31 October 2013

Barbara Brylska

During the 1970s, Polish actress Barbara Brylska (1941) was featured in numerous films throughout the countries of the Warsaw Pact. She is noted especially for her role as Nadya in the classic Soviet comedy Ironiya sudby/Irony of Fate (1975).

Barbara Brylska
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2709, 1966. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Balinski.

Phoenician Priestess

Barbara Brylska was born in Skotniki, near Łódź, Poland in 1941. Her early childhood was marked by the trauma of survival under the Nazi occupation of Poland during the Second World War.

At the age of 15, she played a bit part in the film Kalosze szczescia/Lucky Boots (Antoni Bohdziewicz, 1958) with Maria Gella. After this small uncredited role, she took acting lessons at Lodz Theatre School and then studied at Warsaw School of Theatre, Cinema and Television. In 1967 she completed her acting education.

Brylska's first major film role was in the drama Ich dzień powszedni/Their Everyday Life (Aleksander Scibor-Rylski, 1963) opposite ‘the Polish James Dean’ Zbigniew Cybulski. She appeared with Tadeusz Lomnicki and a young Daniel Olbrychski in the war drama Potem nastapi cisza/And All Will Be Quiet (Janusz Morgenstern 1966).

Her appearance in Bumerang/Boomerang (1966) made her one of the most popular actresses in Poland. And the same year, she also played a supporting role as the Phoenician priestess Kama in the Oscar nominated film Faraon/Pharaoh (Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 1966), based on the novel by Bolesław Prus. Star of the three-hour epic historical drama was Jerzy Zelnik as Pharaoh Ramses XIII, with whom she had a relationship.

Brylska married twice, in 1961 to Jan Borovets, and in 1970 to Ludwig Kosmal. In 1968, she played in the East-German Western Spur des Falken/Trail of the Falcon (Gottfried Kolditz,1968) with Gojko Mitic. The next year she played the female lead in the crime mystery Zbrodniarz, który ukradl zbrodnie/The Criminal Who Stole a Crime (Janusz Majewski, 1969), and a supporting role in Pan Wolodyjowski/Colonel Wolodyjowski (Jerzy Hoffman, 1969), featuring Tadeusz Lomnicki.

Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Polish documentary filmmaker Jerzy Hoffman brought an aura of realism to the sweeping historical epic Colonel Wolodyjowski. Originally running 160 minutes, the film was based on a trilogy of patriotic novels by Henry Sienkiewicz (Quo Vadis?). The story, set in the 17th century, details the bloody struggle on the Eastern border between the Poles and the invading Turkish hordes. Giving the box-office potential of Colonel Wolodyjowski a major boost was the presence in the supporting cast of 24-year-old matinee idol Daniel Olbrychski. Successful in its home country, Colonel Wolodyjowski unfortunately made very little impression outside of Poland; but then, would a biopic of George Washington play well in Warsaw?”

Barbara Brylska in Weisse Wölfe
East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 89/69, 1969. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: DEFA. Publicity still for Weisse Wölfe/White Wolves (Bosko Boskovic, Konrad Petzold, 1969).

The Irony of Fate

In the early 1970s, Barbara Brylska played in such Polish (co-)productions as the war film Osvobozhdenie: Napravleniye glavnogo udara/Liberation (Yuri Ozerov 1971), and Anatomia milosci/Anatomy of Love (Roman Zaluski, 1972) with Jan Nowicki. She also played in Russian, Czechoslovak and Bulgarian films.

Her biggest success was the romantic Soviet comedy Ironiya sudby, ili S lyogkim parom!/The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! (Eldar Ryazanov, 1975) opposite Andrey Myagkov. Simultaneously a screwball comedy and a love story tinged with sadness, it is one of the most popular Russian television productions ever.

Originally, the two consecutive episodes of Ironiya sudby were broadcast by Soviet television on 1 January 1976. Author Fedor Razzakov recalled that "virtually the entire country watched the show"; an estimated 100 million viewers. By 1978, after several broadcasts, the accumulated number of viewers was estimated at some 250 million. A shortened 155 minutes version was released to cinemas in August 1976 and sold some 7 million tickets.

In 1977 she was a member of the jury at the 10th Moscow International Film Festival. For her role as Nadya, she was elected as the most popular actress in Russia according to several polls, she also won the State Prize of the USSR (1977). Her acceptance of this award created controversy in her home country.

Steve Shelokhonov at IMDb: “However, Brylska was critical about the rigid political and cultural atmosphere in the Soviet Union. She put her popularity at risk for saying some tough truth about the Soviet regime, albeit the wide Russian audiences were sympathizing with her criticism and understanding of how people were suffering under domination of the Soviet Communist Party.”

She continued to appear regularly on Russian television. Her films in the following decades were less popular, with a few exceptions such as the Czech production Skalpel, prosím/Scalpel, Please (Jirí Svoboda, 1985) with Jana Brejchová. She would later claim that she was caught in political tensions between Poland and the Soviet Union, and her continuing success with Ironiya sudby caused jealousy in the Polish film community and led it to ignore her work. However for the Russian public, Ironiya sudby is now a classic piece of their popular culture and still broadcasted every New Year's Day.

Barbara Brylska, Karl Zugowski in Weisse Wölfe
East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 89/69, 1969. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: DEFA. Publicity still for Weisse Wölfe/White Wolves (Bosko Boskovic, Konrad Petzold, 1969) with Karl Zugowski.

Classic Noblesse, Beauty, Intelligence, And Effortless Style

Barbara Brylska had two children with her second husband Ludwig Kosmal, Barbara (1973) and Ludwig (1982). Barbara Kosmal became a model in Paris, but only 20, she died tragically in a car accident. After her daughter’s death and a burglary in her apartment in Warsaw, Brylska suffered from a nervous breakdown, but she continued acting.

After a long screen hiatus, she played a supporting role in Russia in the grotesque crime comedy Daun Haus/Down House (Roman Kachanov, 2000), based on The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. That same year, she made her stage debut in Moscow, in the popular play Quartet opposite Svetlana Kryuchkova. Since then she primarily acted in Russia, in stage plays and on television, but also in the cinema.

In 2003 she starred in the Russian comedy Casus belli/Symphony of Silence (Igor Ugolnikov, 2003). In 2006 followed the Ukrainian comedy Strannoe Rozhdestvo/Strange Christmas (Maksim Papernik, 2006), reuniting her with Liya Akhedzhakova, who had played her friend in Ironiya sudby. Brylska played Olga Samoilova, a wealthy lady who was forced into a retirement home by her money hungry relatives.

Then Brylska was cast again as the aged Nadya in the sequel to her most popular film, Ironiya sudby. Prodolzhenie/Irony of Fate: The Sequel (Timur Bekmambetov, 2008). Again, it became a box office hit and grossed over $55 million to a production budget of $5 million.

Barbara Brylska remains beloved in Russia and the former Soviet republics for her classic noblesse, beauty, intelligence, and effortless style. Her most recent film is the Polish comedy Milosc na wybiegu/Love on the catwalk (Krzysztof Lang, 2009).

Barbara Brylska
Big East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 112/69, 1969. Retail price: 0,40 MDN. Photo: Nasierowska.

Sources: Steve Shelokhonov (IMDb), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Tom B. (Westerns All’Italiana), AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.

30 October 2013

Matthieu van Eysden

Dutch actor and cabaret artist Matthieu van Eysden (1896-1970) had a busy career as a supporting actor in stage plays, on television and in silent and sound films.

Matthieu van Eysden, De big van het regiment
Dutch vintage postcard by Monopole Film NV. Photo: Maarseveen. Still for De Big van het Regiment (1935, Max Nosseck). Collection: Egbert Barten.

The Bluejackets

Matthieu van Eysden was born Mattheus Marinus van Eijsden in Amersfoort, the Netherlands in 1896. He was the son of musician Mattheus Marinus van Eijsden and Bertha Elisabeth van Kempen.

