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Vintage postcards, stars and stories.

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  • 03/06/17--22:00: Harriet Bosse
  • ark, exotic-looking, petite Harriet Bosse (1878-1961) was a Norwegian-Swedish singer and actor. She starred in several of the plays by her first husband, August Strindberg. She also appeared in a classic of the Swedish silent cinema, Victor Sjöström's Ingmarssönerna/Sons of Ingmar (1919).

    Harriet Bosse
    Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1056. Photo: A.B. Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm.

    A strong, modern and independent woman with delicate looks

    Harriet Sofie Bosse [Bå'sse] was born in 1878 in Christiania (Oslo), Norway, from a German father, the publisher Heinrich Bosse, and a Danish mother, Anne-Marie Lehmann. Two of Bosse's older sisters, Alma and Dagmar, were already successful performers when Harriet was a small child.

    Inspired by these role models, Harriet studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm. In the spring of 1897, after three years of study, she graduated with special grades in singing. Bosse debuted in 1896 on stage in Romeo and Juliet at the Tivoli Theater in Christiania, in a setting by her sister Alma Bosse and under direction of the latter's husband Johan Fahlström.

    Alma was Harriet's rather authoritarian acting teacher. Their harmonious and sisterly teacher–pupil relationship became strained when Alma discovered that her husband Johan and Harriet were having an affair. Both Bosse parents were now dead, and Harriet, ordered by Alma to leave, used a modest legacy from her father to finance studies in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and at the conservatory of the Comédie Française in Paris. Wikipedia: "The Paris stage—at that time in dynamic conflict between traditional and experimental production styles—was inspirational for Bosse and convinced her that the low-key realistic acting style in which she was training herself was the right choice."

    In 1899, she was engaged at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. Since she had difficulties with the Swedish language, she took lessons with a speech therapist to get rid of her Norwegian accent. At the Dramaten she played e.g. Hero in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (1902) and Nennele in Giacosa’s Come le foglie (1903).

    In these years she met the renowned playwright August Strindberg. He was 51, she 22. Strindberg fell hard for her combination of a strong, modern and independent woman with delicate looks. He wrote plays especially for her, such as Till Damaskus (To Damascus), Påsk (Easter), and Ett drömspel (A Dream Play).

    She felt intimidated and not yet up to his heavy roles but accepted to play Elena in Easter, which was a big breakthrough for her in 1901. Harriet Bosse once told how her engagement with Strindberg began: "Strindberg put his hands on my shoulders and looked deeply and sincerely at me and asked: - Would you like to have a small child with me, Miss Bosse? I curtsied and answered quite hypnotic: Yes, thank you. And then we were engaged."

    Harriet Bosse
    Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1057. Photo: A.B. Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm.

    A Baedeker for a virtual honeymoon

    Harriet Bosse and August Strindberg would be married between 1901-1904 and had a daughter Anne-Marie (1902-2007). However, as modern as he was in his plays, as old-fashioned Strindberg was in his interior decoration, refusing to alter anything from his late 19th century style. Moreover, because of his agoraphobia he cancelled their honeymoon and gave her a Baedeker instead to do the virtual version. He was also an extremely jealous person, while she disliked her ‘imprisonment’. Not even the birth of their daughter in 1902 could save the marriage. As of 1902 they lived apart and they divorced in 1904.

    In 1906 Harriet Bosse was engaged by Albert Ranft to the Swedish Theatre in Stockholm and became the theatre's big star in plays less conventional than at the Dramaten. She remarried with actor Gunnar Wingård in 1908 – with whom she had a son.

    Though her marriage with Strindberg was over, Bosse played in 1907 in two Strindberg plays at the Svenska Teatern: Ett drömspel (A Dream Play) and Kronbruden (The Bridal Crown). With A Dream Play she wrote theatre history. She also kept up a relationship with Strindberg, leaving her daughter with him when on tour to e.g. Helsinki, until she remarried.

    In addition she also acted in plays by e.g. Maxim Gorki (The Petty Bourgeois), Maurice Maeterlink (Pelléas et Mélisande), George Bernard Shaw (Man and Superman), Hermann Sudermann (Johannes), W. Somerset Maugham (Mrs Dot), Selma Lagerlöf (Gösta Berlings saga), and others.

    She was engaged again at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in 1911 with the promise of playing heavier roles. In 1911 she also divorced Wingård for his infidelity or his spendthrift (versions vary). In 1912 Bosse was confronted with a series of disasters: Strindberg died, her second ex-husband killed himself, her sister’s son drowned with the Titanic, and Strindberg’s daughter Greta was killed in a train crash. Fans of Wingård threatened Bosse for having caused his suicide.

    Ingmarssönerna/ Sons of Ingmar
    Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 958/2. Photo: publicity still for Ingmarssönerna/Sons of Ingmar (Victor Sjöström, 1919). Caption: Brita from Bergskog.

    Ingmarssönerna/ Sons of Ingmar
    Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 958/8. Photo: publicity still for Ingmarssönerna/Sons of Ingmar (Victor Sjöström, 1919). Caption: I have to do something or I won't find any rest in my soul.

    A milestone in the Swedish naturalist cinema

    In 1919 Victor Sjöström directed Harriet Bosse in what was thought to be her breakthrough in cinema, and what still goes as a milestone in the Swedish naturalist cinema: Ingmarssönerna/Sons of Ingmar (Victor Sjöström, 1919).

    It co-starred Victor Sjöström as a rich farmer’s son, Lill Ingmar [Little Ingmar], who because of his stern mother has caused his fiancee, the poor farmer woman Brita, trouble by postponing his marriage. So Brita gives birth to a baby out of wedlock, kills it out of despair and spends time in jail. In the end, after a discussion with the ghost of his forefather, Lill Ingmar repents, marries Brita and the two leave the bigot villagers. It was based on the first part of Sjöström’s adaptation of Selma Lagerlöf's novel Jerusalem, originally published 1901-1902.

    In 1920 Sjöström would direct, and star in, the sequel Karin Ingmarsdotter, in which Bosse’s part in the previous film would only be referred to; instead the female lead was for Tora Teje.

    Though Ingmarssönerna was hailed by critics, and afterwards director Ingmar Bergman confessed to have been deeply impressed by it, it didn’t mean a breakthrough in the cinema for Bosse, despite he fact she had been the star of the film. She only played in a forgotten German film, Kameraden/Comrades (Johannes Guter, 1919) with Alfred Abel.

    Only 17 years after she would act in Bombi Bitt och jag/Bombi Bitt and I (1936), based on Fritiof Nilsson Piraten's popular first novel with the same title and directed by Gösta Rodin. Bombi Bitt was successful, but it was rather a lightweight production and with a smaller role for Bosse.

    Bosse also played supporting parts in Anna Lans/The Sin of Anna Lans (Rune Carlsten, 1943), starring Viveca Lindfors as the title character, and Appassionata (Olof Molander 1944), again starring Lindfors.

    In 1919-1921 Bosse played during the spring season at the Intimate theatre. In addition, she did guest performances in the provinces, as well as in Göteborg, Oslo and Helsingfors. In 1927 Bosse married for the third time, with popular actor and matinee idol Edvin Adolphson (until 1932). Her last ten years she acted at the Royal Dramatic Theatre (1933-1943). These she found it increasingly difficult to get interesting roles.

    In May 1943, she went into retirement and in 1955 she moved to Norway, where her daughter lived with the family. She regretted her move though, dearly missing Stockholm. Harriet Bosse died in 1961 in Oslo.

    Ingmarssönerna/ Sons of Ingmar
    Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 958/10. Photo: publicity still for Ingmarssönerna/Sons of Ingmar (Victor Sjöström, 1919). Caption: And now the prison chaplain urges her to write to Ingmar.

    Ingmarssönerna/ Sons of Ingmar
    Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 958/13. Photo: publicity still for Ingmarssönerna/Sons of Ingmar (Victor Sjöström, 1919) with Victor Sjöström and Harriet Bosse. Caption:

    Sources: Svensk Filmdatabas, Wikipedia (English and Swedish), and IMDb.

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  • 03/07/17--22:00: Ingrid Andree
  • Actress Ingrid Andree (1931) was the young, waif-like star of many popular German films of the 1950s. From the 1960s on she mainly appeared in the theatre.

    Ingrid Andree
    German postcard by WS-Druck, no. F 89. Photo: Klaus Collignon.

    Ingrid Andree
    German postcard by Ufa, no. CK-77. Photo: Ringpress / Vogelmann.

    Ingrid Andree
    German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 74. Photo: Ringpress.

    Ingrid Andree
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H, Minden (Westf.), no. F 42. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Ringpress / Stempka.

    Young Girls

    Ingrid Andree was born as Ingrid Tilly Unverhau in 1931 in Hamburg, Germany. She was the daughter of a coffee importer, and the niece of actor Joachim Gottschalk.

    She followed acting classes from Eduard Marks at the School of Music and Performing Arts in Hamburg. In 1951 she made her stage debut in Ivan Turgenev's One Month in the Country at the Thalia Theater.

    She made her film debut in a small supporting role in Professor Nachtfalter/Professor Moth (Rolf Meyer, 1950), starring Johannes Heesters. Her first leading part was in Primanerinnen/Sixth-formers (Rolf Thiele, 1951) with Walter Giller and Erich Ponto.

    This film was her breakthrough and the following years she played many young girls in popular German comedies like Liebeserwachen/Love's Awakening (Hans Heinrich, 1953) with Winnie Markus, and Roman einer Siebzehnjährigen/Novel of a Seventeen Year Old (Paul Verhoeven, 1955) with Therese Giehse.

    Her most important of the 1950s - and most popular film too - was the Thomas Mann adaptation Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull/Confessions of Felix Krull (Kurt Hoffmann, 1957). She played Zouzou, Liselotte Pulver played Zaza and Horst Buchholz Felix Krull.

    For television John Olden adapted in 1958 the stage play Blick zurück im Zorn/Look Back in Anger by John Osborne. She played the female leading part next to Horst Frank. Her last successes in the cinema were the humorist Krimi Peter Voss, der Millionendieb/Peter Voss, Thief of Millions (Wolfgang Becker, 1958) with O.W. Fischer as Peter Voss, and Der Rest ist Schweigen/The Rest Is Silence (Helmut Käutner, 1959), a Hamlet adaptation situated in the period after WW II, with Hardy Krüger and Peter van Eyck.

    Ingrid Andree in Du darfst nicht länger schweigen (1955)
    West-German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf, no. 1694. Photo: Alfred Greven / Schorcht. Publicity still for Du darfst nicht länger schweigen/You Can No Longer Remain Silent (Robert A. Stemmle, 1955).

    Ingrid Andree, Peter Alexander
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 1218/459. Photo: Ufa (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin-Tempelhof). This must be a publicity still for the comedy Schlag auf Schlag/Blow On Blow (Géza von Cziffra, 1959) which starred Peter Alexander, Wolfgang Wahl, Ralf Wolter, and Ingrid Andree.

    Ingrid Andree
    German postcard by Ufa (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4205. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Bavaria Film. Publicity still for Und nichts als die Wahrheit.

    Ingrid Andree
    West-German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf, no. 916. Photo: Weidenbaum.


    From the 1960s on Ingrid Andree focused herself on the theatre. Among her last films were the Krimi Treibjagd auf ein Leben/Hunt for A Life (Ralph Lothar, 1961) with Dietmar Schönherr and Horst Frank, the William Shakespeare adaptation Was Ihr wollt/Twelfth Night (Franz Peter Wirth, 1962), Nachts ging das Telefon/The Phone Rings Every Night (Géza von Cziffra, 1962), and the thriller Polizeirevier Davidswache/Hamburg: City of Vice (Jürgen Roland, 1964).

    Her TV performances were mainly theatre adaptations. Since 1969 she was seldom seen anymore on TV. Among her few later TV appearances were guest roles in the Krimi series Der Kommissar (1970) and Derrick (1985).

    Andree mainly appeared on stage. From 1967 till 1970 she worked for the Münchner Kammerspielen and from 1971 till 1980 she was a member of the ensemble of the Thalia-Theater in Hamburg under the direction of Boy Gobert. Here she played in 1974 Queen Elisabeth in Maria Stuart under Gobert’s direction. In 1980 she moved on to the Schauspielhaus Köln (Cologne), but in 1985 she returned to the Thalia Theater.

    In the early 1990s she switched again to the Schauspielhaus Köln. She also worked as a voice actor for radio and television. She was the German dubbbing voice of a.o. Olivia de Havilland in Die Erbin/The Heiress (William Wyler, 1949), and Ingrid Thulin in Der Ehekäfig/La Cage (Pierre Granier-Deferre, 1975).

    She played in Tár úr steini/Tears of Stone (Hilmar Oddsson, 1995), the story of Jon Leifs, Iceland's most celebrated composer, and was filmed in both Iceland and Germany.In 2010, she returned to the screen in Transfer (Damir Lukacevic, 2010). In a futuristic society where the wealthy get to live forever by swapping bodies with refugees, an elderly couple explores this opportunity with harsh consequences.

    Ingrid Andree was married from 1959 till 1965 with the actor Hanns Lothar and she is the mother of actress Susanne Lothar. For her work on stage and in the cinema Andree was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz.

    Ingrid Andree and Horst Buchholz in Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull (1957)
    East-German postcard by Progress Film-Vetrieb, no. 1203. Photo: publicity still for Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull/Confessions of Felix Krull (Kurt Hoffmann, 1957) with Horst Buchholz.

    Ingrid Andree
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 215/374, 1957. Photo: Standard-Film. Publicity still for Drei vom Varieté/Three from Variety (Kurt Neumann, 1954).

    Erich Schellow, Ingrid Andree and Franco Andrei in Drei vom Variété (1957)
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 222, 1957. Photo: Standard-film, Wien. Publicity still for Drei vom Variété/Three from Variety (Kurt Neumann, 1954) with Erich Schellow and Franco Andrei.

    Dietmar Schönherr and Ingrid Andree in Treibjagd auf ein Leben (1961)
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1847. 1963. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: publicity still for Treibjagd auf ein Leben/Drive on a life (Ralph Lothar, 1961) with Dietmar Schönherr.

    Trailer Transfer (Damir Lukacevic, 2010). Source: MovieworldsCOM (YouTube).

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

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  • 03/08/17--22:00: Spettri (1918)
  • The Italian silent film Spettri/Gli spettri (A.G. Caldiera, 1918) was based on Henrik Ibsen's play Ghosts (Gengangere, 1881). Star of the film was Ermete Zacconi, a monstre sacré of the Italian theatre, who also appeared in several silent and sound films.

    Ermete Zacconi in Spettri (1918)
    Italian postcard. Photo: Milano Film. Publicity still for Spettri/Ghosts (A.G. Caldiera, 1918). Caption: Time told Helena this truly was 'The end of the dream'. Captain Alving, his wife Helene and their son Oswald (Ermete Zacconi, Ines Cristina-Zacconi and Peppino Zacconi).

    Ermete Zacconi in Spettri (1918)
    Italian postcard. Photo: Milano Film. Publicity still for Spettri/Ghosts (A.G. Caldiera, 1918). Caption: She grabbed the child from his father's arms. Helene Alving (Ines Cristina-Zacconi) and young Oswald (Peppino Zacconi), on the right captain Alving (Ermete Zacconi) and the maid, the mother of Regina.

    Euthanising her own son

    Ibsen's play Ghosts tells of widow Helene Alving, who is about to dedicate an orphanage she has built in memory of her late husband, Captain Alving. Yet, she reveals to the vicar, Pastor Manders, that she has kept hidden Alving's immoral and unfaithful behaviour.

    She was afraid her son may go the same road, so she built the orphanage to get rid of her husband's wealth. She followed Pastor Manders advise to stay with her husband and tolerate his misbehaviour, believing her love for her husband would eventually reform him, but it didn't work.

