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Vintage postcards, stars and stories.

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  • 08/08/14--23:00: New rares from Didier Hanson
  • A friend who contributes lots and lots of postcards to this site is Didier Hanson. From Spain, he regularly sends me new scans of vintage film postcards he discovered. His collection must be gigantic, but the quality is even more impressing. Time after time, a film museum or a collector writes me how amazed they are about Didier's Russian Vera Kholodnaya cards or about the Hungarian postcard of the young Bela Lugosi (photo: Angelo). Didier himself is also a huge fan of silent diva Lya de Putti, because she reminds him of his wife. But he also likes vintage postcards of forgotten actors of the silent European cinema, many of whom were dancers. This post presents some of these rare cards, he has sent me recently.

    Brigitte Helm in Metropolis
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 71/1. Photo: Ufa / Parufamet. Publicity still for Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) with Brigitte Helm. Collection: Didier Hanson. Tomorrow, EFSP will start a new series of weekly film specials in which Metropolis will be included.

    Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 24/4. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit/Ways to Strength and Beauty (Nicholas Kaufmann, Wilhelm Prager, 1925). Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Elsa Krüger
    German postcard by Georg A. Jasmatzi Aktiengesellschaft, Dresden. Photo: H. Philipp, Paris. Collection: Didier Hanson.
    Russian dancer and actress Elsa Krüger (1893-1941) started to perform in modern dances in 1913. Soon she was a star, named 'queen of tango'. She starred in one of the best films of the Russian empire, Nemye svideteli/Silent Witnesses (Yevgeny Bauer, 1914) as the attractive, cold-hearted, manipulative Yelena. After the revolution, she opened the Russian Romantic Ballet Theatre (Russische romantische Ballett) in Berlin and also appeared in a few German films.

    Vera Malinowskaja
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4386/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Balázs, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.
    Vera Malinovskaya (1900-1988), also written as Malinovskaja/ Malinovskaia, played in several Russian films of the 1920s and a few in Germany and Austria.

    Leni Riefenstahl
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1626/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa / Parufamet. Collection: Didier Hanson.
    Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003) was the notorious director of Triumph des Willens (1935), a fascinating propaganda documentary about Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, commissioned by the Nazi government. Before she started directing films, she worked as a dancer and on screen she became a star in the mountain films, directed by Arnold Fanck.

    Hanna Ralph
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 2054/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.
    Stage actress Hanna Ralph (1885-1978) had also a prominent career in the silent cinema. She is best known as Brunhild in Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924). She also appeared in F.W. Murnau's Faust - Eine deutsche Volkssage (1926) and was married to its star, Emil Jannings.

    Ernest Tautenhayn
    Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 47. Photo: Residenz. Collection: Didier Hanson.
    Austrian actor Ernst Tautenhayn (1874–1944) appeared in silent films of the late 1910s and early 1920s.

    Hermann Picha
    Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 522. Photo: Sascha-Film, Wien (Vienna). Collection: Didier Hanson.
    German actor Hermann Picha (1865-1936) played character roles in many classics of the Weimar cinema, such as Fritz Langs's Der müde Tod/Destiny (1921), F.W. Murnau's Herr Tartüff/Tartuffe (1925), and Der Hauptmann von Köpenick/The Captain from Koepenick (Siegfried Dessauer, 1926).

    Lili Darvas
    Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 455. Photo: Ernst Förster, Wien (Vienna). Collection: Didier Hanson.
    Hungarian-born Lili or Lilly Darvas (1902-1974) was a major star first in Budapest, then on the German stage with Max Reinhardt's theatre company during the 1920s. In 1926, Lili married the playwright Ferenc Molnár, who wrote several plays for her.The following year, she made her Broadway debut as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream. After the Austrian Anschluss in 1938, the Jewish actress fled to the US. In Hollywood, she appeared in the MGM musical Meet Me in Las Vegas (Roy Rowland, 1956).

    Jeanette Loff
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4596/1, 1929-1930. Photo: PDC. Collection: Didier Hanson.
    American beauty Jeanette Loff (1906-1942) made her film debut in Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harry A. Pollard, 1927) . Cecil B. Demille offered her a contract and she quickly became one of Hollywood busiest starlets. Jeanette got the chance to show off her soprano voice in films like King Of Jazz (John Murray Anderson, 1930) and Party Girl (Victor Halperin, 1930). Later she starred in several Broadway shows. She retired from acting and in 1942 she died after ingesting ammonia. She was only thirty-five years old.

    Lydia Johnson
    Italian postcard, no. 28. Photo: Macari. Collection: Didier Hanson.
    Russian actress Lydia Johnson (1896-1969) made a few films in Russia, just before the revolution started. She fled to Turkey and finally settled in Italy.

    Friedrich Zelnik and Erich Kaiser-Titz in Die Rose von Dschiandur
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 3214. Photo: publicity still for Die Rose von Dschiandur/The Rose of Dschiandur (Alfred Halm, 1918) with Friedrich Zelnik and Erich Kaiser-Titz. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Muchos gracias, amigo!

    Sources: Verbinina and IMDb.

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    We start a new, weekly series of film specials at EFSP. Today, a post about a quite unknown Italian film from the silent era, Dagli Appennini alle Ande/From the Apennines to the Andes (1916), based on a story by Edmondo De Amicis from the volume Cuore (Heart). The film was directed by Umberto Paradisi and starred Ermanno Roveri as little Marco. A series of 8 sepia postcards was published for the film.

    Dagli Appennini alle Ande 1
    Italian postcard by Stabilimenti Alterocca, Terni. Photo: Gloria Film. Publicity still for Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Umberto Paradisi, 1916). Caption: He filled a sack with clothes for him, and gave him the address of the cousin.

    Dagli Appennini alle Ande 2
    Italian postcard by Stabilimenti Alterocca, Terni. Photo: Gloria Film. Publicity still for Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Umberto Paradisi, 1916). Caption: My son, my Marco, the father said to him, you have set out on a holy undertaking, and God will aid you.

    A sheer endless trip

    The story of Dagli Appennini alle Ande/From the Apenninesto the Andes narrates about a poor boy from Genoa, Marco (played by the then twelve years old Ermanno Roveri), whose mother is working in Argentine and has not responded to the mail from Italy anymore.

    His father and oldest brother cannot leave work, so young Marco leaves to make the big journey, helped and waved goodbye by his father. He sails from Genoa to Buenos Aires.

    In Buenos Aires he discovers that his parent's cousin Francesco Merelli, who had helped as an intermediate has died, and that his mother has moved to Cordova, together with the family she works for.

    This is the start from a sheer endless trip through the country, with Marco always discovering that the family has moved to another city.

    Re-meeting an old Italian he met before on the ocean liner, the man pities Marco and raises money in a bar to help him.

    Marco pleas to a man with a cart (the head of a convoy of wagons) to take him along, which the guy first refuses but then accepts, in trade of Marco doing hard work for him. When the boy falls ill, the man pities him and takes care of him.

    After more hardship, including a walk for miles and miles, Marco finally finds his mother, who had fallen ill and had refused to be operated. Now she will and she will be saved as well.

    Marco's mother was played by Fernanda Roveri, Ermanno's real mother.

    Dagli Appennini alle Ande 3
    Italian postcard by Stabilimenti Alterocca, Terni. Photo: Gloria Film. Publicity still for Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Umberto Paradisi, 1916). Caption: “Well, then,” said the labourer, “keep straight on through there, reading the names of all the streets on the corners; you will end by finding the one you want.”

    Dagli Appennini alle Ande 4
    Italian postcard by Stabilimenti Alterocca, Terni. Photo: Gloria Film. Publicity still for Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Umberto Paradisi, 1916). Caption: "Is not this,” said the boy, “the shop of Francesco Merelli?”

    A more refined idea

    In 1994, Dagli Appennini alle Ande (1916) was restored and presented at the Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bolohna.

    Vittorio Martinelli wrote in the catalogue: "Film Artistica Gloria was the first film company to understand that to support, through cinema, the war effort during World War I, you could not, as most of the production houses were doing, rely on a ridiculous strongmen as Maciste or on a comedian as Cretinetti who succeeded to bring down a whole regiment of Krauts with his jokes and to win the war.

    Gloria had a more refined idea and adapted for the screen the stories from the book Cuore (Heart), where the heroes were young Italians who sacrificed themselves for their country and fought against the enemies at all time, even in distant wars."

    Dagli Appennini alle Ande had a good reception in Italy. During World War II, a new sound version was produced, Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Flavio Calzavara, 1943), starring Cesare Barbetti as Marco and Leda Gloria as his mother.

    In 1959 followed again new version, Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Folco Quilici, 1959). The lead roles were played by Marco Paoletti as Marco, Eleonora Rossi Drago as his mother, and Fausto Tozzi as his father.

    Finally, there was also a TV mini-series, Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Pino Passalacqua, 1990), with Umberto Caglini as Marco, and Giuliano Gemma.

    Dagli Appennini alle Ande 5
    Italian postcard by Stabilimenti Alterocca, Terni. Photo: Gloria Film. Publicity still for Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Umberto Paradisi, 1916). Caption: “To the health of your mother!” And Marco repeated, sobbing, “To the health of my mother.”

    Dagli Appennini alle Ande 6
    Italian postcard by Stabilimenti Alterocca, Terni. Photo: Gloria Film. Publicity still for Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Umberto Paradisi, 1916). Caption: The head [the head conductor of the convoy of wagons] surveyed him with a keen glance, and replied drily, “I have no place.”

    Dagli Appennini alle Ande 7
    Italian postcard by Stabilimenti Alterocca, Terni. Photo: Gloria Film. Publicity still for Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Umberto Paradisi, 1916). Caption: For three days he remained in the wagon, fighting a fever, and seeing no one except the head, who came to give him to drink.

    Dagli Appennini alle Ande 8
    Italian postcard by Stabilimenti Alterocca, Terni. Photo: Gloria Film. Publicity still for Dagli Appennini alle Ande (Umberto Paradisi, 1916). Caption: She stretched out to him her fleshless arms, and she burst into a violent laugh.

    Dagli Appennini alle Ande cover
    Italian postcard by Stabilimenti Alterocca, Terni. Photo: Gloria Film. This is the cover of the complete series of 8 postcards for Dagli Appennini alle Ande (1916).

    Some of the postcards depict situations differently from the film. For the full film of 37 minutes, see Cinestore of Cineteca di Bologna. See also: De amicis Letteratura opera omnia.

    In the right column you will find the films specials that we have posted in the past.

    Source: Wikipedia (Italian) and IMDb.

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  • 08/10/14--23:00: Henry Krauss
  • French actor and director Henry Krauss (1866-1935) was a veteran of the European cinema. From 1908 on he starred in several powerful character roles in early silent films.

    Henry Krauss
    French postcard in the Les Vedettes de l'Ecran Series by Editions Filma, no. 51. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma.

    The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

    Henry Krauss, sometimes credited as Henri Krauss, was born as Henry Kraus in Paris in 1866.

    For two decades he appeared on the stages of Paris in plays like Valet de cœur (1893), La peur des coups (1894) and Théroigne de Méricourt (1902).

    In 1908 he discovered the early cinema and played parts in short silent films as L'Arlésienne (Albert Capellani, 1908), based on the play by Alphonse Daudet, and Marie Stuart/Mary Stuart (Albert Capellani, 1908).

    In the next five years he played a wealth of powerful leading roles for SCAGL (Société Cinématographique des Auteurs et Gens de Lettres) and Krauss became one of the film studio’s first character stars.

    Krauss played Buridau in the film adaptation of Alexandre Dumas'La tour de Nesle/The Tower of Nesle (Albert Capellani, 1909), the title character in the drama Le lépreux de la cité d'Aosta/The leper of the city of Aosta (André Calmettes, 1910), the bohemian in L’oiseau s’envole/The bird flies (Albert Capellani, 1911), Dr. Cezambre in the crime melodrama La glu/The Siren (Albert Capellani, 1913) featuring Mistinguett, and Prince Grégoire III in Le réveil/The alarm (1914).

    Before the First World War, he became a star with his interpretations of two characters from novels by Victor Hugo.

    In 1911 he starred as Quasimodo in Notre Dame de Paris/The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (Albert Capellani, 1911) opposite Stacia Napierkowska as Esmeralda, and in Les Misérables (Albert Capellani, 1913), he was Jean Valjean, relentlessly pursued by the Justice.

    His last starring role before the war was Étienne Lantier in Émile Zola's Germinal (Albert Capellani, 1913) with Sylvie.

    Henry Krauss
    Belgian postcard by VanderAuwera & Cie., Bruxelles. Photo: Dupont. Caption: Henry Krauss in Don César de Bazan. Don César de Bazan is an opéra comique by Jules Massenet, based on the drama Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo.

    Henry Krauss as Hamlet
    Belgian / French postcard by Vanderauwera & Coe., Bruxelles / Paris. Photo: Dupont. Publicity still of Henry Krauss in Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

    Henry Krauss
    Belgian / French postcard by Vanderauwera & Coe., Bruxelles / Paris. Photo: Dupont. Publicity still of Henry Krauss in the lead role of the stage play Paillasse by Adolphe d'Ennery.


    Although Henry Krauss remained active in front of the camera after the war, his star rapidly declined.

    He was the uncle of Gina Relly in L'empereur des pauvres/The Emperor of the poor (René LePrince, 1922), and played the lead in Le bossu/The Hunchback (?, 1923) with Claude Mérelle.

    In 1925, the nearly 60-year-old artist in 1925 played another signature role again as the father of the title character in Poil de carotte/Carrot hair (Julien Duvivier, 1925).

    In the later 1920s and 1930s his acting style was considered too pompous and exaggerated.

    Krauss occasionally worked as a director. In 1925/26 he was an assistant director to Abel Gance at the classic epic Napoleon.

    He had a supporting part in the sound film Le procureur Hallers/The Prosecutor Hallers (Robert Wiene, 1930) starring Jean-Max and Colette Darfeuil.

    It was the French-language version of the German film Der Andere/The Other (Robert Wiene, 1930) based on the play Der Andere by Paul Lindau. The two films were made at the same studio in Berlin, with Wiene beginning work on the French version immediately after finishing the German film.

    Over two decades after his Jean Valjean interpretation in Les Miserables (1913), Henry Krauss also appeared in the first sound film version of the Hugo-adaptation, Les misérables (Raymond Bernard, 1934). This time Harry Baur interpreted Jean Valjean and Krauss had to be content with the much smaller role of Mgr. Myriel.

    At the age of 69, Henry Krauss died in 1935 in his hometown Paris. His son was the art director Jacques Krauss.

    L'empereur des pauvres
    French postcard by M. Le Deley, Paris. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma. Publicity still for L'empereur des pauvres/The Emperor of the poor (René Leprince, 1921). In the middle, Gina Relly as Sylvette, and right, Henry Krauss, as her uncle Jean Sarrias, revolting against society. Left could be Andrée Pascal as Clémence Sarrias.

