15 September 2019

Carmel Myers

Carmel Myers (1899-1980) was a famous American actress of the silent screen. Her most memorable role was as the seductive Egyptian courtesan Iras in the super-production Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925). During the rest of the 1920s, she had a high-flying career and was ranked among the screen's most glamorous and enticing vamps.

Carmel Myers in Ben-Hur
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 64/7. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Ben-Hur (Fred Niblo, 1925).

Carmel Myers
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 549. Photo: Fanamet-Verleih.

Carmel Myers in Prowlers of the Sea (1928)
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5292. Photo: D.B.O. / Wiener Lichtbildnerei. Publicity still for Prowlers of the Sea (John G. Adolfi, 1928).

The harem favourite in Babylon


Carmel Myers was born in San Francisco in 1899 as the daughter of an Australian rabbi and an Austrian Jewish mother.

Her father who had close contacts with the world of cinema, presented her to pioneer film director D.W. Griffith. The famous director entrusted the young novice actress with a small role in his blockbuster Intolerance (D.W. Griffith, 1916), where she played the harem favourite in the Babylonian episode.

Myers also managed to get Carmel's brother Zion to work in the film industry, becoming a Hollywood director and screenwriter.

After this experience, Carmel left New York where she had worked at the theatre for two years and signed a contract with Universal where she soon made herself known by playing vamp roles.

Of that period, probably her best-known film remains All Night (Paul Powell, 1918), where she acted alongside Rodolfo Valentino, then still little-known.

Carmel Myers in A Daughter of the Law
American postcard. Photo: Universal. Carmel Myers in A Daughter of the Law (Jack Conway, 1921), based on the novel 'The Black Cap' by Wadsworh Camp. This card uses the book title for the film title, so maybe the film was originally published with this title.

Carmel Myers in Garragan 1924
Croatian postcard. Photo: Pan-Film Zagreb. Carmel Myers in Garragan (Ludwig Wolff, 1924), starring Edward Burns and Myers. Ludwig Wolff also produced and scripted the film, while the script was based on a novel by Wolff himself. Garragan treats one of Wolff's favourite themes, that of reincarnation. Baron Garragan, who has been rightly condemned to ten years in prison for the murder on a man he believed to be his wife's lover, is released...

Carmel Myers
French postcard in the Les Vedettes de Cinéma series by A.N., Paris, no. 231. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn Production.

A formidable boost to her career


From 1924, Carmel Myers worked for MGM. While waiting for her shoots in Italy for the super-production Ben-Hur, started by director Charles Brabin and finished by his colleague Fred Niblo, took so long, she could act in the meantime in a German film in Berlin, Garragan (Ludwig Wolff, 1924), also with Edward Burns and Julanne Johnston.

However, it would be Myers's part in Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925), which gave a formidable boost to her career. She played the role of Iras, an Egyptian courtesan who on the instigation of Messala (Francis X. Bushman) tries - in vain - to seduce Prince Judah Ben Hur (Ramon Novarro). The memorable POV shot of Iras eyeing Ben-Hur from bottom to top well shows classic Hollywood was not only about male gaze and female object.

From that moment on, Myers played major roles throughout the 1920s, sometimes in female leads as in The Careless Age (John Griffith Wray, 1929) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., but mostly as the mundane and less chaste antagonist to the better behaving female leads such as Norma Shearer, Marceline Day, Anna Q. Nilsson, and Joan Crawford.

The advent of sound did not affect her career. She continued to act even though, due to her age, she saw herself entrusted with supporting roles. At the end of the Second World War, Myers retired from the scene for a few years.

She returned there in 1951, working for television. She also conducted a TV program called The Carmel Myers Show, but the series was unsuccessful. From then on, she devoted herself mainly to her real estate investments and to her perfume distribution company.

The last film she acted in was Won Ton Ton, The Dog That Saved Hollywood (Michael Winner, 1976), where she appeared along with dozens of Hollywood stars who took part in the film in small cameos.

