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21 August 2017

Ruth Niehaus

Attractive Ruth Niehaus (1925–1994) was a German stage and film actress, who often played the femme fatale or 'the other woman’. She was dubbed the ‘Rita Hayworth of the German film of the 1950s’ and was regarded as a ‘Fräuleinwunder’.

Ruth Niehaus in Studentin Helen Willfüer (1956)
West-German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. I 452. Photo: CCC-Film / Constantin-Film / Grimm. Publicity still for Studentin Helen Willfüer/Helene Willfüer (Rudolf Jugert, 1956).

Ruth Niehaus
West-German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4113. Photo: Lilo.

Young, attractive, modern, self-confident and desirable


Ruth Hildegard Rosemarie Niehaus was born in 1925 in Krefeld, Germany. Her parents were Elisabeth Niehaus, born Nettesheim, and the engineer Fritz Niehaus. Her brother was the Munich surgeon Helmut Niehaus.

After completing her high school diploma in Dusseldorf, she attended the drama school there under Peter Esser. Her stage career began at the Stadttheater Krefeld in 1947-1948, followed by engagements at the Deutsche Schauspielhaus in Hamburg (1948-1949), at the Oldenburgische Staatstheater (1949-1950) and in Düsseldorf under the direction of Gustav Gründgens (1952-1954). She played both in classical and modern theatre.

The press called Niehaus a ‘Fräuleinwunder’ a term for young, attractive, modern, self-confident and desirable women of post-war Germany. In 1950 Ruth Niehaus reputedly spurned a marriage proposal from Orson Welles, and with it the chance to work in Hollywood. She did marry Ivar Lissner, a Jewish German journalist and best-selling author, who had been a spy with the German Abwehr during World War II.

Niehaus made her film debut in the West-German comedy Das Haus in Montevideo/The House in Montevideo (1951). It was directed by Curt Goetz and Valérie von Martens who also played the leads, while Niehaus played their daughter. The film is an adaptation of Goetz's 1945 comic play of the same name and Goetz and von Martens had already frequently played their parts on stage.

Niehaus next played a supporting part in Heidelberger Romanze/A Heidelberg Romance (Paul Verhoeven, 1951) starring Liselotte Pulver, O.W. Fischer and Gardy Granass.

She then had the lead in the Heimatfilm Rosen blühen auf dem Heidegrab/Roses Bloom on the Moorland (Hans H. König, 1952). Wikipedia: “This unusually gloomy Heimatfilm, which clearly stood out from the ‘Kinokonfektion’ of the era, is one of the high points in Niehaus's film career.”

She then co-starred with Ivan Desny and René Deltgen in the drama Weg ohne Umkehr/No Way Back (Victor Vicas, 1953). It was made at the height of the Cold War. In 1945 following the Battle of Berlin, a Red Army officer (Desny) is able to protect a young German woman (Niehaus) he finds living in a cellar. Several years later he returns to the city as a civilian, finds her again and makes plans to flee from East to West Germany under the noses of the KGB. For this role she won in 1954 the Bundesfilmpreis (German Film Award).

Other films followed, such as Rosenmontag/Love's Carnival (Willy Birgel, 1955) with Dietmar Schönherr, and Auferstehung/Resurrection (Rolf Hansen, 1958) starring Horst Buchholz.

Ruth Niehaus and Armin Dahlen in Rosen blühen auf dem Heidegrab (1952)
West-German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 693. Photo: Panorama-Film / Königfilm / Hochreiter. Publicity still for Rosen blühen auf dem Heidegrab/Roses Bloom on the Moorland (Hans H. König, 1952) with Armin Dahlen.

Horst Buchholz, Myriam Bru, Ruth Niehaus and Günther Lüders in Auferstehung (1958)
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. M 2482. Photo: Ringpress / Vogelmann / Bavaria. Publicity stills for Auferstehung/Resurrection (Rolf Hansen, 1958) with Horst Buchholz, Myriam Bru, Ruth Niehaus and Günther Lüders.


