15 August 2011

Eino Kaipainen, Laila Rihte

Today we have a first. Postcards for the Finnish cinema are rare to us. So we're proud to present you this beautiful postcard of Eino Kaipainen (1899-1995) and Laila Rihte (1912-1985) in Pohjalaisia/The Ostrobothnians (1936).

Laila Rihte & Eino Kaipainen
Finnish postcard, no. 3. Photo: publicity still for Pohjalaisia/The Ostrobothnians (Yrjö Norta, T.J. Särkkä, 1936).

Defying Russian Rule

Eino Kaipainen was born as Eino Herman Kaipainen in 1899 in Jäppilä, Finland. Pohjalaisia/The Ostrobothnians (Yrjö Norta, T.J. Särkkä, 1936) was his debut as an actor.

The handsome Kaipanen was a policeman in the city of Kotka, who did acting as a side-job. The success of Pohjalaisia lead to a long professional film and TV career in the Finnish capital Helsinki with over 80 films.

Laila Rihte was born as Laila Richter in 1912 in Orimattila. She had acted in a handful of films before, but Pohjalaisia meant her breakthrough as a leading lady in film.

Pohjalaisia was based on a musical play (a 'verismo opera') of 1914, written by Artturi Järviluoma. The play had already resulted in a three-act opera by Leevi Madetoja composed during the years 1920-1923, and in a silent film version under the title Pohjalaisia (Jalmari Lahdensuo, 1925).

Thörild Bröderman played the police chief in both film versions. Iivari Tuomisto also had roles in both film versions, and Urho Somersalmi's role was played by his brother Yrjö Somersalmi in the silent version.

The story, variously comedic and tragic, takes place around 1850 in the historical Finnish province of Ostrobothnia. The Ostrobothnian peasants defy Russian rule in the person of an oppressive sheriff.

Co-director and co-producer of the film was Toivo Särkkä, the most prolific Finish filmmaker and the most powerful Finnish film producer as CEO of Suomi Filmiteollisuus (SF). For SF he produced around 200 films of which he directed more than 50.

Laila Rihte (left) in Pohjalaisia/The Ostrobothnians (Yrjö Norta, T.J. Särkkä, 1936). Source: Elonet.

Bit Roles

Eino Kaipainen and Laila Rihte formed a beautiful couple and they would be paired again in the comedy Lapatossu (Yrjö Norta, T.J. Särkkä, 1937).

Two years later followed the drama Helmikuun manifesti/February Manifest (Yrjö Norta, T.J. Särkkä, 1939). Finland was a province of Russia until 1917. Although the declaration of independence was given in December 1917, the process started much earlier.

One breakpoint was the 'February manifest' set by Nikolai II, the czar of Russia in 1899. With the manifest, the czar tried to take away most of the privileges Finland had had under the Russian command; the official language was to be Russian etc. This started a wave of protest, including the murder of general-governor Bobrikov, the representative of the czar in Finland, in 1904.

Ironically, less than a year after the release of the film, Russia attacked Finland again.

Besides their films for Norta and Särkkä, Eino Kaipainen and Laila Rihte also worked together for other directors, as in Halveksittu/Scorned (Jorma Nortimo, 1939) and Tyttö astuu elämään/A girl comes to life (Orvo Saarikivi, 1943).

They both played in dozens of Finnish dramas and comedies during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, which were nearly all deemed fair to mediocre by the voters on IMDb.

In the 1950s, Laila Rihte parts became smaller and smaller, till her bit roles were often not credited. During the 1960s she mostly worked for TV and her last screen appearances were in the popular TV series Naapurilähiö (1969-1976).

In 1985, Laila Rihte died in Helsinki aged 73.

Laila Rihte and Eino Kaipainen in Pohjalaisia/The Ostrobothnians (Yrjö Norta, T.J. Särkkä, 1936). Source: Elonet.

First Finnish Colour Film

After his debut in Pohjalaisia, handsome Eino Kaipainen had another success with the crime drama Vieras mies tuli taloon/A stranger came in the house (Wilho Ilmari, 1938) which was distributed in several European countries.

From 1937 till 1944, he worked as a stage actor for Suomen Kansallisteatterin (The Finnish National Theatre) and between 1945 and 1965 for Helsingin kaupunginteatterin (the Helsinki City Theatre).

Meanwhile, he appeared in dozens of unremarkable films. A highlight was Pikajuna pohjoiseen/North Express (Roland af Hällström, 1947)in which he is one of the passengers of an Express train travelling from Helsinki to the North, of which the film tells their destinies.

His last starring role was in the first Finnish feature film in colour, Juha (Toivo Särkkä, 1956). His parts then became smaller and ironically he was often cast as a chief constable. During the 1960s he moved over to television, but his last screen appearance was in the film Ruskan jälkeen/After the autumn (Edvin Laine, 1979).

In 1995, Eino Kaipainen passed away in Helsinki at the age of 95.

Laila Rihte and Eino Kaipainen in Pohjalaisia/The Ostrobothnians (Yrjö Norta, T.J. Särkkä, 1936). Source: Telsu.

Sources: Elonet (Finnish), Wikipedia and IMDb.

No comments: