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Vintage postcards, stars and stories.
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  • 06/04/17--07:00: Karel Dibbets (1947-2017)
  • Dutch cinema historian Karel Dibbets died earlier this week. He was a scholar at the University of Amsterdam, co-published De Nederlandse film en bioscoop tot 1940 - a history of Dutch cinema to 1940, edited the volume Film and the First World War, and was the founding father of Cinema Context, an extensive online interactive encyclopedia of film culture in the Netherlands from 1896 to the present. He was also a friend of my partner, Ivo Blom, and me. Ivo wrote a tribute to Karel on his personal site: In memoriam: Karel Dibbets (1947-2017). For EFSP, I chose for a post on Karel's 1993 Dutch-written academic thesis, Sprekende films (Talking Pictures), about the introduction of sound film in the Netherlands between 1928 and 1933. It's one of the best film history books ever published in the Netherlands: a sometimes hilarious and exciting read, thoroughly researched and very well written.

    Vilma Banky, Ronald Colman
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3375/1, 1928-1929. Photo: United Artists. Publicity still for Two Lovers (Fred Niblo, 1928) with Vilma Banky and Ronald Colman. On 22 January 1929, scenes with sound of the American film Two Lovers were shown to the Dutch press. The press was invited for the demonstration by innovative cinema entrepreneur Loet C. Barnstijn in his showroom in The Hague. The programme, including short films and scenes from another early sound film, Tempest (Sam Taylor, 1928), were presented with his 'Loetafoon'. On behalf of Barnstijn, Philips, under the direction of The Hague engineer Frits Prinsen, had developed this system to mix sound with film. The system worked with gramophone records.

    Douglas Fairbanks
    French postcard by Europe, no. 452. Photo: United Artists / Regal Film. Publicity still for The Iron Mask (Allan Dwan, 1929) with Douglas Fairbanks. The Iron Mask was shown in Dutch cinemas as a sound film without dialogues. The United Artists production was a box office hit in the Dutch cinemas.

    Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald in The Love Parade (1929)
    French postcard by Cinémagazine Edition, Paris, no. 794. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Love Parade (Ernst Lubitsch, 1929) with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. American musicals became all the rage in Dutch cinemas in 1929. They bridged the language barrier. One of the best examples was The Love Parade (1929).

    Greta Garbo in Anna Christie (1930)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5108/2, 1930-1931. Photo: MGM. Publicity still for Anna Christie (Clarence Brown, 1930) with Greta Garbo. Around 1930, there were no subtitles and Dutch audiences understood German dialogues better than English. So when Garbo spoke for the first time on screen in Anna Christie, Dutch audiences heard her famous first line in German: "Whisky – aber nicht zu knapp!

    Anny Ondra
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4451/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Schlosser & Wenisch, Prague. The British thriller Blackmail (Alfred Hitchcock, 1929), starring Anny Ondra, was shown in a German language version in The Netherlands. After starting production as a silent film, producer British International Pictures decided to convert Blackmail into a sound film during filming, becoming the first successful European dramatic talkie; a silent version was released for theaters not equipped for sound, with the sound version released at the same time.

    Ramon Novarro in The Pagan (1929)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4907/3/4, 1929-1930. Photo: MGM. Publicity still for The Pagan (W.S. Van Dyke, 1929) with Ramon Novarro. Another genre that became popular after the introduction of sound was the exotic films as made by W.S. Van Dyke. His films tell about paradise areas where mysterious singing sounds... His The Pagan is a silent/part talking romantic drama filmed in Tahiti. Novarro made a successful transition to sound cinema by singing the Pagan Love Song in this film.

    Heinrich George
    Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 6305. Photo: Verleih W. Luschinsky. Europe developed several early sound systems for the cinema. A curious sound system was the Eidophon, developed to produce Catholic films. The first and last Eidophon production was the German melodrama Das Meer ruft/The Sea Calls (Hans Hinrich, 1933), starring Heinrich George. On 26 January 1933, the film had its Dutch premiere at the Tuschinski Theater in Amsterdam with a bishop and an archbishop in the audience.

    Talking Pictures in the Netherlands

    The transition from silent to sound film started in America. The major breakthrough for the sound technology happened in the 1927-1928 season with the immense success of The Jazz Singer (Alan Crosland, 1927) with Al Jolson in blackface doing Mammy and Mother Of Mine, and singing Toot, Toot, Toosie Goodbye.

    In the next seasons followed immense problems when Hollywood tried to export the new sound film to Europe. The Americans would encounter two serious obstacles in Europe: strange languages ​​and competition. Current techniques like sync and subtitle did not exist yet.

    Karel Dibbets describes in Sprekende films the power struggle between the enormous electronics groups of America and Europe about the sound systems. The possession of patents in this new area was the main subject of the controversy.

    In no other country in Europe has been so excessively reacted tot the arrival of the sound film as in the Netherlands. Many air castles were built by entrepreneurs and the fiasco's were as immense. In his book, Dibbets describes how the Netherlands played a central role as the financier of the European sound film.

    In 1929 people speculated on the Amsterdam stock exchange with millions, hoping for a good end of this grand film adventure. Well known celebrities such as industrialist Anton Philips, Mr. Brenninkmeyer of the C&A stores, former prime minister Charles Ruijs de Beerenbrouck and author and film activist Menno ter Braak were all intensely involved in the introduction of the sound film.

    The advent of the sound film led to the tragic demise of the cinema musicians as a professional group, but it also caused a new wave of Dutch films in the thirties.

    Adolphe Engers
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3186/1, 1928-1929. Adolphe Engerswas the first Dutch actor who spoke on film. He could be seen and heard in a short film presented on 1 May 1928 at the ITT, an international film exhibition in The Hague. It was the first time the Meisterston sound system, a sound system invented by H.J. Küchenmeister, was demonstrated for the public. In 1932, Adolphe Engers was also the first actor who spoke in a feature film. In Terra nova (Gerard Rutten, 1932), played a fisherman who shouts eagerly awaited news to the people in his village: "De dijk is dicht!" (The dike is closed!). Terra nova tells about the closure of the Zuiderzee, a shallow bay of the North Sea in the northwest of the Netherlands. Terra nova thus connects the start of the sound film with the historic moment when the majority of the Zuiderzee was closed off from the North Sea by the construction of the Afsluitdijk. Sadly the film was not shown in the Dutch cinemas at the time, due to various problems.

    Louis Davids
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 803, 1925-1926. Collection: Marlene Pilaete. Between 1929 and 1931, simultaneous productions in different languages were seen as the solution for the language problems in the international cinemas. On the same set and with the same camera different films were produced. Atlantic (E.A. Dupont, 1929) was the first simultaneous production, made in English, German and French. Paramount op Parade (Job Weening, 1930), filmed at the European Paramount studio in Joinville, France, was a Dutch language version of Paramount on Parade (Dorothy Arzner, Ernst Lubitsch, a.o., 1930) and featured a sing and dance number by the great Dutch revue star Louis Davids.

    Lien Deijers, Roland Varno, Dolly Bouwmeester
    Dutch postcard for the Dutch early sound film De Sensatie der toekomst/Television (Dimitri Buchowetzki, Jack Salvatori, 1931) with Lien Deijers, Roland Varno and Dolly Bouwmeester. De Sensatie der toekomst was also produced at the Paramount studio in Joinville. It was one of the many alternative language versions of the French film Magie moderne (Dimitri Buchowetzki, 1931) about the new medium television. The film is now considered lost.

    Ernst Winar
    Vintage postcard, no. 988/1. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute. Actor and director Ernst Winar made some early sound shorts in 1932 and 1933, which could be played with a gramophone. These included Een huisje op de hei/A cottage on the heath, accompanying a song by cabaret artist Louis Noiret. These films were made for projection at home by Cinetone, which produced amateur sound projectors.

    Fien de la Mar
    Dutch postcard by JosPe. Sent by mail in 1935. Photo: Godfried de Groot. In the short film Hollandsch Hollywood (Ernst Winar, 1933), stage actress Fien de la Mar sang the title song about a new Dutch sound film industry. The song proved to be prophetic: in the next years there was a bubble with dozens of Dutch films, and Fien de la Mar became the Dutch film diva.

    Cor van der Lugt Melsert, Annie van Ees, Boefje
    Dutch postcard by N.V. Vereenigd Rotterdamsch Hofstadtoneel, Rotterdam. Photo: Willem Coret. Still for the stage version of Boefje with Cor van der Lugt Melsert and Annie van Ees. Cor van der Lugt Melsert played the lead role in the first Dutch sound feature, the historical drama Willem van Oranje/William the Silent (1934), produced, co-written, and directed by Jan Teunissen. The film portrays the life of William the Silent, 400 years after his birth, and the origins of the Dutch Revolt. The film was produced in Eindhoven in the 'Philiwood' studios. The costume drama was not a success.

    Jan van Ees, Willy Costello, Johan Kaart jr
    Dutch postcard by Hollandia Film Prod. / Loet C. Barnstijn. Photo: publicity still for De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934) with Jan van Ees, Willy Costello and Johan Kaart jr. A huge success was the second Dutch sound film, the musical comedy De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934). It lead to a wave of Dutch films, which was also stimulated by the invention of the sound film.

    Max Croiset and Arnold Marlé in Dood water
    Dutch postcard, no. 38996. Photo: Nederlandse Filmgemeenschap, Holland. Publicity still for Dood water/Dead water (Gerard Rutten, 1934) with Max Croiset and Arnold Marlé. Collection: Egbert Barten. Although his Terra nova did not reach the cinemas, director Gerard Rutten got his breakthrough with another film drama on fishermen and the closing of the Zuiderzee. Dood water/Dead water won an award at the 1934 Venice Film Festival. So, the dike was definitively closed and the Dutch sound film was here to stay.

    Source: Karel Dibbets (Sprekende films - Dutch).

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    This week EFSP brings a tribute to Ross Verlag. The German publishing company produced many, many star postcards from the late 1910s till the early 1940s. For the third part of this series, we chose 20 postcards of German stars of the early 1930s. Many of these stars of the Weimar cinema had to flee the country when the Nazis started their reign of terror in 1933.

    Enrico Benfer and Jenny Jugo
    Enrico Benfer and Jenny Jugo. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4535/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Ufa.

    Trude Berliner and Maurice Chevalier
    Trude Berliner and Maurice Chevalier. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5748/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Paramount. Unknown is for which film this still was made. Probably it was an alternative language version of a Paramount production, produced at the Joinville Studios in Paris.

    Felix Bressart, Anny Ondra
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6065/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Ondra Lamac Film. Publicity still for Eine Freundin so goldig wie Du/A cute girlfriend like you (Carl Lamac, 1930) with Felix Bressart and Anny Ondra.

    Otto Wallburg and Willy Fritsch in Der Kongress tanzt
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 131/3. Photo: Ufa. Still from Der Kongress Tanzt/The Congress Dances (1931) with Otto Wallburg and Willy Fritsch.

    Willy Fritsch, Lilian Harvey and Willi Forst in Ein blonder Traum
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 143/3, 1931-1932. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Ein blonder Traum/Happy Ever After (Paul Martin, 1932) with Willy Fritsch, Lilian Harvey and Willi Forst.

    Dina Gralla
    Dina Gralla. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6345/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Heros.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. 189/1. Photo: Elite-Cinema. Publicity still for Heimkehr ins Glück/Return to Happiness (Carl Boese, 1933) with Heinz Rühmann.

    Renate Müller and Hermann Thimig in Viktor und Viktoria
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 195/1. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Viktor und Viktoria/Viktor and Viktoria (Reinhold Schünzel, 1933) with Renate Müller and Hermann Thimig.

    Lilian Harvey and Wolf Albach-Retty in Zwei Herzen und ein Schlag (1932)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 709. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Zwei Herzen und ein Schlag/Two Hearts Beat as One (Wilhelm Thiele, 1932) with Lilian Harvey and Wolf Albach-Retty. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

    Oskar Homolka
    Oskar Homolka. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6116/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Ufa.

    Fritz Rasp
    Fritz Rasp. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6828/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Ufa.

    Hertha Thiele
    Hertha Thiele. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6997/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Ufa.

    Hans Albers
    German postcard. by Ross Verlag, no. 7039/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Der weiße Dämon/The White Demon (Kurt Gerron, 1932) with Hans Albers.

    Betty Amann
    Betty Amann. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7357/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Paramount.

    Margarete Schlegel and Ernst Verebes in Das blaue vom Himmel (1932)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7394/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Aafa Film. Publicity still for Das blaue vom Himmel/The Blue from the Sky (Victor Janson, 1932) with Margarete Schlegel andErnst Verebes.

    Dolly Haas
    Dolly Haas. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8157/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Walther Jaeger, Berlin.

    Charlotte Ander
    Charlotte Ander. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8490/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Atelier Binder, Berlin.

    Lilian Harvey
    Lilian Harvey in Hollywood. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8581/3, 1933-1934. Photo: Fox (20th Century Fox).

    Jan Kiepura
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8612/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Ufa / Cine-Allianz. Still from Mein Herz Ruft nach Dir/My Heart Calls You (Carmine Gallone, 1934) with Jan Kiepura.

    Gretl Theimer
    Gretl Theimer. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8638/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Frhr. von Gudenberg / Ufa.

    To be continued tomorrow.

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    We continue our tribute to that famous Berlin publisher, Ross Verlag. Ross produced many, many star postcards from the late 1910s till the early 1940s. For the fourth part of this series, we chose 20 postcards of Hollywood stars of the early 1930s. Hollywood could talk!

    Our Gang
    Our Gang. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4356/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

    Al Jolson and Davey Lee in The Singing Fool (1928)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4940/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Warner Bros. / National. Publicity still for The Singing Fool (Lloyd Bacon, 1928) with Al Jolson and Davey Lee.

    Greta Garbo in Anna Christie (1930)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5108/2, 1930-1931. Photo: MGM. Publicity still forAnna Christie (Clarence Brown, 1930) featuring Greta Garbo.

    Lily Damita
    Lily Damita. German Postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5745/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Paramount.

    Jack Oakie, Clara Bow and Maurice Chevalier in Paramount on Parade (1930)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5749/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Paramount on Parade (Dorothy Arzner a.o., 1930) with Jack Oakie, Clara Bow and Maurice Chevalier.

    Gary Cooper in Morocco (1930)
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. 5751/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Morocco (Josef von Sternberg, 1930). Gary Cooper was mistakenly credited as 'Garry Cooper'.

    Nora Gregor
    Nora Gregor. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5787/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

    Greta Garbo and Clark Gable in Susan Lenox (1931)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 140/5. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Susan Lenox (Robert Z. Leonard, 1931) with Greta Garbo and Clark Gable.

    Sylvia Sidney and Cary Grant in Madame Butterfly
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 168/1. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Madame Butterfly (Marion Gering, 1932) with Sylvia Sidney and Cary Grant.

    in Daughter of the Dragon (1931)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6403/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Daughter of the Dragon (Lloyd Corrigan, 1931) with Anna May Wong and Sessue Hayakawa.

    Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor in Delicious (1931)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6452/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Fox. Publicity still for Delicious (David Butler, 1931) with Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor.

    Marlene Dietrich
    Marlene Dietrich. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6673/2, 1931-1932. Photo: Don English / Paramount. Publicity still for Shanghai Express (Josef von Sternberg, 1932).

    Maurice Chevalier
    Maurice Chevalier. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6709/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Paramount.

    Harold Lloyd in Feet First (1930)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6715/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Paramount. Photo: publicity still for Feet First (Clyde Bruckman, 1930), starring Harold Lloyd.

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

    Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
    Douglas Fairbanks Jr. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7297/1, 1932-1933. Photo: First National Pictures.

    Lilian Harvey
    Lilian Harvey. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8001/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Fox (20th Century Fox).

    Simone Simon and James Stewart in Seventh Heaven (1937)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1158/1, 1937-1938. Photo: 20th Century Fox. Still from Seventh Heaven (Henry King, 1937) with Simone Simon and James Stewart.

    Annabella. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1327/1, 1937-1938. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

    Dorothy Lamour
    Dorothy Lamour. German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3181/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Paramount.

    To be continued tomorrow.

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    We continue our tribute to German publishing company Ross Verlag. In 1937, founder Heinrich Ross was forced out his own company by the National Socialists through their Arisierung (Aryanization) program. As a Jew he was not permitted to own a business anymore. The Nazis retained the Ross Verlag name until 1941. For this post it was much harder to find interesting postcards than for the earlier Ross posts. Not only the founder was missed but also many of the great artists of the Weimar Republic had fled the Third Reich. So both before and behind the camera had been a dramatic brain drain. However, Nazi Germany still produced some classic films and among the many glamour portraits there are some that are more than mere kitsch.

    Frits van Dongen in Der Tiger von Eschnapur (1938)
    Frits van Dongen(Philip Dorn). German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. A 1290, 1937-1938. Photo: Tobis / Eichberg-Film. Publicity still for Der Tiger von Eschnapur/The Tiger of Eschnapur (Richard Eichberg, 1938).

    Robert Donat
    Robert Donat. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1372/1, 1937-1938. Photo: London Film Prod.

    Anneliese Uhlig
    Anneliese Uhlig. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1623/1, 1937-1938. Photo: Sandau.

    La Jana
    La Jana. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1745/2, 1937-1938. Photo: Wog, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson. Publicity still for Der Tiger von Eschnapur/The Tiger of Eschnapur (Richard Eichberg, 1938).

    Peter Bosse
    Peter Bosse. German Postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1859/2, 1937-1938. Photo: Sandau, Berlin.

    Viktor de Kowa
    Viktor de Kowa. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2401/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Tobis / Sandau.

    Irene von Meyendorff
    Irene von Meyendorff. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2592/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Tobis / Quick.

    Brigitte Horney
    Brigitte Horney. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2745/2, 1941-1944.

    Hans Albers in Trenck, der Pandur (1940)
    Hans Albers. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2879/2, 1939-1940. Photo: Brix / Tobis. Publicity still for Trenck, der Pandur/Major Trenck (Herbert Selpin, 1940).

    Paul Hörbiger
    Paul Hörbiger. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3118/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Terra / Wien-Film.

    Paul Kemp
    Paul Kemp. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3146/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa.

    Clara Calamai
    Clara Calamai. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3171/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz / DIFU.

    Charles Trenet
    Charles Trenet. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3194, 1941-1944. Photo: Harcourt-Schostal.

    Lotte Koch
    Lotte Koch. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3204/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

    Hansi Knoteck
    Hansi Knoteck. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. A 3218/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Titia Binz, Berlin.

    Heinz Rühmann
    Heinz Rühmann. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3227/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa / Baumann.

    Joachim Gottschalk
    Joachim Gottschalk. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3253/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Terra.

    Hannelore Schroth
    Hannelore Schroth. German Postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3359/1. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.

    Theo Lingen
    Theo Lingen. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3362/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Karl Ewald.

    Mireille Balin
    Mireille Balin. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3419/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa.

    To be continued tomorrow.

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    Ross Verlag seemed to disappear by the end of the war. The National Socialists had retained the name after they had forced Heinrich Ross out of his own company. But during the Second World War they also started to use the name Film-Foto-Verlag. The design of the cards and the numbering system did not alter. After the war, the name Film-Foto-Verlag reappeared in the early 1950s for a short while, but it soon changed to UFA/Film-Foto. Here are 20 of our favourite Film-Foto-Verlag postcards.

    Rosita Serrano
    Rosita Serrano. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 2245/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Quick / Ufa.

    Karl Martell
    Karl Martell. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 2582/2, 1939-1940. Photo: Quick / Tobis.

    Traudl Stark
    Traudl Stark. German Postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 2669/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Titia Binz / Tobis.

    Will Quadflieg
    Will Quadflieg. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3202/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Titia Binz / Tobis.

    Marika Rökk
    Marika Rökk. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3478/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick / Ufa.

    Ursula Deinert
    Ursula Deinert. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3505/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Weidenbaum.

    Pál Jávor
    Pál Jávor. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3543/1.

    Charlotte Dalys
    Charlotte Dalys. German Postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3596/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Bavaria Filmkunst.

    Heinrich George in Andreas Schlüter (1942)
    Heinrich George. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. 3647/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Lindner / Terra. Publicity still for Andreas Schlüter (Herbert Maisch, 1942).

    Hans Albers in Münchhausen
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3728/2, 1941-1944. Photo: von Stwolinski / Ufa. Hans Albers in Münchhausen/The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen (Josef von Baky, 1943).

    Ilse Werner
    Ilse Werner. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3732/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick / Ufa.

    Alida Valli
    Alida Valli. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3783/1, 1941-1944. Photo: DIFU.

    Curd Jürgens
    Curd Jürgens. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3832/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Hämmerer / Wien Film.

    Irene von Meyendorff
    Irene von Meyendorff. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3836/1, 1941-1944. Photo:  Baumann. / Ufa.

    Rudolf Prack
    Rudolf Prack. German Postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 121. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

    Zarah Leander
    Zarah Leander. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 203, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick / Ufa.

    Rossano Brazzi
    Rossano Brazzi. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 209, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa.

    Kristina Söderbaum
    Kristina Söderbaum. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 225, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

    Claude Farell (Monika Burg)
    Monika Burg. German Postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. K 1416. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

    Kirsten Heiberg
    Kirsten Heiberg. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. K 1425. Photo: Baumann / Terra.

    To be continued tomorrow.

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    Today, we present the seventh and final part of our Ross Verlag tribute. Around 1930, Ross seemed to be everywhere. Not only in Germany, but in every European country film fans bought Ross star postcards to send them to their friends and their family or to collect them in an album. Ross started to produce postcards in Great Britain and in France, Edition Ross. And you could collect all kind of Ross cards, very small cards and big cards in a XXL format. You also could find them in the magazine Das Programm von Heute. So for this epilogue post we chose 20+ of our favourite Ross curiosities.

    Mia May in Veritas vincit
    German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 566/8. Photo: May Film. Mia May in the first part of Veritas vincit (Joe May, 1919). Before he founded Ross Verlag in 1919, Heinrich Ross worked for Rotophot and its Film Sterne series. In fact Film Sterne and Ross Verlag were part of the same series of cards, so the Ross Verlag numbering continued on from where Film Sterne ended. What can make it difficult to follow is that the portrait and film scene cards were seen as two separate series in the beginning. The Film Sterne film scene cards began at #500 and continued on until #568, and then the Ross Verlag name took on from there with the film scene cards until #700.

    Ressel Orla
    Ressel Orla. German postcard by Verlag W.J. Morlins / Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 9010/3. Photo: Karl Schenker.

    Otto Gebühr and Albert Steinrück in Fridericus Rex (1922-1923)
    German postcard by W. Morlins / Ross Verlag, no. 651/1. Photo: Karl Schenker. Otto Gebühr as crown prince Friedrich (Frederick, the future Frederick the Great), and Albert Steinrück as his father Friedrich Wilhelm I in the Fridericus Rex trilogy (Arzén von Cserépy, 1922-1923).

    Vilma Banky
    Vilma Banky. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3482/2, 1928-1929. Photo: United Artists. Collection: Joanna.

    Greta Nissen and Charles Farrell in Fazil (1928)
    Greta Nissen and Charles Farrell. British postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3917/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Fox. Publicity still for Fazil (Howard Hawks, 1928).

