28 February 2013

Claude Farell (Monika Burg)

Austrian actress Claude Farell (1914 – 2008) started her film career as Monika Burg in Titanic (1943) and other UFA productions. After the war she also worked in France and with Federico Fellini in Italy.

Monika Burg (Claude Farell)
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. 185. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

Claude Farell (Monika Burg)
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3709/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

Claude Farell
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 93. Offered by Marq, la vedette des chocolats. Photo: C.C.F.C.

Claude Farell
German postcard by Ufa/Film-Foto, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1030. Photo: Sam Lévin, Paris / Prisma / Centra Europa. Publicity card for Clivia (1954, Karl Anton).

Claude Farell was born as Paulette von Suchan in Vienna, Austria in 1914. She was the daughter of a dentist. Her stepfather was a diplomat and so Paulette Koller traveled all over Europe. After finishing school she had a dance and acting training, and then played in theatres in Brussels. She made her stage debut as Paula Varchi. Later, she was also known as Monika Burg, Catherine Farell and Claude Farell. Her film debut was in the German comedy Der Kleinstadtpoet/The Small Town Poet (1940, Josef von Báky) starring Paul Kemp. She had her first leading role as Monika Burg in the comedy Zwei in einer großen Stadt/Two in a Big City (1942, Volker von Collande) with Karl John. Two years later she appeared in Titanic (1943), a German propaganda film made during World War II in Berlin by Tobis Productions for UFA. The film was commissioned by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and it was the most expensive German production up until that time, costing more than 4 million Reichsmarks (almost $200,000,000 today). The film used the sinking of the British luxury liner Titanic in 1912 as a setting for an attempt to discredit British and American capitalist dealings and glorify the bravery and selflessness of German men. After World War II, Titanic became one of the German ‘trophy films’ that were requisitioned by the Soviets. It was dubbed into Russian and screened across the Soviet Union. According to IMDb, many older Russian people mistakenly consider this film to be a Russian production. Burg herself fled for the Russians and drove with her little daughter on her bike from Berlin to Paris.

Monika Burg (Claude Farell)
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3924/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

Monika Burg (Claude Farell)
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3539/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

Claude Farell
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. S 713. Photo: Berolina / Deutsche London / Wesel. Publicity card for Spion für Deutschland/Spy for Germany (1956, Werner Klingler).

Claude Farell
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1066. Photo: A. Grimm / Central Europa Film / Prisma.

After the war, she worked in France as Catherine Farell. She played for instance the German prostitute in Dédée d'Anvers (1948, Yves Allégret) featuring Simone Signoret. She had the female lead in La nuit blanche/The White Night (1948, Richard Pottier) opposite Pierre Brasseur. In England she made The Woman's Angle (1952, Leslie Arliss) and in Italy, she was Alberto Sordi’s sister in Federico Fellini’s comedy-drama I Vitelloni (1953). Sordi stars with Franco Fabrizi and Franco Interlenghi in a character study of five young Italian men at crucial turning points in their small town lives. Recognized as a pivotal work in the director's artistic evolution, the film has distinct autobiographical elements that mirror important societal changes in 1950’s Italy. I Vitelloni won the Venice Film Festival Silver Lion in 1953. In Germany, Farell played a supporting part in the musical Die Drei von der Tankstelle/The Three from the Filling Station (1955, Hans Wolff), a remake of the 1930 UFA film. It was one of a series of remakes in West-Germany made during the 1950's of major hits during the Weimar and Nazi eras. Then followed the thriller Spion für Deutschland/Spy for Germany (1956, Werner Klingler) starring Martin Held and Nadja Tiller. The film depicts the German spy Erich Gimpel actions during the Second World War. During the 1960’s she was seen in films like the crime film Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Witwe/The Secret of the Black Widow (1963, Franz Josef Gottlieb) starring O. W. Fischer, and the Edgar Wallace thriller Im Banne des Unheimlichen/The Zombie Walks (1968, Alfred Vohrer) starring Joachim Fuchsberger. Her film career ended with the sex comedy Mir hat es immer Spaß gemacht/How Did a Nice Girl Like You Get Into This Business? (1970, Will Tremper) starring Barbi Benton. Later she was only seen in the Austrian TV film Vor Gericht seh'n wir uns wieder/We’ll meet again in court (1978, Peter Weck). In 2008, Claude Farell passed away in Mâcon, Austria. She was 93.

