30 November 2012

Eva-Maria Hagen

From 1957 on Eva-Maria Hagen (1934) became known as 'East-Germany’s Brigitte Bardot' and appeared in some 50 films and TV-productions. The German actress is also a well-known singer, painter and author. And the mother of Nina Hagen.

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1720, 1962. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Ludwig Schirmer.

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2249, 1965. Retail price: 0,15 MDN. Photo: Schwarzer.

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1.816, 1963. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Ludwig Schirmer.

Sexy Blondes
Eva-Maria Hagen was born as Eva-Maria Buchholz in Költschen, Germany (now Kolczyn, Poland) in 1934. She grew up in Kremlin at the edge of Pommern until the age of ten. After graduating from a machine fitter training, she started to attend an actor's training in East-Berlin in 1952. Already a year later she played a leading part under the direction of the legendary Bertolt Brecht at the famous Berliner Ensemble Theater in the play Katzgraben (Cat’s Grave) by Erwin Strittmatter. A year later she married the author and screenplay writer Hans Oliva-Hagen, but they divorced in 1959. In 1955 their daughter Catherina was born, who would later become pop star Nina Hagen. In 1956 Eva-Maria Hagen continued her acting studies at the Fritz-Kirchoff-Akademie in West-Berlin. She began her film career in the heart-warming DEFA comedy Vergesst mir meine Traudel nicht/Don’t Forget My Traudel (1957, Kurt Maetzig). According to IMDb reviewer Lillian Hartman, Hagen refreshingly played a silly but also very anxious girl who has no place in this world due to World War II. In 1958 she obtained an engagement at the Maxim-Gorki-Theater in Berlin, and in the following years, Hagen became one of the most important actresses of the East-German theatre scene. Although she is dark-haired by nature she had to dye her hair blonde to play roles of sexy blondes, which gave her the nick-name ’Brigitte Bardot der DDR’ (Brigitte Bardot of the German Democratic Republic).

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 106/632, 1958. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: DEFA-Neufeld.

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1812, 1963. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Christa Benjack.

Defamation of the State
From 1957 till 1965, Eva-Maria Hagen appeared in some 50 films and TV-productions, like Nur eine Frau/Just A Woman (1958, Carl Balhaus), the thriller For Eyes Only (1963, János Veiczi), and the comedy Reise ins Ehebett/Journey in a Marriage Bed (1966, Joachim Hasler) with Anna Prucnal. She was a star guest at the Filmfestival in Karlovy Vary and other events. In 1965 she met songwriter and poet Wolf Biermann. The two became life partners from 1965 till 1972. In 1966, Biermann got a berufsverbot to play and publish by the SED. This put Hagen also in the line of fire of the GDR government. There was a lawsuit against her concerning ‘defamation of the state’. Job opportunities got heavily restricted so that Hagen at times had to work for provincial theatres and she could only play small roles in films like Die Fahne von Kriwoj Rog/The Flag of Krivoy Rog (1967, Kurt Maetzig) and Die Legende von Paul und Paula/The Legend of Paul and Paula (1973, Heiner Carow) with Angelica Domröse. Furthermore, she was discriminated and observed by the State Security. In 1977, after she protested against Biermann's expulsion from the GDR in 1976, she was finally also stripped of her GDR citizenship. She was forced to emigrate with Nina and settled in Hamburg.

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1668, 1962. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Harry Hirschfeld.

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1454, 1961. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Kurt Mihatsch.

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2.601, 1966. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: S. Peters.

After the Fall of the Wall
In West-Germany Eva-Maria Hagen started a successful career interpreting songs by Wolf Biermann and Bertolt Brecht. Her debut album, Nicht Ohne die Liebe (1979, Not Without Love), was a collection of Russian and Gypsy folk songs translated into German by Biermann. He started to write songs for her which she released on the album Ich Leb' Mein Leben (I Live My Life) in 1981. On Das mit den Männern und Den Frau'n (1985, That Thing Between Men and Women) and Michael, Michael (1986), she continued the collaboration with Biermann. After the fall of the wall in 1989, she was finally allowed to perform again in East Germany, like at the Leipziger Messe together with Biermann. She also played supporting roles in films like Gibbi - Westgermany (1980, Christel Buschmann) with Eric Burdon, and Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht/Marble, Stone and Iron Break (1982, Hans-Christof Stenzel), a biopic of tragic Schlager singer Drafi Deutscher. At the time she lived together with director Matti Geschonneck, and later with pianist Siegfried Gerlich.

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2331, 1965. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Raddatz.

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2925, 1967. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Melies.

