bourgeoisie (who are shown to be no better than the crooks). Masina played Basehart’s wife.
In 1957, she won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival for her portrayal of the title role in Fellini's widely acclaimed Le notti di Cabiria/Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 1957). She played the innocent prostitute Cabiria who was born to lose - but still never would give up.
In 1956 and in 1957 Fellini and Masina were awarded the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, for La Strada and for Le notti di Cabiria.
In the following years Masina appeared in several films by other directors, including the prison drama Nella città l'inferno/...and the Wild Wild Women (Renato Castellani, 1959) with Anna Magnani and the German-Italian production Jons und Erdme/Jons and Erdme (Victor Vicas, 1959) opposite Carl Raddatz.
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. S 772. Photo: Unitalia Film / Luxardo / Alessi.
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 907.
In 1960, Giulietta Masina's career was damaged by the critical and box office failure of the massive international production Das kunstseidene Mädchen/The High Life (Julien Duvivier, 1960) with Gustav Knuth and Gert Fröbe.
Subsequently, she became dedicated almost entirely to her personal life and marriage. Nonetheless, she again worked with her husband in Giulietta degli spiriti/Juliet of the Spirits (Federico Fellini, 1965), which earned both the New York Film Critics award (1965) and the Golden Globe award (1966) for Best Foreign Language Film.
In 1969, Masina did her first work in English in The Madwoman of Chaillot (Bryan Forbes, 1969) which starred Katharine Hepburn.
From 1966 till 1969, Masina hosted a popular radio show, Lettere aperte a Giulietta Masina, in which she addressed correspondence from her listeners. The letters were eventually published in a book.
From the 1970s on, she appeared on television. Two performances, in Eleonora (Silverio Blasi, 1973) and Camilla (Sandro Bolchi, 1976), respectively, were particularly acclaimed.
After almost two decades, Masina appeared in Fellini's Ginger e Fred/Ginger and Fred (Federico Fellini, 1986).
Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Fellini gently lampoons the world of small-time show business (...) Masina and Marcello Mastroianni star as Amelia Bonetti and Pippo Botticella, a onetime celebrity song-and-dance team. Having risen to fame with a dancing act where they recreated the acts of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (hoping to become the Fred and Ginger of Italy), Amelia and Pippo parted company to pursue their separate lives. Neither one was particularly successful in other fields of endeavor, so when after many years Amelia is offered a guest-star gig on a TV variety show, she jumps at the chance. (...) The overall good cheer of the film was dampened when the real Ginger Rogers sued the distributors of Ginger and Fred for ‘defamation of character’.”
Masina then rejected outside offers in order to attend to her husband's precarious health. Her last film was Aujourd'hui peut-être/A Day to Remember (Jean-Louis Bertucelli, 1991).
Giulietta Masina died from lung cancer in 1994, aged 73, less than five months after her husband's demise. They are buried together at Rimini cemetery in a tomb marked by a prow-shaped monument, the work of sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 109/75, 1975. This postcard was printed in an edition of 200.000 cards. The price was 5 kop.
Trailer of La strada/The Road (1954). Source: RevistaTOMIS (YouTube).
Sources: Matt Whittle (IMDb), Jason Ankeny (AllMovie), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), F.T. (Italica), Wikipedia, and IMDb.
Siegfried Breuer jr. (1930-2004) was an Austrian film actor. He often played the dashing young lover in German films of the 1950s and early 1960s.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden-Westf., no. 1961. Photo: Deutsche London / Von Mindszenty. Publicity still for Die gestolene Hose/The stolen Trousers (Géza von Cziffra, 1956).
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 2058. Photo: Arthur Grimm.
A Sweet and Handsome Jeune Premier
Siegfried Breuer jr. was born as Walter Breuer in Vienna, Austria in 1930.
He was the son of the actor Siegfried Breuer, who had been a famous film actor during the Third Reich.
Walter was trained at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, and since 1952 he worked as a film actor.