Claude Farell
German postcard by Ufa/Film-Foto, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 976. Photo: Lars Looschen, München.

Claude Farell
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 978. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Film. Publicity still for Die Nacht ohne Moral/The night without morals (1953, Ferdinand Dörfler).

Claude Farell
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. T 622. Photo: CCC-Film / Herzog-Film / A. Grimm. Publicity still for Hotel Adlon (1955, Josef von Báky).

Claude Farell
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden-Westf., no. 1774. Photo: Berolina / Herzog-Film / Wesel. Publicity still for Die Drei von der Tankstelle/The Three of the gas station (1955, Hans Wolff).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.

26 February 2013

Colette Darfeuil

Coquettish Colette Darfeuil (1906 – 1998) was a French actress with beautiful green eyes who made 110 films between 1920 and 1953.

Colette Darfeuil
French postcard by Europe, no. 588. Photo: G.L. Manuel Frères.

Brown-haired Ingénue
Colette Darfeuil was born as Emma Henriette Augustine Floquet in Paris in 1906. As a girl, she was discovered by young director Pierre Colombier in the Gaumont studios when she accompanied a friend who would play a part as an extra. She made her film debut in Les étrennes à travers les ages/New Year gifts through the ages (1920, Pierre Colombier) with Dolly Davis. This was a short, silent comedy with animated sequences of women down the ages all wanting something different from what they got as New Year presents. Three years later, her film career really took off with leading roles in Le retour à la vie/Back to life (1923, Jacques Dorval) and Château historique/Historic castle (1923, Henri Desfontaines) with Thomy Bourdelle. In Germany she appeared in Der Mann im Sattel/The man in the saddle (1925, Manfred Noa) with Ernö Verebes and Angelo Ferrari. There she later also appeared in the comedy Was eine Frau im Frühling träumt/What a woman dreams about in spring (1929, Curt Blachnitzky). But she mostly appeared in French films, such as the dramas La flamme/The Flame (1926, René Hervil) with Charles Vanel, and Sables/Sand (1929, Dimitri Kirsanoff) with Gina Manès. She had started her career as a brown-haired ingénue but in time turned into a blonde sophisticated lady.

Colette Darfeuil
French postcard by A.N. Paris, no. 272.

The End of the World
Colette Darfeuil made an easy transition from silent to sound with Abel Gance’s science-fiction film La fin du monde/The End of the World (1931). Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “As a comet speeds along on a collision course with Planet Earth, the world prays for a miracle. Scientist Victor Francen races against time to avoid the cataclysm, while Francen's religious-fanatic brother (played by director Gance) puts his fate in the hands of God. Meanwhile, the governments of the world adopt near-fascistic methods to keep their panicking minions under control. 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.’“ The 1930’s were a busy decade for Darfeuil. It started with films like Cendrillon de Paris/Cinderella of Paris (1930, Jean Hémard) and the comedy Voici dimanche/Here is Sunday (1930, Pierre Weill) with Tony D’Algy. She played leads in Pour un soir..!/For one night...! (1931, Jean Godard) opposite the young Jean Gabin, and the Guy de Maupassant adaptation Le rosier de Madame Husson/Mrs. Husson's Virginity Prize (1932, Dominique Bernard-Deschamps) featuring Françoise Rosay. Rex Ingram and his wife Alice Terry directed her in a supporting part in the Arab adventure Baroud (1932) with Pierre Batcheff. The British director shot his only sound film in Morocco, at the heyday of the French colonial empire, to retire shortly afterwards from the film industry. Russian director Fyodor Otsep directed her in the drama Mirages de Paris/Paris Illusions (1933) with Jacqueline Francell. This was an alternate language version of Großstadtnacht/Big city night (1932, Fyodor Otsep) with Dolly Haas and Trude Berliner in Darfeuil’s role. Other films include Pour être aimé/To be loved (1933, Jacques Tourneur) with Pierre Richard-Willm, the Fernandel comedy Les bleus de la marine/The new recruits of the Navy (1934, Maurice Cammage), and Le roi des Champs-Élysées/The King of the Champs Elysees (1934, Max Nosseck) with Buster Keaton .

