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Articles on this Page
- 09/28/17--22:00: _Dood water (1934)
- 09/29/17--22:00: _The Student Prince ...
- 09/30/17--22:00: _Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbu...
- 10/01/17--22:00: _Gösta Ekman
- 10/02/17--23:00: _Helena Makowska
- 10/03/17--22:00: _Joë Hamman
- 10/04/17--22:00: _Synnöve Solbakken (...
- 10/05/17--22:00: _Amleto Novelli
- 10/06/17--22:00: _Billie Dove
- 10/07/17--22:00: _Sylvio de Pedrelli
- 10/08/17--22:00: _Viggo Larsen
- 10/09/17--22:00: _Annie Ducaux
- 10/10/17--22:00: _Jean Rochefort (193...
- 10/11/17--22:00: _Tosca (1918)
- 10/12/17--22:00: _Fay Compton
- 10/13/17--22:00: _Les Vedettes du Cinéma
- 10/14/17--22:00: _Michael Craig
- 10/15/17--22:00: _Jack Trevor
- 10/16/17--22:00: _Andrée Brabant
- 10/17/17--22:00: _Feodor Chaliapin
- 10/18/17--22:00: _Mata Hari (1931)
- 10/19/17--22:00: _Danielle Darrieux (...
- 10/20/17--22:00: _Quo vadis? (1913)
- 10/21/17--22:00: _In Memoriam Han de ...
- 10/22/17--22:00: _Les Vedettes de l'É...
- 09/28/17--22:00: Dood water (1934)
- 09/29/17--22:00: The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927)
- 09/30/17--22:00: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle
- 10/01/17--22:00: Gösta Ekman
- 10/02/17--23:00: Helena Makowska
- 10/03/17--22:00: Joë Hamman
- 10/04/17--22:00: Synnöve Solbakken (1919)
- 10/05/17--22:00: Amleto Novelli
- 10/06/17--22:00: Billie Dove
- 10/07/17--22:00: Sylvio de Pedrelli
- 10/08/17--22:00: Viggo Larsen
- 10/09/17--22:00: Annie Ducaux
- 10/10/17--22:00: Jean Rochefort (1930-2017)
- 10/11/17--22:00: Tosca (1918)
- 10/12/17--22:00: Fay Compton
- 10/13/17--22:00: Les Vedettes du Cinéma
- 10/14/17--22:00: Michael Craig
- 10/15/17--22:00: Jack Trevor
- 10/16/17--22:00: Andrée Brabant
- 10/17/17--22:00: Feodor Chaliapin
- 10/18/17--22:00: Mata Hari (1931)
- 10/19/17--22:00: Danielle Darrieux (1917-2017)
- 10/20/17--22:00: Quo vadis? (1913)
- 10/21/17--22:00: In Memoriam Han de Gruiter
- 10/22/17--22:00: Les Vedettes de l'Écran
Dutch postcard, no. 38996. Photo: Nederlandse Filmgemeenschap, Holland. Publicity still for Dood water/Dead water (1934) with Max Croiset and Arnold Marlé. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.
The social drama Dood water/Dead Water (Gerard Rutten, 1934) opens with a prologue about the Netherlands' everlasting battle against the sea and the history of the Afsluitdijk ('enclosure dam'). It's accompanied by music played by the Amsterdam Concertgebouworkest led by conductor Willem Mengelberg.
Dood water/Dead Water tells about a conflict between young and old fishermen in the little village of Volendam about the fishing in the Zuiderzee (the former Southern Sea, now IJsselmeer).
In 1927, the construction of the Afsluitdijk (the enclosure dam which made a lake of the Zuiderzee) was started. In Volendam, there is talk of 'dead water' and people realise that everything will not be like it was.
Fisherman Dirk Brak (Arnold Marlé) encourages his son Jan (Max Croiset) to become a farmer, but his brother-in-law, fisherman Willem de Geus (Jan Musch), wants radical action against the Afsluitdijk while his helper Jaap (Theo de Maal) recognises the opportunities that land reclamation brings.
Jaap becomes a civil servant, an act which makes him a traitor in the eyes of the villagers. Desperately, the old Willem de Geus tries to blow up the dam, but he dies during the explosion. The 30,000-meter-long Afsluitdijk was ready on 28 May 1932.
Dutch poster for Dood water/Dead Water (Gerard Rutten, 1934).
Dood water/Dead Water was largely shot on location, using natural light. The cameraman was Andor von Barsy, a respected Hungarian-Austrian cinematographer who’d already been successful in the Netherlands with short avant-garde films such as Hoogstraat/High street (Andor von Barsy, 1929) about a Rotterdam shopping street.
At the second edition of the Venice Film Festival (Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica) in 1934, the film won a Golden Lion for Best Cinematography.
Dood water received favourable reviews in the Italian press, and later also in the Netherlands. There was a German spoken version. Totes Wasser, the only Dutch feature film from the 1930s that reached the German cinemas. The film was very well received in Germany. Goebbels reportedly used Totes Wasser as a compulsory teaching material for German film students.
Writing for the British The Spectator, Graham Greene praised the film's documentary prologue as "an exciting piece of pure cinema", and commented that the story which follows "has some of the magnificent drive one felt behind the classic Russian films, behind Earth and The General Line: no tiresome 'message', but a belief in the importance of a human activity truthfully reported". Greene also noted, however, that "the photography is uneven: at moments it is painfully 'arty', deliberately out of focus"
MGM distributed the low-budget production internationally. However, the film was not a commercial success.
Jan Musch. Dutch postcard by REB in the series Portrettengalerij, no. 105.
One of the great stars
The leading actor of Dood water, Jan Musch (1875-1960), was one of the great stars of the Dutch theatre during the first decades of the 20th Century.
In the 1930s, he starred in a few Dutch films, including De Man zonder hart/The Man Without a Heart (Leo Joannon, 1937), and the thriller De spooktrein/The Ghost Train (Carl Lamac, 1939) with Fien de la Mar.
After the war, Gerard Rutten directed successful light entertainment films like Sterren stralen overal/Stars Twinkle Everywhere (Gerard Rutten, 1953), about a struggling taxi driver (Johan Kaart) who dreams of emigrating to Australia, and Het wonderlijke leven van Willem Parel/The Wondrous life of Willem Parel (Gerard Rutten, 1955) with comedia Wim Sonneveld who has enough of his most popular character, Willem Parel the organ grinder, and tries to get rid of him
Less successful was his De vliegende Hollander/The Flying Dutchman (Gerard Rutten, 1957), about the early life of Dutch aircraft manufacturer Anthony Fokker. Rutten could only make one more film, Wederzijds (Gerard Rutten, 1963), a documentary about Queen Wilhelmina. He died in 1982 at the age of 79.
Dutch postcard, no. 38993. Photo: Nederlandse Filmgemeenschap, Holland. Publicity still for Dood water/Dead water (1934). Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.
Sources: Eye Film, Filmtotaal (Dutch), Movie Meter (Dutch), Wikipedia (Dutch and English) and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 98/1. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 98/2. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927) with Ramon Novarro and Jean Hersholt.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 98/3. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 98/6. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927) with Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 98/7. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927) with Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer.
A Viennese fairy tale
The American silent film The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927), also known as The Student Prince, The Student Prince of Old Heidelberg and Old Heidelberg, is a Viennese fairy tale. The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production is based on the 1901 play Alt Heidelberg (Old Heidelberg) by Wilhelm Meyer-Förster. The script was written by Hanns Kräly and Karl Heinrich with titles by Marian Ainslee and Ruth Cummings.
MGM's executive producer Irving Thalberg initially planned to have Erich von Stroheim direct this film as a follow-up to the director's commercial success The Merry Widow. Stroheim declined, opting instead to leave MGM and begin work on The Wedding March (1928). Thalberg then tried to attach E.A. Dupont, and then John S. Robertson to the project, but both passed on it. He settled on thirty-four-year-old German émigré Ernst Lubitsch.
Wikipedia serves up the plot in detail: Young Crown Prince Karl Heinrich (Philippe De Lacy), heir to the kingdom of Karlsburg, is brought to live with his stern uncle, King Karl VII (Gustav von Seyffertitz). The king immediately dismisses the boy's nanny (Edythe Chapman) without telling the youngster to avoid an emotional farewell. Fortunately, Dr. Friedrich Jüttner (Jean Hersholt), his new tutor, proves to be sympathetic, and they become lifelong friends. Nonetheless, despite the commoners' belief that it must be wonderful to be him, the boy grows up lonely, without playmates his own age.
Upon passing his high school examination in 1901 with the help of Dr. Jüttner, the young prince (Ramon Novarro) is delighted to learn that both he and Jüttner are being sent to Heidelberg, where he will continue his education. When they arrive, Karl's servant is appalled at the rooms provided for the prince and Jüttner at the inn of Ruder (Otis Harlan). When Ruder's niece Kathi (Norma Shearer) stoutly defends the centuries-old family business, Karl is entranced by her, and decides to stay. He is quickly made a member of Corps Saxonia, a student society.
Later that day, Karl tries to kiss Kathi, only to learn that she is engaged. Her family approves of her fiance, but she is not so sure about him. She eventually confesses to Karl that, despite the vast social gulf between them, she has fallen in love with him. Karl feels the same about her and swears that he will let nothing separate them. When he takes her boating, their rower, Johann Kellermann (Bobby Mack), turns his back to them to give them some privacy. Karl jokingly tells him that, when he is king, he will make Kellermann his majordomo.
Then Jüttner receives a letter from the king ordering him to inform Karl that he has selected a princess for him to marry. Jüttner cannot bring himself to destroy his friend's happiness. That same day, however, Prime Minister von Haugk (Edward Connelly) arrives with the news that the king is seriously ill, and that Karl must go home and take up the reins of government. When Karl sees his uncle, he is told of the matrimonial plans. While Karl is still reeling from the shock, the old king dies, followed by Jüttner.
Later, von Haugk presses the new monarch about the marriage. The anguished Karl signs the document for the wedding. Then Kellermann shows up to take the job Karl had offered him. When Karl asks him about Kathi, he learns that she is still waiting for him. He goes to see her one last time. In the last scene, Karl is shown riding through the streets in a carriage with his bride, the princess. One onlooker remarks that it must be wonderful to be king, unaware of Karl's misery.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 98/9. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 98/10. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927) with Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 98/11. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927) with Ramon Novarro and Bobby Mack.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 98/12. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927).
A scintillating example of the artistry of Ernst Lubitsch
Ramon Novarro was cast as the Student Prince after John Gilbert was considered. Ernst Lubitsch felt that both Novarro and Shearer were miscast, but was unable to override the studio's casting decisions. According to Wikipedia, Lubitsch's insistence on multiple takes and minimal rehearsal time were hard on both leads. Shearer even complained to Thalberg, her fiance, about Lubitsch's penchant for acting out scenes for the actors before they were shot. Thalberg told her that "everyone has a lot to learn from Lubitsch."
The love scene in the beer garden, which is acclaimed as one of the best scenes in the film by modern critics, was allegedly a headache for the director, who had it reshot entirely, but was still unhappy with it. It was rumoured that the love scene in the film was reshot by John M. Stahl, but Lubitsch's assistant on the film, Andrew Marton, denied this.
The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg was in production for more than 108 days. The result is a supremely artificial and studio-built film, contrasting the voluminous sets of the Karlsburg Palace with the warmer interiors and exteriors of the Heidelberg taverns and beer gardens. Ernst Lubitsch drove up the budget significantly, infuriating the studio. For instance, he had costume designer Ali Hubert bring thirty-two trunks of wardrobe and props from Europe for use in the film.
Though now considered a classic, it was far from a unanimous critical success during its original theatrical run. In a review for The New York Times, Mordaunt Hall wrote, "Mr. Novarro is natural and earnest, but he is a little too Latin in appearance for the rôle. Norma Shearer is attractive as Kathi. She, however, does not seem to put her soul into the part. She, too, acts well, but, like Mr. Novarro, she does not respond, as other players have done, to Mr. Lubitsch's direction. The ablest acting in this piece of work is done by Jean Hersholt as Dr. Guttner (sic) and Gustav von Seyffertitz as the King. Their efforts in all their scenes reveal their sensitiveness to the direction."
Despite being a popular film with filmgoers, the exorbitant production cost of The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (IMDb estimates it as $1.205.000) kept it from making a profit. The film lost $307,000, according to Wikipedia.
Today many viewers consider it one of Lubitsch's finest silent films. Adrian Banks at Senses of Cinema: "The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg is one of Lubitsch’s most surprising, nostalgic and emotionally engaging films. It represents a 'return to Germany' after four years in Hollywood, and can be seen as something of a watershed between his initial works for Warner Bros., then a significantly less important studio than it would soon become, and his extraordinary ten or so year tenure at Paramount."
Greg Carleton at IMDb: "I found this film an absolute delight. All of the leads put in outstanding performances. The romance between Prince Karl (Ramon Novarro) and Kathi (Norma Shearer) is wonderfully presented, and it is truly poignant."Ron Oliver at IMDb: "This wonderful, exuberant, heartbreaking film - one of the last major movies of the Silent Era - is a scintillating example of the artistry of director Ernst Lubitsch. Filled with wry humor & aching pathos, Lubitsch tells a tale which is a persuasive paean to the power of the talkless film." We totally agree.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3608/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Novarro wears the outfit of The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927) at the end of the film (though it may have been recycled for a later film, as the Ross number suggests).
Trailer The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927). Source: TV Movie Trailer (Daily Motion).
Sources: Adrian Banks (Senses of Cinema), Greg Carleton (IMDb), Ron Oliver (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 799/2, 1925-1926. Photo: Phoebus Film.
French postcard by Éditions Filma in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series, no. 80. Photo: Super-Film.
Bowler-hat and pants whose legs were too short
Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle was born in 1887 in Smith Center, Kansas, one of nine children of Mary E. 'Mollie' Gordon and William Goodrich Arbuckle. His family moved to California when he was a year old.
Arbuckle had a wonderful singing voice and was extremely agile. At the age of eight, with his mother's encouragement, he first performed on stage with Frank Bacon's company. Arbuckle enjoyed performing and continued on until his mother's death in 1899 when he was 12.
His father, who had always treated him harshly, now refused to support him and Arbuckle got work doing odd jobs in a hotel. Arbuckle was in the habit of singing while he worked and was overheard by a customer who was a professional singer. The customer invited him to perform in an amateur talent show. He not only won the competition but began a career in vaudeville.
In 1904, Sid Grauman invited Arbuckle to sing illustrated songs in his new Unique Theater in San Francisco. He then joined the Pantages Theatre Group touring the West Coast of the United States and in 1906 played the Orpheum Theater in Portland, Oregon in a vaudeville troupe organised by Leon Errol. Arbuckle became the main act and the group took their show on tour.
In 1908, Arbuckle married Minta Durfee, who later starred in many early comedy films, often with Arbuckle. Arbuckle then joined the Morosco Burbank Stock vaudeville company and went on a tour of China and Japan returning in early 1909.
That year, Arbuckle began his film career with the Selig Polyscope Company when he appeared in Ben's Kid (Francis Boggs, 1909). He appeared sporadically in Selig one-reelers until 1913, moved briefly to Universal Pictures.
Then, Arbuckle went to work in producer-director Mack Sennett's Keystone Cops comedies. His character Fatty – he weighed 135 kilogrammes at the height of his career - usually wore bowler-hat and pants whose legs were too short. For the next 3-1/2 years he appeared in hundreds of one-reel comedies, mostly as policemen, but he also played different parts.
He would work with Mabel Normand, Ford Sterling, among others, and would learn about the process of making films from Henry Lehrman, who directed many of his pictures. Despite his massive physical size, Arbuckle was remarkably agile and acrobatic. His comedies are noted as rollicking and fast-paced, have many chase scenes, and feature sight gags.
Arbuckle was fond of the ‘pie in the face’, a comedy cliche that has come to symbolise silent-film-era comedy itself. The earliest known custard pie thrown in film was in the Keystone one-reeler A Noise from the Deep (Mack Sennett, 1913). The pie was thrown by Mabel Normand and Arbuckle was the recipient.
American postcard by Keystone cards, presented with Home Weekly. Photo: Keystone Film. Publicity still for Fatty's Wine Party (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, 1914) with Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Normand. Caption: A Ticklish Moment.
American postcard by Keystone cards, presented with Home Weekly. Photo: Keystone Film. Publicity still for Fatty's Chance Acquaintance ( Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, 1915) with Billie Bennett.
A then-unheard-of offer
By 1914 Roscoe Arbuckle had begun directing some of his one-reels. Paramount Pictures made the then-unheard-of offer of US$1,000-a-day plus 25% of all profits and complete artistic control to make films with Arbuckle and Normand.
The next year he had moved up to two-reels, which meant that he would need to sustain the comedy to be successful - as it turned out, he was. Among his films were Fatty Again (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, 1914), Mabel, Fatty and the Law (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle,1915), Mabel and Fatty's Wash Day (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, 1915), Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, 1915), Fatty's Reckless Fling (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, 1915) with Edgar Kennedy, and many more.
Charles Chaplin assisted Arbuckle in The Knockout (Mack Sennett, 1914); and Harold Lloyd was his co-star in Miss Fatty's Seaside Lovers (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, 1915). He also hired a young performer he met in New York by the name of Buster Keaton.
Keaton's film career would start with Roscoe in The Butcher Boy (Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, 1917). Keaton supported him in at least 14 shorts. The films were so lucrative and popular that in 1918 Paramount offered Arbuckle a three-year, $3 million contract ($48,000,000 in 2016 dollars).
In 1916, Arbuckle had started his own film company, Comique, in partnership with Joseph Schenck. Although Comique produced some of the best short pictures of the silent era, in 1918 Arbuckle transferred his controlling interest in the company to Buster Keaton and accepted Paramount's $3 million offer to make up to 18 feature films over three years.
Roscoe's first feature was the Western comedy The Round-Up (George Melford, 1920) and it was successful. It was soon followed by other features, including Brewster's Millions (Joseph Henabery, 1921) and Gasoline Gus (James Cruze, 1921) with Lila Lee.
French postcard by Edition Paramount, Paris.
Swedish postcard by Forlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 865. Photo: Triangle-Keystonefilm.
The Death of Virginia Rappe
On 5 September 1921, Roscoe Arbuckle took a break from his hectic film schedule and, drove to San Francisco with two friends, Lowell Sherman and Fred Fishback. The three checked into three rooms at the St. Francis Hotel. They invited several women to their suite.
During the carousing, a 26-year-old starlet named Virginia Rappe was found seriously ill and was examined by the hotel doctor, who concluded her symptoms were mostly caused by intoxication, and gave her morphine to calm her. Rappe was not hospitalised until two days after the incident.
