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.


Algemene Cultuurwetenschappen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ivo Blom said...

The Dutch version of Not in Vain, Niet tevergeefs, exists and has been preserved by EYE.