    Helene stayed with him to protect her son's and her own reputation. When her son Oswald, sent away to avoid contamination of his father's corruption, returns after years, Helene discovers Oswald suffers from a syphilis inherited from his father. She also discovers Oswald has fallen in love with Regina Engstrand, Helen's maid.

    This is a serious problem because Regina is the illegitimate daughter of Alving by another maid, and therefore Oswald is falling in love with his half-sister. When this is exposed, Regina leaves, and Oswald remains in a state of despair and anguish.

    He asks his mother to help him die by an overdose of morphine in order to end his suffering from his disease, which could put him into a helpless vegetative state. She agrees, but only if it becomes necessary.

    Ghosts concludes with Helene having to confront this decision: whether or not to euthanize her son in accordance with his wishes.

    Ermete Zacconi in Spettri (1918)
    Italian postcard. Photo: Milano Film. Publicity still for Spettri/Ghosts (A.G. Caldiera, 1918). Caption: Mama, do you believe that the faults of the fathers may fall again on their innocent sons? Helene Alving (Ines Cristina-Zacconi) and Oswald/Osvaldo (Ermete Zacconi).

    Peppino Zacconi in Spettri (1918)
    Italian postcard. Photo: Milano Film. Publicity still for Spettri/Ghosts (A.G. Caldiera, 1918). Caption: Mama, give me the sun!... Peppino Zacconi as young Oswald/Osvaldo.

    Important representant of naturalism

    Monstre sacré of the Italian stage Ermete Zacconi developed as an actor during the period when naturalism was established in the Western European theatre. He became one of its most important representants.

    Following Emile Zola’s naturalism, this also included hat he studied psychopathology, theories on the effects of heredity, and related subjects, in order to understand the psychology of man, in particular the clinical symptoms of an unhealthy psyche, which he reproduced with perfection.

    Zacconi’s most famous role was that of Oswald in Henrik Ibsen’s Spettri/Ghosts, reaching the maximum of realism with a shocking performance of the symptoms of the growing paralysis of the protagonist.

    In 1918 he repeated his stage success on film. Here it is clear that not Helen but Oswald is the protagonist. Zacconi also played the father, captain Alving, while Helene was played by Zacconi's wife, Ines Cristina-Zacconi. Their son Giuseppe/Peppino Zacconi played young Oswald.

    The script was written by Guglielmo Zorzi, cinematography was by Franco Antonio Martini, while director A.G. Caldiera himself did the sets. The Roman premiere of Spettri took place on 17 October 1918.

    The film was heavily mutilated by Italian censorship. Yet, the Italian trade journal La vita cinematografica thought this was not the only reason the film had resulted in much less than the cinematic masterpiece it could have become, on basis of Ibsen's grand play about the degeneration of man.

    Ermete Zacconi in Spettri (1918)
    Italian postcard. Photo: Milano Film. Publicity still for Spettri/Ghosts (A.G. Caldiera, 1918). Caption: I immediately forget what I have read. On he right Ermete Zacconi as Oswald/Osvaldo Halving. The man on the left could be Pastor Manders (Giovanni Grassi).

    Ermete Zacconi in Spettri (1918)
    Italian postcard. Photo: Milano Film. Publicity still for Spettri/Ghosts (A.G. Caldiera, 1918). Caption: Like before. Left Ines Cristina-Zacconi as Helene Alving, while Ermete Zacconi as Oswald embraces the maid Regina.

    Ermete Zacconi in Spettri (1918)
    Italian postcard. Photo: Milano Film. Publicity still for Spettri/Ghosts (A.G. Caldiera, 1918). Caption: Mama, give me the sun! Ermete Zacconi as Oswald.

    Source: Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano, 1918 - Italian), Wikipedia (Italian, English and Dutch), and IMDb.

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  • 03/09/17--22:00: Nina Hoss
  • German stage and film actress Nina Hoss (1975) often plays tragic, tormented heroines with somber attitude. She is a Nordic beauty, with a deep, sensual voice. Her close collaboration with director Christian Petzold has been extremely successful.

    Nina Hoss
    German autograph card. Photo: Ulrike Schamoni.

    Nina Hoss
    German autograph card. Photo: Christian Schoppe.

    Nina Hoss
    German autograph card. Photo: Mathias Bothor.

    Controversial themes

    Nina Hoss was born in Stuttgart, West Germany in 1975. Her father, Willi Hoss, was a German trade unionist and politician (member of the Bundestag in The Greens). Her mother, Heidemarie Rohweder, was an actress at Stuttgart National Theatre and later director of the Esslingen-based Württemberg State Playhouse (Württembergische Landesbühne Esslingen).

    Hoss acted in radio plays at the age of seven and appeared on stage for the first time at the age of 14. In 1997 she graduated from the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts in Berlin.

    Her first major success in the cinema was the title role Rosemarie Nitribitt in the period drama Das Mädchen Rosemarie/A Girl Called Rosemary (Bernd Eichinger, 1996) with Heiner Lauterbach and Mathieu Carrière. Based on an actual scandal in the 1950s the film looks back at the days of West Germany's postwar Wirtschaftswunder with a curdling cynicism. It was a remake of Das Mädchen Rosemarie/Rosemary (Rolf Thiele, 1958) withNadja Tiller in the title role.

    In 2000 she was one of the Shooting Stars at the Berlinale. Her close collaboration with director Christian Petzold has been extremely successful: she won the 2003 Adolf Grimme Award for her role in his film Something to Remind Me and two years later the Adolf Grimme Award in Gold for Wolfsburg (Christian Petzold, 2003) with Benno Fürmann.

    In Die weiße Massai/The White Masai (Hermine Huntgeburth, 2005) she played a woman falling in love in Kenya with Maasai Lemalian (Jacky Ido). The themes of the film were controversial. Ultimately, the film is about the clash of cultures and worldviews.

    She appeared next with Moritz Bleibtreu and Franka Potente in Elementarteilchen/The Elementary Particles (Oskar Roehler, 2006), based on the controversial novel Les Particules élémentaires by Michel Houellebecq.

    Then she worked again with Christian Petzold at the dramatic thriller Yella (2007), an unofficial remake of the American cult horror film Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962). Her performance of Yella, earned her the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2007 and the German Film Award in 2008.

    Hoss and Petzold then made the drama Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2008), loosely inspired by the American novel The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain. Anonyma - Eine Frau in Berlin/A Woman in Berlin (Max Färberböck, 2008), based on the memoir, Eine Frau in Berlin, published anonymously in 1959. The film premiered at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival and was praised for its portrayal of the waning days of World War II, a morally complex and brutal period.

    Nina Hoss in Das Mädchen Rosemarie (1996)
    German promotion card by Taurus Video. Photo: publicity still for Das Mädchen Rosemarie/A Girl Called Rosemary (Bernd Eichinger, 1996).

    Nina Hoss
    German autograph card.

    Nina Hoss
    German autograph card. Photo: Franziska Sinn.

    A lesbian vampire

    Nina Hoss played a lesbian vampire in the German horror film Wir sind die Nacht/We Are the Night (Dennis Gansel, 2010), co-starring Karoline Herfurth. Hoss played a doctor exiled to an East German provincial backwater in 1980 in Barbara (2012), another collaboration with Christian Petzold.

    Nathan Southern at AllMovie: “The themes of this story are not particularly profound, but execution is everything. Thanks to expert scripting and direction, and an elegant central performance by Hoss, the shifts that we witness in Barbara Wolff are so delicate and subtle that they fly under our radar -- we feel that we're watching the credible growth of an actual person, not a character.”

    Nina Hoss has been a member of the Juries of the Locarno International Film Festival in 2009, and the Berlin International Film Festival in 2011. She was an ensemble member at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin from 1998 to 2013, where she appeared as Medea and as Franziska in Minna von Barnhelm (2005). In 2012, she was appointed sole judge of the 2012 Alfred Kerr Acting Prize at the Berliner Theatertreffen. In 2013, she joined the ensemble of the Schaubühne theatre in Berlin.

    She recorded a duet with the Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers called Europa geht durch mich (Europe goes through me) for the 2014 album Futurology, produced by her partner Alex Silva. Hoss supports the Make Poverty History campaign and fights female genital mutilation. In continuation of the work of her father she is committed as a Goodwill Ambassador of the State of Pará in Brazil against the destruction of the rain forest and to improve the living conditions of the indigenous people living there.

    On television she played in nine episodes of the popular series Homeland (2014-2015). Her recent films include the espionage thriller A Most Wanted Man (Anton Corbijn, 2014), based on the novel by John le Carré and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the drama Phoenix (Christian Petzold, 2014), as a disfigured Holocaust survivor who sets out to determine if the man she loved betrayed her trust.

    This year, Nina Hoss stars in the upcoming Rückkehr nach Montauk/Return to Montauk (Volker Schlöndorff, 2017) which has been selected to compete for the Golden Bear in the main competition section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.

    Trailer Barbara (2012). Source: Piffl Medien (YouTube).

    Trailer Phoenix (2014). Source: Movieclips Film Festivals & Indie Film (YouTube).

    Manic Street Preachers & Nina Hoss perform Europa Geht Durch Mich at Later... with Jools Holland. Source: BBC (YouTube).

    Sources: Nathan Southern (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 03/10/17--22:00: Grete Lundt
  • Grete Lundt aka Grete Lund (1892-1926) was as an Austrian stage and screen actress, who played in Austrian and German silent films. Lundt’s career went down by lack of work and money, aggravated by a morphine addiction. She committed suicide in the Vienna-Berlin D-train, only 34 years old.

    Grete Lundt
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, no. 842. Photo: Imperial-Film.

    Proto-expressionist film

    Grete Lundt (sometimes written as Lund) was born Gisela Kovacs in 1892 in Temesvár, in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire (now Romania). She originated from the people of the so-called Banater Schwaben (Banat Swabians, an ethnic German population in Southeast Europe).

    She visited a commercial school and worked as an office worker from 1906 onwards. She then completed a singing and dancing training as well as private acting lessons in Berlin with Gertrud Arnold.

    In 1914 she debuted on screen at Wiener Kunstfilm, and in the following years she received major and secondary roles in their Austrian productions. At Wiener Kunstfilm, Jakob and Luise Fleck directed her in such films as Der Traum eines österreichischen Reservisten (1915), Meineidbauer (1915), and Die Tragödie auf Schloss Rottersheim (1916).

    In the late 1910s, she moved to the Austrian company Leyka-Film, where she had a lead in Frauenehre (Georg Kundert, 1918), in addition to minor parts in various other films at Leyka. (Filmportal.de writes that Fauenehre is an Imperial-Film production, while IMDb says it was produced by Leyka-Film). In Frauenehre, Joseph Reithofer plays a man who must choose between saving his friend (Fritz Hofer) from an unjust accusation of murder and revealing his own affair with the judge’s wife (Lundt). The real murderer was played by Fritz Kortner.

    With Kortner, Grete Lundt also played in Ohne Zeugen (Erwin Baron, Georg Kundert, 1919). That year, she played in some 6 films at the Austrian company Filmag with e.g. Kortner and Joseph Schildkraut, such as Das Auge des Buddha (Maurice Armand-Mondet, 1919), Die schwarze Fahne (Ludwig Stein [Paul L. Stein], 1919), and Der Diamant des Todes (Leo Stoll, 1919).

    In 1919 she moved to Munich for a major part in Franz Seitz’s film Verlorenes Spiel (1919), produced by the local Transatlantic Film Co (Trafilco) with the Trafilco star Lili Dominici, and Fritz Kampers. Lundt’s last Austrian films were two films by Paul Czinner: the proto-expressionist film Inferno (1919), Czinner’s debut, and Homo immanis (1919), the latter with Ivan Petrovich, and the film Der verarmte Edelmann (Georg Kundert, 1920).

    Fritz Kortner
    Fritz Kortner. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 74/2, 1925-1935. Photo: Matador-Film. Publicity still for Das Leben des Beethoven/The Life of the Beethoven (Hans Otto, 1927). Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Desperate for her constant lack of engagements and finance

    In 1920 Grete Lundt returned to Berlin, where she first played in various films, such as Frauen… (William Kahn, Siegfried Dessauer, 1920) with Ludwig Trautmann, Der gelbe Diplomat (Fred Sauer 1920) with Friedrich Zelnik and Käthe Haack, and Der Mann mit den drei Frauen (Fred Sauer, 1920), again with Zelnik. The latter two films were Zelnik-Mara-Film productions.

    After a part as the film diva named Nuja-Naja in the comedy Miss Rockefeller filmt (Erich Schönefelder, 1922), starring Georg Alexander and Stella Arbenina, Lundt’s last role was a minor part in Paul Czinner’s German production Nju (1924), starring Elisabeth Bergner, Emil Jannings and Conrad Veidt. Filmportal.de mentions a second German film of 1924, produced by Imperial-Film production, Wenn Männer schweigen (1924), but on basis of the credits this can be identified as a German rerelease of the 1918 Austrian production Frauenehre. So Imperial-Film may have been just distributor, or rather IMDb is wrong and has mixed up the two films.

    In Germany Lundt concentrated more and more on her stage work. She appeared mainly at the theatres of Victor Barnowsky and the Meinhard Bernauer stages, after which she could be seen in Rosa Valetti's cabaret Die Rampe [The Ramp], which existed between late 1922 and 1925.

    According to the Austrian paper Die neue Zeitung, Lundt had married film director Paul Czinner after his first wife died (Gilda Langer had died of the Spanish flu) but the two later on broke up. Perhaps Czinner’s affair with Bergner, which started during the production of Nju, had to do with it.

    Lundt was befriended with Julius Barmat, the Jewish merchant who would be the center of the Barmat Scandal, which discredited the SDP because of the exposure of wide-spread corruption. It also raised anti-Semitism, and helped the right wing to win the 1925 elections. Barmat had helped Lundt financially, but when he was arrested on New Year’s Eve 1924 Lundt lost her maecenas.

    Lundt’s career went down by lack of work and money, aggravated by a morphine addiction. In order to pay for the costs of a morphine addicts clinic, she had to sell her house and all her belongings. When a last attempt to get a job in Vienna failed, on New Year’s Eve 1926, desperate for her constant lack of engagements and finance, Grete Lundt committed suicide in the Vienna-Berlin D-train (other papers say Frankrfurt-Berlin), using an overdose of morphine. Grete Lundt died on 31 December 1926. She was only 34.

    Elisabeth Bergner
    Elisabeth Bergner. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1560/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Geiringer-Horovitz, Wien. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Sources: Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-Line - German), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.

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  • 03/11/17--22:00: Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017)
  • Last Tuesday, 7 March 2017, Dutch TV and film producer Thijs Chanowski has passed away in a hospital in Alkmaar, The Netherlands. Chanowski was a versatile television producer, responsible for such classic children's TV shows like De Fabeltjekrant (The Fables Newspaper, 1968) and Paulus de Boskabouter (Paulus the woodgnome, 1974). He received several awards for his TV and film work and was always looking for technical innovations. Chanowski was 86.

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Meneer de Uil 3-D
    Dutch postcard by Sales Promotion Europe, Breda, 1969. Photo: M.M. Chanowksi Productions. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Meneer de Uil (Mr. Owl) is a character from Chanowski's long-running Dutch puppetry TV series Fabeltjeskrant/The Fables Newspaper (Cock Andreoli, 1968-1992). Mr. Owl also appeared in the feature film Onkruidzaaiers in Fabeltjesland/Weedsowers in Fableland (Cock Andreoli, 1970).

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Juffrouw Ooievaar
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam / Vita Nova, Schiedam. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Juffrouw Ooievaar (Miss Stork).