Colette Darfeuil
French postcard by A.N. Paris, no. 272.

Seductive Femme Fatales
Colette Darfeuil had a successful career, but never managed to become a real star. She often played seductive femme fatales, sometimes even vulgar characters. She was one of the pretty partners of the legendary silent star Ivan Mozzhukhin in the sound version of Casanova (1933, René Barberis). She was directed by her husband Pierre Weill in Le train d'amour/Love Train (1935). During the 1930’s she mixed such starring parts with supporting roles in films like La chanson du souvenir (1936, Serge de Poligny, Detlev Sierck a.k.a. Douglas Sirk), the French language version of the Ufa production Das Hofkonzert/The Court Concert (1936, Douglas Sirk), both starring Márta Eggerth. A success was the adventure film Michel Strogoff/Michael Strogoff (1936, Jacques de Baroncelli, Richard Eichberg) starring Adolf Wohlbrück a.k.a. Anton Walbrook. This was another alternate language version of a German production, Der Kurier des Zaren/The Czar’s Courier (1936, Richard Eichberg) based on the novel by Jules Verne. In Belgium she played in several comedies by Gaston Schoukens, such as Bossemans et Coppenolle (1939) with Raymond Aimos, and in Italy she made the romantic comedy L'amore si fa così/Love you so (1939, Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia). She had a supporting part in the war drama Untel père et fils/Heart of a Nation (1945, Julien Duvivier) with Raimu and Michèle Morgan. The film about how the people of Paris cope with the strains and struggles of war was shot in 1940 but not released in France until November 1945 because of WW II. It was released in the US in 1943. After the war she appeared in Jacqueline Audry’s Les malheurs de Sophie/The Misfortunes of Sophie (1946). That year, her mother died and from that point on she only accidentally worked for the cameras. In 1952, she played opposite Michel Simon in La fille au fouet/Girl with the Whip (1952, Jean Dreville). She also played in the German version, Das Geheimnis vom Bergsee (1952, Jean Dreville). It was her last film. Aged 92, Colette Darfeuil died in 1998 in Montfort- l'Amaury, France. She was divorced of film director Pierre Weill and was the widow of producer René Bianco.

Colette Darfeuil
French postcard by Editions et Publications Cinematographiques (EPC), no. 91.

Source: Pascal Donald (CinéArtistes) (French), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), AlloCiné (French), Les gens du Cinéma (French), Wikipedia (German and French) and IMDb.

25 February 2013

Jean Weber

French actor Jean Weber (1906 – 1995) was a sociétaire (member) of the famous stage company Comédie-Française. He also appeared in several French films during the late 1920’s and 1930’s.

Jean Weber
French postcard by PC, Paris, no. 14. Photo: Albatros / Chavez.

Jean Weber
French postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Jean-Édouard-Constant Weber was born in Paris in 1906. In 1925 he joined the Comédie-Française and played that year in plays like Les Corbeaux (The Raven) by Henry Becque, and Fantasio by Alfred de Musset. In 1926, he made his film debut in Eh bien! dansez maintenant/Well, let’s dance! (1926, Émilien Champetier). In the following years he appeared in silent films like Figaro (1929, Gaston Ravel, Tony Lekain), as the pageboy Cherubino, and the historical drama Le Collier de la reine/The Queen's Necklace (1929, Gaston Ravel, Tony Lekain), with Marcelle Chantal and Diana Karenne. He played the title role in the early sound film L'Aiglon (1931, Viktor Tourjansky) opposite Victor Francen. D.B. du Monteil at IMDb: “The performances may seem old-fashioned for today's audience, the actors overplay as if they were on a stage; Jean Weber, who plays the lead, may seem ridiculous to some, but his performance, which seems extra-terrestrial - he displays some female sensitiveness, one should remember that the part was created on stage by Sarah Bernhardt - is deeply moving, particularly in the last scenes (last act: ‘broken wings’): they wouldn't film a dying man that way nowadays.”

