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Vintage postcards, stars and stories.

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  • 11/30/14--22:00: Laura Nucci
  • Italian actress Laura Nucci (1913-1994) was one of the stars of the Fascist era. Between 1930 and 1989, she appeared in more than 60 films and TV series.

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard by Armando Terzoli, Roma, no. 339. Photo: Vaselli. Postcard for the film Rita da Cascia (Antonio Leonviola, 1943).

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini (B.F.F. Edit.), Firenze, no. 2350. Photo: E.N.I.C.

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard. Photo Bragaglia, Cinecittà, no. 7788.

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 20860. Photo: Venturini.

    Beauty competition


    Laura Nucci was born Maria Laura Lodovici in Carrara, Italy in 1913. She was the sister of actor and stage author Carlo Lodovici.

    After she had won a beauty competition at the age of 16, the elegant and voluptuous Nucci made her film debut in the silent film La Leggenda di Wally (Gian Orlando Vassallo, 1930) featuring Linda Pini as La Wally.

    One of her next films was the historical drama Palio (1932) directed by Alessandro Blasetti and starring Leda Gloria. The film is set against the backdrop of the Palio di Siena horse race during the Medieval era.

    Nucci continued the collaboration with director Alessandro Blasetti and she played the antagonist or the femme fatale in many of his films. She also appeared in films like the comedy Un cattivo soggetto/Bad Subject (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1933), starring Vittorio De Sica.

    Soon she was one of the stars of the Italian cinema of the Fascist era. One of the most important films of the Mussolini regime was the historical film Condottieri (1937) directed by Luis Trenker and starring Trenker, Loris Gizzi and Laura Nucci.

    It portrays the life of Giovanni de' Medici, a celebrated Condottiere of the sixteenth century. A separate German-language version was also made. The film received 9.6 million lire of funding from the Italian government, as part as a major drive by the Fascist authorities to develop the Italian film industry (which also involved the construction of the large Cinecittà complex in Rome).

    Along with Scipio Africanus, the film was an attempt to harness history to support the Fascist regime's current policies. Condottieri drew parallels between the dictator Benito Mussolini and the historical figure of de' Medici, portraying both as unifying Italy. She also starred in the adventure film Fra' Diavolo/The Adventures of Fra Diavolo (Luigi Zampa, 1942) opposite Enzo Fiermonte. During the German occupation of Rome in 1943-1944, Laura Nucci became a close friend of Erich Priebke, the captain of the Gestapo.

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard by Armando Terzoli, Roma, no. 126.

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard by Armando Terzoli, Roma, no. 221. Photo: Pesce. Publicity still for La Signorina/The young lady (Ladislao Kish, 1942).

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard by Armando Terzoli, Roma, no. 220. Photo: Pesce. Publicity still for La Signorina/The young lady (Ladislao Kish, 1942).

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard by Armando Terzoli, Roma, no. 219. Photo: Pesce. Publicity still for La Signorina/The young lady (Ladislao Kish, 1942).

    Spaghetti Western


    Laura Nucci’s halted in 1943. Her career was set back by the downfall of the fascist regime, but from 1950 on, she began appearing in films again as a character actress.

    She also worked regularly for Italian television. She was part of the cast of the TV series Pride and Prejudice (Daniele D'Anza, 1957).

    During the 1960s and 1970s, Nucci appeared in several genre films. The peplum Anthar l'invincibile/Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules (Antonio Margheriti, 1964) was a Italian/French/Spanish co-production filmed in Algeria and featuring bodybuilder Kirk Morris.

    She also appeared in a Spaghetti Western, Ramon il Messicano/Ramon the Mexican (Maurizio Pradeaux, 1966). In the giallo Solamente nero/The Bloodstained Shadow (Antonio Bido, 1978), she played the stepmother of Stefania Casini.

    One of her best known films is the crime film A ciascuno il suo/We Still Kill the Old Way (Elio Petri, 1967), starring Gian Maria Volonté and Irene Papas. It was entered into the 1967 Cannes Film Festival where it won the award for Best Screenplay. It was written by Elio Petri and Ugo Pirro.

    On television, Nucci played the role of Mrs. Ida in the film Ricomincio da tre/Groundhog Day Three (Massimo Troisi, 1981). She was also known for films such as Colpire al cuore/Blow to the Heart (Gianni Amelio, 1983) and Fratelli d'Italia (Neri Parenti 1989).

    Laura Nucci died in 1994 in Rome, Lazio, Italy.

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini (B.F.F. Edit.), Firenze, no. 3817. Photo: E.N.I.C.

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard, no. 52. Photo: Vaselli.

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 4364. Photo: Vaselli / Atlas Film / Artisti Associati. Publicity still for Rita da Cascia (Antonio Leonviola, 1943).

    Laura Nucci
    Italian postcard by Aser, Roma, no. N 1. Photo: Ciolfi.

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

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  • 12/01/14--22:00: Marianne Winkelstern
  • Marianne Winkelstern (1910-1966) became well known as a ballerina in Germany and England. In Germany she also starred in some silent and early sound films.

    Marianne Winkelstern
    Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5991. Photo: D.L.S. / Lux-Film Verleih.

    Marianne Winkelstern
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6308/2, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Jacobi, Berlin.

    Marianne Winkelstern
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6597/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Kiesel, Berlin.

    Ballet Dancer


    Maria Anna Martha Winkelstern was born in 1910, in Berlin, Germany. She had two sisters, Eva and Liselotte. Her father, Adolf Winkelstern was the owner of a successful import firm of caviar. He was the official supplier of the German Kaiser. He also owned Hotel Viktoria, a summer hotel in Misdroy auf Wollin.

    After 1916 business went bad, but Marianne grew up in a sheltered family environment. Her father stimulated her to become a ballet dancer and at five she already followed dance classes by ballerina Evi Peters and also had private dance tuition. As a nine-year-old she already performed at ballet evenings, organized by her father.

    In 1926 she was discovered by Eric Charell in the Dayelma-Ballett at the Berlin Wintergarten. He engaged her for his Großes Schauspielhaus, where she performed in the operetta Madame Pompadour during the 1926/1927 season. During the next years she was a member of the Schauspielhaus ensemble.

    She made her film debut opposite Harry Liedtkein Der Faschingsprinz/The Carnival Prince (Victor Janson, 1928), in which she also could show her dancing capacities.

    This debut was soon followed by film appearances in Die Zirkusprinzessin/The Circus Princess (Rudolf Walther-Fein, 1928) again with Liedtke, Der weisse Teufel/The White Devil (Alexandre Volkoff, 1930) starring Ivan Mozzhukhin, and the short film Die Hochzeit des Faun/The wedding of the faun (Peter Paul Brauer, 1929) with Max Tapis.

    Marianne Winkelstern
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4197/1, 1929-1930. Photo: O.K. Vogelsang, Berlin.

    Marianne Winkelstern
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4362/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Aafa-Film.

    Marianne Winkelstern
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4841/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

    Marianne Winkelstern, Harry Liedtke
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4361/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

    Casanova


    At the beginning of the 1930s Marianne Winkelstern took part in the sound films Liebeswalzer/Love Waltzes (Wilhelm Thiele, 1929-1930) starring Lilian Harveyand Willy Fritsch, Nur Du/Only You (Hermann Feiner, Willi Wolff, 1930), Die Große Attraktion/The Big Attraction (Max Reichmann, 1931) opposite Richard Tauber, Mein Herz sehnt sich nach Liebe/The Clairvoyant (Eugen Thiele, 1931) opposite Erno Verebes, and Ein Kuss in der Sommernacht/A Kiss in the Summer Night (Frans Seitz sen., 1933).

    Her last film was the short musical Kannst Du pfeifen, Johanna?/Can You Whistle, Johanna? (1934, Johannes Guter) with Harald Paulsen.

    Erik Charell invited her to come to London to appear as a ballerina in the musical revue Casanova at the Coliseum.

    There she met her future husband from the British upper classes, and she soon retired.

    Marianne Winkelstern died of lung cancer in 1966, in London.

    Marianne Winkelstern
    Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 6422. Photo: Verleih Deutscher Tonfilme/Leopold Barth & Co.

    Marianne Winkelstern
    French postcard by Europe, no. 2053. Photo: Aafa.

    Marianne Winkelstern
    German postcard, no. 3789. Photo: Zander & Labisch, Berlin.

    Marianne Winkelstern
    Austrian postcard by Iris, no. 6514. Photo: Lux Film Verleih.

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

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  • 12/02/14--22:00: Coluche
  • During the late 1970s and early 1980s, popular stand-up comedian Coluche (1944-1986) was the number one film comedian of France. He was famous for his bawdy humour and ironic attitude towards politics and the establishment. In 1981 he himself was a candidate to become the French president. Coluche appeared in many popular French comedies, but it was his dramatic role in Tchao Pantin/So Long, Stooge (1983) that won him the César, the French Oscar. Only 41, he died in a motorcycle accident.

    Coluche
    French postcard , no. 957. Sent by mail in 1990. Photo: Patrick Davy.

    Scenes of incest and cannibalism


    Michel Gérard Joseph Colucci was born in 1944, several weeks after the liberation, in a hospital in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, France. His mother Simone Bouyer worked as a florist. His father Honorio Colucci, who originally came from Lazio in Italy, was a painter and decorator. His father died in 1947 at the age of 31 from polio. This left his wife to bring up alone his two children on a meagre salary.

    Coluche showed little promise at school and afterwards had various small jobs that he did not stay in for long. He joined the infantry but was imprisoned for insubordination. After returning to civilian life, he worked for a while in his mother’s flower shop.

    At the end of the sixties he tried his luck as a singer in cafes. But this was unsuccessful so he turned to comedy. In 1968 he met Romain Bouteille with whom he founded the Café de la Gare, a theatre where Gérard Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere, Thierry Lhermitte, Miou-Miou, Josiane Balasko and lots of other French comedians made their debut.

    Colucci adopted ‘Coluche’ as a stage name at 26. He became a popular success, but alcohol problems forced him to leave the group. Afterwards he founded another group: Le vrai chic parisien and it was at this time that he met his future wife Véronique Kantor. They married in 1975 and had two sons. But again his behaviour and addictions forced him to leave this group and launch his solo career.

    During the 1970s, Coluche became known for his irreverent attitude towards politics and the establishment, and he incorporated this into much of his material. He was sacked by two radio stations for vulgarity.

    Coluche was also one of the first major comedians to regularly use profanities as a source of humour on French television. In 1973, he started his first one-man-show, Mes adieux au music-hall. His first sketch C'est l'histoire d'un mec dealt humorously with the difficulties of telling a funny story. For his one-man shows, he began to dress in his well-known outfit: blue striped overalls, a bright yellow T-shirt, yellow boots and round glasses.

    In 1973, he also played in the classic art house film Themroc (Claude Faraldo, 1973), produced on a low budget with no intelligible dialog. Themroc tells the story of a French blue collar worker (Michel Piccoli) who rebels against modern society, reverting into an urban caveman. The film's scenes of incest and cannibalism caused controversy. Coluche played Piccolo’s neighbour.

    He had a huge international film hit, when he starred opposite comic giant Louis de Funès in the comedy L'aile ou la cuisse/The Wing or the Thigh (Claude Zidi, 1976). He plays the son of Charles Duchemin (Louis de Funès) the editor of an internationally known restaurant guide, who decides to retire as a critic and trains his son to continue the family business.

    Coluche even tried his hand at film directing, although the satire Vous n'aurez pas l'Alsace et la Lorraine/ You Won't Have Alsace-Lorraine (Coluche, 1977) was to be the only film he would direct. In 1978, he won the Prix National des Euphémismes de Charente-Maritime (National Prize for Understatements of Charente-Maritime), at the third try.

    By the end of the decade, Coluche had become a film star in his own right and his subsequent film roles were better tailored to his style of comedy.

    Coluche
    French postcard by Editions Humour à la Carte, Paris, no. ST-102. Photo: Alain Bizos / VU.

    Coluche
    French postcard by Editions Humour à la Carte, Paris, no. ST-101. Photo: Alain Bizos / VU.

    The only candidate who had no reason to lie


    On 30 October 1980, Coluche organised a press-conference in the theatre where he was performing a one-man show. It was there that he announced his candidacy for the French presidential elections in 1981. At first he was not taken seriously until the day the Sunday newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, published a poll on 14 December 1980, crediting Coluche with 16% of voting intentions.

    He described himself as the only candidate who had no reason to lie. He had socialist ideas, and was therefore a threat to Socialist presidential candidate François Mitterrand. After criticism from rivals and death threats, Coluche announced to abandon his candidacy in April 1981. Mitterrand eventually would defeat incumbent President Giscard d'Estaing and become president.