    Sources: Wikipedia (French, German and English) and IMDb.

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  • 08/11/14--23:00: Patricia Medina
  • In the 1940s, voluptuous and exotic-looking British-born film star Patricia Medina (1919-2012) left for Hollywood. There she became a prolific star in melodrama’s and adventure films in the early 1950s. Most notable is her role in Orson Welles'Mr. Arkadin (1955).

    Patricia Medina
    Belgian postcard offered by Nieuwe Merksemsche Chocolaterie S.P.R.L., Merksem (Anvers). Photo: Universal.

    Darkly beautiful

    Patricia Paz Maria Medina was born in Liverpool, England in 1919. The darkly beautiful Medina had a Spanish father, Ramón Medina Nebot from the Canary Islands. and an English mother.

    She began acting as a teenager in the late 1930s in comedies as Simply Terrific (Roy William Neill 1938) with Claude Hulbert.

    In 1941 she married actor Richard Greene. She continued to play supporting parts in films like the thriller Hotel Reserve (Lance Comfort, Mutz Greenbaum, Victor Hanbury, 1944) starring James Mason.

    Her first starring part was in the romantic comedy Don't Take It to Heart (Jeffrey Dell, 1944) in which her husband Richard Greene was her co-star.

    In 1946, she and Greene went to Hollywood, where he had to complete his contract with 20th Century-Fox. They bought a house in Coldwater Canyon (Beverly Hills) and rented a beach cottage in Malibu.

    They appeared together in the swashbuckler The Fighting O'Flynn (Arthur Pierson, 1949) with Douglas Fairbanks jr., but in 1948 the pair separated and in 1951 they divorced.

    Medina returned to England to star in the film Children of Chance (Luigi Zampa, 1949), an alternate language version of Campane a Martello/Church Bells (Luigi Zampa, 1949) with Gina Lollobrigida.

    Back in Hollywood, she played a beautiful lady spy in the war comedy Francis (1949) with Donald O’Connor and 'Francis the Talking Mule'. It was the first film in a popular series.

    Medina was also the leading lady of the farce Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (Charles Lamont, 1950).

    Patricia Medina
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D 338. Photo: Columbia Pictures.

    Richard Greene
    Richard Greene. British postcard by Real Photograph.

    Assorted feisty love interests and damsels to rescue

    Patricia Medina teamed up with British actor Louis Hayward and they appeared together in four adventure films: Fortunes of Captain Blood (Gordon Douglas, 1950), The Lady and the Bandit (Ralph Murphy, 1951), Lady in the Iron Mask (Ralph Murphy, 1952) and Captain Pirate (Ralph Murphy, 1952).

    Medina was often typecast in adventure films like Plunder of the Sun (John Farrow, 1953) and period melodramas such as The Black Knight (Tay Garnett, 1954) starring Alan Ladd.

    Her acting strength was hardly ever tested, stuck mostly in high-flying adventures as assorted feisty love interests and damsels to rescue.

    Two of her more notable films were Stranger at My Door (William Witney, 1956) and Orson Welles' crime drama Mr. Arkadin/Confidential Report (1955) with Welles and Michael Redgrave.

    Mr Arkadin was a follow-up of The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949) and was based on the radio series The Lives of Harry Lime.

    In Italy, she starred in the adventure film Il mantello rosso/The Red Cloak (Giuseppe Maria Scotese, 1955) with Fausto Tozzi and Jean Murat.

    On Television, Medina appeared as Margarita Cortazar in four episodes of Walt Disney's popular series Zorro (1957), and as Diana Coulter in two episodes of Richard Boone's Have Gun - Will Travel (1957).

    Her film career faded away by the end of the decade.

    Patricia Medina
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 272. Photo: Universal International.

    Orson Welles
    Orson Welles. French postcard by Editions du Globe, no. 143. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Personal friends with Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Reagan

    Patricia Medina married American actor Joseph Cotten in 1960.

    In 1962, she made her Broadway debut opposite Cotten in the murder mystery Calculated Risks.

    Her appearances on television include episodes of Perry Mason (1957), Bonanza (1959), Rawhide (1961), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962) and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964).

    She returned to the screen in Robert Aldrich's adaptation of the lesbian-themed drama The Killing of Sister George (1968) with Beryl Reid and Susannah York.

    Medina appeared in a few more films, the Japanese-American Science-Fiction Ido zero daisakusen/Latitude Zero (Ishirô Honda, 1969) with Joseph Cotten, and the Mexican drama El llanto de los pobres/The cry of the poor (Rubén Galindo, 1978).

    She and Joseph Cotten, also toured together in several plays.

    Patricia Medina retired from acting in 1978 after 40 years in the motion picture industry. She had become a naturalized citizen of the United States. She and Cotten were both staunch Republicans and personal friends with Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Reagan.

    In 1998, Medina published an autobiography, Laid Back in Hollywood: Remembering.

    She died at age 92 of natural causes in 2012 in Los Angeles. She was interred at Blandford Cemetary in Petersburg beside her beloved Joseph Cotten, who had passed away in 1994. They had no children.

    The End of Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (Charles Lamont, 1950). Source: Leo Garcia (Flickr).

    The End of The Magic Carpet (Lew Landers, 1951). Source: Leo Garcia (Flickr).

    Sources: Bill Takacs (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 08/12/14--23:00: Agnes Petersen
  • Agnes Petersen (1904-1953?) was a star of the Danish and German silent cinema. She was the second wife of the legendary Russian-born film star and charmer Ivan Mozzhukhin.

    Agnes Petersen
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5032/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Atelier Manassé, Wien.

    Dark-haired beauty

    Agnes Petersen was born in 1904. Sometimes she was credited as Agnes Petersen-Mozzuchin or Agnes Peterson.

    She was Danish, but unknown is where exactly the dark-haired beauty was born.

    In 1924, she started her film career in the Danish comedies Raske Riviera Rejsende/Healthy Riviera Travelers (Lau Lauritzen, 1924) and Ole Opfinders offer/Inventor Ole’s Sacrifice (Lau Lauritzen, 1924), both starring the duo Harald Madsen and Carl Schenstrøm a.k.a. Fy og Bi or Long and Short.

    For the Nordisk studio she appeared in the drama Den store Magt/The great power (August Blom, 1925) with Lili Beck.

    The Danish film industry imploded and Harald Madsen and Carl Schenstrøm moved to Germany, where they were well-known as Pat und Patachon.

    In their comedy Schwiegersöhne/Sons-in-law (Hans Steinhoff, 1926), Agnes Petersen also had a part.

    In Germany, Petersen soon found more roles. In the drama Die Gefangene von Shanghai/The prisoner of Shanghai (Géza von Bolváry, Augusto Genina, 1927) she played the Chinese Li. The lead roles in this German production were played by Italian Carmen Boni and British Jack Trevor.

    Other German films with Petersen were Dr. Bessels Verwandlung/Dr. Bessel‘s Transformation (Richard Oswald, 1927) with Hans Stüwe, Frauenarzt Dr. Schäfer/Gynaecologist Dr.Schäfer (Jacob and Luise Fleck, 1928) featuring Iván Petrovich.

    Agnes Petersen
    Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5500. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Agnes Petersen
    German postcard by Ross Verlag. Photo: Atelier Böhm, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    The Laughing Lady

    In Berlin, Agnes Petersen met the famous Russian-born actor Ivan Mozzhukhin. They married and she started to use the name Agnes Petersen-Mozżuchinowa.

    With her husband she travelled to Hollywood, but their American adventure was not a success. Soon they were back in Berlin

    She appeared in the drama Geheimnisse des Orients/Secrets of the Orient (Alexandre Volkoff, 1928) again with Iván Petrovichand with Nicolas Koline.

    In Der geheime Kurier/The Secret Courier (Gennaro Righelli, 1928), she co-starred with Lil Dagover and Mozzhukhin.

    With the rise of the sound film she could no longer continue her film career in Germany. In Czechoslovakia she played the lead role in the drama Hrích/Sin (Carl Lamac, 1929) and in Poland in Kult ciala/The cult of the body (Michal Waszynski, 1930) with Victor Varconi.

    Her last film was the Swedish production Den farliga leken (Gustaf Bergman, 1931) starring Jenny Hasselqvist. This Paramount production was an alternative language production of The Laughing Lady (Victor Schertzinger, 1929) and was shot at the Paramount studio in Joinville in France.

    Little is known about her further life. In 1939 her husband Ivan Mozzhukin died from a severe form of tuberculosis. According to Poul at NitrateVille, Agnes Petersen also died from tuberculosis at the age of 49 (in 1953 or 1954?).

    Agnes Petersen
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3761/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

    Sources: Poul (NitrateVille), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (Polish) and IMDb.

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  • 08/13/14--23:00: Rex Gildo
  • German Schlager singer and actor Rex Gildo (1936-1999) was a teen idol in the 1960s and 1970s. The German Cliff Richard showed durability. In a career of 40 years, he sold around 39 million records and starred in more than 30 films.

    Rex Gildo
    Dutch postcard.

    Rex Gildo
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. CK 352. Photo: Ufa.

    Conny Froboess, Rex Gildo, Peter Krauss, Rolf Pinegger
    German postcard by ISV, no. E 13. Photo: Constantin / Grimm. With Conny Froboess, Peter Kraus and Rolf Pinegger.

    Rex Gildo
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, nr. CK 370. Photo: Ufa.

    Rex Gildo
    Big Dutch postcard.

    Sexy Rexy

    Rex Gildo was born as Ludwig Franz Hirtreiter in Straubing, Bavaria, in 1936.

    He later claimed to have been a member of the Regensburger Domspatzen choir before attending acting lessons at the Otto-Falckenburg-Schule in Munich.

    The German TV documentary series Legenden/Legends (Ulrike Bremer, 2009) revealed that in fact he had worked in a decorating apprenticeship before he met Fred Miekley, who would become his manager and longtime companion and presumably paid for Gildo's acting, dancing and singing lessons.

    However, Ludwig made his stage debut as Alexander Gildo with the Munich Kammerspiele theatre group in 1956, but he quickly moved on to TV and to the cinema.

    Ada Tschechowa, manager of the Munich Kammerspiele, introduced him for his film début in Immer wenn der Tag beginnt/Whenever the Day Starts (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1957) opposite Ruth Leuwerik and Hans Söhnker.

    In 1958 he already played his first leading part opposite teen idols Conny Froboess in the film Hula-Hopp, Conny/Hula Hoop, Conny (Heinz Paul, 1959).

    In 1959, his future record producer Nils Nobach, offered him a contract at record label Electrola and gave him the stage name Rex Gildo, recordedly inspired by the phrase 'sexy Rexy'.

    In the following years Gildo sang and played in such forgettable Schlagerfilms as Ja, so ein Mädchen mit sechzehn/Yes, Such a Girl of Sixteen (Hans Grimm, 1959) again with Conny Froboess,Meine Nichte tut das nicht/My Niece Doesn't Do That (Franz Josef Gottlieb, 1960), Marina (Paul Martin, 1960), Schlagerparade (Franz Marischka, 1960) with Vivi Bach, Zwei blaue Vergissmeinnicht/Carnation Frank (Helmut M. Backhaus, 1963), and Apartmentzauber/Apartment Magic (Helmut M. Backhaus, 1963) with Helga Sommerfeld.

    Rex Gildo
    Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4730.

    Rex Gildo
    Dutch postcard by NS, no. 34.

    Conny Froboess
    Vintage card, with Conny Froboess and at far left Rex Gildo.

    Rex Gildo, Rocco Granata
    Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4687. Photo: Hafbo. Publicity still for the Schlagerfilm Marina (Paul Martin, 1960), which was distributed in Holland as Teenagers Schlager Parade. The girl between Rex Gildo and Rocco Granata is the female lead of the film, Italian actress Giorgia Moll.

    Gitte Haenning, Rex Gildo
    German postcard by Friedrich-W. Sander-Verlag, Minden/Westf. in the Kolibri series. Photo: Wiener Stadthalle/Constantin. Publicity still for Jezt dreht die Welt sich nur um dich/The World Turns Just Around You Now (1964) with Gitte.

    Gitte Haenning, Rex Gildo
    Dutch postcard by SYBA, no. 36 with Gitte.

    Rex Gildo
    Dutch postcard by NSO. Sent by mail in 1963.

    Rex Gildo
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 5955.

    Rex Gildo
    German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Hamburg, no. 5191. Photo: publicity still for Was ist den bloss - mit Willi los?/What Is the Matter with Willi? (Werner Jacobs, 1970).


    Early 1960, Rex Gildo had his first hit song with Sieben Wochen nach Bombay/Seven Weeks to Bombay, which reached to #13 in the German charts.

    Rex's schlagers would become million sellers in Germany, but less so abroad. His hits, such as Speedy Gonzales (1962), Goodbye Susanna (1965), and Fiesta Mexicana (1972) were sentimental, ‘fernweh’ (wanderlust) evoking music, often flavoured with Spanish or Mexican elements.

    In 1962, he formed the very popular duo Gitte & Rex with Danish singer Gitte Hænning.

    Together they starred in the musical Jetzt dreht die Welt sich nur um dich/The World Turns Just Around You Now (Wolfgang Liebeneiner. 1964).

    The two were rumoured to be engaged to be married. Later Gitte recalled that it was just a publicity stunt by the record company, and she was so sore about it that she broke off the collaboration with Gildo.

    Rex later had his own TV show, Gestatten - Rex Gildo/May I - Rex Gildo.

    During the 1980s and 1990s, his popularity decreased and he felt pressured to maintain his public image. Reportedly he became a tragic figure who desperately tried to mask his age with wigs and a lot of make-up.

    He died in 1999 aged 63, having spent three days in an artificially-induced coma after attempting suicide.

    Although he married his cousin Marion Hirtreiter in 1974, after his death it was reported that he had been gay. Rex Gildo was buried next to his former longtime companion Fred Miekley.

    His life was the subject of the beautiful Dutch documentary Rex Gildo - De val van een schlagerkoning/Rex Gildo - The Fall of a Schlager King (Hans Heijnen, 2003).

    Rex Gildo
    Dutch postcard, ca. 1961.

    Rex Gildo
    German postcard by ISV, no. E 15. Photo: Constantin/Grimm.

    Rex Gildo
    German postcard by Electrola, no. 902/70. Photo: Schneider, München.

    Rex Gildo
    German postcard by ISV, no. K 13.

    Rex Gildo sings the title song of Zwei blaue Vergissmeinnicht/Carnation Frank (1963). Source: fritz51203 (YouTube).

    Rex Gildo and Gitte Hænning sing Der Hokuspokus in Jetzt dreht die Welt sich nur um dich (1964). Source: rexgildofan (YouTube).

