31 October 2012

Anita Björk (1923 - 2012)

At 24 October 2012, respected Swedish actress Anita Björk died at 89. She was a leading lady of the Swedish theatre with more than 80 roles. Björk repeatedly worked for Ingmar Bergman, both onstage and onscreen. The slender, dark-haired beauty played in over 50 films and TV-series. Her international breakthrough came with the title role in Alf Sjöberg's Strindberg adaptation Fröken Julie/Miss Julie (1951), which won the grand prize at Cannes. Hollywood winked at ‘the new Garbo’. But when the studios learned that she was an unwed mother, they shied away.

Anita Björk (1923 - 2012)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 2.337, 1965. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.

Cool Aura
Anita Barbro Kristina Björk was born in Tallberg, a town in central Sweden, in 1923. She was bitten by the acting bug in her teens and went to Stockholm. There she attended the acting school of the Royal Dramatic Theater, known as Dramaten, in 1942-1945. She studied together with Mai Zetterling, the actress who later became Sweden's most recognized female film director. Björk quickly got major roles. In 1942, she also made her film debut with a small role in the monumental classic Himlaspelet/The Heavenly Play (1942, Alf Sjöberg), about a poor farmer (Rune Lindström) who makes a deal with devil. Other small parts followed in films like the thriller Det kom en gäst/A Guest Is Coming (1947, Arne Mattsson). Her breakthrough came in Jean Genet's play The Maids (1948). It was followed by such roles as Agnes in Henrik Ibsen's Brand, Juliet in William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, Eliza in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and Tintomara in Carl Jonas Love Almqvist's Drottningens juvelsmycke (The Queen's jewel necklace). In his obituary for Variety, Jon Asp writes: “Bjork was considered the leading lady of Swedish theater, with a cool aura not unlike that of Greta Garbo. Bjork's deep, self-restrained voice was impossible to confuse with anyone else's.” She also played in several films, including Kvartetten som sprängdes/The Quartet That Split Up (1950, Gustaf Molander). Bjork's international breakthrough came with the title role in the film Fröken Julie/Miss Julie (1951, Alf Sjöberg), based on the famous play by August Strindberg. Mattias Thuresson writes at IMDb: “Anita Björk is able to use simple means to give depth and character to a role. She has a way of expressing any emotion just by raising an eyebrow or twitching her lips. This was something she used to a large extent in her best movie, Alf Sjöberg's Fröken Julie (1951) where she played the young lady at a country manor, planning to elope with Jean the butler.” The film won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Mai Zetterling
Mai Zetterling. British postcard, no. F.S. 30. Publicity postcard for the film Quartet (1948), a Sydney Box production for Gainsborough Pictures.

The New Garbo
After the success of Fröken Julie, Anita Björk was acclaimed by American newspapers as ‘the new Garbo’ and received an invitation from Hollywood. She was offered the female lead in Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess (1953). But suddenly the offer was withdrawn and the role was ultimately played by Anne Baxter. Earlier, Björk had met and fallen in love with Stig Dagerman, one of Sweden’s most important writers. In 1951 she had given birth to their daughter Lo. The three of them had gone to Hollywood for Björk to negotiate the role in I Confess. But when word came out that Björk wasn't married to Dagerman, Hollywood immediately lost interest. Dagerman’s divorce from his ex-wife wasn't final until 1953 and Hollywood did not accept a contract player who lived with someone married to somebody else and who was an unmarried mother. In 1953, Dagerman and Björk could finally marry. For Twentieth Century Fox, Anita Björk starred opposite Gregory Peck in the Cold War thriller Night People (1954, Nunnally Johnson), shot in England and Germany. She also appeared with Karlheinz Böhm in the German production Die Hexe/The Witch (1954, Gustav Ucicky). But when the films failed at the box office, so did her international career. Björk soon moved back to Stockholm. At the end of 1954, her husband Stig Dagerman committed suicide. Björk decided to stick to the Royal Dramatic Theatre where she would appear in more than 80 roles through the years. She also played in Swedish films as the melodrama Sången om den eldröda blomman/Song of the Scarlet Flower (1956, Gustaf Molander) and the thrillers Damen i svart/The Lady in Black (1958, Arne Mattsson) and Mannekäng i rött/Mannequin in Red (1958, Arne Mattsson).

Karlheinz Böhm
Karlheinz Böhm. German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-28. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Arthur Grimm / UFA.

Bergman's Favorite Film
For MGM, Anita Björk appeared in the war drama Square of Violence (1961, Leonardo Bercovici) starring Broderick Crawford. Under the direction of Mai Zetterling, she starred in the romantic drama Älskande par/Loving Couples (1964) and under the direction of Bo Widerberg in his Ådalen 31/Adalen Riots (1969). Björk performed in 12 productions by famous director Ingmar Bergman. First, she played in his film Kvinnors väntan/Secrets of Women (1952, Ingmar Bergman). And at the end of her career in 1998, she performed in his TV film Bildmakarna/The Image Makers (1998). The film was based on the play by Per Olov Endquist. It is a fictionalized dramatization about the making of Bergman's favorite film, Körkarlen/The Phantom Carriage (1921, Victor Sjöström). Bergman saw this classic of the silent Scandinavian cinema reportedly over 100 times, and the film prompted him to become a film-maker. In The Image Makers Björk offered a memorable interpretation of Swedish writer and Nobel laureate Selma Lagerlöf on whose novel Körkarlen/The Phantom Carriage was based. The play, also directed by Bergman, went on tour in Europe and also played the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. Bjork also played Queen Victoria in Cannes Palme d'Or winner Den goda viljan/The Best Intentions (1992, Bille August), a film based on Bergman's autobiographical novel about his parents. The actress last performed in A.R. Gurney's Kärleksbrev/Love Letters (2009) under direction of Gunnel Lindblom at Teater Brunnsgatan Fyra in Stockholm. Before her wedding to Stig Dagerman, Anita Björk had been married to actor Olof Bergström (1945 - 1951). Their son is actor Jonas Bergström. After the death of Dagerman, Anita Björk had a relationship with novelist Graham Greene.

