21 July 2018

Photo by Atelier Binder

From the late 1920s through the 1930s, Atelier Binder was the largest photo studio in Europe. The star photos of this Berlin studio can be found on countless Ross Verlag postcards. Founder was Alexander ‘Alex’ Binder (1888–1929).

Sascha Gura
Sascha Gura. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 294/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Alex Binder/Decla.

Lya de Putti
Lya de Putti. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1028/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Alex Binder.

Lilian Harvey
Lilian Harvey. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3759/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

Lucy Doraine
Lucy Doraine. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 3438/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3542/1, 1928-29. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

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

The Mecca of the European Film Industry


Alexander Binder was born in Alexandria in 1888. The photographer was Jewish and probably of Swiss origin.

He studied engineering, but interrupted his studies prematurely. From 1908 to 1910 he attended the Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Photographie, Chemie, Lichtdruck und Gravüre (Teaching and Research Institute of Photography, chemicals, light pressure and engraving) in Munich and then went to Berlin.

There he opened in 1913 his first photo studio, Atelier für Bildmäßige Porträt Photographie in a room in the Motzstraße. Two years later he moved his studio to Kurfürstendamm 225, in a posh shopping and entertainment area in the centre of Berlin.

He soon became one of the leading photographers of Berlin. Binder created advertising and portrait photography. His focus was primarily on celebrity and fashion photography.

Binder’s photos were exhibited in 1921 at the first Annual Exhibition of Photography at the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) in Berlin. In 1925-1926 he had an exhibition in London.

Berlin was at the time the Mecca of the European film industry. Binder photographed all the stars of the German silent cinema, including Conrad Veidt, Lilian Harvey, Leni Riefenstahl, the Italian Carmen Boni, the Dutch Truus van Aalten and the Hungarian Lya de Putti.

During the filming of Die Freudlose Gasse/The Joyless Street (G.W. Pabst, 1925), he also portrayed the young Greta Garbo. His photographs appeared in the monthly photo and film magazine Die Linse, and in many other magazines.

Ludwig Trautmann
Ludwig Trautmann. German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1596. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

Reinhold Schünzel
Reinhold Schünzel. German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1838. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

Luciano Albertini
Luciano Albertini. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1815/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin. On this postcard Albertini wears the attire for the film Rinaldo Rinaldini (Max Obal, 1927).

Vladimir Gajdarov
Vladimir Gajdarov. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1978/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Alex Binder.

Walter Slezak
Walter Slezak. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3443/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

Deported to Theresienstadt


Alexander Binder’s photos were also used for the popular star postcards, published by Ross Verlag and Photochemie. These photos have the signature ‘Alex Binder Photogr. Atelier’, ‘Alex Binder, Berlin’ or ‘Phot. A. Binder, Berlin’. Many photographs also contained the signature tie in the photo.

Since 1921 Alex Binder had his own logo ties: his signature inscribed in a rhombus. He signed with the tie or as ‘A. Binder’. These ties stopped to appear in 1929. Alexander Binder had suddenly died in February 1929 in Berlin.

During the late 1920s his studio had been 'the largest photo studio in Europe ...'. Mark Goffee writes on his great Ross Cards website that Binder's death date is interesting, and wonders how Ross cards could appear with photos of Atelier Binder until 1937.

German Wikipedia describes how after Binder’s death, his studio was moved to the Kurfürstendamm 205 in 1929. The business name was changed into Atelier Binder, under which name new photographs were published.

The photographer was probably Hubs Floeter (1910-1974), who was employed at the studio as first operator until 1938. The owners of the studio were now Binder's widow, Mrs. Binder-Allemann and their two daughters.

Manager was the Jewish Elisabeth Baroness von Stengel, who was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943, writes Wikipedia. It also cites other sources that claim that Stengel was deported in 1938 and died in 1978 in Ascona.

However, in 1938, the Nazi Labour Inspectorate closed the studio. Aryan photographer Karl Ludwig Haenchen then moved in and continued to make celebrity portraits, which also were published on star postcards by publishers as Film-Foto-Verlag. After World War II, the Hasse und Wiese company took over the studio in 1948 or 1949.

