27 May 2019

Diane Lane

American actress Diane Lane (1965) started her film career opposite Laurence Olivier at age 13. She appeared in Francis Coppola's cult classics Rumble Fish (1983) and The Outsiders (1983) and the gangster epic The Cotton Club (1984). She had her breakthrough with The Perfect Storm (2000) and Unfaithful (2002) opposite Richard Gere and since then appeared in several blockbusters including Man of Steel (2013).

Diane Lane
French postcard by Edition Erving, Paris, no. 719.

The new young acting sensation


Diane Lane was born in 1965, in New York. She is the daughter of acting coach Burton Eugene 'Burt' Lane and nightclub singer/centrefold Colleen Farrington. Her parents' families were both from the state of Georgia.

Diane was acting from a very young age and made her stage debut at the age of six. Her work in such acclaimed theatre productions as 'The Cherry Orchard' and 'Medea' led to her being called to Hollywood.

She was 13 when she was cast by director George Roy Hill in his wonderful film A Little Romance (1979), opposite Sir Laurence Olivier. The film only did so-so commercially, but Olivier praised his young co-star, calling her "the new Grace Kelly".

After her well-received debut, Diane found herself on magazine covers all over the world, including Time, which declared her the "new young acting sensation". However, things quietened down a bit when she found herself in such critical and financial flops as Touched by Love (Gus Trikonis, 1980), Cattle Annie and Little Britches (Lamont Johnson, 1981), Movie Madness (Bob Giraldi, Henry Jaglom, 1982), and, most unmemorably, Six Pack (Daniel Petrie, 1982), starring Kenny Rogers. All failed to set her career on fire.

She also made several TV movies during this period, but it was in 1983 that she finally began to fulfil the promise of stardom that had earlier been predicted for her. Francis (Ford) Coppola took note of Diane's appeal and cast her in two youth-oriented films based on S.E. Hinton novels: Rumble Fish (1983) and The Outsiders (1983), which have become cult classics.

The industry was now taking notice of Diane Lane, and she soon secured lead roles in three big-budget studio epics. She turned down the first, Splash (Ron Howard, 1984) which was a surprise hit for Daryl Hannah. Unfortunately, the other two were critical and box-office bombs: Walter Hill's glossy rock 'n' roll fable Streets of Fire (1984) was not the huge summer success that many had thought it would be, and the troubled Coppola epic The Cotton Club (Francis Coppola, 1984) co-starring Richard Gere was also a high-profile flop.

Unhappy with the direction her career was taking, she 'retired' from the film business at age 19, saying that she had forgotten what she had started acting for. She stayed away from the screen for the next three years. Ironically, the two films that were the main causes of her 'retirement' have since grown in popularity, and Streets of Fire especially seems to have found the kind of audience it couldn't get when it was first released.

Diane Lane
French postcard by Edition Erving, Paris, no. 755.

New, sexy on-screen image


After her interval, Diane Lane started to rebuild her career slowly. First came the obscure, sexy thriller Lady Beware (Karen Arthur, 1987), followed by the critically acclaimed but little seen The Big Town (Ben Bolt, 1987) with Matt Dillon and Tommy Lee Jones. In the former, Lane plays a very mysterious and sexy stripper and her memorable strip sequence is a highlight of the film.

Despite her new, sexy on-screen image, it wasn't until the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove (Simon Wincer, 1989) with Robert Duvall, that Diane made another big impression on a sizable audience. Her performance in the smash hit Western epic as a vulnerable 'whore with a heart' won her an Emmy nomination.

Film producers were interested in her again. Another well-received TV production, Descending Angel (Jeremy Kagan, 1990) with George C. Scott, was followed by smaller roles in major films like Richard Attenborough's Chaplin (1992) and Mike Binder's Indian Summer (1993), and larger parts in small independent films like Knight Moves (Carl Schenkel, 1992), which co-starred her then-husband, Christophe Lambert.

Lane was now re-established in Hollywood and started to appear in higher-profile co-starring roles in some big-budget, major films like Walter Hill's Wild Bill (1995), the Sylvester Stallone actioner Judge Dredd (Danny Cannon, 1995), the Robin Williams comedy Jack (Francis Coppola, 1996) and Murder at 1600 (Dwight H. Little, 1997) co-starring Wesley Snipes.

However, these films still did not quite make Diane a 'big-name star' and, by 1997, she was back in smaller, personal projects. Her next role as a frustrated 1960s housewife in the independent hit A Walk on the Moon (Tony Goldwyn, 1999) deservedly won her rave notices and gave her career the big lift it needed. The cute but tear-jerking comedy My Dog Skip (Jay Russell, 2000) also proved to be a small-scale success.

Diane Lane
French postcard by Edition Erving, Paris, no. 718.