Eva and the Wolf
Eva-Maria Hagen continues to appear regularly on German TV, like in the popular adventure series 4 gegen Z/Four Against Z (2005-2007) starring Udo Kier. Together with her daughter Nina and her granddaughter Cosma Shiva she appeared in the TV-film Ein Mann für gewisse Sekunden/A Man For Certain Seconds (1999, Bernhard Stephan). Besides her theater and film projects, as well as exhibitions of her paintings, she continued to release CD‘s: Wenn Ich Erstmal Losleg (1996, Once When I get Started) with new Biermann songs using Baltic folk material, and on the occasion of Brecht's 100th birthday she released Joe, Mach die Musik von Damals Nach (1997, Joe, Play That Music from Then Again). Her book Eva und der Wolf (1998, Eva and the Wolf) about her time together with Biermann was a huge success in Germany. She was awarded the Carl Zuckmayr medal for it. In 1999 she released another album with Biermann songs: Eva Singt Wolfslieder (Eva Sings Wolf’s Songs), and in 2006 she published another autobiographical book, Eva jenseits vom Paradies (Eva Out of Paradise). In the cinema she was seen in Dinosaurier/Dinosaurs (2009, Leander Haußmann) with Walter Giller and Nadja Tiller. This crime comedy was a remake of the film Lina Braake (1975, Bernhard Sinkel) about an 81-year-old lady bank robber. Her most recent film is the intriguing war drama Lore (2012, Cate Shortland) featuring Saskia Rosendahl. Eva Maria Hagen lives in Hamburg, Berlin and der Uckermark.

Eva-Maria Hagen
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 63/76, 1976. Retail price: 0,20 M. Photo: Bergemann.

Eva Maria Hagen and Nina Hagen sing two songs of Bertolt Brecht together, Eifersuchtsduett (Duet of jealousy) and Alabama Song. It's their first duet in public. Source: gnapgnapgnap (YouTube).

Sources: Frank Eisenhuth (AllMusic), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

29 November 2012

Johnny Hallyday

Johnny Hallyday (1943-2017) was the father of French Rock and Roll. The flamboyant singer and actor was a European teen idol in the early 1960s with record-breaking crowds and mass hysteria, but he never became popular in the English-speaking market. In later years he successfully focused on film acting and appeared in more than 35 films.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 171. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 186. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 163. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by E.D.U.G. (Edition du Globe), no. 162. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Johnny Hallyday
Big card. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by E.D.U.G. (Edition du Globe), no. 158. Photo: André Nisak/Vogue.

Borrowed Pseudonym

Johnny Hallyday was born as Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris in 1943. His French mother Huguette Clerc and Belgian father Léon Smet separated not long after his birth, and he was raised by his paternal aunt, Hélène Mar.

Iamkaym at Everything2 writes that aunt Hélène was "a dancer and frequenter of the Parisian world of performing artists. In 1944 she took him on tour with her two young daughters, also dancers. During the following decade the little troupe led an itinerant existence, shuttling between theatres and cheap hotels in London and in various continental cities of Europe.

His first stage performance, in Copenhagen, was as a 9-year-old singer, presenting a between-the-acts rendition of 'la Ballade de Davy Crockett' while his cousin Desta and her dancer boyfriend, Lee Halliday, changed costumes."

Jean-Philippe made his film debut at age 12 with a bit role in the classic noir thriller Les Diaboliques/Diabolique (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955) with Simone Signoret.

In 1957 he saw the film Lovin' You (Hal Kanter, 1957), starring Elvis Presley, and decided to become a rock and roll singer. By the end of the 1950s, Jean-Phillippe was a regular at the Golf Drouot, a Parisian club frequented by young rock and roll fans.

He sang Presley songs for his friends, began going to auditions and got some singing engagements. According to Everything2, he had no style of his own, but borrowed heavily from Presley, the French singer/poet Georges Brassens, and American country music.

In 1959 he appeared on a TV program and was spotted by the artistic director of Vogue records, which signed him immediately. In March 1960, his debut single was released with the songs Laisse les filles (Let the Girls) and T'aimer follement (I love you like crazy), a take-off on an album by popular singer Dalida.

His pseudonym was borrowed from his cousin's friend, the American artist Lee Halliday; the surname turned into Hallyday when it was misprinted on the record label. Johnny Hallyday was still only 16 at the time.

Johnny Hallyday
German postcard by Krüger. Photo: Winkler.

Johnny Hallyday
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 5643. Photo: Meteor Film. Publicity still for Johnny waar kom je vandaan?/D'où viens-tu, Johnny?/Where Are You From, Johnny? (1964).

Johnny Hallyday
Dutch postcard.