In 1954, after his father had died, the 23 years old was promoted as the new star, Siegfried Breuer jr. His first major role was in Der Schweigende Engel/The Silent Angel (Harald Reinl, 1954) starring Christine Kaufmann.
In contrast to his father Siegfried, who often embodied the icy seducer, junior was primarily cast in light entertainment films as a sweet and handsome jeune premier (the youthful lover).
He was seen as such on the side of the young Romy Schneider in Die Deutschmeister/A March for the Emperor (Ernst Marischka, 1955), Margit Saad in Drei Mädels vom Rhein/Three girls from the Rhine (Georg Jacoby, 1955) and Susanne Cramer in Die gestolene Hose/The stolen Trousers (Géza von Cziffra, 1956).
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1324. Photo: EVA / Constantin / Marhoffer. Publicity still for Der Schweigende Engel/The Silent Angel (Harald Reinl, 1954).
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, no. V 318. Photo: Erma / Herzog-Film / Czerwonski. Publicity still for Der Deutschmeister/A March for the Emperor (Ernst Marischka, 1955).
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1692. Photo: Wega / Constantin.
By his own assessment, Siegfried Breuer jr. was miscast as the charming lover with his ‘tinny voice’ and broadcast feature, which was anything but gracious. After five years, he changed his name back to Walter Breuer.
He played smaller roles in films like the drama Polikuschka/Polikuska (Carmine Gallone, 1958) featuring Folco Lulli, and the Yugoslavian war film Kapetan Lesi/Captain Lechi (Zivorad 'Zika' Mitrovic, 1960).
One of his final films was In Frankfurt sind die Nächte heiß/In Frankfurt, the nights are hot (Rolf Olsen, 1966) with Vera Tschechowa.
After his film career, he worked at the Bayerischer Rundfunk as a production assistant.
In 2004, Walter Breuer passed away. He was 73. According to an obituary in the German newspaper Die Welt, the burden to be a son of a famous father had been heavy for him.
However, his sons Jacques and Pascal Breuer have also become actors.
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. T 642. Photo: A. Grimm / Delos / Constantin. Publicity still for Roman einer Siebzehnjährigen/Novel of a seventeen year old (Paul Verhoeven, 1955).
German card. Photo: A. Grimm / Delos / Constantin.
Sources: Die Welt (German), Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.
English postcard by GB Posters, Sheffield, no. PC 0144.
Laetitia Marie Laure Casta was born in Pont-Audemer in Normandy in 1978. She spent her childhood in Normandy and Corsica, with her mother, Line Blin, from Normandy and her father, Dominique Casta, from Corsica. She has an older brother, Jean-Baptiste, and a younger sister, Marie-Ange.
Casta's modelling career reportedly began when she was discovered by the photographer Frederic Cresseaux, an agent of Paris' Madison Models, during a family holiday in her father's native Corsica, at age 15. With her natural beauty, she impressed both the agency's director and the editor of Elle magazine and got a contract.
In 1993 Laetitia signed on with Guess? Jeans for a very successful advertising campaign. Since 1998, Casta has been the L'Oréal Paris brand ambassador. Casta has appeared on over 100 magazine covers including Victoria's Secret catalogues, Harper's Bazaar, Elle magazine, and Vogue magazine. She is the face of several fragrances, including Chanel's Allure and Givenchy's Forbidden flower. She walked down the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show from 1997 till 2000.
In 1999, Casta was ranked first in a national survey ordered by the French Mayors Association to decide who should be the new model for the bust of Marianne, an allegorical symbol of the French Republic, which stands inside every French town hall.
For her first film, Casta has made forays into the blockbuster Asterix & Astérix et Obélix contre César/Asterix & Obelix Take On Caesar (Claude Zidi, 1999), based on the comic book by René Goscinny. In this live-action film, she played Falbala, a love interest for Obelix (Gérard Depardieu). It was the most expensive French film ever made and a smash hit in Europe.
Her acting career gained momentum when she starred in the TV mini-series La bicyclette bleue/The blue bicycle (Thierry Binisti, 2000), set in WWII France.
English postcard by Anabas, Essex, no. AP754.