His parents wanted him to follow a training as an officer. He was a sergeant and served in 1914-1918 during WW I. He joined an amateur theatre association and earned his living in the car trade.

In 1920 author and director Herman Heijermans admitted him to his stage company Tooneelvereeniging and he made his debut in Marie Antoinette. It was the beginning of a long acting career in which he was seen frequently in films as well as on stage.

On stage he played mainly revue, musical and operetta. One of his first films was the silent version of Herman Bouber’s hit play De jantjes/The Bluejackets (Maurits Binger, B. E. Doxat-Pratt, 1922) with Beppie de Vries, Johan Elsensohn and Louis Davids.

He also appeared in the silent Dutch comedies Moderne landhaaien/Modern Land Sharks (Alex Benno, 1926) with Maurits de Vries, and Artistenrevue/Artists Revue (Alex Benno, 1926) with Alex de Meester and Isodoor Zwaaf.

Frits van Dongen, Cruys Voorbergh, Matthieu van Eysden, Adolphe Engers, and Johan Kaart
Dutch vintage postcard by Monopole Film NV. Photo: Maarseveen. Still for De Big van het Regiment (1935, Max Nosseck) with Frits van Dongen, Cruys Voorbergh, Matthieu van Eysden, Adolphe Engers, and Johan Kaart. Collection: Egbert Barten.

Douglas Sirk and Max Ophüls

During the 1930s, Matthieu van Eysden appeared in supporting parts in several Dutch sound films. In Het meisje met den blauwen hoed/The Girl with the blue hat (Rudolf Meinert, 1934), he supported Truus van Aalten, Roland Varno and Lou Bandy.

That year he also played in the drama Op hoop van zegen/The Good Hope (Alex Benno, 1934) after the 1900 play by the same name by Herman Heijermans. He had another supporting role in the comedy De Big van het Regiment/The Regiment's Mascot (Max Nosseck, 1935), a First World War farce about the mobilization of the Dutch Army starring Frits van Dongen aka Philip Dorn.

German director Detlev Sierck, later better known as Douglas Sirk directed him in the comedy 't was een april (Detlev Sierck, Jacques van Tol, 1936), an alternate-language version of the German Ufa production April, April! (Detlev Sierck, 1935).

Van Eysden had also small parts in Rubber (Gerard Rutten, Johan de Meester, 1936), the only Dutch fictional film made in the colonial Indonesia (Dutch India), and in Merijntje Gijzen's Jeugd/The Youth of Merijntje Gijzen (Kurt Gerron, 1936) about the hard life of Dutch villagers around 1900 in the southern part of the Netherlands.

Van Eysden had one of his biggest roles opposite Herman Bouber in Komedie om Geld/The Trouble With Money (1936), a biting comedy about financial fraud directed by German Max Ophüls. At the time, the film was the most expensive production ever to have been made in the Netherlands costing around 150,000 guilders. On its initial release, it only took around 10,000 guilders at the box office.

Another flop was Kermisgasten/Fair People (Jaap Speyer, 1936) starring Henriëtte Davids and Johan Kaart. Then followed a huge success with Pygmalion (Ludwig Berger, 1937), the Dutch film version of the play by George Bernard Shaw. Lily Bouwmeester played the Dutch Eliza Doolittle and Van Eysden was her father. He also appeared with Bouwmeester in Veertig Jaren/Forty Years (Johan De Meester, Edmond T. Gréville, 1938).

Johan Kaart, Sylvain Poons, Hansje Andriesen, Matthieu van Eysden, and Adolphe Engers
Dutch postcard by Monopole Film N.V. Photo: Dick van Maarseveen. Still for De Big van het Regiment (1935, Max Nosseck) with Johan Kaart, Sylvaïn Poons, Hansje Andriesen, Matthieu van Eysden, and Adolphe Engers. Collection: Egbert Barten.

But Not In Vain

In 1940, Matthieu van Eysden played in another film starring Lily Bouwmeester, Ergens in Nederland/Somewhere in the Netherlands (Ludwig Berger, 1940). It was the last pre-war film. Ergens in Nederland was just ready for release when the Netherlands were conquered by the Nazis, who forbade its exhibition.

During WWII, Van Eysden appeared in the comedy Drie Weken Huisknecht/Three weeks servant (Walter Smith, 1944) opposite Paul Steenbergen. This was the only Dutch feature film which was completed during the war.

After the war Van Eysden appeared in the Anglo-Dutch World War II drama Niet Tevergeefs/But Not in Vain (Edmond T. Gréville, 1948) starring Raymond Lovell. The film is set in 1944 in the occupied Netherlands, and was shot at the Cinetone Studios in Amsterdam, with exterior filming taking place at locations in and around the city. The film also incorporates authentic wartime footage filmed by members of the Dutch Resistance.

The Dutch version of the film was the first Dutch production of a feature film after World War II. The film's name is derived from a wartime radio speech by the exiled Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, exhorting her people to resist the Nazi occupation and promising that their struggle and sacrifice would not be in vain. The film is ‘missing, believed lost’.

His final feature film was the comedy Een koninkrijk voor een huis/A Kingdom for a House (Jaap Speyer, 1949), about the post-war problem of the lack of living quarters. He later often appeared on television, like in the TV series Maigret (1967) featuring Jan Teulings, and finally in Op straffe des doods/Under penalty of death (Rob van der Linden, 1970) starring Kees Brusse.

Matthieu van Eysden died in Haarlem (according to IMDb in Rotterdam) in 1970. He was 74. He was married to revue and operetta actress Maria Margaretha ‘Mary’van den Berg (1932-1949). They had a daughter, Dolores Mia.

00-00-1963_19367 Matthieu van Eijsden
Matthieu van Eijsden, 1963. Photo: Ben van Meerendonk / AHF. Collection: IISG, Amsterdam (Flickr).

Sources: Theaterencyclopedie.nl, Genealogieonline, Wikipedia (English and Dutch), and IMDb.

29 October 2013

Juana Borguèse

Very little is known about Juana Borguèse who played the evil Baronne d'Apremont in the French silent serial La nouvelle mission de Judex/The New Mission of Judex (1917-1918).

Juana Borguèse in La nouvelle mission de Judex
French postcard by Coquemer Gravures, Paris. Photo: Félix /  Gaumont. Still for La nouvelle mission de Judex (1917-1918).

Creating Havoc In Tandem

Was Juana Borguèse a pseudonym? We don't know, no where and when she was born.

Together with another mysterious and dangerous woman, Gaby (Cyprien Giles), Borguèse's Baronne 'creates havoc in tandem', as Vicki Calahan writes in Zones of Anxiety: Movement, Musidora, and the Crime Serials of Louis Feuillade.

Baronne d'Apremont is the accomplice of the evil Dr. Howey (Andrew Brunelle) in La nouvelle mission de Judex/The New Mission of Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1917-1918).

She has hypnotic powers - mark the eyes on the card - enabling her to force the innocent to do things against their will.

According to Cineressources, the site of the Cinémathèque française, she also played an uncredited part in the earlier film Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1916) in which Musidora played the scheming villain Diana Monti.

Who can tell us more about Juana Borguèse?

Andrew Brunelle in La nouvelle mission de Judex
Andrew Brunelle. French postcard by Coquemer Gravures, Paris. Photo: Gerschel / Gaumont. Still for La nouvelle mission de Judex (1917-1918).

Sources: Vicki Callahan (Zones of Anxiety: Movement, Musidora and the Crime Serals of Louis Feuillade), Cineressources and IMDb.

28 October 2013

Happy birthday, Cornelia Froboess!

Today Die Connie has her 70th birthday! German singer an actress Cornelia 'Conny' Froboess (1943) started her career 62 years ago with the cheery song Pack die Badehose ein (1951, Pack Your Swimsuit). In the late 1950s and early 1960s, she became an immensely popular teen idol as a spontaneous Berliner Göre (brat from Berlin) in Schlager films with Peter Kraus and Rex Gildo. She also represented West-Germany at the 1962 Eurovision Song Contest. In the 1970s, she transformed into a respected stage actress and in the following decades she appeared in such major films as Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss/Veronika Voss (1982) and Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Thomas Jahn, 1997), playing the mother of Til Schweiger. Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag, Conny!