Virginia Rappe suffered from chronic cystitis, a condition that liquor irritated dramatically. Her heavy drinking habits and the poor quality of the era's bootleg alcohol could leave her in severe physical distress. She had undergone several abortions in the space of a few years, and she was preparing to undergo another.
At the hospital, Rappe's companion at the party, Bambina Maude Delmont, told Rappe's doctor that Arbuckle had raped her friend. The doctor examined Rappe but found no evidence of rape. Rappe died one day after her hospitalization of peritonitis, caused by a ruptured bladder. Delmont then told police that Arbuckle raped Rappe, and the police concluded that the impact Arbuckle's overweight body had on Rappe eventually caused her bladder to rupture. Delmont later made a statement incriminating Arbuckle to the police in an attempt to extort money from Arbuckle's attorneys.
Arbuckle's trial was a major media event; exaggerated and sensationalized stories ran in William Randolph Hearst's nationwide newspaper chain. The resulting scandal destroyed Arbuckle's career and his personal life. In his testimony, Arbuckle denied he had any knowledge of Rappe's illness.
The first trial (14 November-4 December 1921) ended with the jury deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of acquittal. The second trial (11 January -3 February 1922) also ended in a hung jury; this time the majority had ruled against Roscoe - 10 to 2 for conviction. The third trial (13 March – 12 April 1922) finally ended with an acquittal and a formal statement of apology to Arbuckle for putting him through the ordeal; a dramatic move in American justice.
At the time of his acquittal, Arbuckle owed over $700,000 in legal fees to his attorneys for the three criminal trials, and he was forced to sell his house and all of his cars to pay some of the debt. Although he had been cleared of all criminal charges, the scandal had greatly damaged his popularity among the general public. Will H. Hays banned Roscoe Arbuckle from ever working in U.S. movies again. He had also requested that all showings and bookings of Arbuckle films be canceled.
In December of the same year, under public pressure, Hays elected to lift the ban, but Arbuckle was still unable to secure work as an actor. Buster Keaton signed an agreement to give Arbuckle 35 percent of all future profits from his company, Buster Keaton Productions, to ease his financial situation.
In November 1923, Minta Durfee filed for divorce, charging grounds of desertion. The divorce was granted the following January. Arbuckle married Doris Deane in 1925.
Virginia Rappe. Vintage photo. Collection: Didier Hanson.
The magic and youthful spirit of before
Roscoe Arbuckle tried returning to filmmaking, but industry resistance to distributing his pictures continued to linger after his acquittal. He retreated into alcoholism.
Buster Keaton attempted to help Arbuckle by giving him work on his films. Arbuckle wrote the story for a Keaton short called Day Dreams (Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton, 1922). Arbuckle allegedly co-directed scenes in Keaton's Sherlock, Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924), but it is unclear how much of this footage remained in the film's final cut.
In 1925, Carter Dehaven made the short Character Studies (1927) in which Arbuckle appeared alongside Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and Jackie Coogan.
Eventually, Arbuckle was given work as a film director under the alias William Goodrich. Between 1924 and 1932, Arbuckle directed a number of comedy shorts under the pseudonym for Educational Pictures. His films included the Eddie Cantor feature Special Delivery (1927), the Marion Davies vehicle The Red Mill (1927) and Windy Riley Goes Hollywood (1931) with Louise Brooks.
In 1927, he was also engaged to direct and star a series of comedy shorts for producer Abe Carlos. The films were to be shot in Berlin and distributed internationally, and Arbuckle's wife Doris Deane was to star with him. The films were never produced.
In 1929, Doris Deane sued for divorce and Roscoe married Addie Oakley Dukes McPhail in 1931. In 1932, Arbuckle signed a contract with Warner Bros. to star under his own name in a series of two-reel comedies, to be filmed at the Vitagraph studios in Brooklyn. He started with Hey, Pop! (Alfred J. Goulding, 1932).
Tony Fontana at IMDb: “He completed six shorts and showed the magic and youthful spirit that he had a decade before.” These successful films with Al St. John (Arbuckle's nephew) and Lionel Stander constitute the only recordings of his voice. On 28 June 1933, Arbuckle had finished filming the last of the two-reelers and the next day he was signed by Warner Bros. to make a feature-length film.
That night he went out with friends to celebrate his first wedding anniversary and new Warner contract where he reportedly said: "This is the best day of my life." He suffered a heart attack later that night and died in his sleep. Roscoe Arbuckle was 46.
The Butcher Boy (Roscoe Arbuckle, 1917) with Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton. Source: Wm. Thomas Sherman (YouTube).
Sources: Tony Fontana (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.
Swedish postcard by Verlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1095/9. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Thora van Deken/A Mother's Fight (John W. Brunius, 1920) with Oscar Johansson, Pauline Brunius, Gösta Ekman and Jessie Wessel.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 304. Photo: Skandia Film. Gösta Ekman and Jenny Hasselquist in the Swedish silent drama Vem döme/rLove's Crucible (Victor Sjöström, 1922).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 62/5. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Faust (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1926).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1623/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Nordisk. Publicity still for Klovnen/The Clown (A.W. Sandberg, 1926).
German postcard. Ross Verlag No. 3746/2. Terra Film. Gösta Ekman in the German silent film Revolutionshochzeit (A.W. Sandberg, 1928).
Master of Disguise
Gösta Ekman was born as Frans Gösta Viktor Ekman in Stockholm in 1890. He first entered the stage as an extra in 1906, but made his professional stage debut in the renowned Selander Company in 1911.
During his short life he enjoyed a prolific stage career, becoming a star of the Swedish theatre. He won acclaim for his classic portrayals, such as Lionel in Friedrich Schiller’s Maid of Orleans (1914), Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing (1916), and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (1919).
Known as a self-taught master of disguise with theatre make-up and costumes, Gösta Ekman was equally convincing as a farmer's son, an 18th Century middle-aged aristocrat, or an 80-year old lunatic. Furthermore, he played in comedies, tragedies, dramas, and operettas. As a result, it was believed that he was capable of being convincing in all genres and as all types of characters.
At different times, he also ran and supervised several private theatres in Stockholm, including the Oscarsteatern, the Vasateatern, and the Konserthusteatern. He was also head of the Gothenburg City Theatre in the 1930s.
At the Vasateatern, which he ran from 1931 to 1935, he both directed and played the lead in several plays, while also producing a large number of productions. As a result, his time at the Vasateatern is considered to be the peak of his stage career.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 413, mailed in 1916. Photo: Uno Falkengren, Göteborg.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 21. Photo: Uno Falkengren, Nordiska Kompaniet, 1918.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1274/5, 1927-1928. Photo: H. Natge / Ufa.
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5355. Photo: Pan-Film A.G.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4034/2, 1929-1930. Photo: Aafa Film.
Gösta Ekman started to appear in films at the dawn of the Swedish film industry, and played an important role in its development.
One of his first film roles was in Victor Sjöström's experimental film Trädgårdsmästaren/The Broken Springrose (Victor Sjöström, 1912).
He also appeared in Den Okända/The Unknown Woman (Mauritz Stiller, 1913), Vem dömer/Love's Crucible (Victor Sjöström, 1922), and Karl XII/Charles XII (John W. Brunius, 1924-1925) made in two parts.
Ekman also starred in Nordisk Studio's most lucrative release of the 1920s, Klovnen/The Clown (1926), directed and co-written by A.W. Sandberg. This was a remake of a 1917 film with the same title, also written and directed by Sandberg.
Later, Gösta Ekman also played the lead in the first Swedish sound film, För hennes skull/For Her Sake (Paul Merzbach, 1930).
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstforlag, no. 305. Photo: Skandia Film. Jenny Hasselquist, Ivan Hedqvist, Tore Svennberg and Gösta Ekman in Vem dömer/Love's Crucible (Victor Sjöström, 1922). The film is a Renaissance drama where a young woman named Ursula (Hasselquist), who is in love with Bertram, the son (Ekman) of the mayor (Svenberg), is accused of having poisoned her older husband, the sculptor Master Anton (Hedqvist). She has to prove her virginity through a fire test. The film's title reads: Who judges? NB. Nils Asther had a small part in this film. He is man just left of Hasselquist.
Romanian postcard. Photo: Monopol Gloria-Film. Gösta Ekman as the elder Swedish king Charles XII in the prestigious Swedish period piece Karl XII (John W. Brunius, 1925). Caption: The famous fight at Bender aka Tighina [a city in Moldova] in the film Karl XII.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 949. Photo: Nordisk Film / Lux Film Verleih. Publicity still for Klovnen/The Clown (A.W. Sandberg, 1926) with Karina Bell.
Danish postcard by Alex. Vincent's Kunstforlag, Eneret, no. 253. Photo: publicity still for Revolutionshochzeit/Revolutionsbryllup/The Last Night (A.W. Sandberg, 1928) with Diomira Jacobini.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3746/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Terra Film. Publicity still for Revolutionshochzeit/Revolutionsbryllup/The Last Night (A.W. Sandberg, 1928).
Gösta Ekman starred in two films that would gain international recognition.
In F.W. Murnau's silent film classic Faust (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1926), he played the title character opposite Emil Jannings as Mephisto.
And in the original version of Intermezzo (Gustaf Molander, 1936), where he played a world famous violinist opposite Ingrid Bergman in her breakout role.
Ekman and Bergman had already acted opposite each other in Swedenhielms/Swedenhielms Family (Gustaf Molander, 1935). They share a couple of wonderful scenes together as their characters have a heart-to-heart conversation on life and love, which are among the most memorable moments in the film.
His best on-screen credit is his double-role in the comedy Kungen kommer/The King Is Coming (Ragnar Hyltén-Cavallius, 1936), where Ekman masterfully plays first the king and then also the king's look-a-like; an actor who is hired by members of the Royal Court to impersonate His Majesty at a private party. Naturally the real king later arrives at the party causing a number of confusions and comic mix-ups.
Ekman co-directed himself in the film En Perfekt gentleman/A Perfect Gentleman (Vilhelm Bryde, 1927), in which he also starred opposite exotic star La Jana.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 62/1. Photo: Parufamet. Publicity still for Faust (1926) with Hanna Ralph and Emil Jannings.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 62/3. Photo: Parufamet. Publicity still for Faust (1926) with Camilla Horn.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 62/6. Photo: ParUfaMet / Ufa. Gösta Ekman in Faust (1926). Collection: Didier Hanson.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 66/5. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Faust (1926) with Camilla Horn.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 66/6. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Faust (1926) with Camilla Horn.
Early on, Gösta Ekman was labelled as a workaholic, sacrificing himself for his art and for his love of the theatre. Later, as his fame increased, his workload increased likewise.
During the day, he would rehearse and direct plays. In the evening, he played leading roles in stage plays. Later at night, he would film. This busy schedule left him with relatively little free time. Furthermore, the free time he did have was spent carrying out his duties as the administrative director of the theatres he ran.
In 1926, while filming Faust in Berlin, he was introduced to cocaine by two Scandinavians, who told him that the drug would help him to cope better with his work schedule. Sadly, this began a long-term drug addiction that slowly deteriorated his health and eventually caused his death 12 years later at the age of 47.
In 1914, Gösta Ekman had married Greta Sundström. Their son Hasse Ekman became one of Sweden's most successful film directors in the 1940s and early 1950s. Gösta Ekman's grandson, Gösta Ekman jr., was one of Sweden's finest actors. He passed away in April this year.
German postcard with Romanian imprint by Ross Verlag, no. 1274/3. Photo: H. Natger. Caption: Gösta Ekman in the great film Karl XII (John W. Brunius, 1925). Wikipedia mentions that the film 'because of its long running time of nearly six hours, it was released in two separate parts. The film depicts the life of Charles XII of Sweden (1682-1718) who oversaw the expansion of the Swedish Empire until its defeat at the Battle of Poltava. It was the most expensive production in Swedish history when it was made, and inspired a string of large budget Swedish historical films.'
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4462/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Jaeger (?).
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 968. Photo: Nordisk Film / Lux Film Verleih.
DVD trailer for Faust (1926). Source: Kino International (YouTube).
Scene from Klovnen/The Clown (1926). Source: Vintagezelle (YouTube).
Sources: Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and IMDb.
Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 425.
Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 467.
Italian postcard, no. 30. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 563.
Italian postcard. Photo DM.
Beautiful and a bit Stiff
Helena (also Elena) Makowska was born Helena Woynowiczówna in Krivoy Rog, Russian Empire (now Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine), in 1893. She was the daughter of Ludwik Woyniewicz, a Polish engineer who worked for a Russian-Belgian company, and his wife Stanislawa née Sauret.
At the age of 16, she married lawyer Julian Makowski, but the marriage was a brief intermezzo. In 1912 Makowska went to Milan to take singing lessons. The following year she debuted at the Opera as Amelia in Il ballo in maschera and as Elena in Mefistofele.
Her film debut was in the film Romanticismo (Carlo Campogalliani, Arrigo Frusta, 1915). It was based on a famous play by Gerolamo Rovetta, which was already filmed in 1913, and refilmed in 1951.
Makowska is Anna Lamberti, whose husband count Vitaliano Lamberti (Tullio Carminati) would like to join the partizans, but is withheld by his pro-Austrian mother. His indecision has estranged him from his wife, who has an affair with a Polish profugee, Cezky, Vitaliano's secretary. When Vitaliano finally joins the freefighting patriots, he regains his wife's confidence, but her vengeful lover denounces Vitaliano to the police, then commits suicide. Even when warned, Vitaliano stays where he is, is caught and executed.
Romanticismo came out in Italy in September 1915, just a few months after the country had joined the Allied forces against Austria-Hungary and Germany in the First World War (April 1915). It was also Makowska's first film for the Torinese company Ambrosio.
From 1917 on, she switched to other film companies and played Ophelia in Ruggero Ruggeri's Amleto/Hamlet (1917), the seductress Elena in the comedy Addio giovinezza/Good-bye Youth (Augusto Genina, 1918) with Maria Jacobini, followed by La dame en gris/The Lady in Grey (Gian Paolo Rosmino, 1919).
Makowska would go on to perform in some 40 Italian films until her move to Germany in the early 1920s. The Italian press constantly praised her beauty but found her a bit stiff.
Italian postcard by IPA, no. CT. 750. Photo: Film della Società Anonima Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Still from Romanticismo (1915). Caption: Notte d'angoscia (Night of anguish).
Italian postcard by IPA, no. CT. 3873. Photo: Film della Società Ambrosio, Torino. Publicity still of Helena Makowska as the Egyptian courtesan in La Gioconda (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1916, released 1917), based on Gabriele D'Annunzio's play. Caption: The resurrected mummy told the monk, refugee in the desert, the story of her ancient life: She had been a voluptuous courtesan who lived in the times of the great Pharaon.'
Italian postcard by IPA CT, no. 3876. Photo: Film della Società Ambrosio, Torino. Publicity still of Helena Makowska in La Gioconda (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1916, released 1917) with Umberto Mozzato as Lucio Settala and Helena Makowska as Gioconda Dianti. Caption: Lucio Settala is madly in love with his model Gioconda Dianti.
Italian postcard for the film Amleto (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1917), adapted from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, and starring Ruggero Ruggeri in the title role, and Helena Makowska as Ophelia. Caption: Hamlet: Oh, I am your jester. What else can one ever do down here that is joyous?
Italian postcard by Unione Cinematografica Italiana. Photo: Medusa Film. Publicity still for Idillio tragico (Gaston Ravel, 1922), based on a novel by Paul Bourget. Caption: Ely rejects Oliviero, as she has now fallen in love with Pietro di Hautefeuille.
Italian postcard by Unione Cinematografica Italiana. Photo: Medusa Film. Publicity still for Idillio tragico (Gaston Ravel, 1922), based on a novel by Paul Bourget. Caption: Ely's sadness after Oliviero has abandoned her.
German Prison Camp
In the early 1920s, Helena Makowska moved to Berlin, where she remarried with actor Karl Falkenberg.
Between 1922 and 1927, Makowska played in some 15 films in Berlin and also in three in Warsaw, such as Judith/Frauen im Sumpf (1923) and Frauenmoral/Women's Morals (1923), both directed by Dutch director Theo Frenkel, Taras Bulba (Vladimir Strizevsky, Joseph N. Ermolieff, 1924) with Oscar Marion, the Stuart Webbs-detective Der Schuss im Pavillion/The Shot in the Pavillion (Max Obal, 1925), and Kochanka Szamoty/Szamota's Mistress (Leon Trystan, 1927), her last film in Poland.
After her return to Italy, rumors started to circulate that she had an affair with crown prince Umberto. In the early 1930s she married for the third time, now with an Englishman, Botteril, and returned to Poland, as an opera and operetta singer.
In 1939, immediately after the Germans occupied Poland, she was arrested as a British citizen and in 1940 she was deported to Berlin. After four years of prison camp, she was liberated in occasion of an exchange of prisoners.
In England she joined the theater ensemble of the Polish army, where she performed until the end of the war.
Italian postcard, no. 231.
Italian postcard by Fotocelere, Torino, no. 127, with Romanian imprint by Editions SARPIC, Bucharest.
Italian postcard by Fotocelere, Torino, no. ?, with Romanian imprint by Editions SARPIC, Bucharest.
Italian postcard by Fotocelere, Torino, no. 35, with Romanian imprint by Editions SARPIC, Bucharest.
Italian postcard by Fotocelere, Torino, no. 128.
Italian postcard, no. 23. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Italian postcard by Ed. Fotocelere, Torino.
Diva of Bygone Days
During her final years, Helena Makowska lived in Italy, where she did bit parts in Fabiola (Alessandro Blasetti, 1948) starring Michèle Morgan and Henri Vidal, and Quo vadis? (Mervyn LeRoy, 1951) with Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr.
She appeared in Luigi Comencini's melancholic La valigia dei sogni/The Suitcase of Dreams (1953) as the aged actress of the silent era who is visibly moved by the performances of Lyda Borelli in La Donna Nuda/The Naked Truth (Carmine Gallone, 1914) and of herself in Fiacre 13/Cab Number 13 (Alberto Capozzi, Gero Zambuto, 1917), one of her most popular films.
In the film of Comencini, a modern audience of the 1950s cruelly laughs about the performances of the silent actresses, but the diva of bygone days sheds a tear over so much beauty and emotion.
Her final film appearance was in Arrivederci Firenze/Goodbye Firenze (Rate Furlan, 1958) with Maria-Pia Casilio.
Helena Makowska died in 1964 in Rome, Italy. She was 71. In 1999 director Peter Delpeut included footage of Makowska, Lyda Borelli, Pina Menichelli and other Italian silent film stars in his beautiful compilation film Diva Dolorosa (1999).
Italian postcard, no. 133. Photo: Bettini, Roma.
Italian postcard, no. 29.
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Medusa Film / UCI. Publicity still for Rabagas (Gaston Ravel, 1922).
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Medusa Film / UCI. Publicity still for Rabagas (Gaston Ravel, 1922).