Johnny Hallyday
Dutch postcard by Syba, no. 364-7.

Johnny Hallyday
Dutch postcard by Syba, no. 564-20.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by Publistar, no. 2002, presented by Corvisart, Epinal. Photo: Philippe D'Argence.

Johnny Hallyday
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/307. Photo: Pierre Spitzer.

Rock and Roll Heartthrob

Johnny Hallyday's first album, Hello Johnny, was released in 1960. He rolled on stage, something that had never been done in France.

In 1961, he introduced the Twist with his cover of Let's Twist Again. One side of the single was English, the flip side was French: Viens danser le Twist (Come dance the Twist). It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. It topped almost every European chart.

He became a teenager idol with record-breaking crowds and mass hysteria. Huge European hits followed like Tes tendres années (1963) and Pour moi la vie va commencer (1963).

The YéYé generation was born and lasted almost five years. Hallyday's fame as a rock and roll heartthrob landed him parts in films like Les Parisiennes/Beds and Broads (Marc Allégret, Michel Boisrond, a.o., 1962) with Catherine Deneuve, and D'où viens-tu, Johnny?/Where Are You From, Johnny? (Noel Howard, 1964).

In these films he mostly played singers. Iamkayme describes his style: "His stage style is a blend of hip-swivelling Elvis and supreme French arrogance. There are those who say he also adds a bit of James Dean rebelliousness and more than a soupçon of melodramatic Liberace vulgarity.

While Hallyday never had the golden tenor tones of Elvis Presley, his voice has always been deep and powerful. Unkind critics claim he simply 'bellows' his songs. Unlike Presley, he often appeared in a costume that shows his biceps to best advantage."

Johnny Hallyday
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, no. 5871. Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1962.

Johnny Hallyday
Dutch postcard by De Muinck en Co., Amsterdam, no. 662.

Johnny Hallyday
Big French card. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by E.D.U.G. (Edition du Globe), no. 241. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Johnny Hallyday
Dutch Postcard, no. 151.

Johnny Hallyday
German postcard by ISV, no. H 85.

Johnny Hallyday
French promotion card by Philips.

Suicide Attempt

After the British invasion and the rise of politically motivated folk music Johnny Hallyday’s rock and roll career began to flounder. He attemped suicide and after his recovery, he issued the despairing single Noir, C'est Noir (Black is Black) as a commentary on his near-tragedy.

In 1965 he married French singer Sylvie Vartan, the first of five wives. His son David Michael Benjamin Smet was born the following year. David would also become a well known singer as David Hallyday.

Johnny and Sylvie formed a popular singing duo and they recorded a smash duet, J'ai un Problème, that became one of France's biggest hits in the early 1970s. The 'golden couple' of the French music scene divorced in 1980.

After his teen films in the 1960s, Johnny Hallyday stopped for several years as an actor and then started to work again in films by directors like Jean-Luc Godard in Détective (1985) with Nathalie Baye, and Costa Gravas in Conseil de famille/Family Business (1986). With Nathalie Baye, he had a relationship and in 1983 they had a daughter, the actress Laura Smet.

His later films include the gay comedy Pourquoi pas moi?/Why Not Me? (Stéphane Giusti, 1999), and Crime Spree (Brian Mirman), 2003, a bi-lingual farce with Gérard Depardieu and Harvey Keitel about inadept French criminals on assignment in Chicago.

His best film was the well received thriller L’Homme du train/The Man on the Train (Patrice Leconte, 2002). In his review at AllMovieTodd Kristel writes: "This appealing film could be considered a conversational chamber piece that's based on the accumulation of small, revealing character moments. Not much happens in terms of plot or action, but there's little wasted time here; the filmmaking is remarkably efficient for a talky, low key movie.

Director Patrice Leconte does manage to find time to slip some relatively unobtrusive humor into his movie, such as spoofing Once Upon a Time in the West at the beginning. But the movie's main appeal lies in the performances of the two leads. Jean Rochefort and Johnny Hallyday are both iconic figures in France, so seeing them together onscreen might not seem as significant to audiences outside their native country. Nonetheless, they have a great rapport, and Rochefort in particular is a delight to watch as he reveals the impish side to his character."

In December 2005, Johnny Hallyday had his third number-one single in France, Mon Plus Beau Noël (My most beautiful Christmas) - after Tous ensemble (All Together) the official French song for the 2002 World Cup, and Marie. The song was dedicated to daughter Jade, a young girl from Vietnam, who he and his wife, Laeticia Boudou, whom he had married in 1996.

Marlène Pilaete comments: "Mon plus beau Noël was indeed his third number one since the Top50 was established in 1984. But there were other hit parades before the Top 50 and I assume that
Hallyday, in view of his popularity and his long career, had other number ones before 1984."

