30 November 2017

L'ultima avventura (1932)

Diomira Jacobini and Armando Falconi were the stars in the Cines-Pittaluga production of L'ultima avventura/The Last Adventure (Mario Camerini, 1932). The postcards for this early Italian sound film have French-written captions at the backside, but are Italian.

Diomira Jacobini and Armando Falconi in L'ultima avventura (1932)
Italian postcard, no. 26. Photo: Prod. Cines-Pittaluga. Diomira Jacobini and Armando Falconi in L'ultima avventura (Mario Camerini, 1932).

Diomira Jacobini and Armando Falconi in L'ultima avventura (1932)
Italian postcard, no. 52. Photo: Prod. Cines-Pittaluga. Diomira Jacobini and Armando Falconi in L'ultima avventura (Mario Camerini, 1932).

An old and rich Don Juan

In L'ultima avventura/The Last Adventure (Mario Camerini, 1932), Armando Falconi plays count Armando, an old and rich Don Juan, who hopes to have a final adventure with the charming Lilly (Diomira Jacobini). He takes her on vacation to seaside resort Rapallo, situated on Italy’s Ligurian Coast

When for once in his lifetime Armando is too timid to confess his love, the young woman is courted by a second man of her own age (Carlo Fontana).

When the young man declares his love to Lilly, the young woman leaves the old nobleman, who hesitated too long. The old Don Juan thus lets escape his 'last adventure'.

Jacobini and Falconi had both been stars of the Italian silent cinema. And although Falconi was much older than his female colleague in real life too, he had a longer career in the sound cinema and  starred in films till the late 1940s.

L'ultima avventura/The Last Adventure's sets were designed by the art director Gastone Medin and the photography was done by Ubaldo Arata.

Diomira Jacobini and Armando Falconi in L'ultima avventura (1932)
Italian postcard, no. 54. Photo: Prod. Cines-Pittaluga. Diomira Jacobini and Armando Falconi in L'ultima avventura (Mario Camerini, 1932).

Diomira Jacobini and Carlo Fontana in L'ultima avventura (1932)
Italian postcard, no. 64. Photo: Prod. Cines-Pittaluga. Diomira Jacobini and Carlo Fontana in L'ultima avventura (Mario Camerini, 1932).

Sources: Wikipedia (Italian and English) and IMDb.

29 November 2017

Dominique Sanda

Seductive and mysterious Dominique Sanda (1951) is a French actress and former fashion model. During the 1970s she appeared in such noted Italian films as Bernardo Bertolucci's Il conformista/The Conformist (1970) and Novecento/1900 (1976), Vittorio de Sica's Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini/The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970), and Liliana Cavani's Al di la del bene e del male/Beyond Good and Evil (1977).

Dominique Sanda in Une femme douce (1969)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 429. Publicity still for Une femme douce/A Gentle Creature (Robert Bresson, 1969).

Dominique Sanda
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Dominique Sanda and Richard Berry in Une chambre en ville (1982)
French postcard by Ciné-Temaris. Photo: M. Jamet. Publicity still for Un chambre en ville/A Room in Town (Jacques Demy, 1982) with Richard Berry.

Miss Arcachon 1966

Dominique Sanda was born as Dominique Marie-Françoise Renée Varaigne in Paris in 1951 (according to some sources in 1948 or 1949) within a middle-class Catholic family. Her parents were Lucienne (née Pichon) and Gérard Varaigne. She went to school at the École des Sœurs de Saint-Vincent-de Paul in Paris.

In the summer of 1966 she was chosen Miss Arcachon at the Casino Mauresque in this sea resort in the South of France. When she was 16, she left her upper-class family and married, but divorced two years later. After a short time as a Decorative Arts student, she worked as a model for Dorian Leight, whose photos appeared in Glamour, Elle and Vogue.

She started her film career in 1969 when director Robert Bresson offered her the lead part of a tormented young woman, too beautiful and too gentle to bear everyday banality, in Une femme douce/A Gentle Creature (Robert Bresson, 1969), based on a novel by Fjodor Dostojevsky. The film launched her international career.

Only 18, she appeared as Anna Quadri, the sensual wife of an anti-fascist professor in Il conformista/The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970) featuring Jean-Louis Trintignant. That same year she also starred as the provocative daughter of a rich Jewish family in Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini/The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Vittorio De Sica, 1970) which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Because of her cool beauty, she was nicknamed ‘The French Garbo’. In Hollywood she appeared in the spy thriller The Mackintosh Man (John Huston, 1973) with Paul Newman, and in the Herman Hesse adaptation Steppenwolf (Fred Haines, 1974) with Max von Sydow.

She soon returned to Europe and worked in Italy with such major directors as Luchino Visconti on Gruppo di famiglia in un interno/Conversation Piece (1974) and with Bernardo Bertolucci on Novecento/1900 (1976) as Ada, the great love of Robert de Niro’s character. That year she won the award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, but strangely not for the epic Novecento but for her part as Irene Carelli, an Italian patriarch's daughter-in-law, in the much lesser known L'eredita Ferramonti/The Inheritance (Mauro Bolognini, 1976).