German postcard by Verlag Ross, Berlin, no. 489/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Alex Binder.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 758/1, 1925-1926. Photo: Alex Binder. Collection: Didier Hanson.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 758/2, 1925-1926. Photo: Alex Binder.
Clip from Diva Dolorosa (1999). Source: The Stat (YouTube).
Source: Vittorio Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.
French postcard, Editions Cinémagazine. no. 118.
Joë Hamman aka Joe Hamman (not to be confused with American cinematographer-producer Joe Hamann) was born as Jean Paul Arthur Hamman in Paris, France, in 1883. His father was a Dutch expert in painting, his mother a former lady’s companion of Empress Eugénie. Hamman studied in Paris and London before going to art school in Paris. He became a noted water colourist, but he chose a different career.
When Jean was six, the circus of Buffalo Bill alias William Cody came to Paris, but young Hamman was not allowed to go. He had to wait until he was 21 and meet Cody, when his father took him on a business trip to America in 1904.
Hamman and Cody met privately, became friends, and Hamman visited Cody’s North Plate house in Nebraska, meeting the extras of Cody’s wild west show, and drawing watercolours for local rangers. At a ranch in Montana, Jean Hamman learned to ride, was engaged as a cowboy, and learned to break and gather horses.
He also visited the Pine Ridge reservation in Dakota, and met Spotted Tail, war lieutenant of Indian chief Red Cloud, who donated him a buckskin war costume. Autumn 1904, he returned to Paris to do his military service, during which he staged a coach attack. When in 1905 Cody’s circus came over, Hamman was invited to join and participated in the French tour of Buffalo Bill. And Jean became Joë Hamman.
André Deed. French postcard by Edition Pathé Frères. Photo: X.
In 1907, Joë Hamman started out in the cinema as both actor and director of the short silent Le desperado/The Desperado (Joë Hamman, 1907). He followed his debut with performances in some 40 more short Westerns until early 1914.
These shorts included Un drame mexicain/A Mexican Drama (Joë Hamman, 1909), Un drame au Far West/A Far West Drama (Joë Hamman, 1909), and Les aventures de Buffalo Bill/The Adventures of Buffalo Bill (Joë Hamman, 1911).
For studio Éclair, he starred in the tree-part serial Le vautour de la Sierra/The Vulture of the Sierra (Victorine-Hipolyte Jasset, 1909), but most of the short Westerns with Hamman were produced by Gaumont.
A successful example was Le railway de la mort/The Railway of Death (Jean Durand, 1912) with Gaston Modot. From 1910 on, director Jean Durand specialised in the genre at Gaumont, though director Léonce Perret also shot some of the Gaumont Westerns.
Gaston Modot is nowadays best known as a comedian, but he was often Hamman’s antagonist in the Gaumont Westerns. Hamman directed 10 early shorts himself. He also worked for the Eclipse company in different genres, such as the adventure film L’ile d’épouvante/The Island of Terror (1911) and the Western La ville souterraine/The Subterranean City (1913).
Abel Gance. French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, no. 473. Photo: publicity still for Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927), with Gance himself as Saint Just.
During the First World War, Joë Hamman's film acting and directing came to a halt. In 1921 he returned as an actor-director with the short adventure film Le gardian/The Rancher (Joë Hamman, 1921). In Tao (Gaston Ravel, 1923), he appeared with other pre-war actors such as comedian André Deed. He had the male lead as Chevalier de Mallory in the costume drama L’enfant roi/The Child King (Jean Kemm, 1923), opposite Andrée Lionel as queen Marie Antoinette.
The next year followed supporting parts in Le vert galant/The Don Juan (René Leprince, 1924), Les fils du soleil/The Sons of the Sun (René le Somptier, 1924), and the detective film Le stigmate/The Stigma (Louis Feuillade, Maurice Champreux, 1924) with Jean Murat.
After a break in 1925 followed six films in 1926: Sa petite/His Little Girl (Routier-Fabre, 1926), Le capitaine Frascasse/Captain Fracasse (Henri Desfontaines, 1926), La fille des pachas/The Daughter of the Pacha (Joë Hamman, Adrien Caillard, 1926), Lady Harrington (Hewitt Claypoole Grantham-Hayes, Fred LeRoy Granville, 1926), and Le berceau de Dieu/The Cradle of God (Fred LeRoy Granville, 1926).
The latter was a religious drama starring Léon Mathot in which Hamman played a triple role of Abner, Pharaoh and Confucius. After Sous le ciel d’Orient (Fred LeRoy Granville, 1927), opposite his old buddy Gaston Modot, Hamman ended his silent film career with a bit part as Baskytt in Abel Gance's famous epic Napoléon (1927).
Luis Trenker. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 685, 1919-1924. Photo: Atelier Yva, Berlin.
For the Last Time
When sound cinema arrived, Joë Hamman made a comeback and played leads in several early sound films. He was the title character in Le roi des aulnes/The Erl KingJohan Wolfgang Goethe
He appeared in both the German version, Erlkönig, and the French version, Le roi des aulnes. Hamman also featured in Adieu les copains/Farewell Mates (Léo Joannon, 1930), and he appeared and co-directed the French version of Luis Trenker’s Berge in Flamme: Les monts en flammes/Mountain in Flames (Joë Hamman, Luis Trenker, 1931).
His parts got smaller, such as in Je serai seule après minuit/After Midnight I'm Alone (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1931), Romance à l’inconnue/Romance With An Unknown Woman (René Barberis, 1931) starring Annabella, Danton (André Roubaud, 1932), the Mistral-adaptation Mireille (René Gaveau, 1933), Le train d’amour/The Love Train (Pierre Weil, 1935), and Le clown Bux/Bux, the Clown (Jacques Natanson, 1935) starring Suzy Vernon, in which Hamman played a cowboy for the last time.
In the late 1930s, Hamman played smaller parts in four films by Henri Fescourt: L’occident/The West (1937), Bar du sud/Southern Bar (1938), Vous seule que j’aime/I Love You Alone (1939), and Face au destin/Facing Destiny (1940) with Jules Berry.
The latter film proved to be emblematically titled. France had just got involved in the Second World War and Hamman himself faced destiny too: during the war he was not offered anymore film roles. And after the war, Hamman played an uncredited role as general Kellermann in Napoléon (Sacha Guitry, 1955), starring Jean-Pierre Aumont. His only other and final performance was an uncredited part in Pop’game (Francis Leroi, 1967).
Joë Hamman died in Dieppe, France, in 1974. He was married to actress Vesta Harold, who had often appeared with Hamman in his silent Westerns. Some of his early Westerns are now on DVD. Gaumont, Le cinéma premier, II (2009) contains one disc with Jean Durand's Westerns shot in the Camargue.
Suzy Vernon. French postcard by Europe, no. 1105. Photo: Paramount.
Sources: Herve Ciret (An Indian in the Western Lighthouse), Jean-Pascal Constantin (Les Gens du Cinéma - French), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Kontsforlag, Stockholm, no. 133. Photo: Skandia Film. Still with Palle Brunius and Solveig Hedengran in Synnöve Solbakken (1919).
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 127. Photo: Skandiafilm. Still for Synnöve Solbakken (1919) with Karin Molander and Lars Hanson. Sent by mail in Norway in 1920.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 131. Photo: Skandiafilm. Still for Synnöve Solbakken (1919) with Karin Molander and Lars Hanson.
Synnöve Solbakken/A Norway Lass (John W. Brunius, 1919) was based on the popular peasant story by Norwegian writer Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, who in 1903 became the Nobel laureate in Literature. Synnøve Solbakken was his debut novel, first published in 1857.
Synnöve (Solveig Hedengran) lives with her parents at the farm Solbakken on a sunny hill. Thorbjörn (Palle Brunius), who lives at Granliden in the shadow of a big mountain, often looks wistfully up to Solbakken.
As teenagers they meet and fall in love. Another boy, Knud Nordhaug (Gösta Cederlund), is also yearning for Synnöve. Together with some companions he bullies Thorbjörn, who knocks them down.
When Knud meets Synnöve's father, he gets him to believe that it is Thorbjörn who is the bully. Synnöve's parents forbid her to meet Thorbjörn henceforth.
Some years later Knud proposes to Synnöve, but is turned down. At Midsummer Eve, Thorbjörn (Lars Hanson) and Synnöve (Karin Molander) meet secretly. They renew their love-vows, and Thorbjörn promises to develop a better reputation in the village...
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 126. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919). The caption Haugianermötet (Meeting of the Haugian Movement) refers to a Norwegian religious reform movement. This image was copied from a well-known painting: Adolph Tidemand's Haugianere (1852). In the novel and film of Synnöve Solbakken, the heroine is presented as a Haugean with a similar purity and commitment to her bethrothed, Thorbjörn.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 127. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Lars Hanson and Karin Molander.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 128. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), with Solveig Hedengran.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 129. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Lars Hanson, who is is confronted here with Gösta Cederlund.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 130. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Karin Molander.
A Handful of Child Roles
Paul Gomer 'Palle' Brunius (1909-1976) was the son of the director John W. Brunius and actress-director Pauline Brunius. He would only play child roles in films by his parents.
Solveig Hedengran (1910-1956) instead acted in some 28 films, mostly Swedish sound films and often supporting parts. Synnöve Solbakken (1919) was her first film.
The film, shot in Gudbrandsdal in Norway, was a huge success in theatres throughout Scandinavia and became a thematic guide for Norwegian film production in the 1920s.
Synnöve Solbakken would be remade twice. In 1934, Tancred Ibsen directed an early sound version with Karin Ekelund as Synnöve and legendary director Victor Sjöström in a supporting part.
The third version of Synnöve Solbakken was released in 1954 by Gunnar Hellström with Synnøve Strigen in the title role.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 131. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Lars Hanson and Karin Molander. Here we see also Hjalmar Peters and Ingrid Sandahl, who play Synnöve's parents.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 132. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919) with Egid Eide and Palle Brunius.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 134. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Lars Hanson and Karin Molander.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 135. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919) with Karin Molander and Ellen Dall.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 136. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919) with Karin Molander and Ellen Dall.
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 137. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919). The mid-summer dance.
Scene from Synnöve Solbakken (1919). Source: Norsk Filminstitutt.
Sources: Filmarkivet.no (Norwegian), Wikipedia and IMDb.
EFSP congratulates Richard Abel, the curator of the Beginnings of the Western programme, with winning the Jean Mitry Award 2017. Abel is co-winner of this award, together with John Libbey, publisher on many books on silent cinema. Richard Abel is professor emeritus of International Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Michigan, and author of such groundbreaking studies as French Cinema: The First Wave, 1915-1929 (1984), The Ciné Goes to Town: French Cinema, 1896-1914 (1994) and The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American, 1900-1910 (1999). His most recent book is Menus for Movieland: Newspapers and the Emergence of American Film Culture (2015).
Postcard of the poster of the 36th Pordenone Silent Film Festival (Le Gionate del Cinema Muto), 30 sept - 7 oct 2017: Sulla via dell'oro/The Human Bridge (Baldassarre Negroni, 1913).
Italian postcard, no. 1069. Photo: publicity still for Madame Tallien/Madame Guillotine (Enrico Guazzoni, Mario Caserini, 1916).
Italian postcard by A. Traldi, Milano, no. 14. Photo: Fontana.
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano.
Italian postcard by Ed. Vettori, Bologna. Photo: publicity still of Lyda Borelli and Amleto Novelli in Madame Tallien (Enrico Guazzoni, 1916).
Italian postcard. Photo: Civirani, Rome.
Italian postcard by E. Vettori, Bologna, no. 224. Photo: Civirani, Rome.
Ardent and honest performance
Born in Bologna, Italy, and an orphan at age 12, Amleto Novelli remained home, taking care of his sisters and working as civil servant until he was 22.
Stagestruck Novelli then fled to Rome in 1906 to follow his passion and become a theatre actor. Soon he was acting amidst young and old stage actors at the Teatro Tiberino. He was soon singled out for his ardent and honest performance, which despite his lack of classical beauty hugely attracted audiences. His passion and inflammability would also show when people living from cinema would despise it.
From 1908 he was performing at the Roman company Società Italiana Cines, first in numerous historical shorts such as Marco Visconti (Mario Caserini, 1909) and San Sebastiano/By Order of the Emperor (Enrique Santos, 1911), and contemporary tales such as In pasto ai leoni/The Lion Tamer's Revenge (Enrique Santos, 1912), Il trabocchetto punitore/Fatal Trap Door (1912) with Ermanno Roveri and Emilio Ghione, and La rupe del Malconsiglio/Blow for Blow (1913) with Enna Saredo.
For director Enrico Guazzoni, he appeared in the short historical films Agrippina (Enrico Guazzoni, 1911) about Agrippina the Younger (Adele Bianchi Azzarili) and Bruto/Brutus (Enrico Guazzoni, 1911). In the latter, he portrayed Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger, one of the assassins of Julius Caesar. Bruto was moderately successful.
When feature films came along, he starred as the virile Italian man in many epics directed by Guazzoni. He played the warm, sincere and passionate Roman hero Marcus Vinicius in Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1912-1913) and it became a triumph. The film was based on the 1896 novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Wikipedia: "It was arguably the first blockbuster in the history of cinema, with 5,000 extras, lavish sets, and a running time of two hours, setting the standard for 'superspectacles' for decades to come." The Cines production was a major international hit and a personal triumph for Novelli.
So he soon repeated this successful performance as Marc Anthony in Marcantonio e Cleopatra/Antony and Cleopatra (Enrico Guazzoni, 1914) adapted of William Shakespeare's play of the same title, with inspiration also drawn from a poem by Pietro Cossa, and as Julius Caesar in Caio Giulio Cesare/Julius Caesar (Enrico Guazzoni, 1914) with Bruto Castellani and Pina Menichelli. Taking its inspiration from William Shakespeare's 1599 play of the same title, the film portrays the events leading up to the assassination of Julius Caesar. It was produced on an epic scale, including vast sets recreating Ancient Rome and more than 20,000 extras.
Italian postcard by Film Cines, Roma, no. 6572. Photo: publicity still of Gustavo Serena as Petronius Arbiter and Amleto Novelli as Marcus Vinicius in Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, produced 1912, released 1913).
German postcard by BKWI, no. 35. Photo: publicity still for Marcantonio e Cleopatra (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Marc Anthony (Amleto Novelli), dressed as an Egyptian pharao, rejects his wife Octavia (Elsa Lenard).
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, no. 3272. Photo: Films Cines. Publicity still for Madame Tallien (Enrico Guazzoni, 1916), with Lyda Borelli as Terese de Fontenay/Madame Tallien, and Amleto Novelli as Tallien.
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex. Photo: Film Cines. Publicity still for Malombra (Carmine Gallone, 1917) starring Lyda Borelli and Amleto Novelli. Caption: I don't know nothing, I remember nothing. I never lived, never apart from now. I knew only you would come, this moment. I have the frenzy to enjoy it.
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex. Photo: Film Cines. Publicity still for Malombra (Carmine Gallone, 1917) starring Lyda Borelli and Amleto Novelli. Caption: ...at that moment she felt her waist held by the powerful hands of Silla, who lifted her back up the stairs.
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex. Photo: Film Cines. Publicity still for Malombra (Carmine Gallone, 1917) starring Lyda Borelli and Amleto Novelli. Caption: Here, she said, signing him to sit down on the ground next to her. All your memories...
Spanish postcard for Amatller Marca Luna chocolate, Series 8, no. 7. Photo: Palatino Film. Publicity still of Augusto Mastripietri and Amleto Novelli in Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918).
Male Antagonist of the Divas
Amleto Novelli also had a large share in the diva films as the male antagonist of Lyda Borelli in drama Marcia nuziale/The Wedding March (Carmine Gallone, 1915), Madame Tallien (Enrico Guazzoni, Mario Caserini, 1916) and Malombra (Carmine Gallone, 1916), an adaptation of the 1881 novel Malombra by Antonio Fogazzaro.
With Pina Menichelli, he co-starred in Papà (Nino Oxilia, 1915) and Il padrone delle ferriere/The Railway Owner (Eugenio Perego, 1919), and with Francesca Bertini in Spiritismo (Camillo De Riso, 1919), La piovra (Edoardo Bencivenga, 1919) and L'ombra/The Shadow (Roberto Roberti, 1920).
He also was the leading man of Soava Gallone in Avatar/The Magician (Carmine Gallone 1916) and La chiamavano 'Cosetta' (Eugenio Perego, 1917), and of Maria Jacobini in La casa di vetro (Gennaro Righelli, 1920) and La preda (Guglielmo Zorzi, 1921). Other divas with whom he worked were Italia Almirante and Diana Karenne.
Novelli continued to act in historical epics as well. These included Christus (Giuseppe Antamoro 1915), Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918) featuring Elena Sangro, La Gerusalemme liberata/The Crusaders (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918) with Elena Sangro, Dante nella vita e nei tempi suoi (Domenico Gaido, 1922), and Il fornaretto di Venezia (Mario Almirante, 1923).
During the shooting of La casa dei pulcini in Turin (Mario Camerini, 1924) in Turin, Novelli suddenly died at age 38 only. The cause was encephalitis, a sudden onset inflammation of the brain. Novelli was married to Adalgisa Orlandini.
Post mortem nine (!) films with him were released, including the historical epics La congiura di San Marco (Domenico Gaido, 1924), a sequel to Il ponte dei sospiri (1921), and Marco Visconti (Aldo De Benedetti, 1925), a remake of his 1909 film. Amleto Novelli had played in over a 100 Italian silent films.
In his study Muscoli e Frac (Muscles and Tails), Italian film historian Denis Lotti is surprised that there is no monograhy on Novelli. Despite the fact that his name pops up in every film historiography.
Italian postcard by Ed. G. Vettori, Bologna, no. 525. Photo: publicity stuill of Francesca Bertini and Amleto Novelli in La piovra (Edoardo Bencivenga, 1919).
Italian postcard by Ed. G. Vettori, Bologna. Publicity still of Amleto Novelli, Pina Menichelli and Luigi Serventi in Il padrone delle ferrriere (Eugenio Perego, 1919), based on Le maitre des forges by Georges Ohnet.
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 13. Photo: publicity still for La casa di vetro/The glass house (Gennaro Righelli, 1920) with Maria Jacobini and Amleto Novelli.
Italian postcard by Ed. G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: publicity still of Maria Jacobini and Amleto Novelli in La casa di vetro (Gennaro Righelli, 1920).
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milanono. 367. Photo: Fotominio. Publicity still of Claretta Sabatelli and Amleto Novelli in Il voto (Eugenio Fontana, 1921).
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 46. Photo: Fotominio. Publicity still for La preda/The prey (Guglielmo Zorzi, 1921) with Maria Jacobini and Amleto Novelli.