    Sources: Stephanie D'Heil (Steffi-line), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 08/14/14--23:00: Wendy Hiller
  • Dame Wendy Hiller DBE (1912-2003) was an English film and stage actress, who enjoyed a varied acting career that spanned nearly sixty years. She is best remembered as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion (1938). Despite many notable film performances, she chose to remain primarily a stage actress.

    Wendy Hiller
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 1234. Photo: Gabriel Pascal Prod. Publicity still for Pygmalion (Anthony Asquith, Leslie Howard, 1938).

    A spirited radiance

    Wendy Margaret Hiller was born in Bramhall, near Stockport, England in 1912. She was the daughter of Frank Watkin Hiller, a Manchester cotton manufacturer, and Marie Hiller-Stone.

    In a situation similar to her Doolittle character, Wendy's parents enrolled her in speech and refinement at the Winceby House School in Sussex in the hopes of disguising her humble Lancashire roots and receiving upperscale marriage proposals for her.

    Such hopes were vanquished when the highly determined Hiller set her career sights on the theatre. Hiller began her professional career as an actress in repertory at Manchester in the early 1930s.

    She first found success as slum dweller Sally Hardcastle in the stage version of Love on the Dole in 1934. The play was an enormous success and toured the regional stages of Britain.

    In this play she made her West End debut in 1935 at the Garrick Theatre. She married the play's author Ronald Gow, fifteen years her senior, in 1937.

    That same year as she made her film debut in the comedy Lancashire Luck (Henry Cass, 1937), scripted by Gow.

    The huge popularity of Love on the Dole took the stage production to New York in 1936, where her refreshingly frank performance attracted the attention of George Bernard Shaw.

    Shaw recognized a spirited radiance in the young actress, which was ideally suited for playing his heroines. He and his wife, who were childless, took a pronounced and parental liking to the budding, youthful star.

    Shaw cast her in several of his plays, including Saint Joan, Pygmalion and Major Barbara and his influence on her early career is clearly apparent. She was reputed to be Shaw's favourite actress of the time.

    At Shaw's insistence, she also starred as Eliza Doolittle in the film Pygmalion (Anthony Asquith, Leslie Howard, 1938) with Leslie Howard as Professor Higgins. The film won the 1939 Academy Award for Adapted Screenplay, and also received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Howard) and Best Actress (Hiller). This was a first for a British actress in a British film.

    She was also the first actress to utter the word ‘bloody’ in a British film, when Eliza utters the line "Not bloody likely, I'm going in a taxi!".

    She followed up this success with another Shaw adaptation, Major Barbara (Gabriel Pascal, 1941) with Rex Harrison and Robert Morley. It was again both a critical and financial success.

    Powell and Pressburger signed her for The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), but her second pregnancy led to Deborah Kerr being cast instead. Determined to work with Hiller, the film makers later cast her with Roger Livesey again for I Know Where I'm Going! (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1945), another classic of British cinema.

    Joel Hirschorn described Hiller in Rating the Movie Stars (1984) as "a no-nonsense actress who literally took command of the screen whenever she appeared on film".

    Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard in Pygmalion
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 1234. Photo: Gabriel Pascal Prod. Publicity still for Pygmalion (Anthony Asquith, Leslie Howard, 1938) with Leslie Howard.

    Rather plain but strong willed characters

    In the early 1940s, Wendy Hiller and husband Ronald Gow moved to Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, where they brought up two children, Ann (1939–2006) and Anthony (1942).

    Despite her early film success and offers from Hollywood, Hiller returned to the theatre full-time after 1945 and only occasionally accepted film roles.

    In the course of her stage career, she won popular and critical acclaim in both London and New York. She excelled at rather plain but strong willed characters. After touring Britain as Viola in Twelfth Night (1943) she returned to the West End to be directed by John Gielgud as Sister Joanna in The Cradle Song (1944).

    Unlike other stage actresses of her generation, she did relatively little Shakespeare, preferring the more modern dramatists such as Henrik Ibsen and new plays adapted from the novels of Henry James and Thomas Hardy among others.

    The string of notable successes continued as Princess Charlotte in The First Gentleman (1945) opposite Robert Morley as the Prince Regent, Pegeen in Playboy of the Western World (1946) and Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1946-1947), which was adapted for the stage by her husband.

    In 1947, Hiller originated the role of Catherine Sloper, the painfully shy, vulnerable spinster in The Heiress on Broadway. The play, based on the Henry James novel Washington Square, also featured Basil Rathbone as her emotionally abusive father. The production enjoyed a year-long run and would prove to be her greatest triumph on Broadway.

    On returning to London, Hiller again played the role in the West End production in 1950. She did a two year run in N. C. Hunter's Waters of the Moon (1951–52), alongside Sybil Thorndike and Edith Evans.

    In the 1950s, Hiller returned to film. She portrayed an abused colonial wife in Outcast of the Islands (Carol Reed, 1952), with Robert Morley and Trevor Howard. She played mature, supporting roles in films like Sailor of the King (Roy Boulting, 1953) and a memorable victim of the Mau Mau uprising in Something of Value (Richard Brooks, 1957) starring Rock Hudson.

    In 1959, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Separate Tables (Delbert Mann, 1958), as a lonely hotel manageress and mistress of Burt Lancaster.

    On stage, she did a notable performance as Portia in Julius Caesar among others. In 1957, Hiller returned to New York to star as Josie Hogan in Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten, a performance which gained her a Tony Award nomination as Best Dramatic Actress.

    British stage work included The Night of the Ball (1955), the Robert Bolt play Flowering Cherry (1958), and Toys in the Attic (1960).

    Trevor Howard
    Trevor Howard. British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, no. W. 217. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

    Simple, unrefined, but dignified

    Wendy Hiller received a BAFTA nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of the domineering, possessive mother in Sons and Lovers (Jack Cardiff, 1960) with Trevor Howard and Dean Stockwell.

    She reprised her London stage role in the southern gothic Toys in the Attic (1963), which earned her a Golden Globe nomination as the elder spinster sister in a film which also starred Dean Martin and Geraldine Page.

    In the West End she appeared in The Wings of the Dove (1963), A Measure of Cruelty (1965), A Present for the Past (1966), The Sacred Flame (1967) with Gladys Cooper, The Battle of Shrivings (1970) with John Gielgud and Lies (1975).

    Her final appearance on Broadway was in 1962 as Miss Tina in Michael Redgrave's adaptation of The Aspern Papers, from the Henry James novella.

    She received a third Oscar nomination for her performance as the simple, unrefined, but dignified Lady Alice More, opposite Paul Scofield as Thomas More, in A Man for All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann, 1966).

    As she matured, she demonstrated a strong affinity for the plays of Henrik Ibsen, as Irene in When We Dead Awaken (1968), as Mrs. Alving in Ghosts (1972), Aase in a BBC TV play of Peer Gynt (1972) and as Gunhild in John Gabriel Borkman (1975), in which she appeared with Ralph Richardson and Peggy Ashcroft.

    Later West End successes such as Queen Mary in Crown Matrimonial (1972) proved she was not limited to playing dejected, emotionally deprived women.

    Regarded as one of Britain's great dramatic talents, she was created an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 1971 and raised to Dame Commander (DBE) in 1975.

    Her role as the grand Russian princess in the Whodunnit star ensemble of Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet, 1974), won her international acclaim and the Evening Standard British Film Award as Best Actress. This Agatha Christie adaptation starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot was a huge commercial success.

    Other notable film roles included a Jewish refugee fleeing Nazi Germany with her dying husband in Voyage of the Damned (Stuart Rosenberg, 1976) and the London Hospital matron in The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980).

    On stage she revisited some earlier plays playing older characters, as in West End revivals of Waters of the Moon (1977-1978) with Ingrid Bergman and The Aspern Papers (1984) with Vanessa Redgrave.

    She was scheduled to return to the American stage in a 1982 revival of Anastasia with Natalie Wood, until Wood's death just weeks before rehearsals.

    On TV she played in BBC dramatizations of Julian Gloag's Only Yesterday (1986) and the Vita Sackville-West novel All Passion Spent (1986), in which she was the quietly defiant Lady Slane. This performance earned her a BAFTA nomination as Best Actress.

    Hiller made her final West End performance in the title role in Driving Miss Daisy (1988). Her last appearance, before retiring from acting, was the title role in the TV film The Countess Alice (Moira Armstrong, 1992), with Zoë Wanamaker.

    Her husband Ronald Gow died in 1993, but Hiller continued living at their home until her death a decade later. Despite a busy professional career, throughout her life she continually took an active interest in aspiring young actors by supporting local amateur drama societies, as well as being the president of the Chiltern Shakespeare Company until her death.

    Chronic ill health necessitated her eventual retirement from acting in 1992. She spent the last decade of her life quietly at her home in Beaconsfield, where she died in 2003 of natural causes at the age of 90.

    Official Trailer Pygmalion (1938). Source: Oscar Movie Trailers (YouTube).

    Scene from I Know Where I'm Going (1945). Source: D Cairns (YouTube).

    Sources: Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 08/15/14--23:00: Fosco Giachetti
  • Italian actor Fosco Giachetti (1900–1974) was the leading man in several fascist propaganda films of the 1930s and 1940s.

    Italian postcard by ASER. Photo: Bassoli, Tirrenia.Fosco Giachetti in the film Bengasi (Augusto Genina, 1942). At the Venice film festival of 1942 Giacheti received the Coppa Mussolini for best actor for his role in this propaganda film on the war in Africa between the British and the Italians.

    Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., no. 4423. Photo: Scalera Film / Pesce.

    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A. 3420/1, 1941-1944. Photo: DIFU.

    Italian postcard by Agfa. Publicity still for Carmen fra i rossi (1939) with Conchita Montenegro.

    Italian postcard by Agfa with Vivi Gioi.

    Dimmed Lights

    Fosco Giachetti was born in Livorno, Italy in 1900. He was the brother of actor Gianfranco Giachetti.

    Among his first film appearances were the protagonists of Luci sommerse/Dimmed Lights (Adelqui Migliar, 1934) and of Lo squadrone bianco/The White Squadron (Augusto Genina, 1936).

    He became the leading man in such fascist propaganda films as Tredici uomini e un cannone/Thirteen Men and a Cannon (Giovacchino Forzano, 1936), Sentinelle di bronzo/Sentinels of Bronze (Romolo Marcellini, 1937), Scipione l'Africano/Scipio the African (Carmine Gallone, 1937), the Italian version of Carmen fra i rossi/Carmen Among the Reds (Edgar Neville, 1939) and L'assedio dell'Alcazar/The Siege of the Alcazar (Augusto Genina, 1940) with Mireille Balin and Maria Denis.

    At the 1942 Venice Film Festival, Fosco Giachetti won the Best Actor award for yet another propaganda film, Bengasi (Augusto Genina, 1942) with Amedeo Nazzari.

    Giachetti co-starred with Alida Valli and Rossano Brazzi in Goffredo Alessandrini's unauthorized 1942 film version of Ayn Rand's novel We the Living. The film appeared in Fascist Italy in two separate parts: Noi Vivi/We the Living and Addio, Kira/Goodbye, Kira, but they are essentially one film.

    It was the grim story of post-revolutionary Russia, the forced collectivization of the economy and the brutal suppression of human rights, all told from the viewpoint of one woman, Kira. Ayn Rand's novel was autobiographical and was essentially a diatribe against the loss of individuality in totalitarian societies.

    The film attracted a sizable audience in Italy. The Fascist government saw the film(s) as a condemnation of Soviet misery but when it became aware that the film(s) implied a condemnation of all totalitarian states, left and right, it withdrew them from distribution.

    Fosco Giachetti
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 165, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz, Berlin.

    Fosco Giachetti
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 118, 1941-1944. Photo: DIFU / Binz, Berlin.

    Fosco Giachetti
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 206, 1941-1944. Photo: DIFU / Binz, Berlin.

    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A. 3512/1, 1941-1944. Foto Binz / DIFU.

    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3788/1, 1941-1944. Photo: DIFU / Binz, Berlin.

    The Conformist

    During the Second World War Fosco Giachetti acted also in Un colpo di pistola/A Pistol Shot (Renato Castellani, 1942), and Fari nella nebbia/Headlights in the Fog (Gianni Franciolini, 1942), but with less success than he used to have before the war.

    After the war, he returned to the stage. He appeared in Spain in the films Nada/Nothing (Edgar Neville, 1947) and in Carne de horca/Sierra Morena (Ladislao Vajda, 1953).

    In 1959 he had a supporting role in Dino Risi's successful comedy Il mattatore/Love and Larceny, starring Vittorio Gassman.

    In 1964, he appeared in a TV adaptation of A. J. Cronin's novel The Citadel, La Cittadella. Other films in which he appeared were La Monaca di Monza/The Nun of Monza (Carmine Gallone, 1962), the musical Samba (Rafael Gil, 1965) with the popular Spanish star Sara Montiel, and the masterpiece Il Conformista/The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970).

    Fosco Giachetti died in 1974, Rome, Italy, because of heart problems. In 2003, in Sesto Fiorentino a galleria was opened in tribute to him, the Galleria Fosco Giachetti.

    Alida Valli, Fosco Giachetti
    Italian postcard with Alida Valli.

    Italian postcard, no. 62/2.

    Italian postcard by Agfa.

    Italian postcard by Aser, Rome, no. 108. Photo: Pesce.

    Spanish collectors card by Cifesa.

    Italian postcard by Agfa. Photo: Memento-Film. Fosco Giachetti and Vera Carmi probably in the film Labbra serate/Sealed Lips (Mario Mattoli, 1942). In this melodrama the son (Andrea Checchi) of a respected judge is accused of murdering an adventuress, who was after him. He himself suspects the culprit to be his sister's fiance, a lawyer (Giachetti). For the love of his sister (Carmi), the son keeps his lips sealed and takes the blame. The lawyer is public prosecutor in the courtcase, doubting the son's guilt and in the end unmasking the true murderer.

    Sources: Wikipedia (Italian and English), and IMDb.

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  • 08/16/14--23:00: Unter Geiern (1964)
  • As the second post in our new weekly series of film specials, today the Euro-Western Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964), based on one of the Winnetou novels by Karl May. It starred Stewart Granger as Old Surehand, Elke Sommer, Götz George and Pierre Brice as Winnetou. Unter Geiern, released in the US as Frontier Hellcat, was a co-production between West Germany, France, Italy and Yugoslavia, and was shot in Germany and Yugoslavia.

    Götz George, Elke Sommer, Stewart Granger, Unter Geiern
    German postcard. Photo: publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Elke Sommer, Götz George and Stewart Granger.

    Götz George, Unter Geiern
    German collectors card. Photo: Constantin / Rialto. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Götz George.

    Old Surehand

    Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) was the fourth in the series of 1960s European Westerns based on Karl May's Winnetou character.