Finally a household name


Diane Lane finally became a household name with the £330-million worldwide grossing blockbuster hit The Perfect Storm (Wolfgang Petersen, 2000) with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.

She was now more in demand than ever. She played Leelee Sobieski's sinister junkie guardian in the slick thriller The Glass House (Daniel Sackheim, 2001), and co-starred with Keanu Reeves in the #1 smash hit Hard Ball (Brian Robbins, 2001).

A highlight was her lead role in the critical and commercial hit Unfaithful (Adrian Lyne, 2002), in which she superbly portrayed Richard Gere's adulterous wife. Her performance won many awards and nominations including Best Actress Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.

Her follow-up films included Must Love Dogs (Gary David Goldberg, 2005), Hollywoodland (Allen Coulter, 2006), Secretariat (Randall Wallace, 2010), and the blockbuster Man of Steel (Zack Snyder, 2013), starring Henry Cavill.

She won further Best Actress Golden Globe nominations for her roles in Under the Tuscan Sun (Audrey Wells, 2003), and Cinema Verite (Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini, 2011).

Recent pictures include Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder, 2016), Justice League (Zack Snyder, 2017), and Tully (Jason Reitman, 2018) with Charlize Theron.

Daryl Moulton at IMDb: "She is very well regarded within the industry, adored by film fans, and has a credibility and quality that is all too rare today. Her immense talent at playing human and real characters, her 'drop dead gorgeous' beauty and down-to-earth grittiness guarantees that she will stay on top, and she guarantee has already shown the kind of resilience that will keep her working for a long, long time."

Diane Lane was married to Christophe Lambert from 1988 to 1994. They have one child, a daughter, Eleanor Lambert. Her second marriage to Josh Brolin in 2004 ended in a divorce in 2013.

Christophe Lambert and Diane Lane in Love Dream (1988)
Picture of Italian calendar 'Forto grammi di set'. Photo: Gianni Caramanico. Publicity still for Love Dream (Charles Finch, 1988) with Christophe Lambert.

Sources: Daryl Moulton (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

26 May 2019

Photo by Gainsborough

Gainsborough Pictures was a British film studio based on the south bank of the Regent's Canal, in north London. Gainsborough Studios was active between 1924 and 1951. The company was initially based at Islington Studios. Other films were made at Lime Grove and Pinewood Studios. The studio is best remembered for the Gainsborough melodramas it produced in the 1940s with such stars as Margaret Lockwood, James Mason and Stewart Granger.

James Mason
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 151. Photo: Gainsborough.

Gifted English actor James Mason (1909-1984) played in 150 British and American (TV) films and was three times nominated for an Oscar. His distinctive voice enabled him to play a menacing villain as greatly as his good looks assisted him as a matinee idol with a dark side.

Phyllis Calvert in Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945)
British postcard by Real Photograph, no. 250. Sent by mail in 1948. Photo: publicity still for Madonna of the Seven Moons (Arthur Crabtree, 1945).

English film, stage and television actress Phyllis Calvert (1915-2002) was one of the leading stars of the Gainsborough drawing-room comedies and costume melodramas, which helped to put the British film industry on the map immediately after World War II. At the time she was voted in polls as Britain's second most popular actress, behind Margaret Lockwood. Her 70-year film career had started already in the silent era and ended in 1997.

Stewart Granger in Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948)
British Postcard, no. F.S. 31. Stewart Granger in Saraband for Dead Lovers (Basil Dearden, 1948).

English actor Stewart Granger (1913–1993) became Britain's top box office star in the 1940s which attracted Hollywood's attention. Tall, dark, dignified and handsome, Granger made over 60 films but is mainly associated with heroic and romantic leading roles. He was quoted: “I've never done a film I'm proud of”.

Patricia Roc
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, nr. W 145. Photo: Gainsborough.

Fresh-faced Patricia Roc (1915-2003) was between 1943 and 1953 one of Britain's top 10 box office stars. The elegant, well spoken actress seemed the epitome of the English rose. She had international success in such Gainsborough costume dramas as Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945) and The Wicked Lady (1945), and in When the Bough Breaks (1947), in which she played an unmarried mother.

Jean Kent
British collectors card. Photo: Gainsborough.

Jean Kent (1921-2013) was a strawberry-blonde British actress who played spiteful hussies or femmes fatales in British films of the 1940s and 1950s.

B films and melodramas


Gainsborough was founded in 1924 by producer Michael Balcon and director Graham Cutts. In 1927, Gainsborough became associated to Gaumont-British, which was set up by the Ostrer brothers. Balcon became director of production for both studios. Gaumont-British, the mother company based at Shepherd's Bush produced the 'quality' pictures, while Gainsborough mainly produced B films and melodramas at its Islington Studios.