Carmel Myers died in 1980, at the age of 81 and was buried at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Los Angeles next to her parents.

Ramon Novarro and Carmel Myers in Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 73/2. Photo: MGM / ParUfaMet. Ramon Novarro and Carmel Myers in Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (Fred Niblo, 1925).

Carmel Myers and Ramon Novarro in Ben-Hur (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 133/6. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Carmel Myers and Ramon Novarro in Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (Fred Niblo, 1925).

Carmel Myers and Ramon Novarro in Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
French postcard by J.R.P.R, Paris. no. 69. Photo: MGM. Carmel Myers and Ramon Novarro in Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (Fred Niblo, 1925).

Carmel Myers
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 180.

Carmel Myers
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 372.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

14 September 2019

New acquisitions: sepia postcards by Cinémagazine

Ivo Blom recently bought a series of sepia postcards of silent film stars published by Editions Cinémagazine in Paris. Cinémagazine-Edition or just CE was the publisher of the film magazine of the same name, that was popular all over Europe. It was a weekly magazine that existed between 1921 and 1935. In an earlier EFSP post you can read more about this firm. In today's post you'll find a selection of Ivo's new finds combined with some of my own postcards that were not published at EFSP before: 25 CE cards with Hollywood stars.

Charles Ray
Charles Ray. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 79. Photo: not indicated but could be made by Evans.

Bryant Washburn
Bryant Washburne. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 91. Photo: Hartsook.

Enid Bennett
Enid Bennett. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, Paris, no. 113. Photo: Hoover.

John Barrymore in Sherlock Holmes (1922)
John Barrymore in Sherlock Holmes (Albert Parker, 1922). French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 126.

J. Warren Kerrigan
J. Warren Kerrigan. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 150.

Barbara La Marr
Barbara La Marr. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, Paris, no. 159. Photo: Hoover.

Bessie Love, Cinemagazine 163
Bessie Love. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, Paris, no. 163.

Creighton Hale
Creighton Hale. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, Paris, no. 181. Photo Apeda, New York.

Alice Terry in The Garden of Allah
Alice Terry in The Garden of Allah (Rex Ingram, 1927). French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 193. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Richard Dix
Richard Dix. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 220.

Monte Blue
Monte Blue. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 226.

William Russell
William Russell. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 247. Photo: Hoover Art Co, Los Angeles.

Noah Beery, Cinemagazine 253
Noah Beery. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 253.

Eleanor Boardman
Eleanor Boardman. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 255.

Louise Fazenda (Philomene), Cinemagazine 261
Louise Fazenda in The Kitchen Lady (Edward F. Cline, 1918). French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 261.

Norma Shearer
Norma Shearer. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 287.

Milton Sills
Milton Sills. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 300.

Ben Lyon, Cinemagazine 323
Ben Lyon. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 323.

Ricardo Cortez
Ricardo Cortez. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 345.

Mae Murray
Mae Murray. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 370.

Renée Adorée
Renée Adorée. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 390.

Laura La Plante
Laura La Plante. French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 392.

Ronald Colman in The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926)
Ronald Colman in The Winning of Barbara Worth (Henry King, 1926). French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 405.

Vilma Banky in The Winning of Barbara Worth
Vilma Banky in The Winning of Barbara Worth (Henry King, 1926). French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 409.

Joan Crawford in Our Dancing Daughters (1928)
Joan Crawford in Our Dancing Daughters (Harry Beaumont, 1928). French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, no. 664. Photo: MGM.

At Mark Goffee's site on the Ross Verlag postcards, you can also find a list of the Cinémagazine postcards. Check it out.

13 September 2019

Massimo Girotti

Handsome, manly Italian actor Massimo Girotti (1918-2003) had a career that spanned seven decades. He is best remembered for three roles: the young wanderer Gino in Luchino Visconti's Ossessione (1943), the stern lover in Michelangelo Antonioni's Cronaca di un amore (1950) and the passionate patriot in Visconti's Senso (1954).