    For the first time  Stewart Granger stars as Old Surehand, although in Karl May's novel Old Shatterhand occurs as the main character. As 'Surehand', his hand is so sure that he can split an arrow aimed at him with a bullet in mid-air! Even Robin Hood would have been flabbergasted.

    So Granger took over fromLex Barker as Winnetou's white 'blood brother', although his  age and stature did not resemble those of Karl May's character. In the books Surehand is a man with a troubled past, a tormented soul seeking redemption. But the Old Surehand played by Granger is, quite on the contrary, a jolly good fellow, who’s wearing Sunday trousers under buckskin.

    The female lead role was played by Elke Sommer, and the second producer Artur Brauner asked Pierre Brice to return as Apache Chief Winnetou. Alfred Vohrer also returned as the director of the film.

    The young Mario Girotti, now better known as Terence Hill, played a supporting part as Baker Jr and the Romanian Gojko Mitic played the Indian Woladeh. In the following years, Mitic became one of the most beloved film actors of Eastern Europe with his roles as an Indian rebel in several Defa Westerns.

    In Unter Geiern/Among Vultures, the experienced trapper Old Surehand and Winnetou investigate the murders of a frontier mother and daughter in Llano Estacado, a border area to New Mexico and Texas. The surviving husband, farmer Baumann, believes that his wife and daughter were murdered by Indians of the Shoshone tribe, but Old Surehand suspects that it is the work of a gang of bandits known as The Vultures, who disguise themselves as Indians while committing their crimes.

    When attractive Annie (Elke Sommer), who was to deliver precious diamonds to Baumann, is kidnapped by the Vultures, Winnetou, Old Shurehand and their friend Old Wabble pursue the gang. Meanwhile, the young Martin Baumann (Götz George) tries to free Annie.

    Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 1 (1-64). Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964). Caption: "Nach herzlicher Verabschiedung von Frau und Tochter reitet Farmer Baumann, 'der Bärenjäger' genannt, mit seinem Sohn Martin zum Bärenjagd." (After a warm farewell of his wife and daughter, farmer Baumann (Walter Barnes), called 'the bear hunter', rides with his son Martin (Götz George) to the bear hunt).

    Pierre Brice, Walter Barnes and Götz George in Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 2 (1-64). Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Pierre Brice as Winnetou. Caption: "Spuren von gerissenen Lämmern führen Baumann und seinen Freund Winnetou, der sich der Jagd angeschossen hat, direct zur Höhle des Bären. In mutigem Kampf wird das Ungetüm erlegt." (Traces of torn lambs lead Baumann and his friend Winnetou, who has joined the hunt, directly to the cave of the bear. In a bold fight the monster is killed.)

    Pierre Brice, Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 3 (1-64). Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Pierre Brice as Winnetou. Caption: "Schüsse zerreißen der Stille des Tales. Fünf weisse Reiter werden von Indianern verfolgt. Einer von ihnen stürzt vom Pferd, aber Winnetou kennt den Toten nicht." (Shots rip the silence of the valley. Five white riders are pursued by Indians. One of them falls off his horse, but Winnetou does not know the dead.)

    Götz George, Walter Barnes, Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 4 (1-64). Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Götz George and Walter Barnes. Caption: "Rauchwolken in Richtung von Baumanns Ranch künden Unheil an. Von einer schreckligen Ahnung ergriffen, reiten die drei Jäger in rasendem Galopp zur Farm zurück." (Clouds of smoke in the direction of the Baumann Ranch herald disaster. From a horrible foreboding seized, the three hunters ride at a furious gallop back to the farm.)

    Pierre Brice, Gojko Mitić, Stewart Granger, Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 10 (1-64). Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Gojko Mitic, Stewart Granger and Pierre Brice. Caption: "Winnetou hat von einem Hügel aus den Überfall beobachtet. Man ist sich einig, dass es sich nur um die berüchtigten Geiern handel kann. Woladeh sollte auch beseitigt werden, weil er zu viel vom Banditenüberfall auf Baumann's Ranch wusste." (Winnetou has watched the raid from a hill. Everyone agrees that it can only be the infamous Vultures gang. Woladeh should also be eliminated because he knew too much of the bandit raid on Baumann's Ranch.)

    Götz George and Miha Baloh in Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 15 (1-64). Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Götz George (left) and Miha Baloh (right). Caption: "Annies Blicken entgeht es nicht, wie der Offizier dem 'Prediger' einen Zettel zusteckt. Old Surehand erkennt in ihm ein Geier-Mitglied. I entstehenden Kampf wird der falsche Soldat getötet, aber der Prediger kann unbemerkt entfliehen." (It does not escape Annie's eyes, that the officer hands a note to the 'preacher' (Miha Baloh). Old Surehand recognizes a Vulture member in him. In the resulting fight, the fake soldier is killed, but the preacher can escape unnoticed.)

    Stewart Granger in Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 28 (1-64). Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964). Caption: "Old Surehand und seine Begleiter werden auf dem Weg zum Treck von Schschonen vervolgt. Mit seiner berühmten 'sicheren Hand' macht Old Surehand einen Indianer kampfunfähig. Baumann aber werd entführt und in das Lager der Schoschonen gebracht." (Old Surehand (Stewart Granger) and his companion are followed on the way to trek by Shoshone. With his famous 'safe hands' Old Surehand makes an Indian incapacitating. But Baumann is kidnapped and taken to the camp of Shoshone.)

    Stewart Granger in Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 37 (1-64). Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Stewart Granger. Caption: "Lediglich Old Surehands Arme sind frei für sein Gewehrm das er zur Abwehr der Pfeile, aber nicht zum Schiessen benützen darf. Mit List und grossem Geschick wehrt sich Old Surehand seiner haut. Keiner der Pfeile trifft." (Only Old Surehand's arms are free for his rifle that he can use to ward off the arrows, but may not use for shooting. With cunning and great skill, Old Surehand defends his skin. None of the arrows hits.)

    Pierre Brice, Gojko Mitic, Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 40. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Gojko Mitic and Pierre Brice. Caption: "Wokadeh und seine Krieger, dem Häuptling zur Seite Winnetou, reiten in das 'Tal der Todes' um Oitka-Peteh beizusetzen. Das Tal ist eine Stätte des Verwüstung. Wokadeh erkennt nun die wahren Banditen, last Baumann frei und verspricht Winnetou Hilfe bei den Jagd nach den Geiern." (Wokadeh (Gojko Mitic) and his warriors, the chief at Winnetou's side, ride into the 'valley of death' to bury Oitka-Peteh. The valley is a place of Desolation. Wokadeh now recognizes the true bandits, he lets Baumann free and promises Winnetou to help in the hunt for the Vultures.)

    Götz George, Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 43 (1-64). Photo: Constantin / Rialto. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (1964, Alfred Vohrer). Caption: "Nur allzugern sind die Geier bereit, Martin zu hängen." (All too glad, the vultures are ready to hang Martin (Götz George).)

    Mario Girotti (Terence Hill) and Mila Baloh in Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 45 (1-64). Photo: Rialto. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures with Mario Girotti (Terence Hill) as Baker and Mila Baloh as Reverend Weller. Caption: "Einige Siedler, die ebenfals mistrauisch geworden sind, halten Weller (Mila Baloh) in Schach. Mann beschliesst sowohl Martin as die Geier im Auge zu behalten." (Some settlers, who have also become suspicious, hold Weller in check. They decide to keep an eye on both Martin as the Vulture.)

    Sieghardt Rupp in Unter Geiern
    German postcard, no. 57 (1-64). Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with at right Sieghardt Rupp as the gang leader of the Vultures. Caption: "Geierboss Preston fordert Old Surehand auf, allein in Felsental zu kommen, um Martin zu retten." (Preston, the boss of the Vultures (Sieghardt Rupp), calls Old Surehand to come alone in Felsental (Rocky Valley) to rescue Martin.)

    Breathtaking cinematography

    The first Karl May Western, Der Schatz im Silbersee/Treasure of Silver Lake (Harald Reinl, 1962) had been the most successful German film of the 1962/1963 season.

    Director Harald Reinl and producer Horst Wendlandt then created a series of Euro-Westerns, all based on the novels by Karl May. Their next film, Winnetou - 1. Teil/Apache Gold (Harald Reinl, 1963) was in fact a prequel to Der Schatz im Silbersee which introduced Apache chief Winnetou and told how he met Old Shatterhand.

    The script of Unter Geiern combines elements from two different Karl May novels, but Old Surehand appears in neither of them. The reason for this, is quite prosaic: originally Lex Barker, who had played Old Shatterhand in the first two films, would appear once again as Old Shatterhand alongside Pierre Brice, in a film called Winnetou und der Bärenjäger/Winnetou and the Bear Hunter, but Wendlandt thought Granger was a big catch, and asked his screenwriters to rework the entire script and write Granger/Old Surehand into it.

    Most critics decided that Unter Geiern could not hold a candle to the earlier Karl May-films. The chemistry between Pierre Brice and Stewart Granger did not quite match that of Brice and Lex Barker.

    At IMDb reviewer, Henri Sauvage, writes: "cinematography is occasionally breathtaking. (If possible, you should try to catch this in letterbox format, just for the gorgeous scenery.) The action sequences come off fairly well, too, and the bad guys are appropriately villainous."

    Scherpschutter in his review at the Spaghetti Western Database: "Loyal fans of the series often call this one of the better entries. I can only partially agree. The film was aimed at a slightly more mature audience than the previous movies. The slaughter of the Baumann family (although not shown) is quite shocking, and the shootout near the end between the Vultures and the settlers, is remarkably violent. But the bulk of the movie is the usual heroic Karl May stuff, with Old Surehand put to a survival test by the Shoshones, and Winnetou leading the Indian braves in true cavalry style to the aid of the settlers when all seems lost. And then there’s Stewart Granger … Reportedly Granger was paid $ 75.000 for the part, which makes him the best-paid actor of the series, and he virtually directed his own scenes. He had completely different ideas about the movie than most other people on the set, and his approach led to a rather incongruous movie, with a dramatic story line of a young man, Martin Baumann, seeking the murderers of his family members, and a lot of funny and would-be funny scenes – featuring Surehand - thrown in."

    Unter Geiern was a success in the German cinemas and was awarded the Goldene Leinwand (Golden Screen) for more than 3 million visitors in a year. The Karl May-series was to be continued...

    Stewart Granger in Unter Geiern
    German postcard by ISV, no. C 3. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Stewart Granger as Old Surehand.

    Stewart Granger, Unter Geiern
    German postcard by ISV, no. C 4. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Stewart Granger as Old Surehand.

    Gojko Mitic, Stewart Granger, Pierre Brice, Unter Geiern
    German postcard by ISV, no. C 5. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Gojko Mitic, Stewart Granger and Pierre Brice.

    Elke Sommer and Stewart Granger in Unter Geiern
    German postcard by ISV, no. C 8. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Elke Sommer and Stewart Granger.

    Stewart Granger and Götz George in Unter Geiern
    German postcard by ISV, no. C 11. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Stewart Granger and Götz George.

    Elke Sommer and Götz George in Unter Geiern
    German postcard by ISV, no. C 13. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Elke Sommer and Götz George.

    Götz George in Unter Geiern
    German postcard by ISV, no. C 16. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Götz George.

    Götz George, Unter Geiern
    German postcard by ISV, no. C 20. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Götz George.

    Sources: Scherpschutter (Spaghettiwestern.net), Spaghettiwestern.net, Wikipedia (English and German), and IMDb.

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  • 08/17/14--23:00: Carla Del Poggio
  • Carla Del Poggio (1925-2010) was the female star of Federico Fellini’s bittersweet debut Luci del varietà/Variety Lights (1950). In the 1940s and 1950s she also starred in films by such other famous directors as Vittorio De Sica and her husband, Alberto Lattuada.

    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 21 E, offered by Les Carbones Korès.

    Dutch postcard. Photo: Barzacchi.

    White Telephone Comedy

    Carla Del Poggio was born as Maria Luisa Attanasio in Naples, Italy, in 1925.

    At 15, while she was studying foreign languages and modern dance, she started attending the Italian school for performing arts, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome.

    Director Vittorio De Sica chose her for his second film Maddalena, zero in condotta/Maddalena, Zero for Conduct (Vittorio De Sica, 1940). This was not yet one of his famous neorealist films but a white telephone comedy - a typical Italian genre of the 1930s and early 1940s: fluffy comedies situated in the upper classes. Del Poggio played the title role, a dreamy Italian school girl who accidentally gets entangled in a romantic affair with a young Austrian businessman (played by De Sica himself).

    Two years later she appeared in De Sica’s Un garibaldino al convent/A Garibaldian in the Convent (Vittorio De Sica, 1942), an old woman's poignant reminiscence of her youth in a convent school, the happy and sad moments, and her tragic love for a Garibaldian soldier.

    At 19, Del Poggio met her future husband, director Alberto Lattuada, 11 years her senior, who chose her for a role in a film adaptation of the renowned novel Gli indifferenti (Times of Indifference) by Alberto Moravia. The film was never realized, but they eventually married a few months later in 1945.

    She did star in his film Il bandito/The Bandit (Alberto Lattuada, 1946) with Anna Magnani. Other films in which she appeared were Gioventù perduta/Lost Youth (Pietro Germi, 1947) with Massimo Girotti, Caccia tragic/The Tragic Hunt (Giuseppe De Santis, 1947), and Senza pieta/Without Pity (Alberto Lattuada, 1948), an affecting drama of an affair between an Italian girl and an Afro-American GI (John Kitzmiller). The plot was based on an actual postwar dilemma: in Northern Italy, dozens of black American GIs chose to go AWOL rather than return to a racially divided United States.

    The following year Del Poggio also appeared in her husband’s Il mulino del Pò/The Mill on the Po (Alberto Lattuada, 1949), co-starring Jacques Sernas and based on a screenplay by Federico Fellini.

    According to Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “The romantic plot line is placed in context within the events leading up to the famous Po Valley farmers' strike of 1876; characteristically, Lattuada offers a topical political slant to the facts at hand. As in his other neorealist exercises, Lattuada manages to bridge the gap between ‘art’ and box-office appeal in Il Mulino del Po.”

    Italian postcard by Ed. Rizzoli, Milano, 1941. Photo Venturini.

    Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit. (Ballerini & Fratini Firenze Ed.), no. 20380 bis. Photo: E.N.I.C.

    Carla del Poggio (1925–2010)
    Italian postcard by Casa Ballerini & Fratini (B.F.F. Edit.), Firenze (Florence), no. 20030. Photo: Venturini.

    Variety Lights

    Carla Del Poggio and her husband Alberto Lattuada founded a co-op with Federico Fellini and his wife Giulietta Masina.