Both studios used continental film practices, especially those from Germany. Alfred Hitchcock was encouraged by Balcon, who had links with Ufa, to study there and make multilingual co-production films with Ufa, before the war. Gainsborough also specialised in the production of multilingual films in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

After the rise of Adolph Hitler, both Balcon's companies offered employment to artists who left Nazi-Germany, including Conrad Veidt, Elisabeth Bergner, art director Alfred Junge, cinematographer Mutz Greenbaum and screenwriter/director Berthold Viertel,.

The studio's opening logo was of a lady (Glennis Lorimer) in a Georgian era period costume sitting in an ornate frame, turning and smiling, based on the famous portrait of Sarah Siddons by Thomas Gainsborough. The short piece of music was written by Louis Levy and called 'the Gainsborough Minuet'.

After the departure of Balcon to MGM-British in 1936, the Rank Organisation gained an interest in Gainsborough. Maurice Ostrer became more involved in production, and producer Ted Black was more influential in the running of the studio. Black had an unerring sense of British popular taste, and production was skewed to the home market with such films as Oh, Mr Porter! (Marcel Varnel, 1937) starring Will Hay, and Owd Bob (Robert Stevenson, 1938). Another hit for the studio was The Lady Vanishes (Alfred Hitchcock, 1938) with Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood.

Jack Hulbert
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 782. Photo: Gainsborough.

British actor Jack Hulbert (1892-1978) was a popular comedian of the 1930s with a trademark chiselled chin. In his musicals he often appeared with his wife Cicely Courtneidge.

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

British actress Cicely Courtneidge (1893-1980) was an elegantly knockabout comedienne. For 62 years, she formed a husband and wife team with comedian Jack Hulbert on stage, radio, TV and in the cinema. During the 1930s she also starred in eleven British films and one disastrous American production.

Dorothy Hyson in Soldiers of the King (1933)
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 785. Photo: Gainsborough. Dorothy Hyson in Soldiers of the King (Maurice Elvey, 1933)

American actress Dorothy Hyson (1914–1996) led a successful stage and film career in London. Noted for her great beauty and striking looks, the songwriters Rogers and Hart dedicated their song, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, to her. She was a byword for theatrical West End glamour, but also worked as a cryptographer for the secret service during the war.

Edna Best and Herbert Marshall
British postcard in the Film Partners series, London, no. P 72. Photo: Gainsborough.

Ladylike British actress Edna Best (1900-1974) entered films in 1921. She is best remembered as the mother in the original version of Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and as the second wife of film star Herbert Marshall. She worked both on stage and in the cinema, in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

Herbert Marshall (1890-1966), was a popular English cinema and theatre actor. He overcame the loss of a leg in World War I to enjoy a long career in Hollywood, first as a romantic lead opposite stars like Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, later as a fine character actor.

George Arliss in Doctor Syn (1937)
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 473b. Photo: Gainsborough. George Arliss in Doctor Syn (Roy William Neill, 1937).

George Arliss (1868-1946) was the first British actor to win an Academy Award. He was also an author, a playwright, and a Hollywood film maker with an unusual amount of creative control.

Gypsies, wanton women and lustful aristocrats


By 1937, Gaumont-British were in financial crisis, and closed their Lime Grove studios, moving all production to the Islington Poole Street studio. However, the tall factory chimney on the site was considered dangerous in the event of bombing during World War II, and thus Gainsborough Studios were evacuated to Lime Grove for the duration of hostilities.

With the outbreak of war, Gainsborough was poised to dominate the popular market. Rank had a hands-off policy on the company, and the Ostrers gave Ted Black his head in the orchestration of film topics. From 1942, a crucial figure in the Gainsborough production team was R.J. Minney, a successful novelist and former Hollywood scriptwriter. Minney and Black inaugurated a series of visually extravagant and morally ambivalent costume melodramas at Gainsborough which dominated the domestic market from 1942 to 1946.

These costume melodramas were based on recent popular books by female novelists, foregrounding gypsies, wanton women and lustful aristocrats. They were made into films which mined a rich seam in British popular culture: films such as The Man in Grey (Leslie Arliss, 1943) starring James Mason, Fanny by Gaslight (1944), Madonna of the Seven Moons (Arthur Crabtree, 1944) with Phyllis Calvert, The Wicked Lady (Leslie Arliss, 1945) featuring Margaret Lockwood, and Caravan (Arthur Crabtree, 1946), starring Stewart Granger and Jean Kent.

Black and Minney encouraged the careers of a new breed of British stars, including Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, Stewart Granger, Phyllis Calvert, Jean Kent, Anne Crawford, Dennis Price, and Patricia Roc. Critics and male viewers excoriated the Gainsborough costume melodramas, but the female side of the British audience took them to their hearts.

