17 June 2018

New acquisitions at GDI: Heinz Rühmann and other European stars

In Noord Schwarwoude, the Netherlands, there is small film institute we love, the Geoffrey Donaldson Institute (GDI). Our friend Egbert Barten is the managing director and he regularly shares new postcards from his collection with EFSP. Tomorrow we'll have a post on a postcard album he lately found in France. Today we do a post on a series of fine postcards plus a photo of the popular German film star Heinz Rühmann. The pictures plus the text for an article on Rühmann, were acquired from Dutch film journalist and collector Thijs Ockersen. We combine them with other new acquisitions by GDI and finish this post with one of the cards from the album on which we will focus tomorrow.

Heinz Rühmann in Bomben auf Monte Carlo (1931)
Heinz Rühmann in Bomben auf Monte Carlo (1931). German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 606. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Bomben auf Monte Carlo/The Bombardment of Monte Carlo (Hanns Schwarz, 1931). Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Heinz Rühmann in Ich und die Kaiserin (1933)
Heinz Rühmann in Ich und die Kaiserin (1933). German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7848/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Ich und die Kaiserin/The Empress and I (Friedrich Hollaender, 1933). Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Heinz Rühmann in Kleider machen Leute (1940)
Heinz Rühmann in Kleider machen Leute (1940). Dutch postcard by I.F.P. (Drukkerij Uitg. Int. Filmpers), Amsterdam, no. 1243. Photo: publicity still for Kleider machen Leute/Clothes Make the Man (Helmut Käutner, 1940). Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Heinz Rühmann
Heinz Rühmann. German photo. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Heinz Rühmann

Actor, director and producer Heinz Rühmann (1902-1994) played in more than 100 films over nearly 70 years and was one of Germany's most popular film stars. He was a favourite actor of Adolf Hitler and Josef Goebbels but also of Anne Frank. She pasted his photo on the wall of her room in her family's hiding place during the war, where it can still be seen today.

Anny Ondra
Anny Ondra. French postcard by EC, no. 83. Photo: G.L. Manuel Frères. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Estrellita Castro in El barbero de Sevilla (1938)
Estrellita Castro in El barbero de Sevilla (1938). German postcard by Das Programm von Heute / Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Cando. Publicity still for El barbero de Sevilla/The Barber of Seville (Benito Perojo, 1938). Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Estrellita Castro

Estrellita Castro (1914-1983) was a Spanish 'tonadillera' (little tune singer) and actress, who had a stirring and passionate style. Born Estrella Castro Navarrete to a humble family, she started singing from an early age and busked around in Sevilla streets. She was yet known in Andalusia when she appeared in Barcelona in 1929 with a variety show named 'La copla andaluza', where she was the first star together with 'Ángel Sampedro 'Angelillo''. From that moment on she enjoyed success all over Spain, Europe and America. Castro became one of the greatest 'copla' (Spanish popular song) performers.

Estrellita Castro's success as a singer paved her way to the film industry, and she became one of the most popular and highly-paid Spanish actresses of the time. She made many folkloric musicals, including and La Maja del capote/ (Fernando Delgado, 1943). She starred in 40 films of which the most important were filmed in Germany - Suspiros de España/Sighs of Spain (Benito Perojo, 1938), El barbero de Sevilla/The Barber of Seville (Benito Perojo, 1938) both with Miguel Ligero, and Mariquilla Terremoto (Benito Perojo, 1939). The charm of her movements in the cinema together with her powerful acute voice and beauty conquered the public. One of the iconic features of her personal looks was a hair-curl on her forehead. After the war, she became a living myth of the Spanish music and cinema.

Jean Murat in Vénus (1929)
Jean Murat in Vénus (1929). French postcard by EC, no. 648. Photo publicity still for Vénus/Venus (Louis Mercanton, 1929). Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Pierre Blanchar in Pontcarral, Colonel d'Empire (1942)
Pierre Blanchar in Pontcarral, Colonel d'Empire (1942). French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 187. Photo: Pathé Cinéma, Pierre Blanchar in Pontcarral, colonel d'empire/Pontcarral, colonel of the empire (Jean Delannoy, 1942). Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Jean Tranchant
Jean Tranchant. French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 87. Photo: Teddy Piaz. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Jean Tranchant

Jean Tranchant (1904-1972) was a French singer-composer, poster designer and painter, who also incidentally acted in films. Tranchant wrote songs for Lucienne Boyer (La Barque d'Yves, Moi j'crache dans l'eau), then for Marianne Oswald (Appel, La Complainte de Kesoubah, Sans repentir), Marlène Dietrich (Assez) and Lys Gauty. He performed with his wife Simone Naudet. Many of his songs were used in French films, and he also composed for the soundtrack of such films as Fanatisme (Tony Lekain, Gaston Ravel, 1934), starring Pola Negri. Tranchant himself starred in the film musical Ici l'on pêche (René Jayet, 1941) with Jane Sourza.