Scene from Mannekäng i rött/Mannequin in Red (1958). Source: BarLoyale (YouTube). (Sorry, no subtitles).

Sources: Jon Asp (Variety), Bruce Weber (The New York Times), Mattias Thuresson (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

30 October 2012

Kirsten Heiberg

Beautiful Norwegian actress and singer Kirsten Heiberg (1907-1976) was the femme fatale of the German cinema of the Third Reich. The Ufa considered her as a replacement for Marlene Dietrich after the latter left for Hollywood. ‘Die Heiberg’ was one of the most interesting and talented Ufa stars, but unfortunately she stayed somewhat in the shadow of Zarah Leander.

Kirsten Heiberg
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3228/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Baumann / Terra.

Kirsten Heiberg
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3939/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Terra.

Sinners in Summertime
Kirsten Heiberg was born in Kragerö, Norway, in 1907. Her father was a rich wood merchant. According to Wikipedia, she grew up in an artistic family, and her younger sister Else Heiberg later also became an actress. She went to boarding schools in Lausanne, Dijon and Paris. Later, she studied English in Oxford, England. Heiberg began her theater career in her homecountry at Den Nationale Scene in 1929, and in the 1930's she appeared at the Carl Johan-Teatret and Scala Revyteater in Oslo. She made her cinema debut in 1934 with the Norwegian film Syndere i sommersol/Sinners in Summertime (1934, Einar Sissener). This was followed by more Norwegian productions and some Swedish films. In 1937 she went to Austria where she appeared on stage in the operetta revue Pam-Pam at Theater an der Wien. There she met German film composer Franz Grothe. They married in 1938 and moved to Berlin. Grothe d write numerous songs for his wife that suited her impressive alt. Curt Goetz engaged her for the film Napoleon ist an allem schuld/Blame it on Napoleon (1938, Curt Goetz) starring Goetz and his wife Valerie von Martens. This highly entertaining comedy marked her breakthrough. After the film Goetz and Von Mertens fled Germany and moved to Hollywood. There Goetz was hired to work on various scripts at M.G.M. and given a 5 year contract. But Goetz and Von Martens chose to momentarily retire and became chicken farmers! During the war, he worked on his plays in the United States during the war. His plays The house on Montevideo and People will talk were later filmed.

Kirsten Heiberg
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute / Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Terra / Quick.

Kirsten Heiberg, Viktor Staal
Big card by Ross Verlag. Photo: Hämmerer / Ufa.

The New Ufa Diva
The Ufa presented Kirsten Heiberg as their new diva in Frauen für Golden Hill/Women for Golden Hill (1938, Erich Waschneck) opposite Viktor Staal, and the next years she played femme fatales in adventure and spy films like Alarm auf Station III/Alarm at Station 3 (1939, Philipp Lothar Mayring) starring Gustav Fröhlich and Achtung! Feind hört mit!/Beware! The Enemy Is Listening! (1940, Arthur Maria Rabenalt) with René Deltgen. In 1940 her career was halted when she refused to become a member of the Nazi party and didn't want to perform in her native Norway during the German occupation.

Kirsten Heiberg
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2688/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Binz, Berlin / Tobis.

Kirsten Heiberg
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2998/2, 1939-1940. Photo: Baumann / Terra.

Kirsten Heiberg returned in front of the cameras in 1942. Nowadays her best remembered films are the operetta Liebespremiere/Love Premiere (1943, Arthur Maria Rabenalt) with Hans Söhnker and the historical disaster film Titanic (1943, Herbert Selpin, Werner Klingler), about the sinking of the British luxury liner in 1912. At IMDb, Ralph Michael Stein writes: "It's not that common in movie history that a director angers the producer/distributor of his movie so much that the latter has the former murdered. That's what happened to co-director Herbert Selpin in 1942 before the release of Germany's film contribution to the Titanic saga. Dr. Josef Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister and self-anointed arbiter of culture in the Third Reich, had the Gestapo arrest Selpin who was reported dead in his cell the day after. Suicide? Ridiculous. (...) Selpin (with co-director Werner Klingler) turned out a sumptuous, ornate and dramatically compelling movie. Largely using the known facts, Titanic tells the well worn tale of a ship driven to unreasonable and dangerous speeds in order to set a record. There are some significant deviations. Here, the English first officer - seized with some malady - is replaced by a German seaman named Petersen, a model of experience and rectitude. J. Bruce Ismay, whose social life was justifiably ruined because of his escaping the sinking behemoth, is unrealistically portrayed as a grasping cad whose crudity was not found in the self-absorbed, rich and supinely confident real shipping magnate. The vessel's master, Captain Smith, is overly subservient to Ismay but he responds well to the disaster. This movie wasn't made on the cheap. Given the deteriorating wartime situation, a lot of marks were expended for terrific sets and fine attire. There's no real Nazi propaganda. The movie ends with a comment that English greed occasioned the loss of so many lives but very many books and articles from Old Blighty and the U.S. echo that view. Because of its anti-British utterances, the Allies banned the movie in their sectors in Germany at first while it was freely available in the Soviet zone. Hardly a surprise-that movie maven, Stalin, probably loved this capitalist-bashing film." Other well-known films were Die goldene Spinne/The Golden Spider (1943, Erich Engels) and Philharmoniker/Philharmonic (1944, Paul Verhoeven). With her dark timbre and her erotic appeal she also became a popular singer. Many of her film songs were written by her husband, Franz Grothe, such as Ich bin wie ich bin (I Am Like I Am) and Ich bin heut´ frei meine Herrn (Tonight I'm Free, Gentlemen).

Kirsten Heiberg
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3373/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz, Berlin.

Kirsten Heiberg
German Postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3771/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Foto Baumann / Terra.