Johnny starred alongside Fabrice Luchini in the comedy Jean-Philippe (Laurent Tuel, 2006) in which he played himself. According to the IMDb it’s one of his greatest films.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 354, presented by Corvisart, Epinal. Photo: R. Kasparian.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by Ed. Lyna, Paris, no. 2002, presented by Corvisart, Epinal.

Johnny Hallyday
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/228. Photo: Gérard Decaux.

Johnny Hallyday
German postcard by Kruger, no. 902/227.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by MC Reportages, Villeurbanne, no. 219. Presented by the Fan Club Johnny Halliday, Paris. Photo: Marc Castagnet, 1986.

Johnny Hallyday
French postcard by Fan Avenue, 2006. Photo: Patrick Carpentier, Bercy, 1990.

The Biggest Rock Star You've Never Heard Of

In December 2007 Johnny Hallyday anounced his retirement from performing, but 2009 brought a new tour called Route 66, and two new films: The Pink Panther 2 (Harald Zwart, 2009) with Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau, and the thriller Fuk sau/Vengeance (Johnnie To, 2009) in which Johnny as a French assassin-turned-chef travels to Hong Kong in order to avenge a murder.

Sam van der Meer at IMDb: "Johnny Hallyday is Costello, an ex-hit-man who is now a chef in France whose daughter's family has just been killed by unknown gunman. The plot moves from there with Costello swearing revenge for his daughter. He then meets a trio of Triad hit men in the middle of a job-in-progress. Hallyday coolly walks away as if nothing has happened. And I have to say, I was impressed with his acting. I'm a To fan, but I wasn't so sure when I heard Hallyday was taking the lead. But he fits the character well, even physically. Because, no offense to the man, but he looks dark. His eyes are bored into his skull, and he walks like a man on a mission. "

Then, in July 2009, Hallyday was diagnosed with colon cancer, for which he was operated on. In November 2009 Hallyday underwent surgery in Paris to repair a herniated disc, but he suffered complications and was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. It was announced that Hallyday had been put into a medically induced coma in order to repair lesions that had formed as a result of the surgery and to relieve his pain.

In December, it was announced that Hallyday would recover and that he and his wife Laetitia had started legal proceedings against Dr. Stephane Delajoux, who had performed the original surgery. Laetitia is the young daughter of Hallyday's best friend and business partner, Andre Boudou. Hallyday and his father-in-law owned nightclubs in Paris and Nice, France and in Miami, Florida.

Johnny Hallyday remained largely unknown in English-speaking countries, thus earning him the nickname 'the biggest rock star you've never heard of', but he could cry all the way to the bank. His music career has spanned a half-century: he completed 100 tours, had 18 platinum albums, and sold more than 100 million records.

In October 2012 Johnny Hallyday returned to the US for his first performance in New York in 50 years and later that month made his British stage debut when he performed in the Royal Albert Hall in London.

In The Guardian, Jessica Reed wrote: "So it comes down to this: even for those French people who, like me, aren't crazy about his oeuvre, Hallyday will never die. He just can't. Having been a fixture of French pop culture for so long – his multiple marriages, political tantrums and health scares are a national saga not unlike the most gripping of South American telenovelas – his death would be devastating, marking the end of an era."

Johnny Hallyday died at 5 December 2017 in Marne-la-Coquette, France. [This page was updated at that day].

17-years-old Johnny's first TV appearance in 1960 in a television show with Line Renaud. Source: INA Stars (YouTube).

Johnny sings Retiens la nuit in Les Parisiennes/Beds and Broads (1962) with Catherine Deneuve. Source: Beliza75 (YouTube).

Early clip of Noir, C'est Noir. Source: JohnnyHallydayVEVO (YouTube).

Clip for the song Quelque chose de Tennessee. Source: JohnnyHallydayVEVO (YouTube).

Sources: Todd Kristel (AllMovie), Brigitte Dusseau (The Daily Star), Jessica Reed (The Guardian), Sam van der Meer (IMDb), Marlène Pilaete, Les gens du Cinema (French) Everything2, Wikipedia and IMDb.

27 November 2012

Ignazio Lupi

Ignazio Lupi (1867 - 1942) was an Italian actor who had a prolific career in Italian silent cinema in the 1910's and early 1920's. He is not to be confused with the Italo-American gangster Ignazio Lupo.

Come le foglie
Italian postcard. Photo: Tiber Film. Publicity still for Come le foglie/Like the Leaves (1917, Gennaro Righelli). Father Giovanni (Ignazio Lupi) unites his daughter Nennele (Maria Jacobini) with his cousin Massimo (Guido Guiducci). Translation caption: Nennele: Shall I call him? Massimo!

