Articles on this Page
- 01/20/16--22:00: _Nicoletta Braschi
- 01/21/16--22:00: _EFSP's Dazzling Doz...
- 01/22/16--22:00: _Sheila Sim (1922-2016)
- 01/23/16--22:00: _Henny Porten, Part 1
- 01/24/16--22:00: _Henny Porten, Part 2
- 01/25/16--22:00: _Auf Probe gestellt ...
- 01/26/16--22:00: _Der Kaufmann von Ve...
- 01/27/16--22:00: _Claude Rains
- 01/28/16--22:00: _EFSP's Dazzling Doz...
- 01/29/16--22:00: _Karin Molander
- 01/30/16--22:00: _Léon Bernard
- 01/31/16--22:00: _Isabella Rossellini
- 02/01/16--22:00: _Imported from the U...
- 02/02/16--22:00: _Fien de la Mar
- 02/03/16--22:00: _Hilde Maroff
- 02/04/16--22:00: _EFSP's Dazzling Doz...
- 02/05/16--22:00: _Jean Reno
- 02/06/16--22:00: _Lucy Di San Germano
- 02/07/16--22:00: _Erich Auer
- 02/08/16--22:00: _Anna Pavlova
- 01/20/16--22:00: Nicoletta Braschi
- 01/21/16--22:00: EFSP's Dazzling Dozen: Star Pin-ups - Cheesecake
- 01/22/16--22:00: Sheila Sim (1922-2016)
- 01/23/16--22:00: Henny Porten, Part 1
- 01/24/16--22:00: Henny Porten, Part 2
- 01/25/16--22:00: Auf Probe gestellt (1918)
- 01/26/16--22:00: Der Kaufmann von Venedig (1923)
- 01/27/16--22:00: Claude Rains
- 01/28/16--22:00: EFSP's Dazzling Dozen: Star Pin-ups - Beefcake
- 01/29/16--22:00: Karin Molander
- 01/30/16--22:00: Léon Bernard
- 01/31/16--22:00: Isabella Rossellini
- 02/01/16--22:00: Imported from the USA: Kim Novak
- 02/02/16--22:00: Fien de la Mar
- 02/03/16--22:00: Hilde Maroff
- 02/04/16--22:00: EFSP's Dazzling Dozen: Stars & Cars
- 02/05/16--22:00: Jean Reno
- 02/06/16--22:00: Lucy Di San Germano
- 02/07/16--22:00: Erich Auer
- 02/08/16--22:00: Anna Pavlova
Italian postcard by Cineteca Bologna. Photo: Claudio Iannone. Publicity still for La tigre e la neve/The Tiger and the Snow (Roberto Benigni, 2005).
The Little Devil
Nicoletta Braschi was born on April 19, 1960 in Cesena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Braschi studied in Rome's Academy of Dramatic Arts where she first met Roberto Benigni in 1980.
Her film debut was the anthology comedy Tu Mi Turbi/You Upset Me (Roberto Benigni, 1983) in which she played the Virgin Mary. It was also the directorial debut of Benigni and the first film in which they co-starred.
Next she appeared in the American film Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, 1986). The film centres on the arrest, incarceration, and escape from jail of three men (Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni). The trio eventually chance across a house in the forest, the residence of Nicoletta (Braschi). Bob (Benigni) and Nicoletta instantly fall in love, and Bob decides to stay with her in the forest.
She also appeared in Benigni’s comedy Il piccolo diavolo/The Little Devil (Roberto Benigni, 1988). Benigni stars as a little devil Giuditta who follows Father Maurice (Walther Matthau) and often gets him into trouble. Braschi plays another little devil who manages to attract Giuditta who finally leaves Maurice and follows her ‘elsewhere’.
She again worked with Jim Jarmusch on a segment of the American anthology film Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch, 1989). She appeared in the segment A Ghost as an Italian widow stranded in Memphis, Tennessee overnight. Braschi also played a supporting part in the British-Italian drama The Sheltering Sky (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1990), based on the 1949 novel by Paul Bowles.
Italian postcard by Cineteca Bologna. Photo: Mario Tursi. Publicity still for Il piccolo diavolo/The Little Devil (Roberto Benigni, 1988).
In 1991, Nicoletta Braschi married Roberto Benigni. With her husband she then starred in one of their most successful collaborations, the comedy Johnny Stecchino (Roberto Benigni, 1992). She played Maria, the girlfriend of Johnny Stecchino, an Italian mobster. She meets a quirky school bus driver for students with Down syndrome, who bears a striking resemblance to her husband who is wanted by Sicilian mobsters for treason and murder.
Maria plans to trick the mobsters to kill Dante thinking he is Stecchino. The film takes several unexpected twists when Maria begins to fall for Dante, and it becomes clear that Dante cannot possibly be the cold blooded killer Stecchino. During its release in 1991, it was the highest grossing film in Italy.
She had a small part in Son of the Pink Panther (Blake Edwards, 1993) is a continuation of the The Pink Panther film series. Roberto Benigni starred as Inspector Clouseau's illegitimate son. Also in this film are Panther regulars Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk and Graham Stark and a star of the original 1963 film, Claudia Cardinale. However, Son of the Pink Panther failed to generate critical or commercial success, the loss of Peter Sellers as Clouseau proving once again to be too great.
A huge success in Europe was the Italian-French comedy Il mostro/The Monster (Roberto Benigni, 1994) starring Benigni as a man who is mistaken by police profilers for a serial killer due to a misunderstanding of the man's strange behaviour. Braschi played an attractive police officer, who goes undercover as his roommate. This film was, at the time it came out, the highest-grossing film in Italy.
In 1997 Nicoletta Braschi starred in the comedy Ovosodo/Boiled Egg (Paolo Virzi, 1997) as a depressed teacher encouraging a student to work and study harder. The film won her a David di Donatello award (Italy's equivalent of the Oscars) and much praise from critics and the public.
Italian postcard by Cineteca Bologna. Photo: Mario Tursi. Publicity still for Il piccolo diavolo/The Little Devil (Roberto Benigni, 1988).
Life is Beautiful
Nicoletta Braschi’s biggest success was La Vita è Bella/Life is Beautiful (Roberto Benigni, 1998). Braschi played the wife of an Italian Jew (Benigni) imprisoned in a concentration camp. Part of the film came from Benigni's own family history; before Roberto's birth, his father had survived three years of internment at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
The film was a widely praised success that launched both Braschi and her husband into the international spotlight. Roberto Benigni won the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 71st Academy Awards as well as the Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Braschi was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award as a cast member of that film. La Vita è Bella is the highest grossing film to be made in Italy, and the second highest grossing foreign film in the United States.
Braschi played the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio (Roberto Benigni, 2002), based on The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi with Benigni portraying Pinocchio. In the United States, Pinocchio was lambasted by critics, in particular for the English dub. The original Italian version was not so poorly greeted and received six nominations at the David di Donatello Awards, winning two, as well as winning one of the two awards it was nominated for at the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.
In 2002, Braschi was a member of the jury at the Berlin Film Festival. In 2005 she starred in and produced La tigre e la neve/The Tiger and the Snow (Roberto Benigni, 2005), a love story set during the initial stage of the Iraq War. This was her last film till now.
In 2010 Nicoletta Braschi toured the Italian theatres starring in Tradimenti, based on Harold Pinter's play Betrayal.
Italian postcard by Cineteca Bologna. Photo: Mimmo Cattarinich. Publicity still for Il Mostro/The Monster (Roberto Benigni, 1994).
Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 502.
In the late 1950s blonde, German Elke Sommer (1940) was a European sex symbol before conquering Hollywood in the early 1960s. With her trademark pouty lips, high cheek bones and sky-high bouffant hair-dos, Sommer made 99 film and television appearances between 1959 and 2005. The gorgeous film star was also one of the most popular pin-up girls of the sixties, and posed twice for Playboy magazine.
German Postcard by Krüger, no. 900/272.
Film and TV actress Barbara Valentin (1940-2002) was dubbed the 'German Jayne Mansfield' and a 'Scandal Magnet'. Her résumé includes sexploitation but also art films directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Her private life was fodder for the tabloids. Pop star Freddie Mercury was ‘the love of her life’.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/391. Photo: Gérard Decaux.
Beautiful Claudia Lebail was a French starlet and Playboy model of the 1960s.
Italian postcard by Rotalcolor, no. 18.
Blonde and curvey Diana Dors (1931-1984) was called ‘The English Marilyn Monroe’, to her disgust. In her own words: “I was the first home-grown sex symbol, rather like Britain's naughty seaside postcards."
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/334. Photo: Art Messick.
Exotic starlet Maria-Rosa Rodriguez was the sexy leading lady of a dozen French and Italian films of the 1960s and early 1970s. Her main claim to fame was the Louis de Funès comedy Le grand restaurant (1966).
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, no. 1.
Italian actress Marisa Allasio was a glamorous starlet who appeared in nearly twenty pictures in the 1950s. She was nicknamed ‘The Italian Jayne Mansfield’. In 1958 her career stopped abruptly when she married and became a countess.
Canadian postcard in the Fan Club Postcard Series, no. 2.
Glamorous English actress Joan Collins (1933) is one of the great survivors of the cinema. She began in the early 1950s as a starlet of the British film. 20th Century Fox brought her to Hollywood as their answer to Elizabeth Taylor.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/199. Photo: Gérard Decaux.
Alice & Ellen Kessler (1936) were popular in Europe, especially in Germany and Italy, in the 1950s and 1960s, as a singing, dancing and acting twin. The German sisters are usually credited as the Kessler Twins or Die Kessler-Zwillinge.
Small Romanian collectors card by Cooperativa Fotografia, no. 10.
Film actress, singer and writer Anna Karina (1940) is an icon of the Nouvelle Vague.
German postcard by ISV, no. 11/6.
Beautiful starlet Vanda Hudson (1937-2004) was one of the blond bombshells of the British cinema. She appeared in a dozen films and TV series of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/309. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.
Danish singer, actress and icon Vivi Bach (1939-2013) was nicknamed ‘the first Danish teenager of Denmark' and 'the Danish Brigitte Bardot’. Although not a very talented actress she appeared in 48 films between 1958 and 1974.
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 866. Photo: Sam Lévin.
Turkish-French actress and singer Magali Noël acted in French and Italian films between 1951 and 2002. The sexy actress was an object of desire in three masterpieces of Federico Fellini.
Next friday we follow up this Cheesecake post with a Beefcake post.
This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at the The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W. 582. Photo: Boulton Bros.
Sheila Beryl Grant Sim was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, in 1922 and later educated at Croydon high school. She started work in a bank, but soon came to the conclusion that the routine was not for her. Instead she spent two years training as an actor at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, where she met her future husband, Richard Attenborough.
Her first stage appearance, in 1942, was at the Intimate theatre, Palmers Green, in Ivor Novello’s Fresh Fields. She remained with the theatre’s repertory company for six months, then went to the small but fashionable Q theatre at the end of Kew Bridge for another six months, after which she toured with Noël Coward’s This Happy Breed and the drama Landslide. She was in Landslide at the Westminster theatre in London in 1943, and played the lead in the domestic comedy To Dorothy a Son.
Sim made her film debut in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s memorable A Canterbury Tale (1944), a modern propaganda adaptation of the Chaucer story, in which a treacherous wartime magistrate is brought to book by a land girl, a British army sergeant and an American serviceman. She drew on her own experience for the role of the land girl, having volunteered in 1940 to work for the Women’s Land Army at harvest time, when she was posted to a farm near Hereford.
The following year Sim played a leading role in an RKO film, Great Day (Lance Comfort, 1945), starring Eric Portman and Flora Robson. The story is about a village thrown into turmoil by an impending visit from Eleanor Roosevelt. Sim also had a part in Journey Together, a wartime training drama made by the RAF Film Unit. Attenborough was also in the cast, and they were married at the start of the year.
Sim made her television debut in 1946 in a series of plays, and was also in demand for radio work. She appeared in the film The Guinea Pig/The Outsider (Roy Boulting, 1948), in which Attenborough played a working-class boy at a private school, and she was signed up by J. Arthur Rank, then the major if not always the most imaginative of British film producers. Sim and Attenborough also worked together in Dancing With Crime (John Paddy Carstairs, 1947) and The Magic Box (John Boulting, 1951) with Robert Donat. She had a prominent part in the fantasy Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Albert Lewin, 1951), starring Ava Gardner as a nightclub singer and James Mason as a drifter in a Spanish fishing village.
British autograph card.
British autograph card.
The world’s longest initial run of a play
When Agatha Christie’s murder mystery play The Mousetrap opened in London in 1952, Sheila Sim had doubts about its ability to last for six months, describes Dennis Barker in The Guardian. "But the fact that she could wait until just before its 50th anniversary before publicly confessing those doubts, at a lunch at the Savoy hotel with 300 other actors who had appeared in the play, showed them to be unfounded.