    In 1981, Coluche also divorced his wife Véronique. The years that followed would be marked by emotional upset and tragedy. In 1982, Coluche eloped with Patrick Dewaere's wife Elsa, prompting his friend to commit suicide with a rifle that Coluche had recently given him. The incident brought Coluche a deep depression which he nurtured with alcohol and drugs.

    At the times, he appeared in several popular film comedies, including Inspecteur la Bavure/Inspector Blunder (Claude Zidi, 1980) with Gérard Depardieu, Le maître d'école/The school master (Claude Berri, 1981), Banzaï (Claude Zidi, 1983) and – ironically - La Femme de mon pote/My Best Friend's Girl (Bertrand Blier, 1983) starring Isabelle Huppert.

    In 1984 he was awarded the César Award for Best Actor for his role in the film Tchao Pantin/So Long, Stooge (Claude Berri, 1983). He portrayed an alcoholic gas jockey who befriends a troubled young drug dealer and works to solve his murder. It was one if his few dramatic roles.

    By this time, Coluche was closely involved with humanitarian causes, including support for the victims of the famine in Ethiopia. In September 1985, he created Les Restos du Cœur: a charity for people in need with 40,000 volunteers in almost 2,500 Restos, which welcome 600,000 beneficiaries a day. This charity was launched by Coluche when he made a speech on the radio station Europe 1. This speech is very famous and begins with the words 'I have a little idea..'.

    The charity collects food, money and clothes for the needy and the homeless. Each year, a fund-raising concert series is presented by various singers and celebrities, collectively known as 'les Enfoirés' (the assholes).

    Coluche also loved fast bikes. He even earned a record in the Guinness book of records in September 1985, on the race circuit of Nardo (Italy), when he reached the speed of 252.087 km/h on a 750cc motorbike.

    His final film was the French-Italian comedy Le fou de guerre/Madman at War (Dino Risi, 1985), which was entered into the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.

    In June 1986, Coluche suddenly died when his motorcycle (he was not speeding) crashed into a truck on a road in the commune of Opio in south-eastern France. He was 41. This event provoked national grief and inspired the album Putain de camion (Fuckin' truck) by close friend Renaud. Some conspiracy theories have since surfaced, mainly in the book Coluche, l'accident: contre-enquête, alleging that Coluche may have been murdered.

    In 2008, the film Coluche, l'histoire d'un mec/Coluche: the story of a guy (Antoine de Caunes, 2008) was released. It relates the events surrounding Coluche's bid for the French presidency in 1981. François-Xavier Demaison plays Coluche. James Travers at French Film Guide: “a modest tribute to an exceptional talent”.

    Coluche
    Swiss postcard by Musée d'Elysée, Lausanne, no. 55599. Photo: Laurence Sudre / News Productions.

    Coluche
    French postcard by La Poste / Restaurants du Coeur, Paris. Photo: Gaston / J. Quirno - Sygma / T. Frank - Sygma. Sent by mail in 2001.

    Sources: James Travers (French Film Site), Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Wikipedia (English and Dutch) and IMDb.

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  • 12/03/14--22:00: Maria Holst
  • Austrian actress Maria Holst (1917-1980) appeared in many stage plays of the famous Viennese Burgtheater and also in several popular films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. She died tragically.

    Maria Holst
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3057/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Wien Film.

    Maria Holst
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3500/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Hämmerer.

    Maria Holst
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3607/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Wien Film / Tobis.

    Important Stage Actress


    Maria Holst was born as Friedel Anna Marie Emilie Czizek in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria), in 1917. She was the daughter of a Viennese father and a Norvegian mother. Both were active in art circles and Maria followed in their footsteps.

    At an early age, she was educated at the Comédie Française (according to Wikipedia she was trained at a theatre school in Prague). She finished her education in Vienna at the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar and debuted in Zürich (according to Wikipedia she made her debut at the Landestheater Linzin 1935).

    Soon she made herself a name and she had engagements in Vienna at the Jozefstadt, the Volkstheater and the Burgtheater (according to Wikipedia she appeared at the Theater an der Wien, in 1937 at the Stadttheater in Brünn, and from 1938 on she was a member of the ensemble of the famous Burgtheater in Vienna).

    In this period she was an important stage actress with such roles as Gloria in George Bernhard Shaw’s Man kann nie wissen (1939), Elisabeth in Friedrich Schiller’s Don Carlos (1942), Prothoe in Heinrich von Kleist’s Penthesilea (1943) and Portia in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (1943).

    Maria Holst
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 164, 1941-1944. Photo: Hämmerer.

    Maria Holst
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 100, 1941-1944. Photo: Hämmerer.

    Maria Holst
    German autograph card, no. 422. Photo: Starfoto Hasemann / Herzog Film-Verleih / Merkur-Eichberg-Film.

    Maria Holst
    German autograph card by Starfoto Hasemann, no. 315/1.

    Huge Hit


    Maria Holst made her film debut already at the age of 15 in Unsichtbare Gegner/Invisible Opponent (Rudolph Katscher, 1933) with Gerda Maurus and Peter Lorre.

    When she was 19 she appeared in small roles in the classic Burgtheater/Vienna Burgtheater (Willi Forst, 1936) and in Lumpacivagabundus/Lumpaci the Vagabond (Géza von Bolváry, 1936) with Heinz Rühmann.

    In 1939 she left for Berlin and Munich, returning to the Burgtheater afterwards. In 1940, Willi Forst selected her for the leading part of singer Marie Geistinger in the succesful film Operette/Operetta (Willi Forst, 1940).

    During the wartime a few more screen appearances followed in the operetta film Wiener Blut/Vienna Blood (Willi Forst), 1942 - another huge hit, Hundstage/Dog Days (Géza von Cziffra, 1944), and Der Gebieterische Ruf/The Commanding call (Gustav Ucicky, 1944) opposite Rudolph Forster.

    After the war she kept her appearances in films rare. She appeared in Märchen vom Glück/Kiss Me Casanova (Arthur De Glahs, 1949) opposite O.W. Fischer, and in Mordprozeß Dr. Jordan/Murder Trial Dr. Jordan (Erich Engels, 1949).

    She preferred to focus her attention on the theatre and performed on stages in Vienna, Stuttgart, Bad Hersfeld and Berlin.

    In the 1950s her last films followed including roles in the Heimatfilm Grün ist die Heide/The Heath Is Green (Hans Deppe, 1951), Mein Herz darfst du nicht fragen/You Can’t Ask For My Heart (Paul Martin, 1951), and Rosen aus dem Süden/Roses From the South (Franz Antel, 1954).

    She also played the countess in Die Trapp-Familie/The Trapp Family (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1956) with Ruth Leuwerik and Hans Holt.

    One of her last films was Lockvogel der Nacht/Nocturnal Stool Pigeons (Wim ten Haaf, 1959).

    In 1980 Maria Holst died tragically in Salzburg, Austria, when she choked on a meal. She was married twice. In 1944 she married the painter and graphic designer Eugen Graf Ledebur. Her second husband was Dr. Rudolf Röttgers, with whom she had a daughter, Elisabeth (1957).

    Maria Holst
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, no. A 471. Photo: Panorama Film.

    Maria Holst
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, no. A 610. Photo: Apollo / AFP/ Deutsch London Film / Haenchen.

    Maria Holst
    German card. Photo: Paula Wessely-Film, Deutsche London, Hämmerer.

    Maria Holst
    German postcard by ISV, no. C 8. Photo: Divina / Gloria / Filipp.

    Sources: The Androom Archives, Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-line - German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

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  • 12/04/14--23:00: Carlo Aldini
  • Carlo Aldini (1894-1961) was an athletic hero of the Italian and German silent cinema. The robust but also gentleman-like Aldini often appeared as Ajax or Achilles in sensational historical epics.

    Carlo Aldini
    Italian postcard. Photo: publicity still for the film Dreiklang der Nacht/Triad of the night (Karl Gerhardt, 1924). Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Carlo Aldini
    French postcard by Spa Rueil.

    Wrestling, Boxing and Jumping


    Carlo Aldini was born in 1894 in Pieve di Fosciano near Lucca, Italy, but he was raised in Bologna. There he frequented the famous gymnastic club of Virtus (the same in which Luciano Albertini had trained) and soon won matches in all sections.

    At the age of 15 he was champion in wrestling, boxing and jumping in the province of Emilia. In 1914 and 1915 he won the national wrestling championship, while in 1916 he won the pentathlon.

    At the time, the Italian cinema was keen on athletic men and the Cinegraph studio discovered Aldini in 1920. His debut was in their action adventure La 63 - 7157/The Adventures of Carlo Aldini (Salvo Alberto Salvini, 1920) which featured lots of cars.

    Then the Rodolphifilm company launched him as Ajax in a series of historical epics, such as Le perle di Cleopatra/The Pearl of Cleopatra (Guido Brignone, 1922) and La fuga di Socrate/The Flight of Socrates (Guido Brignone, 1923). His films were all shot in Turin, and the scripts were simple but effective, focusing on how Ajax would restore order and peace.

    Carlo Aldini
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 858/1, 1925-1926. Photo: Rembrandt, Berlin.

    Carlo Aldini
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 858/3, 1925-1926. Photo: Rembrandt, Berlin. Phoebus Film.

    Carlo Aldini
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3270/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Kurzrock, Wiesbaden.

    Sensationsfilmen


    The Italian film crisis forced Carlo Aldini to move to Berlin where he was well received and starred in a series of 'Sensationsfilmen'.

    Memorable is his Achilles in the two-part epic Helena (Manfred Noa, 1924) about the Homeric battle of Troy. Italian actress Edy Darclea played Helen of Troy and Vladimir Gajdarov Paris. In this heroic film Aldini's classic beauty - robust, muscular but also slender and gentleman-like - was expressed best.

    Other German films were Gentleman auf Zeit/Gentleman on time (Karl Gerhardt, 1924), Nick, der König der Chauffeure/Nick, King of the chauffeurs (Carl Wilhelm, 1925) opposite Dutch star Adolphe Engers, and Der Kampf gegen Berlin/The Battle Against Berlin (Max Reichmann, 1926) with Jenny Jugo.

    In 1926 Carlo Aldini started his own Aldini Film company. Italian director Nunzio Malasomma directed him in various German films such as Jagd auf Menschen/Hunted People (1926) with Maly Delschaft, and Einer gegen alle/One Against All (1927).

    He also made films in Great Britain and Czechoslovakia. For a short while Aldini continued to work in German sound film and even directed one film himself: Im Kampf mit der Unterwelt/In the battle with the underworld (1930) with Ruth Weyher.

    His last films were two middle length films by Phil Jutzi: Tempo, Carlo, Tempo (1933) and Carlo's schönste Abenteuer/Carlo's Most Beautiful Adventures (1934).

    In 1943 he repatriated to Bologna. His perfect knowledge of German permitted him to act as a mediator between the partisans and the retreating German army in April 1945. This resulted in his house filling up with arms by the Germans to show their surrender.

    In Bologna Aldini married Emilia Cella, whom he acquainted in 1945. Carlo Aldini died in 1961 in a hospital in Bologna, his once athletic body ruined by an irreversible disease.

    Carlo Aldini
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1276/1, 1927-1928. Photo: La Serenissima, Bologna.

    Carlo Aldini
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5669/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Carlo Aldini Film.

    Source: Vittorio Martinelli (Italian - Maciste & Co. I giganti buoni del muto italiano), Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.

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  • 12/05/14--22:00: La porteuse de pain (1934)
  • Today's film special is about a little known French drama, La porteuse de pain/The bread peddler (1934), directed by René Sti. Germaine Dermoz plays a woman who is unjustly condemned to hard labour for life for crimes she did not commit. The Belgian postcards for this tearjerker are all distributed by Cine Rex, a cinema in the Belgian city Ghent.

    La porteuse de pain
    Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz as Jeanne Fortier and Jacques Grétillat as Jacques Garaud. Caption: "Forgive me my little girl... forgive me...". Collection: Didier Hanson.

    La porteuse de pain
    Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz. Caption: "... My little horse....my little horse...". Collection: Didier Hanson.

    La porteuse de pain
    Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934). Caption: "Germaine Dermoz (Comédie Française) as Jeanne Fortier."

    La porteuse de pain
    Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz as Jeanne. Caption: "Follow me Jeanne, soon I'll be rich". Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Unjustly accused


    The novel La porteuse de pain (The bread peddler) by Xavier de Montépin et Jules Dornay has been filmed several times. IMDb counts at least eight versions. The first was a silent short directed in 1906 by Louis Feuillade. The most recent adaptation was a TV mini-series by Marcel Camus in 1973.

    They all tell the tragic story of Jeanne Fortier, unjustly accused of crimes committed by a culprit named Jacques Garaud. Jeanne is condemned to hard labour for life while Garaud, hides under another name.