Jean Weber
French postcard by P.T, no. 2. Photo: Film Osso. Publicity still for L'aiglon/Napoleon II (1931, Victor Tourjansky).

Jean Weber
French postcard by Editions et Publications Cinematographiques, no. 19. Photo: Arnal.

In 1932, Jean Weber became a sociétaire at the Comédie-Française. The sociétaires of the famous French stage company are chosen from among the pensionnaires who have been in the company a year or more. On becoming a sociétaire, an actor automatically becomes a member of the Société des Comédiens-Française and receives a share of the profits as well as receiving a number of shares in the société to which he or she is contractually linked. Weber continued to be a sociétaire till 1949. During this period he appeared in a dozen films, including the comedy Tricoche et Cacolet/Tricoche and Cacolet (1938, Pierre Colombier), starring Fernandel, and the adventure film Le Capitaine Fracasse/Captain Fracasse (1943, Abel Gance) based on the novel by Théophile Gautier. During the 1950’s he appeared in a few more films. He was among the star cast of Si Paris nous était conté/If Paris Were Told to Us (1955, Sacha Guitry) about the history of the city of Paris. His final film was Action immédiate (1957, Maurice Labro), starring Henri Vidal. In 1961 he appeared on stage in Henri III et sa cour by Alexandre Dumas, directed by Pierre Bertin at the Théâtre de l'Athénée. Later he could be seen on TV in the series Café du square (1969, Louis Daquin) with Catherine Allégret, and finally in an registration of Collette’s play Chéri (1984, Yves-André Hubert), starring Michèle Morgan and Jean-Pierre Bouvier as Chéri. Jean Weber died in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris in 1995. He was 89.

Jean Weber
French postcard by EC (Editions Cinematographiques), Paris, no. 1020. Photo: Production Albatros-Chavez. Publicity still for Un Coup de Téléphone/A Phone Call (1932, Georges Lacombe).

Jean Weber
French postcard by EC (Editions Cinémagazine), Paris, no. 935. Photo: Studio Rudolph.

Sources: D.B. du Monteil (IMDb), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

24 February 2013

Anna Széles

Hungarian, Romanian-born Anna Széles (1942 was a ravishingly beautiful actress, who worked with directors like Miklós Jancsó and Péter Bacsó. She also appeared in Communist musicals of the 1960’s and as a princess in East-European fairy tales of the 1970’s.

Ana Szeles
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 212/69, 1969. Photo: Balinski.

Communist Musicals
Anna (sometimes written as Ana) Széles was born in Oradea, Transylvania (Romania), in 1942. She took piano and ballet lessons and in 1961 she went to study at the Marosvásárhelyi Színművészeti Főiskola (Academy of Theatre and Film in Targu Mures). During the second college year she made her film debut in Bucharest, in the musical Vacanta la mare/Seaside Vacation (1963, Andrei Calarasu). This film was one of the East-European musicals featured in East Side Story (1997, Dana Ranga), a documentary about film musicals produced during the height of the Soviet bloc. Reviewer Mike at IMDb: “(Vacanta la Mare) is a rare gem. It belongs to the genre of Communist musicals. These musicals are mostly unknown in the West. That is a shame, some of them are worth watching.” Next she played in La vîrsta dragostei/At the Age of Love (1964, Francisc Munteanu). On the set she met actor Romanian actor Florin Piersic, but it took almost 9 more years before they fell in love with each other. Their relationship began on a long train ride between Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca, when Piersic sent her love notes with the help of the train-porter. In 1975, they married and had a son, Daniel. They divorced in 1985, but they remained lovers for 5 more years, while he was living in Bucharest and she in Cluj.