Conny Froboess
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel. Photo: Schönbrunn / Constantin-Film.

Conny Froboess
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4773. Photo: HAFBO.

Conny Froboess
Vintage card, with far left Rex Gildo.

Conny Froboess
German postcard by Kolibri Verlag, Minden. Photo: H.P. / Union / Ewald. Publicity still for the musical comedy Hula-Hopp, Conny (1958).

Peter Kraus, Conny Froboess
Dutch postcard, no. 761, with Peter Kraus.

27 October 2013

Aliki Vouyouklaki

Blonde, dark-eyed Aliki Vouyouklaki (Greek: Αλίκη Βουγιουκλάκη) (1934-1996) was one of the most popular and successful actresses of the Greek cinema. She appeared in 42 films, mostly comedies and musicals, and in a wide variety of television programs, theatre and stage productions.

Aliki Voyouklaki
Italian postcard by Select, no. 202. Photo: Giovanni Trimboli.

Eliza Doolittle

Aliki Stamatina Vouyouklaki (also written as Vuyuklaki or Vougiouklaki) was born in Maroussi, Greece, in 1933 (or 1934, according to some sources). She had two brothers, film director Takis Vouyouklakis, and architect Antonis Vouyouklakis. Her father was killed by German troops during World War II.

She studied at the Drama School of the Greek National Theater and she started to act while still a student. Aliki made her stage debut in a 1953 Athens production of Molière's Le malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Patient).

Around the same time she made her first film, playing the leading role in To pontikaki/The little Mouse (Yorgos Assimakopoulos, Nikos Tsiforos, 1954), the Greek version of My Fair Lady. This debut would be followed by scores of other popular dramatic and comic films.

The late 1950's was her breakthrough period: on stage she starred as Eliza Doolittle in a successful 1958 revival of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (the play on which My Fair Lady was based) and she took the leading part in a very popular film, To xylo vgike apo ton Paradeiso/Maiden's Cheek (Alekos Sakellarios, 1959).

Instantly, Aliki with her classical beauty became Greece's most popular star. A doll and a pastry were named after her. She featured in several films for production company Finos films during the ‘golden age of the commercial Greek cinema’; the early 1960s. Her trademark was a red hibiscus behind her ear.

She also created her personal theatre group and staged plays like Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. She starred in Aristophanes' Lysistrata and Sophocles' Antigone in the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, both productions were massive commercial successes, but created great controversies.

Aliki Voyouklaki
Italian postcard by Select, no. 201. Photo: Giovanni Trimboli.

Aliki Voyouklaki
Italian postcard by Select, no. 205. Photo: Giovanni Trimboli.

A Total Flop

Aliki Vouyouklaki won the Best Actress prize at the first Thessaloniki Film Festival in 1960 for her starring role in Madalena (Dinos Dimopoulos, 1960).

In 1965 she married her film and stage partner Dimitris Papamichail. They had met on the set as the leads of the romantic comedy To xylo vgike apo ton Paradeiso/Maiden's Cheek (1959) and had also fallen in love privately. Together, they went on to star in a number of popular films, includingI Aliki sto Naftiko/Aliki in the Navy (Alekos Sakellarios, 1961), which sold more than 590,000 tickets in Greece.

Alekos Sakellarios wrote the biggest comedy hits of the Greek cinema, and Aliki acted in them, singing the unforgettable songs of composer Manos Hatzidakis. Aliki herself allegedly wrote the script for the English language production, Aliki my love (Rudolph Maté, 1962) co-starring Wilfred Hyde-White. The film premiered both in London and Athens, but was a total flop.

While she was best-known in her native land, Vouyouklaki also had followings in Israel and Turkey. The film Htypokardia sto thranio/Heartbeats in High School (Alekos Sakellarios, 1963) was shot simultaneously in Greek and Turkish, with two different casts. Aliki starred in both versions, with her voice being dubbed in the Turkish version, Siralardaki heyecanlar (Alekos Sakellarios, 1963).

I neraida kai to palikari/The Fairy and the Man (Dinos Dimopoulos, 1969) was a comic version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In 1969, Aliki also gave birth to her only child, Yiannis Papamichail.

The following year came her biggest success with the film Ypolohagos Natassa/Battlefield Constantinople (Nikos Foskolos, 1970), about a young Greek woman who lost her husband during the Second World War. The film sold more than 750,000 tickets in Athens, and would stay the biggest moneymaker in the history of Greek cinema for almost three decades.

In 1970 she received the title, National Star of Greece. I Maria tis siopis/Maria of silence (Giannis Dalianidis, 1973) was a remake of the Hollywood production Johnny Belinda (Jean Negulesco, 1948) about a deaf and mute rape victim, originally played by Jane Wyman.

Aliki Voyouklaki
Italian postcard by Select, no. 206. Photo: Giovanni Trimboli.

Aliki Voyouklaki
Italian postcard by Select, no. 203. Photo: Giovanni Trimboli.

I Have A Secret

Eventually Aliki Vouyouklaki‘s marriage to Dimitris Papamichail became troubled. She shot her next film S'Agapo/I love you (Takis Vougiouklakis, 1971) without her husband and regular co-star, and the celebrity couple divorced in 1975.

Aliki continued to play in the theatre. Since 1971 she owned her own theatre, named Aliki. It staged one hit after another, among them Cabaret, My Fair Lady, and Educating Rita. Even though she was the number one box office star in Greece, Aliki went through an audition in London in order to get the rights to play the title part in the Rice-Webber musical Evita. About her portrayal of Eva Perón, Laurence Olivier later was quoted: "the best Evita I have ever seen".

After a seven year absence, she made her comeback at the silver screen in Poniro thilyko... katergara gynaika!/A cunning woman (Kostas Karagiannis, 1980), based on the W. Somerset Maugham play.

Her final film, Kataskopos Nelli (1981, Takis Vouyouklakis), was a strange mixture of two of her biggest theatrical hits, Cabaret and Evita. Shooting began in 1979 and the film was to be called The Girl At The Cabaret, but due to copyright problems (she was not granted permission to use the original songs of the musical) the project was shelved. Shooting was resumed in 1980 with a different storyline and new songs and the film was released in 1981.

Aliki would make only stage and TV appearances thereafter. She worked with playwright Willy Russell when she performed in his play Shirley Valentine in 1989. The last year of her life she starred in I melodia tis eftyhias (The Sound of Music), disregarding critics that thought that she was too old for the role of Maria. The musical was another box office smash and it was also filmed for TV.

Aliki Vouyouklaki died in 1996 in Athens from pancreatic cancer. Her funeral was attended by thousands of her fans. She was married twice, to Dimitris Papamichail (1965-1975) and to Giorgos Iliadis (1979-1980). In 2008, her son Yiannis Papamichail published a biography of his mother, Eho Ena Mistiko (I Have A Secret), which was also the title of a song the idol sang in her success film To Xilo Vgike apo to Paradiso (1959). In 2008 a television series based on the book, aired on Alpha TV channel.

Aliki Vouyouklaki
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/231.

Aliki Vouyouklaki sings Thalassa platia in Madalena (1960). Source: outis27 (YouTube).

Aliki Vouyouklaki sings Katerina. Source: Chrysw M (YouTube).

Sources: Thanassis Agathos (IMDb), Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Antenna News, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

26 October 2013

Imported from the USA: Clint Eastwood

American film actor and director Clint Eastwood (1930) rose to fame as the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone's classic Spaghetti Westerns Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars (1964), Per qualche dollaro in più/For a Few Dollars More (1965), and Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo/The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Later in the US, he played hard edge police inspector Harry Callahan in the five Dirty Harry films, which elevated him to superstar status, and he directed and produced such award-winning masterpieces as Unforgiven (1992), Mystic River (2003) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).