She made another splash with her portrayal of Lou Andreas-Salome in Al di la del bene e del male/Beyond Good and Evil (Liliane Cavani, 1977). Hollywood lured again and she appeared in the 20th Century Fox production Damnation Alley (Jack Smight, 1977) and the disastrous Casablanca imitation Caboblanco (Jack Lee Thompson, 1980) with Charles Bronson.

Dominique Sanda
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Dominique Sanda, Isabelle Huppert
With Isabelle Huppert in Les ailes de la colombe/The Wings of the Dove (Benoît Jacquot, 1981). Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Dominique Sanda
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Small But Interesting European Productions

During the next decade, Dominique Sanda mainly appeared in French films. Some were shown internationally, such as Le voyage en douce/Sentimental Journey (Michel Deville, 1980), the musical Une chambre en ville/A Room in Town (Jacques Démy, 1982), and the Jorge Luis Borges adaptation Guerriers et captives/Warriors and Prisoners (Edgardo Cozarinski, 1989) with Leslie Caron.

Jacques Demy had already directed Sanda in her first role for television as Hélène in La naissance du jour/Daybreak (Jacques Démy, 1981), adapted from Colette's novel. She continued to appear in small, but interesting European productions. Examples are In una notte di chiaro di luna/Up to Date (Lina Wertmuller, 1990) with Nastassia Kinski, Yo, la peor de todas/I, the Worst of All (Maria Luisa Bemberg, 1990) and the thriller Les rivieres pourpres/The Crimson Rivers (Mathieu Kassovitz, 2000) starring Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel.

Meanwhile she regularly appeared on TV, such as in the series Warburg, un homme d'influence/Warburg: a man of influence (Moshe Mizrahi, 1990) with Jean-Pierre Cassel, and the American mini-series The Bible: Joseph and Joseph in Egypt (Roger Young, 1994) starring Ben Kingsley.

From 1993 on, she also worked in the theatre: she then appeared at the Théâtre de la Commune, in Aubervilliers, France, as Melitta in Madame Klein (Mrs. Klein by Nicolas Wright), directed by Brigitte Jaques-Wajeman. Two years later, she played in Italy the marquise de Merteuil in Le relazioni pericolose (Dangerous Liaisons), based on Choderlos de Laclos' novel and directed by Mario Monicelli. In 1995-1996, she played more than 500 times Lady Chiltern in Un mari ideal, a French production of An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, directed by Adrian Brine. And in 2002-2003 she made another long theatre tour through Northern Italy in Amleto (Hamlet) by William Shakespeare, in which she interpreted Queen Gertrude under the direction of Federico Tiezzi.

In the 1970s, Dominique Sanda lived with actor/director Christian Marquand, with whom she had a son, Yann Marquand (1972). In 2000, she married Nicolae Cutzarida, a philosopher and University professor of Romanian origin. Dominique Sanda was made Chevalier de l'ordre national du Mérite (Dame of the National Order of Merit) in 1990, Officier des Arts et des Lettres (Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters) in 1996, and Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (Dame of the Legion of honour) in 2003.

Dominique Sanda
French postcard by Editions Marion-Valentine, Paris, no. N-179. Photo: Dominique Issermann. Caption: Dominique Sanda et le chat Horus.

Trailer Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini/The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970). Source: FabioTestiOfficial (YouTube).

Trailer Il conformista/The Conformist (1970). Source: pckg21c (YouTube).

Sources: Thanassis Agathos (IMDb), Dominique Sanda.com, Film Reference, Wikipedia and IMDb.

28 November 2017

Yvonne de Fleuriel

Italian Yvonne De Fleuriel (1889-1963) was a singer and actress of variety and silent films. She was very popular during the Belle Époque.

Yvonne de Fleuriel
Italian postcard by Fotocelere, Torino (Turin), no. 125.

Yvonne de Fleuriel
Italian postcard, no. 124. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Traditional Neapolitan Songs

Yvonne De Fleuriel was born as Adele Croce in Teano (according to Wikipedia) or Frosinone (IMDb), both in Italy, in 1889.

At a young age, she made her stage debut as a ‘generic actress‘ in the company of Eduardo Scarpetta. In her early twenties, she met the actor Nicola Maldacea, who introduced her to the world of the chanson. He also suggested her to take the stage name of Yvonne De Fleuriel.

The beautiful singer became popular among the public, when she performed in the best-known café-concerts in Naples. She was now one of the most famous Italian singers. She interpreted the traditional Neapolitan songs, most of them written by Giovanni Capurro, Rocco Galdieri and Gennaro Pasquariello. Among the best known songs of De Fleuriel were Nini and Girala la rota (Turn the wheel), both from 1908 and written by Luigi Mattiello.

The beautiful Yvonne De Fleuriel had many lovers. She rejected Carlo Meretti who - with Galdieri -  had procured her her success Thérèsine in Paris. He committed suicide. Hence De Fleuriel's reputation as a femme fatale started.

In 1915, De Fleuriel began her cinema career with the film 120 HP (Augusto Genina, 1915), produced by Napoli Film and co-starring Guido Trento. But the press didn't like this adaptation of a stage comedy by Amerigo Guasti. Three years later, De Fleuriel tried her luck again...

Yvonne De Fleuriel
Italian postcard by Premiato Stabilimento Fotografico Ditta G. Meretti, Firenze.