    Twenty years later, Jeanne escapes and becomes the bread peddler. After regaining her two children, she finally unmasks Garaud, who is arrested.

    The postcards are for an early sound version, La porteuse de pain/The bread peddler (René Sti, 1934),in which Germaine Dermoz portrayed Jeanne and Jacques Grétillat was Garaud.
    Dermoz was an actress of the renowned Comédie-Française, who had also acted in many silent films.

    Other stars of the film are Simone Bourday, Mona Goya and Samson Fainsilber. Among the cast  is also a young Fernandel. It's a pity that we have no cards with him.

    La porteuse de pain
    Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz as Jeanne. Caption: "Our father who art in heaven". Collection: Didier Hanson.

    La porteuse de pain
    Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Jacques Grétillat. Caption: "If you don't go along, you will become again Jacques Garaud, understood!"

    La porteuse de pain
    Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz. Caption: "Father, bless me". Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Save the Rex!


    All the postcards are Belgian: the captions are both in French and Dutch. Each card contains stamps that indicate that the film was shown in the Cine Rex in Gand (Ghent), Belgium and that children were admitted to the screening.

    Cine Rex had just opened the year before, in 1933. It was designed by Belgian architect Geo Hendrick in Art Déco style.

    Although the small but fine cinema closed its doors in 1982, the building still exists and is a monument now.

    Activists and politicians try to save the Rex from decay and want to start a film museum in it.

    EFSP supports this great idea: Save the Rex!

    La porteuse de pain
    Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz. Caption: "Yes, father, I have another little girl who is placed out." Collection: Didier Hanson.

    La porteuse de pain
    Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz on the left. Card for the Ghent cinema Rex. Caption: "Mother Lison, I am so lonely and unhappy, without a mother."

    La porteuse de pain
    Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Jacques Grétillat as Garaud. Caption: "We arrest you, Jacques Garaud... murderer of Jules Labroue... the handcuffs..." Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Sources: Gent Cement (Dutch), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

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  • 12/06/14--22:00: Inge Meysel
  • From the early 1960s until her death, Inge Meysel (1910-2004) was one of Germany's most popular actresses. She had a successful stage career and played more than 100 roles in films and on television. Her nickname was 'Mutter der Nation' (Mother of the Nation).

    Inge Meysel
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1525, 1961.

    Her Most Beautiful Day


    Inge Meysel was born Ingeborg Charlotte Hansen in Rixdorf (now Berlin-Neukölln) in 1910. She was the daughter of the Danish mother Anna Hansen and the German Jew Julius Meysel. Inge attended drama schools in Berlin from 1928 until 1930, thereafter she was on stage in Zwickau, Leipzig and Berlin.

    During Nazi Germany, Meysel was banned from performing from 1935 until 1945 because of her Jewish father. In Danzig, she worked as a telephone operator and a technical illustrator. In 1945 she married actor Helmuth Rudolph and restarted her stage career in Hamburg.

    One of her first film appearances was a small part in the drama Liebe 47/Love '47 (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1949). A young man and a woman about to commit suicide by jumping into a river, recount to each other their experiences of the Second World War and the struggles of the immediate post-war situation. Eventually they convince each other that life is worth living after all. Liebe 47 was part of the cycle of rubble films made in post-war Germany.

    More small parts followed in films like the musical Sensation in San Remo (Georg Jacoby, 1951) with Marika Rökk and Peter Pasetti, the war drama Des Teufels General/The Devil's General (Helmut Käutner, 1955) with Curd Jürgens, the Heimatfilm Das Mädchen vom Moorhof/The Girl from the Marsh Croft (Gustav Ucicky, 1958) starring Maria Emo, and Rosen für den Staatsanwalt/Roses for the Prosecutor (Wolfgang Staudte, 1959).

    In 1959, she had her breakthrough in the Berlin folk play Fenster zum Flur (Window to the hall) with Rudolf Platte as her husband. Originally Grethe Weiser was to play concierge Anni Wiesner, but the play and Meysels role were such a success that it was filmed for TV, Das Fenster zum Flur (Erik Ode, 1960). Soon it was remade for the cinema as Ihr schönster Tag/Her Most Beautiful Day (Paul Verhoeven, 1962) with the same leads. Meysel was now called ‘Mutter der Nation’ (Mother of the Nation), a nickname which stuck but which she did not like.

    Inge Meysel
    German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg. Photo: Peter Schommertz, London.

    The diehards


    Since the early 1960s Inge Meysel mainly acted in made-for-TV films. She worked with her second husband, Austrian producer and director John F. Olden in such TV films as Der Biberpelz/The Beaver Coat (John Olden, 1962) and Der rote Hahn/The Red Rooster (John Olden, 1962).

    Very popular was the series Die Unverbesserlichen/The diehards (Claus Peter Witt, 1965-1971). Another popular series was Gertrud Stranitzki (Georg Tressler, 1965).

    Incidentally she played in feature films such as in Ein Frauenarzt klagt an/A woman doctor to complain (Falk Harnack, 1964) with Dieter Borsche.

    She won numerous German actor awards including a lifetime achievement award from the German Television Awards, but in 1981 she refused to accept the Bundesverdienstkreuz because "Einen Orden dafür, daß man anständig gelebt hat, brauche ich nicht" (I don't need an order of merit just for having lived decently).

    From 1925 on, when the 15-years-old did a speech against the death penalty and until shortly before her death, Meysel was outspoken on many - often controversial - social and political issues. Despite her decidedly leftist and feminist views, this did not harm her popularity as an actress. In 1992, she came out as bisexual.

    In 2004, aged 94, she died of heart failure at her home in Bullenhausen near Hamburg. She was cremated and her ashes were buried near her second husband John Olden at Ohlsdorf Main Cemetery, Hamburg. Shortly before, she had also made her last screen appearance in the TV series Polizeiruf 110/Police Call 110 (Ulrich Stark, 2004).

    Inge Meysel
    German postcard by Hörzu.

    Inge Meysel
    German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg, no. CH-6645. Photo: Inge Winkler-Fleischmann.

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

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  • 12/07/14--22:00: Jack Buchanan
  • Tall and slim actor and singer Jack Buchanan (1891–1957) was known for three decades as the embodiment of the quintessential Englishman, despite being a Scot. During his career, he was one of the major British screen stars of his day and incarnated the elegant, always immaculately clothed man about town in about three dozen films. In America, he is best known for his role opposite Fred Astaire in the classic Hollywood musical The Band Wagon (1953).

    Jack Buchanan
    British postcard by Real Photograph, no. 136. Photo: British & Dominions Films.

    Jack Buchanan
    British postcard by Real Photograph in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 630.

    Jack Buchanan
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 630A.

    A debonair man-about-town


    Walter John ‘Jack’ Buchanan was born in Helensburgh, Scotland in 1891. He was the son of the auctioneer Walter John Buchanan Sr. and his wife, Patricia, née McWatt.

    Jack’s father died when he was 12 and the family moved to Glasgow where Jack was sent to Glasgow Academy. After a brief attempt to follow his late father's profession and a failure at acting in Glasgow, he came to London to become a music-hall comedian.

    Under the name of Chump Buchanan, he first appeared on the West End in 1912 in the comic opera The Grass Widow. Hardship dogged him for a while before he became famous whilst on tour in Tonight's the Night.

    He produced and acted in his own plays both in London and New York. Buchanan's health was not robust, and he was declared unfit for military service in World War I. He appeared with some success in West End shows during the war, attracting favourable notices as a debonair man-about-town.

    Stardom came with André Charlot's revue A to Z (1921), in which he appeared with Gertrude Lawrence. Among his numbers in the show was Ivor Novello's And Her Mother Came Too, which became Buchanan's signature song. The show transferred successfully to Broadway in 1924.

    In 1926 Buchanan teamed up with comedienne Elsie Randolph in Sunny. His throwaway nonchalance was complemented superbly by her spirited vivacity. Their stage partnership was rooted in romantic comedy, but to their public they were a romantic couple (both on and off stage). For the next ten years, they starred together in a string of successes, including That’s a Good Girl (in which Elsie played a female detective), and Stand Up and Sing.

    In a British tradition of actor-management, Buchanan frequently produced his own shows. During the 1939-1945 war he starred in his own musical production It's Time to Dance, at the Lyric Theatre, London. In December 1930, he had opened, with his partner Walter Gibbons, the Leicester Square Theatre. This venue was bombed out during the war and Buchanan lost a sizeable amount of money as a result. However, he went on to manage the Garrick Theatre in 1946.

    Jack Buchanan
    British postcard by J. Beagles & Co., London, no. 245 M. Photo: Foulsham & Banfield.

    Jack Buchanan
    British postcard, no. 87.

    Jack Buchanan
    British postcard in the real hand-coloured photograph series, no. 136. Photo: Delfina / First National.

    Among the top ten British stars


    Jack Buchanan made his film debut in the silent cinema, in the British silent crime film Auld Lang Syne (Sidney Morgan, 1917), starring Violet Graham. Soon he played the lead role in such silent British films as the comedy The Audacious Mr. Squire (Edwin Greenwood, 1923), Bulldog Drummond’s Third Round (1925) with Buchanan as Bulldog Drummond, and the drama Confetti (Graham Cutts, 1927) with Annette Benson.

    After sound film was introduced, Buchanan moved to Hollywood. His talking debut was Paris (Clarence G. Badger, 1929), a black-and-white musical comedy film with Technicolor sequences. It was adapted from the Cole Porter Broadway musical of the same name and starred the French music-hall star Irene Bordoni.

    Then he starred opposite Jeanette MacDonald in Ernst Lubitsch’s musical comedy film Monte Carlo (1930). According to reviewer Wemorrow59 at IMDb, his performance was not a success: “Buchanan is given the film's most campy, embarrassing song, a paean to barbering called ‘Trimmin' the Women,’ a number that looks like it escaped from the Celluloid Closet. Things get even worse later on when the plot calls for Buchanan to turn macho, and he gruffly orders Jeanette around, which is like watching Franklin Pangborn try to play a drill sergeant.”

    Buchanan returned to England to star in the musical comedies A Man of Mayfair (Louis Mercanton, 1931) with Joan Barry and Warwick Ward, and Goodnight, Vienna (Herbert Wilcox, 1932) opposite Anna Neagle.

    During the 1930s, he also appeared in such British films as Yes, Mr. Brown (Herbert Wilcox, 1933), Brewster's Millions (Thornton Freeland, 1935) with Lily Damita, Come Out of the Pantry (Jack Raymond, 1935) with Fay Wray, and Smash and Grab (Tim Whelan, 1937).

    In 1936, 1937 and 1938, British film exhibitors voted him among the top ten British stars at the box office via an annual poll in the Motion Picture Herald. In partnership with J. Arthur Rank and Charles Woolf, in 1937 he formed Jack Buchanan Productions which owned Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

    Buchanan achieved the unusual feat of starring in the London stage musical This'll Make You Whistle while concurrently filming a film version in 1938. The film was released while the stage version was still running; thus the two productions competed with each other. More British films of that period were Break the News (René Clair, 1938) with Maurice Chevalier, The Gang's All Here (Thornton Freeland, 1939) with Googie Withers, and The Middle Watch (Thomas Bentley, 1940) with Greta Gynt.

    Jack Buchanan
    British postcard by Prichard & Constance (Manufacturing) Ltd. Makers of Amami Shampoos, London.

    Jack Buchanan
    Vintage postcard, unknown nationality nor editor. Photo: Paramount.

    Jack Buchanan, Jeanette MacDonald, Cacoa van Houten
    Dutch-Belgian promotion card for Cacao Van Houten, no. 11 and 12. Printed by N.V. Ned Reclamefabriek. This card was part of a series of promo cards for a quiz by Van Houten Chocolate. The public had to go to stores to guess which film star was on the photo in the shop window. There were 24 photos. At the right we recognized (with the help from a former owner of the card :)) Jack Buchanan and Jeanette MacDonald in Monte Carlo (Ernst Lubitsch, 1930). At left, George Bancroft and Betty Compson in The Docks of New York (1928). A Paramount picture directed by Josef von Sternberg.

    One of MGM's most acclaimed musicals


    Jack Buchanan continued to work on Broadway and the West End. In 1951 he had the unenviable task of taking over the lead in King’s Rhapsody after Ivor Novello died.

    Two years later, he played in his best known film, the Hollywood musical The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953), in which he plays pompous stage director Jeffrey Cordova opposite Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. He suffered from spinal arthritis, though this didn't stop him from performing several dance numbers with Astaire in the film. Their duet, I Guess I'll Have To Change My Plan, and their legendary Triplets number with Nanette Fabray, made this one of MGM's most acclaimed musicals.