By then it had long passed its 20,000th performance, and it is still going strong, as the world’s longest initial run of a play. Through starring as Mollie Ralston, owner of the snowed-in Monkswell Manor, Sim set the seal on her growing reputation as an actor. Her husband, Richard Attenborough, co-starred in the play as Detective Sergeant Trotter, who arrives on a pair of skis, and the couple took a 10% profit share. This continued to serve them very well, Attenborough eventually selling it only when trying to keep the production of his 1982 film Gandhi afloat."
In the cinema she starred in the adventure film West of Zanzibar (Harry Watt, 1954) with Anthony Steel, and Sim’s final film credit was The Night My Number Came Up (Leslie Norman, 1955) with Michael Redgrave.
She retired to look after her three children. From 1956, the family lived comfortably in Richmond upon Thames, south-west London. In 1968, Sim was sworn in as a magistrate in Surbiton, joining the Richmond bench. She was also an enthusiastic member of the Richmond Society, the amenity group that contributed to the thinking behind the restoration and redevelopment of the banks of the Thames at Richmond.
In 2004, her daughter Jane and granddaughter Lucy were killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami while on holiday in Thailand. In 2012, it was announced that Sim had been diagnosed with senile dementia. Richard Attenboroughdied in 2014. Sim and Attenborough had been married for nearly 70 years.
Sheila Sim’s death was announced on 19 January 2016. She is survived by her children Michael Attenborough, a director, and Charlotte Attenborough, who works as an actress.
Extrait A Canterbury Tale (1944). Source: Joel Spiggott (YouTube).
Trailer Dancing With Crime (1947). Source: Cohen Film Collection (YouTube).
Sources: Dennis Barker (The Guardian), Wikipedia, and IMDb.
German postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft), no. 1017/1.
German postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft), no. G 1017/1.
German postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft), no. G 1017/2.
German postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft), no. G 1017/3.
German postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft), no. G 1017/4.
German postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft), no. G 1017/5.
German postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft), no. G 1017/6.
Queen of the Mutoskop Peepboxes
Frieda Ulricke 'Henny' Porten was born in Magdeburg, Germany in 1890. She was the second daughter of Franz Porten, an opera baritone and actor-director at the Stadtheater of Magdeburg, and his wife Wincenzia, whose maiden name was Wybiral. Her older sister was actress and script-writer Rosa Porten.
In January 1906, Franz Porten was engaged by film pioneer Oskar Messter to direct six Biophon-Sound Pictures. These were short early sound films that were projected with synchronously playing gramophone records.
So Henny made her film debut in Apachentanz/Apache Dance (Oskar Messter, 1906). This made her one of the earliest film actresses anywhere in the world.
She went on to perform in numerous sound pictures mostly for the Deutsche Mutoskop- und Biograph GmbH, which included her work also in their Mutoskop-peepboxes. Her work involved singing in three different languages by moving her lips in a synchronised fashion to a gramophone record. Despite having no training in acting, this work allowed her to become a highly experienced actress.
Five years later audiences were clamouring to know the name of the blonde (and blind) girl in Das Liebesgluck der Blinden/The joy of love of the blind (Heinrich Bolten Baeckers, Curt A. Stark, 1911), a melodrama written for her by her sister Rosa Porten.
In 1912 she married Curt A. Stark, who would direct most of her films until his death in 1916. In 1912 Messter concluded a one month contract with her, which had been repeatedly extended. After the success of Eva (Curt A. Stark, 1913), she started the Henny Porten Film Star Series, beginning with Der Feind im Land/The enemy in the country (Curt A. Stark, 1913).
German postcard by Autor Film Co. G.m.b.H., Berlin, no. 52.
German postcard by GG Co., no. 2228/1. Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1921.
German postcard by GG Co., no. 2428/11.
German Postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 115/3. Photo: Messter-Film, Berlin.
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 114/1. Photo: Messter Film, Berlin.
The Ultimate Wilhelminian Actress
Following the exodus in the film industry at the beginning of the First World War, Henny Porten initiated, as if personally, the renaissance of the German cinema with Das Ende vom Liede/The end of the Song (Rudolf Biebrach, 1915) with Ludwig Trautmann.
Rudolf Biebrach, who in earlier films often played her father, now took on the job of film director. The Porten films were at the peak of their success.
Henny Porten embodied the ultimate Wilhelminian actress, with her long, blond hair, her innocent-looking face and her rounds.
Though she often performed as the tragic, self-sacrifying woman, tormented by class conflicts and evil men, like in Alexandra (Curt A. Stark, 1915), she also proved to be an able comedienne, like in Gräfin Küchenfee (Robert Wiene, 1918) with Ernst Hofmann.
In 1916, her husband and director Curt Stark died on the Western Front.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 418/3 Gr. Photo: Rembrandt Photography / Messter Film, Berlin.
German postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft), no. 794/5. Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1921.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 424/2, 1919-1924. Photo: Rembrandt.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 513/2, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin / Henny Porten Film.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 975/2, 1925-1926. Photo: Atelier Balázs, Berlin.
Invitation for Hollywood
Henny Porten reached a new height of her screen career under the gentle guidance of Ernst Lubitsch, who cast her as the title characters in Anna Boleyn (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920), a biopic on the ill-fated second wife of the English king Henry VIII (Emil Jannings), and the comedy Kohlhiesels Töchter/Kohlhiesel's Daughters (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920) in which Porten played both Liesel the ugly daughter as well as her beautiful sister Gretel.
The success of these films resulted in an invitation for Porten and her co-star Emil Janningsto come to Hollywood, but Henny remained in Germany. In March 1921, she established the company Henny Porten Films GmbH, and that year she also remarried, to doctor Wilheim von Kauffman.
After the box office hit Die Geierwally/Wally of the Vultures (Ewald André Dupont, 1921) with Wilhelm Dieterle, Porten produced the highly ambitious studio film Hintertreppe/Backstairs (Paul Leni, Leopold Jessner, 1921). While highly praised by critics, the film was financially unsuccessful.
After three further years of rather unsuccessful films, Henny Porten's film company went bankrupt in 1923. In spite of this she continued to have a longstanding and prolific acting career throughout the 1920s with films like Gräfin Donelli/Countess Donelli (Georg Wilhelm Pabst), 1924 and Mutter und Kind/Mother and Child (1924) with Friedrich Kayssler, the first of a series of films directed and produced by by her former director of photography, Carl Froelich.
To be continued.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 401/3, 1919-1924. Photo: Rembrandt Phot. / Messter Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Anna Boleyn (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 646/1. Photo: HPF (Henny Porten Film). Henny Porten in Die Geyer-Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921), based on the novel by Wilhelmine von Hillern. Sets were by Paul Leni. Henny Porten as Wally.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 649/1. Photo: Henny Porten-Film. Henny Porten in the classic Kammerspiel film Hintertreppe (Leopold Jessner, 1921).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 659/1, 1923-1924. Photo: Rembrandt / Peter Paul Felner-Film Co. Henny Porten as Porzia (Portia) in Der Kaufmann von Venedig (Peter Paul Felner, 1923), based on the play The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 663/9. Photo: Hans Natge, Berlin. Henny Porten in Das alte Gesetz (E.A. Dupont, 1923).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 666/1. Photo: Neumann. Henny Porten as Mary in the Biblical film I.N.R.I. (Robert Wiene, 1923).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 2001/11. Photo: Becker & Maass / Messter Film.
Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Hans J. Wollstein (AllMovie), Denny Jackson (IMDb), Filmportal.de , Wikipedia and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1462/3, 1927-1928. Photo: HPF.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 79/3. Photo: Henny Porten-Film. Henny Porten in the German silent film Die grosse Pause (Carl Froehlich, 1927).
German Postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3275/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex. Schmoll, Berlin.
Trouble with Goebbels
Henny Porten seemed to pass from silent to sound cinema without any obstacles. She starred in such films as Mutterliebe/Mother Love (Georg Jacoby, 1929) with Gustav Diessl, Die Herrin und ihr Knecht/The Boss and Her Servant (Richard Oswald, 1929) with Mary Kid, and a remake of Kohlhiesels Töchter/Kohlhiesel's Daughters (Hans Behrendt, 1930) opposite Fritz Kampers.
The following year she achieved her long planned for project, the film Luise, Königin von Preußen/Luise, Queen of Prussia (Carl Froelich, 1931) with Gustaf Gründgens, which ultimately bankrupted her company in the summer of 1932. After this project, Porten was considered to be a risk within the film industry. With no film engagements coming, she sought refuge on stage.
She achieved renewed film success in the autumn of 1933, with the sound film remake of Mutter und Kind/Mother and Child (Hans Steinhoff, 1933). She had become the quintessence of German womanhood, ladylike yet kindhearted and a not a little petit bourgeois.
There were years Henny Porten had done twelve films a year, but the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933 brought her career to an almost standstill. Her refusal to divorce her Jewish husband Wilhelm von Kaufmann got her in trouble with propaganda minister Josef Goebbels.
When she resolved on emigration to join Ernst Lubitschin Hollywood, he denied her an exit visa to prevent a negative impression. Goebbels tried to ban her from the film industry, but she made a few films after Allied bombardment started, and her placid and reassuring persona helped calm audiences.
In 1937 she was taken on by the Tobis company on a work for money basis, but was never offered any work. Porten was permitted to work in such Austrian-made films as the comedy Der Optimist/The Optimist (E.W. Emo, 1938) with Viktor de Kowa and Theo Lingen, and the crime drama War es der im Dritten Stock/Was It Him on the Third Floor? (Carl Boese, 1938).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 92/4. Photo: Henny Porten-Film / Photo Atelier Alex. Schmoll, Berlin. Henny Porten and Anton Pointner in the German silent romantic comedy Liebe und Diebe/Love and Thieves (Carl Froehlich, 1928).
German Postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 109/1. Photo: Henny Porten Film. Publicity still for Die Frau, die jeder liebst, bist Du (Carl Froehlich, 1928-1929).
German Postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 109/2. Photo: Henny Porten Film. Publicity still for Die Frau, die jeder liebst, bist Du (Carl Froehlich, 1928-1929).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 126/3. Photo: Atelier Schmoll, Berlin / Nero-Porten-Film. Publicity still for Kohlhiesels Töchter/Kohlhiesel's Daughters (Hans Behrendt, 1930) with Fritz Kampers.
Deserting to the DDR
Henny Porten was hired by old friend G.W. Pabst to play the duchess in Komödianten/The Comedians (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1941) with Käthe Dorsch and Hilde Krahl, and she was reunited with Carl Froelich for the homey comedy Familie Buchholz/The Buchholz Family (Carl Froelich, 1944).
In 1944, after an aerial mine destroyed their home, Porten and her husband were out on the streets, as it was forbidden to shelter a full Jew.
After the war, offers remained poor. Henny Porten lived in Ratzeburg and performed in Lübeck and the Hamburg Theater in 1947. She was given a small role in the comedy Absender unbekannt/Sender unknown (Ákos Ráthonyi, 1950).
So in 1953 she followed an invitation made by the DEFA studio to go east to the new DDR. There she played leading roles in Carola Lamberti - Eine vom Zirkus/Carola Lamberti - One From the Circus (Hans Müller, 1954) and the crime drama Das Fräulein von Scuderi/The Miss from Scuderi (Eugen York, 1955), which would prove to be her last film.
In the Western press her step was branded as that of a 'deserter'. When Porten and her husband returned to Ratzeburg in 1955, they were evicted by their landlord. Von Kaufmann lost his practice. Through the press, Porten unsuccessfully asked for work in film.
They moved to Berlin in 1957, where Von Kaufmann died in 1959. In 1960, Henny Porten finally was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz, but she died after suffering a severe illness a few months later.
Between 1906 and 1955 Henny Porten had appeared in over 170 films.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6059/4, 1931-1932. Photo Alex Schmidt, Berlin / Henny-Porten-Filmproduktion.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3787/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.
German postcard. Photo: DEFA / Wunsch.
Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Hans J. Wollstein (AllMovie), Denny Jackson (IMDb), Filmportal.de , Wikipedia and IMDb.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 520/7. Photo: Messter Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Auf Probe gestellt/Put to the test (Rudolf Biebrach, 1918) with Henny Porten and Hermann Thimig.
Put to the marriage test
In Auf Probe gestellt/Put to the test (Rudolf Biebrach, 1918), Henny Porten portrays the the young and impoverished widower Countess Marlene von Steinitz.