    Together they realized Fellini's film debut Luci del varietà/Variety Lights (Alberto Lattuada, Federico Fellini, 1950), a bittersweet drama about a bunch of misfits in a traveling vaudeville troupe. The group of actors, dancers, and performers struggle to make it from town to town, playing to minimal crowds.

    Their leader, Checco Dal Monte (Peppino De Filippo) just wants his act to be a success. He meets beauty queen Lily (Del Poggio) and puts her in the show as a dancer. The infatuated Checco breaks up the troupe in order to put on a showcase for Lily instead, but his star-eyed discovery proves to be relentless in her quest for fame.

    In the early 1950s Del Poggio could also be seen in films like the spy thriller Les loups chassent la nuit/La ragazza di Trieste/Wolves Hunt At Night (Bernard Borderie, 1951) opposite Jean-Pierre Aumont, Roma ore 11/Rome 11:00 (Giuseppe de Santis, 1952) with Massimo Girotti, and Cose da pazzi/Crazy Affairs (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1954) opposite Aldo Fabrizi.

    However, during the 1950s she mainly took part in stage plays.

    In her last film, I girovaghi/The Wanderers (Hugo Fregonese, 1956), she starred opposite Peter Ustinov and Abbe Lane. Later she worked regularly for RAI television, and in the late 1960s she retired.

    Carla Del Poggio passed away in Rome in 2010. She was married to Alberto Lattuada for sixty years till his death in 2005. They had two children.

    Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., no. 2037-bis. Photo: Vaselli / E.N.I.C.

    Italian postcard, no. 3. Photo: Lux Film.

    Italian postcard by Agfa. Photo: Omnium / Lux.

    Scene from Luci del varietà/Variety Lights (1950). Source: Giulio Berruti (YouTube).

    Sources: Morgan Magan (IMDb), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Hans Beerekamp (Het Schimmenrijk) (Dutch), Wikipedia (Italian), and IMDb.

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  • 08/18/14--23:00: Maurice Ronet
  • French leading man Maurice Ronet (1927-1983) was also a director and screenwriter. In the 1950s and 1960s the smooth and slick actor was a favorite of such influential directors as Louis Malle and Claude Chabrol.

    Maurice Ronet
    Spanish postcard by Postalcolor, Hospitalet, no. 87, 1964. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Maurice Ronet
    Spanish postcard by Toro de Bronce, no. 182, 1964. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Maurice Ronet
    German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/343.

    Maurice Ronet
    French postcard by E.D.U.G., Paris, no. 519. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Freedom and Satisfaction

    Maurice Ronet was born Maurice Julien Marie Robinet in Nice at the Côte d'Azur, in 1927. He was the only child of the actors Émile Robinet and Gilberte Dubreuil.

    He studied at the Paris Conservatoire where Jean-Louis Barrault was one of his mentors.

    Ronet made his film debut in Rendez-vous de juillet/Rendezvous in July (Jacques Becker, 1949) at the age of 22. Shortly thereafter, he married actress Maria Pacôme and departed to southern France to try his hand at ceramics, painting, writing and music.

    Throughout the early 1950s he made his living by selling his paintings and acting in supporting roles in the films of directors like Yves Ciampi (Un grand patron/Great Man, 1951), Yves Allégret (Les Sept péchés capitaux/The Seven Deadly Sins, 1952; La jeune folle/Desperate Decision, 1952), and Bernard Borderie (the Eddie Constantinethriller La môme vert de gris/Poison Ivy, 1953).

    He had ambitions to become a director himself, but he discovered a freedom and creative satisfaction in acting that provided a synthesis of all that interested him in painting and literature.

    Ronet first garnered acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, for his work on Horizons sans fin/Endless Horizons (Jean Dréville, 1953).

    Over the next few years, he appeared notably as the romantic lead in La Sorcière/The Sorceress (André Michel, 1956) and in Jules Dassin's follow-up to Rififi, Celui qui doit mourir/He Who Must Die (Jules Dassin, 1957).

    It was at the presentation of La Sorcière at Cannes in 1956, that Ronet met a creative and intellectual counterpart in Louis Malle. Ronet made his international box-office breakthrough as Julien Tavernier in Malle's first feature film, Ascenseur pour l'échafaud/Elevator to the Gallow (Louis Malle, 1957) opposite Jeanne Moreau.

    Le Feu follet/The Fire Within (1963) would be Malle's and Ronet's finest work of that period. Ronet plays an alcoholic writer, Alain Leroy, who is on the verge of suicide (his character is based on writer Jacques Rigaut, who killed himself in 1929).

    At French Films.info, James Travers writes: "Feu follet sees Ronet give his most captivating and well-judged performance – his portrayal is fascinating but not wholly sympathetic. Part of the genius of this film is that Malle doesn’t require us to like his protagonist. Indeed, the film would lose much of its meaning and impact if Ronet played Leroy as an attractive or even pathetic character."

    The film won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

    Maurice Ronet
    Vintage postcard. Photo: Unifrance Film.

    Maurice Ronet
    East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1297, 1960. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: publicity still for Casta Diva (Carmine Gallone, 1954).

    Marina Vlady, Maurice Ronet
    East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Les Films Metzger & Woog u. Productions Iena, no. 1.375, 1957. Publicity still for La Sorcière/The Blonde Witch (André Michel, 1956) with Marina Vlady.

    Maurice Ronet
    French postcard by Editiond du Globe (EDUG), no. 292. Photo: Ch. Van Damme, Paris.

    Directorial Debut

    Maurice Ronet went on to appear in close to one hundred French and Spanish, Italian, British and American co-productions of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

    He played both leading and comedic character roles, such as in Plein Soleil/Purple Noon (Rene Clement, 1960), La Dénonciation/The Immoral Moment (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, 1962), and Le Scandale/The Champagne Murders (Claude Chabrol, 1966) for which he won the Best Actor award at the 1967 San Sebastián International Film Festival.

    Other films were La Femme infidèle/The Unfaithful Wife (Claude Chabrol, 1968), La Piscine/The Swimming Pool (Jacques Deray, 1969), Raphaël ou le débauché/Raphael, or The Debauched One (Michel Deville, 1971), and Beau-père/Stepfather (Bertrand Blier, 1981).

    He made his directorial debut in 1964 with Le Voleur de Tibidabo/The Thief of Tibadabo, a light-hearted crime story shot in Barcelona, and followed it up with two documentaries Vers l'île des Dragons/To the Island of the Dragons (1974), an allegorical journey to Indonesia to film the Komodo dragon, and a report on the building of a dam in Caborabassa, Mozambique, for French television.

    Toward the end of his life Ronet directed more programs for TV: an acclaimed adaptation of Herman Melville's Bartleby in 1976 (which was released theatrically in 1978) and adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe and Cornell Woolrich stories.

    He also authored two books: L'ile des Dragons (1973) a chronicle of the making of Vers l'île des Dragons, and Le Métier de Comédien (1977), an honest and thorough discussion of the acting profession.

    His marriage to Maria Pacôme ended in a separation in 1952, and they divorced in 1956.

    From 1977 until his death in 1983, he lived with his partner Josephine Chaplin, a daughter of Charles and Oona Chaplin, in the village of Bonnieux in Provence. They had a son, Julien (1980).

    Maurice Ronet died of cancer, a month before what would have been his 56th birthday.

    Maurice Ronet
    French postcard by Editions du Globe, no. 637. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Maurice Ronet
    Spanish postcard by Edicion Archivo Bermejo, no. 7031. Photo: Suevia Films. Publicity still for Mi último tango/My Last Tango (Luis César Amadori, 1960).

    Maurice Ronet
    East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Scene from Plein Soleil (1960) with Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet and Marie Laforet. Source: Tubinho79 (YouTube).

    Scene from Le Feu Follet (1963) with Maurice Ronet and Jeanne Moreau. Source: Wunbad777 (YouTube).

    Sources: James Travers (French Films.info), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 08/20/14--12:56: Nils Chrisander
  • Swedish actor and film director Nils Chrisander (1884-1947) made his first screen appearances in German and Swedish silent films in the mid-1910s. In 1916, he was the first Phantom of The Opera of the screen. Later he moved to Hollywood, where he also directed a few films.

    Nils Chrisander
    German postcard by NPG, no. 427. Photo: Alex Binder.

    The Phantom

    Nils Chrisander or Nils Olaf Chrisander was born Waldemar Olaf Chrisander in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1884.

    He probably made his film debut in the Danish production Et Gensyn/A Reunion (1914) for the Dania Biofilm Kompagni. His first German film was probably the silent drama Die Flammentänzerin/The Flame Dancer (Georg Jacoby, 1914) opposite Norwegian actress Aud Egede-Nissen.

    The following years he played in the films Die Wellen schweigen/The silent waves (Rudolf Biebrach, 1915) with Henny Porten, and Um ein Weib/Because of a woman (Carl Schönfeld, 1915) again opposite Aud Egede-Nissen.

    As an actor, Chrisander is possibly best recalled for starring as Erik the Phantom in Das Phantom der Oper (Ernst Matray,1916), the now lost German adaptation of Gaston Leroux's novel The Phantom of the Opera.

    Matray's version is the first film adaptation of Leroux's 1909-1910 serialized novel. Aud Egede-Nissen co-starred as Christine and director Ernst Matray played The Persian.

    That same year Chrisander also appeared in such Swedish silent films as Svärmor på vift/Mother in law on the loose (Georg af Klercker, 1916), Fången på Karlstens fästning/Prisoner of Karl's Fortress (Georg af Klercker, 1916) and Revelj/Reveille (Georg af Klercker, 1917) with Mary Johnson.

    Back in Germany, Chrisander appeared in Nicht lange täuschte mich das Glück/Happiness did not deceive me for long (Kurt Matull, 1917) opposite Olga Engl and the popular Polish film actress Pola Negri in her first role in a German production.

    He also played leading roles in the melodramas Die Vergangenheit rächt sich/The past takes revenge (Urban Gad, 1917) with Albert Paul, Küsse, die man im Dunkeln stiehlt/Kisses that you steal in the dark (Kurt Matull, 1918) with Pola Negri and Ernst Hofmann, and Die neue Daliah/The new Daliah (Urban Gad, 1918) featuring Maria Widal.

    Nils Chrisander
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 7642. Photo: Gerlach.

    Nils Chrisander
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 7460. Photo: Gerlach, Berlin.

    The Golem

    In 1919, Nils Chrisander started to direct silent films for the Deutsche Bioscop Gmbh. His first films were Olaf Bernadotte (1918) with Carl de Vogt, and Chrysanthéme/Chrysanthemum (1918) featuring Carola Toelle.

    He co-directed the German silent film Alraune und der Golem/Alraune and the Golem with actor and director Paul Wegener.

    J Zsalsberg at IMDb: “No prints of the film are known to have survived. Nor have any photographs, reviews, or even a decent credits listing. Poster artwork does exist, but German censorship/release records do not. Consequently, it is, indeed, possible that the film was never made at all, with the poster artwork having been created to advertise a "possible" production. In any event, the story is alleged to be based on the novel "Isabella of Egypt" by Ludwig Achim von Arnim, in which the "Alraune" character is male and the golem is female!”

    That year, he also directed Die weißen Rosen von Ravensberg/The white roses of Ravensberg (1919) with Uschi Elleot.

    After performing in the film serial Die Jagd nach dem Tode/The hunt for the death (Karl Gerhardt, 1920) opposite actress Lil Dagover, Nils Chrisander began his career in Germany as a director.

    In total, he directed three films in Germany, before relocating to the United States where he directed two dramatic films: Fighting Love (1927), starring Jetta Goudal, Victor Varconi and Henry B. Walthall for Cecil B. DeMille Pictures, and that same year The Heart Thief (1927), starring Joseph Schildkraut and Lya De Putti.

    By 1930, he was living at S. Gramercy Place in Los Angeles, California. Nils Chrisander died in 1947 in Los Angeles (according to Wikipedia) or Skivarp, Sweden (according to IMDb). He was 63.

    Nils Chrisander
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. 1642. Photo: Nicola Perscheid, Berlin.

    Nils Chrisander
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3125.

    Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 08/20/14--23:00: Martin Held
  • Martin Held (1908–1992) was a German stage, television and film actor. His film career started when he was already in his forties, but during the 1950s and 1960s Held was one of the leading stars of the West-German cinema.

    Martin Held
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb. Berlin, no. 311. Photo: Real-Film. Publicity still for Der Kaufmann von Köpenick/The Captain from Köpenick (Helmut Käutner, 1956).

    Extremely versatile facial expressions

    Martin Erich Fritz Held was born in Berlin-Wedding, Germany in 1908. The son of the foreman Albert Max Julius Held and his wife Emma Held-Reimann first completed a mechanic apprenticeship at Siemens.

    In 1929 he received a scholarship for an acting training and till 1931 he attended the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (University of Music and Performing Arts) in Berlin.

    Held had his stage debut in 1931 in a graduation production of Vor Sonnenuntergang (Before Sunset). In the following decade he was engaged by theatres in Königsberg, Dresden, Elbing, Bremerhaven and Darmstadt.

    From 1941 till 1951 he belonged to the company players of the Städtischen Bühnen in Frankfurt. There he had his breakthrough in 1947 as General Harras in the German premiere of Carl Zuckmayer’s Des Teufels General.

    In 1951, Boleslaw Barlog asked him for the Staatlichen Schauspielbühnen Berlin, where he would stay till his death. There he played with major stage actors as Bernhard Minetti, Carl Raddatz, Wilhelm Borchert and Horst Bollmann under renowned directors like Fritz Kortner and Hans Lietzau.

    Held also started his film acting career in Schwarze Augen/Black Eyes (Géza von Bolváry, 1951) with Cornell Borchers. His ironic acting style, his extremely versatile facial expressions as well as his distinctive voice worked well on screen.

    His breakthrough was his part as SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich in Canaris/Canaris Master Spy (Alfred Weidenmann, 1954). The film portrays real events during the Second World War when Wilhelm Canaris (O.E. Hasse) the head of German military intelligence was arrested and executed for his involvement with the 20 July Plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler. The film was a major success at the German box office and Held won the German Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal.

    In another hit, Der Hauptmann von Köpenick/The Captain of Köpenick (Helmut Käutner, 1956) he played the imperious - but against the fake captain (Heinz Rühmann) extremely submissive - Mayor Obermuller. It was based on Carl Zuckmayer’s known play about the brilliant coup in 1906 of criminal Wilhelm Voigt. The film used this coup for a critical presentation of militarism in the German Empire.

    Filmportal.de: ”As an actor, Held easily shifted from common man to upper-class citizen, and he equally convinced as the poor crook or the cunning criminal mastermind.”

    Held played the lead role in the thriller Spion für Deutschland/Spy for Germany (Werner Klingler, 1956) co-starring Nadja Tiller and Walter Giller. The film based on a novel by Will Berthold, depicts the German spy Erich Gimpel’s actions during the Second World War.