Das deutsche Gretchen 1959


In 1959, Ruth Niehaus co-starred with Helmuth Schneider in the Argentine film Cavalcade (Albert Arliss, Richard von Schenk, 1960). At the beginning of the 1960s Niehaus largely withdrew from the film business and only sporadically took on roles in film and television productions.

In 1980, she played a supporting part in the West German drama Fabian (Wolf Gremm, 1980), based on the novel by Erich Kästner. On television she played guest roles in Krimi series like Der Alte/The Old Fox (1978) and Tatort (1983).

Her main focus was on the theatre. At the Festival in Bad Hersfeld, she was celebrated as ‘Das deutsche Gretchen 1959’ in Goethe's Faust under the direction of William Dieterle. In 1961 and 1962, she also played Titania in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Dieterle.

From 1964 to 1968 she worked under the direction of Oscar Fritz Schuh at the Deutsche Schauspielhaus Hamburg. In Hamburg, she brought the present author Jean Cocteau to tears with her depiction of Eurydice in his play Orpheus. These years at the Deutsche Schauspielhaus in Hamburg were her most successful stage period.

In 1968, she left the house together with Oscar Fritz Schuh and performed further roles in his productions. Until his death in 1984, Schuh was one of her closest friends.

In 1987, Ruth Niehaus was able to celebrate her 40th stage jubilee. That year she also directed Rebecca at the Münchner Kammerspielen. She remained on stage until 1992.

She incidentally played in films, such as in Hard Days, Hard Nights (Horst Königstein, 1989) with Al Corley. Her last film role was in Wir können auch anders/We can also differently (Detlev Buck, 1992).

In 1994 she and Christa Auch-Schwelk were honoured for their documentary Jeffrey – Zwischen Leben und Tod/Jeffrey – Between Life and Death with the media award of the AIDS-Stiftung (German AIDS Foundation).

Ruth Niehaus died in 1994 in Hamburg. She was 69. She and her husband Ivar Lissner, who passed away in 1965, had a daughter Imogen (now Imogen Jochem).

Ruth Niehaus
West-German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 2177. Photo: Joe Niczky / Ufa.

Ruth Niehaus
West-German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 1297. Photo: Lilo.

Sources: Wikipedia (English and German) and IMDb.

20 August 2017

Harry Hardt

Austrian actor Harry Hardt (1899-1980) had a long career both in films and on television. He was a popular and extremely busy character player, who was generally cast as authority figures: police inspectors, officers and aristocrats.

Harry Hardt
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1355/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Atelier Karl Schenker.

Harry Hardt
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8406/1, 1933-1934. Atelier Badekow, Bertlin.

Officer and a Gentleman


Harry Hardt was born Hermann Karl Viktor Klimbacher Edler von Reichswahr in Pola, Küstenland, Austria-Hungary (now Pula, Istria, Croatia) in 1899. Hardt came from an aristocratic family with a strong military tradition. His father was an officer.

Deferring to his father's wishes, Harry dropped out of art history studies to undergo officer training at a military academy. During the First World War, he concluded that a military career was useless and he chose for acting.

After drama lessons in Graz and Berlin, he made his stage debut in 1919 at the Theater in Olmütz (now Czech Republic). From 1920 he played at the Trianon-Theater in Berlin. In the same year, the handsome actor made his first film appearance in the silent production Die Frauen vom Gnadenstein/The Women of Gnadenstein (Robert Dinesen, Joe May, 1920), for which Thea von Harbau had written the script.

Soon he became a frequently used character actor in such melodramas as Die Opiumhölle/The opium hell (Siegfried Dessauer, 1921), Paganini (Heinz Goldberg, 1923) with Conrad Veidt, and Der Klabautermann (Paul Merzbach, 1924) with Evi Eva. At first Hardt played gallant young lovers, and later he turned to distinguished gentlemen with his Adolphe Menjou-like moustache.