In 2001, Laetitia Casta appeared in the dramatic film Les Âmes Fortes/Savage Souls (Raoul Ruiz, 2001). It was a major disappointment.
James Travers at Films de France: “Despite an impressive cast and some excellent production values, this quality adaptation of the classic French novel by Jean Giono generally fails to engage the spectator and is amongst the least satisfactory of Raoul Ruiz's directorial efforts to date. Visually impressive this film may be - with some beautiful photography of its Provencal setting and meticulous attention to period detail - but shallow characterization and uneven narrative pacing make watching it a painfully empty experience.”
Other films are Errance/Wandering (Damien Odoul, 2003) and the TV film Luisa Sanfelice (Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani, 2004).
On stage she featured in the plays Ondine (2004-2005) written by Jean Giraudoux and Elle t'attend (She is waiting for you) (2008), written and directed by Florian Zeller.
In the cinema she worked with interesting directors like Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau for Nés en 68/Born in 68 (2008) and Tsai Ming-Liang for Visage/Face (2009).
Her interpretation of Brigitte Bardot in the film Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque)/(Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life) (Joann Sfar, 2010) was received well. She was nominated for the César Award of the Best Supporting Actress.
Casta served as a jury member at the 69th Venice International Film Festival in 2012. That year, she also appeared in her first American film, Arbitrage (Nicholas Jarecki, 2012) starring Richard Gere.
In 2001, she gave birth to her daughter, Sahteene, by photographer Stéphane Sednaoui. Casta is now engaged to Italian actor Stefano Accorsi. The couple have two children, a son named Orlando (2006), and a daughter named Athenà (2009).
In 2012 Laetitia Casta became a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in Order of Arts and of Letters).
Later this year Casta can be seen with Vanessa Paradis and Isabelle Adjani in Very Bad Girls (Audrey Dana, 2014).
Trailer Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque)/(Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life) (2010). Source: icineytv (YouTube).
Sources: James Travers (Films de France), Paul Agius (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.
German film and screenwriter Maria Solveg or Maria Matray (1907–1993) was a star of the late Weimar cinema. When Hitler came to power, the Jewish actress went in exile and had a new career in the US as a choreographer and writer.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3362/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5877/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Atelier Binder, Berlin.
The typical modern girl
Maria Solveg was born as Maria Stern in Niederschönhausen German Empire (now a part of Berlin, Germany), in 1907. Her aunt was German artist Käthe Kollwitz. Two of her older sisters were the actresses Johanna Hofer and Regula Keller, and the third was the dancer Katta Sterna.
Maria studied ballet as a child. At age 14, she left school and joined actor-director Ernst Matray's theatrical tour.
She began appearing in German films at 16. She made her film debut as Maria Solveg in the Austrian silent film Der letzte Deutschmeister/The Last German master (Johann Leopold Pock, 1923).
As the typical modern girl, Maria soon became a star of late Weimar cinema. She co-starred with Ernst Matray in Die wunderlichen Geschichten des Theodor Huber/The whimsical stories of Theodore Huber (Richard Löwenbein, 1924).
In 1927 she played the female lead in the silent historical comedy Der Meister von Nürnberg/The Master of Nuremberg (Ludwig Berger, 1927) starring Rudolf Rittner, Max Gülstorff and Gustav Fröhlich. The film is based on the opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868) by Richard Wagner. According to Wikipedia, it was considered artistically unsuccessful because of its overly theatrical presentation.
While touring America in 1927, she married Matray. She developed into a fine choreographer and worked with Austrian theatre director Max Reinhardt. As a film actress she continued to be credited as Maria Solveg and smoothly made the transition to sound film.
In the mystery romance Der Sohn des weißen Berges/The Son of the White Mountain (Mario Bonnard, Luis Trenker, 1930) she co-starred with Trenker and Renate Müller. The film was part of the popular series of Mountain films of the era.