    Held again played a starring role as the historical prosecutor Dr. Schramm in Rosen für den Staatsanwalt/Roses for the Prosecutor (Wolfgang Staudte, 1959) with Walter Giller.

    An interesting thriller was Nasser Asphalt/Wet Asphalt (Frank Wisbar, 1958) in which he co-starred with Horst Buchholz. The film is set in war-scarred Berlin and is another example of how the post-war German cinema tried to deal with the lessons of the war and Germany's recent history.

    Martin Held
    German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 1774. Photo: Filmaufbau / Deutsche London / Lindner. Publicity still for Friederike von Barring (Rolf Thiele, 1956).

    Martin Held
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. I214. Photo: Wesel / Berolina Film / Deutsche London. Publicity still for Spion für Deutschland/Spy for Germany/ (Werner Klingler, 1956).

    Powerful baritone voice

    Martin Held starred in the crime film Der Letzte Zeuge/The Last Witness (Wolfgang Staudte, 1960) which was entered into the 1961 Cannes Film Festival.

    In the comedy Die Ehe des Herrn Mississippi/The Marriage of Mr. Mississippi (Kurt Hoffmann, 1961), Held had a supporting part. The film based on the play with the same title by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, featured O.E. Hasse and was entered into the 11th Berlin International Film Festival.

    Held played the father of a kidnapped girl (Christine Kaufmann) in the thriller Neunzig Minuten nach Mitternacht/Terror After Midnight (Jürgen Goslar, 1962).

    Raquel Welch was his co-star in an episode of the French anthology film Le Plus Vieux Métier du monde/The Oldest Profession (Michael Pfleghar, 1967) with contributions from six different film directors (including Jean-Luc Godard), each one doing a segment on prostitution through the ages.

    Held starred in the military comedy Fast ein Held/Almost a Hero (Rainer Erler, 1967), as a German NCO in a fictitious village in occupied France, who unwittingly becomes town commandant - ironically, to the betterment of the locals. For this role, he won the Ernst Lubitsch Preis for best comedy performance.

    Later films include the comedy Dr. med. Fabian — Lachen ist die beste Medizin/Dr. Fabian: Laughing Is the Best Medicine (Harald Reinl, 1969) with quiz host Hans-Joachim Kulenkampff, the crime comedy Die Herren mit der weißen Weste/The gentlemen in the white waistcoat (Wolfgang Staudte, 1969) with Mario Adorf, and the French thriller Le Serpent/Night Flight from Moscow (Henri Verneuil, 1973) starring Yul Brynner.

    During the 1970s and 1980s he mostly worked for television. Held used his powerful baritone voice to good effect on radio and for dubbing such Hollywood tough guys as E.G. Marshall, George Macready and Neville Brand.

    In 1978, his last feature film was released: Der Pfingstausflug/The Whitsun trip (Michael Günther, 1978). Held and Elisabeth Bergner play an old couple, which escapes from a senior citizens home and re-examines 63 years of married life. In 1988 he was honored with the Großes Verdienstkreuz (Great Cross of Merit). Martin Held died in 1992 in Berlin. He was 83.

    Held was first married to actress Lilo Dietrich. Their son Thomas (1943) took his own life in 1961.

    In 1967 Held married the actress Lore Hartling. From this marriage he had two children, Albert Held (1964), now the artistic director at the Schauspielhaus Graz, and Maximilian Held (1967), an actor.

    Martin Held
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3738. Photo: Wesel / Berolina Film / Deutsche Film Hansa. Publicity still for Banktresor 713/Bank Vault 713 (Werner Klingler, 1957).

    Martin Held
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4686. Photo: Karlheinz Dahlfeld / Hollywood.

    Sources: I.S. Mowis (IMDb), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.

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  • 08/21/14--23:00: Carola Toelle
  • Carola Toelle (1893-1958) was a German actress, in particular in German silent cinema of the late 1910s and early 1920s.

    Carola Toelle
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, Berlin-Wilm., no. 369/3, 1919-1924. Photo: Alex Binder / Decla.

    Carola Toelle
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, Berlin, no. 262/5, 1919-1924. Photo: Alex Binder / Decla.

    Fritz Lang

    Carola Toelle, also written as Tölle, was born in Berlin in 1893.

    In 1916 she got an engagement at the Deutsche Theater in Berlin. She also started to appear in films by Deutsche Bioscop.

    Soon she played leading roles first at deutsche Bioscop and later on at other studios.

    Probably her first film was Prinz Waldemar and Waldemar Prinz (Emil Albes, 1916/1917), starring Bruno Kastner and Max Gülstorff.

    This was followed by a series of films with Carl de Vogt as leading actor: Liebe/Love (Robert Reinert, 1917), Erloschene Augen/Extinct eyes (Josef Stein, 1917), Der lebende Tote/The living dead (Robert Reinert, 1917/1918), Der Knute entflohen/Escaped from the lash (Josef Stein, 1917), and Das Licht des Lebens/TheLight of Life (Josef Stein, 1918).

    By and by Toelle became the leading star of her films, as in Das Lied der Colombine/The song of Colombine (Emil Justitz, 1918). Toelle plays a woman whose jealous fiancé (Hans Albers) unjustly suspects her of having a lover and breaks the engagement, after which her parents kick her out. Thanks to an old musician, she becomes a professional singer and while performing she meets her former fiancé again…

    In 1919 Toelle shifted from Deutsche Bioscop to Erich Pommer’s company Decla.

    For Decla she did Um Ruhm und Frauenglück/For fame and the happiness of a woman (Ernst Fiedler-Spiess, 1919/1920), Opfer/Sacrifice (Ernst Fiedler-Spiess, 1919), Die blonde Loo/Blond Loo (Josef Coenen, 1919), Die Ehe der Frau Mary/The Marriage of Mrs Mary (Josef Coenen, 1919), Der falsche Schein/The falseappearance (Emil Justitz, 1919), Das ewige Rätsel/The eternalmystery (Josef Coenen, 1919), and Die Insel der Glückligen/The island of the happy people (Josef Coenen, 1919).

    In Die Insel der Glückligen she is the daughter of a revolutionary and loves a prince (Paul Otto), who has been forced into marriage. They hide their romance on a little island at the prince’s estate.

    In 1920 Toelle continued at Decla with Tötendes Schweigen/The killing silence (Arthur Holz, 1920) and the Fritz Lang film Kämpfende Herzen/Vier um die Frau/Four around a woman (1920/1921), scripted by Thea von Harbou and Lang.

    Toelle played a wife suspected of infidelity by her husband (Ludwig Hartau). While buying a precious piece of jewellery with forged money he discovers a man in a criminal bar who looks like a portrait his wife has.

    Another memorable film was the now considered lost film Johannes Goth (Karl Gerhardt, 1920), scripted by Carl Mayer. A writer (Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur) who is sure his book on reality will be a big success, meets a publisher (Werner Krauss) who funds him. When the publisher dies, the truth is revealed: the publisher only funded him because he had an affair with the writer’s wife (Toelle). On the day of the publication the writer commits suicide.

    Next Toelle played in the only film directed by Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur: Der siebente Tag/The seventh day (1920).

    Then followed Um den Sohn/About the son (Frederik Larsen, 1921), Hazard (Frederik Larsen, 1921), and Das Mädchen das wartet/The girl who waits (Frederik Larsen, 1921).

    Carola Toelle
    German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 187/1. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

    Carola Toelle
    German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 187/3. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

    Carola Toelle
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin no. K1842. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.


    Carola Toelle traded Decla for the Carl Wilhelm company, where she starred in Menschenopfer/Human sacrifice (Carl Wilhelm, 1921/1922) and Landstrasse und Grossstadt/Highway andcity (Carl Wilhelm, 1921).

    After that she played for many different companies, resulting in films like the Maxim-Film productions Kean (Rudolf Biebrach, 1921), with Alexander Moissi in the title role, and Die Schuld des Grafen Weronski/The guilt of Count Weronski (Rudolf Biebrach, 1921).

    Toelle played the wife of a maharaja (Viggo Larsen) in Die Perle des Orients/The Pearl of the Orient (Karlheinz Martin, 1921) and the daughter of a state secretary (Friedrich Ulmer) in Der einzige Zeuge/The only witness (Kurt Neukircher, 1921/1922).

    With her sister Ushi Elliott she played in Der Spielmann/The minstrel (Karl Otto Krause, 1921), and with Paul Heidemann in his own production Der Meisterdieb/The Master Thief (Ernst Fiedler-Spiess, 1922).

    Toelle then acted in some strong men and adventure films: Man soll es nicht für möglich halten/Maciste und die Javanerin/MacisteandtheJavanese (Uwe Jens Krafft, 1922), starring Bartolomeo Pagano alias Maciste, and Der Mann aus Stahl/TheMan of Steel (Joseph Delmont, 1923) with Luciano Albertini.

    She was the flirt of Gunnar Tolnaes count in Die Flucht in die Ehe. Der grosse Flirt/The flight tothemarriage.The bigflirt (Artur Retzbach-Erasiny, 1922).

    Carl Boese directed her in Ein Kind - ein Hund/A child - a dog (1922/1923) and Max Mack did so in Die Tragödie in Haus Bang/The tragedy of the Bang house (1922).

    Toelle’s last two films were Christoph Columbus/Christopher Columbus (Marton Garas, 1922) with Albert Bassermann in the title role and Toelle as the daughter of the Duke of Medina-Celli (Stahl-Nachbaur), and Der rote Reiter/The red rider (Franz W. Koebner, 1923) which had Toelle in a supporting role while the female lead was for Fern Andra.

    Carola Toelle
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 1433. Photo: Filmatelier Hansa.

    Carola Toelle
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1841. Photo: Alex Binder.

    Carola Toelle
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1844. Photo: Alex Binder.

    Return to the stage

    After six years of a highly intense film career Carola Toelle returned to the stage and pursued her career there.

    As an independent actress she performed at the Deutsche Künstlertheater and the Deutsche Theater in Berlin, as well at the Kleinen Haus der Städtischen Bühnen in Frankfurt am Main.

    During the Second World War she had some supporting roles in films like Hochzeit auf dem Bärenhof/Wedding atBärenhof (Carl Froehlich, 1942) with Heinrich George, Immensee (Veit Harlan, 1943) with Kristina Söderbaum, Der verzauberte Tag/The EnchantedDay (Peter Pewas, 1944) with Winnie Markus, Seinerzeit zu meiner Zeit/His time, my time (Boleslaw Barlog, 1943/1944) with Hannelore Schroth, and Tierarzt Dr. Vlimmen/VeterinarianDr.Vlimmen (Boleslaw Barlog, 1944/1945), an adaptation of the popular Dutch novel by Anton Roothaert.

    After the war Toelle performed with the Staatsschauspiel Dresden and from 1951 on at the Renaissance-Theater in Berlin.

    She was married to actor Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur and her sister was actress Uschi Elleot.

    Carola Toelle died in 1958 in Berlin-Grunewald.

    Carola Toelle
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Wolff, Berlin., no. F.44. Photo: Alex Binder.

    Carola Toelle
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, Berlin-Wilm., no. 369/4, 1919-1924. Photo: Alex Binder / Decla.

    Carola Tölle
    German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 187/2. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

    Sources: Filmportal.de, Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

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  • 08/23/14--00:25: Siegfried Breuer
  • Austrian stage actor Siegfried Breuer (1906-1954) made his film debut late at the age of 33, but in the next 15 years he starred as a charming bon vivant with a raised left eyebrow. Among his 50 films are many Viennese comedies, some Nazi propaganda films and the classic The Third Man (1949). Breuer was also an occasional film director and screenwriter.

    Siegfried Breuer
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3441/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

    Siegfried Breuer
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3597/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Bavaria Filmkunst.

    An elegant but sinister seducer

    Siegfried Breuer was born in Vienna, Austria in 1906. He was the son of the German actor and opera singer Hans Breuer. His godfather was Siegfried Wagner.

    So performing was in young Siegfried’s blood. In the early 1920s, he attended the Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst (Academy of Music and Performing Arts) in Vienna, where he studied alongside Paula Wessely and Käthe Gold.

    In 1924, he made his stage debut at the Volkstheater in Vienna, and later played there at the Theater in der Josefstadt.

    In Berlin, he performed his first leading role in the classic play Der Prinz von Homburg (The Prince of Homburg) by Heinrich von Kleist under the direction of Max Reinhardt. In 1935 he became a permanent member of the ensemble cast of Reinhardt's prestigious Deutschen Theaters (till 1941).

    After some 15 years of stage acting the then 33 years old Siegfried Breuer made his screen debut in the short Eins zu Eins/One to One (Carl Prucker, 1939). (In 1931 he had already played a bit part in the comedy Wochenend im Paradies/Weekend in Paradise (Robert Land, 1931) starring Trude Berliner.)

    He was immediately much in demand, and that same year, he added his Viennese charm to Unsterblicher Walzer/Immortal Waltz (E.W. Emo, 1939) with Paul Hörbiger as Johann Strauss, Mutterliebe/Mother Love (Gustav Ucicky, 1939), the comedy Anton, der Letzte/Anthony the Last (E.W. Emo, 1939) with Hans Moser, and the Anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda film Leinen aus Irland/Linen for Ireland (Heinz Helbig, 1939).

    During the war years, Breuer played an elegant but sinister seducer in the Alexander Pushkin adaptation Der Postmeister/The postmaster (Gustav Ucicky, 1940) with Heinrich George and Hilde Krahl, and in the classic Romanze in Moll/Romance in Moll (Helmut Käutner, 1943) with Marianne Hoppe.

    But he also served the stereotype of the evil Jew in such anti-Semitic productions as Der Weg ins Freie/The way out (Rolf Hansen, 1941) starring Zarah Leander, and Venus vor Gericht/Venus in court (Hans H. Zerlett, 1941) with Hannes Stelzer.

    Siegfried Breuer
    German postcard by FBZ (Film-Bild-Zentrale). Photo: Binz.

    Siegfried Breuer
    German postcard by Das Programm von Heute. Photo: Wien-Film.

    Harry Lime's Friend

    Between 1939 and 1954, Siegfried Breuer would star in 50 films. After the war, he was seen in a supporting part in the film adaptation in colour of the operetta Die Fledermaus/The Bat (Géza von Bolváry, 1946) with Marte Harell and Johannes Heesters.

    Die Fledermaus was already shot in 1944, but the film material seemed lost after the bombings. In 1946, the material was found and finally edited.

    One of the most famous films in which Breuer appeared is the British film noir The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949), situated in allied-occupied Vienna. Breuer played the Romanian Popescu, one of the black marketers and friends of the mysteriously killed Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Popescu was a small part but one which is integral to the development of the story.