    Later films were the British comedies As Long as They're Happy (J. Lee Thompson, 1955), and Josephine and Men (Roy Boulting, 1955) featuring Glynis Johns. He made one French film (bilingual), Les carnets du Major Thompson/The Diary of Major Thompson (Preston Sturges, 1955) with Martine Carol.

    Buchanan's popularity was augmented by sales of sheet music, records, postcards, and his frequent performances on radio especially during the Second World War, including The Jack Buchanan Programme. In 1955, he performed in the hugely popular eight-part series Man About Town.

    Television appearances in the USA included The Max Liebman Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. He had been at school with the pioneer of television John Logie Baird and with him co-owned Television Limited, which manufactured and rented televisions.

    Jack Buchanan's image was that of the raffish eternal bachelor, but he was, unknown to most, married to singer Saffo Arnau in 1915. This marriage was annulled in 1920. In 1947, he married the American Susan Bassett. He was her second husband, and through her he had a stepdaughter, Theo, who lived with him and his wife. He had no children of his own.

    Buchanan died in London in 1957 from spinal cancer, when he was 66 years old. Andrew H. Spicer commemorates him in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: “His limber dancing, apparently casual and spontaneous, was complemented by a slightly husky light tenor voice considered both pleasant and alluring. His whole style was especially notable for a relaxed, affable grace and charm which gave him tremendous sex appeal, but he was also admired by men who envied and hoped to emulate his insouciant savoir faire. It was a particularly British form of male display: understated, apparently effortless, the quintessence of ‘good form’ that refused to take itself too seriously.”

    Jack Buchanan
    British postcard by Real Photograph in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 227. Photo: Foulsham & Banfield.

    Jack Buchanan and Lily Damita in Brewster's Millions
    British postcard in the Film Partners Series, no. P 181. Photo: British & Dominions. Publicity still for Brewster's Millions (Thornton Freeland, 1935) with Lily Damita.

    Jack Buchanan
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 227a.

    Sources: Andrew H. Spicer (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography), Victoria and Albert Museum, Helensburgh Heroes, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 12/08/14--23:00: Trude Berliner
  • German actress Trude Berliner (1903-1977) was one of many Jewish actors and actresses that were forced to flee Europe when the Nazis came to power in 1933.

    Trude Berliner
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6483/2, 1931-1932. Photo: Splendid-Film.

    Trude Berliner
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6186/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Ufa. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Perky, and bubbly


    Gertrude Berliner was born in Berlin, Germany in 1903. She attended ballet and acting lessons. Her first stage role was in the play Der fidele Bauer (The jolly farmer) and at 13, she already played her first film part as a child in Adamants letztes Rennen/Adamants last race (Max Mack, 1916) with Maria Orska.

    After WWI, Trude became a famous cabaret performer in Berlin, who performed in music halls and at the Scala. She also played on stage in operettas and comedies.

    In 1924, she appeared in her next silent film, Der geheime Agent/The secret agent (Erich Schönfelder, 1924), starring Eva May. It was followed by Krieg im Frieden/War in Peace (Carl Boese, 1925).

    Berliner had to wait four more years before her film career really would take off. In 1929, she appeared in Dich hab ich geliebt/It's You I Have Loved (Rudolf Walther-Fein, 1929), starring Mady Christiansand Hans Stüwe. It would become the first German talkie released in the United States.

    That same year, she was the leading lady opposite Karl Ludwig Diehl as detective Stuart Webb in the silent film Masken/Masks (Rudolf Meinert, 1929). She played typical Berlin girls: perky, and bubbly.

    Berliner appeared in a number of well known German films during the 1930s. These included Ich heirate meinen Mann/Her Wedding Night (E.W. Emo, 1931), Der Hochtourist/The high tourist (Alfred Zeisler, 1931), Die unsichtbare Front/The Invisible Front (Richard Eichberg, 1932), Grossstadtnacht/Big city night (Fedor Ozep, 1932) and Kaiserwalzer/The Emperor's Waltz (Friedrich Zelnik, 1932).

    She had a small part in the Heinz Rühmann comedy Der Stolz der 3. Kompanie/The Pride of Company Three (Fred Sauer, 1932). Interesting was also the drama Nachtkolonne/Night Watch (James Bauer, 1932) with Vladimir Gajdarov and Olga Tschechowa.

    Es war einmal ein Musikus/There was once a musician (Friedrich Zelnik, 1933) was her last film in Germany. It also featured S.Z. Sakall and was the fourth German film that Berliner and Sakall appeared together in.

    Trude Berliner
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5708/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Felsom Film. Publicity still for Drei Tage Liebe/Three Days of Love (Heinz Hilpert, 1931).

    Trude Berliner
    Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 6211. Photo: Viktoria-Film / Kiba Verleih.

    Casablanca


    Being Jewish, Trude Berliner left Germany when Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power. In 1933 she travelled over Prague, Vienna and Paris to the Netherlands. Here she worked among other things in Willy Rosen's cabaret Das Theater der Prominenten (Theatre of celebrities).

    In 1939 Berliner married the Swiss-born painter Max Schoop. In 1940 the Wehrmacht invaded the Netherlands and Trude fled with her husband over Lisbon to the United States.

    She worked in a cabaret in New York, but in Hollywood Berliner was not able to continue her film career. She received only bit roles in four movies.

    In 1942, Berliner received her first American film part in the legendary romantic drama Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Berliner portrayed a woman playing baccarat with a Dutch banker (played by Torben Meyer). In her one line in movie, she says to the waiter Carl (played S.Z. Sakall), "Will you ask Rick if he will have a drink with us?", to which Carl responds, "Madame, he never drinks with customers. Never. I have never seen it."

    Later that year, she had another bit part in the World War II romance Reunion in France (Jules Dassin, 1942) starring John Wayne, Joan Crawford and Philip Dorn (a.k.a. Frits van Dongen).

    The following year, Berliner played Frau Reitler in The Strange Death of Adolf Hitler (James P. Hogan, 1943). The film follows a man who plans to murder Adolf Hitler and steal his identity.

    Her last film appearance was a small uncredited role as a German actress in the Technicolor musical The Dolly Sisters (Irving, 1945) starring Betty Grable, June Haver and S.Z. Sakall. This is a biographical film about the Dolly Sisters, identical twins who became famous as entertainers on Broadway and in Europe in the early years of the twentieth century.

    In order to earn a living Berliner worked among others in the pottery of the also emigrated actor Ernst Verebes and administrated a date farm.

    In 1955, she returned to Berlin and was seen again in the German film Vor Gott und den Menschen/Before God and man (Erich Engel, 1955) with Antje Weisgerber and Hans Söhnker.

    After that Berliner lived quietly in California until she died in 1977 in San Diego, just two days shy of her 74th birthday.

    Trude Berliner
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7077/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Atelier Schneider, Berlin.

    Trude Berliner
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8722/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Pierre Saaf, Amsterdam.

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

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  • 12/09/14--22:00: Cecyl Tryan
  • French-born actress Cecyl Tryan (1897-?) had a prolific career in Italian silent cinema, from 1913 until the late 1920s, first at Cines, later also at companies like Gladiator Film and Fert.

    Cecyl Tryan
    Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 447.

    The only actress with whom Maciste fraternised


    Cecyl Tryan was born in Saint-Julien, France, in 1897.

    She started out in the theatre, e.g. performing in Louis Aubert's La foret bleue (1913).

    From 1913 until the late 1920s, she had a prolific career in the Italian silent cinema. First she worked at Cines in dramas such as Fior di male/Flower of Evil (Nino Oxilia, 1914) with Lyda Borelli and Ruggero Barni, but also in comedies with Kri Kri (Raymond Dandy).

    While continuing at Cines, she also acted for companies like Gloria, Pasquali, Fulgor, and in particular for Gladiator Film, where she appeared in films directed by Giusepe De Liguoro.

    She also had her own company, Cecyl Tryan Film, for which she made only one film: Il barcaiuolo d'Amalfi/The boatman of Amalfi (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1924) with Livio Pavanelli and herself. In those years, Ruggeri directed her in several films at various companies.

    In the 1920s Tryan also acted in numerous films at Fert, including Il richiamo/The Recall (Gennaro Righelli, 1921) with Maria Jacobini and Lido Manetti, and Maciste contro lo sceicco/Maciste in Africa (Mario Camerini, 1926) featuring Bartolomeo Pagano. Supposedly she was the only actress with whom Bartolomeo Pagano fraternised, as he was not fond of the exalted stars.

    Tryan also had a handful of small parts in 1930s Italian sound films, e.g. playing a Turin aristocrat in Cavalleria (Goffredo Alessandrini, 1936), starring Amedeo Nazzari and Elisa Cegani.

    It is unknown when and where Cecyl Tryan died.

    Cecyl Tryan in Maciste contro lo sceicco
    Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 787. Photo: Pittaluga Films, Torino (Turin). Cecyl Tryan in the Fert production Maciste contro lo sceicco/Maciste in Africa (Mario Camerini, 1926). Tryan is the young girl whose tutor (Franz Sala) and his spendthrift mistress (Rita d'Harcourt) want to steal her inheritance, and sell her to a sheik. Aboard the ship she is menaced by the crew but a young sailor (Lido Manetti) and Maciste (Bartolomeo Pagano) rescue her. In the harbour the sheik manages to abduct the girl and place her in his harem, but Maciste and the young man use power and wits to liberate her, defeat the sheik and sail back to Italy to set things straight there too.

    Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto Italiano - Italian), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 12/10/14--22:00: Nils Asther
  • Good looking Swedish actor Nils Asther (1897-1981) was an intense star of the silent European cinema. He was labelled ‘the male Greta Garbo’. In Hollywood he played the leading man to divas like Pola Negri, Joan Crawford, and Marion Davies.

    Nils Asther
    British postcard, no. 1139/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Alex Binder.

    Nils Asther
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1283/1, 1927-1928. Photo: H. Natze / Ufa.

    Nils Asther
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 341.

    Nils Asther
    British postcard in the Colourgraph Series, London, no. C 47.

    Nils Asther
    Dutch postcard, no. 69.

    Darkly Handsome


    Nils Anton Alfhild Asther was born in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark (some sources say Hellerup, Denmark), in 1897, but he was raised in Malmö, Sweden, by his wealthy Swedish parents.

    After attending the Kungliga Dramatiska Teaterns Elevskola (Royal Dramatic Theater School) in Stockholm, the darkly handsome Asther began his stage career in Copenhagen.

    In 1916 legendary director - and the later mentor of Greta Garbo - Mauritz Stiller discovered him. Reportedly they also began an affair.

    Stiller cast him in the leading role (as an aspiring actor, appropriately enough) in the Swedish film Vingarne/The Wings (Mauritz Stiller, 1916). In the following years Asther acted on the Swedish stage and in a few films.

    In 1922 he worked with another acclaimed Swedish director, Victor Sjöström in Vem dömer/Love's Crucible (1922) with Gösta Ekman. Then he starred in German productions like Briefe, die ihn nicht erreichten/Letters, Which Never Reached Him (Friedrich Zelnik/Frederic Zelnik, 1925), Der Goldene Schmetterling/The Golden Butterfly (Mihály Kertész/Michael Curtiz, 1926) opposite Lily Damita, and Hotelratten/Hotel Rats (Jaap Speyer, 1927).

    Gunnar Tolnaes in Himmelskibet/Das Himmelschiff
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2161. Photo: Nordisk. Publicity still for Himmelskibet/Das Himmelschiff (Holger-Madsen, 1918) with Gunnar Tolnaes as Avanti Planetaros, Philip Bech as the Martian leader, Lilly Jacobssonas Marya, the Martian leader's daughter, Alf Blütecher (kneeling) as his friend Dr. Krafft and Nils Asther as the fallen Martian.

    Nils Asther
    Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 722. Photo: Sascha Film. Nils Asther in the German silent film Die versunkene Flotte (Manfred Noa, 1926), released in the US in 1929 as The Wrath of the Seas.

    Nils Asther
    Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 956. Photo: Verleih Engel & Walter. Probably publicity still for Sorrell & Son (Herbert Brenon, 1927).

    Pola Negri, Nils Asther
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3616/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Loves of an Actress (Rowland V. Lee, 1928) with Pola Negri.

    Nils Asther and Joan Crawford
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4260/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Dream of Love (Fred Niblo, 1928).

    Nils Asther
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4512/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

    Thin Moustache


    In 1927 Nils Asther moved to Hollywood. His first American films were Topsy and Eva (Del Lord, 1927), based on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the popular comedy Sorrell and Son (Herbert Brenon, 1927), in which he played Sorrell jr.

    Another successful film directed by Herbert Brenon was Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928) starring Lon Chaney. Asther’s foreign, exotic looks made him a popular actor, and he soon grew a thin moustache which amplified his suave appearance.