Hildegard Knef
Hildegard Knef. French postcard by Edition P.I., offered by Les Carbones Korès Carboplane, no. 712. Photo: H.P.S. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Lana Turner and John Garfield in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Lana Turner and John Garfield in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). Belgian Collectors Card by Kwatta, Bois d'Haine, no. C. 173. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute. Publicity still for The Postman Always Rings Twice (Tay Garnett, 1946).

Egbert, thank you!

16 June 2018

Photo by Raymond Voinquel

From this Saturday on, EFSP continues the series Photo by... on photographers. We start with French photographer Raymond Voinquel (1912-1994). For over 40 years, he collaborated with the greatest directors in and out of France, including Marcel l’Herbier, Jean Cocteau, Abel Gance, Max Ophüls, Jean Renoir, Marcel Carné, Sacha Guitry and Jean-Pierre Melville. In addition to his work as a stills photographer for 160 films, Voinquel also worked with Studio Harcourt as a portrait photographer of the stars. And he made sensual male nudes of France’s most handsome stars.

Jacqueline Delubac
Jacqueline Delubac. French postcard by Editions et Publications cinématographiques (EPC), no. 142. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Charles Trenet
Charles Trenet. French postcard by Edit. Chantal, Rueil, no. 508. Photo: Raymond Voinquel. Publicity still for La route enchantée/The enchanted road (Pierre Caron, 1938).

Jean Gabin in Le jour se lève (1939)
Jean Gabin. French postcard by Edit. Chantal, Rueil (S.-O.), no, 49B. Photo: Raymond Voinquel / Sigma. Publicity still for Le jour se lève/Daybreak (Marcel Carne, 1939),

Sacha Guitry
Sacha Guitry. French postcard by A. Noyer (A.N.), Paris, no. 1088. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Gérard Philipe
Gérard Philipe. French postcard by A. Noyer (A.N.), Paris, no. 1261. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Back and forth between fashion and cinema

Raymond Voinquel was born in 1912 in Fraize, a commune in the Vosges department in Grand Est in northeastern France.

In 1927, after the divorce of his parents, he moved with his mother to Paris. Attracted to the cinema, he became an extra in films by Jean Grémillon and Henri Fescourt.

In the famous Brasserie La Coupole, he met his first model: Hollywood star Adolphe Menjou. With him, he made his first actor portrait in front of the Majestic hotel. Menjou was in Paris to shoot the French film Mon gosse de père/My Kid of a Father (Jean De Limur, 1930) at the Joinville studios.

In 1930, Voinquel became an assistant to photographer Roger Forster, pioneer of film photography. However, Voinquel quited the job after only two months. He chose to become himself a stills photographer for the cinema. His first assignment was Mon amant l'assassin/My lover the murderer (Solange Bussy, 1931).

Around 1935, Voinquel also tried his hand at fashion photography. He used it as a means for experimentation, drawing directly on his negatives, or being the first photographer in France to take his models out of the studio and into the streets. He worked together as a team with George Hoyningen-Huene and Horst, and made photos for magazines like Silhouette, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.

He went back and forth between his work in fashion and cinema, his goal always being to transform the given into dream-like images. It didn’t take long for Voinquel to abandon fashion and dedicate himself entirely to the cinema. He threw himself completely into projects as soon as they were thought of by writers or directors, and was at times responsible for the meetings between them and the stars; he was thus the catalyst for the advent of certain films.

During the 1930s and 1940s, he was the stills photographer on films by director Marcel Carné, such as Le jour se lève/Daybreak (1939) with Jean Gabin, and Les Portes de la nuit/Gates of the Night (1946) with Yves Montand. He worked for Max Ophüls at Sans lendemain/There's No Tomorrow (1940) with Edwige Feuillère, and for Jean Cocteau at L'Aigle à deux têtes/The Eagle Has Two Heads (1948) with Feuillère and Jean Marais.