His standard repertoire included noblemen like the Count in the romance Zopf und Schwert - Eine tolle Prinzessin/Braid and Sword - A great princess (Victor Janson, Rudolf Dworsky, 1926) starring Mady Christians, or the Prince in the drama Hochverrat/Treason (Johannes Meyer, 1929), smart lieutenants like the ones in Das edle Blut/The noble blood (Carl Boese, 1927), Ungarische Rhapsodie/Hungarian Rhapsody (Hanns Schwarz, 1928) with Willy Fritsch, and Es flüstert die Nacht/It whispers the night (Victor Janson, 1929), starring Lil Dagover.

Harry Hardt
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1554/1, 1927-1928.

Harry Hardt
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3235/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Hanni Schwarz, Berlin.

Hitchcock


Harry Hardt was much in demand by directors and producers, but nevertheless he never became a big star. In the early sound years, he acted in Der Greifer/The Copper (Richard Eichberg, 1930) at Hans Albers' side, and in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Mary/Murder (1931).

Both films were shot concurrently in German- and English-language versions. After the introduction of sound film this was a fairly common practice both in Hollywood and in the European cinema when it was not yet common practice to overdub dialogues.

In the following years Hardt played a hotel director in Zigeunerblut/Gypsy Blood (Charles Klein, 1934) starring Adele Sandrock, a captain in both Abenteuer eines jungen Herrn in Polen/Love and Alarm (Gustav Fröhlich, 1934) and Schwarzer Jäger Johanna/Black Fighter Johanna (Johannes Meyer, 1934) featuring Marianne Hoppe, and a hotel porter in Barcarole (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1935).

In the mystery comedy Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war/The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes (Karl Hartl, 1937), he played a gambler, who is impressed by a detective (Hans Albers) who masquerades as Sherlock Holmes. During the war years he played small roles in Austrian and German films, including the colour spectacle Münchhausen (Josef von Báky, 1943), again starring Hans Albers.

After the war he kept appearing in supporting parts as aristocrats or professors in historical films like Kaiserwalzer/The Emperor Waltz (Franz Antel, 1953) with Maria Holst as Kaiserin Elisabeth von Österreich, Ewiger Walzer/The Eternal Waltz (Paul Verhoeven, 1954), with Bernhard Wicki as composer Johann Strauss II, and Um Thron und Liebe/Sarajevo (Fritz Kortner, 1955), which portrays the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914.

During the 1960s and 1970s he often appeared on television in such series as the Krimi Derrick (1978). Incidentally he appeared in films, e.g. in the sex comedy Komm nach Wien, ich zeig dir was!/Come to Vienna, I'll show you something! (Rolf Thiele, 1970), and the ethereal, three-hour biopic Karl May (Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, 1974), with Helmut Käutner as the author of Winnetou. His final film was Egon Schiele - Exzesse (Herbert Vesely, 1981) with Mathieu Carrière as the cursed painter Egon Schiele.

In total Harry Hardt appeared in 180 feature films, and also in numerous television productions. In the series Königlich Bayerisches Amtsgericht he appeared several times as Count von Haunsperg. At the end of his career, he again intensified his theatrical work. In 1980, Harry Hardt died in Vienna, Austria. He was 81.

Harry Hardt
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3323/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Low & Co., Berlin.

Harry Hardt
German postcard. Ross Verlag, no. 4035/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Ufa. It could be a still for the film Ungarische Rhapsodie (Hanns Schwarz, 1928).

Sources: Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-Line – German), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.

19 August 2017

Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst, Part 3

In the early 1920s, the Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation and political extremism. But the German film industry thrived and seemed to produce an endless stream of silent masterpieces. In the third post on our (incomplete) series of collectors cards of Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst pictures of such classics as Der Golem (1920) with Paul Wegener, Faust (1926) with Emil Jannings and Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (1922) with Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Ross Verlag published the collectors card series in 1935 for the 'Cigaretten-Bilderdienst', Altona-Bahrenfeld.

Liane Haid and Albert Bassermann in Lucrezia Borgia (1922)
Liane Haid and Albert Bassermann in Lucrezia Borgia (1922). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 71, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still with Liane Haid as Lucretia Borgia and Albert Bassermann as pope Alexander VI Rodrigo Borgia in Lucrezia Borgia/Lucretia Borgia (Richard Oswald, 1922).