    His good looks landed him romantic roles with such co-stars as Pola Negriin Loves of an Actress (Rowland V. Lee, 1928), Marion Davies in The Cardboard Lover (Robert Z. Leonard, 1928), and Joan Crawford in Our Dancing Daughters (Harry Beaumont, 1928).

    Hans Wollstein writes at AllMovie: "Almost impossibly handsome, (...) Asther had the misfortune to be tagged the 'male Greta Garbo. He did two films with his famous counterpart: The Single Standard (John S. Robertson, 1929) and Wild Orchids (Sidney Franklin, 1929), and what an exotically handsome couple they made."

    Asther was bisexual, and for a while, he was smitten with Garbo. Like John Gilbert, he unsuccessfully proposed in 1929 while they were filming The Single Standard (John S. Robertson, 1929).

    In the early 1930s he was briefly married to vaudeville actress Vivian Duncan, his co-star in Topsy and Eva (1927).

    Although his foreign accent was a hindrance in the sound film, he starred opposite Joan Crawford in Letty Lynton (Clarence Brown, 1932), and opposite Barbara Stanwyck in The Bitter Tea of General Yen (Frank Capra, 1933). He also starred in James Whale’s charming romantic comedy By Candlelight (1933) with Elissa Landi.

    Nils Asther
    Postcard of unknown nationality or editor.

    Nils Asther
    French postcard. in the Europe series, no. 559. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

    Nils Asther
    French postcard in the Europe series, no. 583. Photo: Erko-Prodisco. Publicity still for Moonlight on the Danube (Paul Sloane, 1928).

    Nils Asther
    French postcard in the Europe Series, no. 558. Photo: MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Publicity still for the late silent film The Single Standard (John S. Robertson, 1929), starring Greta Garbo. The safety buoy reads: All Alone....

    Nils Asther
    French postcard in the Europe series, no. 909. Photo: MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Publicity still for The Single Standard (John S. Robertson, 1929).

    Greta Garbo and Nils Asther
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4258/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Greta Garbo and Nils Asther in the late silent film Wild Orchids (Sidney Franklin, 1929).

    Greta Garbo and Nils Asther
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4258/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Greta Garbo and Nils Asther in Wild Orchids (Sidney Franklin, 1929).

    Greta Garbo, Nils Asther in Wild Orchids
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4557/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Wild Orchids (Sidney Franklin, 1929) with Greta Garbo.

    Blacklisted


    Nils Asther's Hollywood career continued until 1934 when he was blacklisted for breaking a contract. In 1935, he moved to Britain for four years.

    His British films included the spectacle Abdul the Damned (Karl Grune, 1935) with Fritz Kortner, and the historical romance The Marriage of Corbal (Karl Grune, 1936).

    Although he was allowed back in 1941, his Hollywood career declined. He played supporting parts in B-films like The Night Before the Divorce (Robert Siodmak, 1942), Night Monster (Ford Beebe, 1942), and the film-noir Jealousy (Gustav Machaty,1945) starring John Loder.

    But according to Hans J. Wollstein at AllMovie"whatever the setting, Asther always delivered a carefully modulated performance."

    By 1949 he was driving a truck.

    In 1958, he returned to Sweden, where he made occasional appearances in films like När mörkret faller/When Darkness Falls (Arne Mattsson, 1960), and Vita frun/Lady in White (Arne Mattsson, 1962) opposite Anita Björk. He also worked for Swedish television and on stage.

    Nils Asther died in 1981 in Stockholm. A very honest autobiography, Narren's Väg (The Road of the Jester), was published posthumously in Sweden in 1988.

    Nils Asther
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4905/1, 1929-1930. Photo: MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

    Nils Asther
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6237/1, 1931-1932. Photo: MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

    Nils Asther
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7236/1, 1932-1933. Photo: MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

    Kay Francis, Walter Huston and Nils Asther in Storm at Daybreak
    British postcard in the Filmshot Series, by Film Weekly. Photo: MGM. Publicity still for Storm at Daybreak (Richard Boleslawski, 1933) with Kay Francis and Walter Huston.

    Nils Asther and Kay Francis in Storm at Daybreak
    British postcard in the Filmshot Series, by Film Weekly. Photo: MGM. Publicity still for Storm at Daybreak (Richard Boleslawski, 1933).

    Nils Asther, Kay Francis and Walter Huston in Storm at Daybreak
    British postcard in the Filmshot Series, by Film Weekly. Photo: MGM. Publicity still for Storm at Daybreak (Richard Boleslawski, 1933).


    Nils Asther with Greta Garbo and Lewis Stone in a scene from Wild Orchids (Sidney Franklin, 1929). Source: "I'm old fashioned" (YouTube).

    Sources: Peter Rivendell (Gay For Today), Hans J. Wollstein (AllMovie), Lyn Hammond (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 12/11/14--22:00: Alice Hechy
  • German actress and singer Alice Hechy (1893-1973) appeared in some 30 films during the silent and early sound era. Later she mainly appeared on stage and for the radio.

    Alice Hechy
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 189. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

    Alice Hechy
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 421/4, 1919-1924. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

    Mechanical Doll


    Alice Hechy was born in Anklam, Germany in 1893. She had singing lessons from Ludwig Mantler.

    In 1912 she played as Alice Scheel Hechy her first film role in Problematische Naturen/Problemativ Natures (Hans Oberländer, 1912).

    Other early silent films included Das rote Pulver/The Red Powder (Joseph Delmont, 1913), Fräulein Piccolo/Miss Piccolo (Franz Hofer, 1914) with Dorrit Weixler, and Dorrits Eheglück/Dorrit’s Married Bliss (Paul Otto, 1916) with Bruno Kastner.

    Her most significant role in these years was that of the mechanical doll Olympia in Hoffmanns Erzählungen/Tales of Hoffmann (Richard Oswald, 1916), the early silent film adaptation of the operetta by Jacques Offenbach.

    Then Hechy started her Berlin stage career. First she appeared at the Lustspielhaus (comedy house), then at the Theater in der Kommandantenstraße, at the Neuen Theater am Zoo, and at the Theater in der Behrenstraße.

    Alice Hechy
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1406. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

    Alice Hechy
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1407. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

    Alice Hechy
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1415. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

    Revue Star


    In the 1920s and early 1930s, Alice Hechy was repeatedly the star of the revues of Herman Haller. Guest performances took her to revues and operettas in Vienna.

    In the cinema, she appeared in the worldwide success Variété/Jealousy (Ewald André Dupont, 1925). The all star cast included Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Lya de Putti, Warwick Ward and Kurt Gerron.

    From 1925 on, she played only minor roles, such as in Zuflucht/Refuge (Carl Froelich, 1928) starring Henny Porten.

    Meanwhile she sang at recitals for the radio and performed in cabarets. In 1945 she finally accepted a permanent engagement again at the Theater in der Kaiserallee.

    Later she was a guest during the tours of the Neuen Deutschen Bühne der Jugend (New German Youth Theatre).

    Alice Hechy died in 1973 in Berlin.

    Alice Hechy
    German postcard by Berliner Illustrierte Geschichte, no. 1090. Series 'Bekannte Künstlerinnen am Toilettentisch' (Famous Artist at their Dressing Table).

    Alice Hechy
    German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 88/3. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin.

    Alice Hechy
    German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 88/4. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin.

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

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  • 12/12/14--22:00: Der letzte Walzer (1927)
  • This week's film special is about that typical German phenomenon, a silent film musical. The Ufa production Der letzte Walzer/The Last Waltz (Arthur Robison, 1927) was a successful example. The stars were Willy Fritsch, Suzy Vernon, Liane Haid, Hans Adalbert Schlettow and Ida Wüst. In France, ACE published a series of postcards for the French release, La dernière valse.

    La dernière valse
    French postcard by ACE, no. 10. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still of Suzy Vernon and Willy Fritsch in Der letzte Walzer (Arthur Robison, 1927).

    La dernière valse
    French postcard by ACE, no. 23. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still of Suzy Vernon and Willy Fritsch in Der letzte Walzer (Arthur Robison, 1927).

    A Viennese operetta in Berlin


    Der letzte Walzer/The Last Waltz (Arthur Robison, 1927) was based on a Viennese operetta, composed by Oscar Straus and with a libretto by Julius Brammer and Alfred Grünwald.

    The original operetta had opened at the Berliner Theater in Berlin on 12 February 1920 and starred Fritzi Massary. It was a huge success, and soon followed international adaptations.

    In Vienna it was first presented at the Theater an der Wien on 5 October 1923, with Betty Fischer, Max Hansen, and Richard Tauber in the leading roles.

    On 10 May 1921, an English adaptation for Broadway was prepared by Harold R. Atteridge and Edward Delaney, with additional music by Al Goodman. The Last Waltz, directed by J. C. Huffman, opened at the Century Theatre in New York and ran for 185 performances.

    Another English adaptation was prepared for the West End by Robert Evett and Reginald Arkell. This version opened at the Gaiety Theatre in London on 7 December 1922 and starred Jose Collins. This adaptation ran for 240 performances.

    The next logical step was a film version.

    La dernière valse
    French postcard by ACE, no. 25. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still of Hans Adalbert Schlettow in Der letzte Walzer (Arthur Robison, 1927).

    La dernière valse
    French postcard by ACE, no. 26. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still of Liane Haid, Sophie Pagay, Hans Adalbert Schlettow and Ida Wüst in Der letzte Walzer (Arthur Robison, 1927).

    Foolhardy Swains


    In 1927, the Ufa studio produced the German silent film Der letzte Walzer, directed by Arthur Robison and starring Liane Haid, Willy Fritsch and Suzy Vernon.

    At AllMovie, Hal Erickson summarizes the plot: "Hans von Schlettow plays the caddish Crown Prince of a mythical European country. Eve willing to sacrifice his honor in favor of a good wine or a pretty girl, the Prince is publicly chastised by his aide, the Count (Willy Fritsch). The two men prepare to fight a duel, whereupon their respective sweethearts, the Princess (Liane Haid) and the Countess (Suzy Vernon), conspire to knock some sense into their foolhardy swains."

    The New York Times reviewed the film positively at its US-premiere in 1927: "there is some successful tilting at satire, fun, melodrama and the inevitable romance. This film has a certain charm because it never has to be taken seriously, not even for its type of story, a Teutonic Graustarkian sketch."

    The anonymous reviewer adds: "The stage settings and the scenic effects are quite good, especially the sleigh episodes. The players acquit themselves with no little skill, notably Hans von Schlettow as the Crown Prince, Sophie Pepay (sic, Sophie Pagay) as the Queen, Willy Fritschas Dimitri and Suzy Vernon as the Countess."

    Der Letzte Walzer was filmed again as a sound film in 1934 by Georg Jacoby and starring Iván Petrovich, Camilla Horn and Adele Sandrock.

    After the war followed two more German screen versions: Der letzte Walzer (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1953) with Eva Bartok, Curd Jürgens and O. E. Hasse, and the TV version Der letzte Walzer (?, 1973) starring Jürgen Feindt, Ivan Rebroff and Marika Rökk.

    La dernière valse
    French postcard by ACE, no. 31. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still of Hans Adalbert Schlettow, Suzy Vernon, Liane Haid, Willy Fritsch and Ida Wüst in Der letzte Walzer (Arthur Robison, 1927).

    La dernière valse
    French postcard by ACE, no. 33. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still of  Hans Adalbert Schlettow and Willy Fritsch in Der letzte Walzer (Arthur Robison, 1927).

    Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), The New York Times, The Guide to Musical Theatre, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 12/13/14--22:00: Eva Bartok
  • Beautiful Hungarian Eva Bartok (1926-1998) was a glamorous but talented actress whose roots were in classical theatre. During the 1950s she had a prolific film career in both the British and the German cinema. In Hollywood she was the leading lady of Burt Lancaster in the classic adventure film The Crimson Pirate (1952). However, she became more famous for her off camera antics than for her screen work.

    Eva Bartok
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D 235. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

    Eva Bartok
    German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/50.

    Eva Bartok
    German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 49. Photo: Ringpress.

    Surviving Nazism and Communism


    Eva Bartok was born as Eva Ivanova Szöke in Budapest, Hungary, in 1926 (some sources say 1927). Her father, a Jew who had married a Catholic lady, disappeared without a trace during the rise of Nazism in Europe.

    As the daughter of a Jew, Eva escaped the German concentration by marrying a Nazi officer, Geza Kovacs, at age 15. After the war, the marriage was annulled on the grounds of coercion of a minor. She later described the marriage as a "series of brutal rapes worse than death."