It was followed by the musical Ich glaub nie mehr an eine Frau/Never Trust a Woman (Max Reichmann, 1930) starring Richard Tauber, Paul Hörbiger and Werner Fuetterer, and the historical biopic Elisabeth von Österreich/Elisabeth of Austria (Adolf Trotz, 1931) featuring Lil Dagoveras Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
Later films included the crime film Der Weg nach Rio/Road to Rio (Manfred Noa, 1931) also with Oskar Homolkaand Oskar Marion, and the Harry Piel vehicle Der Geheimagent/The Secret Agent (Harry Piel, 1932).
A success was Der Hexer/The Sorceror (Martin Frič, Karel Lamač, 1932) a screen adaptation of Edgar Wallace's thriller The Ringer. She played the female lead opposite Paul Richter and Fritz Rasp.
Sadly, she then appeared in only one more film, Ein Mann mit Herz/A man with heart (Géza von Bolváry, 1932) opposite Gustav Fröhlich.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 80/1. Photo: Phoebus-Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Der Meister von Nürnberg/The Master of Nuremberg (Ludwig Berger, 1927).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 80/3. Photo: Phoebus-Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Der Meister von Nürnberg/The Master of Nuremberg (Ludwig Berger, 1927) with Gustav Fröhlich. Collection: Egbert Barten.
Following the Nazi takeover in 1933, the Jewish Maria Matray went into exile with her husband – initially in France and Britain before moving on the United States.
She couldn’t find jobs as an actress, but in 1938 she became the assistant of Max Reinhardt for the stage production of Faust in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In Hollywood, she developed a new career as a choreographer and writer, as Maria Matray. Together with her husband, she choreographed several Hollywood movies, often without a screen credit, most notably White Cargo (1942), Swing Fever (1943), and The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947).
One of her stories as adapted for the musical mystery Murder in the Music Hall (John English, 1946) starring Vera Ralston. It involves a murder in Radio City Music Hall with The Rockettes as suspects.
She also wrote the screenplay for the TV film The Last Act (William Asher, 1952), an episode of Invitation Playhouse: Mind Over Murder.
The Matrays moved back to Germany in 1953. For television, she wrote screenplays for Der König mit dem Regenschirm/The king with the umbrella (Ernst Matray, 1954), and Abschiedsvorstellung/Farewell performance (Ernst Matray, 1955), with Elfie Mayerhofer.
She and Ernest Matray then separated and they officially divorced in 1962. Maria began writing novels and scripts for television with her new partner, Answald Krüger.
They also worked for the cinema and wrote screenplays for Mein Vater, der Schauspieler/My father, the actor (Robert Siodmak 1956) featuring O.W. Fischer, Wie ein Sturmwind/Tempestuous Love (Falk Harnack, 1957) starring Lilli Palmer, and the musical ...und abends in die Scala/An evening at the Scala (Erik Ode, 1958) with Caterina Valente.
The best known of these films is probably Die schöne Lügnerin/The beautiful liar (Axel von Ambesser, 1959) starring Romy Schneider and Jean-Claude Pascal.
She continued writing scripts with Krüger until his death in 1977. One of their later scripts was for Maximilian von Mexiko/Maximilan of Mexico (Günter Gräwert, 1970), a German-Austrian historical television miniseries depicting the events of the French Intervention in Mexico which placed Emperor Maximilian on the throne of Mexico.
Later, she worked with different authors. Maria Matray continued to write TV screenplays till her death in 1993 in Munich, Germany. She was 86.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4870/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Gudenberg, Berlin.
German postcard, no. 4064 . Photo: Zander & Labisch.
Sources: C. Parker (Starlet Showcase), Film-Zeit.de (German), Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.
Charming Russian actress Lyudmila Savelyeva (1942) (Russian: Людмила Савельева) is internationally best known for her leading role in the grand epic Voyna i mir/War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1965-1967), based on the classic novel by Leo Tolstoy.
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 11239, 1966. Photo: G. Vajlja. (This postcard was printed in an edition of 100.000 cards. The price was 8 kop.)
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 2979, 1975. Photo: Don. (This postcard was printed in an edition of 600.000 cards. The price was 5 kop.)