At the instance of her brother-in-law, Count Steinitz (Heinrich Schroth), she plans to marry the stupid but extremely rich Count Adolar von Warowingen (Reinhold Schünzel), which would liberate her from all her problems at once.
She asks Count Steinitz a delay of eight days and travels to the city to find a solution and enjoy her free life one last time. At an artists party she meets painter Frank Merwin (Hermann Thimig), seduces him and manages to invite the handsome young man to her castle.
When he awakes from his dream, he is treated like a famous personality by all bystanders. Marlene pretends to be his bride, putting him to the test to see if he is any good as husband.
Though Merwin stands the test poorly, and he is sent back to his shabby room, the Countess decides to have him, leaving Count Adolar with a basket as gift, and betrothing Frank in the city.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 520/1. Photo: Messter Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Auf Probe gestellt/Put to the test (Rudolf Biebrach, 1918) with Henny Porten.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 520/2. Photo: Messter Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Auf Probe gestellt/Put to the test (Rudolf Biebrach, 1918) with Henny Porten.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 520/3. Photo: Messter Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Auf Probe gestellt/Put to the test (Rudolf Biebrach, 1918) with Henny Porten and Reinhold Schünzel.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 520/4. Photo: Messter Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Auf Probe gestellt/Put to the test (Rudolf Biebrach, 1918) with Henny Porten.
The talent behind Auf Probe gestellt
The script of Auf Probe gestellt/Put to the test was written by Robert Wiene, the future director of the classic silent horror film Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari/The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Ludwig Kainer had designed the sets for the film. Kainer designed the sets of all the late 1910s films with Porten and director Rudolf Biebrach.
The camera work was done by famous cinematographer and future director Karl Freund. He had shot many of the late 1910s films with Porten and directed by Biebrach. The following year, in 1919, Freund would become the close collaborator of director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau.
Auf Probe gestellt premiered on 15 March 1918 at the Mozartsaal cinema in the heart of Berlin.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 520/5. Photo: Messter Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Auf Probe gestellt/Put to the test (Rudolf Biebrach, 1918) with Henny Porten.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 520/8. Photo: Messter Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Auf Probe gestellt/Put to the test (Rudolf Biebrach, 1918) with Henny Porten and Hermann Thimig.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 520/10. Photo: Messter Film, Berlin. Publicity still for Auf Probe gestellt/Put to the test (Rudolf Biebrach, 1918).
Sources: Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 659/1, 1923-1924. Photo: Rembrandt / Peter Paul Felner-Film Co. Publicity still for Der Kaufmann von Venedig/The Merchant Of Venice (Peter Paul Felner, 1923).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 659/2. Photo: Rembrandt / Peter Paul Felner Film Co. Publicity still for Der Kaufmann von Venedig/The Merchant Of Venice (Peter Paul Felner, 1923).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 661/2. Photo: Rembrandt / Peter Paul Felner-Film Co. Publicity still for Der Kaufmann von Venedig/The Merchant of Venice (Peter Paul Felner, 1923).
Where is Shylock?
Sturdy and blond Henny Porten (1890-1960) was one of Germany's most important and popular film actresses of the silent cinema. Harry Liedtke (1882-1945) was the charming ladykiller of many early silent classics. Detective serials like Joe Deebs made him one of the first male stars of the German cinema.
The two met in Der Kaufmann von Venedig (Peter Paul Felner, 1923), a free silent film adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. It was released in the United States in 1926 as The Jew of Mestri. The film was made on location in Venice, with scenes and characters added which were not in the original play. Directors of photography were Axel Graatkjær and the future Hollywood director Rudolph Maté. The only surviving copy of the film is an English one which is two reels shorter than the German version.
Porten plays the beautiful and wealthy heiress Portia of Belmont and Liedtke her noble but poor admirer Bassanio. Carl Ebert plays Basasanio's friend Antonio, the merchant of Venice, who wants to help his friend. Other roles were for Max Schreck (Nosferatu!) as The Doge of Venice, Ferdinand von Alten as the Prince of Arragonand, Lia Eibenschütz as Portia's friend Jessica.
But where is Shylock? Where is the Jewish moneylender who offers Antonio the money for his friend, but wants a pound of his flesh if he can't repay the loan? Shylock is played by Werner Krauss, but we could not find any postcards of him (yet).
Der Kaufmann von Venedig was written, produced and directed by Peter Paul Felner. Did he good job? At IMDb, Ferdinand Von Galitzien writes: "It is an elegant and expensive German film production that was shot on location in beautiful and decadent Venice". However, he adds: "In spite of such important literary material (...) and reputable actors, Felner's direction is ordinary and even boring. He does little more than illustrate some passages of the manuscript and then counts on the beauty of Venice to do the rest. Alas, it's not enough."
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 658/1. Photo: Peter Paul Felner-Film Co. Publicity still for Der Kaufmann von Venedig/The Merchant of Venice (Peter Paul Felner, 1923) with Henny Porten and Lia Eibenschütz.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 658/4. Photo: Peter Paul Felner-Film Co. Publicity still for Der Kaufmann von Venedig/The Merchant of Venice (Peter Paul Felner, 1923).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 658/6. Photo: Peter Paul Felner-Film Co. Publicity still for Der Kaufmann von Venedig/The Merchant of Venice (Peter Paul Felner, 1923) with Henny Porten, Carl Ebert and Harry Liedtke.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 658/7. Photo: Rembrandt / Peter Paul Felner-Film Co. Publicity still for Der Kaufmann von Venedig/The Merchant of Venice (Peter Paul Felner, 1923).
Sources: Ferdinand Von Galitzien (IMDb), Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.
Italian postcard in the Artisti del Cinema Series, no. 100, by Edizione ELAH, La vasa delle Caramelle. Photo: Warner Bros. Publicity still for They Won't Forget (Mervyn LeRoy, 1937).
William Claude Rains was born in Camberwell, London in 1889. In 2008, his daughter Jessica Rains and David J. Skal would publish the biography Claude Rains: An Actor's Voice. According to Jessica, he grew up, with "a very serious cockney accent and a speech impediment". His father was English stage actor and later film director Frederick Rains.
In 1900, the 11 year-old Rains made his stage debut as a boy singer in Sweet Nell of Old Drury. He learned the technical end of the business by working his way up from being a two-dollars-a-week page boy to assistant stage manager at His Majesty's Theatre in London. In 1911, he made his adult stage debut in Gods of the Mountains.
His acting talents were recognised by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, founder of The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Tree paid for the elocution lessons Rains needed in order to succeed as an actor. After making his American stage debut in tour with Granville Barker's troupe in Androcles and the Lion, Rains returned to England.
He served in the First World War in the London Scottish Regiment, with fellow actors Basil Rathbone, Ronald Colman and Herbert Marshall. Rains was involved in a gas attack that left him nearly blind in one eye for the rest of his life. However, the war did aid his social advancement and, by its end, he had risen from the rank of Private to Captain.
Rains began his career in the London theatre, having a success in the title role of John Drinkwater's play Ulysses S. Grant, the follow-up to the playwright's major hit Abraham Lincoln. His one and only silent film venture was a small part in the British production Build Thy House (Fred Goodwins, 1920) starring Henry Ainley and Warwick Ward. This film is now considered as lost.
In the 1920s, Rains taught at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Among his pupils were John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, and the lovely Isabel Jeans, who became the first of his six wives.
In 1926, he travelled again to the USA on tour with the play The Constant Nymph and he decided to stay. In the following years he played leading roles with the Theater Guildon Broadway in such plays as George Bernard Shaw's The Apple Cart and in the dramatisation of Pearl S. Buck's novel The Good Earth.
Dutch postcard by HEMO. Photo: Eagle Lion. Publicity still for Caesar and Cleopatra (1945).
British postcard by the Picturegoer Series, London, no. B.8. Photo: Warner.
A Unique and Solid British Voice
Claude Rains came relatively late to film acting, when he had already reached middle age and established himself as an accomplished stage actor. In 1932, while working for the Theater Guild, Universal Pictures offered him a screen test for a role in A Bill of Divorcement (1933), a part he had already played with considerable conviction on the stage in 1921. Rains had a unique and solid British voice - deep, slightly rasping - but richly dynamic. And as a man of small stature, the combination was immediately intriguing.
Although his screen test was a failure, his distinctive voice won him the title role in the classic fantasy film The Invisible Man (James Whale, 1933) based on the novel by H.G. Wells, when someone accidentally overheard his screen test being played in the next room. In The Invisible Man Rains was kept from view behind gauze bandages and through the magic of special effects. His face appears only briefly, after the character's death renders him visible again, but the strength of his vocal performance alone launched the actor's career in Hollywood.
William McPeak writes at IMDb: “He took the role by the ears, churning up a rasping malice and volume in his voice to achieve a bone chilling persona of the disembodied mad doctor. He could also throw out a high-pitched maniac laugh that would make you leave the lights on before going to bed.“ At AllMovie, Hal Erickson adds: “So forceful was Rains' verbal performance as "The Invisible One" that he became an overnight movie star (after nearly twenty years on stage). Wittily scripted by R.C. Sherriff and an uncredited Philip Wylie, and brilliantly directed by James Whale, The Invisible Man is a near-untoppable combination of horror and humour.”
Following his sensational talking-picture debut, Universal Studios tried to typecast Rains in horror films, but he appeared instead in such interesting films as the Paramount production Crime Without Passion (Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, 1934), in which he portrays a man driven to the brink of madness by an unhappy love affair. Rains would play similar characters in subsequent films, as his reserved, ironic manner proved an ideal mask for slowly crumbling sanity.
In Britain, he starred as The Clairvoyant (Maurice Elvey, 1935). By 1936, he was at Warner Bros. with its ambitious laundry list of literary epics in full swing. His malicious, gouty Don Luis in Anthony Adverse (Mervyn LeRoy, Michael Curtiz (uncredited), 1936) was inspired. After a shear lucky opportunity to dispatch his young wife's lover, Louis Hayward, in a duel, he triumphs over her in a scene with derisive, bulging eyes and that high pitched laugh - with appropriate shadow and light backdrop - that is unforgettable.
Another success was his gleefully evil role of Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz, William Keighley, 1938). Rains later credited director Michael Curtiz with teaching him the more understated requirements of film acting, or "what not to do in front of a camera".
In 1939, Rains became an American citizen. He was also for the first time nominated for the Academy Award for his performance as the complex, ethics-tortured senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939). Janet E. Lorenz writes at Film Reference: “His performance in the Capra film exemplifies Rains' ability to portray characters who remain charming — and sometimes sympathetic — in spite of their actions.”
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 917. Photo: Paramount.
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 712 W. Photo: Paramount.
Bette Davis' Favourite Co-Star
Claude Rains’ most famous role is the flexible French police Captain Renault in Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942). The next year, he played the disfigured music lover who haunts the Paris Opera house in Universal's full-colour remake of Phantom of the Opera (Arthur Lubin, 1943).
Bette Davis named him her favourite co-star, and they made four films together. Janet E. Lorentz: “In Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, 1942), one of the classic ‘women's films’ of the 1940s, he portrays Davis's wise, understanding psychiatrist, while his performance as her adoring, long-suffering husband in Mr. Skeffington (Vincent Sherman, 1944) brought him another Oscar nomination. The pairing of Davis's electric screen presence with Rains' precise, assured style lends a particular chemistry to their films together.”
Rains became the first actor to receive a million dollar salary, playing Julius Caesar opposite Vivien Leigh in the lavish and unsuccessful version of George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra (Gabriel Pascal, 1945), made in Britain.
In 1946, he played a nervous and malignant refugee Nazi agent in the classic thriller Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946). Nick Zegarac writes at The Hollywood Art: “a stylish entrée in which, as a suave Nazi supporter living in Mexico City, he attempted to poison his wife (Ingrid Bergman) under the watchful eye of an FBI agent (Cary Grant). A formidable success at the box office, the film seemed to place Rains in the envious position to draw star billing once more.”
Four years later, he appeared in The Passionate Friends (David Lean, 1949) with Ann Todd and Trevor Howard.
Claude Rains remained a popular character actor in the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in many films. In 1951, he made a triumphant return to Broadway in Darkness at Noon, for which he won the Tony award. The next year he starred as the title figure in the British film The Man Who Watched Trains Go By (Harold French, 1952). His only singing and dancing role was in a television musical version of The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Bretaigne Windust, 1957), with Van Johnson as the Piper. This NBC colour special, shown as a film rather than a live or videotaped program, was highly successful with the public. Sold into syndication after its first telecast, it was repeated annually by many local TV stations. As a favoured Alfred Hitchcock alumnus, he starred in five Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1956-1962) suspense dramas.
Two of Rains’ well-known later screen roles were as Dryden, a cynical British diplomat in Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962) featuring Peter O’Toole, and King Herod in The Greatest Story Ever Told (George Stevens, 1965) with Max von Sydow. The latter was his final film role.