Clint Eastwood
Romanian postcard by Colectia Cinefilului Acin.

Towering Height And Slender Frame

Clinton ‘Clint’ Eastwood, Jr. was born in San Francisco, California in 1930. His parents were Clinton Eastwood, Sr., a steelworker and migrant worker, and Margaret Ruth (Runner) Eastwood, a factory worker. Clint has a younger sister, Jeanne. Because of his father's difficulty in finding steady work during the depression, Eastwood moved with his family from one Northern California town to another, attending some eight elementary schools in the process.

Later he had odd jobs as a fire-fighter and lumberjack in Oregon, as well as a steelworker in Seattle. In 1951, Eastwood was drafted into the US Army, where he was a swimming instructor during the Korean War. He briefly attended Los Angeles City College but dropped out to pursue acting.

Eastwood married Maggie Johnson in 1953, six months after they met on a blind date. However, their matrimony would not prove altogether smooth, with Eastwood believing that he had married too early.

In 1954, the good-looking Eastwood with his towering height and slender frame got a contract at Universal. At first, he was criticized for his stiff manner, his squint, and for hissing his lines through his teeth. His first acting role was an uncredited bit part as a laboratory assistant in the Sci-Fi horror film Revenge of the Creature (Jack Arnold, 1955).

Over the next three years, he more bit parts in such films as Lady Godiva of Coventry (Arthur Lubin, 1955), Tarantula (Jack Arnold, 1955), and the war drama Away All Boats (Joseph Pevney, 1956) with George Nader and Lex Barker.

His first bigger roles were in the B-Western Ambush at Cimarron Pass (Jodie Copelan, 1958), and the war film Lafayette Escadrille (William A. Wellman, 1958), starring Tab Hunter and Etchika Choureau.

In 1959, he became a TV star as Rowdy Yates in the Western series Rawhide (1959–1966). Although Rawhide never won an Emmy, it was a ratings success for several years.

During a trial separation from Maggie Johnson, an affair with dancer Roxanne Tunis produced Eastwood’s first child, Kimber Tunis (1964). An intensely private person, Clint Eastwood was rarely featured in the tabloid press. However, he had more affairs, e.g. with actresses Catherine Deneuve, Inger Stevens and Jean Seberg. After a reconciliation, he had two children with Johnson: Kyle Eastwood (1968) and Alison Eastwood (1972), though he was not present at either birth. Johnson filed for legal separation in 1978, but the pair officially divorced in 1984.

Clint Eastwood
German postcard. Photo: Constantin / Paul March.

The Man With No Name Trilogy

In late 1963, Clint Eastwood's Rawhide co-star Eric Fleming rejected an offer to star in an Italian-made Western. Eastwood, who in turn saw the film as an opportunity to escape from his Rawhide image, signed the contract.

The Western was called Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars (1964), to be directed in a remote region of Spain by the then relatively unknown Sergio Leone. A Fistful of Dollars, also with Gian Maria Volonté and Marianne Koch, was a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961).

Eastwood played a cynical gunfighter who comes to a small border town, torn apart by two feuding families. Hiring himself out as a mercenary, the lone drifter plays one side against the other until nothing remains of either side. Eastwood started to develop a minimalist acting style and created the character's distinctive visual style. Although a non-smoker, Leone insisted Eastwood smoke cigars as an essential ingredient of the ‘mask’ he was attempting to create for the loner character.

Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1964) was the first instalment of the Dollars trilogy. Later, United Artists, who distributed it in the US, coined another term for it: the Man With No Name trilogy. ‘The second part was Per qualche dollaro in più/For a Few Dollars More (Sergio Leone, 1965), a richer, more mythologized film that focused on two ruthless bounty hunters (Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef) who form a tenuous partnership to hunt down a wanted bandit (Gian Maria Volontè). Both films were a huge success in Italy. They both contain all of Leone's eventual trademarks: taciturn characters, precise framing, extreme close-ups, and the haunting music of Ennio Morricone.

Eastwood also appeared in a segment of Dino De Laurentiis’ five-part anthology production Le Streghe/The Witches (Vittorio De Sica a.o., 1967). But his performance opposite De Laurentiis' wife Silvana Mangano did not please the critics.

Eastwood then played in the third and best Dollars film, Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo/The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966). Again he played the mysterious Man with No Name, wearing the same trademark poncho (reportedly without ever having washed it). Lee Van Cleef returned as a ruthless fortune seeker, with Eli Wallach portrayed the cunning Mexican bandit Tuco Ramirez.

Yuri German at AllMovie: “Immensely entertaining and beautifully shot in Techniscope by Tonino Delli Colli, the movie is a virtually definitive 'spaghetti western,' rivaled only by Leone's own Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).”

The Dollars trilogy was not released in the United States until 1967, when A Fistful of Dollars opened in January, followed by For a Few Dollars More in May, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in December. Eastwood redubbed his own dialogue for the American releases. All the films were commercially successful, particularly The Good, the Bad and the Ugly which turned Eastwood into a major film star. All three films received bad reviews, and marked the beginning of a battle for Eastwood to win American film critics' respect.

According to IMDb, Sergio Leone asked Eastwood, Wallach and Van Cleef to appear again in C'era una volta il West/Once Upon A Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968), but they all declined when they heard that their characters were going to be killed off in the first five minutes.

Clint Eastwood
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Coogan's Bluff

Stardom brought more roles for Clint Eastwood. He signed to star in the American revisionist western Hang 'Em High (Ted Post, 1968), playing a man who takes up a Marshal's badge and seeks revenge as a lawman after being lynched by vigilantes and left for dead.

Using money earned from the Dollars trilogy, accountant and Eastwood advisor Irving Leonard helped establish Eastwood's own production company, Malpaso Productions, named after Malpaso Creek on Eastwood's property in Monterey County, California. Leonard arranged for Hang 'Em High to be a joint production with United Artists. Hang 'Em High was widely praised by critics, and when it opened in July 1968, it had an unprecedented opening weekend in United Artists' history.

His following film was Coogan's Bluff (Don Siegel, 1968), about an Arizona deputy sheriff tracking a wanted psychopathic criminal (Don Stroud) through the streets of New York City. Don Siegel was a Universal contract director who later became Eastwood's close friend, forming a partnership that would last more than ten years and produce five films. Coogan’s Bluff was controversial for its portrayal of violence, Eastwood's role creating the prototype for the macho cop of the Dirty Harry film series. Coogan's Bluff also became the first collaboration with Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin, who would later compose the jazzy score to several Eastwood films in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Dirty Harry films.

Eastwood played the right-hand man of squad's commander Richard Burton in the war epic Where Eagles Dare (Brian G. Hutton, 1968), about a World War II squad parachuting into a Gestapo stronghold in the alpine mountains. Eastwood then branched out to star in the only musical of his career, Paint Your Wagon (Joshua Logan, 1969).

Then, Eastwood starred in the Western Two Mules for Sister Sara (Don Sigel, 1970), with Shirley MacLaine, and as one of a group of Americans who steal a fortune in gold from the Nazis, in the World War II film Kelly's Heroes (Brian G. Hutton, 1970)). Kelly's Heroes was the last film in which Eastwood appeared, that was not produced by his own Malpaso Productions.

Clint Eastwood
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Dirty Harry

Clint Eastwood’s next film, The Beguiled (Don Siegel, 1970), was a tale of a wounded Union soldier, held captive by the sexually repressed matron of a southern girl's school. Upon release the film received major recognition in France but in the US it was a box office flop.

Eastwood's career reached a turning point with Dirty Harry (Don Siegel, 1971), The film centres around a hard-edged San Francisco police inspector named Harry Callahan who is determined to stop a psychotic killer by any means. Dirty Harry achieved huge success after its release in December 1971. It was Siegel's highest-grossing film to date and the start of a series of films featuring the character Harry Callahan.