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 03286, 1969. This postcard was printed in an edition of 200,000 cards. Retail price was 8 kop.
The Most Expensive Film Ever
Lyudmila Mikhailovna Savelyeva was born in Leningrad, Soviet Union (now St. Petersburg, Russia), in 1942.
She studied ballet at the Ballet Academy of Leningrad and worked for the Leningrad Opera and Ballet Theater, now the Mariinski Theater. In 1964 the ballet Sleeping Beauty in which she performed was adapted to film.
Spyashchaya krasavitsa/Sleeping Beauty (Apollinari Dudko, Konstantin Sergeyev, 1964) was seen by director Sergei Bondarchuk, who invited her for the leading part in his next film, Voyna i mir/War and Peace (1965-1967).
The inexperienced Savelyeva played Natasha Rostova opposite the director himself as Pierre Bezukhov. The 7-hour-long film epic won the 1968 Academy Awardfor Best Foreign Language Film, and brought Bondarchuk a reputation of one of the finest directors of his generation.
Recognized as the most expensive project in film history, Voyna i mir was produced over seven years, at an estimated cost of $100,000,000 (over $700,000,000 adjusted for inflation in 2008).
The film set several records, such as involving tens of thousands of actors and extras from the Red Army in filming of the 3rd two-hour-long episode about the historic Battle of Borodino against Napoleon's invasion, making it the largest battle scene ever filmed.
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 08339, 1969. This postcard was printed in an edition of 500,000 cards. Retail price was 6 kop. Photo: publicity still for Voyna i mir/War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1965-1967).
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 08343, 1969. This postcard was printed in an edition of 500,000 cards. Retail price was 6 kop. Photo: publicity still for Voyna i mir/War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1965-1967).
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 08351, 1969. This postcard was printed in an edition of 500,000 cards. Retail price was 6 kop. Photo: publicity still for Voyna i mir/War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1965-1967).
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 08356, 1969. This postcard was printed in an edition of 500,000 cards. Retail price was 6 kop. Photo: publicity still for Voyna i mir/War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1965-1967).
In her next film, Chayka/The Seagull (Yuli Karasik, 1970) Lyudmila Savelyeva proved to be one of the best actresses at interpreting Anton Chekhov's work.
According to reviewer James Brandon at IMDb she "squeezes out more pathos and passion than many actresses encounter in a lifetime. The payoff is near the end of the film; with her character Nina returning to visit her former lover after a two-year absence. Even without the context of the rest of the story, this is an arresting scene, as the actress in her late 20's [actually she was only 23 or 24 at the time, Bob] reads as though she has seen as much suffering as Mother Russia itself has experienced throughout her long history. Within the context of the story, Savelyeva's change is so magically and maddeningly profound that it should bring tears to the eye of even the most jaded film-goer.”
Another triumph soon followed with Beg/The Flight (Aleksandr Alov, Vladimir Naumov, 1970), an adaptation of the play by Mikhail Bulgakov, about the defeat of the White Army in the Russian Civil War of 1918-1921, that caused massive emigration of the upper classes and nobility.
Next she appeared opposite Sophia Lorenand Marcello Mastroianniin the Oscar nominated drama I Girasoli/Sunflower (Vittorio de Sica, 1970). This Carlo Ponti production was the first Italian feature film shot in Moscow.
Very popular in the USSR was the Western Vsadnik Bez Golovy/The Headless Horseman (Vladimir Vajnshtok, 1973). This Western, based on a novel by Mayne Reid (a 19th-century writer whose works were much read in the Eastern Europe), was filmed in Cuba by a Soviet crew and includes many Cubans in the cast.
Savelyeva played the love interest, and her presence was partly responsible for the popularity of the film, according to Clarke Fountain atAllMovie.
In the following decades Lyudmila Savelyeva went on to star in several Russian films, but to less acclaim.
Recently she played supporting parts in films by director Sergei Solovyov, including Nezhnyy vozrast/The Gentle Age (2000) and the TV mini-series Anna Karenina (2009), based - once more - on a famous novel by Leo Tolstoy.