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 191. Photo: Amleto Novelli and Maria Moreno in La preda/The Prey (Guglielmo Zorzi, 1921).
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: publicity still of Maria Jacobini, Lido Manetti and Amleto Novelli in Amore rosso/Red Love (Gennaro Righelli, 1921).
Italian postcard by G.B. Salci, Milano, no. 256. Photo: publicity still of Amleto Novelli and Nini Dinelli in Il fornaretto di Venezia (Mario Almirante 1923). Caption: The nobleman Lorenzo says farewell to his wife, pretending he is called outside of Venice.
Italian postcard by G.B. Salci, Milano. Photo: publicity still for Il fornaretto di Venezia (Mario Almirante, 1923) with Amleto Novelli as the nobleman Lorenzo Barbo.
Italian postcard. Photo: publicity still of Amleto Novelli (as Rolando Candiani) and Teresa Pasquali (la dogaressa) in La congiura di San Marco (Domenico Gaido, 1924), a sequel to Il ponte dei sospiri (Domenico Gaido, 1921) with Luciano Albertini. The plot deals with Rolando (Novelli), who has become the new doge, and married the beautiful Leonora Dandolo (Ria Bruna). Yet, followers of the former, evil Doge, try to raise the people against Rolando. Rolando is not alone, because his loyal friend Scalabrino (Celio Bucchi) and a woman from the people, Zanze (Bianca Stagno-Bellinicioni), help him. The film was very popular in Italy. at the time. Amleto Novelli died before the film was finished, so it was posthumously released.
Sources: Denis Lotti (Muscoli e Frac - Italian), Sempre in penombra (Italian), Wikipedia (Italian and English) and IMDb.
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 313.
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 626.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4364/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Delfina / First National Pictures.
So lovely yet so shy
Billie Dove was born Bertha Bohny in 1903 in New York to Charles and Bertha (née Kagl) Bohny. Her parents were immigrants from Switzerland. Her brother, Charles, later became a cameraman in Hollywood.
Bertha was educated in private schools in Manhattan. Her parents were Lutheran and their church organised sports events; the girls on the basketball team called her "Billie". As a teen, she worked as a model to help support her family.
Kevin Brownlow in his obituary in The Independent: "Billie was an exceptionally beautiful girl, and was in great demand as a model by such eminent artists as Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Chandler Christy and James Montgomery Flagg, who called her 'The Dove' because she was so lovely yet so shy. 'Billie Dove' soon became her professional name."
At age fourteen, she was hired by Florenz Ziegfeld to appear in his Ziegfeld Follies Revue between 1918 and 1920. A neighbour worked as an extra at Fort Lee, across the Hudson from New York City, and Billie's mother had her also registered at the film studios. One of her first appearances was in the Mabel Normand picture Joan of Plattsburg (William Humphrey, George Loane Tucker, 1918).
Billie also served as a dancing replacement in Ziegfeld's Broadway show Sally, (1921) which headlined Marilyn Miller. She legally changed her name to Lillian Bohny in the early 1920s.
Gary Brumburgh at IMDb: "a burgeoning affair between Dove and Ziegfeld prompted Ziegfeld's wife Billie Burke to arrange work for the young starlet in Hollywood films." At age nineteen, Billie had her first Hollywood contract with Metro, where she began appearing in such silent films as the comedy Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford (Frank Borzage, 1921), and Polly of the Follies (John Emerson, 1922), starring Constance Talmadge.
Golden Silents: "Billie's roles were mainly decorative in the early years, but female director Lois Weber gave Billie some choicer roles to play in some of her better scripted films for Universal, and director Alexander Korda provided the same for films with First National."
French postcard by Europe, no. 622. Photo: Arta-Film / First National.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5416. Photo: Verleih: Philipp & Co. / First National. Publicity still of Clive Brook and Billie Dove in Yellow Lily (Alexander Korda, 1928).
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5739. Photo: Verleih Hugo Engel Film / Warner Bros.
America's most popular actress
Billie Dove had a leading role in All the Brothers Were Valiant (Irvin Willat, 1923) with Malcolm McGregor and Lon Chaney. She married the director of this film, Irvin Willat, in 1923.
Dove was dubbed 'The American Beauty', after her film The American Beauty (Richard Wallace, 1927), and at the end of the 1920s she was voted, with Clara Bow, as America's most popular actress. She appeared opposite Douglas Fairbanks in the smash hit Technicolour film The Black Pirate (Albert Parker, 1926), and played Rodeo West in The Painted Angel (Millard Webb, 1929).
She transitioned to sound pictures smoothly and First National extended her contract. Multi-talented Billie was also a singer, a poet, a painter, and an aeroplane pilot. She had a huge legion of male fans, including then then 22-years-old multi-millionaire industrialist, movie producer and aviation enthusiast Howard Hughes.
Kevin Brownlow: "In 1930, in one of the most extraordinary transactions in Hollywood history, Hughes paid Willat $325,000 in thousand-dollar bills to give Billie a divorce. 'I begged Howard not to,' said Billie Dove, 'but there was nothing I could do once he gave the money to Irvin. I felt like I'd been bought and sold.'"
She had a three-year romance with Hughes and was engaged to marry him, but she ended the relationship without ever giving cause. Billie Dove cited in The Independent: "It had nothing to do with any man and nothing to do with any woman - it was really such a tiny thing that you wouldn't believe it if I told you."
Hughes is said to have regarded her as the love of his life and they remained on friendly terms. He cast her in his films The Age for Love (Frank Lloyd, 1931), an embarrassing flop, and Cock of the Air (Tom Buckingham, 1932). The Hays Office found the latter too risque and insisted on savage and damaging cuts, and this film flopped as well. Her last film was Blondie of the Follies (Edmund Goulding, 1932) with Marion Davies.
In 1933, she married wealthy rancher and real estate developer Robert Alan Kenaston, a marriage that lasted for 37 years. The couple divorced in 1970 and he died three years later. The couple had a son, actor Robert Alan Kenaston, Jr., who was married to actress Claire Kelly, and an adopted daughter, Gail. In 1934, Dove retired from the screen to raise her family.
Aside from an unbilled bit part of a nurse in Diamond Head (Guy Green, 1963) with Charlton Heston, Dove never returned to the cinema. In the 1970s, Billie had a brief third marriage to architect John Miller, which ended in divorce. She spent her retirement years in Rancho Mirage before moving into the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California where she died of pneumonia on New Year's Eve 1997, aged 94.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1865/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Fanamet / First National.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3476/6, 1928-1929. Photo: Defina / First National.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4726/3, 1929-1930. Photo: Defina / First National.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 920. Photo: Universal Pictures Corporation.
Sources: Kevin Brownlow (The Independent), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Golden Silents, Wikipedia and IMDb.
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, no. 129. Photo: A.N, Paris.
French Orientalist Fairy Tale
It is not known where Sylvio de Pedrelli, also written as Silvio de Pedrelli, was born, although we could presume he was of Hispanic or Portuguese origin.
In 1918 he debuted in film, perhaps in Âmes de fous/Madmen's souls (Germaine Dulac, 1919).
That year he also played the male lead as prince Mourad in the French orientalist fairy tale La sultane d'amour/The Sultan of Love (Charles Burguet, René Le Somptier, 1920). It starred France Dhélia as princess Delouah who disguises as a girl from the people while prince Mourad dresses as a fisherman. They meet, split and keep searching for each other, while the sinister sultan Malik pursues Delouah as well.
Pedrelli played also supporting parts in Ecce Homo (Abel Gance, 1919), and in La croisade/The Crusade (René Le Somptier, 1919). In 1920, Pedrelli played Tristan opposite Andrée Lionel as Isolde in Tristan et Yseult/Tristan and Isolde (Maurice Mariaud, 1920).
In addition to Le destin rouge/Red fate (Franz Toussaint, 1921), Pedrelli also played a supporting part in the Honoré de Balzac adaptation Le père Goriot/Father Goriot (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1921), starring Gabriel Signoret as the man ruins himself for his spendthrift and ungrateful daughters.
France Dhélia. French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 122.
Sylvio de Pedrelli appeared in Corsica (René Carrère, Vanina Casalonga, 1923) starring Lily Damita, and the short Les cinquante ans de Don Juan/Fifty years of Don Juan (Henri Étiévant, 1924). Then he played the charming seducer Girard in the Albatros production La dame masquée/The masked lady (Viktor Tourjansky, 1924), killed by the protagonist Hélène Tessière (Nathalie Kovanko).
After La Nuit de la revanche/The Night of the revenge (1924) with Charles Vanel and Grand-mère/Grandmother (Albert-Francis Bertoni, 1925), Pedrelli played a suave Italian count who tries to seduce the American Dolly (Dolly Davis) in another Albatros production, the comedy Paris en cinq jours/Paris in five days (Nicolas Rimsky, Pierre Colombier, 1925).
He played a lead in L’avocat/The lawyer (Gaston Ravel, 1925) about a lawyer who must defend his beloved who is charged with the murder of her husband. Next, Pedrelli had a supporting role in Le juif errant/The Wandering Jew (Luitz-Morat, 1926), and Le berceau de Dieu/The Craddle of God (Fred LeRoy Granville, 1926), and a leading role in L’épervier/The Sparrow Hawk (Robert Boudrioz, 1926).
Pedrelli played in the German adaptation of a French boulevard comedy, Fräulein Josette, meine Frau/Miss Josette, My Wife (Gaston Ravel, 1926), with Dolly Davis, Livio Pavanelli, Agnes Esterhazy, André Roanne and Adolphe Engers. Davis marries her tutor because of an inheritance, Pedrelli is an Argentinian suitor.
In 1927-1928 Pedrelli performed in the title role of La Maison du Maltais/Karina the Dancer (Henri Fescourt, 1928), a drama about an ex-prostitute (Tina Meller) who has married but then meets the father of her child, Matteo the Maltese. He sacrifices himself for her.
This was followed by another comedy with Dolly Davis and André Roanne, La merveilleuse journée/The wonderful day (René Barberis, 1928) and the dramatic thriller La venenosa/Poison Girl (1928) starring Warwick Ward and Raquel Meller. A daring circus girl has affairs with various men, but most men die, hence the ‘poison girl’. Eventually she marries an Indian prince (Pedrelli), but when he is killed by a jealous lover, she inherits his fortune and marries her true love, a criminal (Ward). In these films, Pedrelli was often the third party and played many exotic and seducing foreigners.
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 155.
No Date Nor Place of Death
In the early 1930s, when sound film had set in, Sylvio de Pedrelli played in a few Franco-German coproductions, shot in Germany. First came La folle aventure/The crazy adventure (Carl Froehlich, André-Paul Antoine, 1930), costarring Jean Murat, Marie Glory and Marie Bell. Then followed L’inconstante. Je sors et tu restes là/The fickle - I go out and you stay there (Hans Behrendt, André Rigaud, 1931).
He had a small part in the French version of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse: Le testament du Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang, René Sti, 1931), produced by Seymour Nebenzahl and with Rudolf Klein-Rogge as the evil hypnotist.
Pedrelli also had a part in the early sound comedy Amour… amour…/Love... Love... (Robert Bibal, 1932), as the crook with whom the leading character (Colette Broïdo) is in love.
After a gap of some six years, Pedrelli reappeared on screen as an Arab governor in Les hommes nouveaux/The New Men (1936), about colonials making career in Morocco. In 1938 Pedrelli had a part as, again, an Oriental in the Fernandel comedy Tricoche et Cacolet/Tricoche and Cacolet (Pierre Colombier, 1938), and he played Concini, assassinated in the beginning of Sacha Guitry’s historic tale Remontons les Champs-Elysées/Let us go back up the Champs-Elysées (1938, Sacha Guitry).
Finally, Pedrelli did his last film part as judge Roncolli in Marcel L’Herbier’s La revoltée/Stolen Affections (Marcel L’Herbier, 1948), the story of a calvary of a woman (Josette Day) who witnesses the adultery of her husband and the death of her child. When the man wants her back she pushes him back, causing him to commit suicide. A new lover proves to be married already, so she has nothing to live for anymore.
There is no information on the web about Sylvio de Pedrelli after he appeared in this film. We couldn't find the date nor the place of his death.
Josette Day. French (?) postcard by A.L.I., no. 39.
Sources: Filmportal.de, DVDtoile (French), and IMDb.
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 5237. Photo: Atelier Elite.
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 84/2. Photo: Messter Film/Karl Schenker, Berlin.
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 84/3. Photo: Messter-Film / Karl Schenker, Berlin.
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 84/6. Photo: Karl Schenker.
German postcard by NPG, no. 258. Photo: Alex Binder.
Born in Copenhagen in 1880, Viggo Larsen was first military trained.
Then he started to work in a cinema which was part of Ole Olsen’s cinema chain. After the founding of the Nordisk Film Kompagni (Nordisk film company) by Olsen in 1906, Viggo Larsen joined him. He started a career as film actor, scriptwriter and director, as one of the first in Denmark.
Between 1906 and 1909 Larsen shot some 29 films in Denmark, among which the more well-known are Løvejagten/Lion Hunt (Viggo Larsen, 1907) and the Sherlock Holmes film Den Graa dame/The Grey Dame (Viggo Larsen, 1909).
In his ten-minute short Løvejagten/Lion Hunt (1907) two big game hunters (Viggo Larsen and Knud Lumbye) are on safari in the jungle with their African guide. They observe zebras, ostrich and a hippopotamus, and catch a small monkey for a pet. During the night they are awakened by a lion which kills a small goat and then the hunters' horse. The hunters shoot the lion as it stands by the water on a beach. They discover another lion and shoot it also. The lions are gutted and skinned. The happy hunters sit and smoke cigarettes afterward.
Larsen had filmed the lion hunt at the little Danish island of Elleore in the Roskilde fjord (decorated with palm fronds and artificial plants to simulate a tropical savanna) and in the Copenhagen Zoo. The actual shooting of two captive lions, Larsen had bought from the Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, caused an enormous public protest in Denmark and the film was banned. However, the hitherto unusual and attractive use of exotic animals and the publicity from the protests created a success in Sweden.
The following year, after the charges of animal cruelty were dropped and the Danish ban was rescinded, the film had its premiere in Denmark. Nordisk eventually sold 259 prints of Løvejagten, which earned the company an enormous profit. It ushered in the 'golden age' of Danish cinema when Nordisk Film became the most productive film company in Europe. A sequel to the film, Bear Hunting in Russia, was shot in 1909 and was also a profitable film, eventually selling 118 prints.
According to IMDb reviewer kekseksa it was all a set-up: "Ole Olsen was really a bit of a rascal by any standards and this whole film was something of a carefully-conceived publicity stunt for the newly-founded Nordisk Company. And it worked a dream. The word got around about the film; the Danish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals complained to the authorities who banned the making of the film. Olsen ignored them and went ahead. The film was banned when it came out but Olsen just slipped it across the border and premiered it in Sweden. And, as a direct result of all this shenanigans, the film was a huge international success and did indeed set Nordisk on its dizzy path to glory."
The Sherlock Holmes film Den Graa dame/The Grey Dame (Viggo Larsen, 1909) was another box office hit that fascinated audiences. Larsen played Holmes and Holger-Madsen Doctor Watson. The film was based on The Hound of the Baskervilles, but the dog was replaced by a ghost in this adaptation. The film thrilled the audiences thanks to Holmes' excursions through creepy alleys, and the highlight was the appearance of the ghost, the grey dame.
German postcard by Photochemie, no. K.1828. Photo: A. Binder, Berlin.
German postcard by Photochemie, no. K. 255. Photo: A. Binder, Berlin.
German postcard by Photochemie, no. K.256. Photo: A. Binder, Berlin.
German postcard by Verlag Herm. Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 3198.
German postcard by Verlag Herm. Leiser, Berlin, no. 5344.
In 1910 Viggo Larsen left Denmark and continued his career in Berlin, Germany, at the company Vitascope. Because of the previous success of his Sherlock Holmes films, he produced and directed various films inspired by the British detective. An example is the film serial Arsène Lupin gegen Sherlock Holmes/Arsène Lupin contra Sherlock Holmes (Viggo Larsen, 1910) with Paul Otto as Arsène Lupin and Larsen himself as Holmes. In 1918, he played Sherlock Holmes for the last time.
In 1910 Larsen discovered the stage actress Wanda Treumann at the Berliner Lustspielhaus. He would shoot many films with her and together they founded in 1912 the production company Treumann Larsen Film GmbH.
Larsen also did a rip off of the popular White Slave films by Nordisk entitled Der weisse Sklavin, 3.Teil/The White Slave, Part 3 (Viggo Larsen, 1911) with Wanda Treumann and Max Mack. The film hinted at the previous two films by Nordisk, about which Ole Olsen probably was not amused.
One typical example is the film Die Sumpfblume/The marsh flower (Viggo Larsen, 1913), in which Traumann is a vaudeville actress whose foot is copied in stone by a sculptor. She goes up the social ladder and marries a rich aristocrat (Larsen). He is appalled when he finds the sculpture and thus finds out about her past, so he strangles her.
Another fine example that survived is Wanda’s Trick (1917), in which a cigarette factory girl (Traumann) offers herself as first prize in a lottery in order to save the factory from ruin. Larsen only did the production of this film, while Franz Eckstein directed.
He also made a German silent Western, Frank Hansens Glück/Frank Hansen's Fortune (Viggo Larsen, 1917). Larsen and Lupu Pick played two diggers working in the Mexican diamond fields, who discover a very valuable diamond. It leads to a series of events that sees only one of them become rich.
After a highly productive career Viggo Larsen quited directing in 1921 and focused on acting. Larsen’s last film was the biopic Diesel (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1942) starring Willy Birgel as Rudolf Diesel the German inventor of the diesel engine. It was one of a series of prestigious biopics made in Nazi Germany portraying genius inventors or artists struggling against the societies in which they live.
Viggo Larsen stayed in Germany until the end of the Second World War and returned to Denmark in 1945. He died in Copenhagen in 1957 at the age of 76. He had appeared in 140 films between 1906 and 1942, and had directed 235 films between 1906 and 1921.
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 542/6. Photo: Messter-Film. Publicity still for Der Sohn des Hannibal/The Son of Hannibal (Viggo Larsen, 1918).
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 562/3. Photo: Messter-Film, Berlin. Publicity still of Viggo Larsen in Der Mann mit den sieben Masken/The Man with the Seven Masks (Viggo Larsen, 1918).
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 563/1. Photo: Mester-Film, Berlin, Berlin. Publicity still with Viggo Larsen and Ria Jende in Die Blaue Mauritius/The Blue Mauritius (Viggo Larsen, 1918).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 626/4. Photo: Viggo Larsen Tempelhof. Publicity still of Viggo Larsen in Der Fürst der Diebe und seine Liebe/The King of Thieves and His Love (Viggo Larsen, 1919).