On the Rocks
After the war began a difficult time for Kirsten Heiberg. Her marriage with Grothe went on the rocks. Back in Oslo she got no film offers because of her career in Nazi Germany. However, she was not arrested by the Norwegians since she was a German citizen by that time. She continued to work on stage though and between 1952 and 1960 she worked for the Trøndelag Teater in Trondheim, acting in operettas, comedies, and serious classics and modern dramas. Sometimes she returned to Germany to make a film, but she wasn't able to continue her earlier successes. To her last films belong Hafenmelodie/Harbour Melody (1949, Hans Müller) opposite Paul Henckels, Bei Dir war es immer so schön/It Was Always So Nice with You (1954, Hans Wolff) with Heinz Drache, and the Norwegian drama Broder Gabrielsen/Brother Bill (1966, Nils R. Müller). Shortly before her death, she made a cameo appearance in the German-Norwegian production Eiszeit/Ice Age (1975, Peter Zadek) with O.E. Hasse. Kirsten Heiberg died in 1976 in Oslo, Norway. Among the few attending her funeral were her ex husband Franz Grothe and his second wife Gerda. They had always stayed good friends. They took her now orphaned dog Truks with them to Germany.

Kirsten Heiberg
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3504/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz, Berlin.

Kirsten Heiberg
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 150, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

Scene from the operetta Liebespremiere/Love Premiere (1943) with Kirsten Heiberg singing Komm, Zauber der Nacht (Come, Magic of the Night). Source: Alparfan (YouTube).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Ralph Michael Stein (IMDb), j-r årsheim (IMDb), Guy Bellinger (IMDb), Kirsten Heiberg Biographie Seite (German), Wikipedia (English and German) and IMDb.

29 October 2012

Samson Fainsilber

Handsome Samson Fainsilber (1904 – 1983) was a French, Romanian born actor. He appeared in several films of Abel Gance in the 1930’s and of Alain Resnais in the 1970’s.

Samson Fainsilber
French postcard by Edition Chantal, Paris, no. 33. Photo: Studio Rudolph.

Drunken Orgy, Replete With Rape And Bestiality
Samson Fainsilber was born in Iaşi, Romania in 1904. He was the son of journalist Matei Rusu. His brother was the film critic Benjamin Fainsilber. His Jewish family fled the country and found refuge in France. Samson grew up in Paris. In 1924 he made his stage debut in Les Cadets at the Theatre des Mathurins. He went to Italy, where he acted with Ida Rubinstein. He also played in Histoires de France (1929), written and directed by Sacha Guitry at the Théâtre Pigalle. From then on, Samson also started to appear in the cinema. Among his first films were Le Requin/The Shark (1929, Henri Chomette), the first full-length French sound film, and the Sci-Fi Disaster film La Fin du monde/End of the World (1930, Abel Gance) with Victor Francen. Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Never one to do anything by halves, director Abel Gance delivers just what the title La Fin du Monde promises: The End of the World. As a comet speeds along on a collision course with Planet Earth, the world prays for a miracle. (…) Once all hope is abandoned, virtually all of civilization degenerates into a drunken orgy, replete with rape and bestiality. The worst is reserved for last, as the ever-approaching comet causes a plethora of natural disasters before the final ‘Big Bang.’ For its premiere engagements in 1929, La Fin du Monde was outfitted with a primitive but effective stereophonic-sound system, the aural equivalent to Abel Gance's Cinerama-like ‘Triptychs’ in his 1927 masterpiece Napoleon. With his typical flair for the messianic, Gance originally released his film as Abel Gance's La Fin du Monde.” Fainsilber would work for Gance again in the melodrama Mater Dolorosa/The Pledge (1932, Abel Gance) in which he had an affair with his brother’s wife (Line Noro). For Napoléon Bonaparte (1935, Abel Gance), a re-edited sound version of Gance's silent masterpiece Napoleon (1927, Abel Gance), he did the voice of Danton. Finally, he co-starred with Georges Milton in Gance’s Jérôme Perreau/The Queen and the Cardinal (1935, Abel Gance). In Odette (1935, Jacques Houssin, Giorgio Zambon), the handsome Fainsilber was the love interest of Italian diva Francesca Bertini. He could also be seen in popular genre films like the lavish swashbuckler Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (1932, Henri Diamant-Berger) in which he played the power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu, and Le Bossu/The Hunchback (1934, René Sti) with Josseline Gael. After this busy period followed a few years in which he did not make films. In the late 1930’s he returned on the screen in Retour à l'aube/She Returned at Dawn (1938, Henri Decoin) with Danielle Darrieux, and Tourbillon de Paris/Whirlwind of Paris (1939, Henri Diamant-Berger). Then the occupation of France by the Nazis, once again interrupted the career of the Jewish actor. He used the time in hiding to write a book, L'acteur de theater (the stage actor), published in 1944.

FAINSILBER, Samson. L'acteur de théâtre_Raoul Solar & SPEM (Monaco), 1944. Signed
Cover of L'acteur de theater. Collection: Performing Arts / Artes Escénicas.