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam / Antwerpen, no. 05/1312. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions / Televideo Holland BV, Naarden. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974).

    The Fables Newspaper

    Thijs Chanowski was born in 1930 in Hamburg, Germany. His father was white-Russian, his mother Dutch. He started his career as a jazz bass player, and worked especially in France where he performed with soloists as saxophonist Don Byas and violinist Stéphane Grappelli.

    Through control and production work in the music he came increasingly into contact with engineers, graphic artists and set designers. In the early 1960s, he founded his own production company, with immediately a particular interest for new recording techniques.

    In Amsterdam, Thijs Chanowski met two British puppet makers and it gave him the idea to make a TV series with puppets for children. In 1968, he began the production of the long-running Dutch puppetry TV series Fabeltjeskrant/The Fables Newspaper (Cock Andreoli, 1968-1992) with (English) dolls and scripts by Leen Valkenier. He made the first twelve episodes; the later series with more than 1.600 episodes were produced by others.

    De Fabeltjeskrant was a daily recurring short program of 4-5 minutes. Each episode is based upon fables by Jean de La Fontaine, Aesop, Phaedrus and also by the series' scriptwriter Leen Valkenier. The main character, the owl Meneer de Uil (Mr. Owl), introduces each episode reading a fable to other characters upon a tree. The scene is a forest inhabited by different anthropomorphic paper animals.

    Through the times the series was broadcast on the Dutch channels NOS, RTL 4 and RTL 8 and on Belgian channel VRT. From 1973 to 1975 it was broadcast also in the United Kingdom, on ITV, with the title The Daily Fable. In Europe, it was also on TV in France as :Le petit écho de la Forêt/The Little Echo of the Forest, in Hungary as Fabulácskahírek/The Fables Newspaper, in Italy as Il bosco dei perché/The Wood of the Questions, in Norway as Fablenes bok/The book of Fables, and Sweden as Fablernas värld/World of Fables.

    Chanowksi also produced a feature film Onkruidzaaiers in Fabeltjesland/Weedsowers in Fableland (Cock Andreoli, 1970). In 2005 Fabeltjeskrant was voted Best Children's Program of All Time in the Netherlands.

    Fabeltjeskrant, Meneer de Uil
    Dutch postcard by Vita Nova, Hank (N.B.). Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Mr. Owl.

    Fabeltjeskrant, Zoef de Haas
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V. (Sparo), Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowksi Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Zoef the Dare.

    Fabeltjeskrant, Ed en Willem Bever
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowksi Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Ed and Willem Beaver.

    Fabeltjeskrant, Bor de Wolf
    Dutch postcard by MUVA, Valkenburg. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Bor the Wolf.

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant
    Dutch postcard by MUVA, Valkenburg. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968).

    Paulus the Woodgnome

    Another popular puppetry TV series was Chanowksi's Paulus de boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974). It was based on a long-running Dutch newspaper comic strip, created by Jan van Oort (pseudonym Jean Dulieu), which ran between 1946 and 1984. Paulus was translated into German, English, Swedish and Japanese.The popularity of the comic strip inspired a series of children's novels, a radio series and Chanowksi's television puppet series.

    Paulus is a nice, good natured wood gnome who is a friend of all nature and enjoys to smoke a pipe now and then. His friends are Oehoeboeroe (pronounced: "Oohoobooroo") the owl, Salomo the raven and Gregorius the badger. His archenemy is Eucalypta the witch and her assistant Krakras the soup chicken.

    from October 1967 till the end of December 1968, Paulus de boskabouter was made into a puppet series for VARA television. Jean Dulieu made all the puppets himself and also provided the voices. Fred Bosman was the director. The series was exported to the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. The British dub was narrated by Arthur Lowe and broadcast on ITV.

    From the end of September 1974, until the end of May 1975, a new puppet TV series about Paulus, now produced by Thijs Chanowksi, was broadcasted. This time the puppets were made by the Brothers Slabbers and the voices were done by professional actors, such as Elsje Scherjon, Frans van Dusschoten and Ger Smit, who also worked for De Fabeltjeskrant. Leen Valkenier wrote the scripts.

    Later Chanowksi produced some feature films, including two with the theatre collective Het Werktheater. These films were Toestanden (Thijs Chanowski, 1976), which won the Prix d'Italia, and the comedy Camping (Thijs Chanowski, 1978).

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
    Dutch postcard by Sales Promotion Spits BV, Blaricum.. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974) with Krakas, Robot Boeli and Eucalypta.

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
    Dutch postcard by Sales Promotion Spits BV, Blaricum. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974) with left Salomo and right Oehoeboeroe.

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
    Dutch postcard by Sales Promotion Spits BV, Blaricum. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974) with from left: Stien de goede fee ( the good fairy), Oehoeboeroe de wijze uil (the wise owl), and Salomon de raaf (the raven

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam / Antwerpen, no. 05/1311. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions / Televideo Holland BV, Naarden. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974).

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam / Antwerpen, no. 05/1313. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions / Televideo Holland BV, Naarden. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974).

    Extraordinary professor

    Thijs Chanowski was interested from an early age for technologies saw the infinite possibilities in and made his production work for TV and film frequently.

    After his TV work he worked as an entrepreneur / researcher with technology companies (such as Philips) on the development of the laser disc and the chroma-key (shooting against a green screen where later with computers is filled background).

    In 1990, Chanowksi founded his own multimedia lab, which focused on 'knowledge mining'. This company developed the Aquabrowser, an 'intuitive' search engine that works with word association instead of word matches. Chanowski remained director when the company was acquired by software company BSO as 'BSO Media Lab.' Later, he bought the company back.

    From 1995 to 2000 Chanowski was extraordinary professor Multimedia Interaction at the University of Amsterdam. Later he worked on a project for young children in third world countries to learn a language (English), without having to use their own language.

    Thijs Chanowski lived in Bergen, The Netherlands. On 7 March 2017, he died in a hospital in Alkmaar. He was 86.

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Meneer de Uil
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968) Caption: Mr. Owl.

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Gezusters Hamster
    Big Dutch postcard by M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969,presented by FINA benzine stations, no. 11. Photo: publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: the Hamster Sisters.

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Droes de Beer
    Big Dutch postcard by M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969,presented by FINA benzine stations, no. 12. Photo: publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Droes the Bear.

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Truus de Mier
    Big Dutch postcard by M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969,presented by FINA benzine stations, no. 13. Photo: publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Truus the Ant.

    Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Hektor and Mr. Raven.

    Sources: Iñaki Oñorbe Genovesi (De Volkskrant - Dutch), De Telegraaf (Dutch), Wikipedia (Dutch and English), and IMDb.

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    Romanian-born American actor Edward G. Robinson (1893–1973) was a popular star on stage, radio and screen during Hollywood's Golden Age. He appeared in 40 Broadway plays and 101 films during a 50-year career, and is best remembered for his cold-eyed Machiavellian gangster roles, such as his star-making film Little Caesar (1931) and Key Largo (1948). Robinson's character portrayals have covered a wide range, with such roles as an insurance investigator in the Film-Noir Double Indemnity (1944), Dathan, adversary of Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956), and his final performance in the Science-Fiction film Soylent Green (1973). Next to his work in Hollywood, he also appeared during the 1960s in several European films.

    Edward G. Robinson
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W. 709. Photo: Warner.

    Snarling, murderous thug Rico

    Edward G. Robinson was born Emmanuel Goldenberg in 1893 to a Yiddish-speaking Romanian Jewish family in Bucharest, Roumania. He was the fifth of six sons of Sarah (née Guttman) and Morris Goldenberg, a builder. After one of his brothers was attacked by an antisemitic mob, the family decided to emigrate to the United States.

    Robinson arrived in New York City in 1903. He grew up in the rough-and-tumble ghetto of the Lower East Side, and attended Townsend Harris High School and then the City College of New York, planning to become a criminal attorney. An interest in acting and performing in front of people led to him winning an American Academy of Dramatic Arts scholarship. He changed his name to Edward G. Robinson, advised to do because ethnic names were frowned upon. The G. stands for his original surname.

    He began his acting career in the Yiddish Theatre District in 1913 and made his Broadway debut in 1915. His work included The Kibitzer, a comedy he co-wrote with Jo Swerling. During World War I, he served in the US Navy but was never sent overseas. In 1923 made his named debut as E. G. Robinson in the silent film The Bright Shawl (John S. Robertson, 1923) with Richard Barthelmess and Jetta Goudal. Years before, he had already appeared in a bit role in Arms and the Woman (George Fitzmaurice, 1916).

    He chose for the Broadway stage and played a snarling gangster in the Broadway police/crime drama The Racket (1927). TCM: “The hit production got the attention of movie studios, and though he deflected their offers for years, in 1929 Paramount producer Walter Wanger finally persuaded him to come to the burgeoning film capital in Los Angeles with $50,000 and a chance to star opposite Broadway luminary Claudette Colbert in the film The Hole in the Wall (Robert Florey, 1929).

    His work so impressed industry players that he grudgingly returned to L.A. for a follow-up film, East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930), for $100,000. Warner Bros. producer Hal Wallis finally convinced Robinson to go on contract in 1930.”

    He had his breakthrough with a stellar performance as snarling, murderous thug Caesar Enrico ‘Rico’ Bandello in Little Caesar (Mervyn LeRoy, 1931). Ed Stephan at IMDb: “all the more impressive since in real life Robinson was a sophisticated, cultured man with a passion for fine art.“

    This triumph led to being further typecast as a ‘tough guy’ for much of his early career, in such films as Five Star Final (Mervyn LeRoy, 1931), Smart Money (Alfred E. Green, 1931) - his only film with James Cagney and Boris Karloff, and Tiger Shark (Howard Hawks, 1932).

    Robinson was one of the many actors who saw his career flourish in the new sound film era. He had made only three films prior to 1930, but left his stage career that year and made 14 films between 1930–1932. Other classics soon followed, including the screwball comedy The Little Giant (Roy Del Ruth, 1933), Kid Galahad (Michael Curtiz, 1937) with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, and, in a sendup of his gangster roles, A Slight Case of Murder (Lloyd Bacon, 1938)).

    From 1937 to 1942, Robinson starred on the radio as Steve Wilson, editor of the Illustrated Press, in the newspaper drama Big Town. He also portrayed hardboiled detective Sam Spade for a Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of The Maltese Falcon.

    Edward G. Robinson
    British postcard. Photo: First National Films.

    Edward G. Robinson
    German postcard by Edition Cicero, no. 150.12. Photo: Elmer Fryer, 1932 / The Kobal Collection / New Eyes GmbH.

    A knack for Film-Noir

    During the 1930s and 1940s, Edward G. Robinson was an outspoken public critic of fascism and Nazism which was then growing in Europe. In 1938, he was host to the Committee of 56 who gathered at his home, signing a Declaration of Democratic Independence which called for a boycott of all German-made products. He donated more than $250,000 to 850 political and charitable groups between 1939 and 1949.

    In early July 1944, less than a month after the Invasion of Normandy by Allied forces, Robinson travelled to Normandy to entertain the troops, becoming the first movie star to go there for the USO. Robinson was also active with the Hollywood Democratic Committee, serving on its executive board in 1944, during which time he became a campaigner for Roosevelt's reelection that year.

    In 1939, at the time World War II broke out in Europe, he played an FBI agent in Confessions of a Nazi Spy (Anatole Litvak, 1939) with George Sanders and Franz Lederer, the first American film which showed Nazism as a threat to the United States. He volunteered for military service in June 1942 but was disqualified due to his age at 48.

    In 1940 he played Paul Ehrlich, the passionate, driven German scientist who first cured syphilis, in Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (William Dieterle, 1940) and Paul Julius Reuter in A Dispatch from Reuter's (William Dieterle, 1940), both biographies of prominent Jewish public figures.

    Meanwhile, throughout the 1940s Robinson also demonstrated his knack for both Film-Noir and dramatic and comedic roles, including The Sea Wolf (Michael Curtiz, 1941), Manpower (Raoul Walsh, 1941) with Marlene Dietrich, Larceny, Inc. (Lloyd Bacon, 1942) with Jane Wyman and Broderick Crawford, Tales of Manhattan (Julien Duvivier, 1942), Flesh and Fantasy (Julien Duvivier, 1943) with Charles Boyer, Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang, 1944) and Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang, 1945), both with Joan Bennett, The Stranger (Orson Welles, 1946), and Night Has a Thousand Eyes (John Farrow, 1948).

    He appeared for director John Huston as gangster Johnny Rocco in Key Largo (1948), the last of five films he made with Humphrey Bogart and the only one in which Bogart did not play a supporting role. For his part in Joe Mankiewicz’s House of Strangers (1949), Robinson won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival.

    Edward G. Robinson in Double Indemnity (1944)
    French postcard by Edition P.I., Paris, no. 280, 1950. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944).

    Edward G. Robinson
    Yugoslavian postcard by Sedmo Silo / IOM, Beograd.

    Science-Fiction cult film

    During the early 1950s, Edward G. Robinson was called to testify at the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare, but was cleared of any Communist involvement. However, in the aftermath his career noticeably suffered, as he was offered smaller roles and those less frequently. His finances suffered due to underemployment.

    His career rehabilitation received a boost in 1954, when noted anti-communist director Cecil B. DeMille cast him as the traitorous Dathan in The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. DeMille, 1956). The film was released in 1956, as was his psychological thriller Nightmare (Maxwell Shane, 1956).

    In 1956 he returned to Broadway in Middle of the Night, for which he earned a Tony Award nomination in 1956 for best actor in a dramatic role. He also started to play an increasing number of television roles.

    After a short absence from the cinema, Robinson's film career restarted for good in 1959, when he was second-billed after Frank Sinatra in A Hole in the Head (Frank Capra, 1959). Later films include the British adventure film Sammy Going South (Alexander Mackendrick, 1963), The Cincinnati Kid (Norman Jewison, 1965) starring Steve McQueen, the Italian crime drama Ad ogni costo/Grand Slam (Giuliano Montaldo, 1967) with Janet Leigh and Robert Hoffmann, and the Western Mackenna's Gold (J. Lee Thompson, 1969).

    The last-ever scene Robinson filmed was a euthanasia sequence in the Science-Fiction cult film Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973). Wikipedia: “ it is sometimes claimed that he told friend and co-star Charlton Heston that he, Robinson, had in fact only weeks to live at best. As it turned out, Robinson died only twelve days later.”

    Robinson was never nominated for an Academy Award, but in 1973 he was awarded an honorary Oscar. He had been notified of the honour, but died two months before the award ceremony, so the award was accepted by his widow, Jane Robinson.

    Edward G. Robinson died at Mount Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles of bladder cancer in 1973. He had married his first wife, stage actress Gladys Lloyd in 1927. The couple had one son, Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Robinson (1933–1974), known as an actor as Edward G. Robinson Jr., as well as a daughter from Gladys Robinson's first marriage. In 1956 he was divorced from his wife. In 1958 he married Jane Bodenheimer, a dress designer professionally known as Jane Arden. Thereafter he also maintained a home in Palm Springs, California.

    Trailer Little Caesar (1931). Source: Warner Movies On Demand (YouTube).

    Trailer The Sea Wolf (1941). Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault (YouTube).

    Trailer Soylent Green (1973). Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault (YouTube).

    Sources: Ed Stephan (IMDb), TCM, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 03/13/17--23:00: Marisa Mell
  • Curvaceous Austrian actress Marisa Mell (1939-1992) became a cult figure of 1960s Italian B-films. Her most famous role is criminal mastermind Eva Kant in Mario Bava’s Diabolik (1968).

    Marisa Mell
    German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/349. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

    Marisa Mell
    German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/407. Photo: Lothar Winkler.