    Lars Hanson
    Lars Hanson. British postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3971/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Ufa.

    Rudolph Valentino in Blood & Sand
    Rudolph Valentino. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4987/2, 1929-1930. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Blood and Sand (Fred Niblo, 1922).

    Maurice Chevalier
    Maurice Chevalier. French postcard by Edition Ross, no. 5545/2. Photo: Paramount.

    Greta Garbo
    Greta Garbo. French postcard by Edition Ross, no. 5597/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

    Lilian Harvey and Wolf Albach-Retty in Zwei Herzen und ein Schlag (1932)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 709. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Zwei Herzen und ein Schlag/Two Hearts Beat as One (Wilhelm Thiele, 1932) with Lilian Harvey and Wolf Albach-Retty. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

    Hans Albers in Der Sieger (1932)
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 714, 1932. Photo: Ufa. Hoppla! Jetzt komm ich was a song from the comedy film Der Sieger/The Winner (Hans Hinrich, Paul Martin, 1932) with Hans Albers.

    Marlene Dietrich
    Marlene Dietrich. German collectors card by Ross Verlag. Photo: Paramount.

    Anneliese Uhlig
    Anneliese Uhlig. Small German collectors card by Ross. Photo: Ufa.

    Lil Dagover and Carl de Vogt in Die Spinnen
    Lil Dagover and Carl de Vogt. German collectors card by Ross Verlag for the album Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst. Teil I. Der stumme Film (Cigaretten-Bilderdienst Altona-Bahrenfeld 1935). Photo: publicity still for Die Spinnen/The Spiders (Fritz Lang, 1919).

    Luciano Albertini in Der Mann auf den Kometen (1925)
    German collectors card by Ross Verlag for the album Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst. Teil I. Der stumme Film (Cigaretten-Bilderdienst Altona-Bahrenfeld 1935). Photo: Luciano Albertini in Der Mann auf dem Kometen (Alfred Halm, 1925). The silent film is set in Berlin. This image combines two moments in the film. Towards the end of the film Luciano uses a ladder to save a baby put on an old factory chimney pipe which is about to be exploded. The church is a typical example of Wilhelminian architecture, the site may be somewhere in the old Stadmitte of Berlin where most Albertini films were shot when filmed in Berlin. Problem Moslem refers to a cigarette brand.

    Werner Krauss in Geheimnisse einer Seele (1926)
    German collectors card by Ross Verlag for the album Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst. Teil I. Der stumme Film (Cigaretten-Bilderdienst Altona-Bahrenfeld 1935). Photo: Ufa. Werner Krauss in the classic German film Geheimnisse einer Seele (G.W. Pabst, 1926).

    Paul Wegener
    Paul Wegener. German cigarette card in the series Unsere Bunten Filmbilder by Ross Verlag for Cigarettenfabrik Josetti, Berlin, no. 193. Photo: Lilenberger.

    Else Elster
    Else Elster. German cigarette card in the series Unsere Bunten Filmbilder by Ross Verlag for Cigarettenfabrik Josetti, Berlin, no. 153. Photo: Alex Binder.

    Carole Lombard
    Carole Lombard. German collectors card in the Bunte Filmbilder series by Greilingen-Zigaretten, Series no. 2, no. 259. Photo: Paramount / Ross-Verlag.

    Hans Richter
    Hans Richter. German collectors card in the Bunte Filmbilder series by Drama Zigaretten, Series no. 2, no. 459. Photo: Cando-Film / Ross-Verlag.

    Ruth Hellberg
    Ruth Hellberg and kitten. German postcard by Das Programm von Heute / Ross Verlag. Photo: Meteor / Tobis.

    La Jana
    La Jana. German postcard by Das Programm von Heute / Ross Verlag. Photo: Tobis.

    Marta Eggerth (1912-2013)
    Marta Eggerth. German postcard by Das Programm von Heute / Ross Verlag. Photo: Atelier Schenker, Berlin.

    Can't Stop the Music
    Big German card by Ross Verlag. Photo: Paramount. From left to right the American chorus girls Dorothy Dayton, Harriett Haddon and Virginia George. They all appeared - uncredited - in College Rhythm (Norman Taurog, 1934).

    Lida Baarova
    Lida Baarova. Big German postcard by Ross Verlag. Photo: Ufa / Hämmerer.

    Hans Söhnker
    Hans Söhnker. German presentation card by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. 874, series 1943/2.

    This is the End of our Ross Verlag tribute. But you can read on at the Ross Verlag Movie Stars Postcards website.

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  • 06/09/17--22:00: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982) was a German film director, screenwriter, film producer and actor. Fassbinder was part of the New German Cinema movement. Starting at age 21, Fassbinder made over forty films and TV dramas in fifteen years, along with directing numerous plays for the theatre. He also acted in nineteen of his own films as well as for other directors. Fassbinder died in 1982 at the age of 37 from a lethal cocktail of cocaine and barbiturates.

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder in Liebe ist kälter als der Tod (1969)
    German postcard by Hias Schasko Postkarten, München. Photo: Filmverlag der Autoren. Publicity still for Liebe ist kälter als der Tod/Love Is Colder Than Death (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1969).

    The Little Chaos

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder was born in Bavaria in the small town of Bad Wörishofen in 1945. The aftermath of World War II deeply marked his childhood and the lives of his bourgeois family. He was the only child of Liselotte Pempeit, a translator and Helmut Fassbinder, a doctor who worked out of the couple's apartment in Sendlinger Strasse, near Munich's red light district. In 1951, his parents divorced. Helmut moved to Cologne while Liselotte raised her son as a single parent in Munich.

    In order to support herself and her child, Pempeit took in boarders and found employment as a German to English translator. When she was working, she often sent her son to the cinema in order to concentrate. Later in life, Fassbinder claimed that he saw a film nearly every day and sometimes as many as three or four. As he was often left alone, he became independent and uncontrollable. He clashed with his mother's younger lover Siggi, who lived with them when Fassbinder was around eight or nine years old. He had a similar difficult relationship with the much older journalist Wolff Eder, who became his stepfather in 1959.

    Early in his adolescence, Fassbinder identified as homosexual. As a teen, Fassbinder was sent to boarding school. His time there was marred by his repeated escape attempts and he eventually left school before any final examinations. At the age of 15, he moved to Cologne and stayed with his father for a couple of years while attending night school. To earn money, he worked small jobs and helped his father who rented shabby apartments to immigrant workers. Around this time, Fassbinder began writing short plays and stories and poems.

    In 1963, aged eighteen, Fassbinder returned to Munich with plans to attend night school with the idea to eventually study theatrical science. Following his mother's advice, he took acting lessons and from 1964 to 1966 attended the Fridl-Leonhard Studio for actors in Munich. There, he met Hanna Schygulla, who would become one of his most important actors. During this time, he made his first 8mm films and took on small acting roles, assistant director, and sound man. In this period, he also wrote the tragic-comic play Tropfen auf heiße Steine (Drops on Hot Stones).

    To gain entry to the Berlin Film School, Fassbinder submitted a film version of his play Parallels. He also entered several 8 mm films including This Night (now considered lost) but he was turned down for admission, as were the later film directors Werner Schroeter and Rosa von Praunheim. He returned to Munich where he continued with his writing. He also made two short films, Der Stadtstreicher/The City Tramp (1965) and Das Kleine Chaos/The Little Chaos (1966). Shot in black and white, they were financed by Fassbinder's lover, Christoph Roser, an aspiring actor, in exchange for leading roles. Fassbinder acted in both of these films which also featured Irm Hermann. In the latter, his mother – under the name of Lilo Pempeit– played the first of many parts in her son's films.

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder, shooting Händler der vier Jahreszeiten (1971)
    German postcard by Verlag Hias Schaschko, München (Munich), no. 209. Photo: Fassbinder during the shooting of Händler der vier Jahreszeiten/The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971), then still called Der Obsthändler/The Grocer.

    Love is Colder than Death

    In 1967 Rainer Werner Fassbinder joined the Munich Action-Theater, where he was active as an actor, director and script writer. After two months he became the company's leader. In April 1968 Fassbinder directed the premiere production of his play Katzelmacher, the story of a foreign worker from Greece who becomes the object of intense racial, sexual, and political hatred among a group of Bavarian slackers.

    A few weeks later, in May 1968, the Action-Theater was disbanded after its theatre was wrecked by one of its founders, jealous of Fassbinder's growing power within the group. It promptly reformed as the Anti-Theater under Fassbinder's direction. The troupe lived and performed together. This close-knit group of young actors included among them Fassbinder, Peer Raben, Harry Baer and Kurt Raab, who along with Hanna Schygulla and Irm Hermann became the most important members of his cinematic stock company.

    Working with the Anti-Theater, Fassbinder continued writing, directing and acting. In the space of eighteen months he directed twelve plays. Of these twelve plays, four were written by Fassbinder; he rewrote five others. The style of his stage directing closely resembled that of his early films, a mixture of choreographed movement and static poses, taking its cues not from the traditions of stage theatre, but from musicals, cabaret, films and the student protest movement.

    Fassbinder used his theatrical work as a springboard for making films. Shot in black and white with a shoestring budget in April 1969, Fassbinder's first feature-length film, Liebe ist kälter als der Tod/Love is Colder than Death (1969), was a deconstruction of the American gangster films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Fassbinder plays the lead role of Franz, a small-time pimp who is torn between his mistress Joanna, a prostitute (Hanna Schygulla), and his friend Bruno, a gangster sent after Franz by the syndicate that he has refused to join.

    His second film, Katzelmacher (1969), was received more positively, garnering five prizes after its debut at Mannheim. From then on, Fassbinder centered his efforts in his career as film director, but he maintained an intermittent foothold in the theatre until his death. Fassbinder’s first ten films (1969–1971) were an extension of his work in the theatre, shot usually with a static camera and with deliberately unnaturalistic dialogue. Wikipedia: “He was strongly influenced by Brecht's Verfremdungseffekt (alienation effect) and the French New Wave cinema, particularly the works of Jean-Luc Godard.”

    Fassbinder developed his rapid working methods early. Because he knew his actors and technicians so well, Fassbinder was able to complete as many as four or five films per year on extremely low budgets. This allowed him to compete successfully for the government grants needed to continue making films. Unlike the other major auteurs of the New German Cinema, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders, who started out making films, Fassbinder's stage background was evident throughout his work.

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder
    German postcard by Känguruhpress im Gebr. König Postkartenverlag, Köln, no. K. 2007. Photo: Julian Gotha.

    Fear Eats the Soul

    In 1971, Rainer Werner Fassbinder took an eight-month break from filmmaking. During this time, Fassbinder turned for a model to Hollywood melodrama, particularly the films German émigré Douglas Sirk (a.k.a. Detlef Sierck) made in Hollywood for Universal-International in the 1950s: Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Imitation of Life (1959). Fassbinder was attracted to these films not only because of their entertainment value, but also for their depiction of various kinds of repression and exploitation.

    Fassbinder scored his first domestic commercial success with Händler der vier Jahreszeiten/The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971). Loneliness is a common theme in Fassbinder's work, together with the idea that power becomes a determining factor in all human relationships. His characters yearn for love, but seem condemned to exert an often violent control over those around them. A good example is also Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant/The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), featuring Margit Carstensen, which was adapted by Fassbinder from his plays.

    Wildwechsel/Jailbait (1973), starring Harry Baer and Eva Mattes, is a bleak story of teenage angst, set in industrial northern Germany during the 1950s. Like in many other of his films, Fassbinder analyses lower middle class life with characters who, unable to articulate their feelings, bury them in inane phrases and violent acts.

    Fassbinder first gained international success with Angst essen Seele auf/Fear Eats the Soul (1974). which won the International Critics Prize at Cannes and was acclaimed by critics everywhere as one of 1974's best films. Fear Eats the Soul was loosely inspired by Sirk's All That Heaven Allows (1955). It details the vicious response of family and community to a lonely ageing white cleaning lady (Brigitte Mira) who marries a muscular, much younger black Moroccan immigrant worker (El Hedi ben Salem).

    In these films, Fassbinder explored how deep-rooted prejudices about race, sex, sexual orientation, politics and class are inherent in society, while also tackling his trademark subject of the everyday fascism of family life and friendship. He learned how to handle all phases of production, from writing and acting to direction and theatre management. This versatility surfaced in his films where he served as composer, production designer, cinematographer, producer and editor.

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder
    German postcard by Verlag Hias Schaschko, München (Munich), no. 211. Photo: Patrick la Banca, ca. 1980.

    In a Year of Thirteen Moons

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s final films, from around 1977 until his death, were more varied, sometimes with international actors and the stock company disbanded, although the casts of some films were still filled with Fassbinder regulars. Despair (1978) is based upon the 1936 novel of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov, adapted by Tom Stoppard and featuring Dirk Bogarde. It was made on a budget of 6,000,000 DEM, exceeding the total cost of Fassbinder's first fifteen films.

    In einem Jahr mit 13 Monden/In a Year of Thirteen Moons (1978) is Fassbinder most personal and bleakest work. The film follows the tragic life of Elvira (Volker Spengler), a transsexual formerly known as Erwin. In the last few days before her suicide, she decides to visit some of the important people and places in her life.

    Fassbinder became increasingly more idiosyncratic in terms of plot, form and subject matter in films like his greatest success Die Ehe der Maria Braun/The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Die Dritte Generation/The Third Generation (1979) and Querelle (1982). Returning to his explorations of German history, Fassbinder finally realised his dream of adapting Alfred Döblin's 1929 novel Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), starring Günter Lamprecht. A television series running more than 13 hours, it was the culmination of the director's inter-related themes of love, life, and power.

    Fassbinder took on the Nazi period with Lili Marleen (1981), an international co production, shot in English and with a large budget. The script was vaguely based on the autobiography of World War II singer Lale Andersen, The Sky Has Many ColorsHanna Schygulla stars as singer 'Willie'.

    He articulated his themes in the bourgeois milieu with his trilogy about women in post-fascist Germany: Die Ehe der Maria Braun/The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) with Hanna Schygulla, Lola (1981), featuring Barbara Sukowa,  and Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss/Veronika Voss (1982) with Rosel Zech, for which he won the Golden Bear at the 32nd Berlin International Film Festival.

    Fassbinder did not live to see the premiere of his last film, Querelle (1982), based on Jean Genet's novel Querelle de Brest. The plot follows the title character, a handsome sailor (Brad Davis) who is a thief and hustler. Frustrated in a homoerotic relationship with his own brother, Querelle betrays those who love him and pays them even with murder.

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder
    German postcard by Schwules Museum, Berlin, for the exhibition Fabrik der Gefühle. Hommage an Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 2002. Photo: Maximilian Johannsmann / Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation.


    Rainer Werner Fassbinder had sexual relationships with both men and women. He rarely kept his professional and personal life separate and was known to cast family, friends and lovers in his films. Early in his career, he had a lasting, but fractured relationship with Irm Hermann, a former secretary whom he forced to become an actress. Fassbinder usually cast her in unglamorous roles, most notably as the unfaithful wife in The Merchant of Four Seasons and the silent abused assistant in The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.

    In 1969, while portraying the lead role in the TV film Baal under the direction of Volker Schlöndorff, Fassbinder met Günther Kaufmann, a black Bavarian actor who had a minor role in the film. Despite the fact that Kaufmann was married and had two children, Fassbinder fell madly in love with him. The two began a turbulent affair which ultimately affected the production of Baal. Fassbinder tried to buy Kaufmann's love by casting him in major roles in his films and buying him expensive gifts. The relationship came to an end when Kaufmann became romantically involved with composer Peer Raben. After the end of their relationship, Fassbinder continued to cast Kaufmann in his films, albeit in minor roles. Kaufmann appeared in fourteen of Fassbinder's films, with the lead role in Whity (1971).

    Although he claimed to be opposed to matrimony as an institution, in 1970 Fassbinder married Ingrid Caven, an actress who regularly appeared in his films. Their wedding reception was recycled in the film he was making at that time, The American Soldier. Their relationship of mutual admiration survived the complete failure of their two-year marriage.

    In 1971, Fassbinder began a relationship with El Hedi ben Salem, a Moroccan Berber who had left his wife and five children the previous year, after meeting him at a gay bathhouse in Paris. Over the next three years, Salem appeared in several Fassbinder productions. His best known role was Ali in Angst essen Seele Auf/Fear Eats the Soul (1974). Their three-year relationship was punctuated with jealousy, violence and heavy drug and alcohol use. Fassbinder finally ended the relationship in 1974 due to Salem's chronic alcoholism and tendency to become violent when he drank. Shortly after the breakup, Salem went to France where he was arrested and imprisoned. He hanged himself while in custody in 1977. News of Salem's suicide was kept from Fassbinder for years. He eventually found out about his former lover's death shortly before his own death in 1982 and dedicated his last film, Querelle, to Salem.

    Fassbinder's next lover was Armin Meier. Meier was a near illiterate former butcher who had spent his early years in an orphanage. He also appeared in several Fassbinder films in this period. After Fassbinder ended the relationship in 1978, Meier deliberately consumed four bottles of sleeping pills and alcohol in the kitchen of the apartment he and Fassbinder had previously shared. His body was found a week later.

    In the last four years of his life, his companion was Juliane Lorenz, the editor of his films during the last years of his life. On the night of 10 June 1982, Fassbinder took an overdose of cocaine and sleeping pills. When he was found, an unfinished script for a film on Rosa Luxemburg was lying next to him. His death marked the end of New German Cinema.

    Steve Cohn at IMDb: “Above all, Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a rebel whose life and art was marked by gross contradiction. Known for his trademark leather jacket and grungy appearance, Fassbinder cruised the bar scene by night, looking for sex and drugs, yet he maintained a flawless work ethic by day. Actors and actresses recount disturbing stories of his brutality toward them, yet his pictures demonstrate his deep sensitivity to social misfits and his hatred of institutionalized violence.”

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Rosel Zech, winning the Golden Bear for Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (1982)
    German postcard by Verlag Hias Schaschko, München (Munich), no. 214. Photo: Mario Mach. Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Rosel Zech, winning the Golden Bear award for Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss/Veronika Voss (1982) at the 32nd Berlin International Film Festival.

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

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    Japanese American actress Miiko Taka (1925) is best known for co-starring with Marlon Brando in Sayonara (1957). She later also appeared in the British cinema.

    Miiko Taka
    Spanish postcard by Soberanas, no. 340.

    Replacing Audrey Hepburn

    Miiko Taka (高美以子) was born Betty Miiko Shikata in 1925 in Seattle, but she was raised in Los Angeles, California. Her parents had immigrated from Japan.

    She is a Nisei, a Japanese-language term used in countries in North America and South America to specify the children born in the new country to Japanese-born immigrants (who are called Issei). In 1942, she was interned with her family at the Gila River War Relocation Center in Arizona.

    After director Joshua Logan's first choice for the role of Hana-ogi, Audrey Hepburn, turned him down, he looked to cast an unknown actress in Sayonara (1957). Taka, who at the time was working as a clerk at a travel agency in Los Angeles, was discovered by a talent scout at a local Nisei festival.

    Although she had no previous acting experience, Variety gave her a positive review: "Sayonara, based on the James A. Michener novel, is a picture of beauty and sensitivity. Amidst the tenderness and the tensions of a romantic drama, it puts across the notion that human relations transcend race barriers. (...) Taka plays the proud Hana-ogi, the dedicated dancer, who starts by hating the Americans whom she sees as robbing Japan of its culture and ends in Brando’s arms. Apart from being beautiful she’s also a distinctive personality and her contribution rates high."

    Nominated for ten Academy Awards, Sayonara won five, including Best Supporting Actor (Red Buttons) and Best Supporting Actress (Miyoshi Umeki). Warner Bros. gave Miiko Taka a term contract as a result of her performance in Sayonara.

    Marlon Brando and Miiko Taka in Sayonara (1957)
    Dutch postcard by Uitgeverij Takken, Utrecht, no. 3734. Photo: Warner Bros. Publicity still for Sayonara (Joshua Logan, 1957) with Marlon Brando.

    Toshiro Mifune

    After Sayonara, Miiko Taka worked in films with James Garner, Bob Hope, and Cary Grant.

    With Jeffrey Hunter and legendary American Japanese film star Sessue Hayakawa she worked on the World War II film Hell to Eternity (Phil Karlson, 1960).

    Her other films include Cry for Happy (George Marshall, 1961) in which she played a geisha opposite Glenn Ford, the comedy Walk, Don't Run (Charles Walters, 1966) starring Cary Grant, and the musical Lost Horizon (Charles Jarrott, 1973).

    With Japanese star Toshiro Mifune, she appeared in the British film Paper Tiger (Ken Annakin, 1975) and the TV miniseries Shõgun (Jerry London, 1980). She also served as an interpreter for Mifune as well as director Akira Kurosawa when they visited Hollywood.

    Miiko Taka married Dale Ishimoto in Baltimore in 1944, and they had one son, Greg Shikata, who works in the film industry, and one daughter. They divorced in 1958.

    In 1963, she married Los Angeles TV news director Lennie Blondheim. Miiko Taka's last film to date was the American action film The Challenge (John Frankenheimer, 1982).

    Miiko Taka in Sayonara (1957)
    Dutch postcard, no. 29. Photo: Warner Bros. Publicity still for Sayonara (Joshua Logan, 1957).

    Sources: Variety, AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 06/11/17--22:00: Emmy Lynn
  • Emmy Lynn (1889-1978) was a French stage and screen actress, known for her parts in the French silent films by Abel Gance, Henry Roussel and Marcel L’Herbier.

    Emmy Lynn
    French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 419. Photo Sartony.

    Henry Roussel

    Born in 1889 in Barcelona, Emmy Lynn (originally Emily Leigh) had an English father, who was the English consul in Barcelona, and a half-Spanish and half-German mother. She arrived in Paris at the age of 1 year.

    Emmy took theatre classes with Guillemot. Around 1907, she went on tour to South America with Marthe Brandès, Harry Baur, Henry Roussel, and Madeleine Lély, confined to playing the role of the young ingénue.

    Back in Paris, she did the competition of the Conservatoire, but without success. Emmy Lynn first performed on the Parisian stage in La beauté du diable at the Théâtre de l’Ambigu-Comique in 1908, starring Paula Andral. Emmy Lynn also acted with Sarah Bernhardt in L’aiglon and Un Coeur d’homme.

    She shared the stage with e.g. Charles Dullin in Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan (Odéon, 1910), with Gabrielle Réjane in Dario Niccodemi's play L’aigrette (1912), with Harry Baur in Francis de Croisset’s Le cœur dispose (Athénée, 1913), and with Max Dearly in Maurice HennequinMon bébé (1913-1914) and in Kit (Théâtre des Variétés, 1916).

    Silent cinema turned Lynn into a star. From 1913, Emmy Lynn was a popular star in French cinema and reappeared regularly on the screens until 1922. Probably her first film was Vautrin (1913) by and with Charles Krauss. That year, she also acted in Le camée (1913) by Maurice Tourneur, and L’aiglon (1913) by Emile Chautard.

    Later followed Le calvaire (André Liabel, 1915), Pardon glorieux (Gaston Leprieur, 1916), Vengeance diabolique (Charles Maudru, 1916), Le bonheur qui revient (André Hugon, 1917), Frères (Maurice Rémon, 1918), and Le destin est maître (Jean Kemm, 1919). Lynn also worked under direction of the British director George Pearson in the Anglo-French production Les gosses dans les ruines/The Kiddies in the Ruins (1918), shot at La Courneuve.