Yvonne De Fleuriel
Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 557.

A 'devilish' liveliness and a unique sentimentality

From 1918, Yvonne de Fleuriel tried her luck in the cinema again, now at the Roman film studios. First, she worked at Tiber Film, where she played the female lead opposite Tullio Carminati in Il trono e la seggiola/The throne and the chair (Augusto Genina, 1918).

In this romantic comedy, Carminati plays a Merry King, who is bored by court life and finds happiness in the arms of a Roman countryside girl, Cecilia (Le Fleuriel), State affairs recall the king to his Blue Reign, where he is urged to marry a lady of noble kin, to save the crown. But the Merry King has never forgotten his Cecilia. He abandons crown and reign and returns to Rome, to embrace his simple and good country girl again. Il trono e la seggiola had its first night in Rome on 20 September 1918, two months before the First World War ended.

At the time, Dino Lombardo wrote in the Neapolitan journal La Cine-Fono (25-12-1918) that this comedy was successful in every which way. Lombardo praised the script by Genina and Piero Romolotti for its straight forwardness, while still keeping the combination of sentimentality with liveliness. Lombardo also praised the direction by Genina and the production by Tiber Film. Finally he lauded he actors Carminati, Oreste Bilancia and in particular Yvonne de Fleuriel. Despite her fresh start in film after her career in vaudeville Lombardo noted: "She has given a 'devilish' liveliness and a unique sentimentality."

Later de Fleuriel played a minor part in L'ondina (A. Albertoni, 1917) starring the Milanese star Bianca Virginia Camagni, and she had lead roles in such films as Il veleno del piacere/The poison of pleasure (Gennaro Righelli, 1918) with Diomira Jacobini.

In 1920, De Fleuriel moved to Turin, where she had the female lead in Io sono fatta cosí! (Alessandro Rosenfeld, Paolo Ambrosio, 1921), a sentimental comedy which was well received by the Turinese press. She also appeared in La modella di Tiziano/Titian's model (Paolo Trinchera, 1921) with Mario Voller-Buzzi, for which the press considered De Fleuriel too cold.

Both Madame l'Ambassadrice/Madame the Ambassadrice (Ermanno Geymonat, 1921) also with Roberto Villani, as well as De Fleuriel's performance were praised by the Turinese press, although a critic thought De Fleuriel's make-up horrible. She also was a corrupting femme fatale in Le braccia aperte/The open arms (Guido di Sandro, 1921) opposite Mary-Cléo Tarlarini as the mother who tries to save her son.

De Fleuriel played her last parts in two Roman silent films. The first was L'ignota (Guglielmo Zorzi, 1923) with Fabienne Fabrèges, which despite the names of the actresses went almost unnoticed. She also appeared in La madre folle/The Crazy Mother (Carmine Gallone, 1923) with Soava Gallone and Arnold Kent (aka Lido Manetti).

Because of the crisis of the Italian cinema in the 1920s, Yvonne de Fleuriel moved to Germany. She had lost her famous physical beauty by then and only found work as an extra. In the following years, she returned to Italy, where she fell into disgrace. She settled in Rome, the city where she lived the last years of her life, poor and lonely.

Forgotten, Yvonne de Fleuriel passed away in 1963 in Rome. She was 74.

Yvonne De Fleuriel
Italian postcard by G. Vettori, Bologna, no. 376.

Yvonne De Fleuriel sings Nini (1908). Source: rigoletto90 (YouTube).

Sources: Wikipedia (Italian) and IMDb.

27 November 2017

Uwe Friedrichsen

German film, stage and television actor Uwe Friedrichsen (1934-2016) was best known for his roles in several popular TV series. He was also known as the German voice of Peter Falk’s Columbo.

Uwe Friedrichsen
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg. Photo: Constantin / Rialto. Publicity still for Der Gorilla von Soho/The Gorilla of Soho (Alfred Vohrer, 1968).

Uwe Friedrichsen
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg, no. F-73. Photo: Jürgen Fritsch. Pobably a publicity still for the TV series Elephant Boy (Bill Bain a.o., 1973). The little monkey is probably a toque macaque.

A rare example of a West-German Science Fiction film

Uwe Friedrichsen was born in 1934 in Altona (now Hamburg), Germany. He was the son of an engineer. After graduation, he completed a commercial apprenticeship at a Hamburg porcelain company.

In the amateur playgroup of the Hamburg Volkshochschule he discovered acting. Against the will of his parents he started a private acting school, which he financed as a harbour worker and newspaper boy. In 1953 he founded the theatre 53 together with Marcus Scholz and others.

After three years at this theatre, actress and stage director Ida Ehre spotted him in 1956 and engaged him for the Deutsche Schauspielhaus in Hamburg under Gustaf Gründgens. Until 1968, he was one of the ensemble members, while he was a guest at many other theatres.

In 1957, he started his film career with two small roles as a student. He made his debut in the West-German comedy Lemkes sel. Witwe/Lemke's Widow (Helmut Weiss, 1957) starring Grethe Weiser. It was a remake of the silent comedy Lemkes sel. Witwe/Lemke's Widow (Carl Boese, 1928) with Lissi Arna.