Heart-Wrenching Ordeal
After the war, Samson Fainsilber made a come-back in the cinema with the comedy Dorothée cherche l'amour/Dorothy Looks For Love (1945, Edmond T. Gréville) featuring Suzy Carrier. He also appeared in the resistance film Les Clandestins/Clandestine (1946, André Chotin). Hal Erickson reviews the film at AllMovie: “French ‘underground’ films were as common as the measles in 1946. Among the better efforts was Les Clandestins, directed with realism and conviction by Andre Chotin. A romantic subplot involving two resistance fighters can be forgotten; the film's strong suit is its vivid recreations of the horrors and deprivations suffered by the French under Nazi domination. Particularly heart-wrenching is the ordeal of a philosophical Jewish doctor, played by Samson Fainsilber. Commendably, the Nazis are not depicted as caricatures; their matter-of-fact behavior while committing the most heinous of atrocities is far more frightening because of its ‘normalcy’.” In 1948, Fainsilber slapped a theater critic but he was not aware of the consequences. The French association of critics decided to no longer mention Fainsilber in reviews. However, he continued to appear in plays and films, some made by noted directors. He appeared for Sacha Guitry uncredited as Cardinal Mazarin in the film spectacles Si Versailles m'était conté/Affairs in Versailles (1953, Sacha Guitry) and Si Paris nous était conté/If Paris Were Told to Us (1955, Sacha Guitry). A curiosity was the album 32 poèmes d'amour (32 Love Poems), which he recorded for Pathé. He continued to appear in the theatre. A success was Madame Sans-Gêne by Victorien Sardou and Émile Moreau, directed by Alfred Pasquali. In 1960 it was staged in the Théâtre de l'Ambigu and retaken in 1962 at the Théâtre des Célestins. He also worked for television. A huge success was Janique Aimée (1963, Jean-Pierre Desagnat), a drama series of 52 episodes of 13 minutes for the ORTF. Another TV success was the mini-series Docteur Teyran (1981, Jean Chapot) starring Michel Piccoli. His later film credits include Don Juan 73/Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were a Woman) (1973, Roger Vadim) starring Brigitte Bardot in her last film, and the action comedy L’animal/Stuntwoman (1977, Claude Zidi) featuring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Raquel Welch. Fainsilber played supporting parts in three films by Alain Resnais. The crime drama Stavisky (1974, Alain Resnais) featured Belmondo as a historic financier, con-man and swindler who was arrested in 1934 for selling phony stock but was never brought to trial. In the psychological drama Providence (1977, Alain Resnais) starred Dirk Bogarde and John Gielgud. The film swept the Cesar Awards, France's Oscar equivalent, winning seven including Best Director for Resnais. In their last cooperation La vie est un roman/Life is a Bed of Roses (1982, Alain Resnais), Fainsilber supported André Dussolier and Vittorio Gassman. It was his last film. In 1983, the 79-years-old Samson Fainsilber died in Paris following a heart attack. He was married to actress Simone Paris.

Trailer Stavisky (1974). Source: Manuel 19771 (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Der Spiegel (German), AllMovie, Wikipedia (French and Romanian) and IMDb.

28 October 2012

A.W. Baskcomb

A.W. Baskcomb (1880 – 1939) is best remembered for his creation of the part of ‘Slightly’ in the very first stage production of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan (1904). He created a major character out of an underwritten part and went on to play it for seven years. At the end of his career he became briefly a popular film star.

A.W. Baskcomb
British postcard by Raphael Tuck & Sons' Real Photograph, no. 20-S. Photo: Gaumont-British. Publicity shot for The Midshipmaid (1932).

Peter Pan
A.W. ‘Archie’ Baskcomb
was born in London, UK, in 1880. His father had been chief clerk to King Edward, when he was Prince of Wales. His brother was the actor Laurence Baskcomb. Archie began his stage career as a dumb negro in The Octoroon in 1890. His appearances since then were many and varied. He played in comedies, musicals, revues and pantomime. His most famous part was ‘Slightly’ in the very first stage production of J.M.Barrie's Peter Pan in 1904. He created a major character out of an underwritten part and went on to play it for seven years. In 1913 he made his film debut for the Urban Trading Company in The Staff Dinner. In this short silent comedy he played a clerk who gets drunk at the annual office dinner and comes home late. The wife was played by his real wife, Ninon Dudley. Baskcomb is also credited as the writer of the film. Among his later West End productions were Mayfair and Montmartre (1922) by John Hastings Turner at the New Oxford Theatre, the musical Lilac Time (1922-1923) at the Lyric Theatre, The Street Singer (1924) with Phyllis Dare at the Lyric Theatre, and the musical Queen High (1926) with Sonnie Hale at the Queen's Theatre.

A.W. Baskcomb, John Gielgud, Jessie Matthews, The Good Companions
British postcard by Raphael Tuck & Sons in the Real Photograph Series, no. 27-B. Photo: Gaumont-British. Publicity still for The Good Companions (1933, Victor Saville) with a.o. John Gielgud (third from left), A.W. Baskcomb (fifth from left) and Jessie Matthews (third from right).

A.W. Baskcomb
British postcard by Raphael Tuck & Sons' Real Photograph, no. 29-S. Photo: Gaumont-British.

The LodgerAfter the introduction of sound film, A.W. Baskcomb made his come-back in the cinema. First he played the lead in the short comedy A Safe Proposition (1932, Leslie S. Hiscott). Then he supported Ivo Novello and Elizabeth Allen in The Lodger (1932, Maurice Elvey) . This was the first sound remake of the silent classic of 1926 directed by Alfred Hitchcock, which was inspired by the Jack the Ripper legend. Novello, who played the title role and headed the team writing the script, was in the original as well. He plays Michael Angeloff, a Hungarian musician, who takes lodgings with the Bunting family. Baskcomb played the head of the family. A romance develops between his daughter Daisy (Allen) and Angeloff. In the meanwhile a maniac stalks and murders street-women at night and circumstances gradually point the finger of suspicion at Angeloff, as the only clue the police have is that the killer is a foreign musician. Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “In Belloc-Lowndes' original novel The Lodger, the reclusive young man suspected of being Jack the Ripper turns out to be exactly who he's assumed to be. When Alfred Hitchcock directed the 1926 film version of The Lodger, he was advised that the public would never accept the popular star Ivo Novello as a serial killer, thus the film was given a happy ending. Novello himself wrote the screenplay for the 1932 non-Hitchcock talkie version of The Lodger, which, though updated from the novel's 19th century setting, retains its original shocker climax. Well received at the time of its release but rarely seen in recent years, the 1932 Lodger can be regarded as a serviceable bridge between the 1926 Hitchcock silent and the definitive 1944 20th Century-Fox remake starring Laird Cregar.”