    It is under direction of Henry Roussel, however, that Lynn made her mark as dramatic actress in the films La faute d’Odette Maréchal/Odette Maréchal’s Mistake (1919) with Romuald Joubé and Jean Toulout, Visages voilés, âmes closes/Veiled faces, closed souls (1920), a romantic drama shot in the South of Algeria, and La vérité/The Truth (1922), based on a novel by Émile Zola.

    Emmy Lynn
    French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 265. Photo: G.L. Manuel Frères, Paris.

    Abel Gance

    Emmy Lynn was the protagonist of Mater Dolorosa/Sorrowful Mother (1917) and La dixième symphonie/The Tenth Symphony (1918), both directed by Abel Gance. In these two melodramas, the filmmaker sublimated the beauty of the actress and confirmed her real talent as tragedy actress.

    Mater Dolorosa dealt with Gilles Berleac, a jealous and paranoid doctor (Firmin Gémier), who discovers his wife Martha (Lynn) has a lover (Armand Tallier) and has a child with him. While Claude, the lover, kills himself, the husband chases the wife but steals the child to pester her. Claude’s compromising suicide note becomes an important clou. Mater Dolorosa was so successful, that Gance did a remake himself in later years.

    On the film Lynn said herself in an interview with Eve Francis: “When we discussed our contract (it is true that the producer Louis Nalpas did not risk much), I was awarded a flat fee of 2,000 francs, and Firmin Gémier 3,000, but that did not matter. We were very happy and full of joy in the work.”

    La dixième symphonie dealt with a rich woman, Eve (Lynn), blackmailed by her lover Fred (Jean Toulout) for accidentally shooting his sister. After the affair with Fred, Eve marries a composer (Séverin-Mars), whose daughter Claire (Elizabeth Nizan) falls in love with Fred. While Eve tries to prevent Fred from marrying Claire, the composer – unjustly - suspects his wife is infidel, which gives him inspiration to compose his symphony. Fred blackmails Eve she must return to him as mistress, or he will reveal the murder.

    On La dixième symphonie Lynn remarked to Francis: “Séverin-Mars was my husband, a great musician, who played at the time of my drama his last composition The Tenth Symphony. We had a pianist who played a Beethoven symphony behind the scenes during the stage, as the brave Séverin-Mars knew nothing of music, and was incapable of even playing just a musical song. The music was composed by Michel-Maurice Levy. Séverin-Mars played this symphony to express his grief, for he had understood that his wife no longer loved him!"

    Excerpts from Mater dolorosa (1917). Source: Radio Santos (REM) (YouTube).

    Excerpts from La dixième symphonie (1918). Source: Radio Santos (REM) (YouTube).

    Marcel L'Herbier

    When Marcel L'Herbier founded his own production company, Cinégrafic, he proposed to Emmy Lynn an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel Resurrection. Unfortunately, filming was abandoned in 1923 when the director caught typhoid fever.

    Lynn thus disappeared from the screen until a few years later, in Le vertige/Vertigo (Marcel L'Herbier, 1926), this time completed without problem by L'Herbier, who had not abandoned the idea of directing the actress.

    In Le vertige, with production design by Robert Mallet-Stevens and Robert Delaunay and costumes by Sonia Delaunay, Lynn is the wife of a Russian general (Roger Karl), who during the Revolution has shot her lover (Jaque Catelain) before her own eyes.

    Years after, at the French Cote d’Azur, the lover suddenly shows up again. But is it really him? The film may indirectly have inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

    Lynn’s last silent film was Luitz-Murat's La vierge folle/The Foolish Virgin (1928), taken from the famous play by Henry Bataille. Her character manages to recuperate her husband (Jean Angelo), who fell under the spell of a temptress (Suzy Vernon).

    Lynn had her last leading role in the film L’enfant de l’amour/The Child of Love (1930), Marcel L’Herbier’s first sound film. Lynn interprets a music-hall star, whose son (Jaque Catelain) seeks revenge for his father who has abandoned them.

    Subsequently, Lynn’s films came less frequent and her performances less important. One can still mention the melodrama Les deux orphelines/The Two Orphans (1932), in which she was reunited with the director of her early years, Maurice Tourneur, and in which she incarnated the Countess of Lignères, opposite Renée Saint-Cyr and Rosine Deréan.

    Lynn’s last film dates from 1942, when she appeared as a distinguished socialite in Roland Tual's Le lit à colonnes/The Fourposter Bed (1942).

    Forgotten, Emmy Lynn died in 1978, in Paris. She rests in the cemetery of Bagneux, with her husband Charles Peignot (1897-1983), founder of French typographical characters, manager of the foundry Deberny and Peignot and at the origin of the foundation of the International Typographical Association. He gave his name to an award. The actress had a daughter, actress Florence Lynn (1922-2002, born from her relationship with Henry Roussel.

    Scene Le vertige/Vertigo (1926). Source: (YouTube).

    Sources: Pascal Donald and Marlène Pilaete (Cinéartistes), Shadowplay, Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

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  • 06/12/17--22:00: Klaus Kinski
  • Intense and eccentric Klaus Kinski (1926–1991) was one of the most colourful stars of the European cinema. In a film career of over 40 years the German actor appeared in more than 130 films, including numerous parts as a villain in Edgar Wallace thrillers and Spaghetti Westerns. The talented but tempestuous Kinski is probably best known for his riveting star turns in Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes/Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht/Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982) and other films directed by Werner Herzog.

    Klaus Kinski
    German postcard by Limited Editions, AZ/Drehbuch, Film, no. 124. Photo: I. Letto, ca. 1956.

    Klaus Kinski
    French postcard by Humour a la Carte, Paris, no. 82-11.

    Klaus Kinski
    French postcard by Ébullitions, no. 26.

    Wild and Unconventional Behaviour

    Klaus Kinski was born as Nikolaus Günther Nakszyński in Zoppot, Danzig, Germany (now Sopot, Poland), in 1926. He was the son of a German father of Polish descent, Bruno Nakszyński, a pharmacist and a failed opera singer, and a German mother, Susanne Nakszyński-Lutze, a nurse and a daughter of a local pastor. He had three older siblings: Inge, Arne and Hans-Joachim.

    Because of the depression the poor family was unable to make a living in Danzig, and was forced to move to Berlin in 1931. They settled in a flat in the suburb of Schöneberg. From 1936 on, Kinski attended the Prinz-Heinrich-Gymnasium there.

    During World War II, the 16-year-old enlisted to the Wehrmacht. Kinski saw no action until the winter of 1944, when his unit was transferred to the Netherlands. His obituary in Variety magazine states that there he was wounded and captured by the British on the second day of combat, but Kinski's autobiography Ich bin so wild nach deinem Erdbeermund (I Am So Wild About Your Strawberry Mouth, 1975) claims he made a conscious decision to desert.

    However, Kinski was transferred to the prisoner of war Camp 186 in Colchester, Great Britain. The ship transporting him to England was torpedoed by a German U-Boat, but managed to arrive safely to its destination. At the POW camp Kinski played his first theatre roles in shows staged by fellow prisoners intending to maintain morale.

    Following the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, Kinski was finally allowed in 1946 to return to Germany, after spending a year and four months in captivity. Arriving in Berlin, Kinski learned his father had died during the war and his mother had been killed in an Allied air attack.

    Without having ever attended any professional training, he started out as an actor, first at a small touring company in Offenburg and already using his new name Klaus Kinski. He was hired by the renowned Schlosspark-Theater in Berlin, but was fired by the manager in 1947 due to his unpredictable behaviour. Other companies followed, but his already wild and unconventional behaviour regularly got him into trouble.

    His first film role was a small part in Morituri (Eugen York, 1948) a drama about refugees from a concentration camp. In 1950, he stayed in a psychiatric hospital for three days; medical records from the period listed a preliminary diagnosis of schizophrenia. He only could find bit roles in films, and in 1955 Kinski twice tried to commit suicide.

    Klaus Kinski
    Danish postcard by Forlaget Holger Danske, no. 115. Photo: publicity still for Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Witwe/The Secret of the Black Widow (Franz Josef Gottlieb, 1963).

    Klaus Kinski
    Danish postcard by Forlaget Holger Danske, no. 124. Photo: defd / Kinoarchiv Hamburg.

    Klaus Kinski
    Danish postcard by Forlaget Holger Danske, no. 704. Photo: publicity still for E Dio disse a Caino.../And God Said to Cain (Antonio Margheriti, 1970).

    Effective Screen Villain

    Then Klaus Kinski got a supporting part in Ludwig II: Glanz und Ende eines Königs/Ludwig II (Helmut Käutner, 1955) about the frustrated and tragic King Ludwig II of Bavaria played by O.W. Fischer. More supporting parts in German films followed.

    In March 1956 Kinski made one single guest appearance at Vienna's Burgtheater in Goethe's Torquato Tasso. Although respected by his colleagues, and cheered by the audience, Kinski's hope to get a permanent contract was not fulfilled, as the Burgtheater's management ultimately became aware of the actor's earlier difficulties in Germany. He unsuccessfully tried to sue the company.

    Living jobless in Vienna, and without any prospects for his future, Kinski reinvented himself as a monologist and spoken word artist. He presented the prose and verse of François Villon, William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde among others. Thus he managed to establish himself as a well-known actor touring Austria, Germany, and Switzerland with his shows.

    In 1960 he returned to the cinema as a sinister character on the verge between genius and madness in the thriller Der Rächer/The Avenger (Karl Anton, 1960) based on a crime novel by British writer Edgar Wallace. In another Wallace adaptation, Die toten Augen von London/The Dead Eyes of London (Alfred Vohrer, 1961), Kinski’s psychopathic bad guy refused any personal guilt for his evil deeds and claimed to have only followed the orders given to him.

    During the 1960s, Kinski appeared in several Wallace Krimis, which enjoyed enormous success in Germany and are now considered cult classics. He also appeared in many other European genre films such as the Karl May western Winnetou - 2. Teil/Last of the Renegades (Harald Reinl, 1964) featuring Pierre Brice. In these films he built a reputation as an effective screen villain.

    In 1964, he relocated to Italy, and was cast for the international production Doctor Zhivago (David Lean, 1965) as an Anarchist prisoner on his way to the Gulag. That year he also had a small part as a hunchback in the classic Italian western Per qualche dollaro in più/For Few Dollars More (Sergio Leone, 1965) starring Clint Eastwood.

    Roles in numerous other Spaghetti westerns followed, including El chuncho, quien sabe?/A Bullet for the General (Damiano Damiani, 1966) with Gian Maria Volonté, Il grande silenzio/The Great Silence (Sergio Corbucci, 1968) starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, and Un genio, due compari, un pollo/A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (Damiano Damiani, 1975) with Terence Hill.

    When the Spaghetti western genre was over its top, Kinski started to appear in other exploitation genres. Often these films proved to be brainless trash.

    Klaus Kinski, Winnetou II
    German postcard, no. R 21. Photo: publicity still for Winnetou - 2. Teil/Last of the Renegades (Harald Reinl, 1964).

    Pierre Brice, Karin Dor
    German postcard, no. R 24. Photo: still from Winnetou - 2. Teil/Last of the Renegades (Harald Reinl, 1964) with Karin Dor as Ribanna and Pierre Brice as Winnetou.

    Pierre Brice and Klaus Kinski
    With Pierre Brice. German postcard by Filmbilder-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen. Photo: Lothar Winkler.

    An obsessive, terrifying, and emotionally unpredictable antihero

    In 1972, in between his countless appearances in genre and exploitation films, Klaus Kinski suddenly found international recognition with the German production Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes/Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972).

    At AllMovie, Karl Williams writes: “The most famed and well-regarded collaboration between New German Cinema director Werner Herzog and his frequent leading man, Klaus Kinski, this epic historical drama was legendary for the arduousness of its on-location filming and the convincing zealous obsession employed by Kinski in playing the title role. Exhausted and near to admitting failure in its quest for riches, the 1650-51 expedition of Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro (Alejandro Repulles) bogs down in the impenetrable jungles of Peru.

    As a last-ditch effort to locate treasure, Pizarro orders a party to scout ahead for signs of El Dorado, the fabled seven cities of gold. In command are a trio of nobles, Pedro de Ursua (Ruy Guerra), Fernando de Guzman (Peter Berling), and Lope de Aguirre (Kinski). Travelling by river raft, the explorers are besieged by hostile natives, disease, starvation and treacherous waters. Crazed with greed and mad with power, Aguirre takes over the enterprise, slaughtering any that oppose him.”

    Kinski delivered a bravura performance that typified his screen image: that of an obsessive, terrifying, and emotionally unpredictable antihero. Kinski and Herzog would make five films together, including Woyzeck (1978), Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht/Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) with Isabelle Adjani, and Fitzcarraldo (1982) with Claudia Cardinale.

    The volatile love-hate relationship between Kinski and his equally driven and obsessive director Herzog resulted in some of the best work from both men, and both are best known for the films on which they collaborated. Kinski and Herzog pushed each other to extremes over a 15-year working relationship, which finally ended after filming Cobra Verde (Werner Herzog, 1987), a production plagued by volcanic clashes between the star and director, involving violent physical altercations and mutual death threats.

    Klaus Kinski in Aguirre. der Zorn Gottes (1972), cc
    Dutch collectors card in the series 'Filmsterren: een portret' by Edito Service, 1995. Photo: Pele / Stills. Publicity still for Aguirre der Zorn Gottes/Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972).

    Nastassia Kinski and Klaus Kinski
    With his daughter Nastassja Kinski. French postcard in the Collection Cinéma by Editions Malibran, Paris, no. CF 50. Photo: Guidotti, 1978.

    Klaus Kinski and Isabelle Adjani in Nosferatu, Phantom der Nacht (1979)
    British postcard by Moviedrome, no. M45. Photo: 20th Centrury Fox. Publicity still for Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht/Nosferatu the Vampyre (Werner Herzog, 1979) with Isabelle Adjani.

    'Cretins' or 'Scum'

    The Encyclopaedia Britannica writes that Klaus Kinski “disdained his chosen profession, once saying, ‘I wish I’d never been an actor. I’d rather have been a streetwalker, selling my body, than selling my tears and my laughter, my grief and my joy’. Numerous offers from prestigious directors—whom Kinski categorised as ‘cretins’ or ‘scum’—were refused; he worked only when the money suited him.”

    Kinski was also notorious – and in high demand – for his scandalous TV appearances and interviews. The scandals paid off. Although he continued to appear for the money in countless trash films, Kinski also starred in such respectable films as the French melodrama L'important c'est d'aimer/The Main Thing Is to Love (Andrzej Zulawski, 1975) starring a memorable Romy Schneider, and the Oscar nominated Israeli production Mivtsa Yonatan/Operation Thunderbolt (Menahem Golan, 1977), based on the 1976 hijacking of a Tel Aviv-Athens-Paris Air France flight and the daring rescue of its 104 passengers in Entebbe, Uganda.

    In the 1980s Kinski appeared prominently in such Hollywood productions as the comedy Buddy Buddy (Billy Wilder, 1981) as a neurotic sex scientist opposite Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and the thriller The Little Drummer Girl (George Roy Hill, 1984) featuring Diane Keaton.

    Kinski’s last film was Kinski Paganini (Klaus Kinski, 1989), in which he played the 19th century ‘devil’ violinist Niccolò Paganini. He also wrote and directed the film and his wife Debora and his son Nikolai also starred in the film. The production was marked by chaos and clashes between Kinski and his producers, who accused him of turning their production into a pornographic film and sued him in court. The result was a commercial and critical flop.

    Kinski had reinforced his image as a wild-eyed, sex-crazed maniac in his autobiography Ich bin so wild nach deinem Erdbeermund (1975). In 1988 he updated and rereleased it as Ich brauche Liebe/All I Need Is Love (in 1997 it was again rereleased as Kinski Uncut). The book infuriated many, and prompted his daughter Nastassja Kinski to file a libel suit against him. Werner Herzog would later say in his retrospective film Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski/Kinski, My Best Fiend (1999, Werner Herzog) that much of the autobiography was fabricated to generate sales; the two even collaborated on the insults about the director.

    In 2006 Christian David published the first comprehensive biography based on newly discovered archived material, personal letters and interviews with Kinski's friends and colleagues.

    Klaus Kinski died of a heart attack in Lagunitas, California, U.S. at age 65. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean. He was married four times: to Gislinde Kühbeck (1952-1955), Brigitte Ruth Tocki (1960-1971), Minhoi Geneviève Loanic (1971-1979), and to Debora Caprioglio (1987-1989). His three children Pola Kinski (1952), Nastassja Kinski (1961) and Nikolai Kinski (1976) are all actors.

    Trailer for Il grande silenzio/The Great Silence (Sergio Corbucci, 1968). Dource: Danios12345 (YouTube).

    Trailer for Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht/Nosferatu the Vampyre (Werner Herzog, 1979). Source: Danios12345 (YouTube).

    Trailer for Kinski Paganini (Klaus Kinski, 1989). Source: TaylorHamKid (YouTube).

    Long scene from Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski/Kinski, My Best Fiend (Werner Herzog, 1999) with a raging Kinski during the shooting of Fitzcarraldo (1982). Source: Baranowski (YouTube).

    Sources: Dan Schneider (Alt Film Guide), Michael Brooke (IMDb), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Karl Williams (AllMovie), Encyclopaedia Britannica,, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 06/13/17--22:00: Fabiola (1918)
  • Today film historian Ivo Blom gives a paper in Rome on painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema and the Italian antiquity film Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918), featuring Elena Sangro. Blom will focus on mise-en-scene, especially props and deep staging. The organisers of the event are the German Archaeological Institute, the Austrian Archaeological Institute, and the Cineteca Nazionale. Of course EFSP joins the fun with a post on this silent film.

    Elena Sangro in Fabiola
    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 1. Photo: Palatino Film. Elena Sangro as Fabiola in Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). When her servant accidentally hurts her with a hairpin, the rich and cruel aristocrat Fabiola hurts her slave with a sharp weapon Roman ladies used to have for these matters. This is from the opening scene of the film.

    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 3. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). Agnese (sig.a Poletti) tends to the wound of Syrta, afflicted by Fabiola's stiletto.

    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 6. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). Fulvio remembers how his sister Syra was sold as a slave when she was discovered to be a Christian. He discovers she is in the household of Fabiola.

    Livio Pavanelli in Fabiola, Sebastian hosting a Christian refugee
    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 14. Photo: Palatino Film. Livio Pavanelli as St. Sebastiano in Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918), hosting the blind Cecilia on request of the young Pancrazio.

    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 12. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). Sebastiano (Livio Pavanelli) chases the intruder Fulvio (Amleto Novelli) from Agnese's house.

    The Rise of Christianity

    The Italian historical film Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918) stars Elena Sangro as Fabiola, Augusto Mastripietri as Eurota, Amleto Novelli as Fulvio, and Livio Pavanelli as San Sebastiano. The secondary role of Quadrato was played by the famous 'forzuto'Bruto Castellani, very popular at the time as the strongman Ursus from Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913).

    The Palatino Film production is an adaptation of the 1854 novel Fabiola by Cardinal Nicholas Patrick Wiseman. The story is set in Rome in the early 4th century AD, during the time of the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

    The heroine of both book and film is Fabiola, a young beauty from a noble Roman family. She is spoiled by her father Fabius, who cannot deny her anything. Fabiola seems to have everything, including a superior education in the philosophers, yet under the surface, she is not content with her life.

    One day, in a fit of rage, she attacks and wounds her slave girl Syra, who is secretly a Christian. The proud, spoiled Roman girl is humbled by Syra's humility, maturity and devotion to her in this situation, and a slow transformation begins, which finally culminates in her conversion to Christianity, brought on by her own cousin Agnes, whom she adores and dotes on.

    Another thread of the novel deals with the young boy Pancratius (in the film called Pancrazio), a pious Christian and son of a martyr, who is himself preparing for martyrdom. Pancratius' nemesis is Corvinus, a bullying schoolmate who is irritated by the young Christian's saintliness. He does everything to bring him and the Christian community of the catacombs of Rome down. This includes the orchestrating of the lynching of their former teacher Cassianus, who is secretly Christian. Yet Pancratius shows his enemy the meaning of Christian forgiveness when he saves his life shortly after Corvinus had Cassianus killed.

    Another major villain in the book is the enigmatic Fulvius (in the film called Fulvio), an apparently rich young man from the East who soon reveals himself to be a hunter of Christians who turns them in to the authorities for money. His aim on the one hand is to gain the hand of either Fabiola or Agnes, and on the other hand, to uproot the Christian community in Rome.

    After some dramatic events that reveal his surprising connections to Syra, who is his long-lost younger sister Myriam, Fulvius rejects his evil ways, converts to Christianity and becomes a hermit. The story also weaves a number of martyrdom accounts and legends of real-life Christian saints into the fictitious story. These include St. Agnes and St. Sebastian (Sebastiano in the film).

    Fabiola (1918)
    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 11. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). Head of the Imperial Guards Sebastiano (Livio Pavanelli) and his aid, the strong Quadrato (Bruto Castellani), have thrown the intruder Fulvio (Amleto Novelli) out, when he wanted to assault Agnese.

    Fabiola (1918)
    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 4. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918).In the presence of the Roman governor and his son Corvinus, Fulvio (Amleto Novelli) dares the secretly Christian Quintinus to pay tribute to the Roman gods.

    Fabiola (1918)
    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 7. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). Eurota (Augusto Mastripietri) and Fulvio (Amleto Novelli) use a love doll from Corvinus and turn it into a voodoo doll that accuses the Christians of wanting to hurt the empress.

    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 9. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). The Christians secretly gather in the catacombs. The kneeling woman is Agnese (sig.a Poletti).

    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 10. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). Blackmailed by Fulvio (Amleto Novelli) and Eurota (Augusto Mastripietri), Quintinus leads them to the Christian girl Agnese (sig.a Poletti), whom Fulvio secretly loves.

    Violent crowd and circus scenes complete with wild beasts

    Fabiola was one of a series of historical epics for which the Italian film industry became famous during the silent era. It is s typical of the Roman and Christian epics directed by director Enrico Guazzoni during his silent film period.

    A Cinema History: "It is an interesting example of early Christian cinematographic proselytism. It is not very accurate from an hagiographic point of view because it brings together saints having lived at different times. The historical background of the persecutions against Christians at the beginning of the second century under Emperors Maximilian and Diocletian is correct, and it is at this time that Pancras and Agnes were killed. The way in which Sebastian and Cecilia are killed is also correct, but it happened in reality several years earlier. Finally concerning the title character of Fabiola, she lived several years later and her life does not correspond to what is shown in the film."

    Fabiola mostly follows a chronological approach, with cross-cutting between the actions of various characters. Flashbacks are used to show what certain characters are thinking about. While Guazzoni only uses a static camera, editing is very dynamic with well-composed shots and frequent changes between long shots, medium shots and close ups. The indoor and outdoor sets are very varied and convincing.

    The action is also very varied ranging from intimate and peaceful scenes, to violent crowd and circus scenes complete with wild beasts. Lighting is very effective, notably for the final baptism scene with the light coming down from the sky. Acting is mostly quite natural for the time, except a bit of over-acting when the saints are touched by heavenly grace.