Cines Epic
Ignazio Lupi was born in Rome, Italy in 1867. From 1912 on, he was a regular cast member of productions of the Società Italiana Cines. First he appeared in many shorts, such as Gaspare/Gaspar's Devotion (1912), Anna Maria/For Her Father's Sake (1912) and Una tragedia al cinematografo/Cinema Tragedy at Carnival Time (1913, Enrico Guazzoni). In the latter he plays a jealous husband who threatens to shoot his infidel wife whom he thinks is in a cinema with a lover. When the manager warns the audience, dozens of adulterous couples secretly leave the cinema by the backdoor, thinking it concerns them. In the Cines epic Quo Vadis? (1913, Enrico Guazzoni) he was Aulus, Lygia's (Lea Giunchi) foster father; in Marcantonio e Cleopatra/Antony and Cleopatra (1914, Enrico Guazzoni) he was Ottaviano, and he played Pompeoin Cajus Julius Caesar (1914, Enrico Guazzoni) featuring Amleto Novelli. Other epic productions he was in were the monumental Cabiria (1914, Giovanni Pastrone) featuring Lydia Quaranta, and Christus (1916, Giulio Antamoro), the story of the life of Christ filmed in Egypt.

Maria Jacobini and Ignazio Lupi in Come le foglie
Italian postcard. Photo: Tiber Film, Roma. Publicity still of Maria Jacobini and Ignazio Lupi in Come le foglie/Like the leaves (1917). Come le foglie was based on the stage play by Giuseppe Giacosa. The caption translates: "Giovanni: And tomorrow I would have been out in the world, shouting like a madman, searching for my little daughter". Content of the film: After a life of spendthrifts, the Rosati family is ruined. Father Giovanni (Ignazio Lupi) accepts work from his cousin Massimo (Guido Guiducci). Hitherto neglected as too serious and workaholic, Massimo becomes the head of the family and takes care of the son and daughter of Giovanni, Tommy (Alberto Collo) and Nennele (Jacobini), and their stepmother Giulia (Floriana). Tommy and Giulia remain weak spirits, but after an attempted suicide, Nennele realizes Massimo's force and unites with him.

Peak Of His Career
In 1916 and 1917, Ignazio Lupi reached the peak of his cinema career with respectively 13 and 9 parts in films. These films included the Tiber-Film productions La caccia ai millioni/The hunt for the million (1916, Baldassarre Negroni), La rosa di Granata/The Rose of Granada (1916, Emilio Ghione) starring Lina Cavalieri, and La cuccagna/The bonanza (1917, Baldassarre Negroni) starring Hesperia. In this adaptation of Emile Zola La curée, Lupi played banker Mareuil. Until 1922 Lupi stayed very active in the Italian silent film. Among his films were the drama I figli di nessuno/Nobody's Children (1921, Ubaldo Maria del Colle) starring Leda Gys, the Luigi Pirandello adapation Ma non è una cosa seria/But It Isn't Serious (1921, Augusto Camerini) starring Carmen Boni, and the thriller La casa sotto la neve/The house in the snow (1922, Gennaro Righelli), with Maria Jacobini. His last role was in La cavalcata ardente/The fiery cavalcade (1925, Carmine Gallone), starring Soava Gallone. Ignazio Lupi died in 1942 in Rome. He was 75.

Soava Gallone
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: publicity still of Soava Gallone in La cavalcata ardente (1925).

Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano) and IMDb.

26 November 2012

Dorothy Dickson

Dorothy Dickson (1893 - 1995) was an American-born London theater star. She also appeared in silent and sound films in Hollywood, France and Great-Britain

Dorothy Dickson
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no T4a. Photo: Dorothy Wilding.

Heading East
Dorothy Dickson was born in Kansas City, Missouri, USA in 1893. In 1919 she made her film debut in the silent Fox production Eastward Ho! (1919, Emmett J. Flynn). Her first leading part was in Paying the Piper (1921, George Fitzmaurice). More film roles followed in silent Hollywood movies like The Silver Lining (1921, Roland West) and Headin' North (1921, Charles Bartlett). Dickson herself headed east to Europe. In Britain, she popularized the song Look for the Silver Lining, when she introduced it in London in 1921 in the Jerome Kern musical Sally. She stayed in London and starred in another Kern musical The Cabaret Girl (1922).

34 Dorothy Dickson_Park Drive (Stars of Screen & Stage; 34)
Collector's card in the Stars of Screen & Stage series, no. 34. Collection: Performing Arts / Artes Escénicas.