Otto Gebühr in Fridericus Rex (1922)
Otto Gebühr in Fridericus Rex (1922). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 73, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Fridericus Rex (Arzén von Cserépy, 1922).

Adolf Klein in Bismarck, 1. Teil (1925)
Adolf Klein in Bismarck, 1. Teil (1925). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 77, group 43. Photo: Bismarck-Film. Publicity still for Bismarck, 1. Teil/Bismarck, Part 1 (Ernst Wendt, 1925) with Adolf Klein as Kaiser Wilhelm I.

Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Károly Huszár in Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (1922)
Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Károly Huszár in Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (1922). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 80, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still with Károly Huszár (left) and Rudolf Klein-Rogge (second from left) in Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler/Dr. Mabuse, King of Crime (Fritz Lang, 1922). Caption: Dr. Mabuse, who prints false money, lets the false notes sort by blind people who can not betray him.

Henny Porten and Paul Hartmann in Monika Vogelsang (1920)
Henny Porten and Paul Hartmann in Monika Vogelsang (1920). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture, picture no, 81, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Monika Vogelsang (Rudolf Biebrach, 1920).

Pola Negri and Alfred Abel in Die Flamme (1923)
Pola Negri and Alfred Abel in Die Flamme (1923). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 83, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Die Flamme/The Flame (Ernst Lubitsch, 1923).

Paul Wegener, Albert Steinrück and Ernst Deutsch in Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (1920)
Paul Wegener, Albert Steinrück and Ernst Deutsch in Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (1920). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 87, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam/The Golem: How He Came Into the World (Carl Boese, Paul Wegener, 1920). Caption: Paul Wegener as Golem, Albert Steinrück as Rabbi Loew, Ernst Deutsch as Famulus.

Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Lucie Mannheim in Der steinerne Reiter (1923)
Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Lucie Mannheim in Der steinerne Reiter (1923). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture, picture no. 90, group 43. Photo: Decla-Film. Publicity still for Der steinerne Reiter/The Stone Rider (Fritz Wendhausen, 1923).

Lil Dagover and Paul Hartmann in Zur Chronik von Grieshuus (1925)
Lil Dagover and Paul Hartmann in Zur Chronik von Grieshuus (1925). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 91, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Zur Chronik von Grieshuus/The Chronicles of the Gray House ( Arthur von Gerlach, 1925).

Yvette Guilbert and Emil Jannings in Faust (1926)
Yvette Guilbert and Emil Jannings in Faust (1926). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 94, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still with Emil Jannings as Mephisto and Yvette Guilbert as Marthe in Faust (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1926).

Paul Hartmann and Lil Dagover in Luise Millerin (1922)
Paul Hartmann and Lil Dagover in Luise Millerin (1922). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 96, group 43. Photo: Decla-Film. Publicity still for Luise Millerin (1922).

Asta Nielsen and Conrad Veidt in Der Reigen - Ein Werdegang (1920)
Asta Nielsen and Conrad Veidt in Der Reigen - Ein Werdegang (1920). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 98. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Der Reigen - Ein Werdegang/The Merry-Go-Round (Richard Oswald, 1920).

Fritz Kortner and Olga Tschechowa in Nora (1923)
Fritz Kortner and Olga Tschechowa in Nora (1923). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 99, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Nora (Berthold Viertel, 1923).

Werner Krauss in Scherben (1921)
Werner Krauss in Scherben (1921). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 101. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still with Werner Krauss in the classic German Kammerspiel film Scherben/Shattered (Lupu Pick, 1921). The woman is Edith Posca, who plays the daughter.

Henny Porten, Wilhelm Dieterle and Fritz Kortner in Hintertreppe (1921)
Henny Porten, Wilhelm Dieterle and Fritz Kortner in Hintertreppe (1921). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 102. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Hintertreppe/Backstairs (Leopold Jessner, Paul Leni, 1921).

To be continued next Saturday!