    In 1949, the novel was turned into a lavish Franco-Italian sound film version, Fabiola (1949), directed by Alessandro Blasetti and starring Michèle Morgan as Fabiola and Henri Vidal as Rhual, a gallic gladiator. The film was an international box office hit, but bears little resemblance to its ostensible source.

    A third, Peplum version called La Rivolta degli schiavi/The Revolt of the Slaves (Nunzio Malasomma, 1960), starred American actress Rhonda Fleming, Dario Moreno and Ettore Manni. The supporting cast is impressive with Gino Cervi, Fernando Rey and Serge Gainsbourg. This version takes more elements from the novel than the second, such as including both St. Agnes and St. Sebastian, but strays from the novel in many ways.

    The postcards in this post were produced in Spain for the chocolate manufacturer Amatller Marca Luna.

    Fabiola (1918)
    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 8. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). Fabiola (Elena Sangro) protects her niece Agnese (Signora Poletti) from the persecutions of the Christians in Rome and flees with her to her countryside villa.

    Elena Sangro in Fabiola (1918)
    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 5. Photo: Palatino Film. Elena Sangro as Fabiola and signora Poletti as her niece Agnese in Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). When the persecutions of the Christians in Rome become too rough, Fabiola takes her niece Agnese to her villa in the countryside.

    Elena Sangro in Fabiola (1918)
    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 2. Photo: Palatino Film. Elena Sangro as Fabiola and signora Poletti as her niece Agnese in Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). Fabiola implores her niece Agnese to give up her religion to save her life. NB the table on the right is copied from a Roman original.

    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 17. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). Pancrazio and his mother are about to be thrown to the lions.

    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 13. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still for Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). The execution of (Saint) Sebastian (Livio Pavanelli).

    Livio Pavanelli and Amleto Novelli in Fabiola
    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 16. Photo: Palatino Film. Livio Pavanelli as St. Sebastiano and Amleto Novelli as Fulvio in Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918).

    Livio Pavanelli and sig.a Poletti in Fabiola
    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Series 8, no. 18. Photo: Palatino Film. Livio Pavanelli as St. Sebastiano and signora Poletti as Sta. Agnese in Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918). While contemplating the supreme light of paganism against Christianism, human reason can only recognise the triumph of the new religion.

    Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate. Courtesy Cineteca di Bologna

    The magnificent Alma-Tadema exhibition that premiered at the Fries Museum in the Netherlands and now still can be seen at the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna, will open on 5 July at the Leighton House Museum in London. On 20 and 21 October, there will also be a symposium in London on Lawrence Alma-Tadema between art and cinema.

    Sources: A Cinema HistoryWikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 06/14/17--22:00: Italia Almirante
  • Film historian and EFSP contributor is still in Rome and today he gives a paper on the classic epic Cabiria (1914), which was the summit of the early Italian Antiquity films. Sadly, there are no postcards of this silent film, but there are many cards of its female star, Italia Almirante (1890-1941). With Cabiria, she became one of the divas of the Italian silent cinema, and worked with some of the most important Italian directors of the silent era, including Roberto Roberti, Augusto Genina and Giovanni Pastrone. From 1935 on she played on stage in Brazil, where she suddenly died when she was bitten by a poisonous insect.

    Still from Cabiria (1914).

    Italia Almirante
    Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 14.

    Italia Almirante
    Italian postcard by Neg. Vettori, Bologna, no. 1031.

    Italia Almirante
    Italian postcard by Ed. Traldi, Milano, no. 528.

    Italia Almirante and Albert Collo in L'ombra (1923)
    Italian postcard by Casa Editrice Ballerini e Fratini, Firenze, no. 31. Photo: Alba Film. Publicity still for L'ombra/The Shadow (Mario Almirante, 1923).


    Italia Almirante was born in Taranto, Italy, in 1890. She was born into a family of theatre artists. Her father was the actor Michele Almirante, and her mother the actress Urania Dell'Este. One of her cousins was film actor Luigi Almirante.

    Italia also began to appear on stage and in 1911 she made her film debut for the Cines studio in Rome, where she played the lead in Gerusalemme liberata/The Crusaders (Enrico Guazzoni, 1911) and San Francesco. Il poverello di Assisi/Saint Francis: The Poor Boy from Assisi (Enrico Guazzoni, 1911), both opposite Emilio Ghione.

    She moved over to another pioneer film studio, Savoia Film in Turin. There she appeared in Sul sentiero della vipera/On the Trail of the Viper (Oreste Mentasti, 1912).

    Two years later she had her breakthrough as the wicked Carthaginian queen Sofonisba in the influential costume epic Cabiria (1914). Director Giovanni Pastrone chose her for the role at the suggestion of author Gabriele D'Annunzio himself.

    A million lira was budgeted for the film, a tremendous sum then, and location shooting was extended to Tunisia, Sicily and the Alps. The result was a tremendous success and it had a direct influence on D.W. Griffith's production of Intolerance (1916).

    Italia Almirante
    Italian postcard.

    Italia Almirante
    Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze. Photo: Fot. Scoffone, no. 521.

    Italia Almirante and Gian Paolo Rosmino in Ironie della vita
    Italian postcar by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 529. Italia Almirante and Gian Paolo Rosmino in the Italian silent film L'ironia della vita (Mario Roncoroni, 1917). The film deals with Paolo who flees to the USA after a stock exchange scandal, leaving behind his wife Elena. After a year, Elena hears he died, so after another year she remarries. But then Paolo returns, having become rich as mine engineer... NB. the card writes Ironia instead of Ironie and Rosmini instead of Rosmino.

    Italia Almirante Manzini
    Italian postcard by Neg. Vettori, Bologna, no. 15.

    Italia Almirante in L'Arzigogolo
    Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 204. Photo: Scoffone. Publicity still of Italia Almirante Manzini as Violante in the film L'Arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924), an adaptation of the play by Sem Benelli.

    Intense Film Career

    In particular between 1917 and 1922 Italia Almirante had an intense film career in Italy. She starred in films like Maternità/Maternity (Ugo de Simone, 1917), Femmina - Femina/Female - Female (Augusto Genina, 1918) and Hedda Gabler (Gero Zambuto, Giovanni Pastrone, 1920), based on the play by Henrik Ibsen.

    Opposite Bartolomeo Paganoshe starred in three Maciste-films: Maciste poliziotto (Roberto Roberti, 1918), Maciste atleta (Vincenzo Denizot, Giovanni Pastrone, 1918) and Maciste medium (Vincenzo Denizot, 1918). The popular Maciste series presented the historical adventures of the strongman Maciste, who was introduced in Cabiria (1914).

    When Italia married journalist/actor Amerigo Manzini in 1919 she also became known as Italia Almirante Manzini.

    She was a cousin of film director Mario Almirante who directed her in nine films between 1920 and 1926, including Zingari (1920) with Amleto Novelli and La statua di carne/The Statue of Flesh (1921) and L'ombra/The Shadow (1923).

    She also worked frequently with prolific directors like Augusto Genina (e.g. I due crocefissi/The Two Crucifixes (1920)) and Gennaro Righelli (e.g. Il sogno d'amore/The Dream of Love (1922)).

    Italia Almirante
    Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 540.

    Italia Almirante
    Italian postcard by Neg. Scofione, no. 347.

    La statua di carne
    Italian postcard by Fotominio. Photo: G.B. Falci, Milano. Italia Almirante in La statua di carne (Mario Almirante 1921).

    Italia Almirante in La statua di carne (1921)
    Italian postcard by Fotominio, no. 52. Photo: G.B. Falci, Milano. Italia Almirante in La statua di carne (Mario Almirante 1921).

    Italia Almirante
    Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 529. Photo: Scoffone. Publicity still for L'Arzigogolo/The Fantasy (Mario Almirante, 1924).

    Poisonous Insect

    In 1924 Italia Almirante Manzini played in a film adaptation of a play by Italian autor Sem Benelli, L'Arzigogolo/The Fantasy (Mario Almirante, 1924).

    Almirante played Monna Violante, wed by her father to the rich merchant Floridoro (Oreste Bilancia), falls in love with Spallatonda (Annibale Betrone), the buffoon of count Giano (Alberto Collo), one of her suitors. After Giano has been killed by the hand of Spallatonda, the latter flees with Monna Violante.

    After the mid-1920s she turned to the stage, returning to a film set only one more time, for the film L'Ultimo dei Bergerac/The Last of the Bergerac (Gennaro Righelli, 1934) with Livio Pavanelli. It would be her only sound film.

    In 1935 she went on a stage tour across Brazil, and decided to stay there. In 1941 Italia Almirante Manzini suddenly died in São Paulo. The cause was a poisonous insect. She was only 51.

    Recently, a book about the Almirante family was presented, Da Pasquale a Giorgio Almirante. Storia di una famiglia d’arte (Marsilio, 2016), written by one of the descendants of the family, Pasquale Almirante.

    La chiromante
    Italian postcard, no. 40. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La chiromante aka La maschera del male (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini, Lido Manetti and Oreste Bilancia. Caption: At the horse races, meeting of the countess Turchina and the three inseparable friends.

    Italia Almirante in La grande passione
    Italian postcard. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: Joint life in their retreat.

    Italia Almirante
    Italia Almirante and Alberto Collo. Italian postcard by G.B. Salci, Milano. Photo: publicity still for L'Arzigogolo/The Fantasy (Mario Almirante, 1924).

    Italia Almirante in L'amorosa tragedia
    Italian postcard. Photo: Crimella. Italia Almirante in the Italian stage play L'amorosa tragedia (1925) by Sem Benelli and directed by Luigi Almirante. The play was staged by Almirante's own stage company. A young Vittorio De Sicaacted in this play as well.

    Italia Almirante Manzini
    Italian postcard by Fotocelere, Torino.

    Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio - Italian), Facebook (Italian), Wikipedia (Italian) and IMDb.

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  • 06/15/17--22:00: Albert Bassermann
  • Albert Bassermann (1867–1952) was one of the first great German stage actors who worked for the cinema. In 1933 he fled the Nazi regime and became an Oscar nominated character actor in Hollywood.

    Albert Bassermann
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, no. 3070. Photo: Atelier Oertel, Berlin.

    Albert Bassermann
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 3077. Photo: N. & C. Hess, Frankfurt a. M.

    Albert Bassermann in König Heinrich IV
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 7510. Photo: Hans Böhm. Publicity still for the play König Heinrich IV (Henry IV) with Albert Bassermann as Percy.

    Albert Bassermann in Faust
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 7511. Photo: Hans Böhm. Publicity still for the play Faust with Albert Bassermann as Mephisto.

    Albert Bassermann in Die beiden Klingsberg
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 9145. Publicity still for the play Die beiden Klingsberg by August von Kotzebue with Albert Bassermann as Graf Klingsberg.

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    Albert Bassermann was born in Mannheim, Germany in 1867.

    At 20, he began his acting career in his birthplace. He spent four years at the famous Hoftheater in Meiningen, and then moved to Berlin. From 1899, he worked for Otto Brahm till 1904 at the Deutsches Theater and till 1909 at the Lessing Theater.

    In 1908 he married Elisabeth Sara Schiff, who became known as actress Else Bassermann.

    From 1909 to 1915, Bassermann worked with legendary director Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater. He specialised in Shakespearean roles (Richard III, Hamlet) and was a famous interpreter of the plays of Henrik Ibsen.

    Bassermann was also among the first German theatre actors who worked in film. With his wife Else he played in the Vitascope production Der letzte Tag/The Last Day (Max Mack, 1913).

    In 1913, he also played the main role of the lawyer in a silent version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Der Andere/The Other (Max Mack, 1913), after the play by Paul Lindau, and a year later he played a doctor in Urteil des Arztes/Opinion of the doctor (Max Mack, 1914) with Else Bassermann.

    From 1917 on, he and Else starred together in more than a dozen silent films such as Herr und Diener/Man and Servant (Adolf Gärtner, 1917) and Du sollst keine anderen Götter haben/You should have no other Gods (Adolf Gärtner, 1917) which were also written by Else Bassermann.

    In 1922 he appeared in Ernst Lubitsch’s Das Weib des Pharao/The Pharoah's Wife (Ernst Lubitsch, 1922) starring Emil Jannings. It was an epic piece of film-making, with 6,000 extras and elaborate sets.

    He then starred opposite Henny Porten in Frauenopfer/Women's Sacrifice (Karl Grune, 1922) and opposite Liane Haid and Conrad Veidt in Lucrezia Borgia/Lucretia Borgia (Richard Oswald, 1922).

    In the following years he also worked with such well-known German silent film directors as Leopold Jessner (at the Lulu adaptation Erdgeist/Earth Spirit (1923) starring Asta Nielsen), Friedrich (Frederic) Zelnik (Briefe, die ihn nicht erreichten/ The letters which did not reach him (1925) with Marcella Albani) and Lupu Pick (Napoleon auf St. Helena/Napoleon at St. Helena (1929) with Werner Krauss).

    Throughout the 1920s, Bassermann remained active in films but also on stage in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

    Albert Bassermann
    German postcard by Photochemie, no. K. 1672.

    Albert Bassermann
    German postcard by Photochemie, no. K. 1677.

    Albert Bassermann and Else Bassermann in Der letzte Zeuge
    German postcard by Verlag Herman Leiser, no. 1071. Photo: Greenbaum-Film. Publicity still of Albert and Else Bassermann in Der letzte Zeuge/The Last Witness (Adolf Gärtner, 1919).

    Albert Bassermann as Wallenstein
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 1990. Photo: publicity still for a stage production of Wallensteins Tod (The Death of Wallenstein) by Friedrich Schiller.

    Albert Bassermann and Hanni Weisse in Du sollst keine anderen Götter haben (1917).
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 5462. Photo: Greenbaum-Film. Albert Bassermann and Hanni Weisse in Du sollst keine anderen Götter haben (Adolf Gärtner, 1917).

    Albert Bassermann, Hanni Weisse, Else Bassemann and Ewald Brückner in Du sollst keine andern Götter haben (1917)
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 5463. Photo: publicity still for Du sollst keine andern Götter haben/Thou shalt have no other gods (Adolf Gärtner, 1917) with Albert Bassermann, Hanni WeisseElse Bassermann and Ewald Brückner.


    In 1933, Albert Bassermann was outraged by the discrimination shown in Nazi-Germany towards his Jewish wife Else. Although Adolf Hitler personally held him in high regard, Bassermann was told that if he wanted to continue to perform in Germany, he would have to get divorced.

    Bassermann would never divorce Elsa and also never performed in Nazi-Germany. Till then he had been very active in the early German sound film. He had starred in such classic films as Alraune/Daughter of Evil (Richard Oswald, 1930) with Brigitte Helm, Dreyfus (Richard Oswald, 1930) featuring Fritz Kortner, and Voruntersuchung/Inquest (Robert Siodmak, 1931).

    Lately he had starred oppositeHans Albers in the UFA production Ein gewisser Herr Gran/A Certain Mr. Gran (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1933).

    The Bassermanns fled to Switzerland and later to Austria. In Vienna Albert and Else appeared in the film Letzte Liebe/Last Love (Fritz Schulz, 1935). In 1938, the Anschluss of Austria with Nazi-Germany forced them to emigrate again, this time to the United States.

    Bassermann’s ability to speak English was very limited, but he learned lines phonetically with assistance from his wife and found work as a character actor in Hollywood. He was cast as Dr. Robert Koch in Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (William Dieterle, 1940) featuring Edward G. Robinson as the German physician who developed the first synthetic antimicrobial drug in 1908.

    As Albert Basserman he also played a sympathetic chemistry professor in Knute Rockne, All-American (1940, Lloyd Bacon) starring Ronald Reagan.

    For his performance as the kidnapped Dutch statesman Van Meer in Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940), he was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor.

    His distinguished-looking countenance and serious demeanour lent itself to being assigned a variety of consular or professorial roles: he was excellent as Consul Magnus Barring in A Woman's Face (George Cukor, 1941) with Joan Crawford, Professor Jean Perote in Madame Curie (Mervyn LeRoy, 1944) featuring Greer Garson, and a dying German music teacher in Rhapsody in Blue (Irving Rapper, 1945).

    In 1944 he made his Broadway debut as the Pope in the world premiere of Franz Werfel's stage play Embezzled Heaven (the English version of Der veruntreute Himmel).

    Albert Bassermann
    German postcard by Margarinewerk Eidelstedt Gebr. Fauser G.m.b.H., Holstein, Serie 1, no. Bild 13. Photo: Transocean.

    Albert Bassermann in Traumulus
    German postcard by Verl. Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 7581. Photo: Hans Böhm. Publicity still for the stage play Traumulus by Arno Holz.

    Albert Bassermann in Der Letzte Tag (1913)
    German postcard by Verl. Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 7799. Publicity still for Der Letzte Tag/The Last Day (Max Mack, 1913) based on a script by Paul Lindau.

    Albert Bassermann in Der Snob (1914)
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8319. Photo: Willinger. Publicity still for the play Der Snob (The Snob, 1914) by Carl Sternheim.

    Albert Bassermann
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 9528. Photo: N. & C. Hess, Frankfurt am Main.

    Albert Bassermann, Else Bassermann
    German postcard, no. 8772. Photo: Willinger. With Else.

    I'm never through!

    After the war, the 83-years-old Albert Bassermann returned to Europe. In November 1946 he made a triumphant guest appearance at the Wiener Volkstheater and played in Paul Osborn's Der Himmel Wartet (On Borrowed Time), in Henrik Ibsen's Baumeister Solness (The Master Builder) and - in favour of the political victims of the Nazi terror - in Ibsen's Gespenster (Ghosts), each directed by Walter Firner and stage designed by Gustav Manker.

    President Karl Renner, Chancellor Leopold Figl, Vienna's Mayor Theodore Körner, and representatives from the four Allied occupying powers attended the premiere. In the following years he toured along European as well as American theatres and often worked for the radio.

    His final film appearance was in The Red Shoes (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948).

    His illustrious career was already acknowledged in 1911 when he received the Iffland-Ring from the prominent actor Friedrich Haase. In the following decades Bassermann himself attempted to bestow the Iffland-Ring, but he outlived each of the three grantees he chose (a.o. Alexander Moissi). Not wanting to be mistaken a fourth time, he deferred making a choice.

    In 1952, Albert Bassermann died from a heart attack while on a flight from New York to Zurich. After his death an association of German actors decided that the Iffland-Ring should be passed to Werner Krauss. Today the ring is worn by Bruno Ganz.

    Albert and Else Bassermann had one daughter, Carmen. Wikipedia quotes actress Uta Hagen in her book Respect for Acting: "One of the finest lessons I ever learned was from the great German actor Albert Basserman. I worked with him as Hilde in The Master Builder by Ibsen. He was already past eighty but was as 'modern' in his conception of the role of (Master builder) Solness and in his techniques as anyone I've ever seen or played with.

    In rehearsals he felt his way with the new cast. (The role had been in his repertoire for almost forty years.) He watched us, listened to us, adjusted to us, meanwhile executing his actions with only a small part of his playing energy. At the first dress rehearsal, he started to play fully. There was such a vibrant reality to the rhythm of his speech and behavior that I was swept away by it.

    I kept waiting for him to come to an end with his intentions so that I could take my 'turn.' As a result, I either made a big hole in the dialogue or desperately cut in on him in order to avoid another hole. I was expecting the usual 'It's your turn; then it's my turn.' At the end of the first act I went to his dressing room and said, 'Mr. Basserman, I can't apologize enough, but I never know when you're through!' He looked at me in amazement and said, 'I'm never through! And neither should you be."

    Albert Bassermann in a dual role in Herr und Diener
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 5465. Photo: Greenbaum-Film. Albert Bassermann in a dual role in the German silent film Herr und Diener/Master and Servant (Adolf Gärtner, 1917).

    Albert Bassermann and Rose Liechtenstein in Der Eiserne Wille (1917)
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 5467. Photo: Greenbaum-Film. Publicity still for Der eiserne Wille/The Iron Will (Adolf Gärtner, 1917) with Rose Liechtenstein.

    Albert Bassermann and Hanni Weisse in Du sollst keine andern Götter haben
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 5482. Photo: Greenbaum-Film. Publicity still for Du sollst keine andern Götter haben/Thou shalt have no other gods (Adolf Gärtner, 1917), with Albert Bassermann and Hanni Weisse.

    Albert Bassermann in Vater und Sohn
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 5557. Photo: Greenbaum-Film. Publicity still for Vater und Sohn/Father and Son (William Wauer, 1918).

    Albert Bassermann and Käte Wittenberg in Dr. Schotte
    German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 5562. Photo: Greenbaum-Film. Publicity still for Dr. Schotte (William Wauer, 1918), starring Albert Bassermann and Käte Wittenberg.

    Albert Bassermann
    German postcard by Verl. Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 7512. Photo: Hans Böhm. Publicity still for Albert Bassermann as Percy in the stage production König Heinrich IV.

    Albert Bassermann in Der Andere
    German postcard by Verl. Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 7517. Photo: C. Brasch, Berlin. Publicity still for Der Andere/The Other (Max Mack, 1913).

    Albert Bassermann
    German postcard by Verl. Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 7518. Photo: C. Brasch, Berlin. Publicity still for Der Andere/The Other (Max Mack, 1913).

    Albert Bassermann
    Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, Wien (Vienna), no. 326. Photo: Zimbler, Wien.

    Albert Bassermann
    Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 617-2. Photo: Zimbler.

    Brigitte Helm, Albert Bassermann, Alraune
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 127/4, 1929-1930. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Alraune/Daughter of Evil (Richard Oswald, 1930) with Brigitte Helm. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Albert and Else Bassermann in Groszstadtluft
    German postcard. Publicity card for Albert and Else Bassermann in the play Groszstadtluft in the Berlin theatre Scala.

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

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  • 06/16/17--22:00: Anita Pallenberg (1942-2017)
  • On 13 June 2017, Italian-German actress and model Anita Pallenberg died. She was a style icon and one of the 'it-girls' of the 1960s. Pallenberg was the lover of Rolling Stones member Brian Jones, and later, from 1967 to 1980, the partner of Stones guitarist Keith Richards, with whom she had three children. Over a 40-year span, Pallenberg appeared in over a dozen films including such cult films as Barbarella (1968), Candy (1968) and Performance (1970).

    Anita Pallenberg (1942-2017)
    German postcard by Frans Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg. Photo: Constantin / Houwer / Weisse. Photo: publicity still for Mord und Totschlag//A Degree of Murder (Volker Schlöndorff, 1967).

    Living Theatre and Andy Warhol's Factory

    Anita Pallenberg was born in 1942 in German-occupied Rome. Her parents were Arnold ‘Arnaldo’ Pallenberg, an ethnic German Italian sales agent, amateur singer and hobbyist painter, and Paula Wiederhold, a German embassy secretary. The family was separated because of the war, and she did not see her father until she was 3 years old.

    Her father later sent her to a boarding school in Germany to help her master the language. She became fluent in four languages at an early age. She was expelled from school when she was 16, after which she spent time in Rome while La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960) was being filmed. She met its director Federico Fellini, other filmmakers such as Luchino Visconti and Pier Paolo Pasolini, and the novelist Alberto Moravia.

    In 1963, she went to New York, where she was active in the Living Theatre, starred in the play Paradise Now, which featured onstage nudity, and became part of the trendsetting pop art milieu that orbited around Andy Warhol and his Factory studio.

    She then began her career as a fashion model in Paris. One of her first film appearances was as The Great Tyrant in Roger Vadim's science fiction film Barbarella (1968); the character's voice was dubbed by Joan Greenwood. She played the sleeper wife of Michel Piccoli in Dillinger è morto/Dillinger Is Dead (Marco Ferreri, 1969).

    Pallenberg also had roles in the German crime thriller Mord und Totschlag/A Degree of Murder (Volker Schlöndorff, 1967), which featured music by Brian Jones; and the sex farce Candy (Christian Marquand, 1968) as James Coburn's possessive nurse Bullock. She appeared in Volker Schlöndorff's Michael Kohlhaas – Der Rebell/Man on Horseback (1969), featuring David Warner. The film was based on a novel by Heinrich von Kleist and filmed in Slovakia.

    Pallenberg also played the role of Pherber in the dark, experimental crime drama Performance (Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg, 1970), starring James Fox and Mick Jagger. She co-wrote the screenplay with Donald Cammell and had no intention of playing in the film. She ended up replacing the original actress at the last minute due to a medical emergency. The film was shot in 1968, but Warner Bros. waited two years to distribute the film because of its graphic violent and sexual content. It initially received a mixed critical response but gained a cult following, and since then its reputation has grown in stature; it is now regarded as one of the most influential and innovative films of the 1970s as well as in British cinema.

    The Rolling Stones
    The Rolling Stones. Dutch postcard, no. 6223.


    Anita Pallenberg is best known for her romantic involvement with Rolling Stones' band members Brian Jones and later Keith Richards. Pallenberg first met the band in 1965 in Munich, where she was working on a modelling assignment, and before they had made it big. Jones spoke German and they began a friendship that turned into two-year relationship. She later recalled that they took a lot of acid during this time, but it caused Jones to have nightmares.

    She ended her relationship with Jones in 1967 after he became violent toward her during a vacation in Morocco, where he was then hospitalised. He died in 1969. In Morocco, Keith Richards saw Jones assaulting Pallenberg, and pulled her away and then took her back to England, where she moved in with him.

    She and Richards began a relationship that lasted until 1980, although they never married. Richards' lifestyle was not conducive to fatherhood, Pallenberg later explained. She was trying to raise their two young children but Richards was up all night and slept all day. She eventually was able to detox herself from drugs but Richards continued to use. In 1981, after Richards and Pallenberg had split up, Richards stated that he still loved Pallenberg and saw her as much as he ever did, although he had already met his future wife, Patti Hansen.

    There were rumours that Pallenberg also had a brief affair with Mick Jagger during the filming of Performance, and Keith Richards states in his autobiography Life that it happened. Pallenberg later always denied the affair. She spent a lot of time with singer Marianne Faithfull, Jagger's girlfriend in the late 1960s, who remained a friend of Pallenberg's. They appeared together in the episode Donkey (2001) of the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous in which Faithfull plays God and Pallenberg The Devil.

    In July 1979, 17-years old Scott Cantrell committed suicide in Keith Richards's New York apartment while supposedly playing Russian Roulette. Pallenberg was in the same room as Cantrell during the incident, while her 10-year-old son Marlon was watching television with a family friend downstairs. Pallenberg claimed to not have witnessed the incident and that she took Cantrell in about a year earlier since he had no other place to stay at. Pallenberg was charged with having handguns without a permit and possessing a stolen gun.

    In 1985, Duran Duran used a clip of Anita Pallenberg from Barbarella for the video of their hit song Wild Boys. She portrayed the impersonator The Queen in the comedy-drama Mister Lonely (Harmony Korine, 2007) with Diego Luna, and played a character named Sin in Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara, 2007). She also appeared in the Colette adaptation Chéri (Stephen Frears, 2009), starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend, in Napoli, Napoli, Napoli (Abel Ferrara, 2009) and in the Apocalyptic drama 4:44 Last Day on Earth (Abel Ferrara, 2011), starring Willem Dafoe.

    Monet Mazur played a young Pallenberg in the film Stoned (Stephen Woolley, 2005), a biographical film about the last year of Brian Jones' life. Pallenberg and Richards together had three children: son Marlon Leon Sundeep (1969), daughter Dandelion Angela (1972), and a son Tara Jo Jo Gunne who died in his cot 10 weeks after birth. Pallenberg later stated that she first became pregnant in 1968, but that she was pressured to have an abortion so she could take part in the film Performance, which caused her to feel extremely resentful. She became pregnant again with Marlon during the filming.

    After Tara Jo Jo's death, Keith's mother blamed Pallenberg and said she was an unfit mother, and took Angela to live with her. Pallenberg raised Marlon mostly on the road with the band, teaching him to read and write. When Marlon was 8, she moved into a house in Westchester, New York so he could have a more routine life and go to school. In later years, she lived in Chelsea, London, but spent the winters in Jamaica.

    Anita Pallenberg died in Chichester, England in 2017, aged 75. She is survived by her two children and five grandchildren.

    Trailer Barbarella (Roger Vadim, 1968). Source: Baroudeur (YouTube).

    Trailer Candy (Christian Marquand, 1968). Source: ZABRISKIEPOINTER (YouTube).

    Trailer Performance (Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg, 1970). Source: Warner Bros. (YouTube).

    Sources: Adam Sweeting (The Guardian), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 06/17/17--22:00: Aleksey Batalov (1928-2017)
  • On Thursday 15 June 2017, Russian actor and director Aleksey Batalov passed away in his hometown Moscow. He played positive and noble characters in several classics of the Soviet cinema such as Bolshaya Semya/The Big Family (Iosif Kheifets, 1954), Letyat zhuravli/The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957), Dama s sobachkoi/The Lady with the Dog (Iosif Kheifits, 1962), and Oscar winner Moskva slezam ne verit/Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Vladimir Menshov, 1979). He was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1976 and a Hero of Socialist Labour in 1989.

    Aleksey Batalov (1928-2017)
    Czechoslovakian postcard by Sluzba, Zilina. Pictures from Bolshaya Semya/The Big Family (Iosif Kheifets, 1954), Mat/Mother (Mark Donskoy, 1956), Delo Rumyantseva/The Case of Sergei Rumyantsev (Iosif Kheifits, 1956), and Letyat zhuravli/The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957).

    Best Actor Award in Cannes

    Aleksey (or Aleksei) Vladimirovich Batalov was born in 1928, into a family associated with the theatre. He was born in the city of Vladimir, near Moscow, where his grandmother was the Doctor General at the Vladimir city hospital.

    His father, Vladimir Petrovich Batalov and his mother, Nina Antonovna Olshevskaya, were both actors of the Moscow Art Theatre (MKhAT) under the directorship of Konstantin Stanislavski and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. His uncle, Nikolai Batalov, was a distinguished film actor, who had starred in Vsevolod Pudovkin's classic Mat/Mother (1926).

    The Batalov family lived in the actor's apartments building at the Moscow Art Theatre. Aleksey then moved with his mother to the home of her second husband writer Viktor Ardov, who was the neighbour of Russian poet and essayist Osip Mandelstam. Young Batalov became a good friend of Modernist poet Anna Akhmatova who stayed in his room during her many visits to Moscow. Later, in the 1960s, Aleksei Batalov painted an oil portrait of Anna Akhmatova. Writers Mikhail A. Bulgakov, Mikhail Zoschenko, Boris Pasternak were among the closest friends of the Batalov family, being also the colleagues of his stepfather Viktor Ardov.

    In 1944, upon his return from evacuation in Tatarstan, Aleksey Batalov made his film debut with a bit part in Zoya (Lev Arnshtam, 1944). He studied acting at the Moscow Art Theatre's Acting Studio-School of Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko and graduated in 1950. That same year he was drafted in the Red Army and worked as an actor with the Central Theatre of the Soviet Army from 1950-1953. Batalov joined the Moscow Art Theatre in 1953 but left three years later to concentrate on his career in film.

    Batalov shot to fame with his role in the film Bolshaya Semya/The Big Family (Iosif Kheifets, 1954). For that role he won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, which he shared with his partners Sergei Lukyanov, Boris Andreyev, Nikolai Gritsenko, Pavel Kadochnikov, and others; the whole ensemble of actors and actresses were awarded for that film at Cannes, in 1955.

    Aleksey Batalov (1928-2017)
    Czechoslovakian postcard.

    Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears

    Aleksey Batalov received more international acclaim for his memorable acting opposite Tatyana Samoylova in Letyat zhuravli/The Cranes Are Flying (1957) for which director Mikhail Kalatozov won the Golden Palm at Cannes, in 1958. Batalov won the Jussi Diploma of Merit for the supporting role in Dama s sobachkoi/The Lady with the Dog (Iosif Kheifits, 1962), based on a story by Anton Chekhov.

    Batalov also worked with Iosif Kheifits in V gorode S./In the Town of S. (Iosif Kheifits, 1967), based on another story by Anton Chekhov. Batalov himself directed three films: Shinel/The Overcoat (1960) based on the story by Nikolai Gogol, Tri tolstyaka/Three Fat Men (co-directed with Iosif Shapiro, 1966) and Igrok/The Gambler (1973), an adaptation of the eponymous book by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

    Aleksey Batalov earned the State Prize of the USSR for a strong and difficult leading role opposite Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy in 9 dney odnogo goda/Nine Days in One Year (1961), for which director Mikhail Romm won the Crystal Globe. Batalov's performance in the leading role of a Russian intellectual in Beg/The Flight (Aleksandr Alov, Vladimir Naumov, 1970) based on the play by Mikhail A. Bulgakov, was somewhat overshadowed by the brilliant duo of his film partners Mikhail Ulyanov and Evgeniy Evstigneev.

    In the 1970s he concentrated on his professorship at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography. Batalov made a successful comeback in Moskva slezam ne verit/Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Vladimir Menshov, 1979), which won an Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film (1981).

    After that, he effectively retired from acting and devoted his time to coaching new generations of film actors. In addition to his numerous international awards Batalov was honoured with the title of the People's Artist of the USSR (1976). He was decorated and received many Soviet and Russian awards from the state. Batalov was the Dean of the Actors Studio at the Moscow State Film Institute (VGIK) from 1975 to 2005. He taught over 20 acting seminars in the USA and Canada. He also made notable works for the Moscow Radio.

    Aleksey Batalov died on 14 June 2017 in Moscow from complications of a fall, which resulted in a broken neck and hip, at the age of 88. He was married to Gitana Leontyenko and they had one child.

    Final scene of Letyat zhuravli/The Cranes Are Flying (1957). Source: whitewaterfreak (YouTube).

    Trailer for Moskva slezam ne verit/Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1979). Source: Artem Koloskov (YouTube).

    Source: Steve Shelokhonov (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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    Placid blonde American actress Martha Hyer (1924-2014) was once labelled 'Universal's answer to Grace Kelly'. She appeared in many well known Hollywood movies of the 1950s. During the 1960s, she also appeared in several European films.

    Martha Hyer
    Italian postcard by Bromofoto, no. 1398. Photo: Paramount.

    Martha Hyer
    French postcard by P.I., no. 701. Photo: H.P.S.

    Martha Hyer in The Carpetbaggers (1964)
    Dutch postcard by P. Moorlag, Heerlen, Sort. 17/6. Photo: publicity still for The Carpetbaggers (Edward Dmytryk, 1964).

    Stellar role

    Martha Hyer was born Mary Lou Spring in 1924 in Fort Worth, Texas. Her parents were Julien Capers Hyer, an attorney and judge, and Agnes Rebecca née Barnhart.

    Martha majored in drama and speech at Northwestern University. Once she finished her formal schooling, she moved to California to study at the Pasadena Playhouse. Soon she was discovered by an RKO talent agent.

    Martha played an uncredited speaking part in The Locket (John Brahm, 1946) starring Robert Mitchum. For the next few years, she appeared in more uncredited and bit roles in B-movies, occasionally working on television as well. Slowly, she began picking up roles with more and more substance.

    The best years for the beautiful actress began in 1954. She played Elizabeth Tyson, a socialite who almost loses her fiancé (William Holden) to Audrey Hepburn in the Oscar-winning film Sabrina (Billy Wilder, 1954).

    Then she played in films such as Down Three Dark Streets (Arnold Laven, 1954) with Broderick Crawford, the comedy Francis in the Navy (Arthur Lubin, 1955) opposite Donald O. Connor, and Showdown at Abilene (Charles F. Haas, 1956).

    In the war film Battle Hymn (Douglas Sirk, 1957) she appeared with Rock Hudson, in the drama Mister Cory (Blake Edwards, 1957) with Tony Curtis, and in Houseboat (Melville Shavelson, 1958) with Cary Grant.

    Perhaps the best role of her long career was as Gwen French, the prim small schoolteacher in the romantic drama Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1958) in which she starred opposite Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine. As a result of her stellar role, Martha received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress, but she lost out to Wendy Hiller in Separate Tables (Delbert Mann, 1958).

    Soon after, she had supporting roles in the Oscar-nominated films The Big Fisherman (Frank Borzage, 1959) and The Best of Everything (Jean Negulesco, 1959), starring Joan Crawford.

    Martha Hyer
    Yugoslavian postcard by Studio Sombor, no. 217.

    Martha Hyer
    Yugoslavian postcard by ZK, no. 2180.

    Martha Hyer
    Yugoslavian postcard by Nas Glas, Smederevo, no. 139. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Mistress of the World

    During the 1960s, Martha Hyer's stint on the US silver screen's trailed off some. She moved to Europe and starred in the German adventure film Herrin der Welt/Mistress of the World (William Dieterle, 1960) opposite Carlos Thompson.

    She returned to appear in the US from time to time, and appeared in such films as the drama Ice Palace (Vincent Sherman, 1960), with Richard Burton, and The Last Time I Saw Archie (Jack Webb, 1961), a comedy with Robert Mitchum.

    Next she was in A Girl Named Tamiko (John Sturges, 1962) with Laurence Harvey, the Oscar-nominated film Wives and Lovers (John Rich, 1963), and the box-office hit The Carpetbaggers (Edward Dmytryk, 1964), based upon the best-selling novel of the same name by Harold Robbins.

    By 1964, Hyer had turned 40 and after a decade of success, she began having trouble finding good roles. She did appear in two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, A Piece Of Action (1962) and Crimson Witness (1965).

    Also in 1965, she was in the Western The Sons of Katie Elder (Henry Hathaway, 1965) with John Wayne. Opposite Marlon Brando, she appeared in The Chase (Arthur Penn, 1966). On television, she guest-starred in such popular series as Bewitched (1965) and The Beverly Hillbillies (1966).

    In 1967, she starred in the film drama Some May Live (Vernon Sewell, 1967), and in the crime comedy The Happening (Elliot Silverstein, 1967) as the wife of a kidnapped mobster played by Anthony Quinn.

    In Europe, she appeared in the German-Spanish thriller La casa de las mil muñecas/House of 1000 Dolls (Jeremy Summers, Hans Billian, 1967) with Vincent Price and George Nader, the Spanish drama La mujer de otro/Another Man's Wife (Rafael Gil, 1967), and in the Italian comedy Lo scatenato/The Unchained (Franco Indovina, 1968) opposite Vittorio Gassman.

    Then followed the thriller Crossplot (Alvin Rakoff, 1969) with Roger Moore. Her last film was The Day of the Wolves (Ferde Grofé Jr., 1971). Her final television role was in an episode of McCloud (1974).

    At age 50, she retired from acting. Martha Hyer was married twice, first to producer C. Ray Stahl. In 1966, she married producer Hal B. Wallis and remained with him until his death in 1986. Her autobiography, Finding My Way: A Hollywood Memoir, was published in 1990. Martha Hyer died in 2014 at age 89. She had no children.

    Trailer for Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1958). Source: Warnervoduk (YouTube).

    Trailer for The Carpetbaggers (Edward Dmytryk, 1964). Source: YouTube Movies (YouTube).

    Trailer La casa de las mil muñecas/House of 1000 Dolls (Jeremy Summers, Hans Billian, 1967). Source: The Sound of Vincent Price (YouTube).

    Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 06/19/17--22:00: Marika Rökk
  • Egyptian-born singer, dancer and actress of Hungarian descent Marika Rökk (1913-2004) was the last film diva of the Ufa. She was an immensely talented musical performer who could tap with the rhythm and vitality of her Hollywood counterpart Eleanor Powell, and switch to balletic movements with the conviction of Cyd Charisse. Her trademark was her Hungarian accent.

    Marika Rökk
    French postcard by SERP, Paris, no. 65. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 179, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Verlag und Druckerei Erwin Preuss, Dresden-Freital, serie 1, no. 11. Photo: Charlott Serda.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. B 1547. Photo: Real / Europa / Gabriele.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by UFA, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-167, retail price 30 Pfg. Photo: Joe Niczky / UFA.

    Revue Dancer

    Marie Karoline Rökk was born in 1913 in Cairo, Egypt, as the daughter of Hungarian architect and contractor Eduard Rökk and his wife Maria Karoline Charlotte née Karoly.

    Marika spent her childhood in Budapest, but in 1924 her family moved to Paris. Here she learned to dance and joined at 13 the Hoffman Ballet Company. With the Hoffmann Girls she appeared even in the Moulin Rouge and on Broadway. After a tour through the US, the Hoffman Ballet Company disbanded.

    Marika returned to Europe and her stage career continued to flourish. At the age of 15 she was a star acrobat at the Berlin Wintergarten. She appeared as a revue dancer on the stages of Monte Carlo, Cannes, London, Paris and Budapest.

    In England she played in her first film, Why Sailors Leave Home (Monty Banks, 1930) starring Leslie Fuller. It was followed by Kiss Me Sergeant (Monty Banks, 1932).

    The Hungarian musical Csokolj meg, edes!/Kiss Me, Darling (Béla Gaál, 1932) was considered her screen breakthrough. After this she made another fine film in Hungary, Kisertetek Vonata/Ghost Train (Lajos Lázár, 1933).

    In 1934, when she had a great success in Vienna with the revue Stern der Manege/Stars of the Circus Ring, a talent scout for Universum Film AG (Ufa), Germany's largest production company, offered her a contract, and Marika moved on to Nazi-Germany.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard in the series Berühmte Tänzerinnen und Tänzer for Sachenstern Zigarette by Mauritius. Photo: Schneider.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3330/3, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick / Ufa.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3478/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa / Quick.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3476/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3891/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa.

    A New Type of German Star

    The Ufa aimed to create a new type of German star, one to rival Hollywood's top musical goddesses. Marika Rökk’s German film debut was Leichte Kavallerie/Light Cavalry (Werner Hochbaum, 1935) with Heinz von Cleve, Ufa’s ‘handsome leading man’.

    The film made her a star overnight. It was the first of a series of modern romantic fairy tales, lightweight operettas and glittering revue-style entertainments which quickly made Rökk one of Germany's most popular stars. She had the skill and panache to carry off the often hokey plots and cliched dialogue, and she wore the glamorously designed wardrobes with flair.

    Her second German film was an enormously successful adaptation of Karl Millocker's classic operetta of 1882, Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (1936), directed by her husband-to-be, veteran director Georg Jacoby. Handsome Dutch star Johannes Heesters was her co-star and this proved the start of a lucrative onscreen pairing.

    Over the next decades, the Traumpaar (Dream pair) would frequently appear together in such efforts as Hallo Janine!/Hello, Janine! (Carl Boese, 1939), Die Czardasfürstin/The Csardas Princess (Georg Jacoby, 1951) and Die Geschiedene Frau/The Divorced Woman (Georg Jacoby, 1953).

    However, Heesters called her a Kollegenfresser (partner eater), because of her fierce ambition, fiery temper and iron determination.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3707/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3707/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3620/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick / Ufa.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3620/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick / Ufa.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. K 1422. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

    Germany's Top-grossing Musical

    Marika Rökk soon became a leading star of the National Socialist cinema, but her films were also popular in other countries (with Rökk's name often billed as Roekk).

    She could count on an experienced team with which she shot most of her musicals and operettas: director Georg Jacoby, cinematographer Konstantin Irmen-Tschet, composers Franz Grothe and Peter Kreuder, and choreographer Sabine Ress.

    Her most popular films include Gasparone (Georg Jacoby, 1937) a film adaptation of the famous Franz Lehar operetta, Eine Nacht im Mai/A Night in May (Georg Jacoby, 1938) the first German musical modelled with several lavish production numbers totally in the Hollywood style, and Hallo Janine/Hello, Janine! (Carl Boese, 1939).

    In Es war eine rauschende Ballnacht (Georg Jacoby, 1939), she co-starred with that other superstar of the Nazi cinema Zarah Leander.

    In another hit, Kora Terry (Georg Jacoby, 1940), she did several dance interludes which were quite revealing at that time.

    Marika Rökk
    Dutch postcard, no. 41.

    Marika Rökk
    Dutch postcard, no. A x 549.

    Marika Rökk
    Dutch postcard no. 3466.

    Marika Rökk
    Dutch postcard no. 3468.

    Marika Rökk
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 221, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa.

    Marika Rökk
    Big German card by Film-Foto-Verlag. Photo: Hämmerer / Ufa.

    My Little Hungarian

    Again and again Marika Rökk impersonated the at first unrecognised talent, who enforced against all odds and who at the end celebrated her triumphs on stage in a grand final.

    Her films were models of escapist cinema, reaching their zenith during the Second World War when they allowed audiences brief respite and access to a carefree world where politics played no role.

    In 1941 propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels gave Rökk the leading role in his prestige project, the first Agfacolor motion picture Frauen sind doch bessere Diplomaten/Women Are Better Diplomats (Georg Jacoby, 1941-1943), together with Willy Fritsch.

    Her last film under the Nazis was the funny musical Die Frau meiner Träume/Dream Woman (Georg Jacoby, 1944) which holds the record as Germany's top-grossing musical.

    After the war she got an Auftrittsverbot (profession ban), but she was rehabilitated in 1947 and could continue her film career. She had been a great favourite of Adolf Hitler, who called her "my little Hungarian". Rökk was even suspected of espionage, but she was rehabilitated. Her husband Georg Jacoby was not allowed to work again till 1950.

    Marika Rökk in Die Casardasfürstin (1951)
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 478. Photo: Herzog-Film / Junge Film-Union / Lindner. Publicity still for Die Casardasfürstin/The Csardas Princess (Georg Jacoby, 1951).

    Marika Rökk and Johannes Heesters in Die geschiedene Frau (1953)
    German collectors card. Photo: Cine-Allianz / Gloria / Film Ewald. Publicity still for Die geschiedene Frau/The Divorcée (George Jacoby, 1953) with Johannes Heesters.

    Marika Rökk in Bühne frei für Marika (1958)
    German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. M 2484. Photo: Real / Europa / Lantin. Publicity still for Bühne frei für Marika/Stage free for Marika (Georg Jacoby, 1958).

    Marika Rökk
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1747. Photo: publicity still for Bühne frei für Marika/Stage Free for Marika (Georg Jacoby, 1958).

    Marika Rökk and Boy Gobert in Die Fledermaus (1962)
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1849, 1963. Photo: publicity still for Die Fledermaus (Géza von Cziffra, 1962) with Boy Gobert.