Rains made several audio recordings, narrating a few Bible stories for children on Capitol Records, and reciting Richard Strauss' setting for narrator and piano of Tennyson's poem Enoch Arden, with the piano solos played by Glenn Gould. This recording was made by Columbia Masterworks Records.
Claude Rains married six times, the first five of which ended in divorce: actress Isabel Jeans (1913–1915); Marie Hemingway (1920, for less than a year); Beatrix Thomson (1924-1935); Frances Proper (1935–1956); and to classic pianist Agi Jambor (1959–1960). He married Rosemary Clark Schrode in 1960, and stayed with her until her death in 1964. His only child, Jessica Rains, was born to him and Proper in 1938.
Rains died from an abdominal hemorrhage in Laconia, New Hampshire in 1967 at the age of 77. He was nominated four times for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Casablanca (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944), and Notorious (1946). Surprisingly, he never won.
Trailer for The Invisible Man (1933). Source: HorrorfilmKeller (YouTube).
Trailer for The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). Source: TheTrailerGal (YouTube).
Trailer for The Passionate Friends (1949). Source: K8nairne (YouTube).
Sources: Janet E. Lorenz (Film Reference), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Nick Zegarac (The Hollywood Art), William McPeak (IMDb), Brian McFarlane (Encyclopedia of British Film), Donald Greyfield (Find a Grave), Wikipedia, and IMDb.
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, no. 1578. Photo: Universal International.
American film actor Tony Curtis (1925-2010) played a variety of roles, from light comedy, such as the musician on the run from gangsters in Some Like It Hot, to serious dramatic roles, such as an escaped convict in The Defiant Ones, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. From 1949, he appeared in more than 100 films and made frequent television appearances.
Dutch postcard by 't Sticht, Utrecht, no. 6829. Photo: Eddy Despretz.
Italian-Belgian composer and singer Salvatore Adamo (1943) was a teen idol in the first half of the 1960s, and occasionally, he also starred in films.
Dutch postcard by 't Sticht, Utrecht, no. 6176.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s Alain Delon (1935) was the breathtakingly good-looking James Dean of the French cinema.
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1888. Photo: Eva-Film / RKO-Film. Publicity still for Solange Du Lebst/As Long as You Live (Harald Reinl, 1955).
Austrian actor Adrian Hoven (1922-1981) was the athletic and dynamic Sonnyboy of the German cinema in the 1950s, who would become one of the stars of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's films in the 1970s. As a writer, producer and director he made horror and erotica with SM overtones.
Spanish card, no. 5164. Photo: Arch. Bermejo.
Handsome American actor Rock Hudson (1925–1985) was a popular Hollywood star in the 1950s and 1960s. He was teamed up in romantic comedies with Doris Day, but he also starred in dramatic roles in Magnificent Obsession (1954) and Giant (1956).
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. B 1548. Photo: Centfox.
Charismatic multitalent Toni Sailer (1935-2009) was a legendary Austrian alpine ski racer, one of the best the sport has ever produced. The ‘Black Blitz from Kitz’ appeared as an actor and singer in several films and TV series. He was a national hero and matinee idol rolled into one.
Vintage German postcard. Photo: P.A. Reuter. Publicity still for Thunderball (Terence Young, 1965).
Scottish superstar Sean Connery (1930) won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and also a BAFTA Award. He is best known as the original secret agent 007, starring in seven James Bond films between 1962 and 1983.
German postcard by Ufa (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-87. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Ufa.
German actor Peter Garden (1924) was the ‘beautiful man’ in films of the Wirtschaftswunder era. Like his Hollywood equivalent Rock Hudson he posed for beefcake photos in swimming trousers.
Spanish postcard by Oscarcolor, no. 252. Photo: Warner Bros. Publicity still for the TV series Surfside 6 (1960-1962).
In 1959, Warner Brothers had a keen eye for photogenic hunks like Van Williams (1934) and smartly signed him. Fitting in perfectly, he was soon showing just how irresistible he was as a clean-cut private eye on the series Bourbon Street Beat (1959). Although the show lasted only one season, Warners carried his Kenny Madison character into the more popular adventure drama Surfside 6 (1960-1962).
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/64.
American singer and actor Pat Boone was a teen idol of the 1950s.
Spanish postcard by Ediciones Este, no. 7 T, 1963. Photo: Warner Bros. Publicity still for the TV series Bronco (1958-1962).
It's time to interrupt our pin-up series for some serious Hollywood beefcake. We start with Ty Hardin (1930), probably best known as TV cowboy Bronco.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/307. Photo: Pierre Spitzer.
Flamboyant singer and actor Johnny Hallyday (1943) is the father of French Rock and Roll. He was a European teen idol in the 1960s with record-breaking crowds and mass hysteria, but he never became popular in the English-speaking market. In recent years he has concentrated on being an actor and appeared in more than 35 films.
This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at the The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.
Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 71. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1100. After a portrait by Uno Falkengren.
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1195. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.
Karin Molander was born as Katarina Margareta Elisabet Edwertz in Vårdinge, Sweden in 1889. She had acting classes from Julia Håkansson. In 1907 she made her stage debut at the Vasateatern in Stockholm.
For a period she worked in Helsinki, Finland, where she met actor Gustav Molander who would later become a well-known film director and screenwriter. He wrote several screenplays for Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller, and was helped by the latter to get employment as a director for Svensk Filmindustri and would later direct Intermezzo (1936), which became Ingrid Bergman's breakthrough and paved her way to America.
Karin and Gustav married in 1910 and returned to Sweden. She was engaged at the Intiman (Intimate theatre) (1911-1920), and hesitantly, she made her film debut in Victor Sjöström's Halvblod/Half-Breed (1913).
Molander found film work more interesting and rewarding than she had expected, and she became one of the leading actors of director Mauritz Stiller. She appeared in his films Det röda tornet/The Red Tower (Mauritz Stiller, 1914), Hämnaren/The Avenger (Mauritz Stiller, 1915), Kärlek och journalistik/Love and Journalism (Mauritz Stiller, 1916), Tomas Graals basta film/Thomas Graal’s Best Film (Mauritz Stiller, 1917) and Thomas Graals bästa barn/Marriage a la Mode (Mauritz Stiller, 1917).
In the delightful comedy Tomas Graals basta film, Victor Sjöström plays a screenwriter, struggling to cope with the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Sjöström’s effort to succeed in the film industry are complicated by his romance with a rich man’s daughter (Karin Molander). At AllMovie, Hal Erickson writes: “Though the plot is pure sitcom fluff, Thomas Graal’s Best Film offers a tantalizing behind-the-scenes glimpse of Swedish film-making techniques, vintage 1917.”
With her healthy and relaxed playing style Karin Molander became a symbol of the modern, young and emancipated women. Later, she made more dramatic film roles as the title character in Synnøve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919) opposite Lars Hanson, with whom she fell in love. The couple went on tour together and in 1919 Karin divorced from Gustav Molander.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 105. Photo: Skandiafilm, 1918. Karin Molander in Surrogatet (Einar Bruun, 1918-1919).
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 127. Photo: Skandiafilm. Still for Synnöva Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919) with Lars Hanson. Sent by mail in Norway in 1920.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 134. Photo: Skandia-Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Lars Hanson and Karen Molander, and adapted from Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson's Norwegian homonymous novel (1857).
Karin Molander’s last film with Stiller became a classic: Erotikon/Bonds That Chafe (Mauritz Stiller, 1920). By 1920 the artistic achievements of the Swedish cinema and its main directors, Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller, were universally recognized. Most of their films reflected the life of rural Sweden. Stiller, a cultured man, decided to make a film set in a sophisticated urban milieu, Erotikon.
The story is about a professor of entomology (Anders de Wahl) who is sustained in his work by his devoted niece (Karin Molander) while his neglected wife seeks consolation elsewhere. Stiller built elaborate sets and commissioned a special exotic ballet for the theatre scenes which were shot in the Royal Opera House of Stockholm, with a host of society extras for an audience. The film reflected the fashionable life of the city and a modernity indicated by the inclusion of scenes with airplanes.
At Film Reference, Liam O’Leary writes: “It is handled with the lightest of touches; the irony of the scene where the man who tries to reconcile the married pair becomes the wife's lover is reminiscent of Ernst Lubitsch. Stiller's stylish direction works well with his talented players. Tore Teje's delightful portrayal of the wife is witty, wise and worldly. It is in striking contrast with the peasant role she had played the previous year in Sjöström's Karin Ingmarsdotter. Karin Molander's charming performance as the young niece is equally effective.”
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1094/7. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern. Karin Molander in Fiskebyn/The Fishing Village/Chains (Mauritz Stiller, 1920).
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1094/4. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern. Karin Molander in Fiskebyn/The Fishing Village/Chains (Mauritz Stiller, 1920) with Egil Eide.
Erotikon helped to create a new genre of social comedy, and attracted considerable attention in the film world. However, it did not do anything for Karin Molander’s film career.
She played successfully on stage and married Lars Hanson in 1922. The newly wedded couple were regarded as superstars by theatre audiences. Molander made a guest appearance at the Lorensbergsteatern (Lorensbergs-Theatre) (1920-1922) and at the Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern (Royal Dramatic Theatre) (1922-1925).
For a few years at the end of the 1920s, she was inactive as an actress. She had followed her husband to Hollywood, where he starred opposite Lillian Gish in the silent classics The Scarlet Letter (1926) and The Wind (1928). On the net are pictures of Molander and Hansen in Hollywood, picknicking with Mauritz Stiller and Greta Garbo.
Back in Sweden Molander was engaged at the Royal Dramatic Theatre between 1931 and 1936, and after that she retired. In 1934 she had been awarded with the Royal Medal Litteris et artibus. Years later, she returned from her retirement once to play a supporting part in the film Gabrielle (Hasse Ekman, 1954).
Karin Molander and Lars Hanson stayed together until his death in 1965. Molander died in 1978 in Täby, Sweden. She was 89. She was survived by her son, actor-producer Harold Molander.
Scene from Synnöva Solbakken (1919). Source: Norskfilminstitutt (YouTube).
Sources: Liam O'Leary (Film Reference), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Svenska Filminsitutet (Swedish), Wikipedia (Swedish) and IMDb.
French postcard. Photo: G.L. Manuel Frères. Caption: Sociétaire de la Comédie Française.
The Comédie-Française is the only state theatre in France to have its own troupe of actors. The membership of the theatrical troupe is divided into 'sociétaires' and 'pensionnaires.' The former are regular members of the organisation and as such receive a pension after 20 years of service, while the latter are paid actors who may, after a certain length of service, become 'sociétaires.'
The 354th sociétaire of the Comédie-Française
Léon-Constant-Jean Bernard was born in Paris in 1877. After his debut as stage actor in local theatres, he contributed as Raynouard to the creation of Madame Sans-Gêne by Victorien Sardou and Émile Moreau, which premiered in 1893 at the Théâtre du Vaudeville in Paris.
He then joined the company of the Théâtre-Libre by André Antoine under whose direction he acted in e.g. King Lear by William Shakespeare, Les Avariés by Eugène Brieux, Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen and The Power of Darkness by Leo Tolstoy at the Théâtre Antoine. After that he was in Julius Caesar by Shakespeare, Ramuntcho by Pierre Loti, Beethoven by René Fauchois and La Maison des juges by Gaston Leroux at the Odéon where Antoine had taken up direction in 1906.
In 1910 he debuted at the Comédie-Française in Les Romanesques by Edmond Rostand. He was appointed as the 354th sociétaire in 1914 and entered the reading committee in 1925. In the same year he als became teacher of declamation at the Paris Conservatory, where he had not been accepted as pupil by the way. Bernard was appointed officer in the Legion of Honour in 1934. He was also chair of the Association des artistes dramatiques and of the home of Couilly-Pont-aux-Dames.
In 1911 Léon Bernard debuted as actor in French silent film, probably in the short Pathé production Madame Tallien (Camille de Morlhon, 1911), based on Victorien Sardou’s play and starring Berthe Bovy. In the early 1910s he had a fertile screen acting career at Pathé, in particular under the direction of Albert Capellani. He acted in many short historical and modern dramas by Capellani, such as Anna Karénine (1912), Manon Lescaut (1912), and Le nabab (1913), as bishop Myriel.
Bernard also played in Capellani’s major four part series film Les misérables (Albert Capellani, 1912), adapted from Victor Hugo, and starring Henry Krauss as Jean Valjean and Henri Étievant as Javert. That same year he appeared in Capellani’s feature Les mystères de Paris/The Mysteries of Paris (Albert Capellani, 1912), based on Eugène Sue’s novel and starring Paul Capellani. He also could be seen in several shorts by other directors such as Georges Monca, Henri Desfontaines, Adrien Caillard, and Henri Maillard.
