Henry Stuart (1885 - ?) was a British-Swiss actor, director and writer, who was very successful in the German silent cinema.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3448/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Hanni Schwarz.
Perfect Gentleman and Noble Lover
Henry Stuart was born as Court Henry Edouard Hess in Cairo, Egypt, in 1885. He was the son of a British colonial employee. Shortly before 1900 he returned to Britain but grew up mostly in Paris. He visited the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München (art academy in Munich), planning to become a painter. Shortly before World War One broke out, he was in Vienna, where he established his first contacts in the film world. During the war Stuart stayed in Britain, but afterwards he returned to Germany. In 1922 he started his highly successful career as actor in the German silent cinema, often performing the perfect gentleman and noble lover. Probably his first appearance was a small part in the elaborate costume drama Ein Glas Wasser/One Glass of Water (1922, Ludwig Berger) starring Mady Christians. It was followed by the fantasy Die Perrücke/The Wig (1924, Berthold Viertel) in which he played the major part of Julian, the lover of the Princess (Jenny Hasselqvist), whose husband (Otto Gebühr) tries to separate them. In another classic Die freudlose Gasse/Joyless Street (1925, G.W. Pabst), set during the Viennese Depression, Stuart plays Egon Stirner, the secretary of an international speculator. He is arrested for the murder of a lawyer’s wife, but the culprit is the penniless Maria Lechner (Asta Nielsen). Maria is desperately in love with Stirner and has murdered the woman because she suspected her to be a rival.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4417/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Hanni Schwarz, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3114/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Hanni Schwarz, Berlin.
In the following years Henry Suart starred in an impressive series of films including Die Strasse des Vergessens/The Street of Forgetting (1925, Heinz Paul) with Hella Moja, Das Abenteuer der Sybille Brant/Sybille Brant's Adventure (1925, Carl Froehlich) with Henny Porten, Unter Ausschluss der Öffentlichkeit/Under exclusion of the public (1926, Conrad Wiene) with Maly Delschaft, Schenk mir das Leben/Give me the life (1926, Klaus Fery), Liebelei/Flirtation (1927, Jakob & Luise Fleck) with Fred Louis Lerch and Evelyn Holt, Die versunkene Flotte/When Fleet Meets Fleet (1926, Manfred Noa) with Nils Asther, Die zwei und die Dame/The Two and the Lady (1926, Alwin Neuss) with Agnes Esterhazy and Bernhard Goetzke, Derby (1926, Max Reichmann), Der Mann im Feuer/The Man in the Fire (1926, Erich Waschneck), Das Mädchen ohne Heimat/The Girl Without a Homeland (1926, Constantin J. David), Wenn Menschen reif zur Liebe werden/When people become ripe for love (1927, Jakob & Luise Fleck), Die geheime Macht (1927, Erich Waschneck) with Walter Rilla, Die Frau mit dem Weltrekord/The woman with the world record (1927, Erich Waschneck) with Lee Parry, Der Bettler vom Kölner Dom/The beggar of the Cologne cathedral (1927, Rolf Randolf) with Hanni Weisse, and Der Skandal in Baden-Baden/The scandal in Baden-Baden (1928, Erich Waschneck) with Brigitte Helm. In 1928 Stuart went to India to stage the feature film Der Ring der Bajadere, as well as direct the documentaries Der Maharadscha von Mysore hat Geburtstag (1929, Henry Stuart) and Nuri, der Elefant/Nuri, the Elephant (1930, Henry Stuart). Back in Germany, Stuart played his last roles in silent film: the industrialist Erwin Voss in Das Recht auf Liebe/The right on love (1929, Jakob & Luise Fleck), and Kaiser Franz in the part-talkie Der Günstling von Schönbrunn/Favorite of Schonbrunn (1929), starring Iván Petrovich and Lil Dagover. The film was directed by Erich Waschneck but Max Reichmann did the direction for the talking part.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3885/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Hanni Schwarz, Berlin.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5359. Photo: Ufa.
In the sound era Henry Stuart didn’t find much work. In 1933 he directed a short, Zwischen 12 und 2/Between 12 and 2, based on the play Hotelratten/Hotel rats. In 1938 he co-wrote the script for the Yiddish-American production The Power of Life. He became Swiss citizen and in 1941 he released the only feature sound film directed by him: Krishna. Abenteuer im indischen Dschungel/Krishna, adventures in the Indian Jungle (1941), codirected and conscripted with Lola Kreuzberg, whose company had already produced Stuart’s films in India in 1928-1929. It probably was a sound version of Der Ring der Bajadere. In 1942 Stuart played a British enemy in the colonial feature Germanin (1942, Max W. Kimmich) starring Luis Trenker. He also had a small uncredited part, again as a British lord, in the all-star super-production Münchhausen/Baron Munchhausen (1943, Josef von Baky) featuring Hans Albers. It was to be his final film appearance. In Berlin, Stuart performed in particular at the Englischen Theater Deutscher Schauspieler and worked for the radio as well as a manuscript and title translator. Henry Stuart’s death year is indicated by several sources (IMDb, Cyranos) to be 1942, but according to German Wikipedia this is wrong. However, since 1942 he never acted in a film anymore.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1946/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Rembrandt.
Sources: Filmportal.de, Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.