    School of Social Graces

    After the Second World War Marika Rökk kept dancing. Hungary refused to pardon her wartime career, though she denied collaboration with the Nazis, and she settled in Vienna. During her absence from the screen she entertained the US troops stationed in Germany.

    She returned to the cinema with Fregola (Harald Röbbeling, 1949) opposite Rudolf Prack, and made another string of popular, frivolous musicals, including Sensation in San Remo (Georg Jacoby, 1951), as a gym teacher by day who secretly sings and dances in a nightclub at night, and Maske in Blau/Mask in Blue (Georg Jacoby, 1953).

    In Nachts im grunen Kakadu/At the Green Cockatoo By Night (Georg Jacoby, 1957) with Dieter Borsche, her school of social graces and dance is about to go bankrupt when she inherits a nightclub. The film proved that there was still an audience for such escapism.

    The following year she made her final musical with Jacoby, Buhne frei fur Marika/Stage Free for Marika (Georg Jacoby, 1958). After starring as Adele, the maid, in Die Fledermaus/The Bat (Géza von Cziffra, 1962), she retired from the cinema.

    Rökk continued to appear on stage in the theatres in Vienna, Hamburg, Munich and especially Berlin. She performed in revues, musicals and operettas like Die Blume von Hawaii/Flowers From Hawaii.

    Among her later successes were the leads in the musical Hello, Dolly! (1968) and in the comedy Die Gräfin vom Naschmarkt/The Countess From The Naschmarkt (1978). Till 1986 she was tirelessly active as an actress, operetta singer and dancer. She played her last leading part in the boulevard comedy Das Kuckucksei/The Cuckoo's Egg (1986-1987).

    Marika Rökk was married to Georg Jacoby from 1940 until his death in 1964, and then to Hungarian actor Fred Raul from 1968 until he died in 1985. She was the mother of actress Gaby Jacoby.

    During her life she was awarded several times. She was the first recipient of a Bambi Award ever (1948). In 1981 she was honoured with the Filmband in Gold for her longtime and outstanding contributions to the German cinema.

    In 1987 she returned to the screen for a final role in Schloss Konigswald/Kingswood Castle (Peter Schamoni. 1987), for which she won the Bayerischer Filmpreis (Bavarian Film Award) as Best Actress. Her last TV appearance was in 1998, when she was already 85.

    Marika Rökk died of a heart attack in 2004 in Baden near Vienna, Austria.

    Musical number from Hallo Janine! (1939). Source: atqui (YouTube).

    The Snake Dance from Kora Terry (1940). Source: Kanal von hargo1962 (YouTube).

    Scene from Frau meiner Träume/The Woman Of My Dreams (1944). Source: Kanal von hargo1962 (YouTube).

    Scene from Die Csardasfürstin (1951). Source: Octopussy05 (YouTube).

    Scene from Maske in Blau/Blue Mask (1953). Source: Kanal von hargo1962 (YouTube).

    Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Jason Buchanan (AllMovie), Rudi Polt (IMDb), Tom Vallance (The Independent), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 06/20/17--22:00: Vele ammainate (1931)
  • Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (Anton Giulio Bragaglia, 1931) is an early Italian sound film, produced by Cines-Pittaluga. Dria Paola starred in this melodrama, which lacked a good script but had excellent cinematography and art direction as can be seen on the postcards.

    Vele ammainate (1931)
    Italian postcard, no. 4. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

    Vele ammainate (1931)
    Italian postcard, no. 64. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

    Vele ammainate (1931)
    Italian postcard, no. 71. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

    Vele ammainate (1931)
    Italian postcard, no. 83. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

    An infamous harbour tavern in the Tropes

    Dria Paola (1909-1993) was an Italian film actress of the 1930s and 1940s. Her name is attached to the first Italian sound film La canzone dell’amore/The Song of Love (1930) by Gennaro Righelli.

    In Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails, Paola plays Aurora, the daughter of the keeper of an infamous harbour tavern in the Tropes. Her lurid and vulgar father (Umberto Guarracino) mistreats her all the time, which attracts the attention of a dashing young captain (Carlo Fontana), who is stuck in the harbour town because he has lost his ship in a storm and he is penniless. The captain defends the girl against the brutal father and a cheeky rival. In the end after he has regained income and paid for a new ship, he takes the girl with him on his new ship.

    The Cinema Illustrazione reported in 1931 that the cinematography and scenography of the film were excellent, such as can be seen in the storm scene, or in the buoyant atmosphere in the tavern. However, the magazine condemned the poor script, the editing and the direction. Dria Paola did not get much space to develop her character, which was deplored in general as well, not only for this film.

    The cinematography of Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails was done by Massimo Terzano and Domenico Scala, and the sets were designed by art directors Gastone Medin and Ivo Perilli. Indoor shooting was done at the Cines studios, outdoor shooting in Savona. Vele ammainate premiered around 21 December 1931 in Rome.

    For both director Anton Giulio Bragaglia and Dria's co-star Umberto GuarracinoVele ammainate was their last film.The strongman Umberto Guarracino already played bad guys in the silent era, starting as the Monster in Il mostro di Frankenstein (1921) with Luciano Albertini as Dr. Frankenstein, followed by parts in Luciano Albertini's earliest German films, directed by Joseph Delmont in 1921, and a few other German films. In 1922-1923 he returned to Italy, to act in the Maciste films of the 1920s, in which he was called Cimaste. Dria Paola's other co-star Carlo Fontana was a little known actor, who only did four feature films, between 1929 and 1937.

    Vele ammainate (1931)
    Italian postcard, no. 91. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

    Vele ammainate (1931)
    Italian postcard, no. 104. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

    Vele ammainate (1931)
    Italian postcard, no. 108. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

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

    Source: Roberto Chiti/Enrico Lancia (I film, vol. I: Tutti i film italiani dal 1930 al 1944), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 06/21/17--22:00: Maureen Swanson
  • Scottish actress Maureen Swanson (1932) was a pretty, elegant, brunette leading lady in British films of the 1950s. After her marriage in 1961, she retired and in 1969 she became Countess of Dudley.

    Maureen Swanson
    Mexican Collectors card, no. 353. Photo: Rank.

    Maureen Swanson
    Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., no. 3682. Photo: Rank Organisation. Publicity still for Robbery Under Arms (Jack Lee, 1957).

    A much-publicised Kiss

    Maureen Swanson was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1932. Her father James Swanson was a businessman.

    When her parents immigrated to South Africa, she decided to stay behind in Great Britain. She was educated at schools and convents in Scotland, before she went to Paris to study ballet.

    She soon won a place at the Sadler's Wells Ballet School and then the company itself, for which she had a featured role in The Haunted Ballroom, choreographed by Ninette de Valois. This gave her the chance, aged 19, to take over the important dancing role of Louise in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1951.

    She made her film debut in John Huston’s drama Moulin Rouge (1952) which was shot at Shepperton Studios in England. She played the aristocratic girl who rejects a proposal of marriage from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (José Ferrer), telling him no woman will ever love him, which prompts him to leave his childhood home in despair to begin a new life as a painter in Paris.

    In 1952 Errol Flynn gave her a much-publicised kiss at the London airport and there was talk of Flynn giving her a contract, but she said no. She appeared in MGM's first CinemaScope feature, the spectacular Knights of the Round Table (Richard Thorpe, 1953) starring Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner.

    Swanson appeared in memorable films like The Valley of Song (Gilbert Gunn, 1953), and the British Film Noir Third Party Risk (Daniel Birt, 1954) opposite Lloyd Bridges. In 1955 she made her TV debut in Great Britain, although she had already acted and danced in a series of six films made for the American television.

    Maureen Swanson
    German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 2092. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Film. Publicity still for The Spanish Gardener (Philip Leacock, 1956).

    Maureen Swanson
    British postcard in the Picturegoer series, London, no. D 457. Photo: Romulus.

    Up in the World

    In 1956 Maureen Swanson appeared in four films. Her first film under contract to Rank, A Town Like Alice (Jack Lee, 1956) with Peter Finch and Virginia McKenna, was her best by far. It covers how a small group of women and children were force-marched through Malaysia by the Japanese during the second world war. In the film, Swanson, the youngest and prettiest of the women, flirts with any available man and even goes off with a Japanese officer.

    She starred opposite Norman Wisdom in the comedy Up in the World (John Paddy Carstairs, 1956). She had a secondary role in Jacqueline (Roy Ward Baker, 1956). And in The Spanish Gardener (Philip Leacock, 1956) she appeared as the girlfriend Dirk Bogarde.

    In 1956 she was also introduced to the Queen at the Royal Film Performance of The Battle at the River Plate at the Empire Theatre in London. Along with her were Marilyn Monroe, Victor Mature, Anthony Quayle, and others.

    The following year she received good reviews for her role in the in Australia situated adventure film Robbery Under Arms (Jack Lee, 1957) starring Peter Finch, but it was to be her last feature film.

    The following year, she only appeared further in a TV production of The Importance of Being Earnest (1958).

    Maureen Swanson
    Dutch postcard, sent by mail in 1960. Photo: Rank. Publicity picture for Robbery Under Arms (Jack Lee, 1957).

    Maureen Swanson
    British postcard in the Celebrity Autograph Series by Celebrity Publishers LTD., London, no. 266. Photo: Rank Organisation. Publicity still for Robbery Under Arms (Jack Lee, 1957).

    Libel Cases

    In 1961 Maureen Swanson married William Ward, who in 1969 became the 4th Earl of Dudley. Their first child, a son named William, was stillborn in 1961. Later, they had six children, including documentary filmmaker Leander Ward (1971). Actress Rachel Ward is their niece.

    As the Countess of Dudley, she managed the couple's homes in Cottesmore Gardens, Kensington, London and Devon. She also served as a lady in waiting to Princess Michael of Kent.

    A few heavily publicised libel cases made sure she was not entirely out of the public eye. First, in 1987, the countess won £5,000 in libel damages from the Literary Review for a review of a book about ladies-in-waiting which, she claimed, had made her out to be a greedy and vulgar woman.

    In 1989, she won again 'substantial' damages from the publishers of Honeytrap: the Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward by Anthony Summer and Stephen Dorril. The authors suggested that Swanson had been one of the 'popsies' whom Stephen Ward had procured for his influential friends.

    Lady Dudley testified that she and Ward had an affair in the early 1950s. She became friends with the osteopath and artist when he was commissioned to draw her portrait in 1953, This was 10 years before he became one of the central figures in the notorious affair around former war minister John Profumo.

    In 2002, the Countess of Dudley again accepted substantial libel damages from the publishers of Christine Keeler: The Truth At Last, Keeler's own account of the events surrounding her affair with John Profumo, in which she referred to Lady Dudley as having been 'one of Stephen’s girls'.

    Lady Dudley died by cancer in 2011, aged 78.

    Trailer Up In The World (1956). Source: rockinkid58 (YouTube).

    Norman Wisdom and Maureen Swanson in Up In The World (1956). Source: 0swproductions0 (YouTube).

    Sources: Ronald Bergan (The Guardian), Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 06/22/17--22:00: Édith Piaf
  • Édith Piaf (1915-1963) is a cultural icon and is universally regarded as France's greatest popular singer. Her ballads, like La Vie en rose (1946) and Non, je ne regrette rien (1960), reflected her life. She appeared sporadically in films.

    Edith Piaf
    French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 18. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

    Edith Piaf
    French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 62. Photo: Studio Harcourt, Paris.

    Edith Piaf
    French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), no. 171. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

    Edith Piaf
    French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 163. Photo: Star.

    The Little Sparrow

    Despite numerous biographies, much of Édith Piaf's life is shrouded in mystery. She was born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Ménilmontant, one of the poorer districts of Paris, in 1915. She was named Edith after the World War I British nurse Edith Cavell, who was executed for helping French soldiers escape from German captivity. Piaf - a Francilien colloquialism for sparrow - was a nickname she would receive 20 years later.

    Her Moroccan-Italian mother, Anita Maillard, worked as a cafe singer under the name Line Marsa. Louis-Alphonse Gassion, Édith's father, was a Norman street acrobat with a past in the theatre. Édith's parents soon abandoned her, and she lived for a short time with her maternal grandmother, who virtually ignored her.

    Her father had enlisted with the French Army to fight in World War I. When Louis Alphonse returned in 1918, he decided to send his daughter to live with his mother in Normandy. Later, she joined her father in his acrobatic street performances all over France. Discovering that she had a powerful singing voice which could hold a crowd mesmerised for longer than her father's back flips, Edith decided to follow in her mother's footsteps.

    In Paris she went her own way and began singing on the Paris streets while her friend Simone, aka Momone, passed the hat round. In spite of her scruffy street urchin appearance, Edith proved extremely popular with the crowds, her amazingly expressive voice managing to move even the most impassive listener.

    She was about 16 when she fell in love with Louis Dupont, a delivery boy and they soon had a child, Marcelle, who died of meningitis at age two.

    In 1935 Piaf was discovered by Louis Leplée, owner of the nightclub Le Gerny off the Champs-Élysées. He gave her the nickname that would stay with her for the rest of her life, La Môme Piaf (The Little Sparrow - she was only 1 m 47 tall). Leplée taught her the basics of stage presence and told her to wear a black dress, later to become her trademark apparel.

    Leplée ran an intense publicity campaign leading up to her opening night, attracting the presence of many celebrities, including Maurice Chevalier. Her nightclub gigs led to her first two records produced that same year. In 1936, Leplée was murdered and Piaf was questioned and accused as an accessory, but was acquitted. Leplée had been killed by mobsters with previous ties to Piaf.

    To rehabilitate her image, she recruited Raymond Asso, with whom she would become romantically involved. He changed her stage name to Édith Piaf, barred undesirable acquaintances from seeing her, and commissioned Marguerite Monnot to write songs that reflected or alluded to Piaf's previous life on the streets. Later that same year Piaf launched a film career, appearing in La garçonne/The Tomboy (Jean Limur, 1937) with Marie Bell.

    Edith Piaf
    French postcard by Edit. Chantal, Rueil, no. 34A. Photo: Vog.

    Edith Piaf
    Modern French postcard by Éditions du Désastre, Paris, no. PR 022. Photo: Studio Harcourt, 1946.

    Edith Piaf
    French postcard. Sent in 1948. Photo: Studio Harcourt, Paris.

    Edith Piaf
    French postcard by O.P., Paris, no. 65. Photo: Star.

    The love of Piaf's life

    In 1940, Édith Piaf co-starred with Paul Meurisse in Jean Cocteau's successful one-act play Le Bel Indifférent (The beautiful indifferent). Piaf and Meurisse were then offered leading roles in the film Montmartre-sur-Seine (Georges Lacombe, 1940) in which the couple starred alongside the famous French actor Jean-Louis Barrault.

    She began forming friendships with prominent people, including Chevalier and poet Jacques Borgeat. He wrote the lyrics of many of her songs and collaborated with composers on the tunes.

    In 1944, she discovered Yves Montand in Paris, made him part of her act, and became his mentor and lover. They would form a famous double act in the film Etoile sans lumière/Star Without Light (Marcel Blistène, 1945). Within a year, Montand became one of the most famous singers in France, and Piaf broke off their relationship when he had become almost as popular as she was.

    During this time she was in great demand and very successful in Paris as France's most popular entertainer. After the war, she became known internationally, touring Europe, the United States, and South America. She scored a major hit in 1946 with Les Trois Cloches, which would later become an English-language smash for The Browns when translated into The Three Bells.

    Later that year, she recorded the self-composed number La Vie en Rose, another huge hit that international audiences would come to regard as her signature song. She also sang it in the film Neuf garçons, un coeur/Nine Boys, One Heart (Georges Friedland, 1948), in which she appeared with her new proteges Les Compagnons de la Chanson.

    The love of Piaf's life was the married boxing champion Marcel Cerdan. He died in a plane crash in October 1949, while flying from Paris to New York City to meet her. His sudden death left Piaf devastated and she fell in a deep depression. It was the beginning of her downfall, and drugs and alcohol began to take their toll on Piaf’s increasingly fragile health.

    Yves Montand
    Yves Montand. French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 176. Photo: Roger Carlet.

    Edith Piaf and Marcel Cerdan, 1948
    French postcard by Editions Gendre, Paris, no. 27. Photo: Keystone. Caption: Edith Piaf, Marcel Cerdan, March 1948.

    Edith Piaf
    Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 5247. Photo: Columbia.

    Edith Piaf
    French promotion card by Disques Columbia.

    Alcohol and Morphine

    In the early 1950s Édith Piaf would begin a long series of treatments in a private health clinic, in an attempt to wean herself off alcohol and morphine. Yet, while her health continued to decline, Piaf's voice appeared to go from strength to strength.

    She also helped launch the career of Charles Aznavour, taking him on tour with her in France and the United States and recording some of his songs.

    In 1951 Piaf would fall in love again, throwing herself into a passionate relationship with Eddie Constantine, a young American singer and actor. Later that same year Piaf would demand that her new protege be given a lead role in Marcel Achard's operetta, La p'tite Lili (Little Lili), which Achard was staging at the ABCwith Marguerite Monnot. Piaf got her way and helped Constantine launch his career. But after La p'tite Lili’s successful seven month run at the ABC, Piaf and Constantine's relationship also came to an end.

    The following year Piaf married singer Jacques Pills and after four years they divorced in 1956. Not long afterward, she suffered an attack of delirium tremens and had to be hospitalised.

    In 1954 she appeared in two successful films, in Si Versailles m'était conté/Affairs in Versailles (Sacha Guitry, 1954), a witty history of the Versailles palace, and in French Cancan (Jean Renoir, 1954) about the revival of Paris' most notorious dance.

    Piaf achieved lasting fame in Bruno Coquatrix's famous Paris Olympia music hall where she gave several series of concerts from 1955 till 1962.

    In late 1958, she met another up-and-coming songwriter, Georges Moustaki, and made him her latest lover and improvement project. Teaming once again with Marguerite Monnot, Moustaki co-wrote Milord, an enormous hit that topped the charts all over Europe in early 1959 and became Piaf's first successful single in the U.K.

    She made one last film, Les amants de demain/The Lovers of Tomorrow (Marcel Blistène, 1959) opposite Michel Auclair. In 1962, she wed Théo Sarapo (Theophanis Lamboukas), a Greek hairdresser-turned-singer and actor who was 20 years her junior. The couple sang together in some of her last engagements.

    In 1963 Édith Piaf died of liver cancer at Plascassier, on the French Riviera, aged 47. Although she was denied a funeral mass by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Paris because of her lifestyle, her funeral procession drew tens of thousands of mourners onto the streets of Paris and the ceremony at the cemetery was attended by more than 100,000 fans.

    The film Piaf (Guy Casaril, 1974) depicted her early years, and starred Brigitte Ariel, with early Piaf songs performed by Betty Mars. Piaf's relationship with Cerdan was depicted in the film Édith et Marcel (Claude Lelouch, 1983) with Marcel Cerdan Jr. in the role of his father and Évelyne Bouix portraying Piaf. Piaf...Her Story...Her Songs (George Elder, Bernard Salzmann. 2003) is a documentary starring Raquel Bitton in her performance tribute to Edith Piaf.

    La Môme/La Vie en rose (Olivier Dahan, 2007) debuted at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2007. The film features Marion Cotillard in the role that won her the Golden Globe, the BAFTA award and the Academy Award for Best Actress.

    At AllMusic,Steve Huey writes about Édith Piaf: “Still revered as an icon decades after her death, ‘the Sparrow’ served as a touchstone for virtually every chansonnier, male or female, who followed her. Her greatest strength wasn't so much her technique, or the purity of her voice, but the raw, passionate power of her singing.”

    Edith Piaf
    French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 270. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Edith Piaf
    French postcard by Ébullitions, no. 66.

    Edith Piaf
    French postcard by L'Encyclopédie de la Chanson Française, 2003. Photo: Universal Collections.

    Edith Piaf sings La Vie En Rose in Neuf garçons, un coeur/Nine Boys, One Heart (1948). Source: bigproblem11 (Daily Motion).

    Sources: Steve Huey (AllMusic), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), RFI Musique, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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    On 17 June 2017, Dutch graphic designer Ad Werner passed away at the age of 92 years. Werner's letter designs and figurative marks are world-famous. He designed the logo for Quick and the Mexican for cigarette brand Caballero is an icon of Dutch design. Werner worked for the Hema stores for years and for Fokker, designed a house style for the municipality of Amsterdam, was the co-founder and designer of the name of the women magazine Opzij (The guys must make place for the women), he made cartoons for the newspaper NRC and for Schiphol airport, designed posters and decors for stage artists, and lectured at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague. It is less known that he also designed hundreds of film posters for the Tuschinski group immediately after the war. 

    Het huis der dapperen
    Het huis der dapperen. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for Home of the Brave (Mark Robson, 1949) about racism during WW II. Pictured is James Edwards as the suffering but proud soldier Moss.

    Het meisje en het monster
    Het meisje en het monster. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for La belle et la bête/Beauty and the beast (Jean Cocteau, 1946). Pictured are Jean Marais as the Beast and Josette Day as Belle.

    Paniek. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for Panique/Panic (Julien Duvivier, 1946). Pictured are Viviane Romance as Alice and Michel Simon as Monsieur Hire.

    Onverbreekbare banden
    Onverbreekbare banden. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for Our Very Own (David Miller, 1950). Pictured are Ann Blyth and Joan Evans.

    Capturing the Zeitgeist perfectly

    Adrianus Gerardus (Ad) Werner (1925), born in Leiden, was the son of a printer. He was educated at the Koninklijke Academie voor de Beeldende Kunsten (the Royal Academy of Fine Arts) in The Hague in accordance with the principles of the Bauhaus. To the dismay of his former teacher Paul Schuitema, he started his career as a young graphic designer with creating film posters.

    In 1947 he had moved  to Amsterdam where he had quickly found a job at Keman & Co, an advertising agency. His main task there was designing film posters for the Strengholt group behind Theater Tuschinski, the most prestigious movie palace in the Netherlands. His posters were a success. And after three years he and two colleagues started their own studio, Centaur.

    Later, Ad Werner would work for many years for the HEMA department stores, he designed for popular Dutch magazines like Margriet, Elegance and Nieuwe Revu and drew cartoons for newspapers. Author and designer Jan Middendorp about Werner: ‘Someone who managed to capture the Zeitgeist perfectly and give it a pure expression that was attractive to a large public’.

    Ad Werner's designs earned him little prestige from colleagues or critics. Within the world of Dutch graphic design he was called an outsider, someone who was completely uninterested in intellectualism and conceptual thinking.

    Yet his influence on the graphic appearance of the Netherlands in the 1970s and 1980s was significant, thanks to his work for such firms as Fokker, Philips and Citroën, his corporate identity for the City of Amsterdam, his famous little Mexican for the cigarette brand Caballero and his logos and type designs which also made him internationally known.

    Ad Werner in his studio
    Ad Werner in his poster studio, ca. 1946.

    De man op de Eiffel-toren
    De man op de Eiffel-toren. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for The Man on the Eiffel Tower (Burgess Meredith, 1950).

    Jericho. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for Jericho (Henri Calef, 1946). Pictured is Pierre Brasseur.

    Obsessie. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945). Pictured are Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.