    Nasty Car Accident

    Marisa Mell was born as Marlies Theres Moitzi in Graz, Austria, in 1939. She was raised by her schoolteacher mother.

    In 1954 she appeared in an uncredited part in the film Das Licht der Liebe/The Light of Love (Robert A. Stemmle, 1954) starring Paula Wessely. Marlies left Graz to study acting at the Max-Reinhard-Seminar in Vienna, where she graduated together with Senta Berger, Heidelinde Weis and Erika Pluhar.

    Her beauty and natural talent gave her plenty of stage presence. She changed her name into Marisa Mell and left Austria for Germany in the late 1950s. A string of minor roles followed in films like Das Nachtlokal zum Silbermond/The Night Bar At the Silvery Moon (Wolfgang Glück, 1959), Am Galgen hängt die Liebe/Love Hangs at the Gallow (Edwin Zbonek, 1960) and the Edgar Wallace adaptation Das Rätsel der roten Orchidee/Puzzle of the Red Orchid (Helmut Ashley, 1962) with Christopher Lee.

    She played her first lead in Venusberg (Rolf Thiele, 1963). Just now her career began to escalate, she was involved in a nasty car accident in France. For six hours, she lay unconscious, unaware that she nearly lost her right eye. The disfigurement extended to her lip as well. She spent two years undergoing plastic surgery. No damage remained in her face, except for a distinctive curl of her upper lip, but, according to her fan ‘Blundering Man’ at the blog Cult Sirens, this added “even more charm to her already attractive features.”

    Following her recovery, Mell headed for Britain, where she easily played the role of a film star in French Dressing (1964), the first feature of Britain's bad boy Ken Russell. She next made Masquerade (Basil Dearden, 1965) with Cliff Robertson. She turned down a seven-year Hollywood contract, saying that while the payment would have been great, "the contract was a whole book. I think that even to go to the toilet I would have needed a permission." Instead of Hollywood she chose for Rome.

    Marisa Mell
    German postcard by ISV, Sort. 16/6.

    Marisa Mell
    German postcard by Fred W. Sander-Verlag, Minden (Kolibri-karte), no. 1942.

    Sexy Criminal Mastermind

    Marisa Mell started her Italian film career with the Oscar-nominated comedy Casanova 70 (Mario Monicelli, 1965) starring Marcello Mastroianni. Among her co-stars were other ravishing beauties like Michèle Mercier and Virna Lisi.

    The following year she played one of the leads in the spy thriller New York chiama Superdrago/New York Calls Super Dragon (Calvin Jackson Padget aka Giorgio Ferroni, 1966). Mell's beauty and flair for comedy helped bring her career into full swing.

    In 1967, she was cast by American producer David Merrick for the title role in the Broadway musical Mata Hari. The director was Vincente Minelli and her co-star Pernell Roberts. Marisa got a buildup that included coverage in Vogue and McCall's, but at the Washington preview “everything from the scenery to the sound system came apart”, according to Time magazine. Mata Hari opened to 'lethal reviews', and Merrick closed the production before it could open on Broadway.

    Marisa returned to Italy and starred as Eva Kant in Diabolik/Danger: Diabolik (1968), directed by Mario Bava and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. The film was based on one of the longest running - and most successful - Italian comic strips. Eva Kant is the sexy and mysterious sidekick to antihero Diabolik, a criminal mastermind finding great pleasure in leading the authorities in various wild goose chases.

    According to Blundering Man at Cult Sirens, Bava “had preferred her over Catherine Deneuve, no less, as he was searching for a ‘comic book’ style of beauty. Danger: Diabolik remains a successful adaptation of a comic on the big screen (and maybe the ultimate role for stolid star John Philip Law) and the various super hero costumes could've been an inspiration for Tim Burton's Batman.”

    Mario Adorf, Thomas Fritsch, Marisa Mell in Der letzte Ritt nach Santa Cruz (1964)
    Small Romanian collectors card by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Der letzte Ritt nach Santa Cruz/The Last Ride to Santa Cruz (Rolf Olsen, 1964) with Mario Adorf and Thomas Fritsch.

    Marisa Mell and Cliff Robertson in Masquerade (1965)
    Italian postcard. Photo: Dear Film. Publicity still for Masquerade (Basil Dearden, 1965) with Cliff Robertson.

    Marisa Mell in Che notti ragazzi! (1966)
    Small Romanian collectors card by Cooperativa Fotografica. Photo: publicity still for Che notti ragazzi!/That night guys! (Giorgio Capitani, 1966).

    Marisa Mell
    Yugoslavian postcard by Cik Razglednica.

    Notorious Cocaine Scandal

    For Marisa Mell then started the best and more productive years of her career. She worked mainly in Italy, with occasional stops in France and Spain. In 1969 she played the challenging dual role of an asthmatic, dying wife and a seductive stripper in Una sull'altra/One on Top of the Other (Lucio Fulci, 1969).

    That year she had a miscarriage. Father of the child was Pier Luigi Torri with whom she lived for about three years. During that time, Torri produced one of Marisa's better (yet unsuccessful) films, Senza via d'uscita/No Way Out (Piero Sciumé, 1970), co-starring Philippe Leroy. Torri had to leave Italy in 1971 after a notorious cocaine scandal to avoid prison.

    Another interesting film is Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso/Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (Umberto Lenzi, 1971) starring the father of Hollywood hunk Antonio Sabato, Antonio Sabato Sr. In 1975 she appeared in the Diana Ross musical Mahogany (Berry Gordy, 1975). In Some Like It Cool/Casanova & Co. (Franz Antel, 1977). Marisa was joined by Tony Curtis, Marisa Berenson, Sylva Koscinaand Britt Ekland.

    In between Marisa found the time to pose nude for the Italian version of Playboy in the November 1976 issue. As Mell got older, femme fatale roles in good films were no longer offered to her. In the 1980s she appeared in more and more obscure B-films, the majority being soft sex comedies, which were distributed only in Europe.

    In the late 1980s, the American television show Mystery Science Theater 3000 brought the actress to a new generation of B-film viewers when Danger: Diabolik was featured in an episode in 1988. The show also spoofed another of her films, New York chiama Superdrago/New York Calls Super Dragon.

    She wrote her autobiography Coverlove which was published in Vienna in 1990. That same year, she appeared in Quest for the Mighty Sword/Ator III: The Hobgoblin (Joe D'Amato, 1990), co-starring strongman Eric Allan Kramer and Laura ‘Black Emmanuelle’ Gemser. Her last film appearance was in the comedy I Love Vienna (Houchang Allahyari, 1991).

    In Vienna Marisa Mell passed away from throat cancer in 1992. She was only 53 and died in poverty. Only a few friends attended her funeral. She had been married twice, to Henri Tucci and to Espartaco Santoni. In 1996 her best friend Erika Plughar published Marisa, Rückblenden einer Freundschaft (Marisa, Flashbacks of a Friendship).

    Trailer of Das Rätsel der roten Orchidee/Puzzle of the Red Orchid (1962). Source: RialtoFilm (YouTube).

    Trailer for Diabolik/Danger: Diabolik (1968). Source: Danios12345 (YouTube).

    Scene from Diabolik/Danger: Diabolik (1968). Source: Agodipino (YouTube).

    Marisa Mell in Una sull'altra/One on Top of the Other (1969). Source: Stranevisione (YouTube).

    Sources: Mirko di Wallenberg (Marisa Mell blog), Blundering Man (Cult Sirens), Brian J. Walker (Brian’s Drive-In Theater), Time, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 03/14/17--23:00: Rodion Nahapetov
  • Rodion Nahapetov (1944) works as an actor as well as a writer and director for both the Russian cinema and for Hollywood. He appeared in more than 60 leading roles, including his spot-on depiction of Lenin in Serdtse materi/A Mother’s Heart (1967).

    Rodion Nahapetov
    Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. M 11 268, 1970. This postcard was printed in an edition of 250.000 cards. The price was 6 kop.


    Rodion (Rodin) Rafailovich Nahapetov was born in 1944 in Pyatikhatki, located in the Dnepropetrovsk region of the Ukraine in the former Soviet Union. His mother, Galina Antonovna Prokopenko was a schoolteacher.

    During the Nazi occupation, Galina was involved in the underground organization Motherland that operated in Krivoi Rog. Rodion was delivered by Russian soldiers during the liberation of the Ukraine. Galina aptly named her son Rodina, which means Motherland.

    Later, his name was changed to Rodion. Rodion’s father, Raphael Nahapetov, never met his son. After the war, Raphael returned to his family. Galina never married. Rodion lived with his grandmother in the village of Skelevatka (a suburb of Krivoi Rog) until he was 5.

    In 1950, Galina and Rodion moved to the city of Dniepropetrovsk. She found a job teaching in Elementary School Number 34. By the early 1950s she was suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. The management of the school decided to place Rodion in an orphanage, where he spent almost two years. Galina’s health improved and the school helped her procure a small room in a communal apartment. She brought ten-year-old Rodion home from the orphanage and he resumed his place in school.

    Rodion was once asked to play the part of a bear in a school play celebrating the new year. Wearing a mask, he began to growl fiercely and imitate the bear so well the students applauded his performance enthusiastically. This experience influenced his professional path in the days to come.

    In 1960, he travelled to Moscow after receiving his high school diploma. His goal was to be accepted in the prestigious acting department of VGIK (USSR University of Cinema). Rodion played the part of an old man for his audition, reading a passage from Maxim Gorky’s novel Childhood. Renowned masters of Russian cinema, Sergei Gerasimov and Tamara Makarova recognised the talent in the sixteen-year old, and he moved into the dormitory of the Institute of Cinematography in Moscow.

    Rodion Nahapetov
    Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 093 45, 1968. This postcard was printed in an edition of 200.000 cards. The price was 8 kop.


    Rodion Nahapetov acting career started in the third year of his studies. His film debut role was an engineer named Gena in the romantic comedy Zhivyot takoy paren/There Lived Such a Lad (Vasili Shukshin, 1966).

    An important acting challenge was playing the young Vladimir Lenin in Serdtse materi/A Mother’s Heart (Mark Donskoy, 1967) and the sequel Vernost materi/A Mother’s Loyalty (Mark Donskoy, 1968). Rodion was only twenty-years-old and was required to portray the life of Lenin over a period of 31 years (age 16 to 47).

    His talent to play much older people served him well. In response to his lauded performance of Lenin, Nahapetov received the Moscow Komsomol Award and was presented the Order of Merit medal. These roles in the 1960s made Nahapetov tremendously popular among a loyal following of fans.

    Among his most famous films is the romance Vlyublyonnye/The Lovers (Elyer Ishmukhamedov, 1971) with Anastasiya Vertinskaya. During this period Rodion’s mother had become seriously ill. The last film she saw which starred her son was A Mother’s Heart. Galina Prokopenko died in Moscow in 1966. Rodion grieved deeply over the death of his beloved mother.

    Despite his marked success in acting, Rodion chose to return to VKIG to widen the scope of his talent and study directing. His debut work as a director, S toboy i bez tebya/With You and Without You (Rodion Nahapetov, 1974) was filmed at Mosfilm Studios in Moscow. The film was popular among public and critics.

    Nahapetov married actress Vera Glagoleva in 1974. They had collaborations in many films. Their first daughter Anna was born in 1978. Their second daughter Maria was born in 1980. They divorced in 1988.

    In 1975, Nikita Mikhalkov chose Rodion for the lead role of Pototsky in Raba lyubvi/Slave of Love (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1975). This role brought him major fame. The film remains a classic of the Soviet cinema – applauded by both critics and audiences.

    One of Rodion’s most famous roles was playing pilot Belobrov in the classic film Torpedonostsy/Torpedo Bombers (Semyon Aranovich, 1983). In 1985 he received The Gold Medal award (equivalent to an Academy Award) for this role. He also continued his directorial work. He directed such films as the comedy Vragi/Enemies (Rodion Nahapetov, 1979) after Maxim Gorky and the romantic drama Zontik dlya novobrachnykh/Umbrella for Newlyweds (Rodion Nahapetov, 1987).

    Anastasiya Vertinskaya
    Anastasiya Vertinskaya. Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no 1574, 1972.  This postcard was printed in an edition of 200.000 cards. Retail price: 5 Kop.


    In 1987, Rodion Nahapetov filmed the epic Na iskhode nochi/At The Edge of the Night (Rodion Nahapetov, 1988) about the early days of World War II. Twentieth Century Fox purchased the film for international distribution. The studio sold the film to 91 countries around the world.

    While promoting the international release of the film in Los Angeles he met media consultant Natasha Shliapnikoff. She started to manage Nahapetov’s career in Hollywood, and projects slowly started to materialize. Nahapetov and Shliapnikoff married in 1991. In 1995, he directed his first American film, Stir (Rodion Nahapetov, 1995) starring Traci Lords. Natasha produced the film.

    Nahapetov wrote about this period in his biographical book In Love (1999). In 2000, the Russian TV channel ORT asked Rodion to direct three episodes of their TV series Uboynaya sila/Lethal Force (2000-2007). These episodes, filmed in Los Angeles, became the most popular of the entire series. ORT asked Rodion to create a series for them. This resulted in the 12-part series Russkie v Gorode Angelov/Russians in The City of Angels (Rodion Nahapetov, 2002) with guest stars as Gary Busey, Eric Roberts and Sean Young.

    Rodion also directed the comedy Moya bolshaya armyanskaya svadba/My Big Armenian Wedding (Rodion Nahapetov, 2004) with the participation of Armenian and Russian stars, and the psychological thriller Contamination (Rodion Nahapetov, 2007) starring Karen Black.

    Rodion Nahapetov’s oldest daughter Anna is a ballerina with the Bolshoi Theatre Ballet and an actress in films and theatre. His daughter Maria is an artist. Natasha and Rodion’s daughter, Katia, is a photographer and singer-songwriter who performs in Los Angeles clubs. Rodion has a granddaughter, Paulina, born in 2006 to Anna Nahapetova and Egor Simachev and a grandson, Kiril, born in 2007 to Maria Nahapetova and Eugene Dzyura.

    Currently, Rodion Nahapetov is working on a new film, Dandelion Wine, based upon Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name.

    Hilarious scene from Vlyublyonnye/The Lovers (1970). Source: Александр Щипин (YouTube).

    Sources: Rodionnahapetov.com, and IMDb.

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  • 03/15/17--23:00: Mata Hari (1931)
  • On 14 October 2017, the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden will open an exhibition on exotic dancer and executed spy Mata Hari (1876-1917). The woman who was such an international society figure between 1905 and the First World War, was born in Leeuwarden as Margaretha Zelle. EFSP contributor Ivo Blom is one of the researchers for the exhibition. About his research he wrote two fascinating posts on his personal blog, of which we post two excerpts today in combination with postcards from the classic Hollywood biopic Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) starring Greta Garbo.

    Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro in Mata Hari (1931)
    French postcard by EDUG, no. 1030. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) with Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro.

    Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (1931)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 659. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) with Greta Garbo.

    Researching a clip of a fashionable lady

    Ivo Blom: "Still materials of Mata Hari are abundant: gorgeous coloured postcards, studio photos by prominents such as Emilio Sommariva, actuality photos etc., but what lacked were moving images. With a woman who was such a society figure between 1905 and the First World War, one asks himself why Pathé, Gaumont or any other prominent company did not film this woman, whose oriental dances had caused such a stir in Paris and beyond, and who was the mistress of many a prominent figure in politics, finance and culture?

    Thus in films on her life or compilation films on the First World War a clip persisted of a fashionable lady helped in her coat by a doorman. She afterwards steps into a luxurious car with chauffeur and is driven away. This clip, coined as being with Mata Hari, has been used over and again as real footage with Mata Hari.