Ziegfield Follies
In 1930 Dorothy Dickson appeared in the French film La route est belle/The road is fine (1930, Robert Florey) with André Baugé, which was filmed in the British Elstree studio. She played in British films like Channel Crossing (1933) with Matheson Lang, and Sword of Honour (1939) starring Sally Gray. She also appeared on the New York stage and in the Ziegfield Follies before World War II. During the war, she was one of the leading figures behind the Stage Door Canteen, a popular London club frequented by Allied troops. In the 1950's, she appeared on the London stage with Fay Compton in Red Letter Day and opposite Jack Buchanan in As Long As They're Happy Her last stage appearance was in 1980 at a gala performance at the Duke of York's Theater to commemorate 75 years of Peter Pan, in which she had performed a half-century earlier. She also maintained a friendship with Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, dating from the 1920's until the Queen Mother's death at age 102. Her daughter was the actress Dorothy Hyson, who was married to Sir Anthony Quayle. Dorothy Hyson Quayle died, aged 81, one year after her mother's death in 1995 at age 102.

Dorothy Dickson sings Wheres that rainbow with the guilt edged four. The second of two rare records from Peggy Ann (1927) by Rogers and Hart in London at Dalys Theatre. Source: Robgems2 (YouTube).

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

25 November 2012

Mari Törőcsik

Ever since her first film appearance Mari Törőcsik (1935) has been the leading Hungarian screen star. The sensitive and intelligent actress played a great diversity of roles both on stage and for the camera. During her long career she appeared in more than 120 films and TV films.

Mari Töröcsik
East-German starcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 805. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress / Tibor Inkey.

A Superbly Refined Screen Presence
Mari Törőcsik (or Törőczik) was born in Pely, Hungary, in 1935. She graduated in 1957 after which she went to work for the National Theatre. Her first role was Solveig in Peer Gynt. She would stay with the National Theatre for 25 years. She studied with leading Hungarian director Zoltán Fábri who cast her in his famous film, Körhinta/Merry-Go-Round (1955), which brought Mari Törőcsik immediate international recognition at the Cannes Film Festival that year. The story concerns a young village couple (Mari and Bela Barsi) who date at a traditional country fair. Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “As they dance the night away, the boy expresses his love for the girl, resulting in a startling reaction. The film is unabashedly sentimental, but the performances of the two leads transcend the storyline's goofier passages.” Dina Iordanova writes at Senses of Cinema: “A breakthrough indictment of patriarchy, Körhinta was among the first films that explored the tensions between patriarchy and the socialist rush for collectivisation of agriculture”and she describes Töröcsik as “Seemingly plain by appearance, she has a superbly refined screen presence“.

Mari Töröczik
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2427, 1965. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Hungariafilm.

Mari Töröczik
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1482, 1961. Retail price: 0,20 DM.

Hungarian New Cinema
Mari Törőcsik's first screen role in Körhinta/Merry-Go-Round (1955) would have a determining effect on her whole career. She starred in more films of the Hungarian New Cinema, like Édes Anna (1959, Zoltan Fabri), Ket Vallomas/Two Wishes (1957, Márton Keleti) and the romantic drama Vasvirag/Iron Flower (1958, János Herskó) which were also presented at the Cannes Film Festival. Other successes were Szent Péter esernyöje/St. Peter’s Umbrella (1958, Frigyes Bán, Vladislav Pavlovic) and Álmatlan évek/Sleepless Years (1959, Félix Máriássy) with Éva Ruttkay. In 1960 Mari won the Prize for Best Actress at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic for Kölyök (1959, Mihály Szemes, Miklós Markos).

Mari Töröcsik
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2945, 1967. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Progress.

Mari Töröcsik
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2036, 1965. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.

Cannes Film Festival
In the 1960’s, Mari Törőcsik was ‘discovered’ by a new generation of directors. Miklos Jancsó gave her a leading role in his political drama Csend és kiáltás/Silence and Cry (1967), and later in Szerelmem, Elektra/Electra, My Love (1974), a drama based on the Greek myth. In 1968, she also worked with Márta Mészáros on Holdudvar/Binding Sentiments (1968), and with Jerzy Skolimowski on the melodrama Párbeszéd/Dialogue (1963, Jerzy Skolimowski, János Herskó). Töröcsik won twice an award at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1971 she shared the Special Mention to the film's lead actresses for Szerelem/Love (1971, Károly Makk) with Lili Darvas who played the old woman in the film. This tender drama deals with two women in the 1950’s, the wife and old mother of a soldier who are forced to spend a lot of time together. While they love each other, they also act out their personal neuroses on the other. A following cooperation with Károly Makk, Macskajatek/Catsplay (1972) was nominated for the 1974 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Earlier, A pál-utcai fiúk/The Boys of Paul Street (1969, Zoltán Fábri) also had been nominated for an Oscar. In 1976 Mari won the Best Actress award in Cannes for Déryne, hol van?/Mrs Déry, Where Are You? (1976, Gyula Maár). That year she tied the prize with Dominique Sanda for L'eredità Ferramonti/The Inheritance (1976). In 1983, she received a special award at Cannes for her whole career.