A.W. Baskcomb
British postcard by Raphael Tuck & Sons' Real Photograph, no. 42-S. Photo: Gaumont-British. Publicity shot for The Midshipmaid (1932).

The Good Companions
Next A.W. Baskcomb played in the comedy The Midshipmaid (1932, Albert de Courville) starring Jessie Matthews. The following year, he supported Matthews again in the charming musical The Good Companions (1933, Victor Saville). The story was taken from J.B. Priestley's novel about three musicians joining together to save a failing concert party, the Dinky Doos. Craig Butler reviews at AllMovie: “Although a big success when originally released (and remade several times), The Good Companions has not held up particularly well over the years and is of primary interest for its cast. One of the cinema's many backstage musicals, Companions has a plot the elements that have been used time and again, from a chorus girl determined to be a star to a nascent songwriter who falls for her. The screenplay does win a few points, however, for the manner in which it introduces its characters, and the result is that the true star of the picture is not obvious for quite some time. The musical numbers (...) are pleasant and diverting, but hardly striking or original. Fortunately, Jessie Matthews figures prominently in many of the songs, giving them a great boost. Although never a great star abroad, Matthews was beloved by the British public, and it's easy to see why. She positively sparkles, and even when her acting comes across as rather broad, she manages to be appealing. The chance to see a very young John Gielgud in a musical is another drawing card; although he's not exactly at ease in the role, he actually handles it quite well. Even better is the delightful Edmund Gwenn, whose gentle portrayal gathers in strength and helps to anchor the film. These and the other members of the cast make Companions worth catching.” The Good Companions was a smash hit and it made Baskcomb a star. The postcards in this post and other collector’s cards were produced at the time. However, it was to be his last film. A.W. Baskcomb died in 1939 in London.

Two excerpts from The Midshipmaid (1932). Jessie Matthews sings One Little Kiss From You with Basil Sydney, followed by a scene with John Mills. Huffing and puffing as Jessie's father is Frederick Kerr. Towards the end of the video, Mr Pook the funny sailor is A.W. Baskcomb.

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Craig Butler (AllMovie), Collector’s Card (NYPL Digital Gallery), Charles Lee (IMDb) and IMDb.

27 October 2012

Marianne Hold

In the 1950’s and 1960’s attractive actress Marianne Hold (1933-1994) became the queen of the Heimatfilm - the romantic German film genre set in rural, especially Alpine, areas.

Marianne Hold
German collectors card by Lux.

Marianne Hold
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 35. Photo: Niczky.

Marianne Hold was born as Marianne Weiss in Johannisburg, East Prussia, in 1933. In the last days of the Second World War her father got missing. At age 15, she ran away from home because she couldn’t stand her stepfather. She went to Rome where she started working in the kitchen of a Protestant convent and later worked as a cutter at the Cinecittà film studio. She was spotted by director Gabriel Pascal, who offered her a scholarship at the Cinecittà acting school. In 1950 she was offered her first role by mountaineer-turned-director Luis Trenker in Barriera a Settentrione/Mountain Smugglers (1950, Luis Trenker) starring Amedeo Nazzari. This was followed up by a small role in the Italian production Benvenuto, reverendo!/Welcome Reverend (1950, Aldo Fabrizi) and bigger roles in German films like Ave Maria (1953, Alfred Braun) with Zarah Leander.

Marianne Hold
German postcard by ISV, no. H 1. Photo: Sahm.

Marianne Hold
German-Dutch postcard, no. 1259.

Soon Marianne Hold became a popular actress in Heimatfilms like Hochzeitsglocken/Marriage Bells (1954, Georg Wildhagen), Wenn die Alpenrosen blüh'n/When the alpine roses blossom (1955, Hans Deppe a.o.) and Heimatland/Homeland (1955, Franz Antel) with Rudolf Prack and Adrian Hoven. Her breakthrough role was a fisher girl in Die Fischerin vom Bodensee/The Fisher-girl from Lake Bodensee (1956, Harald Reinl). She proved her versatility as an actress in the poetic Marianne de ma jeunesse/Marianne, meine Jugendliebe/Marianne of My Youth (1955, Julien Duvivier). She costarred with Gerhard Riedmann in Die Prinzessin von St. Wolfgang/The Princess of Saint Wolfgang (1957, Harald Reinl), Bei der blonden Kathrein/At Blonde Kathrein's (1959, Hans Quest) and Waldrausch/Forest Flush (1962, Paul May). With her discoverer Luis Trenker she made Prigioniero della montagna/Prisoner of the Mountains (1955, Luis Trenker), Von der Liebe besiegt/Conquered by Love (1956, Luis Trenker) and Wetterleuchten um Maria/Lightning Around Maria (1957, Luis Trenker). While filming Die Diamantenhölle am Mekong/Mission to Hell (1964, Gianfranco Parolini) she met Czech born actor Frederick Stafford and married him. Their son, Roderick Stafford, was born in the same year. She then retired from the film business to take care of her son. Her last film was the Karl May adaptation Der Schut/The Shoot (1964, Robert Siodmak) starring Lex Barker. In 1994 Marianne Hold died of a heart attack in her house in Lugano, Switzerland.

Marianne Hold
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 58. Photo: Theo Huster.

Marianne Hold
German postcard by UFA, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-34. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Constantin Film.

Sources: Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-line.de), Wikipedia, Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen and IMDb.

26 October 2012

Dina Galli

Dina Galli (1877 - 1951) was a legendary Italian comedienne who conquered the Italian stage with her flashing but gentle eyes and particular face. She also was successful in several Italian silent and sound films and became one of Federico Fellini's favorite actresses.

Dina Galli
Italian postcard by ENCV.