Massimo Girotti in La corona di ferro (1941)
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., no. 42920. Photo: E.N.I.C. Massimo Girotti in La corona di ferro/The Iron Crown (Alessandro Blasetti, 1941).

Massimo Girotti
Italian postcard by ASER (A. Scaramaglia Ed. Roma), no. 223. Photo: Ciolfi.

Massimo Girotti
Italian postcard by Gros Monti & C., Torino for Vie Nuove, Settimanale illustrato a colori.

Massimo Girotti
Italian postcard by Bromostampa, Milano. Foto: Dial.

Luchino Visconti


Massimo Girotti was born in Mogliano, Italy in 1918.

He was an engineering student, who thanks to his athletic physique - he was a champion swimmer and polo player - was noted by writer Mario Soldati. Soldati offered him a small part in his first feature as a director, Dora Nelson (Mario Soldati, 1940) featuring Assia Noris.

He also played a small part in Tosca/The Story of Tosca (Jean Renoir, Carl Koch, 1941) with Imperio Argentina, for which Luchino Visconti was an assistant-director.

Girotti had a bigger part in Alessandro Blasetti's mythological extravaganza La corona di ferro/The Iron Crown (1941). He took the double role of the fairytale King, killed in the prologue, and his Tarzan-like son Arminio, who has been nurtured by lions in the forest. Blasetti's film made him a popular star.

Roberto Rossellini cast him in his next film, the war drama Un pilota ritorna/A Pilot Returns (Roberto Rossellini, 1941), written by Benito Mussolini's son Vittorio Mussolini, who was then head of the Italian film industry. In this film Girotti plays a pilot shot down over Greece and captured by the British. After a love affair with the daughter of an Italian doctor, he manages to escape and return.

In 1943 came a turning point in his career when Luchino Visconti cast him opposite the torrid Clara Calamai in Ossessione/Obsession (Luchino Visconti, 1943), the unauthorised Italian version of James M. Cain's steamy novel The Postman Always Rings Twice.

In Ossessione the camera's eye on Girotti's Gino shows Visconti's predilection for the actor. In his published memoirs Girotti confessed he felt embarassed about Visconti's amorous attention for him, not very clear to viewers then but quite clear to us now. Although Girotti was happily married for most of his life, his relationship with Visconti was reportedly not completely platonic. Girotti would go on to cooperate several more times with Visconti, both on stage and in films. The combined sexiness of Girotti and Calamai in Ossesione was provocative for the times - as was the daring earthiness of the story.

The film marked the birth of what was later known as Neo-realism. Robert Firsching writes at AllMovie: "the movie began to feature some of neorealism's defining characteristics: above all, an emphasis on outdoor shooting and natural light and a relentless focus on the lives of the poor. Ossessione caused a sensation not just because of its lurid subject matter but also because Visconti's realist style makes you practically feel the heat and dirt and sweat of the film's environment." When the fascists saw the film, it was hurriedly withdrawn.

Massimo Girotti in La corona di ferro (1941)
Italian postcard by Balleri & Fratini, Firenze, Editori (B.F.F. Edit.), no. 2150. Photo Pesce / ENIC. Massimo Girotti in La corona di ferro/The Iron Crown (Alessandro Blasetti, 1941).

Massimo Girotti
Italian postcard, no. 172. Photo: Ghergo.

Massimo Girotti
Italian postcard by Vetta Traldi, Milano, no. 100. Postcard probably for the epic Fabiola (Alessandro Blasetti, 1949), in which Girotti played (Saint) Sebastian, the Head of the Pretorian Guard, who dies as a Christian martyr. Could also be for Spartaco (Riccardo Freda, 1953).

Massimo Girotti
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 182. Photo: Hansa Monopol Film.

Michelangelo Antonioni's Debut


During the German occupation, Massimo Girotti played in La porta del cielo/The Gate of Heaven (Vittorio De Sica, 1944) with Marina Berti, a film funded with Catholic money and also set in a Catholic environment. The film was released after the liberation, in the autumn of 1944.