The studio also specialised in comedies and modern-dress melodramas. Popular melodramas such as Love Story (Leslie Arliss, 1944), and They Were Sisters (Arthur Crabtree, 1945) dealt with desire, anger and sartorial envy. The comedies including Time Flies (Walter Forde, 1944) starring Tommy Handley, Bees in Paradise (Val Guest, 1944) with Arthur Askey were less popular at the box office.

Anna Lee and Les Allen in Heat Wave (1935)
British postcard in the Film Partners Series, London, no. P 182. Photo: Gainsborough. Anna Lee and Les Allen in Heat Wave (Maurice Elvey, 1935).

Blue-eyed blonde Anna Lee (1913-2004) was a British-born American actress. She started her career in British films and earned the title 'Queen of the Quota Quickies'. In 1939, she moved to Hollywood with her husband, director Robert Stevenson. There she often worked with John Ford, and later became a TV star in the soap General Hospital.

Phyllis Calvert in The Man in Grey (1943)
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W 131. Photo: Gainsborough. Phyllis Calvert in The Man in Grey (Leslie Arliss, 1943).

Margaret Lockwood in Jassy (1947)
British postcard in the Our Postcard Series, 1948. Photo: Margaret Lockwood in Jassy (Bernard Knowles, 1947).

Beautiful stage and film actress Margaret Lockwood (1916-1990) was the female lead of the early Hitchcock classic The Lady Vanishes (1938). In the 1940s she became Britain's leading box-office star specialising in beautiful but diabolical adventuresses.

Mai Zetterling
British postcard, no. F.S. 30. Mai Zetterling in Quartet (Ralph Smart, a.o., 1948), a Sydney Box production for Gainsborough Pictures.

Lovely Swedish actress and film director Mai Zetterling (1925-1994) graced many European films in the 1940s and 1950s with her slim figure, green eyes, blonde hair and bewitchingly elfin features.

Dennis Price
British postcard by Real Photograph, no. F.S. 29. Photo: Gainsborough Pictures. Dennis Price in The Bad Lord Byron (David MacDonald, 1949).

British actor Dennis Price (1915-1973) made nearly 130 films and television plays. He started as a suave leading man, and became a character star of great versatility.

The only female producer in British cinema


Sue Harper in the Encyclopedia of British Film: "After 1946, Rank's henchmen began to intervene more directly in production, and one by one the disillusioned Gainsborough specialists left. The Ostrers resigned, Black went to MGM, Minney left film production and Rank wished to appoint a successor who would continue their popular melodrama trajectory.

He chose Sydney Box, mistakenly thinking that his The Seventh Veil (Compton Bennett, 1945) provided the right pedigree. But Box was essentially interested in verisimilitude of method and appearance. Films such as Here Come the Huggetts (Ken Annakin, 1948), and A Boy, a Girl and a Bike (Ralph Smart, 1949) were predicated on social realism. Box's output was uneven, and he was hampered by inexperience, bad planning and expensive location work. Gainsborough's dominance at the box-office declined drastically, and Rank cut his losses by closing the studio in 1950."

However, Box ushered in some important innovations in film practice. He appointed his sister Betty Box as producer at the Islington arm of Gainsborough, and gave her sufficient autonomy to develop a substantial career. As the only female producer in British cinema at the time, she oversaw such films as the neo-realist Holiday Camp (Ken Annakin, 1947), which introduced the Huggett family and started a successful series, starring Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison, and Petula Clark, and the mermaid comedy Miranda (Ken Annakin, 1948) featuring Glynis Johns.

Sue Harper: "Sydney Box also furthered the career of his wife Muriel Box while at Gainsborough, promoting her to head of the Scenario Department. Muriel wrote a number of ground-breaking scripts, in which her feminism was much in evidence. Such films as The Brothers (David McDonald, 1947) and Good-Time Girl (David McDonald, 1948) have scripts which nuance female desire and its punishment in an unusually explicit way."

Unhappy with the performance of the studio, Rank closed it down in early 1949. Production was concentrated at Pinewood Studios. Although at first films continued to be made there under the Gainsborough banner, this quickly stopped and no further Gainsborough films were released after 1951.

The original Lime Grove site was taken over by the BBC in 1949 and remained in use until it was closed in 1991. The buildings were demolished in the early 1990s, and have been since replaced with housing presently called Gaumont Terrace and Gainsborough Court. The former Islington Studios, in Poole Street, remained largely derelict after their closure in 1949 apart from occasional art performances. The studios were demolished in 2002 and replaced by three blocks of upmarket apartments in 2004.

Michael Redgrave
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 1217. Photo: Gainsborough.

Sir Michael Redgrave (1908-1985) was an English stage and film actor, who started starring in a Hitchcock classic and went on to star in many British and some Hollywood productions. He was the father of Vanessa, Lynn and Corin Redgrave.