French postcard in the Nos artistes dans leur loge series, no. 195. Photo: Comoedia.
During the First World War, Léon Bernard acted in propaganda films such as Patrie/Fatherland (Albert Capellani, 1914), starring Henry Krauss and Paul Capellani, L’auréole de la gloire/Aureole of Glory (Georges Monca, 1915) in which he had the lead, Les petits soldats de plomb/The Little Tin Soldiers (Pierre Bressol, 1916), and Noël de guerre/Wartime Christmas (Félicien Champsaur, 1916), again starring Bernard.
In the war years Bernard also played leads as father Frantz in Capellani’s Éternel amour/Eternal Love (Albert Capellani, 1914), as Bernard Desormes in Les feuilles tombent/The Leaves Are Falling (Georges Monca, 1917), as the ‘poilu’ in Le petit chaperon rose/The Little Pink Hood (Maurice Poggi, 1917), and important supporting parts in André Hugon’s Vertige/Vertigo (1917) with André Nox, and the court case film Le coupable/The Guilty One (André Antoine, 1917) starring Romuald Joubé.
In the 1920s, Bernard had the lead as the title character in Papa Bon Coeur/Daddy Good-Heart (Jacques Grétillat, 1921). Bernard is an orchestra leader at the Opera who degrades to musician at a cinema. His wife (Jeanne Bucy) has run off with their daughter to a count (Pierre Magnier), whose wife dies under suspect circumstances. Ten years after the daughter (Yvonne Sergyl) suspects the countess is murdered and meets her real father. Together with the daughter’s boyfriend (Emile Drain), Papa Bon Coeur unmasks the count as the murderer. Apparently Pierre Blanchar had his first film part in this film.
After Papa Bon Coeur Bernard had supporting parts in e.g. Hantise/Obsession (Jean Kemm, 1922) with Geneviève Félix and Gaston Jacquet, and Le loup-garou/The Werewolf (Pierre Bressol, Jacques Roullet, 1924) with Pierre Bressol and Madeleine Guitty. However, from the mid-1920s he didn’t act in silent cinema anymore.
French postcard by Editions Filma in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series, no. 46. Photo: Films Pathé.
The Son-in-law of Mr. Poirier
Years later, after sound cinema had arrived in France, Léon Bernard returned to the set for two last films. First he had he lead as Mr. Poirier in Marcel Pagnol’s Le gendre de Monsieur Poirier/The son-in-law of Mr. Poirier(1933), based on a play by Émile Augier and scripted by Pagnol himself.
During the reign of Louis-Philippe, Gaston de Presles (Jean Debucourt), the son-in-law of the rich bourgeois Mr. Poirier (Bernard), is a spoiled aristocrat, who has married to solve his debts. In the meanwhile the businessman Poirier hopes he can buy the title of ‘pair de France’. Gaston and Poirier constantly fight each other. In the end Gaston decides to change his life and dedicate himself to his wife (Annie Decaux) and his work.
Bernard’s last film part was again a lead, this time in the adaptation of Sacha Guitry’s comedy Les deux couverts/Table for two (Léonce Perret, 1935).
In anticipation of the success of his bachelor son Jacques (Robert Scipion), Mr. Pelletier is preparing a late dinner that the two men will taste face to face. The arrival of Mrs. Blandin (Gabrielle Robinne), mistress of Mr. Pelletier, complicates things, but he manages to turn her away kindly. Jacques finally arrives. He missed his examination and tension rises between father and son. Bitter and resigned, Pelletier sits alone at the table.
At the age of 58, Léon Bernard died of sepsis after a whitlow in 1935. He lies buried in the cemetery of Montparnasse.
Le gendre de Monsieur Poirier (1933). Source: Christo Fulster (YouTube). Sorry, with scarce and often incorrect English subtitles.
Sources: Ciné-Ressources (French), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, C.P.C.S. Cda 43078.
Portrait of a Woman
Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini was born in Rome, Italy, in 1952. She was born cinema royalty as the daughter of Swedish-born, three-time Oscar-winning actress Ingrid Bergman and Italian director Roberto Rossellini. She has three siblings from her mother: her twin sister Isotta Ingrid Rossellini, who is an adjunct professor of Italian literature; a brother, Robertino Ingmar Rossellini; and a half-sister, Pia Lindström, who formerly worked on television and is from her mother's first marriage with Petter Lindström. She has four other siblings from her father's two other marriages: Romano (died at age nine), Renzo, Gil, and Raffaella.
Rossellini was raised in Rome, as well as in Santa Marinella and Paris. At 19, she went to New York, where she attended Finch College, while working as a translator and a RAI television reporter. She also appeared intermittently on L'altra Domenica (The Other Sunday), a TV show featuring Roberto Benigni.
Rossellini made her film debut with a brief appearance as a nun opposite her mother and Liza Minnelli in A Matter of Time (Vincente Minnelli, 1976). Her first leading role was in the film drama Il Prato/The Meadow (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1979), opposite Michele Placido and Saverio Marconi. For this role Rossellini was awarded by the association of Italian film critics with a Nastro d'Argento (Silver Ribbon) for Best New Actress.
It was followed by a part in the comedy Il pap'occhio/In the Pope's Eye (Renzo Arbore, 1980) with Roberto Benigni and film director Martin Scorsese. The film was heavily attacked by the Catholic press. Three weeks later it was confiscated "for insulting the Catholic religion and the person of the Holy Pope". However, the film grossed 5 billion lire being the 5th best grossing film in Italy in the 1980/1981 season. In 1979, she had married Scorsese and went to live with him in New York. They divorced in 1982.
At the age of 28, her modelling career began, when she was photographed by Bruce Weber for British Vogue and by Bill King for American Vogue. During her career, she also worked with many other renowned photographers, including Richard Avedon, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Francesco Scavullo, Annie Leibovitz, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Her image has appeared on such magazines as Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and ELLE.
In March 1988, an exhibition dedicated to photographs of her, called Portrait of a Woman, was held at the Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris. Rossellini's modelling career led her into the world of cosmetics, when she became the exclusive spokes model for the cosmetics brand Lancôme in 1982. In 1996, when she was 44, she was removed as the face of Lancôme for being ‘too old.’ A year earlier, Rossellini had worked with the Coty Group and developed her own brand of cosmetics, Isabella Rossellini's Manifesto.
Following her mother's death in 1982, Isabella Rossellini was cast in her first American film, the Cold War drama White Nights (Taylor Hackford, 1985), starring Mikhail Baryshnikov. This was followed by her notable role as the tortured nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch’s masterpiece Blue Velvet (1986), in which she also contributed her own singing. For this part she earned an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead.
Other significant film roles during this period include her work in the comedy Cousins (Joel Schumacher, 1989), the crime thriller Wild at Heart (David Lynch, 1990), the black comedy fantasy Death Becomes Her (Robert Zemeckis, 1992) with Meryl Streep, Fearless (Peter Weir, 1993) with Jeff Bridges, and Immortal Beloved (Bernard Rose, 1994) about the life of composer Ludwig van Beethoven (played by Gary Oldman).
In 1992, Rossellini modelled for Madonna's controversial book Sex. She also appeared in Madonna's music video for her hit song Erotica (1992). In 1996, she appeared as herself in an episode of the TV series Friends called The One With Frank Jr. That same year, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in Crime of the Century (Mark Rydell, 1996), a dramatisation of the Lindbergh kidnapping.
In Europe, she made the Dutch drama Left Luggage (Jeroen Krabbé, 1998), and the multimedia project The Tulse Luper Suitcases (Peter Greenaway, 2003-2004). Rossellini was a recurring character on the television series Alias (2003) and she also appeared in the Canadian film The Saddest Music in the World (Guy Maddin, 2003). In 2004, she played the High Priestess Thar in the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries Legend of Earthsea (Robert Lieberman, 2004).
My Dad Is 100 Years Old (Guy Maddin, 2006) is a tribute that Rossellini created for her father. In the film, she played almost every role, including Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, and her mother Ingrid Bergman. In 2007, Rossellini guest starred on two episodes of the television show 30 Rock, playing Alec Baldwin's character's ex-wife.
Around the same time, Rossellini enrolled at Hunter College in New York, US to study Animal Behavior, and she made the series Green Porno (2008). The first series of Green Porno garnered over 4 million views on YouTube and two further seasons were produced. Rossellini was responsible for the scripts, helped to design the creatures, directed the episodes, and is the primary actor in the series. In each of the episodes she acts out the mating rituals and reproductive behaviour of various animals while commentary is concurrently played. Green Porno was followed by two other animal-themed television productions: Seduce Me: The Spawn of Green Porno (2010) and Mammas (2013).
Rossellini acted in the Canadian-Spanish psychological thriller Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, 2013), alongside Jake Gyllenhaal. She also played silent film actor Rudolph Valentino's mother in Silent Life (Vlad Kozlov, 2012). Rossellini has written three books: her self-described fictional memoir, Some of Me (1997), Looking at Me (on pictures and photographers, 2002), and In the name of the Father, the Daughter and the Holy Spirits: Remembering Roberto Rossellini (2006).
After her marriage to Martin Scorsese ended, Isabella Rossellini married Jon Wiedemann (1983–1986), a Harvard-educated and former fashion model from Texas (now a Microsoft design manager). Later, she dated David Lynch, Gary Oldman and Gregory Mosher. She has a daughter, Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann (1983) and a son, Roberto (1993). Rossellini holds dual Italian and United States citizenship.
Scene from Il Prato/The Meadow (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1979). Source: Alexis Goussev (YouTube). Isabella Rossellini seeing her father's Germania anno zero (Roberto Rossellini, 1948).
Trailer for Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986). Source: Ageless Trailers (YouTube).
Trailer for Left Luggage (Jeroen Krabbé, 1998). Source: AngelTwo SkyAngelNetworks (YouTube).
Trailer Green Porno (Isanbella Rossellini, 2008). Source: septimoartecolombia (YouTube).
Sources: Jon C. Hopwood (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/29.
Spanish postcard by Postal Oscarcolor, no. 372.
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 128.
Kim Novak was born as Marilyn Pauline Novak, professionally in Chicago, Illinois in 1933. She is the daughter of history teacher Joseph Novak and factory worker Blanche (née Kral) Novak.
She won two scholarships to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and during the summer break in her last semester of junior college, Novak went on a cross-country tour modeling for a refrigerator company at trade shows. While stopping by Los Angeles, Novak was crowned Miss Deepfreeze by the refrigerator company.
While there, she and two other models stood in line to be extras in The French Line (Lloyd Bacon, 1954), a film starring Jane Russell. It was here that she was discovered by an agent, who signed her to a long-term contract with Columbia Pictures. Columbia intended for Novak to be their successor to Rita Hayworth, their biggest star of the 1940s, whose career had declined. The studio also hoped that Novak would bring them the same success 20th Century-Fox was having with Marilyn Monroe.
Her first role for the studio was in the film noir Pushover (Richard Quine, 1954). She then co-starred in the romantic comedy Phffft! (Mark Robson, 1954) as Janis, a Monroe-type character who finds Jack Lemmon's character, Robert Tracey, "real cute". Both films were reasonably successful at the box office, and Novak received favorable reviews for her performances.
The film version of Picnic (Joshua Logan, 1955), co-starring William Holden, was a resounding critical and box office triumph. Novak won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer. She was also nominated for BAFTA Film Award for Best Foreign Actress, but did not win. Director Otto Preminger then cast her in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), in which she played Frank Sinatra's sultry ex-girlfriend. The film was a box office triumph.
After appearing in a series of successful movies, Novak became one of the biggest box office draws. Columbia placed her in a film adaptation of Pal Joey (George Sidney, 1957). She played Linda English, a naive showgirl, opposite Frank Sinatra and Rita Hayworth. The movie was a box office hit and has been considered one of Novak's better performances.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. FK 3287. Photo: Baron Studios / Ufa.
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK 280. Photo: Terb Agency.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/27.
Kim Novak is perhaps best known today for the classic thriller Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958), opposite James Stewart. During the production, Novak was striking for more money from Columbia, and refused to show up for work on the Vertigo set to protest her salary of $1,250 a week. Novak hired new agents to represent her and demanded an adjustment in her contract. Harry Cohn of Columbia suspended her but, after a few weeks of negotiations, he relented and offered her a new contract worthy of a major star. Vertigo was poorly received at the time of its release in 1958 and failed at the box office, but has since been re-evaluated and is widely considered one of the director's best works.