    Moord uit genade
    Moord uit genade. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for An Act of Murder (Michael Gordon, 1948). Pictured is Fredric March.

    Imaginative and multi-layered designs

    Ad Werner designed hundreds of  film posters between 1946 and 1955. In 2007, I discovered these 'affiches' when I was writing a series of columns on the poster collection of the Dutch Filmmuseum (now EYE) for film magazine Skrien. I had selected Werner's Het huis der dapperen, made for a little known film by Mark Robson, Home of the Brave, on racism in the American army during the war.
    I liked how the designer had created this powerful image of a black, suffering war hero: only four colours, a low point of view and a dynamic background of yellow stripes.

    To my surprise and delight, the curator of the collection told me that the poster designer was still alive and active, and that he was living in Amsterdam. So, I called Mr. Werner and he invited me to visit him at his home. For hours we sat in his garden while he told me about his work and showed me the colourful and imaginative posters he had created as a young man and also his many other designs.

    Werner's stories about his experiences in the Dutch film and design world after the Second World War were fascinating.  His painted designs were imaginative and multi-layered. I decided to write a large interview with him for Skrien, as an addition to the poster column.

    Later I also invited Ad and his wife for a lecture in a series of colleges on film posters which Ivo Blom and I had organised together with the Dutch Filmmuseum at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The students loved Ad's poster designs and his inside stories about working for the cinema. One of the students, Aaron J. Peterer, made an short documentary about Ad, which you can view below.

    Again some months later, publisher Robert van Rixtel of [Z]OO producties asked me for suggestions for his Roots series about Dutch graphic designers. When I suggested Ad Werner, Robert was triggered while Werner was fairly unknown to him. And when he heard about Werner's letter designs, his many logos, his house style for the city of Amsterdam, he was impressed.

    Ad Werner also liked the idea of a publication. So our little but beautiful booklet was presented with Ad's many family members, famous friends and old colleagues attending. Former Minister of Culture Hedy d'Ancona, with whom he had founded feminist magazine Opzij did the speech, Aaron's excellent film was shown and everybody loved the anecdotes Ad told when I interviewed him. There were huge cakes with his old poster designs on it and Ad's many grandchildren fought about who would have the first piece.

    Our collaboration is a happy memory to me. Mr. Werner, dear Ad, thank you and rest in piece.

    Ad Werner (1925-2017)
    Ad Werner in his garden in Amsterdam, 2007.

    Manon. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for Manon (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1949). Pictured is Cécile Aubry as Manon.

    Fantasia. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for Fantasia (Walt Disney, 1940).

    Bewaar het geheim van les diaboliques
    Bewaar het geheim van les diaboliques. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for Les diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955).

    Betovering. Dutch film poster by Ad Werner for Enchantment (Irving Reis, 1948). Pictured are David Niven as General Sir Roland Dane and Teresa Wright as Lark Ingoldsby.

    Ad Werner (1925-2017)
    Cover of my publication Ad Werner, published in the Roots series by [Z]OO producties. Photo: Aatjan Renders.

    Filmaffiches van Ad Werner by Aaron J. Peterer on Vimeo.

    Sources: Roots 15: Ad Werner (Dutch), Design (Dutch), Dutch Design Weekly and Wikipedia (Dutch).

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    Bon giorno! We're in Bologna at Il Cinema Ritrovato. Till 2 July, all EFSP posts will highlight festival sections and today we start with the section A hundred years ago: 50 films of 1917. It contains some fifty films, documentaries, fragments and animation films, including such masterful works like Yakov Protazanov’s Ne nado krovi/Blood Need Not Be Spilled, starring Ivan Mozzhukhin, amazing actresses like Maria Orska, Pola Negri and Pauline Starke and popular idols like Gunnar Tolnæs. Some of the 12 postcards in this post were also used for the catalogue of Il Cinema Ritrovato 2017.

    Vera Kholodnaya, Ivan Mozzhukhin and other actors of the Russian silent cinema
    The Russian film scene, ca. 1917. From left to right: Vitold Polonsky, Vladimir Maksimov, Vera Kholodnaya,Ossip Runitsch (in the back), Petr Cardynin, Ivan Khudoleyev, and Ivan Mozzhukin. Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Malombra (1917)
    Italian postcard for the silent film Malombra(Carmine Gallone, 1917), adapted from the novel by Antonio Fogazzaro, and starring Lyda Borelli. Caption: "...Saetta seized [the oars] and left, moving towards some solitary shore."

    Pola Negri
    Pola Negri, ca. 1919. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 247. Photo: Alex Binder. Negri stars in the Polish film Bestia/The Polish Dancer (Aleksander Hertz, 1917).

    Pauline Starke
    Pauline Starke. Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 523. Photo: Fanamet Verleih. At Bologna, Starke can be seen in Until They Get Me (Frank Borzage, 1917).

    Romuald Joubé
    Romuald Joubé. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 117. Joubé appears in Le coupable/The guilty party (André Antoine, 1917).

    Ellen Richter
    Ellen Richter. German postcard in the Film-Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 120/5. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin. Richter was the star of Das Bacchanal des Todes/The Bacchanal of Death(Richard Eichberg, 1917).

    Stacia Napierkowksa
    Stacia Napierkowska. French postcard. Photo X. She stars in La tragica fine di Caligula Imperator/Caligula (Ugo Falena, 1917).

    Bruno Decarli
    Bruno Decarli. German postcard in the Film-Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 217/3. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin. Decarli plays a man haunted by a misdeed he has committed in Furcht/Fear (Robert Wiene, 1917).

    Emmy Lynn
    Emmy Lynn. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 419. Photo: Sartony. Lynn plays one of the leads in Mater Dolorosa/Sorrowful Mother(Abel Gance, 1917).

    Gunnar Tolnaes
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2995. Photo: Nordisk. Publicity still for Maharadjahens Yndlingshustru/The Maharajah's Favourite Wife(Robert Dinesen, 1917), starring Gunnar Tolnaes as an Indian prince. Tolnaes had his most famous performance  in this Danish orientalist melodrama. It was so popular that it had a Danish sequel in 1919, and a German sequel in 1921.

    Maria Orska
    Maria Orska. German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 5286. Photo: Alex Binder, 1916. She can be seen at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Die schwarze Loo/The Black Loo (Max Mack, 1917).

    Victor Sjöström in Thomas Graals bästa film
    Swedish postcard by Ed. Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 876/3. Photo: publicity still for the comedy Thomas Graals bästa film/Thomas Graal's Best Film (Mauritz Stiller, 1917), scripted by Gustav Molander. The story deals with screenwriter Thomas Graal (Victor Sjöström) who falls in love with his secretary Bessie (Karin Molander) and imagines himself rescuing her from poverty. Reality is quite different as Bessie is a modern woman. The film also mocks the bored aristocracy involved in the modernity of filmmaking. Caption: "The author Thomas Graal at sea."

    Source: Il Cinema Ritrovato.

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  • 06/24/17--22:00: Louise Brooks
  • Legendary dancer and film actress Louise Brooks (1906-1985) set the trend of the bobbed haircut and personified the 'flapper', the rebellious young woman of the 1920s. Brooks played the lead in three European silent film classics: Die Büchse der Pandora/Pandora's Box (1929), Tagebuch einer Verlorenen/Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), and Prix de Beauté/Miss Europe (1930). The third film was directed by Augusto Genina, one of the most cosmopolitan directors of Italian film history. At Il Cinema Ritrovato, the programme Augusto Genina: an Italian in Europe is dedicated to him. Genina's work in cinema began in the early 1910s, and he worked in both France and Germany - often creating portraits of mischievous women...

    Louise Brooks
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4252/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.


    Mary Louise Brooks was born in the Midwestern town of Cherryvale, Kansas, in 1906. She was the daughter of Leonard Porter Brooks, a lawyer, who was usually too busy with his practice to discipline his children, and Myra Rude. Rude was a talented pianist who played the latest Debussy and Ravel for her children, inspiring them with a love of books and music.

    None of this protected her nine-year old daughter Louise from sexual abuse at the hands of a neighbourhood predator. This event had a major influence on Brooks' life and career.

    Brooks began her entertainment career as a dancer, joining the Denishawn modern dance company in Los Angeles (whose members included Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and Martha Graham) in 1922. St. Denis abruptly fired Brooks from the troupe in 1924.

    Brooks became a chorus girl in George White's Scandals, followed by an appearance as a featured dancer in the 1925 edition of the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway.

    As a result of her work in the Follies, she came to the attention of Paramount Pictures producer Walter Wanger, who signed her to a five-year contract with the studio in 1925. Brooks made her screen debut in an uncredited role in the silent The Street of Forgotten Men (Herbert Brenon, 1925).

    Over the next few years, she played the female lead in silent light comedies and flapper films, like It's the Old Army Game (Eddie Sutherland, 1926) opposite W. C. Fields.

    Louise Brooks
    French postcard by Europe, no. 599. Photo: Néro Film.

    Haunting, Provocative Performances

    Louise Brooks was noticed in Europe for her pivotal vamp role in the buddy film A Girl in Every Port (Howard Hawks, 1928). That year, she also made the early sound film drama Beggars of Life (William Wellman, 1928). Brooks played an abused country girl on the run who meets two hoboes (Richard Arlen and Wallace Beery).

    By this time in her life, she was mixing with the rich and famous, and was a regular guest of William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, Marion Davies, at San Simeon. Her distinctive bob haircut helped start a trend; many women styled their hair in imitation of her and fellow film star Colleen Moore.

    Soon after Beggars Of Life, Brooks refused to stay on at Paramount after being denied a promised raise. She left for Europe to make films for G. W. Pabst, the prominent Austrian Expressionist director. In Germany, she starred as Lulu in Die Büchse der Pandora/Pandora's Box (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929). The film is based on two plays by Frank Wedekind (Erdgeist and Die Büchse der Pandora) and Brooks plays the central figure. This film is notable for its frank treatment of modern sexual mores, including one of the first screen portrayals of a lesbian.

    Brooks then starred in Pabst’s controversial social drama Tagebuch einer Verlorenen/Diary of a Lost Girl (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929), based on the book by Margarete Böhme. In France she filmed Prix de Beauté/Miss Europe (Augusto Genina, 1930).

    Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Her haunting, provocative performances in Pabst's Pandora's Box (1928) and Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) not only established her as a screen personality of the first rank, but also fostered a Louise Brooks ‘cult’ which continued to flourish. (...) Not as highly regarded as Louise Brooks' German films for G. W. Pabst, Prix de Beauté nonetheless succeeds in terms of visual dynamics and the naturalness of the star's performance.”

    Louise Brooks in Die Büchse der Pandora (1929)
    Dutch collectors card in the series 'Filmsterren: een portret' by Edito Service, 1995. Photo: Stars-Films. Publicity still for Die Büchse der Pandora/Pandora's Box (G.W. Pabst, 1929).

    De Film 1930, Louise Brooks
    Cover of De Film, 20 April 1930. De Film was a Belgium film magazine.

    Louise Brooks in Prix de beauté (1930)
    Dutch collectors card in the series 'Filmsterren: een portret' by Edito Service, 1995. Photo: Stars-Films. Publicity still for Prix de Beauté (Augusto Genina, 1930).

    Lulu in Hollywood

    When Louise Brooks returned to Hollywood in 1931, she was cast in two mainstream films: God's Gift to Women (Michael Curtiz, 1931) and It Pays to Advertise (Frank Tuttle, 1931). Her performances in these films, however, were largely ignored, and few other job offers were forthcoming. She turned down the female lead opposite James Cagney in Public Enemy (William Wellman, 1931) which marked the end of her film career.

    Furthermore she was only cast in bit parts and roles in B pictures and short films. At 32, Brooks retired from the screen after completing one last film, the John Wayne western Overland Stage Raiders (George Sherman, 1938). She then briefly returned to Wichita, where she was raised. After an unsuccessful attempt at operating a dance studio, she returned East and, after brief stints as a radio actor and a gossip columnist, worked as a salesgirl in a Saks Fifth Avenue store in New York City for a few years, then eked out a living as a courtesan with a few select wealthy men as clients.

    In the early 1950s French film historians rediscovered her films, proclaiming her as an actress who surpassed even Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo as a film icon, much to her amusement. It rehabilitated her reputation in the US. With the help of James Card, film curator for the George Eastman House, she became a writer of well-researched and well-balanced articles on film history. She published her witty, extremely candid autobiography, Lulu in Hollywood, in 1982.

    Louise Brooks in "The Canary Murder Case" - Ross postcard
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3978/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Canary Murder Case (Malcolm St. Clair, 1929). Collection: Rescued by Rover@Flickr.

    Louise Brooks
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4608/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Paramount. Collection: Anni Raasu (Shme@Flickr).

    LOUISE BROOKS- photo postcard
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4954/1, 1929-1930. Collection: Rescued by Rover@Flickr.


    Louise Brooks was married twice. In 1926, she had married director Eddie Sutherland, but they divorced in 1928 because of her relationship with George Preston Marshall, owner of a chain of laundries and future owner of the Washington Redskins football team.

    In 1933, she married Chicago millionaire Deering Davis, but abruptly left him after only five months of marriage. The couple officially divorced in 1938.

    Brooks enjoyed fostering speculation about her sexuality, cultivating friendships with lesbian and bisexual women, but eschewing relationships.

    In 1985, Louise Brooks was found dead of a heart attack in her home in Rochester. She was 78 years old, and had appeared in only 25 films.

    Scene from Die Büchse der Pandora/Pandora's Box (1929). Lulu dances with Countess Augusta Geschwitz (Alice Roberts), one of cinema's earliest representations of lesbian desire. Source: ButchInProgress (YouTube).

    Scene from Prix de Beauté/Miss Europe (1930). Source: Mark Satchwell (YouTube).

    Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 06/25/17--22:00: Robert Mitchum
  • At Il Cinema Ritrovato, Robert Mitchum (1917–1997) is the subject of the section Two Faces of Robert Mitchum. The American actor is one of the icons of Hollywood thanks to his roles as tough guys, loners and drifters in many War films, Westerns and such classic Film Noirs as Out of the Past (1947) and His Kind of Woman (1952). His facade of cool, sleepy-eyed indifference proved highly attractive to both men and women. Mitchum portrayed two of the scariest screen villains ever: the psychotic evangelist Reverend Harry Powell in Night of the Hunter (1955) and cruel rapist Max Cady in the original Cape Fear (1962). During his notable 55-year acting career, he appeared in more than 125 films.

    Robert Mitchum
    Belgian collectors card by Kwatta, Bois d'Haine, no. C 215. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for Desire Me (George Cukor, Jack Conway, 1947).

    The Night of the Hunter
    Italian programme card for Il Cinema Ritrovata 2003. Photo: publicity still for The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955).

    A trouble-making, wayward boy

    Robert Charles Durman Mitchum was born in 1917 in Bridgeport, Connecticut into a Methodist family. His parents were James Mitchum, a railroad worker of Irish descent, and Anne Mitchum, the daughter of a Norwegian ship captain. He had an elder sister, Annette (known as actress Julie Mitchum).

    In 1919, James Mitchum was crushed to death in a railyard accident, when his son was less than two years old. Anne remarried to a former Royal Naval Reserve officer, Major Hugh Cunningham Morris. Robert grew up as a trouble-making, wayward boy and was sent to live with his grandparents when he was 12 years old. There he was expelled from his middle school for scuffling with a principal.

    A year later, in 1930, he moved in with his older sister, in New York's Hell's Kitchen. After being expelled from Haaren High School, he left his sister and travelled throughout the country on railroad cars, taking a number of jobs including professional boxing. At age 14 in Savannah, Georgia, he was arrested for vagrancy and put on a local chain gang. By Mitchum's own account, he escaped and returned to his family in Delaware.

    During this time, while recovering from injuries that nearly cost him a leg, he met the girl he would marry, Dorothy Spence. In 1936, he went back on the road, eventually riding the rails to California. In Long Beach, he worked as a ghost-writer for astrologer Carroll Righter.

    His sister Julie convinced him to join the local theatre guild with her. In his years with the Players Guild of Long Beach, he made a living as a stagehand and occasional bit-player in company productions. He also wrote several short pieces which were performed by the guild. In 1940, he returned East to marry Dorothy Spence, taking her back to California. He remained a footloose character until the birth of their first child, James, nicknamed Josh (two more children followed, Chris and Petrine).

    Mitchum then got a steady job as a machine operator with the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. A nervous breakdown (which resulted in temporary blindness), apparently from job-related stress, led Mitchum to look for work as an actor or extra in films. An agent got him an interview with the producer of the series of B-Westerns starring William Boyd as flawless good guy Hopalong Cassidy. Mitchum's broad build, deep voice and insolent expression made him a perfect villain in several films in the series during 1942 and 1943.

    He found further work as an extra and supporting actor in numerous productions for various studios. After playing a heroic co-pilot in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (Mervyn LeRoy 1943), Mitchum signed a seven-year contract with RKO Radio Pictures. He found himself groomed for B-Western stardom in a series of Zane Grey adaptations.

    Robert Mitchum
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W 758. Photo: R.K.O. Radio.

    Robert Mitchum
    Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 386.

    Unique blend of strength, slow-burning sexuality and devil-may-care attitude

    Following the moderately successful Western Nevada (Edward Killy, 1944), Robert Mitchum was lent from RKO to United Artists for The Story of G.I. Joe (William Wellman, 1945). In the film, he portrayed war-weary officer Bill Walker, who remains resolute despite the troubles he faces. The film, which followed the life of an ordinary soldier through the eyes of journalist Ernie Pyle (Burgess Meredith), became an instant critical and commercial success.

    Shortly after making the film, Mitchum was drafted into the United States Army, serving at Fort MacArthur, California. At the 1946 Academy Awards, The Story of G.I. Joe was nominated for four Oscars, including Mitchum's only nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He finished the year off with the Western West of the Pecos (Edward Killy, 1945) and a story of returning Marine veterans, Till the End of Time (Edward Dmytryk, 1946).

    The genre that came to define Mitchum's career and screen persona was Film Noir. His unique blend of strength, slow-burning sexuality and devil-may-care attitude helped to make him the personification of the Noir hero. His first foray into the genre was a supporting role opposite Kim Hunter in the B-movie When Strangers Marry (William Castle, 1944), as a woman's former lover who may or may not have killed her new husband.

    Undercurrent (Vincente Minnelli, 1946) featured him playing against type as a troubled, sensitive man entangled in the affairs of his brother (Robert Taylor) and his brother's suspicious wife (Katharine Hepburn). The Locket (John Brahm, 1946) featured Mitchum as bitter ex-boyfriend to Laraine Day's femme fatale. Pursued (Raoul Walsh, 1947) combined Western and Noir styles, with Mitchum's character attempting to recall his past and find those responsible for killing his family.

    Crossfire (Edward Dmytryk, 1947) featured Mitchum as a member of a group of soldiers, one of whom kills a Jewish man in an act of anti-Jewish hatred. It featured themes of anti-Semitism and the failings of military training. The film earned five Academy Award nominations.

    Following Crossfire, Mitchum starred in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). Mitchum played Jeff Markham, a small-town gas-station owner and former investigator, whose unfinished business with gambler Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) and femme fatale Kathie Moffett (Jane Greer), comes back to haunt him.

    In 1948, after a string of successful films for RKO, Mitchum and actress Lila Leeds were arrested for possession of marijuana. The arrest was the result of a sting operation designed to capture other Hollywood partiers, as well, but Mitchum and Leeds did not receive the tip-off. After serving a week at the county jail, Mitchum spent 43 days at a Castaic, California, prison farm, with Life photographers right there taking photos of him mopping up in his prison uniform. The arrest became the inspiration for the exploitation film She Shoulda Said No! (Sam Newfield, 1949), which starred Leeds.

    Mitchum claimed he was framed and in 1951 his case was overturned and his record cleared. However, the case enhanced his image as a rebel. The films released immediately after his arrest were box-office hits. The Western Rachel and the Stranger (Norman Foster, 1948) featured Mitchum in a supporting role as a mountain man competing for the hand of Loretta Young, the indentured servant and wife of William Holden, while he appeared in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck's novella The Red Pony (Lewis Milestone, 1949) as a trusted cowhand to a ranching family. He returned to true Film Noir in The Big Steal (Don Siegel, 1949), where he again joined Jane Greer.

    Robert Mitchum
    Italian postcard by Edizioni Beatrice D'Este, no. 20240. Photo: Ernest Bachrach, 1948.

    Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum in River of No Return  (1954)
    Vintage postcard. Photo: publicity still for River of No Return (Otto Preminger, 1954) with Marilyn Monroe.

    The words Love and Hate tattooed on his hands

    Robert Mitchum played a doctor who comes between a mentally unbalanced Faith Domergue and cuckolded millionaire Claude Rains in Where Danger Lives (John Farrow, 1950). The Racket (John Cromwell, Nicholas Ray, 1951) was a Noir remake of the early crime drama of the same name and featured Mitchum as a police captain fighting corruption in his precinct.

    The Josef von Sternberg film Macao (1952) had Mitchum as a victim of mistaken identity at an exotic resort casino, playing opposite Jane Russell. They co-starred again in the steamy crime comedy-drama His Kind of Woman (John Farrow, 1952). Craig Butler at AllMovie: “Mitchum, by the way, is perfectly cast here, using his laconic, interior style to very good effect. Even Jane Russell, attired in outfits that emphasize her cleavage at every opportunity, turns in a more than decent performance. Woman is weird but wonderful.”

    Otto Preminger's Angel Face (1953) was the first of three collaborations between Mitchum and British actress Jean Simmons, in which she plays an insane heiress who plans to use young ambulance driver Mitchum to kill for her. Mitchum was expelled from Blood Alley (1955), purportedly due to his conduct, especially his reportedly having thrown the film's transportation manager into San Francisco Bay. Producer John Wayne took over the role himself.

    Following the Marilyn Monroe Western River of No Return (Otto Preminger, 1954), he appeared in Charles Laughton's only film as director, The Night of the Hunter (1955). Adapted by James Agee from a novel by Davis Grubb, the thriller starred Mitchum as a terrifying killer who had the words Love and Hate tattooed on his hands and who poses as a preacher to find money hidden in his cellmate's home. Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Combining stark realism with Germanic expressionism, the movie is a brilliant good-and-evil parable, with ‘good’ represented by a couple of farm kids and a pious old lady, and ‘evil’ literally in the hands of a posturing psychopath.” Mitchum’s performance as Reverend Harry Powell is considered by many to be one of the best of his career.

    Stanley Kramer's melodrama Not as a Stranger (1955), was a box-office hit. The film starred Mitchum against type, as an idealistic young doctor, who marries an older nurse (Olivia de Havilland), only to question his morality many years later. However, the film was not well received, with most critics pointing out that Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, and Lee Marvin were all too old for their characters. Olivia de Havilland received top billing over Mitchum and Sinatra.

    In 1955 Mitchum formed DRM (Dorothy and Robert Mitchum) Productions to produce five films for United Artists though only four films were produced. The first film was Bandido (Richard Fleischer, 1956). Following a succession of average Westerns and the poorly received Foreign Intrigue (Sheldon Reynolds, 1956), Mitchum starred in the first of three films with Deborah Kerr. The war drama Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (John Huston, 1957), starred Mitchum as a Marine corporal shipwrecked on a Pacific Island with a nun, Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr), being his sole companion. In this character-study, they struggle to resist the elements and the invading Japanese army. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. For his role, Mitchum was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor.