Lilian Ellis
Lilian Ellis. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4766/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

Lily Damita
Lily Damita. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4767/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Camilla Horn
Camilla Horn. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4845/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Binder, Berlin.

Truus van Aalten
Truus van Aalten. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6584/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Binder, Berlin.

Lilian Harvey
Lilian Harvey. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6277/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Binder, Berlin / Ufa.

Dorothea Wieck
Dorothea Wieck. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6846/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Binder, Berlin.

Sources: Mark Goffee (Ross Cards), Deutsche Fotothek (German), and Wikipedia (German and Dutch).

20 July 2018

Ewa Krzyzewska

Polish actress Ewa Krzyzewska (1939–2003) was a beautiful and fascinating star of the East-European cinema in the 1960s. Her most famous film was also her debut, Andrzej Wajda’s masterpiece Popiól i diament/Ashes and Diamonds (1958).

Ewa Krzyzewska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2530, 1966. Retail price: 0,15 MDN. Photo: Balinski.

Ewa Krzyzewska in Popiól i diament (1958)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 1807, 1963. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: publicity still for Popiól i diament/Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, 1958).

Ewa Krzyzewska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 3164, 1968. Photo: Nasterowska.

Atomic War Bride


Ewa Krzyzewska was born as Anna Ewa Krzyżewska-Kwiatkowska in Warszawie (Warsaw), Poland in 1939. Her father was the poet Julius Krzyżewski.

She studied acting at the Państwowe wyższe szkoły teatralne (PWST), the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Krakow. During her first year at the PWST she worked on the film Kalosze szczęścia/Lucky Boots (Antoni Bohdziewicz, 1958).

She was noticed by Janusz Morgenstern, assistant to director Andrzej Wajda. Wajda invited her to play the role of the attractive barmaid Krystyna Rozbicki in his now classic war drama Popiól i diament/Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, 1958).

Popiól i diament, based on the 1948 novel by Polish writer Jerzy Andrzejewski, completed Wajda's war films trilogy, following Pokolenie/A Generation (1954) and Kanal/Sewer (1956).

At AllMovie, Hal Erickson wrote in a now deleted review: “Like most of Polish director Andrzej Wajda's best films, Ashes and Diamonds draws on his personal experiences in the Resistance during World War II. Zbigniew Cybulski, the director's favorite leading man, plays a young underground fighter told to kill a Communist leader on the last day of the war. This blend of idealism and defeatism won numerous awards and brought Wajda international acclaim”.

In 1960 Krzyzewska graduated from the PWST. That year she played a part in the Yugoslavian Science Fiction film Rat/Atomic War Bride (Veljko Bulajic, 1960) about the horrors of the atomic weapon era.

During the early 1960s, she played leading parts in such Polish films as the drama Zaduszki/All Soul’s Day (Tadeusz Konwicki, 1961), the thriller Zbrodniarz i panna/The Criminal and the Lady (Janusz Nasfeter, 1963) again opposite Zbigniew Cybulski, and Zvony pre bosých/ The knell of the tramps (Stanislav Barabas, 1965).

In the Rumanian fantasy-comedy Faust XX (Ion Popescu-Gopo, 1966), she was She-Devil Margueritte, a nightclub singer, who entertains Faust (Emil Botta) and his young assistant (Iurie Darie) in the gateway to Hell.

That year she also played a small but memorable role of a beautiful Jewish girl in the historical drama Faraon/Pharaoh (Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 1966) with Jerzy Zelnik as Ramses XIII, and she appeared in the adventure drama Zejscie do piekla/The Descent to Hell (Zbigniew Kuzminski, 1966).

Ewa Krzyzewska in Zbrodniarz i panna (1963)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 1968, 1963. Photo: publicity still for Zbrodniarz i panna/The Criminal and the Lady (Janusz Nasfeter, 1963).

Ewa Krzyzewska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2163, 1964. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.

Ewa Krzyzewska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2716, 1966. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.

A Classic Femme Fatale


The introvert Ewa Kryzewska did not like to talk about herself and seldom gave interviews. Therefore she had for many filmgoers a fascinating, mysterious air. In the busy years 1962 - 1967, Krzyzewska was also working on stage for the Teatru Dramatycznego (Warsaw Dramatic Theatre).