He next starred in the loner Western Joe Kidd (John Sturges, 1972). In 1973, Eastwood directed his first western, High Plains Drifter, in which he starred alongside Verna Bloom. The revisionist film received a mixed reception, but was a major box office success.

Eastwood next turned his attention towards Breezy (Clint Eastwood, 1973), a film about love blossoming between a middle-aged man and a teenage girl. During casting for the film Eastwood met actress Sondra Locke, who would become an important figure in his life.

He reprised his role as Detective Harry Callahan in Magnum Force (Ted Post, 1973). This sequel to Dirty Harry was about a group of rogue young officers (including David Soul and Robert Urich) in the San Francisco Police Force who systematically exterminate the city's worst criminals.

Eastwood teamed up with Jeff Bridges in the buddy action caper Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (Michael Cimino, 1974). Eastwood's acting was noted by critics, but was overshadowed by Bridges who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

His next film The Eiger Sanction (Clint Eastwood, 1975), based on Trevanian's spy novel, was a commercial and critical failure. His next film The Outlaw Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood, 1976) was widely acclaimed, with many critics and viewers seeing Eastwood's role as an iconic one that related to America's ancestral past and the destiny of the nation after the American Civil War.

The third Dirty Harry film, The Enforcer (James Fargo, 1976) had Harry partnered with a new female officer (Tyne Daly) to face a San Francisco Bay terrorist organization. The film, culminating in a shootout on Alcatraz island, was a major commercial success grossing $100 million worldwide.

In 1977, he directed and starred in The Gauntlet opposite Sondra Locke. Eastwood portrays a down-and-out cop who falls in love with a prostitute he is assigned to escort from Las Vegas to Phoenix, to testify against the mafia. In 1978 Eastwood starred with Locke and an orang-utan called Clyde in Every Which Way but Loose. Panned by critics, the film proved a surprising success and became the second-highest grossing film of 1978.

Eastwood then starred in the thriller Escape from Alcatraz (1979), the last of his films to be directed by Don Siegel. The film was a major success, and marked the beginning of a critically acclaimed period for Eastwood. Eastwood's relationship with Sondra Locke had begun in 1975 during production of The Outlaw Josey Wales. They lived together for almost fourteen years, during which Locke remained married (in name only) to her gay husband, Gordon Anderson. Eastwood befriended Locke's husband and purchased a house in Crescent Heights for Anderson and his male lover.

American trailer Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars (1964). Source: OldHollywoodTrailers (YouTube).

Go Ahead, Make My Day

In 1980, Clint Eastwood’s nonstop success was broken by Bronco Billy, which he directed and played the lead role in. The film was liked by critics, but a rare commercial disappointment in Eastwood's career. Later that year, he starred in Any Which Way You Can (Buddy Van Horn, 1980), which ranked among the top five highest-grossing films of the year.

In 1982, Eastwood directed and starred in Honkytonk Man, as a struggling Western singer who, accompanied by his young nephew (played by real-life son Kyle) goes to Nashville, Tennessee. In the same year Eastwood directed, produced, and starred in the Cold War-themed Firefox alongside Freddie Jones.

Then, Eastwood directed and starred in the fourth Dirty Harry film, Sudden Impact (1983), the darkest and most violent of the series. ‘Go ahead, make my day’, uttered by Eastwood in the film, became one of cinema's immortal lines. Sudden Impact was the last film which he starred in with Locke. The film was the most commercially successful of the Dirty Harry films, earning $70 million and received very positive reviews.

In the provocative thriller Tightrope (Richard Tuggle, 1984), Eastwood starred opposite Geneviève Bujold. His real-life daughter Alison, then eleven, also appeared in the film. It was another critical and commercial hit. Eastwood next starred in the period comedy City Heat (Richard Benjamin, 1984) alongside Burt Reynolds.

Eastwood revisited the Western genre when he directed and starred in Pale Rider (Clint Eastwood, 1985), based on the classic Western Shane (George Stevens, 1953). It became one of Eastwood's most successful films to date, and was hailed as one of the best films of 1985 and the best Western to appear for a considerable period.

He co-starred with Marsha Mason in the military drama Heartbreak Ridge (Clint Eastwood, 1986), about the 1983 United States invasion of Grenada. Then followed the fifth and final film in the Dirty Harry series The Dead Pool (Buddy Van Horn, 1988), with Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, and a young Jim Carrey. It is generally viewed as the weakest film of the series.

Eastwood began working on smaller, more personal projects and experienced a lull in his career between 1988 and 1992. Always interested in jazz, he directed Bird (Clint Eastwood, 1988), a biopic starring Forest Whitaker as jazz musician Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker. Eastman himself is a prolific jazz pianist who occasionally shows up to play piano at his Carmel, CA restaurant, The Hog's Breath Inn. He received two Golden Globes for Bird, but the film was a commercial failure.

Jim Carrey would again appear with Eastwood in the poorly received comedy Pink Cadillac (Buddy Van Horn, 1989) alongside Bernadette Peters.

In 1989, while his partner Sondra Locke was away directing the film Impulse (1990), Eastwood had the locks changed on their Bel-Air home and ordered her possessions to be boxed and put in storage. During the last three years of his cohabitation with Locke, Eastwood fathered two children in secrecy with flight attendant Jacelyn Reeves, Scott Reeves (1986), and Kathryn Reeves (1988). Eastwood finally presented both children to the public in 2002.

American trailer Per qualche dollaro in più/For a Few Dollars More (1965). Source: OldHollywoodTrailers (YouTube).


In 1990, Clint Eastwood began living with actress Frances Fisher, whom he had met on the set of Pink Cadillac in 1988. They had a daughter, Francesca Fisher-Eastwood (1993). Eastwood and Fisher ended their relationship in early 1995.

Eastwood directed and starred in White Hunter Black Heart (1990), an adaptation of Peter Viertel's roman à clef, about John Huston and the making of the classic film The African Queen (1951).

Later in 1990, he directed and co-starred with Charlie Sheen in The Rookie, a buddy cop action film. Eastwood revisited the Western genre in the self-directed film Unforgiven (1992), in which he played an aging ex-gunfighter long past his prime. Unforgiven was a major commercial and critical success; and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, and won four, including Best Picture and Best Director for Eastwood.

Eastwood played Frank Horrigan in the Secret Service thriller In the Line of Fire (Wolfgang Petersen, 1993) co-starring John Malkovich. The film was among the top 10 box office performers that year, earning a reported $200 million. Later in 1993, Eastwood directed and co-starred with Kevin Costner in A Perfect World.

At the 1994 Cannes Film Festival Eastwood received France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal, and in 1995, he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the 67th Academy Awards. Opposite Meryl Streep he starred in the romantic picture The Bridges of Madison County (Clint Eastwood, 1995), another commercial and critical success. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture and won a César Award in France for Best Foreign Film.

In early 1995, Eastwood began dating Dina Ruiz, a television news anchor 35 years his junior, whom he had first met when she interviewed him in 1993. They married in 1996. The couple has one daughter, Morgan Eastwood (1996).

In 1997, Eastwood directed and starred in the political thriller Absolute Power, alongside Gene Hackman. Later in 1997, Eastwood directed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, starring John Cusack, Kevin Spacey, and Jude Law. He directed and starred in True Crime (1999), as a journalist and recovering alcoholic, who has to cover the execution of murderer Frank Beechum (Isaiah Washington).

In 2000, he directed and starred in Space Cowboys alongside Tommy Lee Jones as veteran ex-test pilots sent into space to repair an old Soviet satellite.

American trailer Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo/The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Source: OldHollywoodTrailers (YouTube).

Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood played an ex-FBI agent chasing a sadistic killer (Jeff Daniels) in the thriller Blood Work (2002). He directed and scored the crime drama Mystic River (2003), dealing with themes of murder, vigilantism, and sexual abuse. The film starred Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Tim Robbins and won two Academy Awards – Best Actor for Penn and Best Supporting Actor for Robbins – with Eastwood garnering nominations for Best Director and Best Picture.