Anna Széles
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 217/70, 1970. Photo: Progress.

Anna Széles
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Masterpiece of the Romanian Cinema
Anna Széles played the female lead in the romantic drama Padurea spânzuratilor/Forest of the Hanged (1965, Liviu Ciulei), which is considered one of the masterpieces of the Romanian cinema. It won the award for Best Directing at Cannes and also was nominated for the Palm D'Or. In the First World War, a Romanian officer (Victor Rebengiuc) in the Austro-Hungarian army (Romania's enemies), has to fight against his own people, and also falls in love with a Hungarian woman (Ana Széles). Reviewer Vincentiu at IMDb: “It is a story about war, love, duty and love but it is more. It is a poem in which light, acting and atmosphere are parts of a subtle description of a ordinary strange world.” In 1965, Széles graduated from the academy and started to work at the Kolozsvári Állami Magyar Színház (Hungarian Theatre of Cluj), a repertory theatre with performances in Hungarian, entirely subsidized by the Romanian Ministry of Culture. Széles’ first role there was Emily in Thornton Wilder’s Our town. She also continued to play major roles in interesting films, such as Zodia Fecioarei/Virgo (1966, Manole Marcus), with Chris(tea) Avram, and Meandre/Meanders (1966, Mircea Saucan). She also appeared in popular comedies like Balul de sîmbata seara/The Saturday Night Dance (1968, Geo Saizescu), Vin ciclistii/The Cyclists Are Coming (1968, Aurel Miheles) and Canarul si viscolul/The Canary and the Snowstorm (1969, Manole Marcus).

Florin Piersic, Anna Széles
With Florin Piersic. Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 33 150.

Ana Széles
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Collection: Véronique@Flickr.

Beautiful Princess
A very popular genre of the East-European cinema at the time was the fairy tale. In 1970 Anna Széles appeared as a beautiful princess in Tinerete fara batrînete/Kingdom in the Clouds (1970, Elisabeta Bostan, Nicolae Codrescu). Paramount distributed this film in the US and Australia. The following year, she worked with famous director Miklós Jancsó at Égi bárány/Agnus Dei (1971) with Daniel Olbrychski. It is an allegory of the suppression of the 1919 revolution and the advent of fascism in Hungary. On TV, she co-starred with Mari Töröcsik in the mini-series Irgalom/Mercy (1973, György Hintsch). She played with Florin Piersic in the fantasy Elixirul tineretii/The Youth Elixir (1975, Gheorghe Naghi) and the comedy Eu, tu si Ovidiu/You, Me and Ovidius (1977, Geo Saizescu). Then there was an interval in her film career of ten years. In 1987, she returned to the screen with Piersic in the adventure film Masca de argint/The Silver Mask (1987 Gheorghe Vitanidis). Until 1989, Széles was a member of the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj. Then she moved to Budapest, Hungary, where she became a member of the Thália Színház (Thalia Theatre). She continued to appear in films, but only incidentally. Among her later Hungarian films are Sztálin menyasszonya/Stalin’s Bride (1991, Péter Bacsó), and the historical epics Honfoglalás/The Conquest (1996, Gábor Koltay) and Sacra Corona/Holy Crown (1999, Gábor Koltay) both based on true events of XI. century Hungarian history and starring Franco Nero. Széles’ roles in these films were only minor. She also appeared in supporting roles as an aunt or grandma on television, such as in És a nyolcadik napon/And on the eighth day (2009, Róbert Pajer). Anna Széles is now a grandmother and lives in Budapest, where she still appears on TV and in commercials.

Anna Szeles
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Scene from Tinerete fara batrînete/Kingdom in the Clouds (1970) in wich the hero fights a green witch. Source: TaylorHamKid (YouTube).