    Having survived Nazism and World War II, she found her vocation in acting. Eva Szöke made her stage debut in J.B. Priestley's Time and The Conways at the Belvàrosi Szinhàz theatre. On his tribute site for Bartok, Omar Martinez writes that “the newspapers reported that a new talent had appeared on the Budapest stage. All drama critics agreed that the newcomer was simply sensational and Eva's reputation grew with each performance.”

    The play ran for three months at the theatre, very long at the time. Her next play would prove even a greater success and a turning point for Eva. The farce New God in Thebes was written by one of Hungary's most popular writers Áron Tamási. Tamási then wrote a play for her which was produced at the National Theater and was a great success on opening night, but the Communist-controlled publications were unanimous in panning both the play and the performances.

    Tamási also wrote her first and only film in Hungary, the independent production Mezei próféta/Prophet of the Fields (Frigyes Bán, 1947). Communist censorship banned the film one day before the premiere, because author and star hadn’t become party members. It was a clear message they could no longer ignore.

    Hollywood-based producer Alexander Paal helped her escape from Hungary by marrying her in 1948 and taking her to England. There she made her screen debut in Paal's production of A Tale of Five Cities/A Tale Of Five Women (Romolo Marcellini, Emil E. Reinert, Wolfgang, Montgomery Tully, and Géza von Cziffra, 1951) with Gina Lollobrigida. She changed her name into Eva Bartok. The production was filmed in 1948 but shelved for several years due to financial difficulties.

    After divorcing Paal in 1950, Eva received valuable support from film mogul and fellow Hungarian expatriate Alexander Korda who was then president of MGM-England. He placed her under contract to London Films which provided a small salary, an English language coach and the opportunity to audition for developing film projects at the studio. In spite of this, Eva Bartok spent months without finding real work and was becoming quite desperate.

    William Wordsworth, a public relations man who became her third husband in 1951, suggested that she attend as many premieres and theatre opening nights as possible in order to bring attention to herself. Unable to buy the proper wardrobe and accessories to make a decent showing at these social gatherings, Eva began designing and making her own gowns and hats from pieces of cheap materials. Soon the media took notice of this beautiful brunette dressed in weird costumes and Eva Bartok became a local celebrity.

    Eva Bartok
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 853. Photo: NF. Publicity still for Der letzte Walzer/The Last Waltz (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1953).

    Eva Bartok, Curd Jürgens
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1180. Photo: Meteor Schorchtfilm. Still from Orient Express (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1954) with Curd Jürgens.

    Eva Bartok
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild Berlin, no. A 1143. Photo: Filipp / Sonor / Allianz. Publicity still for Viktoria und ihr Husar/Victoria and Her Hussar (Rudolf Schündler, 1954).

    Eva Bartok
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 998. Photo: RKO-Radio Film. Publicity still for Rummelplatz der Liebe/Circus of Love (Kurt Neumann, 1954).

    Eva Bartok
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. S 553. Photo: Sascha / Herzog-Film / Klimacsek. Publicity still for Dunja/Her Crime Was Love (Josef von Báky, 1955).

    Glamorous Carefree Playgirl


    The publicity caught the eye of an Italian promoter who offered Eva Bartok a contract to perform in a vaudeville show in Teatro Manzoni in Milan. With Korda's permission, Eva flew to Italy and had great success on the stages of Milan, Florence and Rome.

    Meanwhile, in England, A Tale of Five Cities/A Tale Of Five Women had finally reached the cinemas and was seen by producer-actor Burt Lancaster who was looking for a leading lady for his next film The Crimson Pirate (Robert Siodmak, 1952). Impressed by Eva's beauty and talent, he wired her in Italy and she accepted promptly sensing the importance of the project.

    After working in this film, Eva was perceived as a real movie queen but some of her next vehicles are not what you would expect from a rising superstar. She became more famous for her off camera antics as a glamorous carefree playgirl among the European rich than for her screen work. Although her filmography in the 1950s is prolific both in England and in Germany, it includes a lot of low budget turkeys, some decent vehicles and a few top productions.

    She also made a series of films that paired her with Curd Jürgens, including Der letzte Walzer/The Last Waltz (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1953) and Orient Express (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1954). The popular actor-director became her fourth husband in 1955.

    Besides her work in films she appeared on London stages and television. After turning down a Hollywood contract in 1956, Bartok found herself in a serious health crisis. Bartok suffered a bout with ovarian cancer while she was pregnant. An Indonesian mystic helped her out of this predicament with a new spirituality called Subud. Bartok gave ‘miraculously’ birth to a baby girl in 1957, Deana Jürgens. From then on she seemed totally committed to Subud.

    In later years she revealed that daughter Deana had been fathered by Frank Sinatra during a brief affair that Bartok and Sinatra had in 1956. The claim went ignored by Sinatra and family.

    After publishing her kiss-and-tell autobiography Worth Living For in 1959, she would make a dozen more films including the Italian horror film Sei donne per l'assassino/Blood and Black Lace (Mario Bava, 1964). She retired from the cinema in 1967 at age 40 and went to live in Indonesia. She taught philosophy in a school she opened in Honolulu, ran an arts centre in Los Angeles and a gallery in San Francisco.

    In the early 1980s, she returned to London. She continued her Subud activities during residencies in Indonesia, Hawaii, San Francisco, Los Angeles and London. In the 1980s she married for the fifth time, with producer Dag Moline.

    Eva Bartok died in 1998 in London, UK of a heart failure.

    Eva Bartok
    Dutch postcard by D.R.C. Holland, no. 2119. Photo: Lilo / Sascha Herzog Film / Ufa.

    Eva Bartok
    German postcard by Filmbilder-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen, no. 162. Retail price: 10 Pfg. Photo: Lilo / Sascha / Herzog-Film.

    Eva Bartok
    Austrian postcard by Verlag Hubmann, Wien, no. 729. Photo: Eichberg-Carlton-Film / International Film. Publicity still for Der letzte Walzer/The Last Waltz (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1953).

    Eva Bartok
    German collectors card. Photo: Carlton / NF / Brünjes.

    Eva Bartok
    British postcard in the Celebrity Series, London, no. 336. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation. Publicity still for Operation Amsterdam (Michael McCarthy, 1959).


    Long scene from The Crimson Pirate (1952). Source: GSMovieMoments (YouTube).


    Italian trailer for Sei Sei donne per l'assassino/Blood and Black Lace (1964). Source: Neverlando (YouTube).

    Sources: Omar Martinez (Eva Bartok: A Tribute), Mark Martin (IMDb), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 12/14/14--22:00: André Roanne
  • André Roanne (1896-1959) had a long standing career in French cinema of more than 90 films. He started as a kid actor in short silent films in 1914, and ended with the part of the commissioner in Henri Verneuil's Une manche et la belle/A Kiss for a Killer (1957).

    André Roanne
    Vintage postcard. Photo: publicity still for the early sound film Accusée levez-vous/Accused, Stand Up (Maurice Tourneur, 1930).

    André Roanne
    French postcard by CE (Cinémagazine-Edition), no. 848. Photo: Studio Lorelle, Paris. Publicity still for the early sound film Accusée levez-vous/Accused, Stand Up (Maurice Tourneur, 1930).

    Big Moustache


    André Roanne was born André Albert Louis Rahou in Paris in 1896. He made his film debut as a kid in the short and silent Gaumont production Le films de la divette/The Son of La Divette (Gaston Ravel, 1914).

    After various other Gaumont shorts by Gaston Ravel during the First World War, Roanne came to the footlight in the crime serial parody Le pied qui étreint (Jacques Feyder, 1916) opposite Musidora, even if he wore a big moustache.

    After more serious Gaumont productions, Roanne had a major part as Segheir ben Cheikh in Jacques Feyder's lengthy oriental drama L'Atlantide/Missing Husbands (Jacques Feyder, 1921), partly shot on location in the Sahara, and recently restored in its original colourful tinting. The leads though were for Jean Angelo as captain Morhange and Stacia Napierkowska as the cruel queen Antinea.

    In those years Roanne often played the jeune premier, both in dramas such as in Violettes impériales/Imperial Violets (Henry Roussel, 1924), and comedies such as in Chouchou poids plume/Chouchou Featherweight (Gaston Ravel, 1925), which was one of Roanne's first leads.

    André Roanne
    French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition. Photo: publicity still for Violettes impériales/Imperial Violets (1924).

    Raquel Meller, André Roanne
    French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition. Photo: publicity still for Violettes impériales/Imperial Violets (1924) with Raquel Meller.

    Abroad


    In the mid-1920s André Roanne played more and more in international coproductions, shot either in France or abroad. Opposite British silent star Betty Balfour he appeared in La petite bonne du palace/The Little Maid of the Palace (1926) and Cinders (1926), both by Louis Mercanton.

    He starred opposite Mady Christians in the Austrian production Die Köningin von Moulin Rouge/The Queen of Moulin Rouge (Robert Wiene, 1926), opposite Liane Haid in the German production Der goldene Abgrund/The Golden Abyss (Mario Bonnard, 1927), and opposite Carmen Boni in Augusto Genina's La storia di una piccola Parigina/The History of a Little Parisian Girl (1928).

    In the late 1920s Roanne was often matched with comédienne Dolly Davis as in La merveilleuse journée/The Wonderful Day (René Barberis, 1928).

    In Berlin he played opposite Anny Ondra in Sündig und süss/Sinful and Sweet (Carl Lamac, 1929) and Die Kaviarprinzessin/\The caviar Princess (Carl Lamac, 1930), and opposite Louise Brooks in Tagebuch einer Verlorene/Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) by Georg Wilhelm Pabst.

    His last silent film was Quand nous étions deux/When We Were Two (Léonce Perret, 1930).

    André Roanne
    French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, no. 8. Photo: Franz Lowy.

    André Roanne
    French postcard, no. 141. Photo: J. Kruger.

    Fernandel


    André Roanne made a smooth passage to sound film, acting in films made at the new sound studios of Paramount at Joinville such as La lettre/The Letter (Louis Mercanton, 1930) and other companies.

    The international element remained with the Franco-German comedy Ma cousine de Varsovie/My cousin of Warsaw (Carmine Gallone, 1931), Calais-Douvres (Jean Boyer, Anatole Litvak, 1931) opposite Lilian Harvey, Ne sois pas jalouse/Don't Be Jealous (Augusto Genina, 1931), and Le triangle de feu/The Triangle of Fire (Edmond T. Gréville, Johannes Guter, 1932).

    He also collaborated again with Dolly Davis in La chanson des nations/The Song of Nations (Maurice Gleize, Rudolf Meinert, 1931).

    During the 1930s Roanne played in many average dramas and comedies, of which most titles are forgotten now; often performing opposite Dolly Davis but also with Fernandel, a.o. in Les cinq sous de Lavarède/The Five Cents of Lavarede (Maurice Cammade, 1939).

    During the war years Roanne did not play in films. After an isolated part in Macadam (Jacques Feyder, 1946), he had major parts again in the 1950s in comedies starring Fernandel, in addition to smaller parts in other films.

    His last role was a Commissioner in the crime film Une manche et la belle/A Kiss for a Killer (Henri Verneuil, 1957), starring Henri Vidal and Mylène Demongeot.

    André Roanne died in 1959 in Cannes, France.

    André Roanne
    French postcard. Photo: Studio Lorelle, Paris.

    André Roanne. publicity for Campari
    French postcard. Photo: Studio Lorelle. Caption: "Qui dit Campari, dit appétit!"

    André Roanne
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6121/2, 1931-1932. Photo: Ufa.

    Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 12/15/14--22:00: Suzy Carrier
  • French actress Suzy Carrier (1922-1999) was a pretty ingénue who appeared in several comedies and crime dramas of the 1940s and early 1950s.

    Suzy Carrier
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 40. Photo: Carlet Ainé.

    Suzy Carrier
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 191. Photo: Carlet.

    A piece of resistance


    Suzy Carrier was born as Suzanne Knubel in Moulins, France in 1922. She spent her youth between two beloved women, her aunt and grandmother, while her parents lived in Paris.

    After finishing her education, she moved to her family to Paris. Another aunt, Eliane Carrier of the Opera detected the artist's temperament in her niece.

    Suzy studied drama at the Conservatoire and made her film debut during the German occupation of France. She played next to Pierre Blanchar and Annie Ducauxin Pontcarral, colonel d'Empire/ Pontcarral - colonel of the empire (Jean Delannoy, 1942), based on a novel by Albéric Cahuet. Some critics viewed the film as a piece of resistance against the Nazis.

    D.B. DuMonteil at IMDb: “Some directors did not want to give up struggling in an occupied France. So they used the Middle Ages (Les Visiteurs Du Soir) or the Restoration (this movie) to tell their compatriots they had to carry on the fight. They say the audience used to applause during the last scenes, when the colonel was reinstated in his French army and was leaving for Algeria. After two hours of resistance against the new kings, Louis the Eighteenth and Charles the Tenth, Louis-Philippe told him he needed men of his value.” Several lines were cut by the German censorship.