The following year Eastwood found further critical and commercial success when he directed, produced, scored, and starred in the boxing drama Million Dollar Baby, (2004). He played a cantankerous trainer who forms a bond with female boxer (Hilary Swank). The film won four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Swank), and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman).

At age 74 Eastwood became the oldest of eighteen directors to have directed two or more Best Picture winners. In 2006, he directed two films about World War II's Battle of Iwo Jima. The first, Flags of Our Fathers, focused on the men who raised the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi and featured the film debut of Eastwood's son Scott. This was followed by Letters from Iwo Jima, which dealt with the tactics of the Japanese soldiers on the island and the letters they wrote home to family members.

Eastwood next directed Changeling (2008), based on a true story set in the late 1920s. Angelina Jolie stars as a woman reunited with her missing son only to realize he is an impostor.

Eastwood ended a four-year self-imposed acting hiatus by appearing in Gran Torino (2008), which he also directed, produced, and partly scored with his son Kyle and Jamie Cullum. Gran Torino eventually grossed over $268 million in theatres worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of Eastwood's career so far.

Eastwood's 30th directorial outing came with Invictus, a film based on the story of the South African team at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. In 2010, Eastwood directed the drama Hereafter, with Matt Damon as a psychic, and in 2011, J. Edgar, a biopic of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role.

Eastwood starred in the baseball drama Trouble with the Curve (Robert Lorenz, 2012), as a veteran baseball scout who travels with his daughter for a final scouting trip. Director Lorenz worked with Eastwood as an assistant director on several films.

Clint Eastwood is also politically active and served as the nonpartisan mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California from 1986 to 1988. Shawn Dwyer at TCM: “Although a registered Republican since the early-1950s, Eastwood's politics, like the man himself, were that of a true iconoclast. Over the years he had voted for candidates from both parties and publicly denounced the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. And while he had initially wished President Barack Obama well during the start of his first term in office, Eastwood, became a vocal booster for Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, dissatisfied with what he viewed as Obama's inability to govern.”

But the cinema is Eastwood’s major career. He has contributed to over 50 films as actor, director, producer, and composer. According to the box office-revenue tracking website, Box Office Mojo, films featuring Eastwood have grossed a total of more than US $1.68 billion domestically, with an average of $37 million per film.

Trailer for Gran Torino (2008). Source: The Movie Planet (YouTube).

This was the tenth and final episode of 'Imported from the USA'. Earlier episodes were dedicated to Jayne Mansfield, Josephine Baker, Lex Barker, Anna May Wong, Carroll Baker, Farley Granger, Louise Brooks, Orson Welles and George Nader.

Sources: Shawn Dwyer (TCM), Yuri German (AllMovie), Bruce Eder (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.

25 October 2013

Til Schweiger

Handsome actor, director, and producer Til Schweiger (1963) is one of Germany's most successful filmmakers. Since 1990, no other German actor has drawn more people to the cinemas.

Til Schweiger
German postcard. Photo: Volker Corell.

Hunky Object Of Desire

Tilman Valentin ‘Til’ Schweiger was born in Freiburg, West Germany, in 1963. His parents were both teachers. He grew up with his two brothers in Heuchelheim near Giessen in Hesse, where he went to school.

First, he studied German and Medicine at the University, but in 1986 he chose for acting lessons at the drama school Der Keller in Cologne. After graduation in 1989, he played at several theaters in Cologne and Bonn. He first appeared onscreen in the TV series Lindenstraße (1989-1992). His first film role came with Manta, Manta/Racin' in the Street (Wolfgang Büld, 1991).

His international breakthrough followed with the comedy Der bewegte Mann/Maybe, Maybe Not (Sönke Wortmann, 1994), co-starring Joachim Król and Katja Riemann. Schweiger was a sensation as the hunky object of desire for both the women and the men in the film.

Der bewegte Mann was developed from the gay comics Der bewegte Mann and Pretty Baby by underground cartoonist Ralf König. With 6.5 million visitors in Germany, the film was the third biggest box office hit of the year in Germany. It also won several awards in Germany, including the German media award Bambi.

In 1995, Schweiger married American model Dana Carlson. The couple has four children: Valentin Florian Schweiger (1995), Luna Marie Schweiger (1997), Lilli Camille Schweiger (1998), and Emma Tiger Schweiger (2002).

His next film, Männerpension/Jailbirds (Detlev Buck, 1996) was again loaded with prizes, including a Bambi and a Jupiter as Best German film of the Year, and a Goldene Leinwand (Golden Screen) for its results at the German box offices.

In 1997, Schweiger made his debut as a producer and (uncredited) co-director with the crime comedy Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Thomas Jahn, 1997). The film is about two young terminal cancer patients (Jan Josef Liefers and Schweiger) who decide to take one last trip to the sea. However, the car they've stolen belongs to two thieves and contains a million marks. Soon they're being pursued by both thugs and cops. Knockin' on Heaven's Door became a cult favourite among cinema audiences worldwide.

Next, Schweiger directed, produced and starred in the action thriller Der Eisbär/The Polar Bear (Granz Henman, Til Schweiger, 1998).

Promotion card for Skiny. Source: Til schweiger @ Flickr.

 Big-budget Action Flops

Til Schweiger made his American acting debut in the crime thriller Judas Kiss (Sebastian Gutierrez, 1998), starring Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson.

It was followed by supporting parts in productions like the action films The Replacement Killers (Antoine Fuqua, 1998) starring Chow Yun-fat and Mira Sorvino, and Driven (Renny Harlin, 2001), starring Sylvester Stallone. Both were disappointing box office flops.

Smaller films were SLC Punk! (James Merendino, 1998) and the TV movie Joe and Max (Steve James, 2002), based on the legendary 1936 boxing fight of African-American heavyweight Joe Louis (Leonard Roberts) vs. German counterpart Max Schmeling (Schweiger), and Schmeling's secret heroism during World War II.

Like his earlier big-budget action films, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (Jan de Bont, 2003), starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, was another box office disappointment.

Next he played supporting parts in King Arthur (Antoine Fuqua, 2004) featuring Clive Owen, the World War II submarine film In Enemy Hands/U-Boat (Tony Giglio, 2004), starring William H. Macy, and as Lucky Luke in the French Western comedy Les Dalton/The Daltons (Philippe Haïm, 2004), based on the popular comic by Morris. I

n Germany, he appeared in (T)Raumschiff Surprise – Periode 1/Dreamship Surprise (Michael Herbig, 2004) in which several Star Trek and Star Wars characters are parodied. The Science Fiction satire draw 9.2 million visitors in Germany and was his most popular German production ever.

In 2005, Schweiger and his wife Dana Carlson separated, but they never divorced. Since 2010, Schweiger has been in a relationship with model Svenja Holtmann.

Til Schweiger
German postcard by Peek & Cloppenburg.

Back To Berlin

After the separation from his wife Dana, Til Schweiger moved to Berlin and started his own production company, Barefoot Films. He wrote, directed, and starred in the romantic comedy Barfuß/Barefoot (2005), which won the Bambi award as the Best German Film of 2005.

His next production, Keinohrhasen/Rabbit Without Ears (2007), which he wrote, directed, starred in and produced, was a surprise hit in Germany. With a box office result of USD 74,000,000, the romantic comedy, co-starring Nora Tschirner, became one of the most successful films in German theatres ever. The film won a Bambi, a Bavarian Film Award, the German Comedy Award, two DIVA Awards, a Jupiter Award and the Ernst Lubitsch Award.

The sequel, Zweiohrküken/Rabbit Without Ears 2 (2008) was also a huge success. Schweiger then went on to direct, produce and star in 1½ Ritter – Auf der Suche nach der hinreißenden Herzelinde/1½ Knights – In Search of the Ravishing Princess Herzelinde (2008), which was slashed by the critics, but also proved to be another cinema hit.