After the war, Girotti played in various neorealist films such as Desiderio (Marcello Pagliero, Roberto Rossellini, 1946), Caccia tragica/The Tragic Hunt (Giuseppe De Santis, 1947) with Vivi Gioi, and the early mafia western In nome della legge/In the Name of the Law (Pietro Germi, 1949) with Charles Vanel.

He also starred opposite Lucia Bosé in the modernist drama Cronaca di un amore/Story of a Love Affair (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1950). Antonioni's feature film debut is the story of two lovers who plot to kill her husband, set among the Milanese rich.

Michael Hastings reviews the film at AllMovie: "Michelangelo Antonioni's first narrative feature is a stark, minimal interpersonal drama that would establish many of the themes and techniques that would recur in his work for the rest of his career. (...) Filled with stark, empty compositions, unpredictable camera movements, and static, self-obsessed characters, Story of a Love Affair would mark Antonioni as a maverick among the prevailing neorealists of the post-war Italian film community."

From the early 1950s on, Girotti also played in various epic films, such as Fabiola (Alessandro Blasetti, 1949) with Michèle Morgan, as slave-turned-leader Spartacus in Spartaco/Sins of Rome (Riccardo Freda, 1953), and Romolo e Remo/Duel of the Titans (Sergio Corbucci, 1961) featuring Steve Reeves.

In 1954 he returned to Visconti to play in Senso/Livia (Luchino Visconti, 1954), giving perhaps the finest performance of his career as the noble and passionate patriot Ussoni who is defeated by the Austrians.

Massimo Girotti
Italian card. Photo: Lux Film.

Massimo Girotti
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1059. Photo: Diana. Girotti played in the Diana production Disperato addio/Desperate goodbye (Lionello Di Felice, 1955), in which he wears the same tie.

Massimo Girotti
Russian postcard by Izogiz, Moscow, no. 3, 1958. Retail price: 75 K. The postcard was issued in an edition of 20.000.

Massimo Girotti
Russian postcard, no. M 19439, 1958. Retail price: 70 K. The postcard was issued in an edition of 100.000.

Pier Paolo Pasolini


In his later career Massimo Girotti appeared in a large number of mainly Italian films for directors such as Carlo Lizzani, Mauro Bolognini, Vittorio Cottafavi, and Alberto Lattuada.

As Gary Brumburgh writes at IMDb: "in the 60s, however, Girotti was reduced to support roles in swashbuckling adventure and badly-dubbed sand-and-spear spectacles".

His most memorable roles in this decade were the bourgeois industrialist in Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema/Theorem (1968), who, like the rest of his family, is seduced by Terence Stamp, and at the end strips in a train station and walks into the desert, and King Kresus/Creonte opposite Maria Callas in Medea (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1970).

He played the pivotal role of the lover of Marlon Brando's dead wife Ultimo tango a Parigi/Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972). Girotti also appeared in Le streghe/The Witches (Luchino Visconti, 1967), Monsieur Klein/Mr. Klein (Joseph Losey, 1976), L'Innocente/The Innocent (Luchino Visconti, 1976), Passione d'amore (Ettore Scola, 1981), and as the respectable neighbour of a suspected serial killer in the hilarious Il mostro/The Monster (Roberto Benigni, 1994).

Massimo Girotti's last role was a mysterious old wanderer - an old Gino? - in La finestra di fronte/Facing Windows (Ferzan Ozpetek, 2003). He proves to be a Jewish homosexual baker who is tormented his whole life by sacrificing his lover to save the Jews from the Roman ghetto.

Massimo Girotti died of a heart attack in Rome, in 2003, just after finishing the film. He was 84.

Massimo Girotti
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto.


Trailer for Ossessione (1943). Source: Auto-B-Good Episode (YouTube).


Trailer for Senso (1955). Source: Rialto Films (YouTube).


Trailer for La Finestra Di Fronte/Facing Windows (2003). Source: CG Entertainment (YouTube).

Sources: John Francis Lane (The Guardian), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.