He played another student in the Austrian comedy Die unentschuldigte Stunde/The Unexcused Hour (Willi Forst, Rolf Kutschera, 1957) with Adrian Hoven and Erika Remberg. He also had a small part in the West German musical comedy Die Nacht vor der Premiere/The Night Before the Premiere (Georg Jacoby, 1959) starring Marika Rökk and Theo Lingen.

Although in his mid-twenties, Friedrichsen appeared as a pupil in the West-German film Faust (Peter Gorski, 1960), based on Goethe's Faust and adapted from the theatre production at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus. The film starred director Gorski's adoptive father Gustaf Gründgens as Mephistopheles and Will Quadflieg as Faust.

Jan Onderwater at IMDb: “In 1957 Gustaf Gründgens staged a new production of Goethe's Faust in which he once again played Mephisto, a part he had played since 1932. The brilliant production was a huge success and ran for a couple of years. In 1959 Peter Gorski captured the performance on film in his directorial film debut. Basically it is a registration of the production, but Gorski did manage to accentuate the details of the acting by using enough medium and close-up shots which give a view on the acting you normally would not able to see in a theater.” The film won a Deutscher Filmpreis (German Film Award).

Another supporting role followed for Friedrichsen in the West German adventure film Unser Haus in Kamerun/Our House in Cameroon (Alfred Vohrer, 1961), with Johanna von Koczian and Götz George. He played a leading role opposite Maria Perschy in Der Chef wünscht keine Zeugen/No Survivors, Please (Hans Albin, Peter Berneis, 1964), a rare example of a West-German Science Fiction film! Aliens attempt to take over the Earth by taking over the bodies of humans at the moment of their death, and using them as tools for their invasion plans. However, the film was a commercial flop.

In the early 1960s, the German film industry imploded and like many of his colleagues, Friedrichsen focused on working for TV. He had a hit with the detective series John Klings Abenteuer/John Kling (Hans-Georg Thiemt, 1965-1970) in which he played the side-kick of the title figure (Helmut Lange), who played a detective working for an American secret service. John Kling was originally a pulp fiction hero, whose novels were very popular in Germany from 1924 till 1939 and from 1949 till 1954.

In the meanwhile Friedrichsen also appeared as Sergeant Jim Pepper in the West German crime film Der Gorilla von Soho/The Gorilla of Soho (Alfred Vohrer, 1968) opposite Horst Tappert and Uschi Glas. It was part of Rialto Film's long-running series of Edgar Wallace adaptations, and was shot on location around London and at the CCC Studios in Berlin.

Uwe Friedrichsen in Einer spinnt immer (1971)
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg. Photo: Constantin / Neue Delta / Appelt. Publicity still for Einer spinnt immer/One is always nutty (Franz Antel, 1971).

Uwe Friedrichsen
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg. Photo: Hans-Peter Bartling, Hamburg.

A great advocate of the Low German language

Uwe Friedrichsen co-starred in the Austrian/West German comedy Einer spinnt immer/One is always nutty (Franz Antel, 1971) with Georg Thomalla and Teri Tordai. He also appeared opposite Horst Tappert in the naughty comedy Bleib sauber, Liebling/The Love Keys (Rolf Thiele, 1971), but Friedrichsen found more interesting work on television.

He played opposite Esrom (Esram Jayasinghe) as the elephant boy Toomai in the British-Australian-German youth series Elephant Boy (Bill Bain a.o., 1973), based on a story from Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. For the series the location was not India but Ceylon and the story was moved from the 19th century to the present.

He also appeared with Horst Frank and Jürgen Prochnow in the TV film Operation Ganymed (Rainer Erler, 1977). A spaceship returns to Earth after several years of space exploration and finds it desolate. Landing in what they believe is Mexico, the crew decides to travel north, and try to find out what happened to Earth during the years they were gone. The film won an award at a Science Fiction Festival in Triëst and was so popular that it was also released in the cinema in 1980.

Among little children he became known as Uwe in the German version of the children’s series Sesame Street, Sesamstraße (1979–1982), in which he appeared together with Liselotte Pulver and Horst Janson. He then starred as customs officer Hans Zaluskowski in 18 episodes of the Krimi series Schwarz Rot Gold/Black Red Gold (1982-1996).

Through the years, he guest starred in all of Germanys favourite Krimi series, including Der Alte (1985-1996), Tatort (1986) and Derrick (1989, 1996). He also played mayor Hinrich Oppen in the TV series Oppen and Ehrlich alongside Andreas Schmidt-Schaller. The series showed the lives of two dissimilar half-brothers, mayor Hinrich Oppen and manufacturer Ottwin Ehrlich, and was situated in Sauerland in the early 1990s.

In the cinema Uwe Friedrichsen could be seen in a small part in the German comedy Die wilden Fünfziger/The Roaring Fifties (Peter Zadek, 1983), starring Juraj Kukura and Boy Gobert. The film, based on the novel Hurra, wir leben noch by Johannes Mario Simmel, is set around the German Wirtschaftswunder economic miracle of the 1950s, with the title alluding to the Roaring Twenties.

He also appeared in the comedy Go Trabi Go 2 – Das war der wilde Osten (Wolfgang Büld, Reinhard Klooss, 1992), a bland sequel to the hit Go Trabi Go (Peter Timm, 1991). His final film was the youth film Das Haus der Krokodile/Victor and the Secret of Crocodile Mansion (Cyrill Boss, Philipp Stennert, 2012), which won the Bavarian Film Award.