    Even the respectable site EFG1914, supported and replenished by various European Film Archives, including the Dutch EYE, holds a compilation film that contains the same clip. It may be well have been the original culprit of the massive reuse and mythologization of ‘real’ film footage with Mata Hari. The compilation film uploaded by LUCE is the Italian version of 14-18 (1963) by French filmmaker Jean Aurel. The commentary states we notice Mata Hari here, helped into a taxi. The image quality was too poor to recognize any person. So where did Aurel did take it from? Could I get a better image quality?

    Researching this clip was quite an adventure. I first contacted the CNC (Centre National pour la Cinématographie) near Paris, where Béatrice Paste kindly indicated me the compilation 14-18 by Aurel was a Gaumont production and CNC had recently digitized the film. Paste advised me to contact the Cinémathèque Gaumont. So I contacted curator Manuela Padoan who referred me to Nathalie Sitko, who proved to be an avid documentalist and helpful researcher.

    In the meantime I searched myself on the site of Pathé-Gaumont-Archives. There I found the compilation documentary Paris après 3 ans de guerre (1917) by Gaumont, which contained the same clip, but now without any indication of Mata Hari. The description on the Gaumont site just said: ”Au pied d’un escalier, une femme élégante (bourgeoise) enfile son manteau aidé d’un maître d’hôtel, elle attend son véhicule et monte dans l’automobile.”

    The film had been uploaded in HD, so the image quality was really good. Still, I had my doubts whether this was really the famous Mata Hari. My doubts proved to be right. Read on at Ivo Blom's blog."

    Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro in Mata Hari (1931)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 701. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

    Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (1931)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6522/4, 1931-1932. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

    Asta Nielsen and the Copy Cats

    Ivo Blom: "In many analogue and digital sources a film entitled Mata Hari/Die Spionin (Ludwig Wolf, 1920/1921), starring Asta Nielsen, is listed as the oldest biopic of the life of Mata Hari aka Lady MacLeod aka Margaretha Zelle. You will find this on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), which in general for German silent cinema is quite unreliable.

    But one also traces it in the English and Dutch Wikipedia, James Monaco’s The Movie Guide, David Thompson’s The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, James Robert Parish’s Prostitution in Hollywood films, Jerry Vermilye’s More films from the thirties, Georg Seeßlen’s Filmwissen: Thriller: Grundlagen des populären Films and several earlier publications by the same author, Léon Schirmann’s Mata-Hari: autopsie d’une machination, Michael R. Pitts’s The Great Spies Pictures, Valeria Palumbo’s Le figlie di Lilith: vipere, dive, dark ladies e femmes fatales : l’altra ribellione femminile, Rüdiger Dirk and Claudius Sowa’s Paris im Film: Filmografie einer Stadt, and many others. The English Wikipedia even indicates Mata Hari (1920) and Die Spionin (1921) as two separate films, both about Mata Hari.

    Nevertheless, my suspicions arose when I could not find the film on the generally quite thorough German films site www.filmportal.de. When I launched a call for more information on the Facebook site of Domitor, the network for researchers dealing with early cinema, my suspicions increased.

    Joseph Juenger, Artistic Director at Stummfilm-Festival Karlsruhe, asked if I was really sure about this film. He could‘t find a film with the title Die Spionin, neither on the FIAF-CD nor in the 2010 two-volume extensive monography on Asta Nielsen by Heide Schlüpmann and Karola Gramann, nor on filmportal.de. Juenger remarked there was only a film with the title Die Rache der Spionin (1921), but the director was Richard Eicherg and Nielsen lacked.

    I therefore contacted Asta Nielsen expert Heide Schlüpmann, who kindly told me despite her thorough research she never found a film with Nielsen called either Mata Hari or Die Spionin. It just seemed that all the above mentioned authors had just copied each other without bothering to check any original sources." Read on at Ivo Blom's blog..

    Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (1931)
    French postcard by Europe, no. 20. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

    Ramon Novarro
    French postcard by Europe, no. 391. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Ramon Novarro as Lt. Alexis Rosanoff in Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

    Great Garbo and Ramon Novarro in Mata Hari (1931)
    Dutch postcard, no. 300. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) with Greta Garboand Ramon Novarro.

    Thanks Ivo, for the permission to copy-cat your posts!

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  • 03/16/17--23:00: Gino Cervi
  • Gino Cervi (1901-1974) was one of the most popular Italian character actors of the 20th Century. He was highly active between the 1920s and the 1970s, first on stage, then on screen and finally on television. Internationally he is best remembered as the Communist mayor Peppone in the Don Camillo films and as Commissioner Maigret in the RAI TV series.

    Gino Cervi
    Mexican Collectors card, no. 327.

    I promessi sposi (1941)
    Italian postcard by S.A. Grafitalia, Milano (Milan), no. 4. Photo: Film Lux. Publicity still for I Promessi Sposi/The Spirit and the Flesh (Mario Camerini, 1941). Left to right Dina Sassolias Lucia, Gino Cervi as Renzo, on the back Gilda Marchiò as Agnese, and Luis Hurtado as Padre Cristoforo.

    Gino Cervi
    Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit, no. 4648-A. Photo: Pesce / N.I.C.

    Gino Cervi and Fernandel in Don Camillo
    Italian postcard by Ed. Riservata Chiesa Parocchiale di Brescello. Promotion card for the village of Brescello (Reggio Emilia), where the Don Camillo films were shot. Here Fernandel as the catholic priest Don Camillo and Gino Cervi as the communist mayor Peppone.

    A Cherished All-round Actor

    Gino Cervi was born Luigi Cervi in Bologna, Italy in 1901. He was the son of literary critic Antonio Cervi. Gino was stage struck from an early age on.

    In 1924 he debuted on stage with Alda Borelli in La vergine folle, a play by Henry Bataille, directed by Henri Diamant-Berger. In 1928 he married Angela Rosa (Nini) Gordini, one of his colleagues, and they had a son Antonio, the later director and producer Tonino Cervi.

    Gino Cervi became more and more popular and became first actor at the Tofano-Maltagliati company (1935-1937). His deep and suggestive voice and his extreme versatility made him a cherished all-round actor, famous for his Othello. In 1938 he raised his own theatre company, with Andreina Pagnani, Rina Morelli, and Paolo Stoppa, connected with the Teatro Eliseo in Rome. In 1939 he became director of this theatre. His portrayals of Feste in Twelfth Night (1938) and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1939) established him as the foremost Italian comedian in classic roles.

    In the early 1930s Cervi had made his screen debut in a film on the Air Force. Immediately demonstrating his versatility, he appeared in Mario Camerini's melancholic love story T'amerò sempre/I Will Always Love You (1933).

    But it was in the late 1930s that he came to the foreground as a film actor thanks to director Alessandro Blasetti, who had him perform in such historical epics as Ettore Fieramosca (Alessandro Blasetti, 1938), Un’avventura di Salvator Rosa/An Adventure of Salvator Rosa (Alessandro Blasetti, 1939) and La corona di ferro/The Iron Crown (Alessandro Blasetti, 1941) with Massimo Girotti as his son.

    Blasetti recognized Cervi's range and cast him in the role of the plain, downtrodden traveling salesman in his neorealist precursor Quattro passi fra le nuvole/A Walk in the Clouds (Alessandro Blasetti, 1942). Cervi pretends to be the husband of a pregnant, unmarried girl (Adriana Benetti), just to help her out. It was the first of his films to be shown widely outside Italy.

    Elaine Mancini  at Film Reference: "His performance in one scene of a little-known film, La Peccatrice/The Sinner (Amleto Palermi, 1940), is a tour de force that represents Cervi's combination of technical virtuosity and naturalness. He plays a cad living in a small town; a person he has victimized, the 'sinner' of the title, has returned to the town after several years and watches him eating alone in a restaurant. In this scene he must express the cad's entire character — his disregard for others, his lack of conscience, his pomposity — simply by eating his meal."

    For decades, Cervi was also the Italian voice for various American actors, such as Laurence Olivier and Orson Welles in their Shakespearian films, Clark Gable in It happened one night (Frank Capra, 1934), James Mason in Pandora (Albert Lewin, 1950), James Stewart in Harvey (Henry Koster, 1950) and Michael Redgrave in Morning Becomes Electra (1947, Dudley Nichols).

    Gino Cervi
    Italian postcard, no. 11. Photo: Ciolfi.

    Gino Cervi in I promessi sposi (1941)
    Italian postcard by S.A. Grafitalia, Milano (Milan), no. 10. Photo: Film Lux. Publicity still for I Promessi Sposi/The Spirit and the Flesh (1941, Mario Camerini) with Gino Cervi as Renzo Tramaglino.

    Gino Cervi in Don Camillo (1952)
    Small West-German collectors card by Greiling Sammelbilder, Serie E, no. 103. Allianz-Film. Publicity still for Don Camillo (Julien Duvivier, 1952).

    Gino Cervi
    Italian postcard by Bromostampa, Milano, no. 291. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    A Goodhearted But Sometimes Explosive Communist Mayor

    After World War II, Gino Cervi continued to give credence to Italian costume dramas and historical epics in the cinema. On stage, he and the Eliseo company mounted Italian premieres of new foreign theatre works; his George in Jean Cocteau’s Les Parents terribles (Intimate Relations, 1945) and Hector in Jean Giraudoux’s Tiger at the Gates (1946) further enhanced his reputation. His outstanding theatrical accomplishment, however, was his portrayal of the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac (1953), an interpretation that was enthusiastically received, even in Paris.

    In the 1950s Gino Cervi became a worldwide known film star as the goodhearted but sometimes explosive Communist mayor Giuseppe Bottazzi better known as Peppone, the antagonist of Fernandels hot-heated catholic priest Don Camillo.

    Cervi and French comedian Fernandel co-starred in five films over a period of some 15 years, starting with Don Camillo/The Little World of Don Camillo (Julien Duvivier, 1952) and ending with Il compagno Don Camillo/Don Camillo in Moscow (Luigi Comencini, 1965). The films were based on the stories by Giovanni Guareschi, published from 1948 on – the first novel was The Little World of Don Camillo.

    In the late 1950s and early 1960s Cervi played in several other comedies of the commedia all’italiana genre, such as Guardia, guardia scelta, brigadiere e maresciallo/Watch, select watch, sergeant and marshal (Mauro Bolognini, 1956) starring Alberto Sordi, Gli Anni ruggenti/Roaring Years ( Luigi Zampa, 1962) with Nino Manfredi, and Gli onorevoli/The Honorables (Sergio Corbucci, 1963) starring Totò, but he also played a memorable fascist leader in Florestano Vancini’s war film La lunga notte del ’43/It Happened in '43 (Florestano Vancini, 1960) starring Belinda Lee.

    From the mid-1960s on, Cervi focused more on television. From 1964 to 1972, Cervi incarnated Georges Siménon’s Commissaire Jules Maigret in the RAI TV series Le inchieste del commissario Maigret. In this TV series Andreina Pagnani always played his wife. The series eventualy caused him also to play in a Maigret film for the big screen: Maigret a Pigalle (Mario Landi, 1966), produced by his own son, Tonino Cervi. The series were often repeated at RAI and had an intense second life through video and DVD as well. Siménon considered Cervi’s interpretation as one of the best.

    In 1972 Cervi quitted acting. His last performances were for brandy commercials. Gino Cervi died in Punta Ala, Italy in 1974. Actress Valentina Cervi and producer Antonio Levesi Cervi are his grandchildren.

    Gino Cervi
    French postcard. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Gino Cervi and Laura Adani
    Italian postcard. Gino Cervi, Laura Adani, Paolo Carlini, and Graziella Granata in the Alan Ayckbourn stage comedy Relatively Speaking, retitled Sinceramente Bugiardi (Sincerely Liars, 1970), directed by Mario Ferrero, and played by the Compagnia di Prosa, led by Cervi.

    Scene from Le retour de Don Camillo/The Return of Don Camillo (1953). Source: Kochlorber (YouTube).

    Leader of Maigret a Pigalle (1966). Source: ShaolinTube (YouTube).

    Sources: Elaine Mancini (Film Reference), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Piergiorgio Romani (IMDb), Encyclopaedia Britannica, Wikipedia (French, Italian and English), and IMDb.

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  • 03/17/17--23:00: A new gift from Tatiana
  • Last week again a letter arrived from the USA. It contained vintage material of Ukrainian-born silent film star Xenia Desni and of her beautiful daughter Tamara Desni. It was sent to me as a gift by their niece Tatiana, the daughter of Xenia's sister who now lives at the East Coast. Earlier she has sent us a package containing 39 Ross Verlag postcards, which she had collected as a little girl. Later, she found more private photos, studio stills and a flyer in her family archive and donated it all to European Film Star Postcards. This time it is mainly material of Tamara Desni (1910–2008), who started her stage and film career as a child in Berlin, and appeared in several British films during the 1930s and 1940s. We're honoured and grateful for this new gift, and so happy we can share this unique material today with you.

    Tamara Desni, Xenia Desni
    Photo of Tamara and Xenia Desni, ca. 1935.

    Tamara Desni
    Photo of Tamara Desni, ca. 1920.

    Xenia and Tamara Desni
    Photo of Xenia and Tamara having fun at the beach, early 1920s.

    Tamara Desni
    Photo of Tamara Desni by Otto Kurt Vogelsang, Berlin, 1930.

    Tamara Desni
    Photo of Tamara Desni as a young dancer, ca. 1930.

    Tamara Desni and Edgar K. Bruce in For husbands only (1949)
    British flyer by Ludo Press Ltd. for Palace Pier Theatre, Brighton, 1949. Photos: publicity stills for the play For Husbands Only by John Sibley and starring Edgar K. Bruce and Tamara Desni.

    Thank you so much, Tatiana!

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    Suave and debonair American actor Adolphe Menjou (1890-1963) with his trademark waxy black moustache was one of Hollywood's most distinguished stars and one of America's 'Best Dressed Men'. He started as a matinee idol in the silent cinema in such classics as Ernst Lubitsch's The Marriage Circle (1924). His sound films included Morocco (1931) with Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper, A Star is Born (1937), and Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957) with Kirk Douglas. In 1931, he was nominated for an Oscar for The Front Page (1931).

    Adolphe Menjou
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3337/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Paramount.

    Adolphe Menjou
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3259/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Paramount.

    Urbane ladies' man and wealthy roué

    Adolphe Jean Menjou was born in 1890 in Pittsburgh. He was the elder son of hotel manager Albert Menjou. His Irish mother, Nora Menjou-Joyce, was a distant cousin of the famous Irish author James Joyce. Menjou had a younger brother, Henri Menjou, who made an attempt to become an actor and played in three films for Paramount in the mid-1930s.

    Their French émigré father moved the family to Cleveland, where he operated a chain of restaurants. He disapproved of show business and sent his son to Culver Military Academy in Indiana in the hopes of dissuading him from an acting career. Later, at Cornell University, Menjou abruptly changed his major engineering to liberal arts and began auditioning for college plays.

    He did some vaudeville work, and from 1915 on, he appeared as an extra for such film studios as Vitagraph, Edison and Biograph. During World War I, he served as a captain with the Ambulance Corps in France. After the war he found employment off-camera as a production manager and unit manager.

    After six years of struggle, he finally broke into the top ranks with substantial roles in The Faith Healer (George Melford, 1921) and Through the Back Door (Alfred E. Green, Jack Pickford, 1921), starring Mary Pickford. He earned a Paramount contract and played Louis XIII in The Three Musketeers (Fred Niblo, 1921), starring Douglas Fairbanks, and the influential writer Raoul de Saint Hubert in Rudolph Valentino's classic The Sheik (George Melford, 1921).