Mari Töröcsik, Elemér Tarsoiy
Hungarian postcard by Képzömövészeti Alap (SZ), Budapest, 11/583, 1965. Retail price: Ára 0,60 fillé. Publicity still for Két vallomás/Two Confessions (1962, Márton Keleti) with Mari Töröcsik and Elemér Tarsoiy.

Mari Töröczik, Miklos Gabor
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2.303, 1965. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Progress. Mari Töröcsik and Miklos Gabor.

International Productions
In the 1980's, another generation of filmmakers started to work with Mari Törőcsik. Every second year, she played a role in the film of the best graduating student at the Film School. She had memorable leads in Pál Sándor's Szerencsés Dániel/Daniel Takes a Train (1983) and in Attila Janisch's Hosszú alkony/Long Twilight (1997). She was the choice for crucial secondary parts in Napló apámnak, anyámnak/Diary for My Father and Mother (1990, Márta Mészáros), and Szamárköhögés/Whooping Cough (1986, Péter Gárdos), a sensitive exploration of the failed Hungarian 1956 anti-communist revolution. She also incidentally appeared in international productions, such as The Music Box (1990, Costa-Gavras) with Jessica Lange, Mio caro dottor Grasler/The Bachelor (1991, Roberto Faenza) starring Keith Carradine, Le Violon De Rothschild/Rotschild’s Violin (1997, Edgardo Cozarinsky) and Sunshine (2000, István Szabó) starring Ralph Fiennes. Recent films in which she played are Telitalálat/Winning Ticket (2003, Sandor Kardos), Egy Het Pesten Es Budan/ A Long Weekend in Pest and Buda (2003, Károly Makk) for which she was reunited with Lili Darvas, and Eszter Hagyateka/Eszter's Inheritance (2008, Jozsef Sipos) with Eszter Nagy-Kálózy. In her homecountry Mari Törőcsik was awarded with the Kossuth Prize twice, in 1973 and 1999. Mari Töröcsik has been married twice, first she married actor Gyula Bodrogi, and from 1973 on she is married to film director Gyula Maár, with whom she has a child. She was cast by Maár in a number of female roles focusing on mid-life crisis, like Végül/At the End of the Road (1973), Déryné hol van?/Mrs. Déry, Where Are You? (1975) and Teketória/Flare and Flicker (1976), as well as in Hoppá/Whoops (1993). Mari Törőcsik’s Cannes experiences are recounted in Gyula Maár's documentary Töröcsik Mari Cannes-ban (1997). Mari continues to be active in the cinema. Recently, she appeared in the romantic drama Kaland/Adventure (2011, József Sipos) and played the lead in the TV film Ideje az öregségnek/It's time for an old phenomenon (2011, Emil Novák).

Scene from Körhinta/Merry-Go-Round (1955).

Scene from Szerelem/Love (1971). Source: SteamrollerAndViol (YouTube).

Mari Törőcsik sings Csak a szépre emlékezem. Source: Kovezett (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Dina Iordanova (Senses of Cinema), Graham Petrie (Kinoeye), Kornel Osvart (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

24 November 2012

Carl Brisson

Danish film actor and operetta singer Carl Brisson (1893 – 1958) appeared in 12 films between 1918 and 1935, including two silent films by Alfred Hitchcock. In the Paramount production Murder at the Vanities (1934), he introduced the popular song Cocktails for Two.

Carl Brisson
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 404b. Photo: Paramount.

Carl Brisson
British postcard issued by Prichard & Constance (Manufacturing) Ltd. Makers of Amami Shampoos, London.