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 152/1. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 152/4. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.
German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden Deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture, no, 16, Group 43. Photo: Karl Schenker.
Sources: Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.
French postcard by GREFF, S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 16. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1190. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by Editions et Publications Cinematographiques (EPC), Paris, no. 241. Photo: R. Corbeau.
Beethoven’s Great Love
Anne Marie Catherine Ducaux was born in Besançon, France in 1908. The long and elegant blonde won the first prize at the Conservatoire.
At 24, she made her cinema debut in the crime film Coupe de feu à l’aube/Shot at dawn (Serge de Poligny, 1932), in which she immediately had the female lead of Irene Taft opposite Jean Galland. It was the French version of the Ufa production Schuss im morgengrauen (Alfred Zeisler, 1932), which was simultaneous filmed in the Babelberg studios in Berlin.
This was followed by parts in the comedies Le gendre du Monsieur Poirier/The son-in-law of Mister Poirier (Marcel Pagnol, 1933) and Le fakir du Grand Hotel/The wizard of Grand Hotel (Pierre Billon, 1933), the Jules Claretie adaptation Le petit Jacques/Little Jack (Gaston Roudès, 1934), and Cessez le feu/Cease Firing (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1934) with again Galland.
Ducaux was Austrian empress Maria Theresia in Nuit de mai/Night in May (Henri Chomette, Gustav von Ucicky, 1934) opposite Fernand Gravey and Käthe von Nägy. She had the female lead in the Marcel Pagnol adaptation and period piece L’agonie des aigles/The Death Agony of the Eagles (Roger Richebé, 1934) and in the drama Un homme de trop à bord/One Too Many on Board (Gerhard Lamprecht, Roger le Bon, 1935).
In the 1930s almost all of the films in which Ducaux played, had her in the female lead. She was Colette in the Pierre Decourcelle adaptation Les deux gosses/The Two Kids (Fernand Rivers, 1936), Therese of Brunswick in Un grand amour de Beethoven/Beethoven’s Great Love (Abel Gance, 1936) opposite Harry Baur as famous early 19th-century German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, Le voleur de femmes/The Woman Thief (Abel Gance, 1936) opposite Jules Berry, the heroine of Les filles du Rhône/The Girls from the Rhône (Jean-Paul Paulin, 1937), and the prison director Yvonne in Prison sans barreaux/Prison Without Bars (Léonide Moguy, 1937) costarring Roger Duchesne and Corinne Luchaire.
Subsequent films with Ducaux in the lead were Moguy’s drama Conflit/Affair Lafont (Léonide Moguy, 1938), La vierge folle/A Foolish Maiden (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1938), and L’homme du Niger/Forbidden Love (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1939).
Ducaux costarred with Arletty, Marcel Dalio and Erich von Stroheim in Tempête/Thunder Over Paris (Dominique Bernard-Deschamps, 1939), and with Pierre Blanchar in L’empreinte du Dieu/Two Women (Léonide Moguy, 1939).
Her subsequent films from the war years were Dernière aventure/Last adventure (Robert Péguy, 1941), Pontcarral, colonel d’empire/Pontcarral, colonel of the empire (Jean Delannoy, 1942) again with Blanchar, L’inévitable M. Dubois/The Inevitable Mr Dubois (Pierre Billon, 1942), Le bal des passants/The ball of the passers-by (Guillaume Radot, 1943), and Florence est folle/Florence is Crazy (Georges Lacombe, 1944).
French postcard. Photo: Eclair Journal, no. 28.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 28.
French postcard, no. 12. Photo: Pathé.
After a small part in the Victorien Sardou adaptation Patrie/Homeland (Louis Daquin, 1946), Annie Ducaux’ real post-war comeback in the cinema was as countess Marie d’Agoult in the Franz Liszt biopic Rêves d’amour/Dreams of Love (Christian Stengel, 1946) starring Pierre-Richard Willm as the composer.
Next followed the female leads in the tragicomedy Rendez-vous à Paris/Rendezvous in Paris (Gilles Grangier, 1946), the spy story Les requins de Gibraltar/The Sharks of Gibraltar (Emil E. Reinert, 1947), the comedy La patronne/The Patron (Robert Dhéry, 1949), and the comedy Le roi/The King (Marc-Gilbert Sauvajon, 1949) opposite Maurice Chevalier as the King.
In 1946, she had joined La Comédie-Française and stayed there for 35 years. There she went from triumph to triumph. From 1948 till 1982, she was sociétaire, then sociétaire honoraire (honorary shareholder), commandeur de la Légion d'honneur (Commander of the Legion of Honour) and officier des arts et des lettres (Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters).
After 1949 Ducaux focused on her stage work, and was away from the screen for almost a decade. In 1957 she played Queen Marie Antoinette in the episode La mort de Marie Antoinette/The Death of Marie Antoinette of the TV series La caméra explore le temps/The camera investigates the time (Stellio Lorenzi, 1957-1958). She would again play the queen in 1963 in the TV series Le chevalier de Maison-Rouge/The Knight of the Red House, directed by Claude Barma and based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas père. The chevalier himself was performed by Jean Desailly.
At the cinema, Ducaux played again with Desailly and with Jean Gabin in the family seriocomedy Les grandes familles/The Possessors (Denys de la Patellière, 1958).
During the 1960s, roles followed in the period piece La princesse de Cleves/Princess of Cleves (Jean Delannoy, 1960) in which Ducaux was Diane de Poitiers and Jean Marais was her costar, and the comedy La belle Américaine/The American Beauty (Robert Dhéry, Pierre Tchernia, 1961) with Robert Dhéry himself in the lead.
After that Ducaux did no cinema films anymore, only TV work. Le chevalier de Maison-Rouge was followed by Electre/Electra (Pierre Dux, 1972), the Molière adaptation Les femmes savants/The women scholars (Jean Vernier, 1972), the Henry James adaptation Les ailes de la colombe/The wings of the dove (Daniel Georgeot, 1975), and the Jean Giraudoux adaptation La folle de Chaillot/The Madwoman of Chaillot (Georges Paumier, 1980).
Her last screen part was in the episode Maigret et l’ambassadeur/Maigret and the Ambassador (Stéphane Bertin, 1980) of the TV series Les enquêtes du commissaire Maigret/The inquiries of the inspector Maigret (1967-1990) starring Jean Richard.
At the age of 88, Annie Ducaux died in Champeaux, France in 1996. She was married to the Swiss film producer Ernest Rupp. She had one child, the French film producer Gérard Ducaux-Rupp.
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 7. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard, no. 517. Photo: Discina.
French postcard, no. 517. Photo: Lipnitzky. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Sources: Céline Colassin (CinéArtistes) (French), Bifi (French), Wikipedia (English and French), and IMDb.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 569.
Passion for horses
Jean Rochefort was born in Paris, France in 1930.
He was educated at the Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen. At 19, he entered the Centre d'Art Dramatique de la rue Blanche. Later he joined the Conservatoire National.
After his national service, in 1953, he worked with the Compagnie Grenier Hussenot as a theatre actor for seven years. There he was noticed for his ability to play both drama and comedy. He also worked as director.
In 1956, he made his film debut in the sentimental comedy Rencontre à Paris/Meeting in Paris (Georges Lampin, 1956). He decided to become a television and cinema actor.
Rochefort played supporting roles in the adventure films Le Capitaine Fracasse/Captain Fracasse (Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1961) with Jean Marais, Cartouche/Swords of Blood (Philippe de Broca, 1962) starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Merveilleuse Angélique/Angelique: The Road to Versailles (Bernard Borderie, 1965) featuring Michèle Mercier.
During the shooting of Cartouche, he discovered his passion for horses and equestrianism. He was a horse breeder since then and ed Le Haras de Villequoy. His passion led him to become a horse consultant for French television in 2004.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 23/71, 1971. Photo: Unifrance-Film.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 12/78, 1978. Retail price: 0,20 DM.
Midlife Crisis Comedy
Jean Rochefort played his first big role in Les Feux de la Chandeleur/Hearth Fires (Serge Korber, 1972) with Annie Girardot as his wife and Claude Jade as their daughter. In this drama he starred as a man who leaves his family for ten years and then returns.
That year, he also starred opposite Pierre Richard as Chief of Counter-Espionage Louis Toulouse in the comedy Le Grand Blond avec Une Chasseure Noire/The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (Yves Robert, 1972). The box office hit was remade in English as The Man with One Red Shoe (Stan Dragoti, 1985) with Tom Hanks and Dabney Coleman in the role of Rochefort.
He reprised this role in the sequel Le Retour du Grand Blond/The Return of the Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (Yves Robert, 1974). In between he appeared in interesting films like L'Horloger de Saint-Paul/The Clockmaker (Bertrand Tavernier, 1974) and Le fantôme de la liberté/The Phantom of Liberty (Luis Buñuel, 1974).
He was the leading star of the midlife crisis comedy Un éléphant ça trompe énormément An Elephant Can Be Extremely Deceptive (Yves Robert, 1976) as a man who risks his married life with Danièle Delorme for an affair with Anny Duperey.
Thanks to this comedy, Rochefort got a big popularity and he starred also in the sequel, Nous irons tous au paradis/We Will All Meet in Paradise (Yves Robert, 1977). The next step were such international films as French Postcards (Willard Huyck, 1979).
French press photo. Publicity still for Le cavaleur/Practice Makes Perfect (Philippe de Broca, 1979).
French autograph card.
The Hairdresser's Husband
During the 1980s, Jean Rochefort appeared in less prominent films. An international success was the comedy Le Mari de la coiffeuse/The Hairdresser's Husband (Patrice Laconte, 1990), co-starring Anna Galiena.
Also remarkable was the satirical comedy Prêt-à-Porter/Ready to Wear (Robert Altman, 1994), shot during the Paris Fashion Week with a host of international stars, models and designers.
Another success was the historical film Ridicule (Patrice Leconte, 1996) examines the social injustices of late 18th century France, in showing the corruption and callousness of the aristocrats.
In 1998, he starred as Fernand de Morcerf opposite Gérard Depardieu in the mini-series Le Comte de Monte Cristo/The Count of Monte Christo (Josée Dayan, 1998). He won two César Awards: in 1976, Best Supporting Actor for Que la fête commence/Let Joy Reign Supreme (Bertrand Tavernier, 1975); and in 1978, Best Actor for his role as a dying French naval frigate captain in Le Crabe-tambour/Drummer-Crab (Pierre Schoendoerffer, 1977).
In 1960 he married Alexandra Moscwa, with whom he fathered two children: a girl, Marie (1962), and a boy, Julien (1965). They later divorced and in all he has five children: Marie, Julien, Pierre, Clémence and Louise.
Later films with Rochefort are Mr. Bean's Holiday (Steve Bendelack, 2007) featuring Rowan Atkinson, L'artiste et son modèle/The Artist and the Model (Fernando Trueba, 2012) and Astérix & Obélix: Au service de Sa Majesté/Asterix and Obelix: God Save Britannia (Laurent Tirard, 2012).
French collectors card in the series 'Portrait de Stars' by Edito-Service, 1994. Photo: V. Blier / Sygma. Publicity still for Tandem (Patrice Leconte, 1987).
Sources: Wikipedia, and IMDb.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 1. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Francesca Bertini as Tosca. This still cites a famous painting, Jacques-Louis David's portrait of Madame Récamier.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 2. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Francesca Bertini as Tosca.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 3. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918) with Franco Gennaro as Angelotti and Gustavo Serena as Mario Cavaradossi. Freedom fighter Angelotti has escaped Scarpia's prison and hides at the house of his friend Mario Cavaradossi.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 5. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Alfredo De Antoni as Baron Scarpia.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 6. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Francesca Bertini as Tosca.
In Il cinema muto italiano, vol. 1918, Vittorio Martinelli cites critic Mario Consalvo, who at the Roman release of the film, wrote in February 1918 in La Tribuna, that the most hazardous stumble block to surmount, was that Tosca was so closely tied to Sarah Bernhardt's performance of the play.
'La Divine Sarah' had performed it in Rome at the Teatro Valle in 1889, and had transformed Victorien Sardou's romantic character in a creature with a human face.
Mario Consalvo: "Would it be possible to have a same wonder at the cinema? And which artist would be able to perform this? One only, certainly: Francesca Bertini."
In his conclusion in La Tribuna, Consalvo described Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918) with just one word: "unforgettable".
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 7. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Gustavo Serena as Mario Cavaradossi.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 12. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918), with Francesca Bertini as Floria Tosca and Gustavo Serena as her lover, the painter Mario Cavaradossi.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 9. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918), with Francesca Bertini as Floria Tosca, Gustavo Serena as Mario Cavaradossi, and Alfredo De Antoni as Baron Scarpia. Scarpia and his men invade Mario's house, in search of Angelotti.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 10. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918), with Francesca Bertinias Floria Tosca, Gustavo Serena as Mario Cavaradossi, and Alfredo De Antoni as Baron Scarpia. Tosca cannot stand Mario's torture and betrays the hiding place of Angelotti to Scarpia and his men. Mario is now also mentally hurt by his friend's betrayal.
This is not our first post on a postcard set published by Amatller Marca Luna. Earlier we did a post on Fabiola (Enrico Guazzoni, 1918), featuring Elena Sangro. Amatller Marca Luna refers to the brand Chocolate Amatller, produced in the city of Barcelona for already more than 200 years.
Since 1797, Chocolate Amatller has used a great variety of advertising messages. As well as running adverts in magazines and on billboards, which were the typical media used by companies at the time, Chocolate Amatller issued a large number of promotional objects.
Collectable trading cards played a very important role in the promotion and marketing of chocolate brands between the end of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th.
Amattler presented numerous collections that dealt with the World Wars, or sports like football and boxing, to cards based on fables, cooking recipes and of course film stars.
The sets for Tosca and Fabiola were produced around 1918, but Amattler continued to produce postcard sets with film stars. An example is the rare set ‘Los Artistas Cinematograficos en la Intimidad’ (Amatller Chocolate Film Stars in Private) published for the Spanish market in 1926. This set consisted of an A and B series of black and white cards. Pre-War card magazine estimates there were 89 postcards in this set.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 11. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918). Francesca Bertini as Tosca.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 14. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918), with Francesca Bertini as Floria Tosca, Gustavo Serena as Mario Cavaradossi, and Alfredo De Antoni as Baron Scarpia. After having killed Angelotti, Scarpia arrests Caravadossi, to Tosca's despair.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 13. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918), with Alfredo De Antoni as Baron Scarpia and Vittorio Bianchi as his aid Sciarrone.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 15. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918), with Francesca Bertini as Floria Tosca, and Alfredo De Antoni as Baron Scarpia. Scarpia tries to conquer Tosca.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 16. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918), with Francesca Bertini as Floria Tosca, and Alfredo De Antoni as Baron Scarpia. Tosca has stabbed Scarpia to death.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 17. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918), with Gustavo Serena as Mario Cavaradossi. The execution of Cavaradossi. Scarpia promised Tosca to have a fake execution in exchange of Tosca's love, but secretly he had ordered it to be a real one.
Spanish postcard by Amatller Marca Luna, series 5, no. 18. Photo: Caesar Film. Publicity still for Tosca (Alfredo De Antoni, 1918), with Francesca Bertini as Floria Tosca, Gustavo Serena as Mario Cavaradossi, and Alfredo De Antoni as Baron Scarpia. The execution of Cavaradossi on the roof of the Castel Sant' Angelo, with St Peter's cupola in the distance. Tosca discovers Scarpia's betrayal. She herself has just stabbed Scarpia to death. When Scarpia's men try to arrest her, she jumps of the roof with the words: O Scarpia, davanti a Dio!.
Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Il Cinema Muto Italiano 1918 - Italian), Pre-War card Magazine, Chocolate Amatller, Wikipedia (Italian) and IMDb.
British postcard by Rotary Photo London, no. S.38-1. Photo: Rita Martin.
British postcard by Rotary Photo London, no. S.38-2. Photo: Rita Martin.
J.M. Barrie's Favourite Actress
Virginia Lilian Emmeline Compton-Mackenzie was born in West Kensington, London, England, in 1894. Her father was actor/manager Edward Compton; her mother, Virginia Bateman, was a distinguished member of the profession, as were her elder sister, the actress Viola Compton, and her uncles and aunts. Her grandfather was the 19th-century theatrical luminary Henry Compton. Author Compton Mackenzie was her elder brother.
Compton made her first professional appearances between 1911 and 1913 with The Follies under the leadership of H.G. Pelissier. Although she was still a teenager, Pelissier became her first husband and she gave birth to her only child at age 17.
Compton made her mark in the plays of J.M. Barrie the author of Peter Pan. She was his favourite actress. He wrote the play, Mary Rose (1920), especially for her. In 1926, she published reminiscences entitled Rosemary: Some remembrances.
She was active in the classics as well as contemporary material. She starred in the original Broadway production of Ferenc Molnar's Olympia, in 1928. Her most significant successes in the 1930s were in two sophisticated comedies by Dodie Smith, Autumn Crocus and Call it a Day.
In 1941, she played Ruth Condomine in the original West End production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. Compton had the distinction of playing Ophelia opposite two of the most celebrated Hamlets, John Barrymore and John Gielgud.
In 1962 she appeared as Marya in Laurence Olivier's production of Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov at Chichester Festival Theatre. This production was filmed by Stuart Burge as Uncle Vanya (1963), also starring Michael Redgrave (Vanya), Laurence Olivier as Astrov, Rosemary Harris (Elena), and Joan Plowright (Sonya). She also had her own drama school Fay Compton's Studio of Dramatic Art, where one of the pupils was Alec Guinness.
British postcard by Beagles, no. 258-E. Photo: Claude Harris.
British postcard in the Lilywhite Photographic series, no. L.R. 4. Photo: Halifax.
Fay Compton's film work is less known than her stage appearances. She made her film debut in the British silent historical comedy She Stoops to Conquer (George Loane Tucker, 1914) starring Henry Ainley. From 1914 on, she appeared in more than forty films till 1970.
She played leading roles opposite Owen Nares in such silent films as The Labour Leader (Thomas Bentley, 1917) and One Summer's Day (Frank Goodenough Bayly, 1917). During the 1920s she starred in such silent films as Judge Not (Einar Bruun, 1920), the Oscar Wilde adaptation A Woman of No Importance (Denison Clift, 1921), and the crime film The Eleventh Commandment (George A. Cooper, 1924), with Stewart Rome and Lillian Hall-Davis.
Compton was directed by Alfred Hitchcock in the operetta film Waltzes from Vienna (1934), with Jessie Matthews. Later she played character roles in such well known films as the Film Noir Odd Man Out (Carol Reed, 1947) starring James Mason, the comedy Laughter in Paradise (Mario Zampi, 1951) with Alastair Sim, Orson Welles'Othello (1952), and the psychological horror film The Haunting (Robert Wise, 1963). Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “all made when her ingenue and young-sophisticate roles were behind her and when she was in her ‘Lady Bracknell’ dowager period.”