    Next her co-star Pierre Blanchar directed her in Secrets (1943), an adaptation of the play A Month in the Country by Ivan Turgenev. The lead roles were played by Pierre Blanchar, Marie Déa and Jacques Dumesnil. During the shooting, Carrier nearly drowned.

    D.B. DuMonteil at IMDb: “Pierre Blanchar, an actor who directed only two films, manages quite well. Arthur Honegger's splendid score and Matras's quivering cinematography help. So does the cast. There's a long dreamlike sequence which throws the movie a bit off balance, because it verges on tongue in cheek while the rest of the story is solid psychological drama. (...) Although filmed during the German occupation, ‘Secrets’ seems to happen in a different age. Hence its charm.”

    Other films in which she appeared during the war years were L'Escalier sans fin/The endless stairs (Georges Lacombe, 1943) with Pierre Fresnay, and L'aventure est au coin de la rue/The adventure is around the corner (Jacques Daniel-Norman, 1944) starring Raymond Rouleau.

    After the war she continued her films career opposite Bourvil in the comedy Pas si bête/Not so stupid (André Berthomieu, 1946) and opposite Armand Bernard in another comedy, Bichon (René Jayet, 1947).


    Suzy Carrier
    French postcard by SERP, Paris, no. 150. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

    Suzy Carrier
    French postcard, no. 67. Photo: Carlet.

    The cow Yolande


    During the early 1950s, Suzy Carrier continued to play leading roles in comedies. In Les Mémoires de la vache Yolande/The memories of the cow Yolande (Ernst Neubach, 1950, she was the love interest of Rellys, and in Le Père de Mademoiselle/The Father of the Girl (Marcel L'Herbier, 1953) she was the daughter of André Luguet.

    In 1955 she played Madame Elisabeth in the lush historical drama Marie-Antoinette reine de France/Marie Antoinette Queen of France (Jean Delannoy, 1955) starring Michèle Morgan as the Queen and Richard Todd as her lover, Count Axel von Fersen.

    After that, Carrier’s film career had an intermission of nearly 20 years. Then she returned to the screen in a small part in the comedy Na! (Jacques Martin, 1973). She also appeared in the West German-French co-production Die Antwort kennt nur der Wind/Only the Wind Knows the Answer (Alfred Vohrer, 1974). Maurice Ronet portrays in this routine thriller an insurance agent who investigates a millionaire’s suicide (or was it one?) and his life insurance. It was Carrier’s final film.

    Suzy Carrier died in Grasse in the French Alps in 1999. She was 77. She was married twice. Her first marriage, to Dr. George Loublié was announced in 1943. Her second husband was M. Schmitt, a banker in Le Vésinet, France.

    Suzy Carrier
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 140. Photo: Ch. Vandamme / Les Mirages.

    Suzy Carrier
    French postcard by Editions E.C., Paris, no. 4. Photo: Pathé.

    Sources: Louis Delallier (Le grenier de mon moulins - French), D.B. DuMonteil (IMDb), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

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  • 12/16/14--22:00: Lambert Wilson
  • Talented and lanky but handsome French actor Lambert Wilson (1958) worked with many of Europes most prestigious auteur directors, including Alain Resnais, Luigi Comencini, Claude Chabrol, Peter Greenaway and James Ivory. He also appeared in several Hollywood blockbusters.

    Lambert Wilson
    French postcard, no. CP 101.

    Touch of genius


    Lambert Wilson was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine in Paris, France, in 1958. He is half Irish, half French. His mother Nicole is a former French model. His father is actor-director Georges Wilson and Lambert speaks English fluently.

    As a child, his father used to tell the journalists that he lived alone. He was a married family father, who wanted to protect his family from the paparazzi. So Lambert and his brother grew up tranquilly.

    He studied acting at the Drama Centre in London, but in 1977, he left before completing the course to make his professional stage debut in Paris in a play with his father. He made his feature film debut in a small part in Fred Zinnemann’s Julia (1977) with Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave.

    He returned in Zinnemann's last film, Five Days One Summer (Fred Zinnemann, 1981), in a lead role opposite Sean Connery. It is the story of an illicit romance, set in the Swiss Alps. Less successful was the Brooke Shields vehicle Sahara (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1983). It was a massive box office bomb, and at the 1984 Razzies, Shields was nominated for Worst Actress and won Worst Supporting Actor as ‘Brooke Shields (with a moustache)’.

    Wilson also worked in the French cinema, playing leads in Le sang des autres/Blood of Others (Claude Chabrol, 1984) opposite Jodie Forster, La Femme Publique/The Public Woman (Andrzej Zulawski, 1983), and Rendez-vous (André Téchiné, 1984) with Juliette Binoche. The latter was chosen for the official selection at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Best Director Award.

    Then followed roles in international films like La Storia/History (Luigi Comencini, 1985) with Claudia Cardinale, and Peter Greenaway's The Belly of an Architect (1987) featuring Brian Dennehy.

    Wilson screen tested for The Living Daylights (John Glen, 1987) for the role of James Bond. He appeared in test footage opposite Maryam d'Abo (the Bond girl in The Living Daylights) as Tatiana Romanova, re-enacting scenes from From Russia with Love (Terence Young, 1963). Timothy Dalton finally played 007.

    Wilson starred in his father’s feature film debut, La Vouivre/The Sorceress (Georges Wilson, 1988), and won the Jean Gabin Award for his performance as the legendary priest Abbé Pierre in Hiver 54, l'abbé Pierre/Winter '54 (Denis Amar, 1989).

    James Travers at French Film Site: “The casting of Lambert Wilson as Abbé Pierre is the latter film's one touch of genius, and Wilson repays the honour by turning in one of the most respectable performances of his career (one that earned him his third César nomination). Wilson, unlike the director, instinctively knew how to pitch the film and portrays Abbé Pierre not as a beatified superhero but as an ordinary man of the people, driven by an extraordinary compassion for his fellow man.”

    Lambert Wilson
    French postcard by Editions Humour à la carte, Paris, no. ST-69.

    Lambert Wilson
    French postcard, no. 199.

    The villainous Merovingian


    During the 1990s, Lambert Wilson smoothly continued his international career. In 1991. he was featured in a series of Calvin Klein ads featuring Christy Turlington.

    He starred opposite Hanna Schygulla in Warszawa. Année 5703/Warsaw: Year 5703 (Janusz Kijowski, 1992) about the horrors in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw 1943. In Jefferson in Paris (James Ivory, 1994), he appeared opposite Nick Nolte and Gwyneth Paltrow.

    In the less interesting The Leading Man (John Duigan, 1996), he co-starred with Thandie Newton and John Bon Jovi. He performs on stage in both French and English, and in 1996, he co-starred with Judi Dench in the musical A Little Night Music for the Royal National Theater in London

    He made four films with director Alain Resnais: On connaît la chanson/Same Old Song (1997), Pas sur la Bouche/Not on the Lips (2003), Coeurs/Private Fears in Public Places (2006) and Vous n'avez encore rien vu/You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (2012).

    Other films are Trop (peu) d'amour/Too Much (Little) Love (Jacques Doillon, 1997) with Lou Doillon, and The Last September (Deborah Warner, 1998), with Maggie Smith. He also starred in Raùl Ruiz's Combat d'amour en songe/Love Torn in a Dream (2000) with Melvil Poupaud.

    In addition to his acting career, Wilson narrated classical works under the direction of some of the world's most notable conductors, and released a pair of albums featuring both classic songs from American musicals and the golden age of French cinema.

    Wilson’s best known role is probably the villainous Merovingian in the Hollywood blockbusters Matrix Reloaded (The Wachowski Brothers, 2003) and Matrix Revolutions (The Wachowski Brothers, 2003), the second and third instalments in The Matrix trilogy.

    He appeared in more American productions, including, Catwoman (Pitof, 2004) with Halle Berry and Sharon Stone, Sahara (Breck Eisner, 2005) starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz, Flawless (Michael Radford, 2006) with Demi Moore and Michael Caine, and Babylon A.D. (Mathieu Kassovitz, 2007) with Vin Diesel and Charlotte Rampling.

    In 2009, he played in Xavier Beauvois'Des Hommes et des Dieux/Of Gods and Men (2009), which was presented in Cannes, where it won the Grand Prize of the Jury.

    Mark Deming at AllMovie: “Of Gods and Men was inspired by the true story of eight French monks kidnapped by Algerian terrorists in 1996, and while Beauvois builds a credible amount of suspense, after a certain point the fate of the brothers seems inevitable; what makes this story compelling is how the men react to their circumstances -- some with fear, some with grim resignation, many with the simple but firm belief that it is their duty to serve and obey their call and that all else is of minimal importance. While Lambert Wilson as Christian, the group's leader (he generally seems more like the first among equals), and Michael Lonsdale as Luc, the aging and sweetly gruff doctor of the group, stand out in the cast, this is very much an ensemble piece, with each of the eight monks playing a vital role, and the cast and Beauvois have made that rare film about faith that takes the rituals of worship seriously.”

    In France, Wilson also appeared in films like Palais Royal! (Valérie Lemercier, 2004), the costume drama La princesse de Montpensier/The Princess of Montpensier (Bertrand Tavernier, 2009) featuring Mélanie Thierry, the CGI-animated/live-action family comedy Sur la Piste du Marsupilami/Le Marsupilami (Alain Chabat, 2011) with Jamel Debbouze, and the comedy Alceste à bicyclette/Cycling with Moliere (Philippe Le Guay, 2012).

    In the summer of 2013, he played the lead in Barbecue (Eric Lavaine, 2014) opposite Florence Foresti and Franck Dubosc. Recently, he starred in three international productions, Posthumous (Lulu Wang, 2014), 5 to 7 (Victor Levin, 2014), and Suite Française (2014), opposite Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas and Matthias Shoenaerts.

    Lambert Wilson is a Chevalier and Officier des Arts et des Lettres and Chevalier and Officier de l'Ordre National du Merite.

    Lambert Wilson
    French postcard, no. C 89.


    Wilson doing Celine Dion in a hilarious clip from Sur la Piste du Marsupilami/Le Marsupilami (Alain Chabat, 2011). Source: FitchEye (YouTube).

    Sources: Phil Delafoulhouze (IMDb), James Travers (French Film Site), Jason Buchanan (AllMovie), Mark Deming (AlMovie), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 12/17/14--22:00: Ina Bauer
  • On 13 December, German competitive figure skater Ina Bauer (1941-2014) died. She won three consecutive West German national titles, in 1957, 1958 and 1959. 'Brigitte Bardot on ice' also starred in two films with Austrian alpine skier Toni Sailer.

    Ina Bauer
    German postcard by Starpostkarten-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen, no. 701. Photo: Lothar Winkler.

    The Ina Bauer move


    Born in 1941 in Krefeld, Germany, in the midst of World War II, Ina Bauer made her first appearance on the senior level at the 1956 West German Figure Skating Championships in Cologne, where she finished second.

    In the following years, she won three consecutive West German national titles, in 1957, 1958 and 1959. She competed at a total of four European and World Championships, improving her results very quickly along the way.

    She invented the skating move which bears her name. The Ina Bauer is a variation on the spread eagle where one leg is bent deeply at the knee, the back and body bend backwards and the other leg traces a parallel line on a back inside edge.

    Ina Bauer and Toni Sailer
    German postcard by Starpostkarten-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen, no. 703. Photo: Lothar Winkler.

    Brigitte Bardot on ice


    After withdrawing from the 1960 European Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Ina Bauer retired from competition at her father's request.

    She then toured with Ice Follies and starred in two films with Austrian alpine skier Toni Sailer: the comedy Ein Stern fällt vom Himmel/A Star Falls from Heaven (Géza von Cziffra, 1961) and Kauf dir einen bunten Luftballon/Buy yourself a colourful balloon (Géza von Cziffra, 1961).

    With her flaming red hair, she made as pretty picture and The New York Times wrote of Bauer's American debut in Ice Follies: "19-year-old Ina Bauer, three-time figure skating champion of West Germany has been called 'Brigitte Bardot on ice' and it's easy to see why."

    She married Hungarian figure skater István Szenes. Ina Szenes-Bauer was 73.