    Another success was the come-back film of Zarah Leander, the musical drama Gabriela (Géza von Cziffra, 1950), co-starring Carl Raddatz, Vera Molnar and Breuer. Gabriela was the third highest-grossing film at the West German box office in 1950.

    Breuer directed, wrote and starred in the film Der Schuß durchs Fenster/The shot through the window (Siegfried Breuer, 1950) in which he worked with Curd Jürgens.

    He also directed the comedies Seitensprünge im Schnee/Escapades in the Snow (Siegfried Breuer, 1950) with Doris Kirchner, and In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus/In Munich stands a Hofbräuhaus (Siegfried Breuer, 1951) with Fita Benkhoff and Paul Kemp.

    Siegfried Breuer was a heavy smoker. He died of a combination of liver disease and pneumonia in 1954 in Weende near Göttingen in the South of Germany. He was only 47.

    Breuer was married six times, among others with the actresses Maria Andergast, Eva-Maria Meineke and Lia Condrus. His sons Walter Breuer a.k.a. Siegfried Breuer Jr. and Wolfgang Breuer a.k.a. Wolfgang Condrus and his grandchildren Jacques Breuer and Pascal Breuer are also working in the entertainment industry.

    Siegfried Breuer
    German postcard by Film-Postkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 120. Photo: Real-Film. Publcity still for Gabriela (Géza von Cziffra, 1950).

    Siegfried Breuer
    German collectors card.

    Sources: I.S. Mowis (IMDb), Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-line) (German), Wikipedia (English and German), and IMDb.

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  • 08/23/14--23:00: Homunculus (1916)
  • The third film special in our new weekly series is about Homunculus (Otto Rippert, 1916). This silent super-serial was part of the German artificial-creature film genre, including Der Golem (1914 and 1920), Alraune (1918, 1928, 1930) and Metropolis (1926). Danish star Olaf Fönss played the perfect creature, manufactured in a laboratory. During World War I, Homunculus was the most popular and influential serial in Germany. It even influenced the fashion in Berlin.

    Olaf Fönss
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 9667/1. Photo: DBG (Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft). Publicity still for Homunculus, 1. Teil/Homunculus (1916).

    Olaf Fönss as Homunculus
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 9668. Photo: DBG (Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft). Publicity still for Homunculus, 1. Teil/Homunculus (1916).

    Little human

    After having played in Danish films in the early and mid-1910s, Olaf Fönss tried his luck in Germany in 1915.

    He immediately became the protagonist of the serial Homunculus, written by Robert Reinert, directed by Otto Rippert and released in 1916.

    The script was written by Fritz Lang, and the film foreshadows various elements of his film Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1929), which will be the subject of EFSP's film special next Sunday.

    Homunculus is an artificial creature, test tube bred in a lab by Dr. Hansen (Theodoor Loos) and his assistant Edgar Rodin (Friedrich Kühne). They call their created baby 'Homunculus', Latin for 'little human.

    Homunculus is brought up thinking he is a normal man. After learning of his true identity, the adult Homunculus understands he has no soul and is incapable of love. He hates Hansen for making him. Hansen's daughter loves Homunculus, but he is unable to feel much beyond hate.

    Homunculus leaves, haunted by the incapability to feel human emotions. During his travels, he adopts a stray dog, feeling pity - if not love. He instigates revolutions and becomes a monstrous but beautiful tyrant, relentlessly pursued by his creator-father who seeks to rectify his mistake.

    Olaf Fönss in Homunculus
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilmersdorf, no. 9184. Photo: DBG (Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft).

    Olaf Fönss as Homunculus
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 9185. Photo: DBG (Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft). Publicity still for Homunculus, 1. Teil. Der künstliche Mensch/Homunculus (Otto Rippert, 1916) with Olaf Fönss as Homunculus and Aud Egede Nissen.

    Olaf Fönss in Homunculus, 2
    German postcard by Verleih Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 9186. Photo: DBG (Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft). Publicity still for Homunculus, 2. Teil. Das geheimnisvolle Buch/Homunculus. The mysterious book (Otto Rippert, 1916).

    Olaf Fönss in Homunculus 3. Die Liebeskomödie des Homunculus
    German postcard by Verlag Herm. Leiser, Berlin, no. 9664. Sent by mail in 1917. Photo: DBG (Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft). Publicity still for Homunculus 3. Die Liebeskomödie des Homunculus/The tragic love story of the Homunculus (Otto Rippert, 1916). The girl could be Ilse Lersen (Luise) or Erna Thiele (Anna). Before he wants to destroy the world, Homunculus wants to explore love.

    Olaf Fonss in Homunculus, 3
    German postcard by Verlag Herm. Leiser, Berlin, no. 9183. Photo: DBG (Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft). Publicity still for Die Liebeskomödie des Homunculus/The tragic love story of the Homunculus (Otto Rippert, 1916).

    Olaf Fönss in Homunculus, 5
    German postcard by Verlag Herm. Leiser, Berlin, no. 9182. Photo: DBG (Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft). Publicity still for Homunculus, 5. Teil. Die Vernichtung der Menschheit/Homunculus. The Destruction of Mankind (Otto Rippert, 1916).

    Wonderful photography

    Homunculus was set up as a super-serial, composed of six feature-length episodes. It was meant to play not only as a serial, but as a series.

    Bob Lipton notes at IMDb that the film "has some wonderful photography [by Carl Hoffmann] (notice the strong use of framing not by irising, as was still very common at this time, but by using structure and set decoration to change the effective frame size) and toning (a process in which the black silver nitrate is replaced by other compounds with colors, resulting in white whites, black blacks but colors instead of grays)".

    The story asks the question: is the soul born with the body, or the gift of god?

    After making Homunculus, Olaf Fönss did not stay in Berlin. He was called back to play in Danish films after Danish star Valdemar Psilander had committed suicide.

    But his German film serial was a huge success during the dark years of World War I, and Homunculus would inspire many later artificial human films, including James Whale's horror classic Frankenstein (1931) featuring Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster.

    Prints of Homunculus exist in the George Eastman House film archive (only a 1920 coloured re-release version of about 75 min. with Italian language intertitles, preserved in 2002); in the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv (one black & white episode); in the Národní Filmovy Archiv (one black & white episode); and in the Cinémathèque Suisse film archive (250 metres).

    Olaf Fönss
    German postcard by Verlag Herm. Leiser, Berlin, no. 5017.

    Olaf Fönss as Homunculus
    German postcard by Verleih Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 9151. Photo: DBG (Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft). Publicity still for Homunculus, 1. Teil/Homunculus (Otto Rippert, 1916).

    Sources: Bob Lipton (IMDb), Stephen Prince (The Horror Film), Silent Era, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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    Yesterday, English actor, film director and producer Richard Attenborough has died. Baron Attenborough (1923-2014) won two Oscars for Gandhi in 1983. He has also won four BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globe Awards. As an actor he is known for his roles in Brighton Rock (1947), The Great Escape (1963) and Jurassic Park (1993). Attenborough passed away at the age of 90.

    Richard Attenborough
    Vintage postcard, no. 950. Photo: British Lion.

    I.M. Richard Attenborough (1923-2014)
    British postcard in the Celebrity Autograph Series, no. 377.

    Psychopathic Young Gangster

    Richard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough was born in Cambridge, England in 1923. ‘Dickie’ was the eldest of three sons of Mary Attenborough née Clegg a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council and Frederick Levi Attenborough, a scholar and academic administrator who was a don at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

    Richard’s brothers were nature documentarian David Attenborough and John Attenborough, who was an executive at Alfa Romeo before his death in 2012.

    Attenborough was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). At the age of 12, his acting career had started when he appeared in shows at Leicester's Little Theatre.

    Attenborough's film career began with an uncredited role as a deserting sailor in the war film In Which We Serve (Noël Coward, David Lean, 1942).

    During the Second World War Attenborough served in the Royal Air Force. After initial pilot training he was seconded to the newly-formed RAF Film Unit at Pinewood Studios, under the command of Flight Lieutenant John Boulting where he appeared with Edward G. Robinson in the propaganda film Journey Together (John Boulting, 1943-1945).

    He then volunteered to fly with the Film Unit and after further training, where he sustained permanent ear-damage, qualified as a sergeant, flying on several missions over Europe filming from the rear gunner's position to record the outcome of Bomber Command sorties.

    After the war, he made his breakthrough as a psychopathic young gangster in the film of Graham Greene's novel Brighton Rock (John Boulting, 1947), a part that he had previously played to great acclaim at the Garrick Theatre in 1942. Brighton Rock received critical acclaim and was the most popular British film of 1947.

    After that, he was type-cast for many years as working-class misfits or cowards in films like The Guinea Pig (Roy Boulting, 1948) in which the 26-year-old Attenborough was wholly credible as a 13-year-old schoolboy, London Belongs to Me (Sidney Gilliat, 1948) with Alastair Sim, and the naval drama Morning Departure (Roy Ward Baker, 1950) starring John Mills.

    In 1949 exhibitors voted Attenborough the 6th most popular British actor at the box office.

    Richard Attenborough
    British autograph card, 1949.

    Hollywood Blockbuster

    In 1952, Richard Attenborough starred in the original West End production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, which went on to become the world's longest-running stage production. He took a 10% profit-participation in the production, which proved to be a wise business decision.

    During the 1950s, Attenborough worked prolifically in British films and appeared in successful comedies, such as Private's Progress (Roy Boulting, 1956) opposite Ian Carmichael, and I'm All Right Jack (Roy Boulting, 1959), also with Dennis Price.

    In the late 1950s, Attenborough formed a production company, Beaver Films, with Bryan Forbes. He began to build a profile as a producer on projects including the crime drama The League of Gentlemen (Basil Dearden, 1959), the drama The Angry Silence (Guy Green, 1960) withPier Angeli, and Whistle Down the Wind (Bryan Forbes, 1961) starring Hayley Mills. In the first two he also performed as an actor.

    In 1963 he appeared in the ensemble cast of The Great Escape (John Sturges, 1963) as RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett (‘Big X’), the head of the escape committee and based on the real life exploits of Roger Bushell. It was his first appearance in a major Hollywood blockbuster and his most successful film up to that time.

    During the 1960s, he expanded his range of character roles in films such as Séance on a Wet Afternoon (Bryan Forbes, 1964) and Guns at Batasi (John Guillermin, 1964), for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM).

    In 1965 he played Lew Moran opposite James Stewart in The Flight of the Phoenix (Robert Aldrich, 1965) and in 1967 and 1968, he won back-to-back Golden Globe Awards in the category of Best Supporting Actor, the first time for The Sand Pebbles (Robert Wise, 1967), co-starring Steve McQueen, and the second time for his comedic turn as a circus owner in Doctor Dolittle (Richard Fleischer, 1968), starring Rex Harrison.

    His feature film directorial debut was the all-star screen version of the hit musical Oh! What a Lovely War (Richard Attenborough, 1969). Sergio Angelini in Directors in British and Irish Cinema: “a project inherited from John Mills, who had developed the screenplay with Len Deighton from Joan Littlewood's stage production. This satiric fantasia on the First World War is largely set on Brighton Pier, but Attenborough and cinematographer Gerry Turpin successfully open out the play with a number of bravura sequences, the best remembered being the final shot which pulls back to reveal an entire hillside covered in white crosses.”

    He later directed two epic period films: Young Winston (Richard Attenborough, 1972), which starred his favourite leading man, Anthony Hopkins, as Winston Churchill, and A Bridge Too Far (Richard Attenborough, 1977), an all-star account of Operation Market Garden in World War II.

    His acting appearances became sporadic as he concentrated more on directing and producing. His portrayal of the serial killer John Christie in 10 Rillington Place (Richard Fleischer, 1971) garnered excellent reviews and he also played to great acclaim in Indian director Satyajit Ray's period piece The Chess Players (1977).

    Following his appearance in The Human Factor (Otto Preminger, 1979), he stopped with film acting for more than a decade.

    Richard Attenborough
    British autograph card, 1949.

    Richard Attenborough
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W 475. Photo: Charter Films.

    In Search of Gandhi

    In 1982, Richard Attenborough finally realized a project he had been attempting to get made for 18 years: Gandhi, featuring Ben Kingsley. It proved to be an enormous commercial and critical success. Gandhi won eight Academy Awards, and Attenborough himself was awarded with the Oscar for Best Director and as the film's producer, the Oscar for Best Picture. For his historical epic, he also won the Golden Globe as Best Director in 1983. He published his book In Search of Gandhi, another product of his fascination with the Indian leader.

    Attenborough then directed the screen version of the musical A Chorus Line (Richard Attenborough, 1985) and the anti-apartheid drama Cry Freedom (Richard Attenborough, 1987), based on the life and death of the prominent anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko and the experiences of Donald Woods. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director for both films.

    His more recent films as director and producer include the underrated Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992) starring Robert Downey, Jr. as Charlie Chaplin and Shadowlands (Richard Attenborough, 1993), based on the relationship between C.S. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) and Joy Gresham (Debra Winger).

    He made his come-back as an actor as the eccentric owner of a dinosaur theme park in Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993) and the sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1997).

    He also starred in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street (Les Mayfield, 1994). Since then he has made occasional appearances in supporting roles, including as Sir William Cecil in the historical drama Elizabeth (Shekhar Kapur,1998) with Cate Blanchett, Jacob in Joseph and the Amazing TechnicolorDreamcoat (David Mallet, 1999) and as The Narrator in the film adaptation of Spike Milligan's comedy book Puckoon (Terence Ryan 2002).

    He made his only appearance in a Shakespeare film when he played the British ambassador who announces that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead at the end of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996).

    Richard Attenborough
    British postcard by Show Parade Picture Service, London, in the series 'The People', no. P1065. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation Ltd.

    Entirely Up to You, Darling

    Richard Attenborough had been married to English actress Sheila Sim since 1945. With his wife, they founded the Richard and Sheila Attenborough Visual Arts Centre.

    He also founded the Jane Holland Creative Centre for Learning at Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland in memory of his elder daughter. Jane Holland, her mother-in-law, and her 15-year-old daughter Lucy were killed in 2004 when a tsunami caused by the Indian Ocean earthquake struck Khao Lak, Thailand where they were holidaying.

    Attenborough had two other children, Michael and Charlotte, an actress. Michael is a theatre director and the Artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in London.

    In 1967, Richard Attenborough was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). He was knighted in 1976 and in 1993 he was made a life peer as Baron Attenborough, of Richmond upon Thames. At 84, he made his last film as director and producer, Closing the Ring (Richard Attenborough, 2007).

    According to Jason Buchanan at AllMovie, “Sixty-five years after making his screen debut as a young stoker in co-directors Noël Coward and David Lean's World War II drama In Which We Serve, Richard Attenborough perfects the balance between epic story and intimate tale with this drama starring Shirley MacLaine and Neve Campbell as a mother and daughter who find a relic from the past sparking an incendiary series of events.”