Lyudmila Savelyeva is married to actor Aleksandr Zbruyev, and they have one child.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin no. 2744, 1966. Retail price was 0,20 MDN. Photo: publicity still for Voyna i mir/War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1965-1967) with Irina Skobzeva and Vasili Lanovoiy.
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 1309, 1974. (This postcard was printed in an edition of 20.000 cards. The price was 8 kop.)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2832, 1967. Photo: Balinski.
Scene from I Girasoli/Sunflower (1970). Source: dvdespecial (YouTube).
Sources: Steve Shelokhonov (IMDb), James Brandon (IMDb), Clarke Fountain (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D. 651.
Dutch postcard by Uitgeverij Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 5160.
Delighted squeals from his adoring, mostly female, audience
Frankie Vaughan was born Frank Abelson in Liverpool, England in 1928. He was the son of a Russian-Jewish upholsterer who lived in a poor area of Liverpool. The name 'Vaughan' came from a grandmother whose first grandson he was, who used to call Frank 'my number one' grandson, in whose Russian accent 'one' sounded like 'Vaughan'. He was an evacuee in Lancaster during World War II.
At age 14 he received a scholarship to the Lancaster College of Art, where he sang in the dance band. After a stint in the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War II, he returned to art school, this time the Leeds College of Art. There he gained his Art Teacher's Diploma in 1950. When he won a prize to design a furniture exhibition stand, he left for London.
In London, Vaughan won the second prize on a radio talent show, and began his theatre career doing variety song and dance acts. He was known as a fancy dresser, wearing top hat, bow tie, tails, and cane.
In the 1950’s he worked for a few years with the Nat Temple band, and after that period he began making records, and became very popular in the UK. His first hit was Look at That Girl (1953) with Ken Mackintosh and his orchestra.
In 1955, he recorded what was to become his trademark song, Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl. He recorded a large number of songs that were covers of United States hit songs, including Jim Lowe's The Green Door (1956), The Garden of Eden (1957) and Jimmie Rodgers'Kisses Sweeter than Wine (1958).
His singing was reportedly accompanied by delighted squeals from his adoring, mostly female, audience. In early 1957 his cover of The Green Door reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart. The same year he was voted 'Showbusiness Personality of the Year'.
In 1961 Vaughan hit #1 for the second time in the UK with Tower of Strength, but the rise of beat music eclipsed his chart career for two or three years, before he returned to the Top 10 in 1967 with There Must Be A Way. Chart success eluded him after this although he did have two more Top 40 singles: Nevertheless and So Tired.
British postcard by Greaves Gravure, Scarborough, no. X 3.
German postcard by Krüger. Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1964.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/24. Photo: Terb Agency.
Let's Make Love
During the 1950s, Frankie Vaughan appeared in a series of British film musicals including Dangerous Youth (Herbert Wilcox, 1957) with Carole Leslie, and The Lady Is a Square (Herbert Wilcox, 1959) opposite Anna Neagle.
In 1960, he went to the United States to make Let's Make Love (George Cukor, 1960) with Marilyn Monroe. In Let’s Make Love, Vaughan had some nice numbers to sing.
That same year he appeared in another Hollywood film, The Right Approach (David Butler, 1961) with Martha Hyer, but his recordings were no chart hits in the USA.
In 1961 Vaughan returned to England and he was on the bill at the Royal Variety Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
In the late 1960s, he became involved with youth social problems in Easterhouse, a large housing estate in the outskirts of Glasgow, and was influential in attracting new resources and inward investment to the area.
Vaughan continued performing until 1985, when he starred to great critical acclaim in a stage version of 42nd Street at Drury Lane in London. He played a Broadway producer opposite his old friend Shani Wallis who had appeared in their first film together, the Western comedy Ramsbottom Rides Again (John Baxter, 1956). After a year, he suffered a near fatal bout of peritonitis and had to leave the cast.
Frankie Vaughan was created an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1965, and a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1996.