A curiosity on her resume is Michelangelo Antonioni’s I Vinti/The Vanquished (1953), an anthology film about well-off youths in France, Italy and England who commit murders. Her final film roles were in the thriller I Start Counting (David Greene, 1969) with Jenny Agutter, and as the grandmother in The Virgin and the Gypsy (Christopher Miles, 1970), based on the novella of the same name by D.H. Lawrence.
Among her television performances, she appeared with Michael Hordern in the TV play Land of My Dreams (1965). One of her last major roles was as Aunt Ann in the BBC's The Forsyte Saga (1967). She also had a successful career in the radio, television and gramophone recordings.
Fay Compton was married four times. In 1911 she wed H.G. Pelissier. He died two years later, aged 39. Their son was British director Anthony Pelissier, whose most significant film was The Rocking Horse Winner (1951). His daughter was actress Tracy Reed. In 1914 Fay married actor and comedian Lauri de Frece, who happened to be Jerome Kern's best man at Kern's 1910 wedding. He died in 1921. In 1922 followed Leon Quartermaine, an actor who had appeared with her in Barrie's Quality Street in 1921. They divorced in 1942. Her final husband was actor Ralph Michael, real name Ralph Champion Shotter. They divorced in 1946.
Fay Compton was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1975 Queen's Birthday Honours List for her services to drama. She died in 1978, in London, aged 84.
British postcard by Rotary Photo London, no. S.38-4. Photo: Rita Martin.
British postcard by Rotary Photo London, no. S.38-5. Photo: Rita Martin.
Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.
Yvette Andreyor. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 1. Photo: Agence Générale Cinématographique.
Andrée Brabant. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 2. Photo: Agence Générale Cinématographique.
Andrée Brabant (1901-1989) was a charming French film actress whose career peaked in the silent era of French cinema. She was discovered by Abel Gance and also worked with such major directors as André Antoine, Germaine Dulac and Julien Duvivier.
France Dhélia. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 4. Photo: Films Aubert.
Huguette Duflos. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 5. Photo: Films Eclipse.
Elmire Vautier. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 5. Photo: Super-Film.
Stacia Napierkowska. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 14. Photo: Films Eclipse.
Georges Lannes. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 22. Photo: Films Eclipse.
Georges Lannes (1895–1983) was a French film actor who appeared in more than a hundred films during his career (1920-1961). Lannes peaked with the serial Les Mystères de Paris (Charles Burguet, 1922) in which he had the lead as prince Rodolphe.
Charles Le Bargy. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 25. Photo: Films Mercanton.
Gabriel Signoret. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 25. Photo: Agence Générale Cinématographique.
Gabriel Signoret. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 26. Photo: Agence Générale Cinématographique.
Jean Toulout. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 28. Photo: Agence Générale Cinématographique.
Jean Toulout (1887-1962) was a French stage and screen actor, director and scripwriter. He was married to the actress Yvette Andreyor between 1917 and 1926.
Renée Sylvaire. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 45. Photo: Films Pathé.
Léon Bernard. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 46. Photo: Films Pathé.
Marcel Lévesque. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 53. Photo: Films Pathé.
Gina Relly. French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Éditions Filma, no. 69. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinema.
Belgian collectors card by Merbotex, Bruxelles. Photo: Arthur Rank.
Groomed for stardom
Michael Craig was born Michael Francis Gregson in Poona, British India, in 1928. He was the son of Donald Gregson, a Scottish captain in the 3rd Indian Cavalry.
He came to Britain with his family when aged three, and went to Canada when he was ten. He left school for the Merchant Navy at 16, but finally returned to England and the lure of the theatre.
By 1947, he debuted on stage in The Merchant of Venice. Craig's film career started as an extra in the Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico (Henry Cornelius, 1949). He gained his first speaking part in 1953 in the British war film Malta Story (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1953).
This eventually led to discovery by the Rank Organisation. Craig was groomed for stardom, and leading roles followed in such films as Yield to the Night (J. Lee Thompson, 1956) starring Diana Dors, Campbell's Kingdom (Ralph Thomas, 1957) with Dirk Bogarde, Sea of Sand (Guy Green, 1958) starring Richard Attenborough, The Silent Enemy (William Fairchild, 1958), Upstairs and Downstairs (Ralph Thomas, 1959) with Mylène Demongeot, and the comedy Doctor in Love (Ralph Thomas, 1960).
Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “As leading man in such films, Craig was required to do little more beyond looking handsome and dependable. One of his few movie roles of substance was in The Angry Silence (1960), which he co-wrote.“ The Angry Silence (Guy Green, 1960) starred Richard Attenborough and Pier Angeli. When Craig’s 7-year contract with Rank ended, Craig was optioned by Columbia Pictures. Yet his American work only remembered in two films, ironically co-American productions with the UK, Mysterious Island (Cy Endfield, 1961), and Australia, the Disney TV instalment, Ride a Wild Pony (Don Chaffey, 1975).”
He often worked in Italy and his faraway best Italian film is Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa.../Sandra (Luchino Visconti, 1965) with Claudia Cardinale and Jean Sorel. Other interesting films include Modesty Blaise (Joseph Losey, 1966) featuring Monica Vitti, Star! (Robert Wise, 1968) with Julie Andrews, Turkey Shoot (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1982), and Appointment with Death (Michael Winner, 1988) with Peter Ustinov and Lauren Bacall.
British autograph card. Photo: Rank Organisation.
Austrian postcard by Kellner-Fotokarten, Wien, no. 1075 Ö. Photo: Rank Organisation. Publicity still for House of Secrets (Guy Green, 1956).
Michael Craig first job in the theatre was as an assistant stage manager at the Castle Theatre, Farnham in 1950. In 1953, Sir Peter Hall gave him his first lead stage role.
His many later stage credits include A Whistle in the Dark (1961), Wars of the Roses (Season at Stratford 1963-1964), Jule Styne's musical Funny Girl (with Barbra Streisand at the Prince of Wales Theatre 1964), William Shakespeare's play Richard II (1965), The Homecoming (1966–1967) and the lead role in Trying in 2008.
His television credits include appearing in Arthur of the Britons (1973), The Emigrants (1976), Rush (1976), The Professionals (1980), Shoestring (1980), The Timeless Land (1980), Triangle (1981–1983), Tales of the Unexpected (1982), Robin of Sherwood (1986), and Doctor Who (1986).
By the mid-1970s, Craig's TV and film work was heavily concentrated in Australia and composed a depth or roles, both comedic and dramatic, that has included memorable and solid character pieces as he has matured in age. His Australian series include G.P. (1989–1995), Brides of Christ (1991), Grass Roots (2000) and Always Greener (2003).
Craig's scriptwriting credits include the highly acclaimed ABC-TV trilogy The Fourth Wish (1974), which starred John Meillon in his award-winning performance as the father of a dying boy. He also wrote the screenplay for the feature film of The Fourth Wish (1976), which was produced following the success of the television series.
Alongside his brother, Richard Gregson and co-writer Bryan Forbes, Craig was Academy Award nominated for his screenplay of The Angry Silence (1960). Twice married, his first wife was Babette Collier, second is Susan Walker. He is the father of Michael, Stephen and Jessica Gregson.
His brother is film producer Richard Gregson, and from Richard's marriage to Natalie Wood, he is the uncle of actress Natasha Gregson Wagner. In 2005 Michael Craig released his autobiography The Smallest Giant: An Actor's Tale. Michael Craig resides in Australia.
British postcard in the Celebrity Autograph Series by Celebrity Publishers London, no. 298. Photo: Rank Organisation. Publicity still for Campbell's Kingdom (Ralph Thomas, 1957).
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D 836. Photo: Associated British.
Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), William McPeak (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 2099/1, 1927-1928. Photo: National.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3961/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Natge, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4153/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Fayer, Wien.
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5778. Photo: Pan-Film AG.
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5006. Photo: Sascha.
The Typical English Gentleman
Jack Trevor was born as Anthony Cedric Sebastian Steane in London-Lambeth, Great-Britain (according to IMDbin Berlin, Germany) in 1890. He came from a well-to-do, upper-class family and went to study at the New College in Oxford.
During World War I, he served for the Manchester Regiment. He won the Military Cross and was wounded in 1916 which led to his release as a so-called war-disabled person. He married the Austrian Alma, an alleged daughter from the famous liaison between baroness Mary Vetsera and the Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf. His wife committed suicide one year after their wedding.
In the early 1920s Jack Trevor started to work for the silent British cinema in films like Petticoat Loose (George Ridgwell, 1922) with Warwick Ward, and Pages of Life (Adelqui Migliar, 1922) with Evelyn Brent.
After a few years he moved over to the booming German film industry. When Trevor (sometimes credited as Jac Trevor) got a film offer from director Friedrich Zelnikto appear with Hans Albers and Lya Mara in Die Venus von Montmarte/The Venus of Montmartre (1925), he accepted it at once.
That year he also appeared with stars like Lil Dagover, Emil Jannings, Jenny Jugo and Conrad Veidt in Liebe macht blind/Love Makes Us Blind (Lothar Mendes, 1925), and opposite Lily Damita in the hit Fiaker Nr. 13/Cab nr. 13 (Mihaly Kertész aka Michael Curtiz, 1926).
To his other well-known films of the 1920s belong Geheimnisse einer Seele/Secrets of a Soul (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1926), Der goldene Schmetterling/The Golden Butterfly (Michael Curtiz, 1926), Die Frau ohne Namen/The Woman Without a Name (Georg Jacoby, 1927), Der Katzensteg/Betrayal (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1927), and Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney/The Love of Jeanne Ney (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1927).
In 1928 he appeared in an uncredited part in Alfred Hitchcock’s Champagne (1928) starring Betty Balfour. Trevor always played aristocrats and high officers. In fact he impersonated on screen what he was in his private life: the typical English gentleman.
Other silent films in which he appeared were Moderne Piraten/Modern Pirates (Manfred Noa, 1928), Abwege/Crisis (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1928) and Narkose/Narcose (Alfred Abel, Ernst Garden, 1929).
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5358. Photo: Pan-Film A.G.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5472. Photo: Hans Natge, Berlin.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5908. Photo: Hanni Schwarz.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5073/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Münchner Lichtspielkunst AG (Emelka).
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5110. Photo: National / Mondial / Gerhard LamprechtFilm-Produktion. Publicity still for Der Katzensteg/Betrayal (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1927).
German postcard. Photo: Cicero Film / Distribution Deutsche Tonfilme. The 'fine fleur' of late silent German cinema stars, united for a photo for an early sound film company. Standing left to right: Francis/Franz Lederer, Walter Rilla, Theodor Loos, Camilla Horn, Fritz Rasp and Walter Janssen, Sitting left to right: Paul Heidemann, Charlotte Susa, Betty Amann, Olga Tschechowa, Maria Paudler and Jack Trevor. Might be publicity for the early sound comedy Die grosse Sehnsucht/The Great Longing (Stefan Szekely/Steve Sekely, 1930), in which all acted, mostly as themselves - only Loos and Horn played characters. The plot was an excuse for 35 stars to debut in a talking picture.
Anti-British Propaganda Films
The transition to the sound film turned out to be difficult for Jack Trevor. With his insufficient knowledge of the German language he got only a few roles. He appeared in the war drama Two Worlds (Ewald André Dupont, 1930), the British language version of Les deux mondes (Ewald André Dupont, 1930), and in Die fünf verfluchten Gentlemen/The Five Accursed Gentlemen (Julien Duvivier, 1931), again an alternate language version of a French film, Les cinq gentlemen maudits (Julien Duvivier, 1931).
Later Trevor was able to act more often in supporting roles in such films as Henker, Frauen und Soldaten/Hangmen, Women and Soldiers (Johannes Meyer, 1935) with Hans Albers, Engel mit kleinen Fehlern/Angels with Minor Faults (Carl Boese, 1936) with Adele Sandrock, and Der Scheidungsgrund/Grounds for Divorce (Carl Lamac, 1937) with Anny Ondra.
Trevor, who owned a huge fortune, travelled through Europe with his two sons of his second marriage and didn't pick up much of the political changes in Germany. In 1939, when the war broke out he was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo, while his family stayed in Oberammergau.
Finally he was forced to take part in anti-British propaganda films like Carl Peters (Herbert Selpin, 1941), Mein Leben für Irland/My Life For Ireland (Max W. Kimmich, 1941) and Ohm Krüger/Uncle Kruger (Hans Steinhoff, 1941) featuring Emil Jannings.
Thomas Staedeli writes at Cyranos that after the war Trevor came in “a vicious circle and was extradited to England”. There he was sentenced to prison for three years because of his support to the Nazis. The sentence was quashed again three months later because it was proved that this collaboration didn't come off of his own free will.
He could turn again to the pleasant sides of life but he never took part in a film again. Jack Trevor died in 1976 in Deal, England. He was 86.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3951/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Natge, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3164/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Hanni Schwarz, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5066/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Defina.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5074/1, 1930-1931.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5419/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Atelier Krabbe, Berlin.
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5779. Photo: Abel Produktion / GP / Allianz Film.
Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1264/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Deulig.
Charming New Dancer
Marie Thérèse Andrée Brabant was born in Reims, France, in 1901. Shortly after her birth, she was placed in the custody of her grandmother before returning at the age of four to her father, a railway employee, and her mother, a housewife. Ten years later, after an infidelity of his father, her parents separated.
She followed her mother to Paris where she quickly found work as shorthand-typist. Shortly afterwards, Andrée met the ballet master of the Mayol concerts and was engaged by Félix Mayol himself to be a dancer in his revues.
In 1916 film director Abel Gance was looking for a young artist for his next film, Le Droit à la vie/The Right to Life (Abel Gance, 1916), when one of his friends advised him to go and see the new dancer at Mayol’s. The filmmaker fell for her charm and he immediately offered her the female lead role opposite Paul Vermoyal and Léon Mathot.
Andrée Brabant left the stage to fully devote herself to cinema. The following year Abel Gance used her again as the protagonist in La zone de la mort/The Zone of Death (Abel Gance, 1917), again with Léon Mathot. She also acted in André Antoine’s Les travailleurs de la mer/Workers of the Sea (1917), adapted from Victor Hugo and starring Romuald Joubé.
For twelve years, the beautiful young actress, still chaperoned by her mother, performed in about twenty productions that would make her a real star. Her best films include La cigarette/Cigarette (Germaine Dulac, 1919), La maison vide/The Empty House (Raymond Bernard 1921), and Le rêve/The Dream (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1921), an adaptation of Emile Zola.
In La cigarette/Cigarette (Germaine Dulac, 1919), Andrée Brabant played the wife of a museum director (Gabriel Signoret) who suspects his wife of infidelity and places a poisoned cigarette in the box on his desk, allowing fate to strike.
In La maison vide/The Empty House (Raymond Bernard 1921), she is a young typist hired by an old entomologist (Henri Debain), who is fascinated with her, while two industrialists (Pierre Alcover, Jacques Roussel) try to conquer her. She instead favours a young clerk, so her employer is left alone in his empty house.
In Le rêve/The Dream (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1921) she is a foundling gathered under a porch of a cathedral. As an adult, she suffers from a bishop (Gabriel Signoret) who opposes his son’s marriage with her. When he finally consents she dies during her wedding at the place where she was found.
Andrée Brabant also appeared in two serials of quality, Travail/Work (1919) by Henri Pouctal and Tao, le fantôme noir/Tao, the black ghost (Gaston Ravel, 1923), starring Joë Hamman.
French postcard by Editions Filma in Les Vedettes du Cinéma series, no. 2. Photo: Agence Générale Cinématographique.
French (?) postcard. Photo: Sartony.
A sumptuous life
Andrée Brabant starred in Les ombres qui passent/The Shadows That Pass (Alexandre Volkoff, 1924) opposite the great Russian actor Ivan Mozzhukhin with whom she had a brief liaison. She plays the wife of Mozzhukhin who is caught in a net of swindlers led by femme fatale Nathalie Lissenko.
Brabant also starred in Le mariage de Mademoiselle Beulemans/The Marriage of Mademoiselle Beulemans (1927), one of the very first films of Julien Duvivier. In this romantic comedy, based on a classic play by Jean François Fonson and Fernand Wicheler, she is a Belgian brewer’s daughter who is betrothed to a local (René Lefevre), but loves a Parisian classy man (Jean Dehelly). Then the daughter finds out her fiancé secretly already has a wife and kid.
At that time, Andrée Brabant led a sumptuous life, bought a mansion in Neuilly-sur-Seine, which was soon called the Hotel Brabant, and accumulated amorous adventures, some of them illustrious, e.g. with King Fouad 1er Of Egypt and the President of the Republic Paul Deschanel. She never married and never had a child, a sacrifice for her career that she would accept without regret for the rest of her life.
In 1929, Brabant played in her first sound film, Maternité/Maternity by Jean Benoît-Lévy, but she made the mistake of believing that this new Art was not made for her.
The star honoured the few film contracts in progress, such as the excellent silent drama Au bonheur des dames (Julien Duvivier, 1929) with Dita Parlo. Then she left the film industry to play comedy at the Grand-Guignol theater to prove to her audience that she did not need cinema to know how to speak.
But, with the arrival of sound film, competition became rough and the salaries less and less. When she tried to return to the cinema, she only found a few small parts, such as in Le feu de paille/Hay Fever (Jean Benoît-Lévy, 1939), starring Lucien Baroux and Orane Demazis.
Andrée separated herself little by little from all of her jewellery, then from all her possessions, including her mansion. Nevertheless, she remained active at the Grand Guignol until the end of the Second World War.
After the Liberation, Andrée Brabant went to live with her mother in Marseille. After the death of the latter and without resources, she became a demonstrator in household appliances for Brandt and travelled for her job all over France and North Africa. At the age of retirement, she settled in Belgentier in the Var region.
In 1964 Jean-Christophe Averty made for his TV documentary series Trente ans de silence one episode with and on Brabant. In 1964, she also played her last film role in L'âge ingrat/The Ungrateful Age (Gilles Grangier, 1964) with Fernandel and Jean Gabin, after which the old actress inexorably sank into oblivion.
Andrée Brabant died in 1989 in Toulon, France, in total anonymity. She was 88. All in all, she had acted in some 35 films.
Scenes from Au bonheur des dames (Julien Duvivier, 1929) with Dita Parlo. Source: Radio Santos (YouTube).
Sources: Pascal Donald (CineArtistes), Unifrance, Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.
Russian postcard, no. 2036. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Russian postcard, no. 499. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. He sang the title role on the occasion of his first appearance outside Russia at La Scala, Milan in 1901 and also on his North American debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in 1907. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Russian postcard, no. 57. Photo: publicity still for the stage production of Modest Mussorgsky's opera Boris Godunov. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Feodor Chaliapin as Don Quixote. German postcard by B.K.W.I.