Sandra Brennan at AllMovie: "In 1958, Novak appeared in her most famous role, that of enigmatic Madeleine in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Vertigo. It was a difficult role, but one she rose to admirably. She did have one conflict with Hitchcock on the set concerning the stiff gray suit and black shoes she would be required to wear for most of the picture. When she saw costume designer Edith Head's original plans for the suit, Novak, fearing the suit would be distracting and uncomfortable and believing that gray is seldom a blonde's best color, voiced her concerns directly to Hitchcock who listened patiently and then insisted she wear the prescribed garb. Novak obeyed and to her surprise discovered that the starchy outfit enhanced rather than hindered her ability to play Madeleine."
In 1958, Novak again worked with Stewart in Richard Quine's Bell, Book and Candle, a comedy tale of modern-day witchcraft, that proved to be a box office success. The following year, she starred opposite Fredric March in the acclaimed drama Middle of the Night (Delbert Mann, 1959), and opposite Kirk Douglas in Strangers When We Meet (Richard Quine, 1960).
Although still young, her career declined in the early 1960s, and after several years in a series of lackluster films, she withdrew from acting in 1966. She has only sporadically returned since. She returned to the screen in the West-German film Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo/Just a Gigolo (David Hemmings, 1978), starring David Bowie, and the British mystery The Mirror Crack'd (Guy Hamilton, 1980), based on the story by Agatha Christie. She also had a regular role on the prime time TV series Falcon Crest (1986–1987).
After a disappointing experience during the filming of the mystery Liebestraum (Mike Figgis, 1991), Kim Novak has permanently retired from acting, citing she has no desire to return. In 2013, she attended the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where she introduced a new restored version of Vertigo. Audiences gave Novak a standing ovation.
Trailer Picnic (Joshua Logan, 1955). Sources: Craig Steves (YouTube).
Trailer Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958). Sources: Ageless Trailers (YouTube).
Trailer The Mirror Crack'd (Guy Hamilton, 1980). Source: Mr 80s Movies (YouTube).
Sources: Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.
Dutch postcard by JosPe. Sent by mail in 1935. Photo: Godfried de Groot.
Dutch Postcard by Monopole Film, Rotterdam. Photo: Dick van Maarseveen. Publicity still for Bleeke Bet (1934).
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Dick van Maarseveen, Den Haag / Monopole Film. Publicity still of Fien(tje) de la Mar in Bleeke Bet (Alex Benno, Richard Oswald, 1934). Collection: Egbert Barten.
Before WW II, the actress and cabaret artist was known as Fientje de la Mar. She was born in 1898 and named after Josephine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. Her grandfather Charles de la Mar was an admirer of the French emperor and had called his son Napoleon (Nap).
Both her grandfather and father were famous Dutch actors and Fien started her stage career in 1917 when she was still a school girl. Immediately Fientje showed talent but also a huge temper. She would become a glamorous and capricious stage star, who loved liquor and would have many lovers.
Her feature film debut was the extremely successful musical De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934), one of the first Dutch sound films. The three title characters were played by Willy Costello, Johan Kaartand Fien's lover Jan van Ees.
Fien's second feature was Bleeke Bet (Richard Oswald, Alex Benno, 1934). In this film she sings her torch song Ik wil gelukkig zijn (I want to be happy). Bleeke Bet (1934) was based on a popular stage melodrama by Herman Bouber, who also wrote the screenplay. His wife, Aaf Bouber played the title role, a greengrocer of the Jordaan, the old neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Bet wants her daughter Jans (Jopie Koopman) to marry a rich man, but Jans loves sailor Ko (the young Johannes Heesters - right on the photo).
The film was a success and would be re-issued in 1941 and 1961. In 1941 the Jewish actors like Sylvain Poons (also on the photo) were cut out of the picture by the Nazi censors. Poons as the ice-cream salesman Sally sings an evergreen in the film, IJslied (Ice-cream Song). The music was composed by emigrant Hans May and the lyrics were written by the later collaborator, Jacques van Tol.
Dutch postcard by Monopole Film, Amsterdam. Photo: Maarseveen, Den Haag. Clara Vischer-Blaaser, Aaf Bouber, Sylvain Poons, Corry Vonk, Fien de la Mar and Jopie Koopman in the Dutch tragicomedy Bleeke Bet (Richard Oswald, Alex Benno, 1936).
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Monopole Film / Dick van Maarseveen, Den Haag. Publicity still of Fien(tje) de la Mar in Bleeke Bet (1934).
Dutch Postcard. Photo: Dick van Maarseveen. Publicity still for Bleeke Bet (1934).
Dutch postcard by Monopole Film, Rotterdam. Photo: Dick van Maarseveen. Publicity still for Bleeke Bet (1934) with Jopie Koopman.
Dutch postcard by Monopole Film, Amsterdam. Photo: Maarseveen, Den Haag. Johan Elsensohn, Jopie Koopman, Clara Vischer-Blaaser, Corry Vonk, Fien de la Mar and Jan van Ees in the Dutch tragicomedy Bleeke Bet (Richard Oswald, Alex Benno, 1934).
Dutch postcard by Monopole Film. Photo: Maarseveen, Den Haag. Fien(tje) de la Mar and Jopie Koopman in the tragicomedy Bleeke Bet (Alex Benno, Richard Oswald, 1934).
Bleeke Bet proved to be another hit and the following year Fien de la Mar would star in three more films. In the musical Op stap/On the Road (Ernst Winar, 1935) she sang a song, spectacularly accompanied by a dozen pianos.
Her co-star in this film was Frits van Dongen who later would have a Hollywood career as Philip Dorn. They also appeared together in the comedy De Big van het regiment/The Regiment's Mascot (Max Nosseck, 1935).
Her later films include Klokslag twaalf/12 'O Clock (Léo Joannon, 1936) - an alternate language version of Quand minuit sonnera (Léo Joannon, 1936) starring Marie Bell, De spooktrein/The Ghost Train (Carl Lamac, 1939) with Jan Musch, and Ergens in Nederland/Somewhere in the Netherlands (Ludwig Berger, 1940) with Lily Bouwmeester and actor-author Jan de Hartog.
A few weeks after the premiere of the latter film the Second World War started and the film was forbidden by the Nazis. In 1943 Fien refused to work for the Nazi regime and her career halted.
After the war she made a glorious stage come-back and she even had her own theatre for a while. She worked for television, but would not make any more films.
Her life ended tragically in 1965. Fien de la Mar jumped out of the window of her Amsterdam apartment and died a few days later in a hospital. Her legend is kept in an excellent biography by Jenny Pisuisse (1982), a CD and in the stage and television musical Fien (Jan Keja, 1985) with Jasperina de Jong as Fien. And now there is this new documentary by Annette Apon.
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Dick van Maarseveen, Den Haag / Nationaal Film. Publicity still of Fien(tje) de la Mar in Op stap/On the Move (Ernst Winar, 1935) .
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Dick van Maarseveen, Den Haag / Nationaal Film. Publicity still for Op stap/On the Move (Ernst Winar, 1935) with Frits van Dongen.
Dutch postcard by NV Monopole Film. Photo: Maarseveen. Fien(tje) de la Mar and Hansje Anderiesen (aka Jansje Andriessen and Hansje Andriesen) in De Big van het regiment (Max Nosseck, 1935).
Fien de la Mar sings Hollandsch Hollywood (1934). Source: Henk Brugge (YouTube).
Clip from Bleeke Bet (1934) with Fien singing Ik wil gelukkig zijn. Source: Brassens66 (YouTube).
Final scene from Op stap/On the Road (1935). Source: CaptainvonTrapp (YouTube).
Trailer for Ik wil gelukkig zijn/One Life is not enough (2016). Source: SNG Film (YouTube).
Sources: Wikipedia, Wim Ibo (Huygens ING) and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1717/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Frank.
The awakening of the wife
Hildegard Maroff was born in 1904 in Berlin, Germany.
At the age of 15, she already played a small page role on stage and then she took acting lessons from Meinhardt Bernauer. After a subsequent dance training, the Komödienhaus (the Comedy House) and the Berliner Theater (Berlin Theater) became her first stage stations.
From 1922 on, she also appeared in films. Her first major film role, she received in Kubinke, der Barbier, und die drei Dienstmädchen/Kubinke, the barber, and the three maids (Carl Boese, 1926). She, Erika Glässner and Käthe Haack were the three maids and the barber Kubinke was played by Werner Fuetterer.
Other silent films were Das Erwachen des Weibes/The awakening of the wife (Fred Sauer, 1927), Schwester Veronica/Sister Veronica (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1927) featuring Aud Egede Nissen, and Die drei Frauen von Urban Hell/The Three Women of Urban Hell (Jaap Speyer, 1928). Maroff also appeared in cabarets.
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 831. Photo: National / Verleih Mondial A.G., Wien.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3762/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex Binder.
In 1929 Hilde Maroff married Dr. Kurt Bosse and she interrupted temporarily her career. They had three children, Ilse (1929), Peter (1931) and Barbara (1935).
At the age of four, Peter Bosse already became a child star and Hilde Maroff managed his career. She then began to accept smaller roles and played three times at the side of her son. An example was Das Gäßchen zum Paradies/Paradise Road (Martin Fric, 1936) with Hans Moser.
During the war, her husband was killed. After the war, she had to take care for their children alone. She worked as a director at the Berlin Märchenbühne and headed the children's drama studio. She also played small roles at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm and the Schillertheater.
Her daughter Barbara worked as a dancer with Mary Wigman, the noted German dancer and choreographer, who was the pioneer of expressionist dance, dance therapy, and movement training without pointe shoes.
After a long illness, Hilde Maroff died in 1984 in her homeplace Berlin. She was 80.
Peter Bosse. German Postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A1276/1. 1937-1938. Photo: Manassée-Ricoll, Wien / Mondial.
Peter Bosse. Big German card by Ross Verlag. Photo: Joerger.
Sources: Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.
Nerio Bernardi. Italian postcard. Photo: Alberto Montacchini, Parma.
Mistinguett. French postcard by FA, no. 67. Photo: H. Manuel. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Mistinguettencore. French postcard by Bleuet, no. 970. Photo Utudjian, Paris.
Carmen Boni. French postcard. Photo: G.L. Manuel Frères. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Lee Parry. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1098/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Lucy Doraine. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1129/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Alphons Fryland. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1221/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Lambeck, Berlin.
Elisabeth Bergner. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1560/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Geiringer-Horovitz, Wien. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Harry Piel. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5046/2, 1930-1931. Photo: Ariel Film.
Brigitte Bardot. German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 998.
Nadja Tiller. German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhoff, no. CK-170. Photo: Klaus Collignon / Ufa. Publicity still for Das Mädchen Rosemarie/The Girl Rosemarie (Rolf Thiele, 1958).
Adamo. Dutch postcard by 't Sticht, Utrecht, no. 6154. Photo: Benelux Theater, Bruxelles.
This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at the The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.
French postcard, no. PP 122. Photo: publicity still for Léon/Léon: The Professional (Luc Besson, 1994).
Jean Reno was born Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1948. His Spanish parents had moved to North Africa to find work and escape the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. He has a younger sister named María Teresa ‘Maite’. Their father was a linotypist. Their mother died when Juan was a teenager. He learned Spanish from his parents, and Arabic and French growing up in Morocco.
At the age of seventeen, Juan Moreno moved to France, where he studied acting at the Cours Simon School of Drama. When Moreno moved to France he served in the French army which was mandatory to gain his French citizenship. After he started to get acting jobs in France, Juan adopted the French version, Jean, of his name, and shortened his surname to Reno.
He had a role in every play of stage director Didier Flamand from 1977 to 1981, and then had the lead role in Flamand's first short film La vis/The notice (Didier Flamand, 1993). He made his film debut in the mystery film L'Hypothèse du tableau vole/The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (Raúl Ruiz, 1979). That same year he played a bit role as a policeman in Clair de femme/Womanlight (Costa-Gravas, 1979) with Romy Schneider.
Due to his large frame (1.88 m or 6 ft 2 in), Reno was called on to play ‘heavies’ in his early career. He had his first prominent role in the post-apocalyptic Fantasy film Le dernier combat/The Last Battle (Luc Besson, 1985). It was the first feature-film to be directed by Luc Besson. Wikipedia: “A dark vision of post-apocalyptic survival, the film was shot in black and white and contains only two words of dialogue. It depicts a world where people have been rendered mute by some unknown incident.”
In 1981, Besson and Reno had worked on the short film L'Avant Dernier/Before The Last. Reno and Besson became close personal friends, and Reno collaborated in films produced, written or directed by Besson, who became known as one of the masters of the ‘Cinéma du look style’ (French film directors who were said to favour style over substance, spectacle over narrative). Reno played a supporting part in Besson’s breakthrough film, Subway (Luc Besson, 1985), starring Isabelle Adjaniand Christophe Lambert.