    Menjou established his slick prototype as the urbane ladies' man and wealthy roué opposite Edna Purviance in Charlie Chaplin's A Woman of Paris (1923). Paramount capitalised on Menjou's playboy image by casting him as matinee leads in Broadway After Dark (Monta Bell, 1924), Sinners in Silk (Hobart Henley, 1924), The Ace of Cads (Luther Reed, 1926), A Social Celebrity (Malcolm St. Clair, 1926) and A Gentleman of Paris (Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast, 1927).

    Adolphe Menjou in His Tiger Wife (1928)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4101/2, 1929-1930. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for His Tiger Wife (Hobart Henley, 1928).

    Adolphe Menjou
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4101/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Paramount.

    Rivalling Gary Cooper for the attentions of Marlene Dietrich

    The stock market crash led to the termination of Adolphe Menjou's Paramount contract and his status as a leading man. Gary Brumburgh at IMDb: "MGM took him on at half his Paramount salary and his fluency in such languages as French and Spanish kept him employed at the beginning.

    Rivalling Gary Cooper for the attentions of Marlene Dietrich in Morocco (1930) started the ball rolling for Menjou as a dressy second lead. Rarely placed in leads following this period, he managed his one and only Oscar nomination for Best Actor with his performance as editor Walter Burns in The Front Page (Lewis Milestone, 1931)."

    Other successful films include Forbidden (Frank Capra, 1932), Little Miss Marker (Alexander Hall, 1934), A Star is Born (William A. Wellman, 1937), Stage Door (Gregory La Cava, 1937) and Golden Boy (Rouben Mamoulian, 1939).

    During the war, he entertained the troops overseas and worked for the radio. He played the slick and slimy lawyer Billy Flynn opposite Ginger Rogers in Roxie Hart (William A. Wellman, 1942). After the war he played secondary parts in The Hucksters (Jack Conway, 1947) and State of the Union (Frank Capra, 1948).

    His last lead was in the crackerjack thriller The Sniper (Edward Dmytryk, 1952). His role was a San Francisco homicide detective tracking down a killer who preys on women in San Francisco. For the first time in nearly two decades, he appeared without his moustache.

    In 1947, Menjou cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities in its hunt for communists in Hollywood. Menjou was a leading member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group formed to oppose communist influence in Hollywood.

    His last notable film was the classic anti-war picture Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, 1957) in which he played the villainous General Broulard. After Disney's Pollyanna (David Swift, 1960), featuring Hayley Mills, he retired from acting.

    In 1963, he died in his home in Beverly Hills after a nine-month battle with hepatitis. He married three times. His second wife was actress and co-star Kathryn Carver. They married in 1928 and divorced in 1934. Since 1934 he was married to actress Verree Teasdale, with whom he had an adopted son, Peter. His autobiography was called It Took Nine Tailors (1947).

    Adolphe Menjou and Kathryn Carver in Service for Ladies (1927)
    British Real Hand-Coloured Photograph postcard, no. 3384/1. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Service for Ladies (Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast, 1927) with Kathryn Carver.

    Adolphe Menjou
    French postcard by Erpé, no. 398. Photo: Film Samuel Goldwyn.

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

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  • 03/19/17--23:00: Richard Burton
  • Richard Burton (1927–1984) was one of the great British actors of the post World War II period. Although never trained as an actor, he became famous on stage in most of the plays by William Shakespeare. Blessed with a thrillingly theatrical voice, Burton also became, at one time, the highest-paid film actor in the world. He was nominated seven times for an Academy Award, six of which were for Best Actor in a Leading Role (without ever winning), and he was a recipient of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Tony Awards for Best Actor. His adulterous romance with Elizabeth Taylor became an international scandal and their two tempestuous marriages were covered in detail by the Paparazzi.

    Richard Burton
    French postcard by ISV / Huit, no. B 9. Photo: 20th Century Fox. Publicity still for Sea Wife (Bob McNaught, 1957).

    Richard Burton
    Spanish postcard by Postalcolor, Barcelona, no. 35, 1963.

    Richard Burton
    Spanish postcard by Postal Oscarcolor, no. 118.

    An impoverished Welsh living

    Richard Burton was born Richard Walter Jenkins in the village of Pontrhydyfen, Wales in 1925. He was the twelfth of thirteen children. His father, Richard Walter Jenkins, was a short, robust coal miner, a ‘twelve-pints-a-day man’.

    Burton was less than two years old in 1927 when his mother, Edith Maude (née Thomas), died at the age of 43 after giving birth to her 13th child. His sister Cecilia ‘Cis’ and her husband Elfed took him into their Presbyterian mining family in nearby Port Talbot (an English-speaking steel town). He grew up speaking Cymraeg (Welsh) as well as English. His 19 year older brother Ifor became his de facto father figure, and in later years, his assistant and boon companion.

    Burton showed a talent for English and Welsh literature at grammar school, and demonstrated an excellent memory, though his consuming interest was sports – rugby. He earned pocket money by running messages, hauling horse manure, and delivering newspapers. He started to smoke at the age of eight and to drink regularly at twelve. He believed that the way out of an impoverished Welsh living was to read, and he was always reading books.

    Inspired by his schoolmaster, Philip H. Burton, he excelled in school productions, his first being The Apple Cart. The young man had spoken no English until the age of ten. Burton taught him to speak English without a Welsh accent, to read the classics, and to hold a knife and fork. Richard left school at sixteen for full-time work. He worked for the local wartime co-operative committee, handing out supplies in exchange for coupons, but then considered other professions for his future, including boxing, religion and singing.

    When Jenkins joined the Port Talbot Squadron of the Air Training Corps as a cadet, he re-encountered Philip Burton, his former teacher, who was the commander. Burton rigorously schooled him in both literature and acting, even sending him to Welsh mountaintops to work on voice projection. After receiving his school certificate, Richard was accepted to Exeter College at Oxford for a special term of study. In order to gain admittance as an undergraduate, Philip Burton was required to adopt the young man; after discovering that it was legally impossible to do so, he made Richard his ward, and changed his surname to Burton.

    Before leaving for Exeter, Burton made his professional acting debut in the play The Druid's Rest in 1944. The show was successful enough to move to London, where he received his first positive review in the New Statesmanmagazine. Those words would solidify Burton's resolve to become an actor.

    While at Exeter, he appeared in his first significant Shakespearean role - Angelo in Measure for Measure - before an audience that included such important theatrical figures as John Gielgud and Terence Rattigan. Subsequently he served in the RAF (1944–1947) as a navigator.  In 1947, after his discharge, Burton went to London to seek his fortune. He immediately signed up with a theatrical agency to make himself available for casting calls. His first film was The Last Days of Dolwyn (Russell Lloyd, Emlyn Williams, 1949), set in a Welsh village about to be drowned to provide a reservoir.

    Richard Burton as Prince Hal (1951)
    British postcard in the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre series, no. 18. Photo: Angus McBean. Richard Burton as Prince Hal in the stage production of   Henry IV, Part I and Henry IV, Part 2, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1951.

    He met his future wife, the young actress Sybil Williams, on the set, and they married in 1949. They had two daughters, and divorced in 1963 after Burton's widely reported affair with Elizabeth Taylor. In the years of his marriage to Sybil, Burton appeared in the West End in a highly successful production of The Lady's Not for Burning, alongside Sir John Gielgud and Claire Bloom, in both the London and New York productions.

    Richard Burton
    British postcard in the Picturegoer series, London, no. W 912. Photo: British Lion.

    Richard Burton and Claire Bloom in Hamlet (1954)
    Danish postcard by Kaj Brammers Boghandel, Helsingor, no. 748. Photo: publicity still for the stage production of Hamlet at the Hamletspillene in Kronborg, 1954. Richard Burton as Hamlet and Claire Bloom as Ophelia.

    Richard Burton
    German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no 226. Offered by Macaroni Honig, Gent (Belgium). Photo: Centfox.

    Richard Burton
    British postcard in the Film Star Autograph Portrait series by Celebrity Publishers, London, no. 79.

    A Watchful Brooding Intensity

    Richard Burton had small parts in various low-key British films: Now Barabbas (Gordon Parry, 1950) starring Richard Greene, Waterfront (Michael Anderson, 1950) with Robert Newton, The Woman with No Name (Ladislao Vajda, 1951) featuring Phyllis Calvert, and a bigger part as a smuggler in the B-film Green Grow the Rushes (Derek N. Twist, 1951). He displayed a watchful brooding intensity in these films.

    In the 1951 season at Stratford, he gave a critically acclaimed performance and achieved stardom as Prince Hal in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 opposite Anthony Quayle's Falstaff. Burton was already demonstrating the same independence and competitiveness as an actor that he displayed off-stage in drinking, sport, or story-telling. He was admitted to the post-War British acting circle which included Anthony Quayle, John Gielgud, Michael Redgrave, Hugh Griffith and Paul Scofield.

    The following year, Burton signed a five-year contract with Alexander Korda at £100 a week, launching his Hollywood career. On the recommendation of Daphne du Maurier, he was given the leading role in the mystery-romance My Cousin Rachel (Henry Koster, 1952) opposite Olivia de Havilland. Burton arrived on the Hollywood scene at a time when the studios were struggling. Television's rise was drawing away viewers and the studios looked to new stars and new film technology to staunch the bleeding. 20th Century Fox negotiated with Korda to borrow him for this film and a further two at $50,000 a film. My Cousin Rachel was a critical success. It established Burton as a Hollywood leading man and won him his first Academy Award nomination and the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor.

    In the wartime action-drama The Desert Rats (Robert Wise, 1953), Burton plays a young English captain in the North African campaign during World War II who takes charge of a hopelessly out-numbered Australian unit against the indomitable Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (James Mason). Then he created a sensation by starring in the biblical epic The Robe (Henry Koster, 1953), the first film to premiere in the wide-screen process CinemaScope. The film was a colossal hit, it gave Burton his second Oscar nomination, and minted him as a genuine movie star.

    Burton was offered a seven-year, $1 million contract by Darryl F. Zanuck at Fox, but he turned it down, though later the contract was revived and he agreed to it. Between 1953 and 1956, he was juggling theatre with film, playing Hamlet and Coriolanus at the Old Vic theatre and alternating the roles of Iago and Othello with the Old Vic's other rising matinee idol John Neville. For his Henry V he won the Evening Standard drama award.

    Known for his resonant voice he also gave frequent readings of classic works on BBC Radio. In 1954, Burton took his most famous radio role, as the narrator in the original production of Dylan Thomas'Under Milk Wood, a role he would reprise in the film version twenty years later.

    Burton appeared on Broadway, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Time Remembered (1958) and winning the award for playing King Arthur in the musical Camelot (1960). The latter show went on to run for over 800 performances, and netted a total of four Tony Awards. He then put his stage career on the back burner to concentrate on film.

    Richard Burton, Jean Simmons
    French postcard. Photo: publicity still for The Robe (1953) with Jean Simmons.

    Richard Burton
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf., no. 2395. Photo: United Artists. Publicity still for Alexander the Great (1956).

    Richard Burton
    Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit. (Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze), no. 2507. Photo: 20th Century Fox. Publicity still for Sea Wife (Bob McNaught, 1957).

    Richard Burton
    West-German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4738. Photo: Terb-Agency.

    Richard Burton
    West-German postcard by Rüdel Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no 1453. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

    Liz and Dick

    In terms of critical success, Richard Burton's Hollywood roles throughout the 1950s did not live up to the early promise of his debut. Burton returned to Hollywood to star in The Prince of Players (Philp Dunne, 1955), another historical CinemaScope film, this time concerning Edwin Booth, famous American actor and brother of Abraham Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth.

    Next came Alexander The Great (Robert Rossen, 1956), with the handsome and self-assured Burton in the title role, on a loan out to United Artists, and again with Claire Bloom co-starring. Contrary to Burton's expectations, the ‘intelligent epic’ was a wooden, slow-paced flop.

    In The Rains of Ranchipur (Jean Negulesco, 1955) Burton plays a noble Hindu doctor who attempts the spiritual recovery of an adulteress (Lana Turner). In Sea Wife (Bob McNaught, 1957), shot in Jamaica, a young Joan Collins plays a nun shipwrecked on an island with three men.

     For the British cinema the late 1950s was an exciting and inventive time, often referred to as the British New Wave, and Burton was right in the thick of things. In 1958, he was offered the part of Jimmy Porter, ‘an angry young man’ role, in the film version of John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger (Tony Richardson, 1959).

    Hal Erickson writes at AllMovie: “His own film greatness would not manifest itself until he played the dirt-under-the-nails role of Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger (1959). In this, he spoke the vernacular of regular human beings - rather than that of high-priced, affected Hollywood screenwriters - and delivered a jolting performance as a working-class man trapped by the system and his own personal demons.” Although it didn't do well commercially, Burton was proud of the effort.

    After playing King Arthur in Camelot on Broadway for six months, Burton was one of the ‘42 international stars’ that appeared in the massive World War II epic The Longest Day (Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, 1962).

    And then he replaced Stephen Boyd as Mark Antony in the troubled production Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963). Twentieth Century Fox's future appeared to hinge on what became the most expensive movie ever made up until then. During the filming, Burton met and fell in love with Elizabeth Taylor, who was married to Eddie Fisher. Such was the scandal surrounding the Burton-Taylor romance that the U.S. State Department was requested to revoke Burton's visa on grounds that he was ‘detrimental to the morals of the youth of our nation.’

    The tidal wave of press about the very public affair only helped to bring the curious public to theatres, which made it the highest grossing film of the year - though still a financial disaster, since its $26 million in ticket sales could never cover its price tag (an estimated $40 million). Cleopatra proved to be the start of Burton's most successful period in Hollywood; he would remain among the top 10 box-office earners for the next four years.

    He and Taylor would not be free to marry until 1964 when their respective divorces were complete. Their marriage was the start of a series of on-screen collaborations. In the first, The V.I.P.s (Anthony Asquith, 1964), Burton played a husband who tries to prevent his wife (Taylor) from leaving to join her lover (Louis Jourdan) in the VIP lounge of London Airport. It proved to be a box-office hit.

    Liz and Dick, as they were known, lived on a grand scale. He bought her jewels, including a 69-carat Cartier diamond. They bought a yacht for $500,000. Then he portrayed the archbishop martyred by Henry II in the title role of Becket (Peter Glenville, 1964), turning in an effective, restrained performance, contrasting with Peter O'Toole's manic portrayal of Henry.

    Burton triumphed as defrocked Episcopal priest Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon in Tennessee Williams'The Night of the Iguana (John Huston, 1964), a film which became another critical and box office success. Part of Burton's success in this film was due to how well he varied his acting with the three female characters, each of whom he tries to seduce differently: Ava Gardner (the randy hotel owner), Sue Lyon (the nubile American tourist), and Deborah Kerr (the poor, repressed artist).

    He received a third Tony Award nomination when he reprised his Hamlet under John Gielgud's direction in 1964 in a production that holds the record for the longest run of the play in Broadway history (136 performances).

    Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (1963)
    German postcard by Filmbilder-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen, no. AX 5536. Photo: publicity still for Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963) with Elizabeth Taylor.

    Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at the set of Cleopatra (1962)
    Czech collectors card by Pressfoto, Praha (Prague), no. S 229/2 769. Set photo of Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963) with Elizabeth Taylor and her children.

    Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (1963)
    Czech postcard by UPTF Pressfoto, Praha (Prague), no. S 206/7. Photo: publicity still for Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963) with Elizabeth Taylor.

    Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor
    Czech collectors card by Pressfoto, Praha (Prague), no. S 229/6 769, with Elizabeth Taylor.

    Lush and rollicking

    Richard Burton returned to the cinema as British spy Alec Leamas in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Martin Ritt, 1965). Burton and Taylor continued making films together though the next one, The Sandpiper (Vincente Minnelli, 1965), was poorly received.