Jean Marais
Jean Marais. French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 21. Photo: Raymond Voinquel / Studio Harcourt.

Arletty. French postcard by Editions et Publications cinématographiques (EPC), no. 44. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Lisette Lanvin
Lisette Lanvin. French postcard, no. 662. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Jacqueline Laurent
Jacqueline Laurent. French postcard by Editions et Publications cinématographiques (EPC), no. 236. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Serge Reggiani
Serge Reggiani. Belgian collectors card by Merbotex, Bruxelles / Kursaal, Bertrix, no. 34. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Sensual, erotic and tasteful male nudes

During the Second World War, Raymond Voinquel went to work at Studio Harcourt, where he joined Roger Forster and Aldo Graziati. The work he did there did not delight him too much. The pace was frantic and Voinquel for whom photography was a craft could not really accommodate. He also denied the existence of a Harcourt style.

For him, the important thing was to know the person he was photographing to give a result closer to reality, to truth. His favourite actress was Danielle Darrieux.

Louis JourdanJean Marais and Jacques Sernas posed naked for him and the results are still sensual, erotic and tasteful. Voinquel made several photographs of male nudes. In 1940, he planned to illustrate Narcisse, a poem by Paul Valéry. In 1941, he photographed athletes at the Bordeaux stadium. He also paid tribute to Michelangelo through another series of male nude photographs.

He was the cinematographer for the film Saint-Louis, ange de la paix/Saint Louis, Angel of Peace (Robert Darène, 1951) which ran in cinemas with Jean Cocteau’s Orphée (1950). It shows Saint Louis’ life through statues, landscapes, and chateaux from the period. Voinquel also directed some films himself. He made a short documentary film on Norway called Le Bout du Monde/The End of the Earth (1952). In 1954, he made a documentary on Gustave Doré, his life and work. Unfortunately he had to cut back the film from 90 to 60 minutes. It ran for three months at the Ursulines, one of the oldest art cinemas in Paris.

During the 1950s, Voinquel worked as still photographer for several films by Yves Allégret, including Les Orgueilleux/The Proud and the Beautiful (1953) with Michèle Morgan and Gérard Philipe. He also reunited with Max Ophüls for Lola Montès (1955) featuring Martine Carol.

Voinquel photographed several times for director Jean-Pierre Melville, including the stills for the thriller Le Doulos/The Finger Man (1962) starring Jean-Paul Belmondo. His other major films assignments of the 1960s included Austerlitz (Abel Gance, 1960), and Belle de Jour (Luis Buñuel, 1963) starring Catherine Deneuve.

From 1931 to 1979, Voinquel created the stills for 160 films. International directors with whom he worked were Carol Reed, Anatole LitvakBilly Wilder, Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Alfred Hitchcock. His final film was the opera adaptation Fidelio (Pierre Jourdan, 1979). In 1989, the Cannes Film Festival awarded him for his photographic oeuvre.

Raymond Voinquel died in 1994 in Paris. He was 82.

Yves Montand
Yves Montand. French postcard by A. Noyer (A.N.), Paris, no. 1232. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Jean Marais
Jean Marais. French postcard by A. Noyer (A.N.), Paris, no. 1253. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Jacques Sernas
Jacques Sernas. French postcard by A. Noyer (A.N.), Paris, no. 1299. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Roberto Benzi
Roberto Benzi. French postcard. Photo: Raymond Voinquel, Paris.

Gina Lollobrigida in Trapeze (1956)
Gina Lollobrigida. German postcard by Ufa, no. CK 67. Photo: Raymond Voinquel. Publicity still for Trapeze (Carol Reed, 1956).

Sources: Samia Saouma (Bomb), CinéRessources (French), Tribute site to Raymond Voinquel, Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

15 June 2018

Betty Bird

Betty Bird (1901-1998) was a beautiful Austrian actress who appeared in several German films between 1927 and 1935.

Betty Bird
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4456/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Balázs, Berlin.