Michael Rennie
British postcard. Photo: Gainsborough.

English film, television, and stage actor Michael Rennie (1909-1971) was best known for his starring role as the space visitor Klaatu in the Science Fiction classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

Jean Kent
British postcard. Photo: Gainsborough. Jean Kent.

Phyllis Calvert
British postcard. Photo: Gainsborough. Phyllis Calvert.

Anna Lee and Les Allen in Heat Wave (1935)
British postcard in the Film Partners Series, London, no. P 182. Photo: Gainsborough. Anna Lee and Les Allen in Heat Wave (Maurice Elvey, 1935).

Sources: Sue Harper (BFI Screenonline), Wikipedia and IMDb.

25 May 2019

Women Film Pioneers, Part 2: Europe

Today starts the 10th Women and the Silent Screen Conference, hosted by Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. On 8 March, International Women's Day, EFSP had a post with 20 American women who both worked in front of and behind the camera during the silent film era, and whose profile can be found at Women Pioneers Film Project. Part 2 of our post focusses on 20 European women film pioneers. WFPP does not have entries on all the women in this post. Some ladies are still on their wish-list, and of one, Elena Sangro, we think she deserves to be on the list. EFSP's co-editor Ivo Blom selected 20 female film pioneers from as many nationalities as we could find postcards of.

Sarah Bernhardt in L'Aiglon
Sarah Bernhardt. French postcard. Sarah Bernhardt in Edmond Rostand's play L'Aiglon. The title role for Rostand's play was created by Bernhardt herself in the play's premiere on 15 March 1900 at the Théàtre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris.

Victoria Duckett at Women Pioneer Film Project: "She was among the first celebrities to engage with the motion picture, playing Hamlet in a one-minute film that formed part of Paul Decauville’s program for the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre at the Paris Exposition of 1900. The first feature film that she released – Camille (1911) – was promoted the following year by the French American Film Company in Moving Picture World as “Making New Records for Selling States Rights”. A subsequent advertisement in the same trade press claimed that the film was “The Fastest Seller Ever Offered State Right Buyers”. As many film historians know, Bernhardt’s Queen Elizabeth (1912) was the Famous Players Company’s first release in the U.S. It similarly enjoyed success, helping to open the market for legitimate motion picture exhibition in the U.S. Queen Elizabeth thereby provided audiences with their first experience of the longer-playing narrative feature film."


Francesca Bertini in Odette (1916)
Francesca Bertini. American postcard, monogram K Ltd. Francesca Bertini in Odette (Giuseppe De Liguoro, 1916).

Monica Dall’Asta at Women Pioneer Film Project : "Bertini’s different autobiographical interventions are consistent in reclaiming a creative as well as managerial role in the production of all her major star vehicles. Especially in the long interview recorded by Mingozzi, she credits herself not just for obtaining the rights to adapt 'Assunta Spina' from Di Giacomo, but, more importantly, she argues for directorial recognition for that film. This claim was later confirmed in a 1981 interview with her co-star, and the official director of the film, Gustavo Serena."


Carmen Cartellieri
Carmen Cartellieri. Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 989. Photo: Residenz Atelier, Wien.

Robert von Dassanowsky at Women Pioneer Film Project: "Carmen Cartellieri was born Franziska Ottilia Cartellieri in Prossnitz, Austria-Hungary, which is today Prostejov, Czech Republic, but spent her childhood in Innsbruck, Austria. In 1907, at age sixteen, she married the aristocratic artist-turned-director, Emanuel Ziffer Edler von Teschenbruck. Her husband and Cornelius Hintner, a cameraman from South Tyrol who had worked for Pathé in Paris and then as a director in Hungary, helped make her one of the most fashionable stars in German-language film of the 1920s. Using the stage name of Carmen Teschen, she appeared in several Hungarian silent films between 1918 and 1919 and made her Austrian film debut in Hintner’s Die Liebe vom Zigeunerstamme/The Gypsy Girl (1919), which she reportedly cowrote. Political changes in postwar Hungary made her relocate to Vienna where she returned to her exotic surname, suggesting to the press that she was born in Italy, and founded the Cartellieri-Film company in 1920 with her husband and Hintner."


Aud Egede Nissen
Aud Egede Nissen. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 476/1, 1919-1924. Photo: A. Eberth, Berlin.

Gunnar Iversen at Women Pioneer Film Project: "During the 1910s and 1920s, Aud Egede-Nissen and her sisters Gerd and Ada made a name for themselves in the Nordic and German film industries as actors, producers, and directors. Like many female pioneers in the film industry, their work has been neglected. The contribution of the Egede-Nissen sisters, especially Aud, to silent film in the 1910s is remarkable given the odds they had to overcome as female producers in a male-dominated industry and the lack of tradition and experience in their home country, Norway."