    Attenborough served as vice president (1973–1995) and president (2002–2010) of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and as president of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (2003– ). For 33 years he was President of the Muscular Dystrophy campaign, and he is also the patron of the United World Colleges movement. He passionately believes in education, primarily education that does not judge upon colour, race, creed or religion.

    In 2008 Attenborough published, in association with his long standing associate Diana Hawkins, an informal autobiography Entirely Up to You, Darling.

    Later that year he entered hospital with heart problems and was fitted with a pacemaker. In December 2008 he suffered a fall at his home after a stroke, and went into a coma, but came out of it within a few days. Shortly before her 90th birthday, in June 2012 Sheila Sim entered the actors' home Denville Hall, for which she and Attenborough had helped raise funds.

    In March 2013, in light of his deteriorating health, Attenborough moved into Denville Hall to be with his wife. Richard Attenborough passed away on 24 August 2014 at the age of 90.

    Scene from Brighton Rock (1947). Source: Legendy2k (YouTube).

    Trailer for Gandhi (1982). Source: 05HK09 (YouTube).

    Sources: Sergio Angelini (Directors in British and Irish Cinema), Jason Buchanan (AllMovie), Encyclopaedia Britannica, AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 08/25/14--23:00: Dolly Davis
  • French actress Dolly Davis (1896-1962) was a very popular comédienne in the 1920s. She was often paired with André Roanne, and they even performed in a film simply called Dolly (Pierre Colombier, 1928).

    Dolly Davis
    French postcard in the 'Les Vedettes de Cinéma' Series by A.N., Paris, no. 112. Photo: G.L. Manuel Freres.

    Dolly Davis
    French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 139. Photo: P. Apers.

    Dolly Davis
    French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 515. Photo: Studio Lorelle.

    Dolly Davis
    French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 665. Photo: G.F.F.A.

    The Imaginary Voyage

    Dolly Davis was born as Julienne Alexandrine David in Paris, France, in 1896.

    She already made her first film in 1919: La bourrasque (Charles Maudru, 1919). She followed it up with Un conte de Noël/A Christmas Story (1920) and Les étrennes à travers les âges/New Year's Gifts Through the Ages (Pierre Colombier, 1920).

    She was much beloved in films such as the serial Vidocq (Jean Kemm, 1922) starring René Navarre as Vidocq, Genevieve (Léon Poirier, 1923) with Pierre Blanchar, Paris (René Hervil, 1924) with Marie Bell, and Mon frères Jacques/My Brother Jacques (Marcel Manchez, 1925) with Enrique Rivero.

    A highlight was the fairytale-like Le voyage imaginaire/The Imaginary Voyage (René Clair, 1925) with Albert Préjean.

    Another success was Paris en cinq jours (Pierre Colombier, Nicolas Rimsky, 1926), a comedy about Americans in Paris.

    With André Roanne, she appeared in La petite chocolatière/The Chocolate Girl (René Hervil, 1927) and La femme du voisin/The Neighbour's Wife (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1928).

    Dolly Davis
    Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 933. Collection Didier Hanson.

    Dolly Davis
    Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 932.

    Dolly Davis
    French postcard by Europe, no. 299. Photo: Cinéromans / Films de France.

    Dolly Davis
    French postcard by Europe, no. 773. Photo: Paramount.

    Dolly Davis
    Belgian postcard by N.V. Universum, Antwerpen.

    Tingel Tangel

    In the late silent era Dolly Davis also performed in various German films.

    These included Fraulein Josette-meine Frau (Gaston Ravel, 1926), Tingel tangel (Gustav Ucicky, 1927) with Paul Hartmann, Verirrte Jugend/Misled Youth (Richard Löwenbein, 1928), Frauenraub in Marokko (Gennaro Righelli, 1928) opposite Vladimir Gajdarov, Die weisse Rosen von Ravensberg/The White Roses of Ravensberg (Rudolf Meinert, 1929) starring Italian diva Diana Karenne, and a film directed by actress Olga Tschechowa: Der Narr seiner Liebe/Fool For Love (1929), starring Michael Chekhov.

    In 1928 Davis also played in the American silent film Lights of Paris, shot in Paris and directed by Pierre Hemp.

    When sound came along, Davis starred in the French comedy Un trou dans le mur (René Barberis, 1930) with Jean Murat.

    More little known French sound films followed including Gagne ta vie/Earn Your Living (André Berthomieu, 1931), Brumes de Paris/Mists of Paris (Maurice Sollin, 1932), Un train dans la nuit/A Train in the Night (René Hervil, 1934), Bichon (Fernand Rivers, 1935), and Bar du sud/Southern Bar (Henri Fescourt, 1938) starring Charles Vanel.

    After the latter film, Dolly Davis retired. From then on, she dedicated her time to painting, and she died in 1962 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.

    Dolly Davis, publicity for Campari
    French postcard. Photo: Studio Lorelle. Caption: "Si Paris vous attire, Campari vous retient."

    Dolly Davis
    French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 676. Photo: Studio G.L. Manuel Frères.

    Dolly Davis
    French postcard by Editions Cinémagazines, no. 325. Photo: Studio G.L. Manuel Frères.

    Dolly Davis
    French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 401. Photo: Studio Lorelle, Paris.

    Dolly Davis
    French postcard by EC (Editions Chantal), Paris, no. 77. Photo: Piaz.

    Scene from Le voyage imaginaire/The Imaginary Voyage (1925). Source: Maxence Cyrin (Cinemix).

    Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), CineArtistes.com, Wikipedia (French), and IMDb.

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  • 08/26/14--23:00: Dan Leno
  • English music hall star Dan Leno (1860-1904) was known as the ‘Funniest Man on Earth’. Short, with a wide grin, broadly comic features and a conspicuous part in his hair, he also became one of the most popular pantomime dames of the 1890s. Towards the end of his life, he made 14 short films.

    Dan Leno
    Small British postcard in the Midget postcard Series by Rotary Photo EC., no. 6317. Photo: Langfier, Glasgow.

    One of the highest-paid comedians in the world

    Dan Leno was born George Wild Galvin in St Pancras, London in 1890. He was the youngest of six children.

    His parents, John Galvin and his wife Louisa, née Dutton, performed together in a music hall double act called ‘The Singing and Acting Duettists’. They were not very successful, and the family struggled in poverty.

    In 1864, at the age of four, George joined his parents on stage in their music hall act, billed as 'Little George, the Infant Wonder, Contortionist, and Posturer'.

    That same year, his father, an alcoholic, died at the age of 37. The family moved to Liverpool a few months later, where his mother married the comedian William Grant a.k.a. William Leno.

    In 1865, George and his brother Henry formed a clog dancing double act known as ‘The Great Little Lenos’. Tired of surviving on little or no money, Henry left the clog dancing act to take up a trade in London, forcing Leno to consider a future as a solo performer.

    He made his first solo appearance, aged nine, at the Britannia Music Hall in Coventry. In his teen years, he became the star of his family's act. Leno's clog dancing continued to be so good that in 1880 he won the world championship at the Princess's Music Hall in Leeds and won a silver belt. The judges sat under the stage and listened to the beats.

    He adopted the stage name Dan Leno and, in 1884, made his first performance under that name in London. That year he married Lydia Reynolds, a young dancer and comedy singer.

    As a solo artist, he became increasingly popular during the late 1880s and 1890s, when he was one of the highest-paid comedians in the world. He developed a music hall act of talking about life's mundane subjects, mixed with comic songs and surreal observations, and created a host of mostly working-class characters to illustrate his stories.

    In 1886 Leno played the dame in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Surrey Theatre. Such was his success that Augustus Harris hired him as dame at Drury Lane for the 1888 production of Babes in the Wood. He became one of the greatest and most popular of all pantomime dames and continued to play during the Christmas season at Drury Lane for the next 15 years.

    Dan Leno, Sister Ann
    British postcard by Rotary photo, no. 139C. Photo: Davey Photo. Leno in costume as Sister Ann(e) in the pantomime Bluebeard (1901) by J. Hickory Wood and Arthur Collins. Leno starred opposite Herbert Campbell's Bluebeard.

    Dan Leno
    British postcard by Rotophot, no. 8084. Photo: Davey, Islington.

    The King's Jester

    The highly paid Dan Leno was generous and active in charitable causes, especially to benefit performers in need.

    He continued to appear in musical comedies and his own music hall routines until 1902, although he suffered increasingly from alcoholism. This, together with his long association with dame and low comedy roles, prevented him from being taken seriously as a dramatic actor, and he was turned down for Shakespearean roles.

    Between 1901 and 1903, Leno recorded more than twenty-five songs and monologues on the Gramophone and Typewriter Company label.

    Towards the end of his life, he also made 14 short films distributed by the Warwick Trading Company or British Mutoscope & Biograph Company, including Dan Leno's Attempt to Master the Wheel (1900), An Obstinate Cork (1902), and Dessert at Dan Leno's House (1902). In these crude silent shorts he portrayed a bumbling buffoon who struggles to carry out everyday tasks, such as riding a bicycle or opening a bottle of champagne.

    In 1901, Leno, along with Seymour Hicks and his wife, the actress Ellaline Terriss, was invited to Sandringham House to take part in a Royal Command Performance to entertain King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, their son George and his wife, Mary, the Prince and Princess of Wales.

    Leno performed a thirty-five minute solo act that included two of his best-known songs: ‘How to Buy a House’ and ‘The Huntsman’. As a memento, the king presented Leno with a jewel-encrusted royal tie pin, and thereafter, Leno became known as ‘the King's Jester’.

    Leno was the first music hall performer to give a Royal Command Performance during the king's reign. Dan Leno had begun to drink heavily after performances, and, by 1901, like his father and stepfather before him, he had become an alcoholic. By 1902, he began to behave in an erratic and furious manner, and he suffered a mental breakdown in early 1903. He was committed to a mental asylum, but was discharged later that year.

    After one more show, his health declined, and he died at his home in London in 1904, aged 43. His death and funeral were national news. The Daily Telegraph wrote in its obituary: "There was only one Dan. His methods were inimitable; his face was indeed his fortune ... Who has seen him in any of his disguises and has failed to laugh?"

    Dan and Lydia had five children. Their three youngest children – Ernest (1889), Sidney (1891) and May (1896) followed their father onto the stage. Sidney became known as Dan Leno Jr.

    Dan Leno
    British postcard by J. Beagles & Co., London, no. 347. Photo: R. Haines.

    Dan Leno
    British postcard in the Empire Series, London, no. 45.

    Sources: Victoria and Albert Museum, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 08/27/14--23:00: Vera Korène
  • Russian born actress Véra Korène (1901-1996) played seductive spies and vamps in the French cinema of the 1930s. After a dozen films, the Nazi occupation of France cut her screen career short.

    Vera Korène
    French postcard. Photo: G.L. Manuel Frères. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Vera Korene
    German postcard by Das Programm von Heute, Berlin. Photo: Klawi-Film. Publicity still for Les bateliers de la Volga/The Volga Boatman (Vladimir Strizhevsky, 1935).

    Coolly Elegant

    Véra Korène was born as Rebecca Véra Koretzky in Bakhmut in the Russian Empire (now Artemivsk, Ukraine) in 1901. With her family, she fled the Russian Revolution of 1917 and settled in Paris, France.

    There she made her film debut in the French film Son excellence le Bouif/His Excellency Le Bouif (Louis Osmont, 1922) with Tramel. Using the Francized name Korène, she made a career in the theatre and entered the prestigious Comédie-Française in 1931.

    In the sound era, she returned to the screen in the film La voix sans visage/The faceless voice (Leo Mittler, 1933) opposite Lucien Muratore and Jean Servais.

    She had her breakthrough the following year with her lead role in La belle de nuit/The beauty of the night (Louis Valray, 1934) with Aimé Clariond. Kinsayder at IMDb: “In the dual role, the statuesque Véra Korène is coolly elegant as the actress Maryse and coldly severe as the world-weary, man-hating prostitute Maïthé. It was her second feature film [sic], but Korène was already an established stage actress and her performance here, while less alluring than that of the eroticised Marie Bell in (Jacques) Feyder's picture (Le Grand Jeu), is intense, striking and complex.”

    The following year Korène played the female lead opposite Pierre Blanchar and Charles Vanel in the drama Les bateliers de la Volga/The Volga Boatman (Vladimir Strizhevsky, 1935), based on a novel by Joseph Kessel. Korène then starred as Erna Flieder, a notorious female spy of the WWI era in the Espionager Deuxième Bureau/Intelligence Service (Pierre Billon, 1935).

    Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Though she seemingly has ice water in her veins, Erna forgets all about her mission in life when she falls in love with her AEF adversary Captain Benoit (Jean Murat). In time-honored tradition, our heroine ultimately lays down her own life to save Benoit from harm.”

    Vera Korène
    French postcard by Edition Roger Tricot. Photo: Harcourt.

    Vera Korène
    French postcard by Editions et Publications Cinematographiques (EPC), no. 111. Photo: Harcourt.

    Rare and Subtle

    In 1936, Vera Korène starred opposite Pierre Richard Willm and Olga Tschechova in L’Argent/Money (Pierre Billon, 1936). They reunited the next year in the historical drama Au service du tsar/Serving the Tsar (Pierre Billon, 1936).

    In another historical drama, La danseuse rouge/The red dancer (Jean-Paul Paulin 1937), her co-star was Maurice Escande. The following year, she played the title role in Tamara la complaisante/Tamara (Jean Delannoy, Félix Gandéra, 1938) opposite Victor Francen.

    One of her best films was the murder mystery Café de Paris (Yves Mirande, Georges Lacombe, 1938) with Jules Berry.

    Didier Fort at IMDb: “It's a treat. Many subplots are going on, all supported by brilliant and funny dialogs, among which the regular phone calls of a journalist (Carette) to his redaction, giving step by step the progress of the inquiry in an emphatic tone. Most of the (very numerous) cast is at his best. Above all of them, Jules Berry, rather restrained here, hence more efficient than ever, and the rare and subtle Véra Korène, acting with a 'natural' rarely seen in those times.”

    She then played opposite Charles Vanel in the war drama La brigade sauvage/Savage Brigade (Marcel L'Herbier, Jean Dréville, 1939).

    Then Korène's promising film career was cut short by the Nazi Occupation. As a Jew, she was forbidden from acting and fled to Canada.

    After the war, she returned to France. In the 1950s she organized her own theatre production company, putting on performances at the Comédie Française.

    In 1956 she was named director of the Théâtre de la Renaissance, a position she held until 1978.

    Vera Korène died in 1996 in Louveciennes, France. She was 95.

    Vera Korène
    French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1057 Photo: Manuel Frères. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Vera Korene
    French postcard by Erpé, no. 644. Photo: Piaz.

    Sources: Caroline Hanotte (CinéArtistes) (French), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.

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