Friedrichsen was a popular voice actor who gave a German voice to amongst others Ringo Starr in Yellow submarine (George Dunning, 1968), Donald Sutherland in MASH (Robert Altman, 1970), Danny Clover in Lethal Weapon films (1987-1998) and to Peter Falk in the TV series Columbo (1969). He also worked for many radio plays.

However, the main focus of his professional activity remained the stage. For several years he had a permanent place in the ensemble of the Ernst-Deutsch-Theater in Hamburg. In the 2005/2006 season, he played in the Theater im Rathaus Essen. In addition, Uwe Friedrichsen was a great advocate of the Low German language, which he learned as a small boy with his grandparents.

Uwe Friedrichsen died in 2016 in Hamburg, at the age of 81. In 1988 he married the Swiss actress Nathalie Emery, with whom he had a daughter. They divorced in 1995 and in 2002 he married Ute Papst. With his second wife, he later lived in Seevetal near Hamburg. He had three children from earlier relationships. Friedrichsen died of the consequences of a tumour on the cheek and at his request, he was given a burial in the Baltic Sea.

DVD Trailer John Klings Abenteuer (1965-1970). Source: POLAR Film (YouTube).

Scene from Operation Ganymed (1977). Source: Rapidherzfeld (YouTube). Sorry, no subtitles!

Sources: Jan Onderwater (IMDb), Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.

26 November 2017

Gitta Alpár

Hungarian-born Gitta Alpár (1903-1991) was a Jewish opera and operetta singer, who had a successful film career in Germany. Her career and her marriage to film star Gustav Fröhlich were destroyed by the Nazis.

Gitta Alpar
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6683/2, 1931-1932. Photo: FFG.

Gitta Alpar
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7049/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Frhr. von Gudenberg Phot.

Gitta Alpar
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8756/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Angelo Fotos.


Gitta Alpár was born as Regina Kalisch in Budapest, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary) in 1903 as the daughter of a cantor, a clergy member who fills a diverse role within the Jewish community.

At 16, she studied singing and pianoforte at Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem, the conservatory of Budapest. With it she laid the foundations of a successful singing career.

Her first public appearance as a coloratura soprano under the name of Alpár was in 1923 at the  Magyar Állami Operaház (Hungarian State Opera House) in Budapest.

In 1927 she started to sing at the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera).  Her career there was promoted by eminent conductors such as Erich Kleiber

Later she moved on to Berlin, where she sang in operas like Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by W.A. Mozart as the Queen of the Night, Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) by Gioacchino Rossini, and Rigoletto and La Traviata, both by Giuseppe Verdi.

Gitta Alpar
Dutch postcard by Remaco, no. 236. Publicity still for Gitta entdeckt ihr Herz/Gitta Discovers Her Heart (Carl Froelich, 1932).

Gitta Alpar, Gustav Fröhlich
Dutch postcard by Jospe, no. 379. Photo: Remaco. Gitta Alpár and Gustav Fröhlich co-starred in Gitta entdeckt ihr Herz/Gitta discovers her heart (Carl Froelich, 1932).

Gitta Alpar
Dutch postcard by Remaco, no. 291. Photo: publicity still for Gitta entdeckt ihr Herz/Gitta Discovers Her Heart (Carl Froelich, 1932).

The New Operetta Diva

In 1930, Gitta Alpaá had a huge success in the operetta Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student) by Carl Millocker at the Metropol Theater in Berlin, and she was hailed as 'the new operetta diva'.

At the Metropol Theater, she next created the role of Princess Elisabeth in the operetta Schön is die Welt (The World is Beautiful, 1930), a reworking of Endlich allein (Alone at Last) by Franz Lehár. Her co-star was Richard Tauber, and they recorded several excerpts for the Odeon Records company.

At the Admiralspalast in Berlin, she then played Marie Jeanne Bécu, a milliner, later Comtesse Dubarry in Die Dubarry (The Dubarry, 1931), the radically revised version of Gräfin Dubarry (Dubarry) by Carl Millöcker. The new version was prepared by Theo Mackeben with music from the original Gräfin Dubarry as well as other works, and a new text was written by Paul Knepler, Ignaz Michael Welleminsky and Hans Martin Cremer.

Also in 1931, Gitta Alpar married film star Gustav Fröhlich, with whom she had a child, Julika Fröhlich. She had been married before to a businessman in Budapest.

The film industry became aware of the new darling of the public. For Carl Froelich-Film GmbH (FFG), she made films like Gitta entdeckt ihr Herz/Gitta Discovers Her Heart (Carl Froelich, 1932) with Gustav Fröhlich, and Die - oder keine/She, or Nobody (Carl Froelich, 1932), in which she co-starred with Max Hansen.

Gitta Alpar in Die - oder keine (1932)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 154/3. Photo: FFG. Publicity still for Die - oder keine/This One or None (Carl Froelich, 1932).

Max Hansen and Gitta Alpar in Die - oder keine (1932)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7159/1, 1932-1933. Photo: FFG. Publicity still for Die - oder keine/This One or None (Carl Froelich, 1932) with Max Hansen.