Frankie Vaughan died in 1999 from heart failure in Buckinghamshire, England, aged 71. According to the BBC obituary by Nick Higham, Vaughan was married to Stella Shock, from 1951 to 1999 and they had three children and several grandchildren. The Frankie Vaughan Archive, consisting of sheet music, scores, orchestral and band parts, was donated to Liverpool John Moores University by his widow Stella Vaughan in the summer of 2000.
German postcard by ISV, no. H 18.
French posrcard by E.D.U.G., no. 50.
Marilyn Monroe and Frankie Vaughan sing the title song in Let's make love (1960) - with Polish subtitles! Source: dorcia72 (YouTube).
Frankie Vaughan's Garden of Eden mimed by characters from the TV series Lipstick on Your Collar (1993) with Ewan McGregor. Source: Lipstick OYC (YouTube).
Sources: Denis Gifford (The Independent), Nick Higham (BBC), Wikipedia, and IMDb
Canadian-born French pop superstar Mylène Farmer (1961) is a singer, songwriter, writer, entrepreneur and an occasional film actress. She holds the record for the most number one hits in the French charts and has sold more than 30 million records.
French postcard, no. DK 602.
French postcard by Stuffed Monkey / Universal / Polydor. Photo: Dominique Issermann. Design: Henry Neu.
Controversial, poetic and explicit
Mylène Farmer was born Mylène Jeanne Gautier in Montréal (IMDb), Quebec or in Pierrefonds, France (Wikipedia) or in 1961.
Her parents moved from France to Canada in the late 1950s as Farmer's father, Max, pursued an engineering contract on a dam. Her family moved back to France when she was eight, settling in the Parisian suburb of Ville-d'Avray.
At the age of 17, Farmer discovered acting and she took a three-year course at the Cours Florent, a drama school in Paris. Changing her name to Mylène Farmer as a tribute to her idol, 1930s Hollywood actress Frances Farmer, she began to earn a living as a model acting in several TV ads.
In 1984, Farmer met Laurent Boutonnat, a young film student, after answering a newspaper ad looking for an actress for a small film he was working on. Farmer and Boutonnat became friends and forged a creative partnership, writing and producing the music.
He wrote her first song, Maman a tort, about a young girl's love for her female nurse. It became a mild success in March 1984.
Boutonnat, whose ambition was to become a film director, would be the force behind Mylène’s videos and he wrote the music of her songs. Farmer would write the lyrics.
In the following years, Farmer gained fame with songs featuring controversial yet poetic lyrics and explicit music videos: Libertine, the lead single of her first album, was released in March 1986 and set the tone for Farmer's musical style. The sensual, romantic lyrics were inspired by 19th century literature.
As for the video, which has a running time of over 10 minutes, Boutonnat was inspired by the film Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) and the novels by Marquis de Sade, thus giving the video a cinematic style. Farmer, lit by candlelights, is shrouded in mystery and sexual ambiguity. The video contained the first full frontal nudity appearance by a singer on a major music video.
In 1988, Boutonnat and Farmer started to work on her follow-up album, Ainsi soit je.... This darker and more sexually ambigious album, features songs inspired by Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poe. The album sold 1.8 million copies and the song Pourvu qu'elles soient douces, containing hints of sodomy; became Farmer’s first #1 hit.
French postcard, no. MF2.
French postcard, no. MF4.
Blood and Sex Charged
Her third album, L'Autre... (1991), and the single Désenchantée made Mylène Farmer a superstar in France. The lyrics approached a larger scope of subjects than before such as religion (Agnus Dei), politics (Désenchantée) and press criticism (Je t'aime mélancolie).
Désenchantée spent 9 weeks atop of the French chart and became one of the best selling French singles of all time. It was also a hit in Belgium, Canada, Austria and the Netherlands. It was accompanied by a video in which Mylène plays a rebelling prisoner in a concentration camp-like facility.
Another successful song of the album, Beyond My Control had a blood-and-sex-charged video that was banned from airplay. The success of the singles helped their parent album sell close to 2 million copies in France alone.