The Viennese Film Beauty Queen

Betty Bird was born in 1901 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria) as Hilde Elisabeth Ptack. She was the daughter of Ludwig Ptack, the private secretary of Count Alexander Kolowrat-Krakowsky, the owner of the Sascha Film Factory. Thus Betty came into contact with film people at an early age.

In 1923, she married the cameraman and later film director Gustav Ucicky. In 1927 she became the ‘Viennese Film Beauty Queen’ and received a first film offer and debuted in Madame wagt einen Seitensprung/Madame makes an infidelity (Hans Otto, 1927), starring Xenia Desni. She now called herself Betty Bird.

With her husband she moved to Munich and later to Berlin. She made Der Ladenprinz/The Shop Prince (Erich Schönfelder, 1928), in which she played the cousin of Harry Halm.

Then followed a leading role in the German-Spanish silent film Herzen ohne Ziel/Corazones sin rumbo/Restless Hearts (Benito Perojo, Gustav Ucicky, 1928) in which she starred with Hanna Ralph and Livio Pavanelli.

The film was a co-production between the Spanish company Julio César and the German studio Bavaria Film. The Argentine actress Imperio Argentina was cast after winning a competition staged by the film's producers. On its release the film was attacked by Spanish critics who felt that the Spanish actors had been relegated to lesser roles.

She then appeared in the German production Der Herzensphotograph/The Heart Photographer (Max Reichmann, 1928) co-starring with Harry Liedtke, Robert Garrison and La Jana.

In the silent crime film Das grüne Monokel/The Green Monocle (Rudolf Meinert, 1929), she starred with Ralph Cancy and Suzy Vernon. It features Stuart Webbs, one of several German fictional detectives inspired by Sherlock Holmes, who had appeared in a series of silent German films during the 1910s and 1920s. Die Mitternachtstaxe/Taxi at Midnight (Harry Piel, 1929) is another German silent thriller in which she appeared opposite Harry Piel.

In Austria, she starred in the silent comedy Madame im Strandbad/Lady in the Spa (Edmund Hahn, 1929) about a small spa town, which tries to give the impression that it is actually a much more important place than it really is. Back in Germany she starred in the comedy Die vierte von rechts/The Fourth from the Right (Conrad Wiene, 1929) with Ossi Oswalda and Adolphe Engers.

Betty Bird
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3701/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.

Betty Bird
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5874. Photo: Lux-Film.

An operetta wave

Betty Bird smoothly moved into the sound era. She had a supporting part in the musical drama Liebling der Götter/Darling of the Gods (Hanns Schwarz, 1930) starring Emil Jannings, Renate Müller and Olga Tschechova.

Then followed a female lead opposite Hans Brausewetter and Willi Forst in the musical Ein Burschenlied aus Heidelberg/A Student's Song of Heidelberg (Karl Hartl, 1930) in the tradition of the nostalgic Old Heidelberg.

In the German drama Grock (Carl Boese, 1931), she co-starred with the famous Swiss circus clown Grock (as himself) and Liane Haid. She then starred in the farce Die spanische Fliege/The Spanish Fly (Georg Jacoby, 1931) with Lizzi Waldmüller and Fritz Schulz.

She had a supporting role in Opernredoute/The Opera Ball (Max Neufeld, 1931) starring Iván PetrovichLiane Haid and Georg Alexander. It is an adaptation of the operetta Der Opernball and part of the many operetta films made during the decade.

In the following years she mainly played supporting parts, such as in the operetta Kaiserwalzer/The Emperor's Waltz (Friedrich Zelnik (Frederic Zelnik), 1933) starring Márta Eggerth, Paul Hörbiger and Willy Eichberger a.k.a. Carl Esmond.

Her final film was the Czech-German comedy Held einer Nacht/Hero of one Night (Martin Frič, 1935) with Vlasta Burian and Theo Lingen. In 1936, her marriage with Gustav Ucicky ended in a divorce.

In 1937, Bird married the Czech dentist Hruska in Rome. She retired from the film industry and lived in Italy till her death. Betty Bird passed away in Rome in 1998. She was 96.

Betty Bird
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5903/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Atelier Gerstenberg, Berlin.

Betty Bird in Was bin ich ohne Dich (1934)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8784/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Lloyd-Film / Neue Deutsch Lichtspiel-Syndikat. Publicity still for Was bin ich ohne Dich/What Am I Without You (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1934).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.