Gustav Fröhlich, Gitta Alpar
With Gustav Fröhlich. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7926/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Niedecken, St. Moritz.


In 1932, Gitta Alpár had another stage success at the Großes Schauspielhaus, Berlin, when she created the part of Madeleine de Faublas in the operetta Ball im Savoy (Ball at the Savoy) by Paul Abraham to a libretto by Alfred Grünwald and Fritz Löhner-Beda. This was Abraham's last major success, but also Alpár's.

At the top of her success, Gitta Alpár's career abruptly came to an end because of the rise to power of Adolph Hitler. Alpár was Jewish and despite her popularity she was forced to leave Germany.

Her marriage to Gustav Fröhlich was dissolved in 1935 because it was illegal in National Socialist Germany. Fröhlich distanced from his wife because he didn't want to endanger his career. He later tried to apologise for his behaviour but Gitta Alpár was not able to answer his prayers. A circumstance which, according to IMDb, gave Fröhlich a hard time in his last leaving years and which beclouded his lust for life.

Alpár first emigrated to Austria where she took part in the film Ball im Savoy/Ball at Savoy (Steve Sekely, 1935) with Rose Barsony, another Jewish film actress who was forced to flee Nazi Germany.
Alpár also acted in the British film I Give My Heart/The Loves of Madame Du Barry (Marcel Varnel, 1935), a faithful adaptation of the stage opera Die Dubarry (The Dubarry) with Owen Nares.

Hal Erickson reviews at AllMovie: "The seamier aspects of DuBarry's rise to prominence (notably her brief stopover at a house of ill repute) are neatly glossed over, but that was to be expected. Among those responsible for adapting The Dubarry to the screen was Curt Siodmak, who together with his brother Robert went on to a rewarding Hollywood career".

Until 1936, Alpár worked in Austria, but then she had to emigrate again, first to Great Britain and one year later via Argentina to California. In Great Britain, Alpár appeared in Guilty Melody (Richard Pottier, 1936) with Nils Asther, and Everything in Life (J. Elder Wills, 1936). Guilty Melody (1936) was an alternative language version of the French film Le disque 413/Disk 413 (Richard Pottier, 1937) in which Alpar also starred, now opposite Jules Berry.

Her final film appearance was an appearance as an opera singer in the Universal Pictures period comedy/drama The Flame of New Orleans (René Clair, 1941) with Marlene Dietrich. Much of the film takes place with a background derived from Donizetti's Lucia, the love duet in the beginning of the opera.

According to IMDb, her Hollywood career ultimately failed as a result of her heavy accent and poor command of the English language. In 1939 she married Niels Wessel Bagge. They divorced in 1951.

After the war Gitta Alpár earned her living as a singing teacher. She seemed to be forgotten, but in 1987 Germany honoured her with the Filmband in Gold for her contributions to the German cinema.

In 1991 Gitta Alpár passed away in Los Angeles, just before her 88th birthday.

Gitta Alpar and Gustav Fröhlich
With Gustav Fröhlich. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6810/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Angelo Photos.

Gitta Alpar and Julika Violetta Fröhlich
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 585. Sent by mail in 1935. Caption: Gitta Alpár and her little daughter Julika Violetta Fröhlich.

Gitta Alpar
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7505/2, 1932-1933. Photo: Frhr. von Gudenberg Phot.

Gitta Alpár sings In meinen weißen Armen in Ball im Savoy (1935). Source: Alparfan (YouTube).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Karin Nusko (Universität Wien), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.

25 November 2017

Peter Sellers

British comedian Peter Sellers (1925-1980) was an incredibly versatile actor. He played Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films with as much ease as Clare Quilty in Lolita (1962). Stanley Kubrick asked him to play three roles in Dr. Strangelove (1964) for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.

Peter Sellers
Spanish postcard by Raker no. 1132, 1965.

Peter Sellers in Being There (1979)
American postcard by Coral-Lee, Rancho Cordova, no. CL/Personality # 95. Photo: Dianne Schroeder / Sygma, 1979. Publicity still for Being There (Hal Ashby, 1979).

Absurd skits and bits

Richard Henry Sellers was born in 1925 in Southsea, a suburb of Portsmouth, England. He was literally born into show business. His parents, William 'Bill' Sellers and Agnes Doreen 'Peg' née Marks, were vaudeville performers in an acting company run by his grandmother, and Peter arrived while they were appearing in Southsea. Although christened Richard Henry, his parents called him Peter, after his elder stillborn brother.

Peter made his stage debut at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, when he was two weeks old. Sellers remained an only child. He began accompanying his parents in a variety act that toured the provincial theatres, causing much upheaval and unhappiness in the young Sellers' life. Sellers studied dance as a child before attending St. Aloysius’ Boarding and Day School for Boys.

As a teenager, Sellers learned to play the drums and played with jazz bands. At the age of 18, he entered the Royal Air Force during World War II. There he became part of a group of entertainers who performed for the troops. Sellers played his drums and did dead-on impersonations of some of the officers.

After the war, Sellers struggled to launch his comic career for several years. After several previous attempts, he managed to land work with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) by winning over radio producer Roy Speer during a phone conversation. His spot-on impersonations helped to make him a beloved radio comedian.