Fabienne Fabrèges
Fabienne Fabrèges. Spanish postcard by Chocolate Salas-Sabadell.

Elena Nepoti at Women Pioneer Film Project: "Her film career, between 1910 and the mid-1920s, can be divided into three periods. Between 1910 and 1916, the actress worked in France for the Société des Établissements Gaumont. During World War I, she relocated to Italy, where she was immediately recognized as a leading actress by the Italian film industry, and, between 1916 and 1923, acted in two dozen films. In many of these films she is credited as the screenwriter, and for one of them, also as the director. Finally in the twenties she left the stage and screen in Italy and most likely moved to England, where it seems she carried out some further stage work, and then her career seems to have come to an end."


Diana Karenne
Diana Karenne. Italian postcard by Ed. Soc. Anon. It. Bettini, Roma.

Cristina Jandelli, Linda Del Gamba at Women Film Pioneer Project: "Diana Karenne was one of the most interesting personalities in the Italian and European film scenes of the early 1900s. Star, actress, intellectual, artist, director, screenwriter, and producer, she is representative of an effectual coexistence between two different ways of considering a woman’s role in both the film industry and in a society that was undergoing deep changes as to gender boundaries. Through her artistic career, she supported demands concerning female identity, widely felt between 1800 and 1900: in this very period, Europe was facing a process of modernization and large transformations at every social level. Karenne never took sides towards women’s emancipation movements, yet she opposed conservative morals and social conventions of that time through her personal, aesthetic, and professional choices, and helped to update the idea of cinema thanks to her bold artistic proposals and acting style."


Who is Souricette?
Musidora. French cigarette card by Cigarettes Le Nil, no. 38. Photo: H. Manuel.

Annette Förster at Women Film Pioneer Project: "If we merely looked at contemporary advertisements and reviews, it would appear that Musidora had directed only two films in the silent era: Vicenta (1919), and La terre des taureaux/The Land of the Bulls (1924). These credits can be further substantiated by personal statements about the making of these films published by Musidora herself in contemporary periodicals. There, she additionally claimed credit for writing both scripts as well as for editing La terre des taureaux. However, on the two other films that were produced under the banner of her company, Société des Films Musidora, she credited as director her codirector Jacques Lasseyne. Even the richly illustrated publicity booklets of Pour Don Carlos/For Don Carlos (1921) and Soleil et ombre/Sun and Shadow (1922) listed Musidora only in the cast, and her article in the magazine Ève bore the telling title 'Comment j’ai tourné Don Carlos' or 'How I Acted in Don Carlos'. After the 1940s, however, Musidora began to claim the codirector and adaptation credits of these productions for herself, and these credits have now been accepted as definitive. Additionally, she added the credit for codirection, with Roger Lion, for La flamme cachée/The hidden flame (1918), which she mentioned in a 1950 article on her professional collaboration with her artistic mentor and longtime friend, Colette."


Asta Nielsen in Rausch (1919)
Asta Nielsen. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 614/5. Photo: Union. Publicity still for Rausch/Intoxication (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919).

Julie Allen at Women Film Pioneer Project: "Frequently lauded as 'die Duse des Kinos' [the Duse of the cinema], as Poul Elsner noted in Weltrundschau in 1911, the Danish actress Asta Nielsen was the first major star of German silent film. She acted in more than seventy films, all but four of them made with German production companies, during the twenty-two years of her film career. The phenomenal success of her debut film, Afgrunden/The Abyss (1910) enabled her to become the first global film star under the new monopoly distribution system. From 1910 to 1914, she collaborated closely with director Urban Gad, who was also her first husband, under the auspices of Deutsche Bioscop and Projektions-AG “Union” (PAGU), and later established two film companies of her own. Although she struggled to come to terms with the director-centric turn of the film industry in Germany in the 1920s that restricted the artistic autonomy she had enjoyed in the 1910s, she made several of her most artistically impressive films, including several Weimar street films, during this period. In 1932, she acted in her only sound film, Unmögliche Liebe/Impossible Love, which was also her final film, aside from two documentaries about her made decades later."


Rosa Porten
Rosa Porten. German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 97/1. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin / Treumann- Larsson Film, Berlin.

Annette Förster at Women Film Pioneer Project: "Rosa Porten’s work as a screenwriter, an actress, and a film director has been practically neglected in film history, but what she accomplished in the German silent cinema is truly noteworthy. In a two-decade career, from 1906 until 1928, she created a cinematic oeuvre that was substantial, original, versatile, and entertaining. The exact number of films to which Rosa Porten contributed is uncertain, but historical substantiation points to around forty titles. Between 1916 and 1919 alone, she wrote and co-directed at least twenty-four catching comedies and gripping social dramas and in most of them she played the protagonist. Even more notable in retrospect is that Porten’s stories often privileged the perspective of a female character who, with non-conformist pragmatism or jokey recalcitrance, seizes her chance to defy bourgeois conventions and role patterns."