Flashing Blue Eyes
Dina Galli was born as Clotilde Annamaria Galli in Milan, Italy in 1877. She was a real figlia d'arte. Her mother was an actress and as a little girl Dina already played small parts for her mother's theatre companies. With her flashing blue eyes, her pointed face, her slender figure and her gentle irony, she soon conquered the Italian stage. In 1890, she joined the theatre company of Edoardo Ferravilla, the great actor of the Milanese dialect. There she showed a great talent for comedy and soon she played leading roles. A decade later she managed to enter the renowned Talli-Grammatica-Calabresi theatre company with the young Ruggero Ruggeri. For years she excelled in the frivolous and spicy comedies by Georges Feydeau, Maurice Hennequin, Pierre Veber et. al., such as La Dame de chez Maxim. La Dina became the darling of both the critics and the public. During the First World War, she obtained successes with La maestrina (The Teacher) and Scampolo, both by Dario Niccodemi. Galli took sidesteps into the silent cinema during the First World War and appeared in Veli di giovinezza/Veils of youth (1914), La monella/The brat (1914) and L'ammiraglia/The flagship (1915). All three films were directed by Nino Oxilia, who was killed during the war. In 1917 followed Le nozze di Vittoria/The wedding of Victoria (1917, Ugo Falena). After that, Galli focused on dramatic roles in stage plays, in particular the dialectical theatre by Giuseppe Adami. In these productions Galli talked in vernacular Milanese, as in Felicita Colombo (1935), the role that stuck to her.

Dina Galli caricature
Italian postcard. Caricature by Girus (Giuseppe Russo). It was exposed in 1914 at the first international exhibition of caricatures and humorism in Italy.

Armando Falconi
Armando Falconi. Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 2557. Series Cines-Pittaluga.

One Of Fellini's Favorite Actresses
From the late 1930's on, Dina Galli regularly acted for the Italian sound cinema. The films Felicita Colombo (1937, Mario Mattoli) and Nonna Felicita/Grandmother Felicita (1938, Mario Mattoli) with Armando Falconi were both based on stage successes of Galli, and showed her comedy skills. Other films she played in were Nini Falpalà (1933, Amleto Palermi), Frenesia/Frenzy (1939, Mario Bonnard), La zia smemorata/The Forgetful Aunt (1941, Ladislao Vajda), Il sogno di tutti/The Dream of Everything (1941, Oreste Biancoli, Laszlo Kish), Stasera niente di nuovo/Nothing new tonight (1942, Mario Mattoli) with Carlo Ninchi and Alida Valli, I biricchino di papà/The fluffy Dad (1943, Raffaele Matarazzo), Tre ragazze cercano marito/Three Girls Looking for Husbands (1944, Duilio Coletti) with Carla del Poggio, Lo sbaglio di essere vivo/My Widow and I (1945, Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia) starring Vittorio De Sica and Isa Miranda, Vanità/Vanity (1946, Giorgio Pastina), and Sambo (1950, Paolo William Tamburalla) with Paolo Stoppa. Her last, uncredited, role was in I cadetti di Gascogna/The Cadets of Gascony (1950, Mario Mattoli) starring Walter Chiari. After the Second World War, Galli returned to the stage in 1945 with such comedies such as Noel Coward's Blythe Spirit by George Kaufman and Moss Hart, together with Rina Morelli, and Arsenic and Old Lace by Kesserling. She was one of Federico Fellini's favorite actresses. Her last performance was in the revue Quo vadis? (1950), with Enrico Viarisio. Dina Galli died in Rome in 1951. She was 73.

Segment of Luce Journal after the death and funeral of Dina Galli in 1951. Source: CinecittaLuce (YouTube).

Sources: Sipario.it (Italian),  Mymovies.it (Italian), Wikipedia (Italian) and IMDb.

25 October 2012

Sabine Sinjen

German stage and film actress Sabine Sinjen (1942-1995) was a natural and innocent teenager star in the 1950s. She changed her image and became a protagonist of the Neue Deutsche Film in the 1960s.

Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by UFA, Berlin-Tempelhoff, no. CK-316. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Arthur Grimm / UFA.

Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden-Westf., no. 569. Photo: Kolibri / Enzwieser.

Sabine Sinjen
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 4295, licency holder for UFA/Film-Foto in the Netherlands. Sent by mail in 1959. Photo: UFA.

Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by UFA, Berlin-Tempelhoff, no. CK-207. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: UFA.

Cheesy Heimatfilms
Sabine Sinjen was born in Itzehoe, Germany in 1942 as the daughter of the journalist Marlen Sinjen. Her father, an engineer and architect died during the war in Russia. As a little girl she already performed for the children's radio of the WDR, and later she took drama lessons. In Die Frühreifen/The Prematures (1957, Josef von Báky) she played her first film role as the innocent-naive Hannelore who falls in love with the wrong guy. She proved to be a natural talent and next she played with Lili Palmer and Romy Schneider in the remake of Mädchen in Uniform/Girls in Uniform (1958, Géza von Radványi). Film producer Artur Brauner gave her a seven-year contract, and she became a star with the box office hit Stefanie (1958, Josef von Báky) and the sequel Stefanie in Rio (1960, Curtis Bernhardt). Brauner kept her playing the natural and innocent teenager in cheesy Heimatfilms like Die Försterchristel/The Forester's Daughter (1962, Franz Josef Gottlieb), but she did not want to be typecasted and broke her contract. More interesting films were Das Glas Wasser/A Glass of Water (1960, Helmut Käutner) and the German western Die Flußpiraten vom Mississippi/Pirates of the Mississippi (1964, Jürgen Roland). Like Romy Schneider she went to France, where she made films like Les tontons flingueurs/Crooks in Clover (1963, Georges Lautner).

Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by Kolibri Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf., no. 773. Photo: Kolibri / Entwieser.

Sabine Sinjen
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V. (Licency holder of Ufa for the Netherlands), Rotterdam, no. 358/960. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Ufa.

Carlos Thompson, Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by Ufa. Photo: Publicity still for Stefanie (1958) with Carlos Thompson.