    Following that, he and Elizabeth Taylor were a great success in the film adaptation of the Edward Albee play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols, 1966), in which a bitter erudite couple spend the evening trading vicious barbs in front of their horrified and fascinated guests, played by George Segal and Sandy Dennis. Burton was not the first choice for the role of Taylor's husband. Jack Lemmon was offered the role first, but when he backed off, Jack Warner, with Taylor's insistence, agreed on Burton and paid him his price. Although all four actors received Oscar nominations for their roles in the film (the film received a total of thirteen), only Taylor and Dennis went on to win.

    Their lush and rollicking adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew (Franco Zeffirelli, 1967), was a notable success. Later collaborations, however, The Comedians (Peter Glenville, 1967), Boom! (Joseph Losey, 1968), and the Burton-directed Doctor Faustus (Richard Burton, Nevill Coghill, 1967) (which had its genesis from a theatre production he staged and starred in at the Oxford University Dramatic Society) were critical and commercial failures.

    He did enjoy a final commercial blockbuster with Clint Eastwood in Where Eagles Dare (Brian G. Hutton, 1968) but his last film of the decade, Anne of the Thousand Days (Charles Jarrott, 1969), was a commercial and critical disappointment. In spite of those failures, it performed remarkably well at that year's Academy awards (receiving ten nominations, including one for Burton's performance as Henry VIII), which many thought to be largely the result of an expensive advertising campaign by Universal Studios.

    He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1970 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama. He collected this award on his 45th birthday with his older sister Cis, who raised him as a child, and his wife Elizabeth Taylor. Due to Burton and Taylor's extravagant spending and his support of his family and others (42 people at one point), Burton agreed to work in mediocre films such as Bluebeard (Edward Dmytryk, Luciano Sacripanti, 1972) opposite Virna Lisi, Hammersmith Is Out (Peter Ustinov, 1972), and The Klansman (Terence Young, 1974) that hurt his career.

    He recognised his financial need to do so, and that in the New Hollywood era of cinema he or Taylor would not soon again be paid as well as at the height of their stardom. The 1972 death of his brother Ifor cast him into a deep depression that brought his marriage to Taylor - once the gold standard for Hollywood unions - to an end in 1974.

    Richard Burton
    French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 254.

    Peter O´Toole, Richard Burton
    Spanish postcard by Postal Oscarcolor, no. 279. Photo: Publicity shot for Becket (Peter Glenville, 1964) with Peter O'Toole.

    Richard Burton
    Israelian postcard by Editions de Luxe, no. 10.

    Richard Burton
    Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, 1975. (This postcard was printed in an edition of 200.000 cards.)

    Critically Reviled Films

    After twelve years, Richard Burton returned to the stage in 1976 in Equus. He replaced Anthony Perkins as psychiatrist Martin Dysart dealing with a young, sexually troubled patient. He won a special Tony Award for his appearance, although he had to make Exorcist II: The Heretic (John Boorman, 1977) before Hollywood producers would allow him to repeat his role in the film version, Equus (Sidney Lumet, 1977). For this role he won the Golden Globe Award as well as an Academy Award nomination. Public sentiment towards his perennial frustration at not winning an Oscar made many pundits consider him the favourite to finally win the award, but on Oscar Night he lost to Richard Dreyfuss in The Goodbye Girl.

    In 1976 Burton received a Grammy in the category of Best Recording for Children for his narration of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. He also found success in 1978, when he narrated Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds. His distinctive performance became a necessary part of the concept album – so much so that a hologram of Burton is used to narrate the live stage show (touring in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010) of the musical.

    Burton had an international box office hit with The Wild Geese (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1978), an adventure tale co-starring Roger Moore, Richard Harris and Stewart Granger as mercenaries in Africa. He returned to appearing in critically reviled films like The Medusa Touch (Jack Gold, 1978) opposite Lino Ventura, Circle of Two (Jules Dassin, 1980), and opposite Laurence Olivier as Wagner (Tony Palmer, 1983), a role he said he was born to play, after his success in Equus.

    He died shortly after the filming of Michael Radford's adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) was completed. Burton played O'Brien, a sinister member of a totalitarian government who tortured John Hurt's low-ranking office worker for the crime of free thought. He was in terrible health during filming from years of alcoholism and heavy smoking, and had to wear a neck brace during rehearsals. His performance as O'Brien in the film was one of his most critically acclaimed performances, and as well as one of his most underplayed.

    Richard Burton was nominated six times for an Academy Award for Best Actor and once for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor – but he never won. Richard Burton was married five times and he had four children. From 1949 until their divorce in 1963, he was married to producer Sybil Williams, by whom he had two daughters, actress Katherine ´Kate´ Burton (1957) and Jessica Burton (1961), who was diagnosed as profoundly autistic and would eventually be institutionalised. He was married twice, consecutively, to Elizabeth Taylor, from 1964 to 1974 and from 1975 to 1976. In 1964, the couple adopted a daughter from Germany, Maria Burton (1961). Burton also adopted Taylor's daughter by the late producer Mike Todd, Elizabeth Frances ´Liza´ Todd Burton (1957). In August 1976, a month after his second divorce from Taylor, Burton married model Susan Hunt, the former wife of Formula 1 Champion James Hunt; the marriage ended in divorce in 1982. From 1983 until his death in 1984, Burton was married to make-up artist Sally Hay.

    Richard Burton died at age 58 from a brain haemorrhage in 1984 at his home in Céligny, Switzerland, and is buried there. Posthumously the television miniseries Ellis Island (Jerry London, 1984) was shown. It co-starred Richard with his daughter Kate Burton. Brian McFarlane concludes in the Encyclopedia of British Cinema: “In a wayward career, almost as famous for his drinking and his marriages, Burton would intermittently remind audiences of what he could do.”

    Richard Burton
    American postcard by Coral-Lee, Rancho Cordova, no. CL/Personality # 71. Photo: Douglas Kirkland, 1981.

    Richard Burton
    German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no 226.

    Trailer for Look Back In Anger (1959). Source: ChocolateFrogPrince (YouTube).

    Trailer for Cleopatra (1963). Source: DameElizabethTaylor (YouTube).

    Sources: Brian McFarlane (Encyclopedia of British Cinema), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Kit and Morgan Benson (Find A Grave), TCM,  Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 03/20/17--23:00: Dagny Servaes
  • Dagny Servaes (1894-1961) was a German-Austrian theatre and film actress. She made her first film appearance in 1916 and reached her peak in Ernst Lubitsch'Das Weib des Pharao/The Pharaoh's Wife (1921).

    Dagny Servaes
    German postcard by Verl. Herm. Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 2427. Photo: Lisi Jessen.

    Dagny Servaes
    German postcard by Verl. Herm. Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 2429. Photo: Lisi Jessen. Sent by mail in 1918.

    Dagny Servaes
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin. K. 1530. Photo Alex Binder, Berlin.

    War Propaganda

    Dagny Servaes was born in Berlin in 1894. She was the daughter of author Franz Servaes.

    Dagny took acting lessons at the Wiener Akademie für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (Viennese academy for music and performing arts). In 1912 she managed to have an engagement at the Hoftheater in Meiningen, and from 1913 on Servaes played at the reputed Berliner Bühnen as well as at the Deutschen Theater, Lessingtheater and Staatstheater.

    From 1916 on, Dagny Servaes played in silent cinema as well, where she soon became a leading actress. Her debut was in the war propaganda film Das Tagebuch des Dr. Hart (1916) by Paul Leni.

    That same year she appeared opposite Emil Jannings in Stein unter Steinen/Stone under stones (Felix Basch, 1916).

    In the late 1910s she did several films with director Emmerich Hanus, including Aranka und Arauka/Aranka and Arauka (Emmerich Hanus, 1918), Das Geheimnis des Irren/The secret of wandering (Emmerich Hanus, 1919) and Die Nacht der Prüfung/The night of the test (Emmerich Hanus, 1920) with Theodor Loos.

    Dagny Servaes
    German postcard by Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8245. Photo: Becker & Maass. Publicity still for Der Bogen des Odysseus. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Dagny Servaes in John Riew (1917)
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2001. Photo: Union Film. Publicity still for John Riew (Walter Schmidthässler, 1917) with Karl Valentin, Dagny Servaes and Käthe Dorsch.

    Dagny Servaes
    Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 812. Photo: Verleih Philipp & Co.


    Dagny Servaes reached her peak in 1921 with the female lead as a beautiful slave girl in Ernst Lubitsch‘ historical epic Das Weib des Pharao/The Pharaoh’s Wife (Ernst Lubitsch, 1921). The film also starred Emil Jannings as the Pharaoh who falls in love with the slave girl, and Harry Liedtke as Ramphis, her real love interest.

    Thomas Staedeli writes at Cyranos: "In 1922 she appeared in Das Weib des Pharao, one of the biggest productions of the year and they predicted her a great career like Pola Negri. But oddly enough her film career got stuck at the beginning, she never played again such an important part as in Das Weib des Pharao."

    A memorable lead was the Russian spy Sonia in Oberst Redl/Colonel Redl (Hans Otto Löwenstein, 1924). Sixty years later, Redl’s life was again filmed by Istvan Szabo.

    Even though she was celebrated as a star, Servaes’ parts became a bit smaller in the following years, as in Die lachende Grille/The Laughing Cricket (Friedrich Zelnik, 1926) starring Lya Mara, and Die Weber/The Weaver (Friedrich Zelnik, 1927) starring Paul Wegener.

    In 1926 she temporarily left the screen and returned to the stage. She joined Max Reinhardt‘s ensemble for a theatre tour across the United States in 1926-1928. In New York she performed in Jedermann/Everyman, Ein Sommernachtstraum/Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dantons Tod/Danton’s Death and Carlo Goldoni‘s Diener zweier Herren/Servant of Two Masters.

    Dagny Servaes
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K 1755. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

    Dagny Servaes and Conrad Veidt in Carlos und Elisabeth (1924)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 674/5. Photo: Krabbe. Publicity still for Carlos und Elisabeth/Carlos and Elisabeth (Richard Oswald, 1924) with Conrad Veidt.

    Der Jozefstadt

    In 1936 Dagny Servaes established herself in Vienna and played secondary parts in sound films. From 1938 to 1948 she played at the Theater in der Josefstadt and from 1950 on mostly at the Volkstheater. From 1952 on she was part of the ensemble of the Burgtheater.

    Until 1959 Servaes played in dozens of German and Austrian films. Among her German films were the UFA comedy Die Töchter ihrer Excellenz/The daughters of Her Excellency (Reinhold Schünzel, 1934) with Käthe von Nagy, Nanon (Herbert Maisch, 1938) with Johannes Heesters, Friedrich Schiller (Herbert Maisch, 1940), and the tearjerker Die goldene Stadt/The Golden City (Veit Harlan, 1942) starring Kristina Söderbaum.

    Her Austrian films included Unsterbliche Walzer/Immortal Waltz (E.W. Emo, 1939) as the wife of Johan Strauss Sr. (Paul Hörbiger), Eroica (Walter Kolm-Veltée, 1949) - a biopic on Ludwig von Beethoven (Ewald Balser) - and the Heimat-film Die Regimentstochter/Daughter of the Regiment (George C. Klaren, 1953).

    Her last feature film was the romantic drama Der Schandfleck/The disgrace (Herbert B. Fredersdorf, 1956) with Gerlinde Locker.

    Dagny Servaes died in Vienna in 1961, her tomb is at the Grinzinger Friedhof. She was married to Erwin Goldarbeiter, an assistant to Max Reinhardt in the 1920s.

    Dagny Servaes
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K 1754. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

    Dagny Servaes in Jedermann (1926-1937)
    Austrian postcard by Hintner und Traub, Salzburg. Photo: publicity still for the stage play Jedermann (Everyman) by Hugo von Hofmannsthal at the Salzburger Festspiele. She played the part of Buhlschaft from 1926 till 1937.

    Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German) and IMDb. Thanks to Helmut Books for the corrections.

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  • 03/21/17--23:00: Vintage cigarette cards
  • Last year, EFSP had two posts about cigarette cards made by Ross Verlag in Berlin before the war: Bunte Filmbilder (Our Colourful Film Pictures) and Bunte Filmbilder (Colourful Film Pictures). The cards were enclosed in the packs of Josetti's various brands of cigarettes. Today EFSP presents German cigarette cards, made by an unnamed publisher after the war, and British cigarette cards with pin-ups from the 1930s.

    Marilyn Monroe
    Marilyn Monroe. German cigarette card, no. 30. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

    Scilla Gabel
    Scilla Gabel. German cigarette card. Photo: Jiano.

    Jackie Lane
    Jackie Lane. German cigarette card.

    Giovanna Ralli
    Giovanna Ralli. German cigarette card.

    Federico Fellini
    Federico Fellini. German cigarette card.

    Italian film director and screenwriter Federico Fellini (1920-1993) was one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. He was known for his distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness. In a career spanning almost fifty years, Fellini won the Palme d'Or for La Dolce Vita, was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, and directed four motion pictures that won Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.

    Dorian Gray
    Dorian Gray. German cigarette card. Photo: Frontini.

    Belinda Lee
    Belinda Lee. German cigarette card. Photo: Treuhaft.

    Joan Blondell
    Joan Blondell. British cigarette card by State Express and Ardath Cigarettes, Series two, number 9. Photo: First National.

    American actress Joan Blondell (1906–1979) performed in more than 100 movies and on television for five decades, often as the wisecracking blonde.

    Diane Boyd
    Diane Boyd. British cigarette card in the Seventh series of Modern Beauties, no. 16. Caption: 16 year old lady of chorus at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, London. This is one of a series of 36 real photographs now being packed with these cigarettes.

    Hazel Lombard
    Hazel Lombard. British cigarette card in the Third series of Beauties of To-Day by Godfrey Phillips Ltd, no. 5.

    Pamela Mervyn
    Pamela Mervyn. British cigarette card in the Seventh series of Modern Beauties, no. 6. Caption: Pamela Mervyn of the Windmill Theatre, London.

    Valerie. British cigarette card in the Seventh series of Modern Beauties, no. 8.

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  • 03/22/17--23:00: La grande passione (1922)
  • The silent Italian drama La grande passione (1922) was a star vehicle for diva Italia Almirante Manzini. The film was directed by her cousin Mario Almirante. He also wrote the script, based on a novel by writer-reporter Alessandro Varaldo. Cinematography was by Ubaldo Arata, and the sets were designed by Mario Gheduzzi. The film was produced by Produzione Fert (Rome-Turin). In 2001 a restored print of the Filmoteca de la UNAM (Mexico) was presented at Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 15. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and here with Carlo Benetti. Caption: If you decide to accept we could take the 19:00 train. Think about this when you have calmed down.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 16. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922). Caption: After the duel in American style.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 17. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and Carlo Benetti. Caption: Oh? Dignity?... Which one?

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 18. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922). Caption: My dear, I understand you and I love you.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 19. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922). Caption: Patrizio Algesio and Gaspare Lucidi.

    Not love but serenity

    La grande passione (1922) tells the story of Maria (Italia Almirante Manzini), an orphan, who lives with her uncle (Vittorio Pieri). Her beauty raises the jealousy of her female cousins, who persecute her.

    Maria is almost obliged to accept a marriage offer by a rich widower, Carli (Joaquin Carrasco). It is not love but serenity. Love appears as another man, Marcello (Carlo Benetti), cousin of Carli, starts to court Maria. A friend, Patrizio (André Habay), warns her in vain.

    After being left by Marcello, Maria accepts the sincere and disinterested love of Patrizio. When Marcello returns and wants Maria back, a duel with Patrizio follows in which Marcello is killed. In the meantime Carli has been ruined by Marcello. It is then that Maria understands her plight to stay close to her husband, sacrificing her great love for Patrizio, while returning to Carli.

    When La grande passione was released in Italy in early 1923 it was praised by the Italian trade press. Both La vita cinematografica and La rivista cinematografica lauded both Mario Almirante's direction and Italia Almirante's dramatic performance.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 20. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: You are still decided to never leave me.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 21. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: Caption: The past.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 22. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini. Caption: Separation.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 23. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: It's about to leave!

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 23. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manziniand André Habay. Caption: Joint life in their retreat.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 24. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: A trip on Lake Como.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione (1922)
    Italian postcard, no. 26. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione (1922)
    Italian postcard, no. 27. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922). Caption: The presentation of Ottavio. The name is puzzling as there is no character of that name in the film. Probably meant is Marcello. So Maria's husband Carli (Joaquin Carrasco) presents his nephew Marcello (Carlo Benetti) to Maria (Italia Almirante).

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard, no. 28. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: You want to to flee with me... forever?

    Sources: Sempre in penombra (Italian), Wikipedia (Italian), and IMDb.

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  • 03/23/17--23:00: Macha Méril
  • In the early 1960s, French actress and writer Macha Méril (1940) was one of the actresses of the Nouvelle Vague. During her career, she appeared in 125 films by such famous directors as Jean-Luc Godard, Luis Bunuel, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Dario Argento.

    Macha Méril
    French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 88. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

    Macha Méril
    French playing card. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Macha Méril
    French postcard by St. Anne, Marseille. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Russian Princess

    Macha Méril (sometimes written as Méryl) was born Princess Maria-Magdalena Vladimirovna Gagarina in 1940 in Rabat, Morocco. By her father, she is descended from the Russian princely house Gagarin and by her mother from a Ukrainian noble family. Her parents were Mary Belsky and Prince Belsky Wladimir Gagarin who were cousins and were found in the south of France after fleeing the Bolshevik Russia, separately.

    She attended Lycce Marie Curie de Sceaux school, then started a degree in literature at the Sorbonne while attending the Course Dullin theatre NPT (Theatre National Populaire). From 1959 on, Macha Méril appeared in more than 125 films. She began her film career with a role in La Main chaude (1959), the directing debut of Gérard Oury. I

    In the 1960s she also worked as a model. Between 1960 and 1962, she attended the course of Lee Strasberg at the Actor's Studio as an observer while working as a model in for Harper's Bazaar in New York. After a few guest parts in American TV series, she returned to France.

    Her first French films were often examples of the Nouvelle Vague, like Eric Rohmer’s Le signe du lion/Sign of the Lion (1962). She also appeared in the double film La vie conjugale/Anatomy of a Marriage (André Cayatte, 1963), the story of a couple from the very first meeting to break up, told in one film from the perspective of the woman (Marie-José Nat) and in the other from the man (Jacques Charrier).

    In Jean-Luc Godard’s Une femme mariée/A Married Woman (1964) she plays a bored housewife who has an affair. Godard records 24 hours in the life of Charlotte (Meril), the eponymous married woman, a morning and the morning after with her lover, actor Robert (Bernard Rose), the evening spent with Pierre, her pilot husband (Philippe Leroy).

    Another highlight was the classic Belle de jour (Luis Bunuel, 1967), featuring Catherine Deneuve. She then formed her own production company called Machafilm which co-produced the romantic drama Au pan coupé/Wall Engravings (Guy Gilles, 1968), Pier Paolo Pasolini's Porcile (1969) and Robert Bresson’s Quatre nuits d'un rêveur/Four Nights a Dreamer (1971).

    Macha Méril
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

    Macha Méril
    Collection: Bunched Undies.

    Macha Méril
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 180.

    Italian Horror Thrillers

    In 1969, Macha Méril married Italian filmmaker and producer Gian Vittorio Baldi, and the couple settled in Rome. She kept appearing in interesting films, such as in the French film Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble/Break-Up (Maurice Pialat, 1972) with Marlène Jobert and Jean Yanne.

    She also often performed on TV. But Macha Méril is perhaps best known for her roles in the Giallos (Italian horror thrillers) Profondo rosso/Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975) starring David Hemmings, and L'ultimo treno della notte/Night Train Murders (Aldo Lado, 1975), in which she played a demented nymphomaniac.

    With her friend Anna Karina, she appeared in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Chinesisches Roulette/Chinese Roulette (1976). Back in France she appeared in the excellent thriller Mortelle randonnée (Claude Miller, 1983) starring Michel Serrault and Isabelle Adjani.

    One of her best films is Agnes Varda’s dark but mesmerizing drama Sans toit ni loi/Vagabond (1985) with Sandrine Bonnaire as a free-spirited drifter on the road in southern France. Her later films include the drama Duet for One (Andrey Konchalovskiy, 1986) with Julie Andrews, the Italian drama Una storia semplice/A Simple Story (Emidio Greco 1991) starring Gian Maria Volonté, and the satire Meeting Venus (Istvan Szabo, 1991) with Meryl Streep.

    Macha Méril has also written a series of cookbooks and four novels. She is politically active and has supported the presidential campaigns of Lionel Jospin in 2002, Ségolène Royal in 2007 and François Hollande in 2012. Between 1969 and 1978, she was married to Italian director and producer Gian Vittorio Baldi.

    Since 2014, she is married to composer Michel Legrand. She has been given the Officier des Arts et des Lettres, Chevalier de l'Ordre du Merite, Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur and Chevalier du Mérite Agricole. Her latest film is Un profil pour deux (Stéphane Robelin, 2017) with Pierre Richard.

    Trailer Une femme mariée/A Married Woman (1964). Source: precija (YouTube).

    Trailer Profondo rosso/Deep Red (1975). Source: Blade in the Dark (YouTube).

    Trailer L'ultimo treno della notte/Night Train Murders (1975). Source: BlueUndergroundinc (YouTube).

    Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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    Everything Croton is a blog that reports on local issues in the village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York. But editor Maria also loves all things vintage and at least a third of the posts are reserved for movies, vintage Christmas, history, antiques, and such. We gave Maria carte blanche for this guest post and she chose some of her favourite EFSP posts, some with a 'Croton-on-Hudson' connection.

    Imported from the USA: Gloria Swanson

    Gloria Swanson in Stage Struck (1925)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1488/3, 1927-1928. Photo: Paramount / Parafumet. Publicity still for Stage Struck (Allan Dwan, 1925).

    Maria: "Swanson lived in Croton-on-Hudson in the 1920s. You can read more about that here."

    Erich von Stroheim

    Erich von Stroheim
    British postcard in the Picturegoer series, London, no. 20a. Photo: Fox.

    "Erich von Stroheim, a most talented director and actor, rumored—but never confirmed--to have spent time in Croton at the Swanson estate."

    Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. 133/3. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Ben-Hur (Fred Niblo, 1925) with Messala (Francis X. Bushman) and Ben-Hur (Ramon Novarro) during the famous chariot race. Mark how the tribunes are empty and the upper part of the circus is missing (it was projected into the film using a hanging model).

    "Former matinee idol Francis X. Bushman also had a Croton-on-Hudson connection."

    Charles Chaplin

    Charlie Chaplin, The Circus
    French postcard by Editions Cinematographiques, no. 499. Photo: United Artists. Publicity still for The Circus (1928). Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Chaplin (1992)

    Chaplin (1992)
    French postcard by Editions Mercuri, no. 813. Photo: Tri-Star Pictures. Publicity still for Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992), which featured Robert Downey Jr. as Charles Spencer Chaplin.

    "Chaplin also had a Croton connection to the editor of The Masses, Max Eastman."

    Our Gang's Jean Darling and Dickie Moore R.I.P.

    Jean Darling RIP (1922-2015)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4356/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still of Our Gang a.k.a. The Little Rascals with Jean Darling, the blonde girl.

    "The Little Rascals post from EFSP - because they still have lots of fans here in Croton!"

    Merry Christmas!

    Jayne Mansfield
    Jayne Mansfield. French postcard by Edition Humour a la carte. Photo: Filmhistorisches Bildarchiv Peter W. Engelmeier.

    "The 2016 EFSP Merry Christmas post."

    Thank you Maria, and greetings from us here at EFSP to everybody in Croton!

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  • 03/25/17--22:00: Tomas Milian (1933-2017)
  • On Wednesday 22 March 2017, Cuban-American actor Tomas Milian passed away. He worked extensively in Italian films from the early 1960s to the late 1980s. Milian played neurotic and sadistic killers in several Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s and lone-wolf anti-heroes in violent action and police thrillers of the 1970s. Very popular in Italy were his crime-comedies of the late 1970s and 1980s. Besides these genre films, he worked with such prolific directors as Mauro Bolognini, Luchino Visconti, Bernardo Bertolucci and Michelangelo Antonioni. Tomas Milian was 84.

    Thomas Milian
    Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, in the series Artisti di sempre, no. 118.


    Tomas Milian was born as Tomás Quintín Rodríguez in Havana, Cuba in 1933 (some sources say 1932). His name is also written as Tomás Milián and Thomas Milian.

    He is the son of Tomas Rodriguez, a general serving the dictatorship of Gerardo. His father was arrested and jailed after dictator Fulgencio Batista took power in Cuba in 1933. Rodriguez committed suicide in 1945 in his home, with Tomás as an eyewitness.

    In 1955, Milian decided to leave Cuba. Arriving in Miami he worked in several small jobs. He joined the navy for a few months to get his American citizenship.

    In New York he auditioned at the Actors Studio, where he was taught the seminal ‘Stanislavsky method’ of acting. He played on Broadway in Maidens and Mistresses at home at the Zoo. Author Meade Roberts had written the piece just for him. Milián also appeared on the short-lived television series Decoy in 1957.

    In 1958 he went to Italy for a part in the play The Poet and the Muse by Jean Cocteau, which was performed at a theatre festival in Spoleto. There he decided to relocate, and he stayed in Italy for 30 years.

    His Italian film debut was as a young Roman criminal in the social drama La notte brava/Bad Girls Don't Cry (Mauro Bolognini, 1959) with Rosanna Schiaffino and Elsa Martinelli. With Bolognini, he also worked on Il bell'Antonio/Handsome Antonio (Mauro Bolognini, 1960) with Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale. The film won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival.

    Milian appeared in other classic art house films such as I Delfini/The Dauphins (Francesco Maselli, 1960) starring Claudia Cardinale, and Luchino Visconti’s part of the anthology film Boccaccio '70 (1962), opposite Romy Schneider. In most of his Italian films, his voice was dubbed due to his accent. Milian performed his lines in Italian. Gradually he became a very successful performer in the European cinema.

    Thomas Milian & Romy Schneider in Boccaccio 70
    Publicity still distributed by Rank in Germany (see the mark of the German censor FSK at the right). Thomas Milian and Romy Schneider in Luchino Visconti's episode Il Lavoro in the episode film Boccaccio 70 (1962). Milian plays a bored aristocrat, caught in a scandal with callgirls. Schneider plays his rich and equally bored Austrian wife, who tries to seduce her husband and make him pay for love just like he did with his callgirls. It works, but leaves the woman with bitterness. The set of the film was very costly because of all the authentic, valuable objects present.

    An Unexpected Boost

    After five years of making what he deemed ‘intellectual’ films, Tomas Milian was unhappy with his contract with producer Franco Cristaldi and thought of going back to the United States.

    Needing money to start over, he took the opportunity to star as a bandit in the Spaghetti Western El precio de un hombre/The Bounty Killer (Eugenio Martin, 1966). This Spanish-Italian production gave his career an unexpected boost, and ultimately resulted in his staying in Italy.

    His next Western was La resa dei conti/The Big Gundown (Sergio Sollima, 1966) with Lee Van Cleef. According to Wikipedia it falls in to the subgenre called Zapata Westerns: Spaghetti Westerns with some political context usually concerning the Mexican revolution.

    Milian played Cuchillo, a charming rogue accused of rape and murder. He played the role again in Corri, uomo, corri/Run, Man, Run! (Sergio Sollima, 1968) with Gian Maria Volonté. Milián became a star of the Spaghetti Western genre.

    Among his films are the brutally violent Se sei vivo spara/Django Kill (Giulio Questi, 1967), Sentenza di morte/Death Sentence (Mario Lanfranchi, 1968) starring Richard Conte, and Vamos a matar, compañeros/Compañeros (Sergio Corbucci, 1970) with Franco Nero.

    Milian often played Mexican bandits or revolutionaries, roles in which he spoke in his real voice. When the Spaghetti Western dwindled, Milián remained a star. He starred in the drama I cannibali/The Cannibals (Liliana Cavani, 1970), inspired by the Antigone of Sophocles.

    He had a supporting part in Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie (1971), which won the Critics Prize at the Venice Film Festival, but failed financially and critically. More successful was the Giallo Non si sevizia un paperino/Don't Torture a Duckling (Lucio Fulci, 1972) in which he starred with Barbara Bouchet.

    Milian also excelled in another genre, the Poliziotteschi (Italian police crime films). His first film in this genre Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare/Almost Human (1974) lead to five more films with the director, Umberto Lenzi.

    Thomas Milian
    East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2371, 1965. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.

    Cult Performer

    In the late 1970s, Tomas Milian turned to comedy. In Il trucido e lo sbirro/Free Hand for a Tough Cop (Umberto Lenzi, 1976), Milian played for the first time the petty thief Sergio Marazzi aka ‘Er Monnezza’, a role that he later played two more times.

    Another recurring character was the Serpico-like police officer Nico Giraldi, which he played in 12 crime-comedies. Although his voice was dubbed most of the time by Ferruccio Amendola, Milian wrote his own lines in Roman slang. Milián's inventive use of romanesco (roman dialect) made him somewhat of a cult performer in Italy, even though his later films were critically panned.

    Wikipedia cites Bruno Corbucci, the director of many of these films: "At the cinemas as soon as Tomás Milian appeared on the screen, when he made a wisecrack and in the heaviest situations, then it was a pandemonium, it was like being at the stadium."

    As Milian used similar make-ups and accents in portraying both characters, Monnezza and Nico were occasionally confused by Italian audiences. In Italy, Milián is now still associated with these performances.

    Occasionally he appeared in non-genre pictures, such as Bernardo Bertolucci's La Luna/Luna (1979), for which he won a Nastro d'Argento for Best supporting Actor, and Michelangelo Antonioni's Identificazione di una donna/Identification of a Woman (1982). In the latter, Milián plays a divorced middle-aged filmmaker searching for a woman to play the leading role in his next film, and also in his life. The film was awarded the 35th Anniversary Prize at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival.

    During his 30 years in Italy, Milian received two major awards for his contribution, the Antonio de Curtis Award for Comedy and the Coppa Del Consiglio Dei Ministri from the Italian government. In 1989, he decided to go back to the United States.

    He played character parts in Revenge (Tony Scott, 1990), Amistad (Steven Spielberg, 1997) and Traffic (Steven Soderbergh, 2000). He also performed on stage. More recently he appeared in Andy Garcia’s Cuban drama The Lost City (2005), and in the political thriller The Feast of the Goat (Luis Llosa, 2006), based on Mario Vargas Llosa's novel about the assassination of Dominican dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.

    Tomas Milian died in Miami, Florida, where he had lived in retirement. Since 1964, he was married to Rita Valletti. They had one son, Tommasso. Milian was 84.

    Trailer Faccia a faccia/Face to Face (Sergio Solima, 1967). Source: Cultcinedotcom (YouTube).

    Trailer Roma a mano armata/The Tough Ones (Umberto Lenzi, 1976). Source: Thomas Crommentuyn (YouTube).

    Trailer Identificazione di una donna/Identification of a Woman (1982). Source: Tomas Milian (YouTube).

    Sources: Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Tom B. (Westerns... All’ Italiana), The Spaghetti Western Database, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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