Reno's own breakthrough came with their next film, Le Grand Bleu/The Big Blue (Luc Besson, 1988). Cast as the comic rival of diver Jacques Mayhol (Jean-Marc Barr), Reno received international exposure when The Big Blue became a worldwide hit with both critics and audiences. Reno was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor César.
Of their joint work, those films that have achieved the most critical and commercial success are Nikita (Luc Besson, 1990) with Anne Parillaud, and Léon/Léon: The Professional (Luc Besson, 1994) with Gary Oldman and the young Natalie Portman. For his role as the calm assassin Léon, who reluctantly takes in 12-year-old girl Mathilda (Natalie Portman), Reno was nominated for the César in 1995. The film was a commercial success, grossing over $45 million worldwide on a $16 million budget.
French postcard by Ciné Passion, no. GB 1. Photo: publicity still for Le Grand Bleu (Luc Besson, 1988) with Sergio Castellitto.
French postcard by Ciné Passion, no. GB 4. Photo: publicity still for Le Grand Bleu (Luc Besson, 1988).
French postcard by News Productions, Beaulmes, no 56063. Photo: Eric Coiffier. Director and cast of Le Grand Bleu (Luc Besson, 1988) at the Festival de Cannes, 1988. With in the front row from left to right: Marc Duret, Jean-Marc Barr, Rosanna Arquette, Luc Besson, Sergio Castellitto and Andréas Voutsinas.
Disastrous wannabe summer blockbuster
From the 1990s on, Jean Reno appeared in international romantic-comedies and action films. He starred in several French box office hits. He played the servant of a 12th century knight (Christian Clavier) in the fantasy comedy Les Visiteurs/The Visitors (Jean-Marie Poiré, 1993), the Number 1 box office film in France in 1993. Reno and Clavier reprised their roles in a sequel, and the American remake Just Visiting (Jean-Marie Gaubert, 2001) with Christina Applegate.
Other French smashes were the psychological horror film Les Rivières Pourpres/The Crimson Rivers (Mathieu Kassovitz, 2000) with Vincent Kassel, and the comedy Décalage horaire/Jet Lag (Danièle Thompson, 2002) with Juliette Binoche.
Reno did the voice-over for Mufasa in the French-language version of the animation film The Lion King (Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff, 1994). He also played in such high-profile American films as the romantic comedy French Kiss (Lawrence Kasdan, 1995) with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline, Mission: Impossible (Brian De Palma, 1996) with Tom Cruise, and Ronin (John Frankenheimer, 1998) with Robert De Niro.
To do the disastrous wannabe summer blockbuster Godzilla (Roland Emmerich, 1998), Reno turned down the role of Agent Smith in The Matrix (The Wachowski Brothers, 1999). The part would be played by Hugo Weaving.
In 2006, Reno had a prominent role in the remake of The Pink Panther (Shawn Levy, 2006) and its sequel, playing Gilbert Ponton, opposite Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau. He portrayed Captain Bezu Fache in the film adaptation The Da Vinci Code (Ron Howard, 2006), starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou.
French postcard, no. PP 104. Photo: publicity still for Léon/Léon: The Professional (Luc Besson, 1994) with Natalie Portman.
French postcard, no. PP 108. Photo: publicity still for Léon/Léon: The Professional (Luc Besson, 1994).
French postcard, no. PP 125. Photo: publicity still for Léon/Léon: The Professional (Luc Besson, 1994).
In other media, Jean Reno was involved in the production of the third instalment in the popular Capcom game series Onimusha, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (Minoru Nakai, 1994). For this action-adventure game, he lend his likeness to the protagonist Jacques Blanc, as well as provided the voice for the character's French dialogue.
In advertising work, Reno has appeared in American television commercials for UPS and portrayed Doraemon in a series of Toyota ads in Japan, as part of the ReBorn campaign.
Jean Reno married three time. His first wife was Geneviève Reno, with whom he has a daughter, Sandra (born 1978), and a son, Mickael (1980). They divorced in 1995. Reno's second wife was Nathalie Dyszkiewicz, a Polish model, with whom he has a son, Tom (1996), and a daughter, Serena (1998). They divorced in 2001.
In 2006, Reno married for the third time, to another Polish model and actress, Zofia Borucka. Then-presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and singer Johnny Hallyday served as his best men (Reno endorsed Sarkozy for the 2007 French presidential election). Zofia and Reno have two sons, Cielo (2009) and Dean (2011). Reno maintains homes in Paris, Malaysia, and Los Angeles.
Upcoming films with Reno are the American drama The Last Face (Sean Penn, 2016) with Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem, and the historical drama The Promise (Terry George, 2016) starring Christian Bale.
Jason Buchanan describes Reno’s appeal at AllMovie: “With mournful eyes that suggest deep contemplation lurking beneath a sometimes imposing exterior, French actor Jean Reno (born July 30th, 1948) has carved a particular niche in cinema by portraying men who prefer to define themselves through action rather than words. Though his characters may often resort to violence without pause when necessary, that isn't to say that they are without the sort of honor or dignity that has served to define some of the screen's most memorable action stars.”
Trailer Le Grand Bleu/The Big Blue (1988). Source: Chaîne de adamparks55 (YouTube).
Trailer Ronin (1998). Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault (YouTube).
American trailer for Le Chef (2014). Source: Movieclips Film Festivals & Indie Films (YouTube).
Sources: Jason Buchanan (AllMovie), Wikipedia, and IMDb.
Italian postcard by Ed. G. Vettori, Bologna, no. 13/1058. Photo: UCI (Unione Cinematografica Italiana).
Lucy Di San Germano was born in Turin in 1898, originally named Lucia Moglia. She was the younger sister of actress Linda Moglia (1896-?). Very little is known about her private life.
Lucia got her actor’s name right from the start in film business, when she had a supporting act in the film Passa la gioventù/Youth passes (1917), directed by Achille Consalvi The film's star was Maria Campi, an older actress from the vaudeville, who had been producer of the film too.
The film was received negatively, in contrast to Sangermano’s next film, La maschera del barbaro/The mask of the barbarian (Paolo Trinchera, Ambrosio 1918), a war propaganda film about a sister who substitutes for a deserter, until he decides to return and sacrifice himself. Though the story was thin, the critics praised the performances of Francesco Casaleggio and Sangermano as the brother and sister.
From 1918 on, Di San Germano worked for years at Ambrosio, and often co-acted with regular supporting actors of those years, such as Dante Cappelli, Umberto Scalpellini, Vasco Creti, Ernesto and Ercole Vaser, Lidia Benelli a.o.
Under the pseudonym of Kismet, Paolo Trinchera directed Di San Germano again in an adaptation of Marcel Prévost: Chonchette (1918), about an officer of the Spahis (Roberto Villani) who suspects his daughter (Luisa Benelli) to be the fruit of an adulterous affair of his wife (Di San Germano) with his friend.
Italian postcard by Ed. G.B. Falci, Milano.
Real characters instead of mannequins
In December 1918, just when the First World War had ended, three films with Lucy Di San Germano were released.
Noblesse oblige (1918), based on a boulevard comedy by Hennequin and Veber, was apparently directed by the famous poster designer and illustrator Marcello Dudovich, whose only film direction this was. In addition to Di San Germano, her sister Linda Moglia also acted in the film.
Di San Germano also acted in Lagrime del popolo/Tears of the people, in which the forzuto (strong man) Alfredo Boccolini aka Galaor is involved in a drama of two families, one rich and immoral, and one working-class and honest. Di San Germano is the working class girl seduced by the rich young industrial’s son.
A third film released at the same time was …E dopo?/And then? (1918) directed by Febo Mari and with himself in the lead as a proud prime minister, a thinker, fighter, ascetic and legislator together, whose daughter (Di San Germano) instead falls for a sleek, elegant young man, her cousin (Luigi Cimara). She reveals him all kinds of top secrets with which the young man can speculate. While the high placed father fights corruption, misery and weakness, the little people finally manage to push him off his pedestal.
Febo Mari’s film was praised in the press as a superb creation in which Mari had turned he actors in real characters instead of mannequins, while also praising the actor’s performance of all involved, including Di San Germano.
Italian postcard by G. Vettori, Bologna, no. 2000. Lucy Sangermano and Luigi Cimara acted twice together, in ...E dopo?.And then? (Febo Mari, 1918) and La rupe tarpea/The Tarpeian Rock (Gaston Ravel, 1920).
Lucy Di San Germano had a lead in the film La gibigianna (1919), directed by the Ambrosio veteran Luigi Maggi and based on a popular play by Carlo Bertolazzi.
She plays Bianca, a porcelain factory worker who marries Enrico, the foreman (Sandro Ruffini), who has gone down the social ladder and hates wealth. Instead Bianca aspires to a high life and eventually drops him for a rich man. When he begs her to come back and she refuses, he strikes her with a knife and escapes, afraid he killed her. When overcome with grief, he is about to go to jail (another source says he is about to commit suicide), she saves him.
While La gibigianna was disliked in the Italian press, there was praise for the next film L’amante della luna (Achille Consalvi, 1919), based on a popular novel by Paul de Kock and starring Di San Germano and Villani. Villani is the Moon Lover who sleeps in daytime but sets things straight at night time.
The Italian newspaper La Stampa wrote at the time: “One of the most passionate dramas, which keeps the audience tied to the screen until the last word.” Di San Germano is the innocent girl who is about to succumb to a seductress avid for power and money, and in particular her acting was praised.
Italian postcard by G. Vettori, Bologna, no. 2027. Lucy Sangermano and Carlo Gualandri acted together in the film La rupe tarpea (Gaston Ravel, 1920).
A Charade gets Out of Hand
In 1919 Lucy Di San Germano moved over from Ambrosio to the Turinese Audax company for some lesser films: Il libro della vita/The Book of Life (1919) by Giuseppe Guarino, Inutile attesa/Needless waiting (Vittorio Tettoni, 1919), the adventure film La mano guantato di bianco/The white-gloved hand (Vittorio Tettoni, 1920) with forzutoCelio Bucchi, Le vicende dell’illusione/The events of illusion (Vittorio Tettoni, 1920) with Giovanni Cimara, and La roccia della morte/The rock of death (Vittorio Tettoni, 1920) with Tettoni himself.
More attention got the film La bambola e l’amore/The doll and love by diva film specialist Alfredo De Antoni, in which Di San Germano acted opposite Luigi Serventi and Tullio Carminati.
While audiences loved it, the press had reservations. The story deals with count Renato (Carminati) and writer Maurizio (Serventi) who love the same woman Cecyl (Di San Germano). After a duel between the men she chooses and marries the count. In Venice the writer finds Zanze, a lookalike of the woman (again Di San Germano), and stages a charade to convince the count his wife is committing adultery and to win the woman back. It gets out of hand. The count chases his wife who dies out in the streets, while he also kills the lookalike, holding her for his wife.
After La bambola della morte/The doll of death, Di San Germano acted at the same Rome based company Do-Re-Mi in another two films by De Antoni, Il mercante di emozioni/The Merchant of emotions (1921), with Serventi, De Antoni himself, and the leading man of Italian silent acting, Alberto Capozzi, and Il poeta e la principessa/The poet and the Princess (1921), with again Capozzi and De Antoni.
Italian postcard, no. 243.
Di San Germano’s penultimate two films
Around 1920 Lucy Di San Germano acted at various companies just once. She acted at Vay Film in La medaglia e il rovescio/The medal and the reverse (1920), directed by the Russian emigre Aleksandr Uralsky, and at Medusa Film in La rupe tarpea/The Tarpeian Rock (Gaston Ravel, 1921), with Luigi Cimara and Carlo Gualandri.
Di San Germano’s penultimate two films were at the Roman Cines company: L’incatenata/The chained (Augusto Genina, 1921), with Angelo Ferrari and Augusto Poggioli, and Il castello della malinconia/The castle of melancholy (Augusto Genina, 1922), with Ferrari, Poggioli, and Gemma De Sanctis.
Di San Germano’s last film was at the Turinese company Fert: L’inafferabile/The elusive (Mario Almirante, 1922), with Alberto Collo, Domenico Serra, Carlo and Olga Benetti, and Oreste Bilancia.
Collo plays a man who is robbed of all his belongings just before marrying a rich heiress (Di San Germano). Together they go after the thief, who is the least expected one: the loyal secretary.
Apparently, Di San Germano stopped her film career in 1922. Was the reason for her exit the decadence of the Italian film industry? Did she retire because she married?
Or was the reason for stopping her film career the contemporary competition of her sister Linda Moglia as Roxanne in the period piece Cirano de Bergerac by Augusto Genina? Cirano, which co-starred Ferrari as Christian, De Sanctis as the governess and Pierre Magnier as Cyrano, was released one year after in France, where it was a huge success in Paris, and was released in Italy only in 1926.