Sources: Cinemagia (Romanian), Ziarero (Romanian), Wikipedia (Hungarian and Romanian), and IMDb.

23 February 2013

Photo: Georg Michalke

German-born Georg Michalke (1909 – 1982) photographed countless European stars and starlets in Rome during the 1950’s and 1960’s. These were the times of 'La dolce vita' - the heydays of the Italian film industry. His sizzling pictures of La Loren, BB, CC and other love goddesses were used for postcards, that are now popular at Flickr and here at EFSP. But who was the man behind the camera? Grandson Thomas Stein gave us a peek into Michalke's eventful life.

Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren. German postcard printed by Krüger, no. 902/304. Photo: Georg Michalke.

Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot. German postcard by UFA (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK 142. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Michalke / UFA.

Claudia Cardinale
Claudia Cardinale. German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/164. Photo: Georg Michalke / UFA.

Death Penalty
George Michalke was born in Eberswalde near Berlin in 1909. He was the son of medical officer Dr. Alfons Michalke and his wife Emma Michalke née Kliegel. From 1931 to 1933, Georg studied Philology (classic languages) at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Univertsität in Berlin, and also studied at the universities of Paris (Sorbonne), London, Rome and Halle. He graduated at the United Friedrichs-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in 1935. From 1935 to 1940 he worked at the research office of the Air Ministry of the Third Reich. In 1941 Michalke emigrated to Rome, Italy where he worked as an editor for the German news agency Transocean. In 1943 he was suddenly called to join the German Wehrmacht. While he did not react, the German military court in Rome sentenced him to death on 28 October 1943. A few days later, he was transferred by truck to Munich. After a request for clemency and a review of his case, he was pardoned and sentenced to 5 years in prison on 24 December 1943. He spent nine months in the concentration camp Aschendorfer Moor, and in December 1944 he was moved to a Strafbattalion (a penal unit) in Torgau. From there he was transferred on 12 February 1945 to Strafbattalion 500 near Brno. On 25 March Michalke and a mate knew to escape southwards. They were arrested again and brought to the Wehrmacht prison in Vienna-Floridsdorf. Happily they were not executed. Early April 1945, George Michalke was liberated there by the Russian military and transported.

Karin Baal
Karin Baal. German postcard by UFA (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK 392. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Michalke / UFA.

Margaret Lee
Margaret Lee. German postcard by Kruger, no. 902/356. Photo: Georg Michalke.

Michèle Mercier
Michèle Mercier. German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/295. Photo: Georg Michalke.

Dominique Boschero
Dominique Boschero. German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/357. Photo: Georg Michalke.

Betsy Bell
Betsy Bell. German postcard by Krüger. Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1965. Photo: Georg Michalke.

'Trading in Pornography'
After the war, Georg Michalke returned to Rome where he worked again as journalist and photographer. The booming Italian film industry gave him lots of opportunities as a photographer. he sold his pictures mainly in Germany. Michalke proved to be an excellent glamour photographer. Many of the most gorgeous Italian, French and German divas and starlets of the 1950’s and 1960’s posed for his camera. The results are still stunning. When was Sophia Loren sexier than in Michalke’s publicity shot for La donna del fiume/The Woman of the River (1955, Mario Soldati)? Some of his other pictures of Loren must have been so daring that he was accused of 'trading in pornography'. According to a 1959 article in the German magazine Der Spiegel, a Roman court even sentenced him to six months prison for this. During the trial, La Loren was not present. According to her legal representative, she was making a film abroad. Quite daring was also Michalke's portrait of BB – Brigitte Bardot - in a white corset. And how about Michalke’s photo of CC – Claudia Cardinale – in bikini? Deliciously sexy but not sleazy. All these photos were picked up by Krüger, UFA and other German postcard publishers. Thomas Stein wrote us that his grandfather kept working as a journalist and photographer both in Germany (in Hamburg, Münster and other places) and in Rome, until his death in 1982. Georg Michalke was married twice and had two daughters, Monika and Inez. Thomas is the son of Monika Stein née Michalke. Thank you, Thomas - and your mother, for sharing the information, and the portraits from your private collection with us. Elsewhere on the web, there is virtually no information on the man and his work. Why? As one of the major glamour photographers of the 20th Century, with an interesting connection to the European film industry, George Michalke deserves a large, lavishly produced monography. With lots and lots of his pictures, please.