    Sources: Ryan Stevens (Skate Guard), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 12/18/14--15:00: Virna Lisi (1936-2014)
  • On 17 December 2014, Virna Lisi passed away at the age of 78. The seductive Italian actress appeared in more than 100 film and TV productions and is internationally best known as a tempting blue-eyed blonde in Hollywood productions of the 1960s. But she proved to be more than a pretty face. From the late 1970s, she had a career Renaissance with three-dimensional character parts in a wide variety of Italian and French films. A triumph was her portrayal of a malevolent Catherine de Medici in La Reine Margot (1994) for which she won both the David di Donatello and the César award. Yesterday, Italian media quoted her son as saying that Lisi had passed away peacefully in her sleep, a month after being diagnosed with an incurable illness.

    Virna Lisi
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Retail price: 2 Lei.

    Virna Lisi
    Italian postcard. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Assault on a Queen (Jack Donohue, 1966).

    With Such A Mouth...


    Virna Lisi was born as Virna Lisa Pieralisi in Ancona, Italy in 1936. Her father had a marble exporting business on the Adriatic coast. Her brother, Ubaldo Pieralisi, later became a talent agent, and her sister Esperia Pieralisi also became an actress.

    Virna began her film career as a teenager. She was discovered by two Neapolitan producers, Antonio Ferrigno and Ettore Pesce, in Paris. Her debut was in La corda d'acciaio/The line of steel (Carlo Borghesio, 1953-1958).

    Initially, she did musical films, like E Napoli canta/Napoli sings (Armando Grottini, 1953) and the successful four-episode film Questa è la vita/Such is life (Luigi Zampa a.o., 1954), with the popular Totò.

    Her looks were more valued than her talent in some of her early films, like in Le diciottenni/Eighteen Year Olds (Mario Mattoli, 1955) with Marisa Allasio, and Lo scapolo/The Bachelor (Antonio Pietrangeli, 1955) with Alberto Sordi.

    She incarnated more demanding roles in Il cardinale Lambertini/Cardinal Lambertini (Giorgio Pastina, 1954) opposite Gino Cervi, La Donna del Giorno/The Doll That Took the Town (Francesco Maselli, 1956), the peplum Romolo e Remo/Duel of the Titans (Sergio Corbucci, 1961) featuring musclemen Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott as the two legendary brothers Romulus and Remus, and Eva/Eve (Joseph Losey, 1962) starring Jeanne Moreau.

    In the late 1950s, Lisi played on stage at the Piccolo Teatro di Milano, and appeared in I giacobini by Federico Zardi, under the direction of Giorgio Strehler.

    During the 1960s, she performed in stage comedies and she also participated in some very popular television dramas. On TV she also promoted a toothpaste brand, with a slogan which would become a catchphrase amongst the Italians: "con quella bocca può dire ciò che vuole" (with such a mouth, she can say whatever she wants).

    Virna Lisi dead at 78
    Italian postcard by Rotalcolor, Milano, no. 660.

    Virna Lisi dead at 78
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2481, 1965. Photo: publicity still for La tulipe noire/The Black Tulip (Christian-Jacque, 1964) with Alain Delon and Virna Lisi.

    Virna Lisi
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2869. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.

    Tempting Blue-eyed Blonde


    In France, Virna Lisi played the role that brought her first international attention, in La tulipe noire/The Black Tulip (Christian-Jacque, 1964). As the heroine to Alain Delon’s dashing swashbuckler, she combined sexiness with dexterity.

    In the 1960s, Hollywood producers were looking for a successor to Marilyn Monroe and so Lisi then made a dent in Hollywood comedies as a tempting blue-eyed blonde.

    She first starred opposite Jack Lemmon in George Axelrod’s satirical How to Murder Your Wife (Richard Quine, 1965). At IMDb, reviewer Mdantonio takes his hat off for her performance: “What most everyone fails to mention in the comments is the incredible skill of Virna Lisi. She is a natural mixing it up with Lemmon, (Claire) Trevor and the other veterans like she had been making movies for years. I have watched many movies in my day and I must say that Virna Lisi is right at the top, not only in beauty and sexuality but in carrying her role as good as anyone else could have. Ms. Lisi, my hat is off to you.”

    Lisi also gained attention with the March 1965 cover of Esquire magazine on which she was shaving her face. The following year she appeared in another comedy, Not with My Wife, You Don't! (Norman Panama, 1966) now with Tony Curtis.

    She also starred with Frank Sinatra in Assault on a Queen (Jack Donohue, 1966), with Rod Steiger in La Ragazza e il Generale/The Girl and the General (Pasquale Festa Campanile, 1967), and twice with Anthony Quinn, in the war drama La vingt-cinquième heure/The 25th Hour (Henri Verneuil, 1967), and in The Secret of Santa Vittoria (Stanley Kramer, 1969).

    John Francis Lane in his obituary in The Guardian: "Though she enjoyed her American experiences and appreciated the professionalism she encountered, Lisi soon tired of the 'new Marilyn' image foisted upon her. She accepted becoming a cover girl but refused a lucrative offer to pose for Playboy."

    To overcome her typecasting as a sexy, seductive woman, Lisi sought new types of roles, and found these in such Italian comedies as Le bambole/Four Kinds of Love (Dino Risi a.o., 1965), Signore & signori/The Birds, the Bees and the Italians (Pietro Germi, 1966) and Le dolci signore/Anyone Can Play (Fausto Saraceni, Luigi Zampa, 1968), and Roma bene (Carlo Lizzani, 1971) with Senta Berger.

    At AllMovie, Robert Firsching reviews Signore & signori: “Pietro Germi's funny anthology combines the standard sex comedy format with some unexpectedly subtle observations about village life. The film centers on three stories exposing the sexual secrets of the Italian town of Treviso. (...) Signore e Signori won the Best Film award at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.”

    Virna Lisi
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 43078.

    Virna Lisi dead at 78
    Yugoslavian postcard by Cik Razglednica.

    Career Renaissance


    In the early 1970s, Virna Lisi decided to focus on her family, husband Franco Pesci and her son Corrado, born in 1962.

    In the later 1970s she had a career renaissance with a series of major Italian films. She played Friedrich Nietzsche’s neurotic sister, Elisabeth, in the controversial Al di là del bene e del male/Beyond Good and Evil (Liliana Cavani, 1977) starring Dominique Sanda.

    It was followed by roles in Ernesto (Salvatore Samperi, 1979), La cicala/The Cricket (Alberto Lattuada, 1980), and I ragazzi di via Panisperna/The Boys of the Via Panisperna (Gianni Amelio, 1989) with Andrea Prodan and Mario Adorf.

    Andrea Prodan’s brother Luca Prodan is the singer of the Argentinean band Sumo which made a song for Lisi. The Brazilian rock band Virna Lisi is even named after her.

    Her greatest triumph was the French film La Reine Margot/Queen Margot (Patrice Chéreau, 1994) in which Lisi played a malevolent Catherine de Medici, ordering assaults, poisonings, and instigations to incest.

    Karl Williams writes at AllMovie: “The historical novel by Alexandre Dumas was adapted for the screen with this lavish French epic, winner of 5 Césars and a pair of awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Isabelle Adjani stars as Marguerite de Valois, better known as Margot, daughter of scheming Catholic power player Catherine de Medici (Virna Lisi).”

    For her magnificent portrayal Lisi won the César and the Best Actress award in Cannes, and also the David di Donatello award, the Italian equivalent of the Oscar.

    Since the late 1990s, she did many successful dramatic TV productions, including L'onore e il rispetto/Honour and respect (Salvatore Samperi, 2006) with Gabriel Garko and Giancarlo Giannini.

    In 2002, Lisi starred in Il più bel giorno della mia vita/The Best Day of My Life (Cristina Comencini, 2002) with Margherita Buy, and she reunited with director Cristina Comencini for her final film, the comedy Latin Lover, which will be released next year.

    Since 1960, Virna Lisi was married to architect Franco Pesci, who died last year. She is survived by her son Corrado and three grandchildren: Franco, Federico and Riccardo.

    Virna Lisi
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Collection: Veronique3@Flickr.

    Virna Lisi dead at 78
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.


    Trailer of La Reine Margot/Queen Margot (Patrice Chéreau, 1994). Source: mearbhrach (YouTube).

    Sources: John Francis Lane (The Guardian), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Robert Firsching (AllMovie), Karl Williams (AllMovie), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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    This week's film special is about the first Italian sound film, La canzone dell’amore/The Song of Love (1930) directed by Gennaro Righelli. Lead actors of this popular sob story were Dria Paola, Elio Steiner and Isa Pola. Dria Paola became a star overnight.

    Dria Paola in La canzone dell'amore
    Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 887. Photo: Cines Pittaluga, Roma, no. 38. Publicity still of Dria Paola in La canzone dell’amore (1930).

    Quite Absurd Story


    La canzone dell’amore/The Song of Love (Gennaro Righelli, 1930) was the first Italian sound feature - released in Italy and entirely produced in Italy. It was distributed by Societa Anonima Stefano Pittaluga and produced by Società Italiana Cines.

    Alessandro Blasetti's Resurrectio/The Resurrection was in fact the first sound film produced in Italy, but it was only released in 1931. Allegedly because La canzone dell’amore was thought to be more commercial, and indeed, Resurrectio became a box-office flop.

    The quite absurd story of La canzone dell’amore is about a young woman who adopts the baby her mother gave birth to. It was based very loosely on a short story by Luigi Pirandello, In silenzio (In Silence).

    While her widowed mother dies giving birth, music student Lucia (Dria Paola) adopts little Ninni, pretending to her fiancé Enrico (Elio Steiner) and her landlady it is her own child.

    Lucia breaks up her engagement with Enrico, who is about to become a big musician. Lucia’s rival Anna, played by another upcoming star: Isa Pola, gets hold of Enrico. But when Lucia and Enrico later on meet in the big record store where Lucia works and where Enrico is making a record, he admits he still loves her.

    The father of the child (Camillo Pilotto) shows up and claims the child. Heartbroken, Lucia gives in but tries to commit suicide afterwards. Just in time Enrico saves her, the father gives the child to Lucia and all is well.

    Isa Pola and Elio Steiner in La canzone dell'amore
    Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 888. Photo: Cines Pittaluga, Roma, no. 39. Isa Pola and Elio Steiner in La canzone dell'amore (Gennaro Righelli, 1930).

    Dria Paola and Elio Steiner in La canzone dell'amore
    Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 889. Photo: Cines Pittaluga, Roma, no. 40. Lucia (Dria Paola) and Enrico (Elio Steiner) hide from their friends in order to be able to kiss each other, in La canzone dell’amore (1930).

    Double Framing


    La canzone dell’amore opens and closes with images of Rome, and is actually one of the few Italian films from the 1930s showing the city repeatedly.

    Stylistically important are the different moments of double framing, when Lucia looks out from her rented rooms and mimics neighbours how to change diapers and feed the child. Interesting is also Righelli’s visualisation of Lucia’s frenzy at her suicide attempt and his pans across the enormous set of the record store.

    La canzone dell’amore had its premiere on 7 October 1930 at the Supercinema in Rome, the actual Teatro Nazionale. The film was a popular success, not in the least because of the music composed by Cesare Andrea Bixio, whose well-known song Solo per te Lucia became a hit as well.

    Gerald A. DeLuca at IMDb: "Although laced with elements of soap opera, the film is nicely acted and manages to engross the viewer so that one really cares about what happens to this poor woman and her 'son' that she has grown to love. The boy, at the age of 14 months, is played by this sweetheart of a kid named Nello Rocchi. The film has some genuinely touching moments. My favorite one is when Lucia is at a loss about how to change and diaper the child on her first day with him. She looks out the apartment window across the way at another mom who is bathing, changing, and nursing her own child. Lucia imitates what the other mother is doing as though the neighbor were providing how-to instructions in motherhood. The only thing she cannot imitate is the breast-feeding; Lucia ponders the difference between herself and her neighbor, then grabs the baby-bottle to feed little Ninní. All this is accompanied by a lovely ninna-nanna in the background."

    The film also had two alternate-language versions, one in German, Liebes Lied (Constantin J. Davis, 1931) starring Gustav Fröhlich and Renate Müller, and one in French, La dernière berceuse (Jean Cassagne, 1931) with Jean Angelo and Dolly Davis.

    Lead actress Dria Paola became a star overnight. But soon the thin actress with the big head and fluttering hands was type casted as the fragile and sometimes clumsy damsel in distress. She could never repeat the success of her first sound film, and retired in the 1940s.

    Dria Paola and Elio Steiner in La canzone dell'amore
    Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 883. Photo: Cines Pittaluga, Roma, no. 40. After an attempted suicide, Lucia (Dria Paola) and Enrico (Elio Steiner) make up towards the end of La canzone dell’amore (1930). The cityscape of Rome in the background.

    Dria Paola in La canzone dell'amore
    Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 885. Photo: Cines Pittaluga, Roma, no. 43. Publicity still of Dria Paola in La canzone dell’amore (1930).

    Sources: Wikipedia (Italian), and IMDb.

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