Anny Ondra
Anny Ondrakova/Ondra. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4250/1, 1929-1930.

Anny Ondra (1903-1987) was born as Anna Sophie Ondráková in Tarnów, Austria-Hungary, now Poland.. During the 1920s and 1930s she was a popular actress in Czech, Austrian and German comedies, and she was Alfred Hitchcock’s first ‘Blonde’. She was discovered at the age of 16 bij actor-director Karel (or Carl) Lamac. They starred together in the film Palimpsest (Joe Jencik, 1919). Lamac would also become her first husband. From 1919 on Anny Ondra often worked together with Lamac as her director and/or her co-star dor their own production company. With their film Gilly po prve v Praze/Gilly zum ersten Mal in Prag/Gilly for the First Time in Prague (Carl Lamac, 1920) she became a big comedy star in the silent Czechoslovakian and Austrian cinema.

Rita Sacchetto
Rita Sacchetto. German Postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 7185. Collection: Didier Hanson.

German actress and dancer Rita Sacchetto (1879-1959) was in the 1910s a star of the Danish Nordisk Film Company. Nordisk had hired Sacchetto to star in films for the astonishing salary of 7,000 kroner per picture, but she made many quite successful films including Fra Fryste til Knejpevaert/The Gambler's Wife (Holger-Madsen, 1913) and Den Skønne Evelyn/Evelyn the Beautiful (A.W. Sandberg, 1916) with a script by Carl Theodor Dreyer. According to Karl Toepfer in his study 'Empire of Ecstasy: Nudity and Movement in German Body Culture, 1910-1935' "Sacchetto exuded a dusky, melancholy beauty that seemed even more refined and aristocratic, a 'breeze of perfume,' when displayed in opulent historical costumes. Although she excluded modern paintings of women from her graceful productions, she was probably the first to use silent film as a model for composing dances."


Fern Andra in Eine Motte flog zum Licht
Fern Andra. German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 512/6. Photo: Fern Andra Atelier. Fern Andra in Eine Motte flog zum Licht (Fern Andra, 1915).

'Modern' American Fern Andra (1893-1974) became one of the most popular film stars of the German cinema in the 1910s and early 1920s. In her films she mastered tightroping, riding a horse without a saddle, driving cars and motorcycles, bobsleighing, and even boxing. She started her own company, even directing her own films. Right during the First World War, Fern made one film after another, always about women who are victims of cruel events but who are also determined to settle matters. These films included Eine Motte floh zum Licht/A Moth Flew To The Light (Fern Andra, 1915), and Drohende Wolken am Firmament/Threatening Clouds in the Sky (Fern Andra, 1918). Moonlight romance, theatres burning down, and luxurious parties in aristocratic milieux. Unfortunately most of these films were never exported because of the war, and most are lost now.


Erna Morena
Erna Morena. German postcard by Photochemie, no. K . 1741. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

Although her name is now largely forgotten, Erna Morena (1885-1962) appeared in about 120 films during five decades. She had an enormous career in the German silent cinema of the 1910s and 1920s as both an actress, producer and screenwriter, and until the mid-1930s she was regularly performing in German sound films. In 1918 she founded in Berlin, Erna Morena Film GmbH, supported by some friends as partners. She produced films like Colomba (1918) with Werner Krauss, and Die 999. Nacht/The 999th Night (1919/1920) with Hans Albers. Because of the economic crisis after the German November revolution of 1918-1919, she had to stop producing after two years.


Hella Moja in Heidegretel (1918)
Hella Moja. German postcard in the Film-Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 547/1. Hella Moja in the German silent film Heide-Gretel (Otto Rippert, 1918), produced by the Decla-Filmgellschaft (Eric Pommer).

During the First World War and the following years Hella Moja (1890-1951) was one of the most popular stars of the German silent cinema. There was even a Hella Moja serial and in 1918 she founded her own film company. The Hella Moja Filmgesellschaft would produce 16 films. Her first production was Wundersam ist das Märchen der Liebe/Wondrous is the Fairy Tale of Love (Leo Connard, 1918) with Ernst Hofmann, for which the critics especially praised her acting. Another successful production was Die Augen von Jade/The Eyes of Jade (Iwa Raffay, 1918). In Figaros Hochzeit/The Marriage of Figaro (Max Mack, 1920) based on the play by Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, she was again impressive as Cherubino - Figaros page opposite Alexander Moissi as Figaro.