Peter Weck, Sabine Sinjen
Dutch postcard by SYBA, no. 461. Promotional card for Centrafilm, Den Haag. Publicity still for Die Försterchristel/The Forester's Daughter (1962) with Peter Weck.

Neue Deutsche film
In the early 1960’s Sabine Sinjen debuted as a stage actress in the Schiller Theatre in Berlin. On TV she became very popular as the daughter of Gustav Knuth in the series Alle meine Tiere/All My Animals (1962-1963). In 1963 she married director Peter Beauvais, with whom she made some ambitious TV plays. In the mid-1960’s she started to work with film director Ulrich Schamoni and became the protagonist of the Neue Deutsche film (New German Cinema). In such films as Es/It (1965, Ulrich Schamoni), Alle Jahre wieder/Next Year, Same Time (1967, Ulrich Schamoni) and Wir zwei/We Two (1969, Ulrich Schamoni) she played women in problematic situations. Sinjen won several awards for these roles.

Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 291. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Europa.

Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden-Westf., no. 615. Photo: Kolibri / Enzwieser.

Sabine Sinjen
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4566.

Sabine Sinjen
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4199. Photo: HAFBO-Film.

During the 1970’s Sabine Sinjen concentrated on theatre and television. Occasionally she made a film, like Am Wege/On the Road (1975, Peter Beauvais) and Caspar David Friedrich - Grenzen der Zeit/Boundaries of Time: Caspar David Friedrich (1986, Peter Schamoni). In 1984 she was diagnosed with cancer and lost the sight in her right eye, but still she kept playing in theatre and on TV, wearing an eye-patch. She played her last film part in Das Haus im Ginster/The House in the Macchia (1992, Gottfried Junker). The cancer killed her in 1995. Sabine Sinjen was married twice, first to Peter Beauvais and later to Günther Huber, who ia also a director.

Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by UFA, Berlin-Tempelhoff, no. CK-255. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Serda / UFA.

Sabine Sinjen
German Postcard by ISV, no. M 19. Photo: Europa Film / Lilo.

Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by ISV, no. M 20. Photo: Europa Film / Lilo.

Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by Terra-Color, nr. F 150. Photo: private.

Sources: Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-Line), Filmportal.de (German), Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.

24 October 2012

Celio Bucchi

Italian athletic actor Celio Bucchi (1886-1964) starred in the 1920s in adventure films like La congiura di San Marco/The conspiracy of San Marco (1924). Later he became a nameless extra and warehouse manager of a studio in Turin.

Rina De Liguoro and Celio Bucchi in Bufera
Italian postcard by Ed. G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 388. Rina De Liguoro and Celio Bucchi in the film Bufera/Storm (1926, Wladimiro De Liguoro). Bufera is a mountain drama on a woman seduced and abandoned by a rude mountain man, leaving her with a child. When finally her life seems to retake thanks to another, kinder man, the first one reappears. Luckily a mountain storm (hence the title of the film) will swallow the inconvenient intruder.

Athletic, Vigorous And tall
Celio Bucchi was born in 1886 in Lugo di Romagna, the same place where Luciano Albertini was born. Bucchi was also as athletic, vigorous and tall as Albertini. On advice of a friend, the famous Italian illustrator Marcello Dudovich, Buchi entered the film business. In fast succession he acted in films at Americanfilm, Audax, Cinegraf and Latina Ars, all in Turin. His early films were with director Luigi Mele, later on also with Salvo Alberto Salvini and Alfredo Tettoni. Success came with La congiura di San Marco/The conspiracy of San Marco (1924, Domenico Gaido), the sequel to Il Ponte dei Sospiri/The Bridge of Sighs (1921) with Albertini. In this film Rolando Candiani (Amleto Novelli) has become Doge of Venice and his great aspiration is to satisfy all the needs of the Venetian people and to defend the integrity of the Venetian Republic. However, the followers of the ex-Doge Foscari conspire against him. But Candiano is helped by Scalabrino (Bucchi), a gentleman who has become the head of a band of acrobats, and by Zanze (Bianca Stagno-Bellincioni), a woman of the people. Together with a monkey these two manage to prevent all the traps of the enemies and to save Rolando. For several reasons all major parts were played out by new actors. Celio Bucchi got the part of the gentleman bandit Scalabrino, a part which in Il Ponte dei Sospiri was performed by the massive and robust harbour worker Onorato Garaveo, who had already left the cinema and returned to his former employment. When Scalabrino is heavily wounded and falls in the hands of his enemies, audiences held their breath. But soon they were relieved when all came well and the film ended with Scalabrino's justified marriage with his Zanze.

Celio Bucchi
Italian postcard by Calcografia Gazettino, Venezia (Venice). Photo: publicity still for Il Cavaliere senza paura/The Knight without fear (1925, Giuseppe de Liguoro).