    In the WW II submarine classic The Enemy Below (Dick Powell, 1957), Mitchum gave a strong performance as U.S. Naval Lieutenant Commander Murrell, the captain of a U.S. Navy destroyer. He matches wits with a German U-boat captain Curd Jürgens, who starred with Mitchum again in The Longest Day (Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, 1962).

    Thunder Road (Arthur Ripley, 1958), the second DRM Production, was loosely based on an incident in which a driver transporting moonshine was said to have fatally crashed on Kingston Pike in Knoxville, Tennessee. Mitchum not only starred in the film, but also produced it, co-wrote the screenplay, and allegedly directed much of the film himself. He returned to Mexico for The Wonderful Country (Robert Parrish, 1959) and Ireland for A Terrible Beauty/The Night Fighters (Tay Garnett, 1960) for the last of his DRM Productions.

    Robert Mitchum
    Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. N. 68.

    Robert Mitchum
    German postcard by Netter's Starverlag, Berlin. Photo: RKO Radio Film.

    Menacingly vengeful rapist

    Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr reunited for The Sundowners (Fred Zinnemann, 1960), where they played husband and wife struggling in Depression-era Australia. Opposite Mitchum, Kerr was nominated for yet another Academy Award for Best Actress, while the film was nominated for a total of five Oscars. Robert Mitchum was awarded that year's National Board of Review award for Best Actor for his performance. The award also recognised his superior performance in the Western drama Home from the Hill (Vincente Minnelli, 1960).

    He was teamed with former leading ladies Kerr and Simmons, as well as Cary Grant, for the comedy The Grass Is Greener (Stanley Donen, 1960). Mitchum's performance as the menacingly vengeful rapist Max Cady who terrorises lawyer Gregory Peck and his family in Cape Fear (J. Lee Thompson, 1962) brought him even more attention and furthered his renown for playing cool, predatory characters.

    The 1960s were marked by a number of lesser films and missed opportunities. Among the films Mitchum passed on during the decade were John Huston's The Misfits (1961), the Academy Award–winning Patton (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1970), and Dirty Harry (Don Siegel, 1971).

    The most notable of his films in the decade included the war epics The Longest Day (Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, 1962) and Anzio (Edward Dmytryk, 1968), the Shirley MacLaine comedy-musical What a Way to Go! (J. Lee Thompson, 1964), and the Western El Dorado (Howard Hawks, 1967), a remake of Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959), in which Mitchum took over Dean Martin's role of a drunken sheriff who helps John Wayne defend a town against unscrupulous cattlemen. He then teamed with Martin for the Western 5 Card Stud (Henry Hathaway, 1968), playing a homicidal preacher.

    One of the lesser-known aspects of Mitchum's career was his forays into music, both as singer and composer. Mitchum's deep, commanding, yet lively voice was often used instead of that of a professional singer when his character sang in his films. After hearing traditional calypso music and meeting artists such as Mighty Sparrow and Lord Invader while filming Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison in the Caribbean islands of Tobago, he recorded Calypso — is like so ... in March 1957. A year later, he recorded a song he had written for Thunder Road, titled The Ballad of Thunder Road. The country-style song became a modest hit.

    Although Mitchum continued to use his singing voice in his film work, he waited until 1967 to record his follow-up record, That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings. Little Old Wine Drinker Me, the first single, was a top-10 hit at country radio, and crossed over onto mainstream radio, where it peaked at number 96. Its follow-up, You Deserve Each Other, also charted on the Billboard Country Singles chart. He also sang the title song to the Western Young Billy Young (Burt Kennedy, 1969).

    Robert Mitchum and Carroll Baker in Mister Moses (1965)
    Italian postcard. Photo: DEAR Film. Publicity still for Mister Moses (Ronald Neame, 1965) with Carroll Baker.

    Robert Mitchum
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. FK 4568. Photo: Terb-Agency.

    A low-rent Boston crook on the wrong end of the mob's attentions

    Robert Mitchum seriously considered retiring from acting in 1968 due to concerns over the quality of his recent films. After a year's absence, during which he spent much of the time driving around America visiting old friends and staying in motels, he was lured back to star in Ryan's Daughter (David Lean, 1970). He made a departure from his typical screen persona with his role as Charles Shaughnessy, a mild-mannered schoolmaster in World War I-era Ireland. Though the film was nominated for four Academy Awards (winning two) and Mitchum was much publicised as a contender for a Best Actor nomination, he was not nominated. George C. Scott won the award for his performance in Patton.

    The 1970s featured Mitchum in several well-received crime dramas. He was a low-rent Boston crook who finds himself on the wrong end of the mob's attentions in The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates, 1973). He played a retired detective sent to Japan to rescue a client's daughter from gangsters in The Yakuza (Sydney Pollack, 1974), which transplanted the typical Film Noir story arc to the Japanese underworld.

    He also appeared in Midway (Jack Smight, 1976) about an epic 1942 World War II battle, and opposite Robert De Niro in The Last Tycoon (Elia Kazan, 1976). Mitchum's stint as Raymond Chandler's noble private eye Philip Marlowe in Farewell, My Lovely (Dick Richards, 1975) was sufficiently well received by audiences and critics for him to reprise the role in The Big Sleep (Michael Winner, 1978).

    His last interesting role in this late-career revival came with the film version of Jason Miller's play That Championship Season (Jason Miller, 1982), with Mitchum as the coach of a quartet of former high school basketball teammates who struggle to adjust to middle age and maturity.

    He expanded to TV work with the big-budget miniseries The Winds of War (Dan Curtis, 1983) as navy man Victor ‘Pug’ Henry, whose family is deeply involved in the events leading up to America's involvement in the war. He also played George Hazard's father-in-law on the Civil War miniseries North and South (Richard T. Heffron, 1985). He followed it with the sequel War and Remembrance (Dan Curtis, 1988).

    Mitchum replaced old friend John Huston in his son Danny's largely ignored comedy Mr. North (Danny Huston, 1988). He also was in Bill Murray's comedy film, Scrooged (Richard Donner, 1988). In 1991, Mitchum was given a lifetime achievement award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globe Awards in 1992.

    Mitchum continued to act in films until the mid-1990s. He appeared, in contrast to his role as the antagonist in the original, as a protagonist police detective in Martin Scorsese's remake of Cape Fear (1991). He also gave a lively performance as a robber baron of sorts who drives Johnny Depp's character into the wilderness in Jim Jarmusch's eccentric Western, Dead Man (1995). His last film appearance was a small but pivotal role in the television biopic, James Dean: Race with Destiny (Mardi Rustam, 1997), playing Giant director George Stevens opposite Casper Van Dien as James Dean. His last starring role was in the Norwegian film Pakten/Waiting for Sunset (Leidulv Risan, 1995) with Cliff Robertson and Erland Josephson.

    A lifelong heavy smoker, Mitchum died in 1997, in Santa Barbara, California, due to complications of lung cancer and emphysema. Mitchum was 79. He was survived by his wife of 57 years, Dorothy Mitchum and actor sons, James Mitchum, Christopher Mitchum, and writer-daughter, Petrine Day Mitchum. His grandchildren, Bentley Mitchum and Carrie Mitchum, are actors, as was his younger brother, John, who died in 2001. His ashes were scattered by wife Dorothy and longtime friend Jane Russell.

    Trailer The Big Steal (1949). Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault (YouTube).

    Trailer The Night of the Hunter (1955). Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault (YouTube).

    Trailer Cape Fear (1962). Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault (YouTube).

    Trailer Farewell, My Lovely (1975). Source: robatsea2009 (YouTube).

    Sources: Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Craig Butler (AllMovie), Jim Beaver (IMDb), William Bjornstad (Find A Grave), The New York Times, TCM, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 06/26/17--22:00: Marcello Mastroianni
  • We're in Italy at Il Cinema Ritrovato and today we feature Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996), Italy's favourite leading man of the second half of the 20th century. In his long and prolific career, he almost singlehandedly defined the contemporary type of Latin lover, then proceeded to redefine it a dozen times and finally parodied it and played it against type. One of his first films, Domenica d’agosto (Luciano Emmer, 1950), a nostalgic look at Rome's favourite recreation area: the beach at Ostia, is shown in the section A Sunday in Bologna. Marcello plays a traffic cop who devotedly helps his struggling girlfriend. "The film truly is a little gem with a wink and a big beating heart", according to the IMDb reviewer.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Italian postcard by Turismofoto, no. 76.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Italian postcard by Rotal Foto, Milano (Milan), no. 250.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 460.

    Marcello Mastroianni and Maria Schell in Le notti bianche (1957)
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3486. Photo: G.B. Poletto. Publicity still for Le notti bianche/ White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957) with Maria Schell.

    Marcello Mastroianni and Anouk Aimee in La dolce vita (1960)
    Small Romanian collectors card by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960) with Anouk Aimée.

    Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni in La Notte (1961)
    Small Romanian collectors card by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity stil for La Notte (Michelangerlo Antonioni, 1961) with Jeanne Moreau.

    Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale in Otto e Mezzo (1963)
    French postcard by Edition La Malibran, Paris, no. MC 38, 1990. Photo: Claude Schwartz. Publicity still for Otto e Mezzo/8½ (Federico Fellini, 1963) with Claudia Cardinale.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Franco-German postcard by Ufa AG, Berlin/Editions P.I., Paris. Photo: Betzler / Bavaria / Schorcht Film.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Italian postcard by Bromofoto, no. 1445. Photo: Cineriz.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Russian postcard from 1987. Collection: Pierre sur le Ciel.

    Forced-labour Camp

    Marcello Vincenzo Domenico Mastroianni was born in Fontana Liri, a small village in the Apennines, in 1924. He was the son of Ida (née Irolle) and Ottone Mastroianni, who ran a carpentry shop. Marcello grew up in Turin and Rome.

    He appeared as an uncredited extra in Marionette (Carmine Gallone, 1939) and later appeared as an extra in Una storia d'amore/Love Story (Mario Camerini, 1942) and I bambini ci guardano/The Children Are Watching Us (Vittorio De Sica, 1944).

    He worked in his father's carpentry shop, but during World War II he was put to work by the Germans drawing maps. During 1943–1944 he was imprisoned in a forced-labour camp, but he escaped and hid in Venice.

    In 1944, Mastroianni started working as a cashier for film company Eagle Lion (Rank) in Rome. He began taking acting lessons and acted with the University of Rome dramatic group. In the university's production of Angelica (1948) he appeared with Giulietta Masina.

    His first real film credit was in I Miserabili/Les misérables (Riccardo Freda, 1948) with Gino Cervi.

    That year Mastroianni joined Luchino Visconti's repertory company, which was bringing to Italy a new kind of theatre and novel ideas of staging. The young actor played Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, Happy in Death of a Salesman, Stanley Kowalski in Visconti's second staging of Streetcar, and roles in Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya.

    He also acted in radio plays and he had his first substantial film role in the comedy Una domenica d'agosto/Sunday in August (Luciano Emmer, 1949).

    In 1955 Mastroianni co-starred with Vittorio De Sica and Sophia Loren - an actress with whom he would frequently be paired in the years to come - in the screwball comedy Peccato che Sia una Canaglia/Too Bad She's Bad (Alessandro Blasetti, 1955) and later worked with De Sica again on the comedy Padri e Figli/Like Father, Like Son (Mario Monicelli, 1957).

    His roles gradually increased in importance, but for the most part both the casts and crews of his projects were undistinguished, and he remained an unknown outside of Italy. Mastroianni permanently sealed his stardom in Italy, playing a timid clerk whose love is not reciprocated by Maria Schell, in Le notti bianche/White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957).

    He soon became a major international star appearing in films like I soliti ignoti/Big Deal on Madonna Street (Mario Monicelli, 1958) with Vittorio Gassman. In this classic crime caper he displayed a light touch for comedy, playing the exasperated member of an inept group of burglars.

    In 1960 he played his most famous role as a disillusioned and world-weary tabloid columnist who spends his days and nights exploring Rome's high society in Federico Fellini's La dolce vita/The Sweet Life (1960) with Anita Ekberg. La dolce vita changed the look and direction of the Italian cinema.

    Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "Throughout his adventures, Marcello's dreams, fantasies, and nightmares are mirrored by the hedonism around him. With a shrug, he concludes that, while his lifestyle is shallow and ultimately pointless, there's nothing he can do to change it and so he might as well enjoy it. Fellini's hallucinatory, circus-like depictions of modern life first earned the adjective 'Felliniesque' in this celebrated movie, which also traded on the idea of Rome as a hotbed of sex and decadence. A huge worldwide success, La Dolce Vita won several awards, including a New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Foreign Film and the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival."

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Italian postcard by Turismofoto, no. 94.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Big East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 68/72. Photo: Steffen.

    Marcello Mastroianni in La Bella Mugnaia (1955)
    Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., no. 3163. Photo: Titanus. Publicity still for La Bella Mugnaia/The Miller's Beautiful Wife (Mario Camerini, 1955).

    Marcello Mastroianni
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden / Westf., no. 2361. Photo: Bavaria / Schorcht / Vogelmann. Publicity still for Mädchen und Männer/La ragazza della salina/Sand, Love and Salt (1957).

    Marcello Mastroianni
    East-German postcard by Progress, no. 1372, 1960.

    Stefania Sandrelli and Marcello Mastroianni in Divorzio all'italiana (1961)
    Small Czech collectors card by Pressfoto, Praha (Prague), 1965, no. S 83/6. Publicity still for Divorzio all'italiana/Divorce, Italian Style (Pietro Germi, 1961) with Stefania Sandrelli.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Franco-German postcard by Ufa AG / Editions P.I. Photo: Fried Agency.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Spanish postcard by Toro de Bronce, no. 44, 1963.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Small Czechoslovakian card by Presseojo, Praha (Prague), 1964. Retail price: 0,50 Kcs.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 512, 1958. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Unitalia.

    Not one-dimensional pretty boys

    During the 1960s Marcello Mastroianni played in many great films and regularly worked with top Italian and French filmmakers. He appeared as the title character in Il bell'Antonio/Bell' Antonio (Mauro Bolognini, 1960) and starred in Michelangelo Antonioni’s masterpiece La notte/The Night (1961), where again his distanced, expressionless demeanour fit perfectly into the film's air of alienation and remote emotionality.

    He appeared in interesting films like L'assassino/The Assassin (1961, Elio Petri), La Vie Privée/A Very Private Affair (1962, Louis Malle) with Brigitte Bardot, and Cronaca familiare/Family Diary (Valerio Zurlini, 1962) with Jacques Perrin.

    Mastroianni followed La dolce vita with another signature role for Fellini, that of Fellini’s alter-ego, a film director who, amidst self-doubt and troubled love affairs, finds himself in a creative block while making a film in Otto e Mezzo/8½ (Federico Fellini, 1962). The film won two Academy Awards.

    Mastroianni won the British BAFTA award twice for his roles in the black comedy Divorzio all'Italiana/Divorce, Italian Style (Pietro Germi, 1963) and the deliciously funny three-part sex farce Ieri, oggi, domani/Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Vittorio De Sica, 1963) costarring with Sophia Loren. He and Loren starred together again in the equally amusing sex comedy Matrimonio all'italiana/Marriage Italian Style (Vittorio De Sica, 1964).

    According to Elaine Mancini on Film Reference“Mastroianni's masculinity blends perfectly with Loren's exuberant earthy personality” in both these films. While he was to become known for playing Latin lover roles (which he spoofed in Casanova 70 (Mario Monicelli, 1965), his characters often were far more complexly drawn. They were not one-dimensional pretty boys; rather, beneath their handsome exteriors they were lazy, world-weary, and doubt-ridden.

    Other films were La decima vittima/The Tenth Victim (Elio Petri, 1965) with Ursula Andress and the Albert Camus adaptation Lo Straniero/The Stranger (Luchino Visconti, 1967) with Anna Karina.

    Mastroianni won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for Dramma della gelosia - tutti i particolari in cronaca/Drama of Jealousy (Ettore Scola, 1970). In 1987 he would win the award again for Oci ciornie/Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1987). Mastroianni, Dean Stockwell and Jack Lemmon are the only actors to have won the award twice.

    During the 1970s Mastroianni continued to work in interesting films by prolific directors like Leo the Last (John Boorman, 1970), Permette? Rocco Papaleo/My Name Is Rocco Papaleo (Ettore Scola, 1971) with Lauren Hutton, Che?/What? (Roman Polanski, 1972) with Sydne Rome and La donna della domenica/The Sunday Woman (Luigi Comencini, 1975) with Jacqueline Bisset.

    He often worked with controversial director Marco Ferreri at Liza (Marco Ferreri, 1972) with Catherine Deneuve, La Grande Bouffe/Blow Out (Marco Ferreri, 1973), Touche pas à la femme blanche/ Don't Touch the White Woman! (Marco Ferreri, 1974), and Ciao maschio/Bye Bye Monkey (Marco Ferreri, 1978) with Gérard Depardieu.

    Other interesting films are Così come sei/Stay as You Are (Alberto Lattuada, 1978) with Nastassja Kinski, L'ingorgo - Una storia impossibile/Traffic Jam (Luigi Comencini, 1979) with Annie Girardot, and La terrazza/The Terrace (Ettore Scola, 1980) with Vittorio Gassman.

    He played against his Latin lover image in Scola’s Una giornata particolare/A Special Day (Ettore Scola, 1977), in which Mastroianni's homosexual and Sophia Loren's oppressed housewife come together on the day in 1938 when Adolph Hitler was cheered on the streets of Rome during his visit to Benito Mussolini.

    His seemingly detached air was perfectly suited to satire as well, as he demonstrated in films as diverse as the historical drama Allonsanfàn (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1974), and La città delle donne/City of Women (Federico Fellini, 1980).

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Belgian card by Publishop, Brussels for Cine Metro, Antwerpen, no. 18. Photo: MGM.

    Marcello Mastroianni in Matrimonio all'italiana (1964)
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2634. Photo: publicity still for Matrimonio all'italiana/Marriage Italian Style (Vittorio De Sica, 1964).

    Marcello Mastroianni
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2557, 1966.

    Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren in La Moglie del Prete
    German postcard by pwe Verlag, München (Munich). Photo: publicity still for La moglie del prete/The Priest's Wife (Dino Risi, 1970) with Sophia Loren.

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 3624, 1975. This postcard was printed in an edition of 200.000 cards. Retail price: 5 kop.

    Marcello Mastroianni in Casanova 70 (1970)
    German postcard by Friedrich W. Sander Verlag, Minden. Photo: Inter Film. Still for Casanova 70 (Mario Monicelli, 1970).

    Marcello Mastroianni
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 4881.

    Marie Trintignant and Marcello Mastroianni in La terrazza (1980)
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for La terrazza (Ettore Scola, 1980) with Marie Trintignant.

    Marcello Mastroianni in Enrico IV (1984)
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Enrico IV/Henry IV (Marco Bellocchio, 1984).

    Marcello Mastroianni in Ginger e Fred (1986)
    German press photo, no. 5. Photo: Tobis. Publicity still for Ginger e Fred (Federico Fellini, 1986).

    Wonderfully Nostalgic

    In the latter stages of his career, Marcello Mastroianni continued to take serious dramatic roles. For instance, he played the senior citizen who simply looks back on his past. In Stanno tutti bene/Everybody's Fine (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1990), he is an elderly man who is absorbed in his memories, and who travels through Italy to call on his five adult children.

    In Oci ciornie/Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1987), he gives a tour-de-force performance as a once young and idealistic aspiring architect who married a banker's daughter, fell into a lifestyle of afternoon snoozes and philandering, and proved incapable of holding onto what was important to him.

    His on-screen presence has also been directly linked to his earlier screen characterisations. In Prêt-à-Porter/Ready to Wear (Robert Altman, 1994), he was reunited with Sophia Loren, and at one point in the scenario, she recreated her famous steamy striptease sequence from Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Loren was as beguiling as she had been 30 years earlier but Mastroianni was no longer the attentive young lover, so Sophia's seductive moves only put him to sleep.

    Mastroianni's appearance in two of Fellini's final features is especially sentimental. Ginger e Fred/Ginger and Fred (Federico Fellini, 1996) is sweetly nostalgic for its union of Mastroianni and Giulietta Masina, two of the maestro's then-aging but still vibrant stars of the past.

    In Intervista (Federico Fellini, 1987), he appears as himself with Anita Ekberg, with whom he had starred decades before in La dolce vita. Mastroianni's entrance is especially magical; the sequence in which he and Ekberg (who, he remarks, he has not seen since making La dolce vita) observe their younger selves in some famous clips from that film is wonderfully nostalgic.

    In 1988 Mastroianni was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Film Awards. He kept appearing in critically acclaimed films like To meteoro vima tou pelargou/The Suspended Step of the Stork (Theodoros Angelopoulos, 1991), in which he was quietly poignant as an obscure man who may have once been an important Greek politician who had disappeared years earlier.

    Other films were Al di là delle nuvole/Beyond the Clouds (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1995) and Trois vies et une seule mort/Three Lives and Only One Death (Raúl Ruiz, 1996) with Anna Galiena. His final film was Viagem ao Princípio do Mundo/Voyage to the Beginning of the World (Manoel de Oliveira, 1997).

    Marcello Mastroianni was married to Italian actress Flora Carabella (1926-1999) from 1948 until his death. They had one child together, Barbara. Mastroianni also had a daughter, actress Chiara Mastroianni, with French film star Catherine Deneuve, his longtime lover during the 1970s.

    Both Flora and Catherine were at his bedside in Paris when he died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72, as was his partner at the time, author and filmmaker Anna Maria Tatò. According to Christopher Wiegand and Paul Duncan in their book Federico Fellini, when Mastroianni died in 1996, the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), which is so famously associated with him due to his role in Fellini's La dolce vita, was symbolically turned off and draped in black as a tribute.

    His brother Ruggero Mastroianni (1929-1996) was a highly regarded film editor who edited several of Marcello's films directed by Federico Fellini, and appeared alongside Marcello in Scipione detto anche l'Africano/Scipio the African (Luigi Magni, 1971), a comedic take on the once popular Peplum, the sword and sandal film genre. Marcello Mastroianni had held starring roles in about 120 films over the course of his long career.

    Trailer for Domenica d'agosto (1950). Source: Ugo Tramontano (YouTube).

    The classic Trevi Fountain scene in La dolce vita/The Sweet Life (1960) with Anita Ekberg. Source: רונן אברהם (YouTube).

    Trailer for 8 1/2 (1961). Source: BFI (YouTube).

    Trailer for La Notte (1961). Source: Hadalat (YouTube).

    Trailer for Ieri, oggi, domani/Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1963). Source: Jeffrey M. Anderson (YouTube).

    Trailer for La Grande Bouffe/Blow Out (1973). Source: Arrow Video (YouTube).

    Trailer for Una giornata particolare/A Special Day (1977). Source: Argent Films (YouTube).

    Trailer for La città delle donne/City of Women (1980). Source: Das Film Feuilleton (YouTube).

    Trailer for Ginger e Fred/Ginger and Fred (1986). Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault (YouTube).

    Sources: Elaine Mancini (Film Reference; updated by Rob Edelman), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Jason Ankeny (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.