But then there was an hiatus in her film and stage career. In 1971 she returned to the cinema in a small role in the drama Akcja 'Brutus'/Operation 'Brutus' (Jerzy Passendorfer, 1971).

That year she also appeared in the romantic comedy Dzieciol/Woodpecker (Jerzy Gruza, 1971) and in East-Germany she played the lead role in Liebeserklärung an G.T./ Declaration of love to G.T. (Horst Seemann, 1971). She also reunited with director Tadeusz Konwicki for the drama Jak daleko stad, jak blisko/How Far, How Near (1972).

Her final film was Zazdrosc i medycyna/Jealousy and medicine (Janusz Majewski, 1973). She played a beautiful, but unfaithful wife of a wealthy entrepreneur (Mariusz Dmochowski)which seemed written especially for her. The film was an acclaimed screen adaptation of a 1930s novel by Michael Choromanski and its heroine was a classic femme fatale, disturbingly and sensually performed by Krzyzewski.

After this sensational turn, Krzyzewska suddenly retired from acting and left Poland with her husband, diplomat Boleslaw Kwiatkowski, a specialist in international law. They lived in several countries, including Syria, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, and Tanzania.

She worked for a short while as the head of the Radio Library at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In the US she also worked as a beautician, fashion designer, and real estate agent. Later the couple moved to Spain.

In 2003, Ewa Krzyzewska died of the injuries sustained in a car crash in southern Spain. Her husband died on the spot of the car crash. She herself died two days later in a hospital. Ewa Krzyzewska was only 64.

Ewa Krzyzewska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2717, 1966.

Ewa Krzyzewska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 37/71. Retail price: 0,20 M. Photo: Linke.

Ewa Krzyzewska
Bulgarian postcard, no. H-3042-A, 1974.

Sources: Hal Erickson (DixClassico),  AllMovie, Filmweb.pl (Polish), Wikipedia (Polish) and IMDb.

19 July 2018

New Didier Hanson acquisition: Vera Karalli

My friend Didier Hanson sent me this wonderful postcard from the Russian Empire, he recently acquired. I love it very much. The picture is a still from a film by Yevgeni Bauer, who directed more than seventy silent films in the four years before the Russian Revolution of 1917. Film critic Kenneth Turan writes in his book on the director: "Bauer's films have been justly called the work of the greatest director you've never heard of." Nabat/The Alarm (1917) was one of the last films Bauer made before he died of pneumonia in a hospital in Yalta, only 52 years old. Star of the film is actress and ballet dancer Vera Karalli of whom Didier Hanson has sent me several postcards in the past. So, today a special post on Didier's cards of La Karalli.

Vera Karalli a.o. in Nabat (1917)
Russian postcard, no. 200. Photo: publicity still of Zoya Barantsevich, Vera Karalli, Vladimir Strizhevsky and Vjacheslav Svoboda in Nabat/The Alarm (Yevgeni Bauer, 1917). Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Karalli
Russian postcard. Photo: publicity still for Krizantemy/Chrysanthemums (Pyotr Chardynin, 1914). Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Karalli in Eunice and Petronius
Russian postcard, 1916. Collection: Didier Hanson. Eunice and Petronius (1915) was a ballet by choreographer Alexander Alexeyevich Gorsky, produced by the Russian Imperial Ballet.

Vera Karalli
Russian Postcard, no. 91, 1917. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vitold Polonsky, Vera Karalli
Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson. Photo: publicity still for Vozmezdie/Retribution (Yevgeni Bauer, 1916) with  Vitold Polonsky.

Lidya F. Ryndina, Vera Karalli and Vitold Polonsky in Vozmezdie (1916)
Russian Postcard, no. 152. Collection: Didier Hanson. Photo: publicity still for Vozmezdie/Retribution (Yevgeni Bauer, 1916) with Lidya F. Ryndina, Vera Karalli and Vitold Polonsky.

Vera Karalli
Russian postcard, 1916. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Karalli, 1917
Russian postcard, 1917. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Karalli
Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Karalli
Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Karalli
Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Karalli
Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Karalli
Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Karalli
Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Sources: Kenneth Turan (LA Times), Wikipedia and IMDb.