In Kokowääh (2011), Schweiger's daughter Emma stars beside him, and the film is also directed, co-written and produced by him. Kokowääh (referring to Coq au vin) received better reviews and was another popular success. Father and daughter reprised their roles in the sequel Kokowääh 2 (2013).

Besides in his own films, Schweiger also played in many other films. He was unforgettable as the steely psychopath Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz, infamous for his brutal and sadistic ways of murdering Nazis in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (2009).

His recent international screen appearances were in the romantic comedy New Year's Eve (Garry Marshall, 2011), the action film The Courier (Hany Abu-Assad, 2011) with Mickey Rourke, and as an international criminal in the romantic spy comedy This Means War (McG, 2012), with Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon. He can also be seen in Muppets Most Wanted (James Bobin, 2014).

 According to the website Inside Kino, no other German actor has more star power, has drawn more people to the international cinemas since 1990, than Til Schweiger.

German trailer Der bewegte Mann (1994). Source: Kilkenny1978 (YouTube).

Sources: AllMovie, Inside Kino, Wikipedia and IMDb.

24 October 2013

Ugo Tognazzi

Ugo Tognazzi (1922-1990) was an Italian film, TV, and theatre actor, director, and screenwriter. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was one of the most renowned stars of the Commedia all'Italiana. He worked with such major directors as Marco Ferreri, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Luigi Comencini, Bernardo Bertolucci and Ettore Scola, but his greatest hit was the gay comedy La cage aux Folles (1978).

Ugo Tognazzi
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Successful TV Comedy Duo

Ugo Tognazzi was born Ottavio Tognazzi in 1922 in Cremona, in northern Italy. He spent his youth in various localities as his father was a traveller clerk for an insurance company. After his return to his native city in 1936, he worked as a bookkeeper in a salami production plant, and performed in local amateur theatricals.

During World War II, he was inducted into the Army and returned home after the Armistice of September 1943. During the conflict he organized shows for his fellow soldiers. According to IMDb, he joined the army of the Italian Social Republic of Salò. After the end of the war, he spent a few months in prison for collaborating with the fascist regime.

In 1945, he moved to Milan, where he was enrolled in the theatrical company led by Wanda Osiris. A few years later, he formed his own successful musical revue company.

At age 28, Tognazzi made his cinematic debut in the comedy I cadetti di Guascogna/The Cadets of Gascony (Mario Mattoli, 1950) starring Walter Chiari. Other early films were the comedies Auguri e figli maschi!/ Best wishes and sons! (Giorgio Simonelli, 1951) with Delia Scala, Una Bruna indiavolata/A devilish brunette (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1951), and La Paura fa 90/Fear makes 90 (Giorgio Simonelli, 1951) starring Silvana Pampanini.

In 1951, he met Raimondo Vianello, with whom he formed a successful comedy duo for the new-born RAI TV (1954–1960). Their shows, sometimes containing satirical material, were among the first to be censored on Italian television.

At the end of the 1950s, Tognazzi returned to the cinema in Neopolitan comedies like Totò nella luna/Toto in the Moon (Steno, 1958) with Totò and Sylva Koscina, and La cambiale/The bill (Camillo Mastrocinque, 1959) with Totò and Peppino de Filippo.

Ugo Tognazzi
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 705.

The Ape Woman

Ugo Tognazzi had his breakthrough in the cinema with his successful role in the satire Il Federale/The Fascist (Luciano Salce, 1961). Another huge success in Italy was the political comedy I mostri/15 from Rome (Dino Risi, 1963).

In the following decade he became one of the most renowned characters of the Commedia all'Italiana (Italian comedy style). He worked with many major directors of the genre. His comedies of the 1960s include La marcia su Roma/March on Rome (Dino Risi, 1962) with Vittorio Gassman, I fuorilegge del matrimonio/Outlaws of Love (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani,Valentino Orsini, 1963), L'ape regina/The Conjugal Bed (Marco Ferreri, 1963) with Marina Vlady, and La vita agra (Carlo Lizzani, 1964).

He worked again with director Marco Ferreri at the drama La donna scimmia/The Ape Woman (1964), inspired by the real-life story of Julia Pastranam a 19th-century Mexican woman.

Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Tognazzi stars as a charming ne'er-do-well who happens upon young Annie Girardot, who outside of the fact that she is covered with hair from head to foot is a normal woman with normal desires and dreams. Tognazzi inveigles her into the European carnival sideshow circuit as ‘The Ape Woman’, securing her cooperation by making love to her. She dies in childbirth; though overcome by grief, Tognazzi has not lost his cheapjack showman's touch, and he mummifies the bodies of both mother and daughter and continues to tour with them!”

Later Tognazzi worked again with Ferreri on Marcia nuziale/The Wedding March (Marco Ferreri, 1965) opposite Shirley Anne Field.

Tognazzi also directed some of his films, including Il fischio al naso/The Seventh Floor (1967) with Tina Louise.

Roger Vadim cast Tognazzi as Mark Hand, the Catchman, in the French-Italian Science Fiction film Barbarella (Roger Vadim, 1968). Mark Hand rescues Barbarella (Jane Fonda) from the biting dolls she encounters, and after her rescue, he requests payment by asking her to make love with him.

A great popular success in Italy was the comedy Straziami ma di baci saziami/Torture Me But Kill Me with Kisses (Dino Risi, 1968) with Nino Manfredi. The film parodies the popular Italian photo novels.

One of his most remarkable films was Porcile/Pigsty (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1969) starring Jean-Pierre Léaud, Marco Ferreri, and Pierre Clémenti.

Ugo Tognazzi
Italian postcard, no. 362.

Ornella Muti>
Ornella Muti. French postcard by Travelling Editions, Paris, no. CP 190.

La Grande Bouffe

During the 1970s, Ugo Tognazzi turned in another number of powerhouse character studies. He excelled as bon vivants, adulterous husbands and other suave gents in comedies as well as dramas.

He reunited with director Dino Risi and co-star Vittorio Gassman for the comedy-drama In nome del popolo italiano/In the Name of the Italian People (Dino Risi, 1971), a reflection about the crisis of the Italian judiciary and the growing phenomenon of corruption.

He also worked again with Ferreri at L'udienza/Papal Audience (Marco Ferreri, 1973) with Claudia Cardinale.

Other critical successes were the comedies Vogliamo i colonnelli/We Want the Colonels (Mario Monicelli, 1973), La proprietà non è più un furto/Property Is No Longer a Theft (Elio Petri, 1973) and the atypical commedia all'italiana film La mazurka del barone, della santa e del fico fiorone/The Mazurka of the Baron, the Saint and the Early Fig Tree (Pupi Avati, 1975).

Controversial was La grande abbuffata/La Grande Bouffe (Marco Ferreri, 1973) in which Marcello Mastroianni, Tognazzi, Michel Piccoli and Philippe Noiret gather in a villa for the weekend with the express purpose of eating themselves to death. Ferreri won the FIPRESCI Prize given by the International Federation of Film Critics at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.

Tognazzi worked again with Ferreri on Touche pas à la femme blanche!/Don't Touch The White Woman! (Marco Ferreri, 1974), an absurd Western set in Paris featuring Catherine Deneuve.

He worked with director Mario Monicelli on the comedy dramas Romanzo popolare/Come Home and Meet My Wife (Mario Monicelli, 1973) with Ornella Muti, and Amici miei/Friends (Mario Monicelli, 1975). The latter made it to number one on the Italian box-office, in front of Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975).

Another hit was the comedy Telefoni bianchi/The Career of a Chambermaid (Dino Risi, 1976) with Agostina Belli. Other films include the Giallo comedy Il gatto/The Cat (Luigi Comencini, 1977), the comedy drama Primo amore/First Love (Dino Risi, 1978) with Ornella Muti, and the drama L'ingorgo - Una storia impossibile/Traffic Jam (Luigi Comencini, 1979).