Carl Brisson was born as Carl Frederik Ejnar Pedersen in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1893. He was the son of labourer Carl Pedersen and his wife Kirsten Madsdatter. He started his career as a milk boy in Copenhagen and was also a brewery worker. Between 1912 and 1915, he was a welter-weight prize-fighter. In 1915 he won Central Europe's amateur middle-weight boxing championship, and also married actress and cabaret singer Cleo Willard (pseudonym for Maria Laurenze Jorgensen), who would be his wife till his death. The next year, he also started a career as a travelling cabaret and operetta artist with appearances in cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm. He made his film debut credited as Carl Villard in the silent Nordisk production De mystiske fodspor/The mysterious footsteps (1918, A.W. Sandberg) opposite Else Frölich. The following year he moved to London. In 1923, he attracted attention at the West End when he appeared as Prince Danilo opposite Evelyn Laye in Ferenc Lehar's musical The Merry Widow at The Daly's Theatre. He appeared in the same role when it was revived at the Lyceum Theatre the following year. He would perform the role 780 times. In August 1924, he toured the provinces as Karl in Katja the Dancer, eventually returning to London to appear in The Apache at the London Palladium. In 1925, he acted in Oscar Straus, Julius Brammer, and Alfred Gruenwald's musical, Cleopatra, again with Evelyn Laye at the Daly's Theatre. He made his British screen debut in The Ring (1927, Alfred Hitchcock). Brisson starred as a boxer in this love triangle between two boxers (Brisson and Ian Hunter) and a woman (Lilian Hall-Davis). The Ring is widely considered a minor work of Alfred Hitchcock, but it does feature photography tricks he would use again years later in films like The Man Who Knew Too Much, most notably during the climactic boxing sequences. Two years later Brisson again appeared for Hitchcock in The Manxman (1929, Alfred Hitchcock) with Anny Ondra. It was another drama focusing on a love triangle, filmed almost entirely in the small fishing village of Polperro in Cornwall. It was the last silent film for Hitchcock. Brisson made another silent film in Sweden, Hjärtats triumph/The Triumph of the Heart (1929, Gustaf Molander) with Lissi Arna.

Carl Brisson
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 404.

Carl Brisson
British postcard. Photo: J. Capstack, Blackpool.

Nightclub Entertainer
Carl Brisson made a smooth transition to sound film. He co-starred with Madeleine Carroll in the British drama The American Prisoner (1929, Thomas Bentley). Other early sound films were the romantic comedy Knowing Men (1930, Elinor Glyn) with Elissa Landi, and the musical Song of Soho (1930, Harry Lachman). He used his full, rich tenor voice in the British musicals Prince of Arcadia (1933, Hanns Schwarz) with Ida Lupino in her film debut, and Two Hearts in Waltz Time (1934, Carmine Gallone, Joe May). In the latter, he played a composer who falls in love with the star of an opera company. Brisson went to Hollywood and starred for Paramount in the musical comedy All the Kings Horses (1934, Frank Tuttle) with Mary Ellis. It tells the story of a film actor who changes places with a Ruritanian prince. The film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Dance Direction. In this film, he launched the song A Little White Gardenia which became his signature tune in the further course of his career as a performing entertainer in the leading American nightclubs. In his next film Murder at the Vanities (1934, Mitchell Leisen), he co-starred with Victor McLaglen and Jack Oakie. In this musical he introduced the popular song Cocktails for Two. Another song is Sweet Marijuana (sung by Gertrud Lawrence), which got past the censors because at the time the film was made, the drug was not illegal. Today, most prints omit this production number all together. This hilarious and suggestive musical was just released before the Production Code cracked down in July 1934. Brisson then starred in the Paramount musical Ship Cafe (1935, Robert Florey) opposite Arlene Judge and Mady Christians. It was his last film. At IMDb, Malcomgsw explains why: ”I had not realised until I read his biography on IMDb that Brisson was a former boxer. This explains his performance which is so wooden one could imagine that he was a permanent fixture on the Ship featured in this film. Given that this was his last film clearly he must have outstayed his welcome at Paramount. This film is a long step down from his previous Murder At The Vanities. Given that his best point was his voice it is slightly surprising that he does relatively little vocalising in this film. Further what he does sing is instantly forgettable.” The next year, Brisson appeared on Broadway in the musical comedy Forbidden Melody, directed by Macklin Megley in the New Amsterdam Theatre. There were only 32 performances and it would be his only Broadway appearance. Since then on he focused on appearances on radio and in cabarets. From 1942 on, he appeared with a one-man show in hotels and clubs in the United States, and later also in Europe. In 1951, by the construction of the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles, he retook his old success role as Count Danilo in The Merry Widow. From 1955 on, he had his regular TV show in New York. He was the father of theatrical producer Frederick Brisson and father-in-law of Frederick's wife, actress Rosalind Russell. Carl Brisson died of jaundice in 1958 at the Palads Hotel in Copenhagen.

Carl Brisson
British postcard in the Film Star Series by J. Beagles & Co., Ltd. London, no. 262 L.

Carl Brisson
Big signature card.

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Danske Film (Danish), Wikipedia (English and Danish), and IMDb.