In 1951, Sellers joined fellow comics Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine for The Goon Show. The program proved to be hugely popular with listeners who tuned in to hear their absurd skits and bits. The success of The Goon Show helped Sellers break into films.

In 1951 the Goons made their feature film debut in Penny Points to Paradise (Anthony Young, 1951). Sellers and Milligan then penned the script to the short Let's Go Crazy (Alan Cullimore, 1951), the earliest film to showcase Sellers's ability to portray a series of different characters within the same film, and he made another appearance opposite his Goons co-stars in the flop, Down Among the Z Men (Maclean Rogers, 1952).

In 1954, Sellers was cast opposite Sid James, Donald Pleasence and Eric Sykes in the comedy Orders Are Orders (David Paltenghi, 1955). Then he landed a part as one of the oddball criminals in the classic Ealing comedy The Ladykillers (Alexander Mackendrick, 1955) with Alec Guinness. The Ladykillers was a success in both Britain and the US, and the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Sellers starred with David Tomlinson and Wilfrid Hyde-White as a chief petty officer in Up the Creek (Val Guest, 1958). In 1959, his career really took off with the satire I’m All Right, Jack (John and Roy Boulting, 1959). For his part as Fred Kite, the dogmatic communist union man, he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In The Mouse That Roared (Jack Arnold, 1959) with Jean Seberg, Sellers played three characters: the elderly Grand Duchess, the ambitious Prime Minister and the innocent and clumsy farm boy selected to lead an invasion of the United States. This box office hit helped to introduce Sellers to the American audiences.

In 1959 he was also nominated for an Academy Award for the eleven-minute short The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (Richard Lester, Peter Sellers, 1959). Sellers portrayed an Indian doctor, Dr Ahmed el Kabir opposite Sophia Loren in the romantic comedy The Millionairess (Anthony Asquith, 1960) based on the George Bernard Shaw play. The Goon Show ended its run in 1960, but the program proved to be a strong influence on British comedy. It paved the way for such future comedy shows as Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Peter Sellers
Vintage postcard.

Peter Sellers
American postcard by Portfolio, NY, NY, no. P45. Photo: Louis Goldman, 1963.

The world’s most bumbling detective

Peter Sellers hit his stride in the early 1960s with three of his most famous roles. Stanley Kubrick asked him to play the role of the mentally unbalanced TV writer Clare Quilty in Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1962), opposite Sue Lyon, James Mason and Shelley Winters.

Sellers introduced audiences to the world’s most bumbling detective, French Inspector Jacques Clouseau, in Blake Edwards’s The Pink Panther (1963). The film proved to be a huge success, and it was quickly followed by the sequel A Shot in the Dark (Blake Edwards, 1964) again with Herbert Lom as Commissioner Dreyfus and Burt Kwouk as Cato.

Andrew Spicer in The Encyclopedia of British Cinema: “In Clouseau, Sellers combined his vocal ingenuity and skill as a slapstick comedian, yet always retained an essential humanity through the inspector's indefatigable dignity in the face of a hostile universe.”

In Kubricks’s cold war satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964), Sellers once again showed his ability to tackle multiple characters the well-meaning US President Merkin Muffley, unflappable RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and the nightmarish Dr. Strangelove himself, the government's adviser on nuclear warfare, who is unable to control his own body. His black gloved hand always tries to make a Nazi salute, expressing an ineradicable desire to dominate and destroy.

Kubrick later commented that the idea of having Sellers in so many of the film's key roles was that "everywhere you turn there is some version of Peter Sellers holding the fate of the world in his hands".

In 1964, Sellers had his first heart attack. He was reportedly clinically dead for two and a half minutes before being revived. This incident marked the beginning of his heart troubles, and he later had a pacemaker installed to help manage his heartbeat. Making a full recovery, Sellers continued to work in the cinema.

What's New Pussycat (Clive Donner, 1965) with Peter O'Toole and Romy Schneider, was another big hit, but a combination of his ego and insecurity made Sellers difficult to work with. When the James Bond spoof, Casino Royale (Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish, 1967) ran over budget and was unable to recoup its costs despite an otherwise healthy box-office take, Sellers received some of the blame. His films of the late 1960s and early 1970s had some decidedly mixed results.

Peter Sellers
American postcard by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd., no. 151. Photo: Roddy McDowall. Caption: Peter Sellers, Hollywood, 1967.

Peter Sellers in The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)
American postcard in The Ludlow Collection series by Classico San Francisco, no. 136-239. Photo: Peter Sellers as Inspector Jacques Clouseau in The Return of the Pink Panther (Blake Edwards, 1975).

Struggling with depression and insecurities

It was Inspector Clouseau who gave Peter Sellers a boost at the box office with The Return of the Pink Panther (Blake Edwards, 1975) with Christopher Plummer and Catherine Schell. This hit spawned two more Pink Panther films, The Pink Panther Strikes Again (Blake Edwards, 1976), and Revenge of the Pink Panther (Blake Edwards, 1978).

Sellers earned raves for his subtle, understated turn as the simple gardener Chance who becomes an unlikely trusted adviser to a powerful businessman and an insider in Washington politics in Being There (Hal Asby, 1979), a film adaptation of Jerzy Kosinski's novel. His character spouts ideas and comments based on his years of television-watching, which are confused by others as words of wisdom. Sellers earned a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination for his performance.