No Traces Left
Celio Bucchi played the title character in Nostradamus (1925, Mario Roncoroni). In that year he also played in Il Cavaliere senza paura/The Knight without fear (1925, Giuseppe de Liguoro) and Hôtel Saint-Pol (1925, Mario Roncoroni). The following year he acted in Bufera/Storm (1926, Wladimiro De Liguoro), a mountain drama with Rina De Liguoro. In Beatrice Cenci (1926, Baldassarre Negroni), starring Maria Jacobini as the murderess of her - evil - father, Bucchi was Amerigo Caponi, the good governor of Castel Sant’Angelo. In the propagandistic I Martiri d’Italia/The Martyrs of Italy (1927, Domenico Gaido) which linked the fascist March on Rome with a long list of Italian heroes, Bucchi had the part of the famous historical hero Cola di Rienzo. Opposite Elena Lunda and a young Vittorio De Sica, he played in La compagnia dei matti/Company and the Crazy (1928, Mario Almirante). In 1927 Bucchi was paired again with Rina De Liguoro and with Bartolomeo Pagano in Il Vetturale del Moncenisio/The Carrier of Moncenisio (1927, Baldassarre Negroni), and again in 1929 with De Liguoro in Assunta Spina (1929, Roberto Roberti). In the latter Bucchi played the lawyer, who courts Assunta (Rina De Liguoro) and who is eventually killed by Assunta’s lover Michele (Febo Mari). This was probably Bucchi’s last silent film. At the Quirinus studio of Rome, during the shooting of Assunta Spina, Giovacchino Forzano came to organize the shooting of Ginevra degli Almieri/Geneva of Almieri, based on of his own works. For several reasons such as the adoption of sound cinema the project went up in smoke, but Forzano took a liking to Bucchi. When he opened the Tirrenia sound studios near Pisa in the mid-1930's he took Bucchi along as warehouse manager. As an extra, Bucchi acted in almost all the films shot at the Tirrenia studios, from Der Kaiser von Kalifornien/The Emperor of California (1936) by and with Luis Trenker to Ore 10 lezione di canto/At 10 am singing lesson (1956, Marino Girolami) with Claudio Villa. It was Bucchi’s last film. These ca. 20 sound films meant marginal parts for Bucchi which didn’t leave any traces, not even in the most detailed filmographies. The last ones who remembered him, such as Forzano’s daughter Rita, recalled him as a big, sturdy man with a mass of blond hair and the physique of an imposing ex-athlete. Celio Bucchi died in Pisa in 1964. He was married to Jones Dalto.

Celio Bucchi
Italian postcard by SRM, no. 3169.

Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Maciste & Co.), Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano), and IMDb.

23 October 2012

Jan Hendriks

Dark haired German actor Jan Hendriks (1928 – 1991) was one of the most promising newcomers of the German cinema in the 1950’s. However, accidents and a homosexual scandal interrupted the career of the handsome, dark-haired actor. However, he still appeared in more than 80 films on screen and TV between 1950 and 1990. Tragically, he starved to death in self-imposed isolation.

Jan Hendriks
German postcard by ISV, no. M 6. Photo: Europa Film / Czerwonski.

Riveting Performance
Jan Hendriks was born as Heinz Joachim Hinz in Berlin, Germany in 1928. In the late 1940’s, he attended the drama school of the Hebbel Theater in Berlin. He started his career in 1950 at the Schlosspark-Theater under Boleslaw Barlog. From then on he played in various theaters in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. Film director Robert A. Stemmle discovered him for the cinema. For his debut in Sündige Grenze/Illegal Border (1951, Robert A. Stemmle) opposite Dieter Borsche, he won the German Film Award as Best Newcomer. Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Much of the film is corny and contrived, save for the riveting performance by Jan Hendricks as the unregenerate teen-aged leader of the smuggling ring.” Then he played opposite Johanna Matz in the literary adaptation Der große Zapfenstreich/The Sergeant's Daughter (1952, George Hurdalek). In 1953 his career was briefly interrupted. He received a prison sentence for a traffic accident caused by him under the influence of alcohol. After his sentence, other lead and supporting roles followed. In 1958 he played a foolish officer in the multi-award winning and Oscar-nominated comedy Helden/Arms and the Man (1958, Franz Peter Wirth) with O. W. Fischer. The following year he made more headlines when he was charged on the basis of § 175 for homosexual acts in a toilet. He was sentenced to a fine.

Jan Hendriks
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 274/334, 1957. Photo: DEFA / Kilian. Publicity still for Spielbank-Affäre (1957, Arthur Pohl).

Jan Hendriks, Gertrud Kückelmann
East-German postcard by VEB DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme, Potsdam-Babelsberg, no. 78, 1957, etail price: 0,15 DM. Photo: DEFA / Kilian. Publicity still for Spielbank-Affäre (1957, Arthur Pohl) with Gertrud Kückelmann.

Jan Hendriks, Gertrud Kuckelmann
East-German postcard by VEB DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme, Potsdam-Babelsberg, no. , 1957, etail price: 0,15 DM. Photo: DEFA / Kilian. Publicity still for Spielbank-Affäre (1957, Arthur Pohl).

Starved To Death
In the 1960’s, Jan Hendriks starred in some very successful Edgar Wallace films, including Das Gasthaus an der Themse/The Inn on the River (1962, Alfred Vohrer) with Joachim Fuchsberger, and Der Zinker/The Squeaker (1963, Alfred Vohrer) with Heinz Drache. After a serious motorcycle accident in 1963, he was in a coma for several months, but there was no permanent damage. He worked as a voice actor and dubbed Humphrey Bogart in The Petrified Forest (1936, Archie Mayo) and Anthony Quinn in Guadalcanal Diary (1943, Lewis Seiler). He continued to appear in mediocre films but he would never fulfill his early promise in the 1950’s. Some sources suggest that homophobia was the reason that his career seemed to go nowhere. After the 1960’s, he appeared only incidentally in films but was successful on television. From 1977 to 1986, he co-starred with Siegfried Lowitz in 86 episodes of the Krimi series Der Alte/The old fox as assistant Martin Brenner. Occasionally, he was also committed to touring theaters. He had his last stage role in 1988. Jan Hendriks died in 1991 in Berlin, Germany, aged 63. The police found him dead in his apartment after they had been informed by neighbors. He died alone on his birthday and only days later, he was discovered. The tabloids wrote that the cause of his death was AIDS. In addition, he was also suffering from diabetes for years. After months of self-imposed isolation, Hendriks had starved to death in his apartment. The tabloid rumor that he was impoverished, was refuted by a six-figure sum of money in his estate.

Scene from Sündige Grenze/Illegal Border (1951). Source: LadyViolet7 (YouTube).

Trailer Das Gasthaus an der Themse/The Inn on the River (1962). Source: RialtoFilm (YouTube).

Trailer for Heintje - Einmal wird die Sonne wieder scheinen/Heintje - Once the sun will shine again (1969). Source: Kilkenny1978 (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.