In 1991 a disturbed man who had been stalking Farmer entered the Polydor Records headquarters in Paris, held employees at gunpoint demanding to talk to Farmer, and killed the receptionist. Following this occurrence, Farmer shunned media attention and left France to live in Los Angeles for a few weeks.
In late 1992, she released the remix album Dance Remixes, including the single Que mon cœur lâche, dealing with AIDS and sexual relations. The song was accompanied by a video directed by Luc Besson (the first time that a Farmer video wasn't directed by Boutonnat. In the video Farmer plays an angel sent down to earth by God, to save mankind from itself. God refuses to send Jesus again: "last time it was a disaster”.
In the meantime Farmer starred in Giorgino (1994), the feature debut of Laurent Boutonnat. The 3-hour-plus film, shot in English, was a huge critical and commercial flop. Budgeted at 80 million Francs, it was seen by only 60,000 people and recovered only 1% of its budget. The bad reception was particularly hard on Boutonnat, who would not direct again for 13 years.
Farmer decided to leave France to take a long break in the USA.
French postcard, no. 201.
French postcard, no. A104.
Twelve #1 singles
During her time in California, Mylène Farmer started to write her fourth studio album, Anamorphosée. The album was launched by the rock song XXL, and a video directed by Marcus Nispel featuring Mylène strapped to the front of a moving train. The single became her first to debut at #1.
Anamorphosée debuted at #2 in the album charts and sold half a million copies in 3 months. Another single, the jazzy pop ballad California featured a highly acclaimed video directed by Abel Ferrara.
Her 5th studio album Innamoramento went straight to #2 on the charts. The video for the second single, Je te rends ton amour sparked controversy because of its religious imagery. It was condemned by the Catholic Church and banned by many networks. Later released as a video single, it became the biggest selling video single in France.
In late 1999, Farmer embarked on her third concert tour, the Mylenium Tour, which set the record of the highest grossing tour by a non-English speaking artist.
In 2000, Farmer and Boutonnat had assembled songs and video ideas they felt appropriate for a younger, new star, Alizée. They wrote and produced Alizée's albums Gourmandises and Mes courants électriques. Alizée's biggest hit, Moi... Lolita reached the top of the charts and she became the most successful French singer that year.
In December 2004, Farmer presented the album, Avant que l'ombre... which spent several weeks at #1, selling nearly a million copies. Moby invited her to record a duet with him, a French version of Slipping Away - her 4th #1 single in France.
In 2007, Laurent Boutonnat, directed his second feature film, Jacquou le Croquant (2007), featuring Gaspard Ulliel. Farmer recorded the theme song of the film, Devant soi, for the end credits.
During that period, she also worked on the French version of Luc Besson's animated feature Arthur et les Minimoys/Arthur and the Minimoys (2006), lending her voice to Selenia, the character voiced by Madonna in the international version. She later returned to dub the sequels, Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard/Arthur 2 – the Revenge of Maltazard (Luc Besson, 2009) and Arthur 3: la guerre des deux mondes/Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds (Luc Besson, 2010).
Farmer’s seventh studio album, Point de Suture (2008) contained five #1 singles. Farmer then had a record of nine #1 hits in France, more than any other artist in French music history.
In the latter half of 2010, Mylène Farmer hired RedOne, known for his work with Lady Gaga to produce and write the music for the single Oui mais... non. It hit #1 on the French download chart. Considering the decline in music sales, it's her most successful single since 2002. This also makes her the only French singer to have number-one hits in four consecutive decades.
The following singles, Bleu Noir and Lonely Lisa, hit the top of the charts too, expanding her record with twelve #1 singles.
The album Bleu Noir (2010) was produced by Farmer, RedOne, Moby and Archive. It entered the French album chart at #1 and remained at the top for three consecutive weeks. It was followed by another successful album, Monkey Me (2012).
Mylène Farmer sings Oui Mais... Non (2010). Source: MyleneFarmerVEVO (YouTube).
Mylène Farmer sings Je Te Dis Tout. Source: MyleneFarmerVEVO (YouTube).
Sources: Jason Birchmeier (All Music Guide), Wikipedia and IMDb.