Georg Michalke
Georg Michalke, circa 1949, picture from an Italian ID card. Photo: collection Thomas Stein.

Fotograf Georg Michalke
Georg Michalke, circa 1970, picture from a German ID card. Photo: collection Thomas Stein.

Georg Michalke, Prague, 1973. Photo: collection Thomas Stein.

Sources: Der Spiegel (German) and Thomas Stein.

Césars for Riva, Trintignant and Haneke!

At the eve of her 86th birthday, Emmanuelle Riva has been awarded with the César 2013 for Best Actress for her role in Amour (2012, Michael Haneke). Her co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant has been awarded with the César 2013 for Best Actor. Felicitations!

Congratulations Jean-Louis Trintignant!.
Jean-Louis Trintignant. French postcard by Edition P.I., Paris, no. 1129. Photo: J.L. Castelli.

Césars 2013
Amour was the big winner during the César cermonies tonight. The film also won the César awards for Best Picture and for Best Director. The César for Best Supporting Actress did not go to Isabelle Huppert for her part in Amour. Valérie Benguigui won the prize for Le Prénom (2012, Alexandre de La Patellière, Matthieu Delaporte).

Congratulations Emmanuelle Riva!
Emmanuelle Riva. Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 177.

French actress Emmanuelle Riva (1927) is best known for her roles in the films Hiroshima mon amour (1959), Léon Morin, Priest (1961), and Amour (2012). This year, Riva already received the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role in Amour, and she is also nominated for an Academy Award - the oldest actress ever to have been nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress.

Jean-Louis Trintignant
Jean-Louis Trintignant. French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 608. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Jean-Louis Trintignant (1930) is one of the most gifted French actors of the post-war era. He starred in more than 100 films and enjoyed international acclaim with films like Et Dieu... créa la femme/And God Created Woman (1956), Un homme et une femme/A Man And A Woman (1966), Z (1969) and Il Conformista/The Conformist (1970). He showed a special talent for dark characters like murderers or jealous husbands, and won several awards for it.

Jean-Louis Trintignant
Jean-Louis Trintignant. Spanish postcard by Oscarcolor, no. 293.

22 February 2013

Renée Saint-Cyr

French actress and opera singer Renée Saint-Cyr (1907 - 2004) starred in more than 30 comedies and romantic dramas between 1932 and 1943. After the war the alluring beauty continued her film career in supporting roles, usually playing chic ladies.

Renée Saint-Cyr
French postcard by P.C., Paris, no. 47. Photo: Pathé-Natan.

Renée Saint-Cyr
French postcard by O.P., Paris, no. 118. Photo: Studio Piaz.

Renée Saint-Cyr
French postcard by Collection Chantal, Paris, no. 17. Photo: Discina.

