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04 December 2012

Gertrud Meyen

German actress Gertrud Meyen (1919) had a short film career during the Third Reich and made a few films during the early 1950s in East-Germany. Later she worked as a stage actor and a synchronisation speaker.

Gertrud Meyen
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3940/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann.

Dr. Crippen
Gertrud Meyen was born as Gertrud Sommer in Dortmund, Germany, in 1919 (some sources say 1921). She made her first film appearances at the end of the 1930's in the comedy Wenn Männer verreisen/When the Men Go Away (1939, Georg Zoch) with Georg Alexander, Johannisfeuer/St. John's Fire (1939, Arthur Maria Rabenalt) with Anna Dammann, and Die barmherzige Lüge/The Compassionate Lie (1939, Werner Klingler) with Hilde Krahl. During the war years she played in films like the crime comedy Was wird hier gespielt?/What’s Played Here? (1940, Theo Lingen), the crime film Dr. Crippen an Bord/Dr. Crippen (1942, Erich Engels) with Rudolf Fernau in the title role, and she played the leading role of the war comedy Ein schöner Tag/A Beautiful Day (1944, Philipp Lothar Mayring), in which she also sang. Her film career lasted only a few years and was already nearly concluded when the war was over.

Anna Dammann
Anna Dammann, co-star in Johannisfeuer/St. John's Fire (1939). German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3780/1. Photo by Ruth Wilhelmi.

A DEFA Classic
In 1952 Gertrud Meyen appeared twice for the cameras of the DEFA – in the thriller Geheimakten Solvay/The Secret Solvay Papers (1952, Martin Hellberg) with Leny Marenbach, and in the drama Frauenschicksale/The Destinies of Women (1952, Slatan Dudow). This film was created during the peak of cultural/political dogmatism in the GDR. At the time, films were officially supported if they portrayed ‘typical fates in typical situations’ with ‘positive heroes’ in the lead roles who could convince viewers of the victory of socialism. This film presents a womanizer from West Berlin, the archetypal bourgeois adventurer, in relations to four women in the GDR. According to Lars Bellman at IMDb “For Slatan Dudow, the positive heroes are the women, not the men. This interpretation was hardly shared by the political leadership in the GDR. During an SED film conference, The Destinies of Women received harsh criticism. Despite the declamatory scenes and black/white portrayals of East and West Berlin, The Destinies of Women provides an accurate picture of the times and proves to be a substantial political study. Stylistic innovation and a striking montage approach make this film a DEFA classic.” Getrud Meyen’s last camera appearances were in the TV films Der Nächste, bitte!/Next One, Please! (1953, Peter A. Horn) and Der Fall de la Roncière/The de la Roncière Case (1958, Fritz Schröder-Jahn). She then focused on her stage work. From 1954 on, she was a company member of the Deutschen Theaters Göttingen. She also worked as a synchronisation speaker and was the German voice of a.o. Celia Johnson, Jeanne Moreau and Claire Trevor. Getrud Meyen was married to actor Heinz Engelmann, but their marriage ended in a divorce.

Gertrud Meyen
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3682/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz, Berlin.

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia, Filmportal.de and IMDb.

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