Ugo Tognazzi
Swiss postcard by Musée de l'Elysée, no. 55607. Photo: Laurence Sudre.

La Cage aux Folles

Ugo Tognazzi had his greatest international hit with the comedy La Cage aux Folles/Birds of a Feather/Il vizietto (Édouard Molinaro, 1978), an adaptation of the 1973 play La Cage aux Folles by Jean Poiret. Tognazzi played one-half of an aging homosexual couple which operates a drag club in Saint-Tropez. Michel Serrault played Zaza, his star attraction and other half.

With its sight gags, uproarious complications, and a tender and touching conclusion, the film won over international audiences and was one of the most successful foreign films ever released in the US.
Tognazzi also appeared in the sequels La Cage aux Folles II (Édouard Molinaro, 1980), and La cage aux folles 3 - 'Elles' se marient/La Cage aux Folles 3: The Wedding (Georges Lautner, 1985).

He was also among the all-star cast of La terrazzo/The Terrace (Ettore Scola, 1980), which won two awards at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.

In 1981, Tognazzi won the Best Male Actor Award in Cannes for La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo/ Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1981) the tale of a near-bankrupt factory owner who attempts to use the kidnapping of his son (played by his real-life eldest son Ricky Tognazzi) to his financial advantage.

Other films include the comedy Scherzo del destino in agguato dietro l'angolo come un brigante da strada/A Joke of Destiny (Lina Wertmüller, 1983), Le Bon Roi Dagobert/Good King Dagobert (Dino Risi, 1984) with Coluche, and Ultimo minute/The Last Minute (Pupi Avati, 1989).

Ugo Tognazzi died of a brain hemorrhage in Rome in 1990, although rumours persist to this day that his chronic depression led to suicide.

Since 1972, he was married to actress Franca Betttoia. His sons Ricky Tognazzi (1955) and Gianmarco Tognazzi (1967) are both cinema actors.

He was also the father of the Norwegian film director and film producer Thomas Robsahm (1964), relationship with actress Margrete Robsahm. His daughter Maria Sole Tognazzi (1971) is, like Ricky, a film director.

Trailer Porcile (1969). Source: Friday13th1 (YouTube).

Trailer La Cage aux Folles (1978). Source: OldHollywoodTrailers (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

22 October 2013

Happy birthday, Catherine Deneuve!

Today it's the 70th birthday of elegant Catherine Deneuve (1943). She is an icon of the French cinema who graces the screen for already more than five decades. She gained recognition in the 1960s for her portrayal of cool, mysterious beauties in classic films of directors like Luis Buñuel, Roman Polanski and François Truffaut. Apart from a great actress, she is also an archetype for Gallic beauty. From 1985 to 1989, she succeeded Brigitte Bardot as the model for the national symbol Marianne, seen on French coins and stamps. Joyeux anniversaire, Mme. Deneuve.

Catherine Deneuve
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 378. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Catherine Deneuve
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2522, 1965. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Catherine Deneuve
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2533, 1966. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.

Catherine Deneuve
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Catherine Deneuve
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 568.

21 October 2013

Ossi Oswalda

Ossi Oswalda (1895-1947) was one of the most popular comediennes of the German silent cinema. Ernst Lubitsch became her Pygmalion, who let her play in numerous comedies between 1916 and 1920. Her popularity at the time earned her the nickname 'The German Mary Pickford'.

Ossi Oswalda
French postcard in the Europe series, no. 590. Photo: Agence Européenne Cinematographique.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 529/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Ossi Oswalda-Film.

Ernst Lubitsch

Ossi Oswalda (1895-1947) was born in Niederschönhausen, Imperial Germany (now part of Berlin), but she was of Prague origin. Her real name was Oswalda Stäglich.

Oswalda trained as a ballerina and became a dancer for a theater in Berlin.

She made her film debut in Nächte des Grauens/Night of Horrors (Richard Oswald, Arthur Robison, 1916) before being discovered by the actor and screenwriter Hanns Kräly.

He recommended her to director Ernst Lubitsch who cast her in their comedy Schuhpalast Pinkus/Shoe Salon Pinkus (1916).

Lubitsch became her Pygmalion, who let her play in numerous comedies between 1916 and 1920, which joked with the provincial and stiff petty-bourgeois mentality of Wilhelminian Germany.

Examples are Ossis Tagebuch/Ossi's Diary (1917), Ich möchte kein Mann sein/I Don't Want to Be a Man (1918), Meine Frau, die Filmschauspielerin/My Wife the Movie Star (1919), and Die Puppe/The Doll (1919).

The best of these was Die Austernprinzessin/The Oyster Princess (1919), in which Ossi is a spoiled daughter of a wealthy American, who is supposed to wed an impoverished German prince (but is marrying his stupid servant instead).

The whole film exaggerated all the clichés about Americans who like everything big and make modern, absurdistic music, and about Germans who are only interested in food & drinks, but Lubitsch did so in a very witty way.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1377. Photo: Alex Binder.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 3310. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 286. Photo: Alard Walten, Berlin.

Ernst Lubitsch, Ossi Oswalda
With Ernst Lubitsch. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 337/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Zander & Labisch.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1929.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 474/3, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 3197. Photo: Alex Binder.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 761/2, 1925-1926. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.

Unrestrained, Wild and Witty Girl

When Ernst Lubitsch left for America he left Ossi Oswalda in the hands of Victor Janson, who had been her co-star in Die Wohnungsnot/The Housing Shortage (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920) and Kakadu und Kiebitz/Kakadu and Kiebitz (Erich Schönfelder, 1920).

Janson was not unworthy for his task but he repeated Oswalda's typology of the unrestrained, wild and witty girl, without adding the spice Lubitsch always had added.

In 1921, Oswalda started her own film production company with her husband at the time, baron Gustav von Koczian.

However, during the next four years they only produced four films, including Amor am Steuer/Love at the Wheel (Victor Janson, 1921) and Das Mädel mit der Maske/The Girl With the Mask (Victor Janson), 1922 with Hermann Thimig.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1347/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Manassé, Wien.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 2055/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 753/2, 1925-1926.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1734/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Ernst Sandau, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 761/5,1925-1926. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Ernst Sandau, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1050/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa.

Crown Prince

From 1925 on, Ossi Oswalda was contracted to the Ufa. She starred in comedies like Blitzzug der Liebe/Love Express Train (Johannes Guter, 1925) and Herrn Filip Collins Abenteuer/Mr. Filip Collins Adventure (Johannes Guter, 1926) with Georg Alexander.

When Oswalda's name was romantically linked to that of former Crown Prince Wilhelm, while that of Lily Damita with the prince's son Ludwig Ferdinand, insulting caricatures spread and the Hohenzollern family stopped both affairs short.

The affair also influenced Oswalda's career, who continued to make films but she would never reached the top anymore. Her star dwindled down, and her parts became smaller and smaller.

She appeared in only two sound films, making her final film appearance in Der Stern von Valencia/The Star of Valencia (Alfred Zeisler, 1933).

Later on, she became a stage actor, and in 1943, she wrote the story for the Czechoslovakian film Ctrnáctý u stolu (Oldrich Nový, Antonín Zelenka, 1943).

For a short while, Ossi Oswalda was the talk of the town again once more, after she had died in the most miserable condition in Prague in 1947.

Ossi Oswalda and Victor Janson in Niniche
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 685/4, 1919-1924. Photo: publicity still for Niniche (Victor Janson, 1925).

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 474/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1453/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Angelo Photos.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1050/3, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1690/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Deutsch-Nordische Film-Union.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 3871/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Ernst Schneider, Berlin / FPS.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1480/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 2055/5, 1927-1928. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4244/1, 1929-1930. Photo Atelier Manassé, Vienna.

Scene from Die Austernprinzessin/The Oyster Princess (1919). Source: Jfahr (youTube).

Source: Vittorio Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio)  (Italian), Wikipedia, and IMDb.