Creaky Theatrical Warhorse
Renée Saint-Cyr was born Marie-Louise Eugénie Vittore in Beausoleil, France in 1907. She was the daughter of a hotel owner and opera singer. Before entering show business, she married at age 16 with wealthy jeweller Charles Léopold Lautner. In 1926, they had a son, Georges Lautner, and the couple would stay married until his death. Marie-Louise studied drama and singing at the Conservatoire de Marseille (the conservatory of Marseilles) and won there the first prize for singing. When her husband went bankrupt during the Krach, she decided to take up her stage career. She made her stage debut in the children's revue Allo! Cherie! (Hello Honey!). Her first film role was the lead of Henriette in the melodrama Les Deux Orphelines/The Two Orphans (1932, Maurice Tourneur), based on a creaky theatrical warhorse, filmed earlier by D.W. Griffith. She adopted the moniker Saint-Cyr, taken from a beloved dog. Between 1932 and 1943 she performed in over 30 films. Ronald Bergan in his obituary for The Guardian: "The slim, seductive brunette made her name in romantic dramas, though she was equally at home in comedies, where she could use her throaty laugh." These films included Incognito (1933, Kurt Gerron), Le Dernier Milliardaire/The Last Billionaire (1934, René Clair), Pattes de mouches/The Legs of Flies (1936, Jean Grémillon) and Les perles de la couronne/The Pearls of the Crown (1937, Sacha Guitry, Christian Jacque). Her co-stars were such established talents as Jules Berry, Raimu, and Pierre Brasseur. Meanwhile she continued to play on stage, in Feydeau (Monsieur Chasse), Marcel Achard (Jean de la Lune), Jean Giraudoux (Amphitryon 38) and Edmond Rostand (L'Aiglon).
She played Polly Peachum in Bertolt Brecht's L'Opéra de quat'sous/The Threepenny Opera (1937) at the Théâtre de l'Étoile.

Renée Saint-Cyr
French postcard by Viny, no. 42. Photo: Paris Film Production.

Renée Saint-Cyr
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 37. Photo: Roger Carlet.

Renée Saint-Cyr
French postcard, no. 135. Photo: Richebé.

Keeper of Good Taste
In 1938, Renée Saint-Cyr was invited by 20th Century-Fox to come to Hollywood but she chose to sign a contract with Gaumont British instead. The comedy thriller Strange Boarders (1938, Herbert Mason) was ignored by the public and she decided to leave England and to go to Italy. There, Vittorio De Sica directed her in his first film, Rose Scarlatte/Red Roses (1940, Vittorio De Sica) based on a play by Aldo de Benedetti, but the film also bombed at the box-office. During the war period Saint-Cyr remained busy in France. The beautiful, elegant actress with her aristocaric demeanor played in popular films like the Hector Berlioz biopic La Symphonie fantastique/The Fantastic Symphony (1942, Christian-Jacque) with Jean-Louis Barrault, Marie-Martine (1943, Albert Valentin) and Paméla (1945, Pierre de Hérain). After WW II, she played in several films by Louis Cuny, like Étrange destin/Strange Fate (1946) with Henri Vidal. In the early 1950's she co-produced films with herself, such as Fusillé à l'aube/Secret Document: Vienna (1950, André Haguet). She also played Empress Eugénie in Si Paris nous était conté/If Paris Were Told to Us (1955, Sacha Guitry). From the mid-1960's on, Renée Saint-Cyr played in 10 films directed by her son, film writer and director Georges Lautner, including the comic spy film Le monocle rit jaune/The Monocle (1964), the Pierre Richard comedy On aura tout vu/The Bottom Line (1976) and Attention une femme peut en cacher une autre!/My Other Husband (1983) starring Miou-Miou. She was also seen in some other films and television series. Despite her development in acting from youth to middle age to old age, she remained the classy lady. In the television series Palace (1988, Jean-Michel Ribes) she performed the 'keeper of good taste'. Renée Saint-Cyr published her memories in 1967, Le Temps de vivre (The Time To Live), and 1990, En toute mauvaise foi (In Bad Faith). Her last film was again directed by her son, Room Service (1993) starring Michel Serrault. She was a recipient of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honor award) and was made Commandeur de l'Ordre national du mérite in 2003. A year later, at the age of 99, Renée Saint-Cyr died of bronchitis in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.

Renée Saint-Cyr
French postcard by EPC (Editions et Publications Cinematographiques), no. 156. Photo: Kahn.

Renée Saint-Cyr
French postcard, no. 24. Photo: Studio Piaz.

Renée Saint-Cyr
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 31. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Scene from Le monocle rit jaune/The Monocle (1964) with Paul Meurisse. Source: Zebulito (YouTube).

Source: Ronald Bergan (The Guardian), Philippe Pelletier (CinéArtistes) (French), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.