Wanda Treumann
Wanda Traumann. German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 85/3. Photo: Karl Schenker / Messter Film, Berlin.

Wanda Traumann (1889–1926) belonged to the most popular stars of the German cinema before the first World War. In 1912, together with actor-director Viggo Larsen and her husband, Karl Treumann, she founded her own production company Treumann-Larsen Film GmbH in Berlin. Officially, Wanda Treumann’s husband was indicated as owner of the firm. As she said herself in Lichtbild-Theater, no. 41, 1912: "Then we – my master and partner in film, Mr. Oberregisseur Viggo Larsen and me – became fully independent. And so we are now: for the production of our new 'Treumann-Larsen-series', we develop the negatives ourselves which we shoot in our own film studio with our own cast and crew."


Olga Tschechowa
Olga Tschechowa. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1590/3, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa.

Dignified German-Russian actress Olga Tschechowa (1897-1980) was one of the most popular stars of the silent film era. She played in more than 40 silent films, including the classic comedy Un Chapeau de Paille d'Italie/An Italian Straw Hat (René Clair, 1927), Moulin Rouge (Ewald André Dupont, 1928), and Diane (Erich Waschneck, 1929), which was produced by her own company Tschechowa Film. She remained a mysterious person throughout her life, and was reportedly a Russian agent in Nazi Germany.


Dvije sirote (1918)
Former Kingdom of Yugoslavia (now Croatian) postcard. Photo: Croatia Film. Jugoslavija Film, Zagreb, No. 11. Milica Mihicic, Zorka Grund and Bogumila Vilhar in the film Dvije sirote/ Dvije sirotice/The Two Orphans (Alfred Grinhut [listed as Alfred Grünhut], 1919), starring Zorka Grund. The film is based on the famous French play 'Les deux orphelines' by Adolphe d'Ennery and Eugène Cormon (1874).

Zorka Kremzar, born Zorka Grund (1900 -?), was a Croatian film actress. She was the daughter of Arnošt Grund, a director of Czech origin, and sister of Milada Grund, who performed under the pseudonym of Milada Tana. Zorka Grund later became a filmmaker.


Peggy Hyland
Peggy Hyland. British postcard in the Lilywhite Photographic series, no. CM 406a. Photo: William Fox.

Peggy Hyland (1884–1973) was an English film actress and director, who starred in more than 45 British and American silent films. She remained active in films until 1925. Peggy Hyland's film credits number more than forty-five, in both British and American productions. Hyland wrote, produced, directed and starred in With Father's Help (Peggy Hyland, 1922) and she directed and starred in The Haunted Pearls (Peggy Hyland, 1924).


Elena Sangro in Maciste all'inferno
Elena Sangro. Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 714. Elena Sangro as Proserpina, wife of Pluto, king of the underworld, in the Italian silent film Maciste all'inferno/Maciste in Hell (Guido Brignone, 1925).

Elena Sangro (1896-1969) was one of the main actresses of the Italian cinema of the 1920s. In spite of the general film crisis then, she made one film after another. She was also one of the first female directors and she had a famous affair with the novelist, poet and playwright Gabriele D'Annunzio. Her last film appearance was a cameo in Federico Fellini's masterpiece (1963). Her last job was president of Associazione dei Pionieri del Cinema, an initiative begun in the early 1960s in order to saveguard this important part of film history.


Elettra Raggio in Seduzione
Elettra Raggio. Italian postcard. Elettra Raggio in the Italian silent film SeduzioneSeduction (1915). This title does not exist in the reference works, only the title Le due seduzioni/The Two Seductions (1916) which Raggio directed and in which she had the female lead as well, opposite Giovanni Donadio and Felice Minotti.

Elettra Raggio, pseudonym of Ginevra Francesca Rusconi (1887–1973), was an Italian film actress, director, scriptwriter and producer of the silent era. Raggio came from the theatre where she was 'first actress' in the company of Ermete Novelli. Of Genovese origin, she settled in Milan where she was hired in 1915 by the film production company Milano Films. There she acted in Verso l'arcobaleno/Towards the Rainbow (Eugenio Perego, 1916) - about a Belgian family menaced by the German invasion, the sensational film La cattiva stella/The Bad Star (Eugenio Perego, 1916) about a millionnaire (Ugo Gracci) who trades identity with a drowned man. In the same year, Raggio directed her first film at Milano: Le due seduzioni/The Two Seductions (1916), which she also scripted and produced. Also in 1916, Raggio founded her own film company within the aegis of Milano Film, which operated as distributor for Raggio Film. She produced two films. First came the poetic phantasy Primavera/Spring (Achille Mauzan, 1916), and then the romantic comedy Galeotto fu il mare.../The Sea was such a Lovemaker (Achille Mauzan, 1916. Mauzan also designed the posters for both films.