After making this remarkable black comedy, Sellers’s career seemed to be on an upswing. But he never lived to realise this new wave of potential. His last film was The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (Piers Haggard, 1980), a comedic re-imagining of the eponymous adventure novels by Sax Rohmer; Sellers played both police inspector Nayland Smith and Fu Manchu, alongside Helen Mirren and David Tomlinson. The film, completed just a few months before his death, proved to be another box office flop.

Peter Sellers died in a London hospital in 1980, after suffering another heart attack. Sellers was only 54. In his personal life, Sellers struggled with depression and insecurities. Wikipedia: “An enigmatic figure, he often claimed to have no identity outside the roles that he played. His behaviour was often erratic and compulsive, and he frequently clashed with his directors and co-stars, especially in the mid-1970s when his physical and mental health, together with his alcohol and drug problems, were at their worst.”

Sellers was married four times. He was survived by his fourth wife Lynne Frederick, and three children from his previous marriages. His son Michael and daughter Sarah came from his first marriage to Anne Howe and daughter Victoria came from his second marriage to actress Britt Ekland. He was also briefly married to Miranda Quarry from 1970 to 1974. Sellers was portrayed by Geoffrey Rush in the biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (Stephen Hopkins, 2004).

Trailer The Mouse That Roared (1959). Source: CONELRAD6401240 (YouTube).

Trailer The Pink Panther (1964). Source: Bag Log (YouTube).

Trailer The Party (1968). Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault (YouTube).

Trailer Being There (1979). Source: George Botanos (YouTube).

Sources: Andrew Spicer (The Encyclopedia of British Cinema), Ashley G. Mackinnon (IMDb), Biography.com, Wikipedia and IMDb.

24 November 2017

Film Partners

Last month, we had a French postcard series on every Saturday. From today on, we will focus on Great Britain. We start today with a post on a Real Photo (Picturegoer) series called 'Film Partners', published in the 1930s in London. The postcards have either horizontal or vertical formats. Some are in black-and-white; others are hand-coloured. And yes, this was the United Kingdom in the 1930s, so all the couples are strictly male/female.

Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)
Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon. British postcard in the Film Partners Series, London, no. P 150. Photo: London Films. Publicity still for The Scarlet Pimpernel (Harold Young, 1934).

Ivor Novello and Elizabeth Allan in The Lodger (1932)
Ivor Novello and Elizabeth Allan. British postcard in the Film Partners series, London, no. P 41. Photo: Stanborough. Publicity still for The Lodger (Maurice Elvey, 1932).

Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge in Jack's the Boy (1932)
Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge. British postcard in the Film Partners Series, no. P 42. Photo: Gainsborough Pictures. Publicity still for Jack's the Boy (Walter Forde, 1932).

Ralph Lynn and Winifred Shotter in Summer Lightning (1933)
Ralph Lynn and Winifred Shotter. British postcard in the Film Partners series, London, no. 81. Photo: British & Dominions. Publicity still for Summer Lightning (Maclean Rogers, 1933).

Brian Aherne and Victoria Hopper in The Constant Nymph (1933)
Brian Aherne and Victoria Hopper. British postcard in the Film Partners series, no. P 121. Photo: Gaumont-British. Publicity still for The Constant Nymph (Basil Dean, 1933).

Leslie Howard and Heather Angel in Berkeley Square (1933)
Leslie Howard and Heather Angel. British postcard in the Film Partners Series, London, no. P 123. Photo: Fox. Publicity still for Berkeley Square (Frank Lloyd, 1933).

Tullio Carminati and Grace Moore in One Night of Love
Tullio Carminati and Grace Moore. British postcard in the Film Partners Series, London, no. P 151. Photo: Columbia. Publicity still for One Night of Love (Victor Schertzinger, 1934).

Madeleine Carroll and Clive Brook in The Dictator (1935)
Madeleine Carroll and Clive Brook. British postcard in the Film Partners series, no. P 166. Photo: Toeplitz. Publicity still for The Dictator (Victor Saville, 1935).

Derrick De Marney and Nova Pilbeam in Young and Innocent (1937)
Derrick De Marney and Nova Pilbeam. British postcard in the Film Partners Series, no PC 236. Photo: Gaumont British. Publicity still for Young and Innocent/The Girl Was Young (Alfred Hitchcock, 1937).

Jack Hulbert and Patricia Ellis in Paradise for Two
Jack Hulbert and Patricia Ellis. British postcard in the Film Partners Series, London, no. P 241. Photo: London Films. Publicity still for Paradise for Two/Gaiety Girls (Thornton Freeland, 1937).

David Niven and Ginger Rodgers in Bachelor Mother
David Niven and Ginger Rodgers. British postcard in the Film Partners Series, London, no. PC 211. Photo: R.K.O. Radio. Publicity still for Bachelor Mother (Garson Kanin, 1939).

Barry K. Barnes and Valerie Hobson in This Man in Paris (1939)
Barry K. Barnes and Valerie Hobson. British postcard in the Film Partners Series, no. PC 284. Photo: Paramount British. Publicity still for This Man in Paris (David MacDonald, 1939).

It is Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at the The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.