Russian postcard by Dynamo, no. MB 22975-86, 1954.
His approach revolutionised acting in opera
Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin (Russian: Фёдор Ива́нович Шаля́пин, or Fyodor Ivanovich Shalyapin) was born in 1873, into a poor peasant family in Omet Tawi, near Kazan, Russia. His childhood was full of suffering, hunger, and humiliation. From the age of 10, he worked as an apprentice to a shoemaker, a sales clerk, a carpenter, and a lowly clerk in a district court before joining, at age 17, a local operetta company.
In 1890, Chaliapin was hired to sing in a choir at the Semenov-Samarsky private theatre in Ufa. There he began singing solo parts. In 1891, he toured Russia with the Dergach Opera. In 1892, he settled in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Georgia), because he found a good teacher, Dmitri Usatov, who gave Chaliapin free professional opera training for one year. He also sang at the St. Aleksandr Nevsky Cathedral in Tbilisi. In 1893, he began his career at the Tbilisi Opera, and a year later, he moved to Moscow upon recommendation of Dmitri Usatov.
In 1895 ,Chaliapin debuted at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre as Mephistopheles in Charles Gounod’s Faust, in which he was a considerable success. In 1896 he also joined Mamontovs Private Russian Opera in Moscow, where he mastered the Russian, French, and Italian roles that made him famous. Savva Mamontov was a Russian industrialist and philanthropist, who staged the operas, conducted the orchestra, trained the actors, taught them singing and paid all the expenses. At Mamontov's, he met in 1897 Sergei Rachmaninoff, who started as an assistant conductor there. The two men remained friends for life.
With Rachmaninoff he learned the title role of Modest Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, which became his signature character. Rachmaninoff taught him much about musicianship, including how to analyse a music score, and insisted that Chaliapin learn not only his own roles but also all the other roles in the operas in which he was scheduled to appear. When Chaliapin became dissatisfied with his performances, Chaliapin began to attend straight dramatic plays to learn the art of acting. His approach revolutionised acting in opera.
In 1896, Savva Mamontov introduced Chaliapin to a young Italian ballerina Iola Tornagi, who came to Moscow for a stage career. She quit dancing and devoted herself to family life with Chaliapin. He was very happy in this marriage. From 1899 until 1914, he also performed regularly at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. The couple settled in Moscow and had six children. Their first boy died at the age of 4, causing Chaliapin a nervous breakdown.
In 1901, Chaliapin made his sensational debut at La Scala in the role of the devil in Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito under the baton of conductor Arturo Toscanini. Other famous roles were Boris Godunov in Mussorgsky's opera, King Philip in Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlos., Bertram in Giacomo Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable, and Ivan the Terrible in The Maid of Pskov by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. His great comic characterizations were Don Basilio in Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Leporello in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
In 1906, Chaliapin started a civil union with Maria Valentinovna Petzhold in St. Petersburg, Russia. She had three daughters with Chaliapin in addition to 2 other children from her previous family. He could not legalize his second family, because his first wife would not give him a divorce. Chaliapin even applied to the Emperor Tsar Nicholas II with a request of registering his three daughters under his last name. His request was not satisfied.
In 1913, Chaliapin was introduced to London and Paris by the brilliant entrepreneur Sergei Diaghilev. He began giving well-received solo recitals in Paris in which he sang traditional Russian folk songs as well as more serious fare, and also performed at the Paris Opera. His acting and singing was sensational to the western audiences. He made many sound recordings, of which the 1913 recordings of the Russian folk songs Vdol po Piterskoi and The Song of the Volga Boatmen are best known.
In 1915, he made his film debut as Czar Ivan IV the Terrible in the silent Russian film Tsar Ivan Vasilevich Groznyy/Czar Ivan the Terrible (Aleksandr Ivanov-Gai, 1915) opposite the later director Richard Boleslawski. Fourteen years later, he appeared in another silent film, the German-Czech coproduction Aufruhr des Blutes/Riot of the blood (Victor Trivas, 1929) with Vera Voronina and Oscar Marion.
Feodor Chaliapin as as Czar Ivan the Terrible. Russian postcard, sent by mail in 1905.
Maxim Gorky and Feodor Chaliapin. Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson. Chaliapin collaborated with Gorky, who wrote and edited his memoirs, which he published in 1933. They broke after the publication.
Maxim Gorky and Feodor Chaliapin. Russian postcard, no. 1213. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Feodor Chaliapin. Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Feodor Chaliapin as Don Quixote. German postcard by B.K.W.I.
The undisputed best basso in the first half of the 20th century
Feodor Chaliapin was torn between his two families for many years, living with one in Moscow, and with another in St. Petersburg. With Maria Petzhold and their three daughters, he left Russia in 1922 as part of an extended tour of western Europe. They would never return. The family settled in Paris. A man of lower-class origins, Chaliapin was not unsympathetic to the Bolshevik Revolution and his emigration from Russia was painful. Although he had left Russia for good, he remained a tax-paying citizen of Soviet Russia for several years. Finally he could divorce in 1927 and marry Maria Petzhold.
Chaliapin worked for impresario Sol Hurok and from 1921 on, he sang for eight seasons at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His debut at the Met in the 1907 season had been disappointing due to the unprecedented frankness of his stage acting. In 1921, the public in New York had grown more broad-minded and the eight seasons were a huge success. According to Steve Shelokhonov at IMDb, Chaliapin was the undisputed best basso in the first half of the 20th century. He had revolutionised opera by bringing serious acting in combination with great singing.
His first open break with the Soviet regime occurred in 1927 when the government, as part of its campaign to pressure him into returning to Russia, stripped him of his title of 'The First People’s Artist of the Soviet Republic' and threatened to deprive him of Soviet citizenship. Prodded by Joseph Stalin, Chaliapin’s longtime friend Maxim Gorky tried to persuade him to return to Russia. Gorky broke with him after Chaliapin published his memoirs, Man and Mask: Forty Years in the Life of a Singer (Maska i dusha, 1932), in which he denounced the lack of freedom under the Bolsheviks.
The only sound film which shows Chaliapin's acting style is Don Quixote/Adventures of Don Quixote (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1933). He had also starred onstage as the knight in Jules Massenet's 1910 opera, Don Quichotte, but the 1933 film does not use Massenet's music, and is more faithful to Miguel de Cervantes' novel than the opera. In fact there were three versions of this early sound film. Georg Wilhelm Pabst shot simultaneously with the German language version also English and French versions. Feodor Chaliapin Sr. starred in all three versions of Don Quixote, but with a different supporting cast. Sancho Pansa was played by Dorville in the German and French versions but by George Robey in the English version.
Benoit A. Racine at IMDb: "These films (the French, English and German versions) were an attempt to capture his legendary stage performance of this character even though the songs are by Jacques Ibert. Ravel had also been asked to compose the songs for the film but he missed the deadline and his songs survive on their own with texts that are different from those found here. The interplay between the French and English versions is fascinating. Some scenes are done exactly the same for better or worse, some use the same footage, re-cut to edit out performance problems, while others have slight variants in staging and dialogue. (The English version was doctored by Australian-born scriptwriter and director John Farrow, Mia's father, by the way.) Even though the films are short and they transform, reduce and simplify considerably the original novel, they still manage to carry the themes and the feeling that would make Man of La Mancha a hit several decades later and to be evocative of Cervantes' Spain."
In the late 1930s, Feodor Chaliapin Sr. suffered from leukaemia and kidney ailment. In 1937, he died in Paris, France. He was laid to rest is the Novodevichy Monastery Cemetery in Moscow. Chaliapin was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6770 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California. In 1998, the TV film Chaliapin: The Enchanter (Elisabeth Kapnist, 1998) followed.
His son Boris Chaliapin became a famous painter. who painted the portraits used on 414 covers of the Time magazine between 1942 and 1970. Another son Feodor Chaliapin Jr. became a film actor, who appeared in character roles in such films as the Western Buffalo Bill, l'eroe del far west/Buffalo Bill (Mario Costa, 1965) with Gordon Scott, and Der Name der Rose/The Name of the Rose (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1986), starring Sean Connery. His first wife, Iola Tornagi, lived in the Soviet Union until 1959, when Nikita Khrushchev brought the 'Thaw'. Tornagi was allowed to leave the Soviet Union and reunited with her son Feodor Chaliapin Jr, in Rome, Italy.
Russian postcard, no. 495. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Russian postcard, no. 496. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Russian postcard, no. 499. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Russian postcard, no. 500. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Russian postcard, no. 521. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Don Quichote/Adventures of Don Quixote (1933). Source: LikeManyThingThings (YouTube).
Sources: Steve Shelokhonov (IMDb), Benoit A. Racine (IMDb), Encyclopaedia Britannica, Wikipedia and IMDb.
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 299. Photo: Clarence Sinclair Bull / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).
French postcard by EDUG, no. 1030. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) with Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 659. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) with Greta Garbo.
Researching a clip of a fashionable lady
Ivo Blom: "Still materials of Mata Hari are abundant: gorgeous coloured postcards, studio photos by prominents such as Emilio Sommariva, actuality photos etc., but what lacked were moving images. With a woman who was such a society figure between 1905 and the First World War, one asks himself why Pathé, Gaumont or any other prominent company did not film this woman, whose oriental dances had caused such a stir in Paris and beyond, and who was the mistress of many a prominent figure in politics, finance and culture?
Thus in films on her life or compilation films on the First World War a clip persisted of a fashionable lady helped in her coat by a doorman. She afterwards steps into a luxurious car with chauffeur and is driven away. This clip, coined as being with Mata Hari, has been used over and again as real footage with Mata Hari.
Even the respectable site EFG1914, supported and replenished by various European Film Archives, including the Dutch EYE, holds a compilation film that contains the same clip. It may be well have been the original culprit of the massive reuse and mythologization of ‘real’ film footage with Mata Hari. The compilation film uploaded by LUCE is the Italian version of 14-18 (1963) by French filmmaker Jean Aurel. The commentary states we notice Mata Hari here, helped into a taxi. The image quality was too poor to recognize any person. So where did Aurel did take it from? Could I get a better image quality?
Researching this clip was quite an adventure. I first contacted the CNC (Centre National pour la Cinématographie) near Paris, where Béatrice Paste kindly indicated me the compilation 14-18 by Aurel was a Gaumont production and CNC had recently digitized the film. Paste advised me to contact the Cinémathèque Gaumont. So I contacted curator Manuela Padoan who referred me to Nathalie Sitko, who proved to be an avid documentalist and helpful researcher.
In the meantime I searched myself on the site of Pathé-Gaumont-Archives. There I found the compilation documentary Paris après 3 ans de guerre (1917) by Gaumont, which contained the same clip, but now without any indication of Mata Hari. The description on the Gaumont site just said: ”Au pied d’un escalier, une femme élégante (bourgeoise) enfile son manteau aidé d’un maître d’hôtel, elle attend son véhicule et monte dans l’automobile.”
The film had been uploaded in HD, so the image quality was really good. Still, I had my doubts whether this was really the famous Mata Hari. My doubts proved to be right. Read on at Ivo Blom's blog."
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 701. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6521/1, 1931-1932. Photo: MGM. Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6522/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Clarence Sinclair Bull / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6522/4, 1931-1932. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).
Asta Nielsen and the Copy Cats
Ivo Blom: "In many analogue and digital sources a film entitled Mata Hari/Die Spionin (Ludwig Wolf, 1920/1921), starring Asta Nielsen, is listed as the oldest biopic of the life of Mata Hari aka Lady MacLeod aka Margaretha Zelle. You will find this on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), which in general for German silent cinema is quite unreliable.
But one also traces it in the English and Dutch Wikipedia, James Monaco’s The Movie Guide, David Thompson’s The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, James Robert Parish’s Prostitution in Hollywood films, Jerry Vermilye’s More films from the thirties, Georg Seeßlen’s Filmwissen: Thriller: Grundlagen des populären Films and several earlier publications by the same author, Léon Schirmann’s Mata-Hari: autopsie d’une machination, Michael R. Pitts’s The Great Spies Pictures, Valeria Palumbo’s Le figlie di Lilith: vipere, dive, dark ladies e femmes fatales : l’altra ribellione femminile, Rüdiger Dirk and Claudius Sowa’s Paris im Film: Filmografie einer Stadt, and many others. The English Wikipedia even indicates Mata Hari (1920) and Die Spionin (1921) as two separate films, both about Mata Hari.
Nevertheless, my suspicions arose when I could not find the film on the generally quite thorough German films site www.filmportal.de. When I launched a call for more information on the Facebook site of Domitor, the network for researchers dealing with early cinema, my suspicions increased.
Joseph Juenger, Artistic Director at Stummfilm-Festival Karlsruhe, asked if I was really sure about this film. He could‘t find a film with the title Die Spionin, neither on the FIAF-CD nor in the 2010 two-volume extensive monography on Asta Nielsen by Heide Schlüpmann and Karola Gramann, nor on filmportal.de. Juenger remarked there was only a film with the title Die Rache der Spionin (1921), but the director was Richard Eicherg and Nielsen lacked.
I therefore contacted Asta Nielsen expert Heide Schlüpmann, who kindly told me despite her thorough research she never found a film with Nielsen called either Mata Hari or Die Spionin. It just seemed that all the above mentioned authors had just copied each other without bothering to check any original sources." Read on at Ivo Blom's blog.
French postcard by Europe, no. 20. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).
French postcard by Europe, no. 391. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Ramon Novarro as Lt. Alexis Rosanoff in Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).
Dutch postcard, no. 300. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) with Greta Garboand Ramon Novarro.
Thanks Ivo, for the permission to copy-cat your posts!
French postcard by Edition Chantal, Rueil, no. 96. Photo: x.phot.
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 4. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by SERP, Paris, no. 90. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 10.
French postcard by Viny, no. 70. Photo: Universal Film.
French postcard by Viny, no. 70. Photo: Universal Film.
Danielle Yvonne Marie Antoinette Darrieux was born in Bordeaux, France in 1917, but she was raised in Paris. She was the daughter of an army doctor who died when she was seven years old. Her brother was actor Olivier Darrieux.
Her family were keen music enthusiasts and Danielle studied the cello and piano at the Conservatoire de Musique (the Paris Conservatory). When she was only 14 she auditioned for a secondary role in the musical film Le Bal/The Ball (Wilhelm Thiele, 1931). Her beauty combined with her singing and dancing abilities got her the part.
Her performance as a headstrong teenager was impressive and the producer offered her a five-year contract. Her first romantic lead was in the backstage comedy La Crise est finie/The crisis is finished (Robert Siodmak, 1934) with Albert Préjean.
She scored an international hit with the historical love-drama Mayerling (Anatole Litvak, 1936) in which she played doomed Baroness Marie Vetsera opposite Charles Boyer as Archduke Rudolph of Austria.
In 1935, Darrieux married director/screenwriter Henri Decoin, and they made six films together in the following years like Abus de Confiance/Abused Confidence (Henri Decoin, 1938) with Charles Vanel. Decoin encouraged her to try Hollywood, and in 1938 she signed with studio executive Joe Pasternak from Universal Studios to appear in the comedy The Rage of Paris (Henry Koster, 1938) opposite Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Both the film and Darrieux were well-received, but her stay in Hollywood proved short-lived. She quickly returned to Paris, where she continued to star in such major hits as Battement de coeur/Beating Heart (Henri Decoin, 1940) with Claude Dauphin.
Dutch postcard by Sparo. Photo: Universal. Publicity still for The Rage of Paris (Henry Koster, 1938) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 959. Photo: Paramount.
Dutch postcard by J.S.A. (J. Sleding, Amsterdam), no. 640/516. Photo: Lumina Film.
French postcard, no. 96. Photo: UFA.
French postcard by Editions Chantal, no. 96. Photo: UFA.
French postcard by Viny, no. 59. Photo: Films Osso.
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 1. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
After the occupation of France, Danielle Darrieux found herself working under the scrutiny of the new Nazi regime. She became the leading light of Continental, a Franco-German film company which was closely scrutinised by the Nazis. She distinguished herself in films such as Premier Rendez-Vous/Her First Affair (Henri Decoin, 1941).
After a visit to Germany, where she entertained the German troops, Darrieux’s popularity in France immediately plummeted and her name was placed on a death-list of the French Resistance. Even when her death sentence was lifted after the war, it was several years before she had regained her former popularity.
After the war, she explained that Alfred Greven, the manager of Continental, had threatened to deport her brother Olivier to Germany. After her divorce from Henri Decoin in 1941, she had married Dominican Republic diplomat and international jet-setter Porfirio Rubirosa in 1942. His anti-Nazi opinions resulted in his forced residence in Germany. Darrieux had accepted the promotional trip to Berlin in exchange for Rubirosa's liberation. They lived in Switzerland until the end of the war, and divorced in 1947.
A year later she married script-writer George Mitsikides and lived with him until his death in 1991. Her grand return came in 1949 with Claude Autant-Lara’s period farce Occupe-toi d'Amélie/Keep an Eye on Amelia (Claude Autant-Lara, 1949).
After La Ronde/Roundabout (Max Ophüls, 1950), Danielle Darrieux returned to Hollywood to appear as a French chanteuse in the MGM musical Rich, Young and Pretty (Norman Taurog, 1951) with Jane Powell. Joseph L. Mankiewicz then lured her to play the duplicitous lady friend of James Mason in the thriller 5 Fingers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1952).
Back home, she starred in Le Plaisir/Pleasure (Max Ophüls, 1952) with Madeleine Renaud, and opposite Charles Boyer and Vittorio de Sica in Madame de....../Diamond Earrings (Max Ophüls, 1953).
James Travers at Films de France: "The 1950s saw a marked change in Darrieux on-screen persona. She was no longer the care-free ingenue of her pre-war years. She had become a sophisticated and passionate society woman, often appearing cold and calculating, but sometimes showing a tender tragic vulnerability. The film which defined Danielle Darrieux in this period was Madame de… (1953), in which she gave probably her best screen performance. This was the third of three films she appeared in which were directed by her fond admirer Max Ophüls."
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 15. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 76. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 242. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by Viny, no. 56. Photo: Universal Film.
French postcard by Viny, no. 19.
French postcard by Collection Chantal, Paris, no. 96 A. Photo: Discina, Paris.
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 310. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.
Lady Chatterley's Lover
During the 1950s, Danielle Darrieux also appeared in Le rouge et le noir/The Red and the Black (Claude Autant-Lara, 1954) opposite Gérard Philipe, and in L’amant de Lady Chatterley/Lady Chatterley's Lover (Marc Allégret, 1955) with Leo Genn. Due to its content, the latter film was banned by the Catholic censors in the United States.