However, Linda Moglia, after one more film in 1924, also called her screen acting a day, just like her sister. It is unclear what happened with the sisters afterwards.
Italian postcard, no. 378. Photo Fontana.
Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano, 1917-1923 - Italian) and IMDb.
German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag. Photo: Melodie / Donau-Film / Herzog-Film / Malek. Publicity still for Der erste Kuß/The First Kiss (Erik Ode, 1954).
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden-Westf., no. 2370. Photo: Union-Film. Publicity still for Das Hirtenlied vom Kaisertal/The Shepherd's Song from Kaisertal (Max Michel, 1956).
Awards and Honours
Erich Auer was born in 1923 in Innsbruck (some sources say Vienna), Austria. He came from a family of Tyrolean actors. Auer attended the teacher training college.
In the years 1941 to 1945, he had to report for duty in the Wehrmacht, but he came into Soviet captivity. After his release, he joined drama training at the Vienna Conservatory. There he met the actress Martha Wallner, whom he later married.
In 1946, he got his first engagement at the Linzer Landestheater. Two years later he returned to Vienna and acted until 1950 at the Volkstheater.
In 1951 he joined the ensemble of the Burgtheater. Here he played more than 150 roles in numerous classical and modern plays. Important roles were Creon in Sophocles'Oedipus the King, Biff in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Antonio in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Valentin in Ferdinand Raimund’s Der Verschwender (The Spendthrift) and the old Merenberg in Franz Grillparzer's König Ottokars Glück und Ende (King Ottokar's Fortune and End).
Auer received many awards and honours for his work. In 1963 he was honoured with the title of ‘Kammerschauspieler’, in 1986 he became an honorary member of the Burgtheater and in 1989 he retired. From 1973 on, he was also a board member at the Burgtheater.
Austrian postcard by Verlag Hubmann (HDH Verlag), Wien, no. 132. Photo: Ostermayr-Film / International-Film-Wien. Publicity still for Der Herrgottschnitzer von Ammergau/The lord-carver of Ammergau (Harald Reinl, 1952).
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1159. Photo: Melodie / Donau-Film / Herzog-Film / Malek. Publicity still for Der erste Kuss/The First Kiss (Erik Ode, 1954).
Light entertainment films
Beyond Vienna, Erich Auer was known for his roles in the German-speaking films of the post-war period. He made his film debut with a supporting part in the crime film Duell mit dem Tod/Duel with Death (Paul May, 1949).
In the cinema he had his breakthrough with the Operetta Der fidele Bauer/The Merry Farmer (Georg Marischka, 1951) as the son of Paul Hörbiger. Auer then appeared as Jeune Premier in many popular Heimat films of the era, including Der Herrgottschnitzer von Ammergau/The lord-carver of Ammergau (Harald Reinl, 1952), Der Klosterjäger/The Monastery's Hunter (Harald Reinl, 1953) with Marianne Koch, and Die Försterbuben/The Ranger boys (Robert A. Stemmle, 1955).
He was also the star of such Austrian and German light entertainment films as Ehestreik/Marriage strike (Joe Stöckel, 1953), Der erste Kuß/The First Kiss (Erik Ode, 1954) with the twin sisters Isa and Jutta Günther, and Der Pfarrer von St. Michael/The pastor of St. Michael (Wolfgang Glück, 1957).
In the 1960s he concentrated on stage and TV work. On television, he could be seen in many Austrian and German productions including stage adaptations of Friedrich Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe/Intrigue and Love (Gerhard Klingenberg, 1976) with Klaus Maria Brandauer. He also acted in the mini-series Die Alpensaga/The Alp saga (Dieter Berner, 1977) and an episode of the Krimi series Tatort (Jochen Bauer, 1982).
In his later years, he was also much in demand as a drama teacher. His last role was that of Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady (2003-2004) at the Vienna Volksoper. Erich Auer passed away in 2004 in his hometown Vienna. He was 81.
Film Das Hirtenlied vom Kaisertal/The Shepherd's Song from Kaisertal (Max Michel, 1956). Source: Fritz 5140 (YouTube).
Sources: Wiener Zeitung (German), Austria-Forum (German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, no. 8695. Collection: Didier Hanson.
German postcard. Caption: Anna Pavlova in The Dying Swan.
The little savage
Anna Pavlovna (Matveyevna) Pavlova (Russian: Анна Павлова) was born in 1881 in Ligovo, near Saint Petersburg, in the Russian Empire to unwed parents. Her mother, Lyubov Feodorovna, was a laundress. Her father was rumoured to have been Jewish (some sources state that her biological father was the banker Lazar Polyakov). Her mother's second husband, Matvey Pavlov, is believed to have adopted her at the age of three, by which she acquired his last name.
Pavlova's passion for the art of ballet was ignited when her mother took her to a performance of Marius Petipa's original production of The Sleeping Beauty at the Imperial Maryinsky Theater. The lavish spectacle made an impression on Pavlova. At the age of nine, her mother took her to audition for the renowned Imperial Ballet School. Because of her youth, and what was considered her 'sickly' appearance, she was not chosen.
In 1891, she was finally accepted at the age of 10. She appeared for the first time on stage in Marius Petipa's Un conte de fées (A Fairy Tale), which the ballet master staged for the students of the school. Young Pavlova's years of training were difficult. Classical ballet did not come easily to her. Her severely arched feet, thin ankles, and long limbs clashed with the small and compact body in favour for the ballerina at the time.
Her fellow students taunted her with such nicknames as The broom and La petite sauvage (The little savage). Undeterred, Pavlova trained to improve her technique. She would practice and practice after learning a step. She took extra lessons from the noted teachers of the day — Christian Johansson, Pavel Gerdt, Nikolai Legat— and from Enrico Cecchetti, considered the greatest ballet virtuoso of the time and founder of the Cecchetti method, a very influential ballet technique used to this day.
In 1898, she entered the classe de perfection of Ekaterina Vazem, former Prima ballerina of the Saint Petersburg Imperial Theatres. During her final year at the Imperial Ballet School, she performed many roles with the principal company. She graduated in 1899 at age 18, chosen to enter the Imperial Ballet a rank ahead of corps de ballet as a coryphée.
She made her official début at the Mariinsky Theatre in Pavel Gerdt's Les Dryades prétendues (The False Dryads). Her performance drew praise from the critics, particularly the great critic and historian Nikolai Bezobrazov. At the height of Petipa's strict academicism, the public was taken aback by Anna Pavlova's style, a combination of a gift that paid little heed to academic rules: she frequently performed with bent knees, bad turnout, misplaced port de bras and incorrectly placed tours. Such a style in many ways harked back to the time of the romantic ballet and the great ballerinas of old.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1540/2, 1927-1928. Collection: Didier Hanson.
German postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson. Caption: Anna Pavlova in Syrian Dance.
The Dying Swan
Anna Pavlova performed in various classical variations, pas de deux and pas de trois in such ballets as La Camargo, Le Roi Candaule, Marcobomba and The Sleeping Beauty. Her enthusiasm often led her astray: once during a performance as the River Thames in Petipa's The Pharaoh's Daughter her energetic double pique turns led her to lose her balance, and she ended up falling into the prompter's box.
Her weak ankles led to difficulty while performing as the fairy Candide in Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty, leading the ballerina to revise the fairy's jumps en pointe, much to the surprise of the Ballet Master. She tried desperately to imitate the renowned Pierina Legnani, Prima ballerina assoluta of the Imperial Theaters. Once during class she attempted Legnani's famous fouettés, causing her teacher Pavel Gerdt to fly into a rage.
Pavlova rose through the ranks quickly, becoming a favourite of the old maestro Petipa. It was from Marius Petipa himself that Pavlova learned the title role in Paquita, Princess Aspicia in The Pharaoh's Daughter, Queen Nisia in Le Roi Candaule, and Giselle. She was named danseuse in 1902, première danseuse in 1905, and finally prima ballerina in 1906 after a resounding performance in Giselle. Petipa revised many grand pas for her, as well as many supplemental variations.
She was much celebrated by the fanatical balletomanes of Tsarist Saint Petersburg, her legions of fans calling themselves the Pavlovatzi. When the ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska was pregnant in 1901, she coached Pavlova in the role of Nikya in La Bayadère. Kschessinska, not wanting to be upstaged, was certain Pavlova would fail in the role, as she was considered technically inferior because of her small ankles and lithe legs. Instead audiences became enchanted with Pavlova and her frail, ethereal look, which fitted the role perfectly, particularly in the scene The Kingdom of the Shades.
Her feet were extremely rigid, so she strengthened her pointe shoe by adding a piece of hard wood on the soles for support and curving the box of the shoe. At the time, many considered this 'cheating', for a ballerina of the era was taught that she, not her shoes, must hold her weight en pointe. In Pavlova's case this was extremely difficult, as the shape of her feet required her to balance her weight on her little toes. Her solution became, over time, the precursor of the modern pointe shoe, as pointe work became less painful and easier for curved feet.
According to Margot Fonteyn's biography, Pavlova did not like the way her invention looked in photographs, so she would remove it or have the photographs altered so that it appeared she was using a normal pointe shoe. Pavlova is perhaps most renowned for creating the role of The Dying Swan, a solo choreographed for her by Michel Fokine. The ballet, created in 1905, is danced to Le cygne from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns. Pavlova also choreographed several solos herself, one of which is The Dragonfly, a short ballet set to music by Fritz Kreisler. While performing the role, Pavlova wore a gossamer gown with large dragonfly wings fixed to the back.
Vintage postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3187/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Lafayette, London.
From 1908 till 1914, in the first years of the Ballets Russes, Anna Pavlova worked briefly for Sergei Diaghilev. Originally she was to dance the lead in Mikhail Fokine's The Firebird, but refused the part, as she could not come to terms with Igor Stravinsky's avant-garde score, and the role was given to Tamara Karsavina.
All her life Pavlova preferred the melodious 'musique dansante' of the old maestros such as Cesare Pugni and Ludwig Minkus, and cared little for anything else which strayed from the salon-style ballet music of the 19th century. By the early 20th century she had founded her own company and performed throughout the world, with a repertory consisting primarily of abridgements of Petipa's works, and specially choreographed pieces for herself. Members of her company included Kathleen Crofton.
After leaving Russia, Pavlova moved to London, England, settling, in 1912, at the Ivy House on North End Road, Golders Green, north of Hampstead Heath, where she lived for the rest of her life. The house had an ornamental lake where she fed her pet swans, and where now stands a statue of her by the Scots sculptor George Henry Paulin. While in London, Pavlova was influential in the development of British ballet, most notably inspiring the career of Alicia Markova.
Pavlova was introduced to audiences in the United States by Max Rabinoff during his time as managing director of the Boston Grand Opera Company from 1914 to 1917 and was featured there with her Russian Ballet Company during that period. In Hollywood, she met many film stars, including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford.
She also starred in a silent film, The Dumb Girl of Portici (Phillips Smalley, Lois Weber, 1916). Bob Lipton in his review at IMDb: "Unhappily, while it probably worked very well at the time -- at least to the extent of letting audiences see the prima ballerina of the Russian ballet and in making it clear that real artists of the real arts would do movies -- this movie has not aged well. The melodramatic plot was typical of grand opera of the period, but modern tastes in stories are less grandiose and Miss Pavlova, while she moves beautifully, is clearly a stage actress and does not know how to tone down her performance for the screen."
While touring in The Hague, Pavlova was told that she had pneumonia and required an operation. She was also told that she would never be able to dance again if she went ahead with it. She refused to have the surgery, saying "If I can't dance then I'd rather be dead." She died of pleurisy, in the bedroom next to the Japanese Salon of the Hotel Des Indes in The Hague, three weeks short of her 50th birthday. In accordance with old ballet tradition, on the day she was to have next performed, the show went on as scheduled, with a single spotlight circling an empty stage where she would have been.
Memorial services were held in the Russian Orthodox Church in London. Anna Pavlova was cremated, and her ashes placed in a columbarium at Golders Green Crematorium, where her urn was adorned with her ballet shoes (which have since been stolen). Victor Dandré, her manager and companion, asserted he was her husband in his biography of the dancer in 1932: Anna Pavlova: In Art & Life. According to IMDb, he had married her in 1924. Pavlova's life was depicted in the TV series Anna Pavlova (Emil Loteanu, 1983), starring Galina Belyaeva.
With Charlie Chaplin. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1843/1, 1927-1928. Collection: Didier Hanson.
With Mary Pickford. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1166/1, 1927-1928. Photo: United Artists.
Sources: Bob Lipton (IMDb), Steve Shelokhonov (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.