She also played a supporting role in United Artists' epic Alexander the Great (Robert Rossen, 1957) starring Richard Burton. It was her last Hollywood production. Since then she continued to work in the European cinema.
In England she starred opposite Kenneth More in The Greengage Summer (Lewis Gilbert, 1961), and in France she appeared as the mother of Catherine Deneuve in five films: L’Homme à femmes/Ladies Man (Jacques Gérard Cornu, 1960), the classic musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort/The Young Girls of Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1967), the drama Le Lieu du crime/Scene of the Crime (André Téchiné, 1986), the comedy-murder-mystery 8 femmes/8 Women (François Ozon, 2002), and in Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi, 2007). This remarkable animated feature is based on a graphic novel of the same name about the impact of the Iranian Islamic revolution on a girl's life as she grows to adulthood.
The actress sang in concerts and cabarets in the 1960s, and in 1970 replaced Katharine Hepburn in the Broadway musical Coco. In the 1980s, Danielle Darrieux scored a significant success in a Paris staging of the film musical Gigi.
For her long service to the motion picture industry, she was given an Honorary César Award in 1985. Her final film was Pièce montée/The Wedding Cake (Denys Granier-Deferre, 2010) with Jérémie Renier. D.B. DuMonteil at IMDb: "Pièce Montée (Tiered cake) is a funny comedy, with some nostalgia and an attack on the bourgeoisie Chabrol would not disown. Its depiction of a wedding in France is marvelously precise, with all these smug people, wearing their Sunday's best, and taking photographs of each other."
Madame Darrieux, rest in peace. Here at EFSP we salute you.
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 54. Photo: Studio Piaz.
French postcard by Viny, no. 55. Photo: Regina.
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris. Photo Sam Lévin.
Spanish promotion card by Cosmofilm. Photo: publicity still for Madame de... (Max Ophüls, 1953) with Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 1294, 1960. Photo: publicity still for Pot-Bouille/Lovers of Paris (Julien Duvivier, 1957) with Dany Carrel and Gérard Philipe.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 2715, 1966.
Vintage collectors card.
Scene from Madame De... (1953). Source: Classic Movies (YouTube).
Trailer of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967). Source: British Film Institute (YouTube).
Trailer 8 femmes/8 Women (2002). Source: 2663KinkyCyborg (YouTube).
Sources: James Travers (Le Film Guide), Hal Erickson (All Movie), Thanassos Agathos (IMDb), D.B. DuMonteil (IMDb), John Charles (TCM), AlloCiné (French), Wikipedia, and IMDb.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: "Ave Caesar, those who are about to die salute you." This image cites a famous 19th century painting (1859) by Jean-Léon Gérôme. It was often quoted, also in the Asterix comics.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The fight of the gladiators in the arena.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The death of the gladiator. This image cites Jean-Léon Gérôme's famous painting Pollice verso (Thumbs down, 1872) and was often used in the publicity for the film. In the back the emperor Nero (Carlo Cattaneo) makes the sign of thumbs down, sign for the conqueror to kill his adversary. Flanking Nero are left Tigellinus (Cesare Moltroni) and right Petronius (Gustavo Serena). Left of the imperial box the Vestal Virgins are seated.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The wild animals destined to tear the Christians to pieces. The lion keepers activate the lions under the circus before sending them above ground.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The last prayer. This scene quotes Jean-Léon Gérôme's painting The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer (1863-1883).
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The Christians in the circus, while the hungry lions approach.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). The beasts have committed the massacre of the Christians.
Where Are You Going?
Quo vadis? is Latin for 'Where are you going?' and alludes to the apocryphal acts of Peter, in which Peter flees Rome but on his way meets Jesus and asks him why he is going to Rome. Jesus says "I am going back to be crucified again", which makes Peter go back to Rome and accept martyrdom.
Quo vadis? written by Henryk Sienkiewicz tells the love story between a young and beautiful Christian woman, Lygia, and a military tribune and Roman patrician, Marcus Vinicius. The story takes place in the city of Rome under the rule of emperor Nero around AD 64.
Published in installments in three Polish dailies in 1895, Quo vadis? came out in book form in 1896 and has since been translated into more than 50 languages. This novel contributed to Sienkiewicz's Nobel Prize for literature in 1905.
In 1901, Pathé Frères produced the first screen version, Quo vadis? (Lucien Nonguet, Ferdinand Zecca, 1901). It is only 65 meters long (duration: about three minutes) and was recently restored by the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC) in Paris.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The winner of the chariot race.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Gustavo Serena as Petronius Arbiter and Amleto Novelli as Marcus Vinicius. Caption: Vinicius tells Petronius of his acts. Vinicius started to talk about the war (Chapter I).
Italian postcard by Uff.Rev. St. Terni. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Lygia (Lea Giunchi) saves Vinicius (Amleto Novelli) from the hands of Ursus (Bruto Castellani). Ursus, protector of Lygia, has just killed a gladiator who had been charged by Vinicius to kill Ursus while he himself planned to abduct Lygia.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The devotion of the slave Eunice (Amelia Cattaneo) to Petronius (Gustavo Serena).
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The litter of Petronius. In front of Nero's palace, Petronius (Gustavo Serena) says goodbye to his cousin Vinicius (Amleto Novelli) and promises to have a good word to Nero about Vinicius getting Lygia.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: Vinicius (Amleto Novelli) is presented to Nero (Carlo Cattaneo). Behind Nero stands Petronius (Gustavo Serena).
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). A Roman banquet. In the front Lea Giunchi as Lygia and Amleto Novelli as Vinicius.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: A banquet on the Palatine. The fat and drunken man in front is Giuseppe Gambardella (Vitellius), who was also famous as Checco in short Italian comedies.
A colossal epic
Ten years later, Italian director Enrico Guazzoni made a colossal epic starring Amleto Novelli and Gustavo Serena. He masterly combined huge spectacle with intimate scenes.
In 1913, Guazzoni's Quo vadis? premiered and the results at the box office quickly proved it a smashing success. Wikipedia: "It was arguably the first blockbuster in the history of cinema, with 5,000 extras, lavish sets, and a running time of two hours, setting the standard for 'superspectacles' for decades to come."
Throughout the world, Quo vadis? became popular not only among readers but also among fans of the new phenomenon, cinema. The film influenced Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria 1914) and D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916).
Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "Quo Vadis? is nonetheless an important milestone in movie history. The film ran 12 reels (approximately three hours) at a time when most American productions were still within the 1- to 4-reel length. American film distributor George Kleine pared the film down to 8 reels for US distribution, but this still was an uncommonly long production for its day."
In 1997 the film was restored by the Dutch Filmmuseum (now Eye Institute) in Amsterdam and since then it was shown on several festivals. Tonight it will be screened in Rome.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Helped by Acte, Nero's former mistress, Ursus (Bruto Castellani) subtracts Lygia (Lea Giunchi) from the orgy of the imperial banquet, where the drunken Roman Vinicius tries to rape her.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). The Giant Ursus (Bruto Castellani) awaits the bull in the circus. After his long captivity Ursus is almost blinded when he enters the arena. Then a wild bull enters the arena on which back Lygia is bound. Ursus will kill the bull with his bare hands, much to the delight of the audience and the emperor.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Ursus (Bruto Castellani) and Vinicius (Amleto Novelli) implore the audience and emperor Nero to grace the Christian Lygia (Lea Giunchi), after Ursus has killed the bull on whch back Lygia had been bound. The audience raves because of Ursus' tour de force. Vinicius has stripped his cloth to show his scars from the wars, while Ursus holds up Lygia. All around Nero hold their thumbs up for grace, even if this sign seems to have been a 19th century invention and historically incorrect.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The apostle Peter (Giovanni Gizzi) preaching to the Christians in the catacombs.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: Ursus (Bruto Castellani) and Chilo Chilonides (Augusto Mastripietri).
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Chilo (Augusto Mastripietri) sweettalks to Ursus (Bruto Castellani) to find out where Lygia is hidden. Caption: Chilo talks to Ursus about the traitors of the Christians. (Ursus:) Go to the Christians, go to their godhouses and ask for the brothers of Glaucus. (Chapter XVII of the book).
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Vinicius (Amleto Novelli) finds back Lygia (Lea Giunchi) at the catacombs of Ostriano. Left of Lygia is St. Peter (Giovanni Gizzi), right of her protector Ursus (Bruto Castellani). Vinicius plots to abduct Lygia, with the help of the Greek Chilo (Augusto Mastripietri) and a gladiator.
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: Chilo (Augusto Mastripietri) is baptised by the apostle Paul (of Tarsus). Chilon! I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen! (Chapter LXI of the book).
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The historical death of Petronius (Gustavo Serena) and Eunice (Amelia Cattaneo). "Friends, confess that with us perishes..." (Chapter LXXIII).
Italian postcard. Photo: Cines. Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). Caption: The fire of Rome.
Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.
Brigitte Bardot. German postcard by Ufa / Krüger, no. 902/87. Photo: Sam Lévin, 1957.
Paul: "This is the BB card I sold to Han in 2014. Like every Dutch boy who became a man in the 1950s, he loved Bardot. There was even a Dutch hit song at the time: "Brigitte Bardot, Bardot, die heeft ze niet zo, maar zo." (Sorry non-dutchies, untranslatable :)) Back then, I was not born yet, but I can imagine what a sensation she must have been for him. What an erotic glance! A sensual kitten, prrrr."
Sophia Loren. Publicity still for A Countess From Hong Kong (Charles Chaplin, 1966). Source: Doctor Macro's.
Carla: "One of the first cards I sold to Han was this card of Sophia Loren in A Countess From Hong Kong. It was a Chinese card which was printed on cheap paper, but Han did not care about that. He bought wat he thought was beautiful or of which he had certain, often fond, memories. And whether they were cheap fake Chinese cards or expensive original Kolibri cards did not matter. What mattered were his memories and he liked to write about them. I am afraid I have lost his first emails. I did, however, find some old notebooks in the attic in which I used to write my first transactions. I saw my contact with Han goes back to January 2010. And I don't have this particular card in my possession anymore as Han bought it. I can see why he thought it was beautiful. If I did not see it, Han would make me see it, he would bear no contradiction."
Sophie Hardy. German postcard by Kruger, no. 902/290. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.
Paul: "Han called Sophie Hardy'that damn sexy pussycat'. I've never seen a film with her but I guess she was in the France of the 1950s to Brigitte Bardot what Mamie van Doren was in the US to Marilyn Monroe. I like her, but to me the real star of this postcard is the photographer, Bernard of Hollywood. He was a German immigrant who photographed all the glamour ladies of Hollywood, including Marilyn. In the early 1960s, he returned to Germany where he made a series of sizzling pictures for postcards with Jayne Mansfield, Heidi Brühl and Barbara Valentin. And Sophie Hardy."
Gina Lollobrigida. German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 3433. Photo: Constantin Film. Collection: Carla Bosch.
Carla: "Han shouted (in writing) 'Those eyes, those eyes, who can resist those eyes!' when he saw this card of Gina Lollobrigida. Gina's eyes were not the first thing that struck me on this card. The goat did. Yet, again Han convinced me those eyes were special. Another buyer was interested in this card, but when Han decided he liked a card, there was no bidder that could defeat him. So he bought the card and gossiped about this other bidder... When he found out that I wrote with Paul too, he immediately suspected we were gossiping about him. Ill doers are ill deemers (or something like that). He forgot that he was likeable, interesting and funny and that to be talked about did not necessarily mean ill talk."
Senta Berger. German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 5162. Photo: Terb Agency / Ufa. Collection: Carla Bosch.
Carla: "Han liked cards of attractive women. He did not buy pin up cards, though I once caught him buying a card of Pamela Anderson in a spectacular red bathing suit. He insisted he liked women who were sexy, but were capable of more than just being beautiful. He acknowledged Pamela was an exception to this rule. Senta Berger was not: apart from being an excellent actress, she was also a shrewd business woman, producer, owner of a film production company.... and pretty. He wrote about her and that is why I look at Senta with different eyes. She had more potential than I thought."
Marina Vlady. German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-76. Photo: Unifrance Film.
Paul: "Han was so happy with this - indeed wonderful - postcard of Vlady, another free-spirited French beauty of the 1950s. Very sexy woman, in a natural way. This picture by Sam Lévin captured her natural allure, don't you think? Did you also wonder if there had been a woman in Han's life? He did write about his neighbours, the young girls next door, his brother and about his former colleagues, but he never wrote about a wife or a girlfriend. He certainly was not shy and as a journalist he must have met countless attractive women. But maybe that is what I liked about him: he kept dreaming. Even when you're 80: stay dreaming, hoping, longing, stay collecting."
Juliane Werding. German autograph card. Photo: Zill. Collection: Carla Bosch.
Carla: "Yet, sometimes I could neither rhyme nor reason his taste. When I asked him why one woman was more attractive than the other, he answered it would be the same if he asked me why the Ardennes were more attractive than the Botlek. He said he apparently liked women who acted cool and unemotional, not like Dutch Linda de Mol (yes, he really wrote that; I still have the email). One such choice was a card of German singer Juliane Werding. Well, yes, she looks rather cool and tough on this card, but he never said why he chose Juliane Werding. Perhaps because of her 1984 hit song Geh' nicht in die Stadt: in 2015 Han bought a card of Juliane Werding. He wrote he was rather concerned about his neighbourhood. All the people he knew had moved away and he now had the feeling that his beloved neighbourhood, once designed by urban designer Berlage, had become a kind of waiting room for people who were waiting to move again. He felt like Methuselah and I think rather lost, but the children who were new in his street were impressed that he survived the war and trusted him. They became a bridge between him and the changing neighbourhood. He felt well again. So I never knew why Juliane Werding, but this story belongs to one of her cards and I found it one of Han's more interesting purchases."
Pavel and Eva Roman. Vintage postcard. No editor. Collection: Carla Bosch.
Carla: "I have many cards with a story connected to Han. This one is a rather surprising choice of his too: Czech ice skating brother and sister Pavel and Eva Roman. Han used to be a sports journalist, so that may explain the subject skating. He also showed a genuine interest in people. He wrote it was so sad that Eva died very young. I had read somewhere that Eva Pavel was living together with Jackie Graham and that it was her brother who had died in a car accident. Han asked who Jackie Graham was and said he sometimes doubted his memory and asked me whether I suffered from memory loss too. I read Pavel's story on the internet, so I had no doubts. Han had the memory of an elephant, but he immediately doubted himself when he mis-remembered something."
Jacqueline Bisset. Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.
Paul: "This is a Romanian Acin card I sold to somebody else. And Han mailed me afterwards that he was so mad that he had missed it! He would have paid much more, et cetera. He loved, loved, loved Bisset, he wrote me. Sadly, I could not find another example for him. So I guess this postcard now deserves a place in this I.M. post for him. Recently I saw Jacqueline Bisset in a new film by François Ozon. She was still as elegantly beautiful as ever."
Gina Lollobrigida. German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1575. Collection: Carla Bosch.
Carla: "A few years ago, I bid on postcards for my collection on Marktplaats. However, there was another bidder who seemed to have a programme on his computer that notified him each time I bid on a card. He would outbid me within a few minutes. It drove me mad. Han noticed this other bidder. I do not know what he did or said, but it suddenly stopped. I received this card of Gina Lollobrigida and Han asked me whether I knew this rival bidder was a man or woman. I guessed it was a man, Han thought it was a woman. He was the expert... Perhaps he persuaded the woman to give up this card and send it to me. Some time ago, something similar happened when I bid on some of Paul's cards. I was immediately outbid by another bidder. A day later this rival had removed all his bids. Han again? It made us think we have a guardian angel."
Brigitte Bardot. German postcard by WS-Druck Wanne-Eickel. (I cannot read the number, there is glue on it.) Collection: Carla Bosch.
Carla: "This card of Brigitte Bardot I would have chosen to give as a birthday present. I do not know whether he would have chosen it himself, but I am certain he would have liked it and be a bit embarrassed."
Carla: "I know I chose too many cards! I have many more cards and stories that are connected to Han: postcards of Julie Christie, Raquel Welch, Claudia Cardinale, and why, surprisingly, he had nothing with Michelle Pfeiffer. Yet, I don't want to pretend I knew him that well and write a complete biography about him. It is just that when I looked through my cards and re-read Han's emails, so many stories bubbled up. Too many stories. It was fun to read those stories, Han had a great sense of humour, but it also made me sad, because we discovered too late that he had gone..."
Thanks, Carla, and Han of course!
Henry Krauss. French postcard in the Les Vedettes de l'Écran series by Editions Filma, no. 51. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma.
Régina Badet. French postcard in the Les Vedettes de l'Écran series by Editions Filma, no. 94.
During the Belle Epoque, French dancer and actress Régina Badet (1876-1949) was a star of the Opéra-Comique in Paris. She also had a career in the French silent cinema.
Suzanne Delvé. French postcard in the Les Vedettes de l'Écran series by Editions Filma, no. 98.
Suzanne Delvé (1892-1986) was a French film actress, who peaked in the silent era.
Francine Mussey. French postcard in the Les Vedettes de l'Écran series by Editions Filma, no. 101. Photo: C. Prochazka, Vincennes.
French film actress Francine Mussey (1897-1933) appeared in several French and German films. Her career began in the silent film era of the 1920s and ended in 1933 when she committed suicide by ingesting poison at age 35.
Jean Angelo. French postcard by Editions Filma in the Les Vedettes de l'Écran series, no. 106. Publicity still for L’Atlantide/Lost Atlantis (Jacques Feyder, 1922).
Jean Angelo. French postcard by Editions Filma in the Les vedettes de l'Écran series, no. 107. Publicity still for L’Atlantide/Lost Atlantis (Jacques Feyder, 1922).
Suzanne Bianchetti. French postcard by Editions Filma in Les Vedettes de l'Écran series, no. 109. Photo: Manuel Frères.
Paul Capellani. French postcard by Editions Filma in Les Vedettes de l'Écran series, no. 110.
Jaque Catelain. French postcard in the Les Vedettes de l'Écran series by Editions Filma, no. 111.
Pierre Magnier. French postcard in the Les Vedettes de l'Écran series by Editions Filma, no. 115.
French stage and screen actor and director Pierre Magnier (1869-1959) acted in over 100 films and was known for e.g. La roue (Abel Gance, 1923), Cyrano de Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) and La règle du jeu (Jean Renoir, 1939).
Aimé Simon-Girard as D'Artagnan in Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921). French postcard by Editions Filma in the series Les Vedettes de l'Écran, no. 119. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma.
Pierre de Guingand as Aramis in Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921). French postcard by Editions Filma in the series Les Vedettes de l'Écran, no. 122. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma.
Charles Martinellias Porthos in Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921). French postcard by Editions Filma in the series Les Vedettes de l'Écran, no. 123. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma.
Source: Ross Verlag Movie Star Postcards History and Checklist.