23 February 2019

Photo by Skandia Film

The success of the pioneering Swedish film studio Svenska Biografteatern AB during and after the First World War inspired others. Skandia Film in Stockholm was the most successful competitor. Like Svenska Bio, Skandia relied on the Nordic landscape and literature for its silent films. Skandia's main director was John Wilhelm Brunius, who also was an actor and scriptwriter. Other staff directors were Einar Rudd (or Ruud) and Rune Carlsten. Nils Bouveng, the manager of Skandia, had previously been the manager of Hasselblad studios where Rune Carlsten had also been under the producer's supervision. Among the stars of Skandia Film were Gösta Ekman, Anders De Wahl and actress-director Pauline Brunius, the wife of John W. Brunius. Brunius also gave the salesgirl Greta Gustafsson her first acting chance: the future Greta Garbo appeared as an extra in his film En Lyckoriddare/Soldiers of Fortune (1921). This film and many Skandia productions are presumed lost now. But some postcards of the Skandia films have survived, although they are rare. Ivo Blom shared his collection for this post.

Gösta Ekman in Mästerkatten i stövlar
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 1194. Photo: Skandia Film. Gösta Ekman and Carlo Keil-Möller in the romantic film Mästerkatten i stövlar/Puss in boots (John W. Brunius, 1918). It was John W. Brunius's directorial debut and an international success.

Karin Molander in Surrogatet
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 105. Photo Skandiafilm, 1918. Karin Molander in Surrogatet (Einar Brunn, 1918-1919).

Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 127. Photo: Skandiafilm. Still for Synnöve Solbakken/The Girl from Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919) with Lars Hanson and Karin Molander. Sent by mail in Norway in 1920. Synnöve Solbakken was based on the novel written by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in 1857. The assistant director to the film was Einar Brunn, it having been filmed in both Sweden and Norway by photographers Hugo Edlund and Arthur Thorell.

Synnöve solbakken (1919)
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, no. 133. Photo: Skandia Film. Palle Brunius and Solveig Hedengran in Synnöve Solbakken/The Girl from Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919).

In Synnöve solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), Palle Brunius and Solveig Hedengran play the same characters as the stars, Karin Molander and Lars Hanson, but then in their childhood. Palle Brunius (1909-1976) was the son of the director, John W. Brunius. He would only pay a handful of child roles in films by his father, and another handful in those of his mother. Solveig Hedengran (1910-1956) instead acted in some 28 films, mostly Swedish sound films and often supporting parts. Synnöve Solbakken was her first film.

Lars Hanson in Ett farligt frieri
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstforlag, Stockholm, no 141. Photo: Skandia Film, Stockholm. Lars Hanson and Gull Cronvall in Ett farligt frieri/A Dangerous Proposal (Rune Carlsten, 1919).

The story of Ett farligt frieri/A Dangerous Proposal (Rune Carlsten 1919) deals with Tore, a smallholder's son (Lars Hanson), in love with Aslaug, a farmer's daughter (Gull Cronvall) whose father Knut (Theodor Blich) has ambitious plans to marry her to the son of the wealthiest farmer around. Even after Knut and Aslaug's brothers have beaten Tore black and blue, he persists in visiting Aslaug, even climbing a giant wall of rock...

Gösta Ekman in Bomben
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 159. Photo: Skandiafilm. Gösta Ekman as an agricultural student in the Swedish silent comedy Bomben/The Bomb (Rune Carlsten, 1920).

Karin Molander in Bomben
Swedish postcard by Ed. Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 166. Photo: Skandiafilm. Still for Bomben/The Bomb (Rune Carlsten, 1920), starring Karin Molander. Caption: Elsa Vendel's first morning amidst her own possessions.

Pauline Brunius in Thora van Deken
Swedish postcard by Verlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1095/7. Photo: Skandia Film. Pauline Brunius and Jessie Wessel in Thora van Deken (John W. Brunius, 1920). The film was an adaptation of a novel written by Henrik K. Pontoppidan.

Pauline Brunius in Thora van Deken
Swedish postcard by Verlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1095/9. Photo: Skandia Film. Pauline Brunius, Gösta Ekman, Jessie Wessel and Oscar Johansson in Thora van Deken (John W. Brunius, 1920).

Gösta Ekman in Gyurkovicsarna (1920)
Swedish postcard by Forlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1096/1. Photo: Skandia Film. Gösta Ekman in Gyurkovicsarna/Lieutenant Tophat (John W. Brunius, 1920).

Gösta Ekman and Pauline Brunius in Gyurkovicsarna
Swedish postcard by Forlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1096/2. Photo: Skandia Film. Gösta Ekman and Pauline Brunius in Gyurkovicsarna/Lieutenant Tophat (John W. Brunius, 1920).

Anders de Wahl in Kvarnen
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 193. Photo: Skandia Film. Anders de Wahl in Kvarnen/The Windmill (John W. Brunius, 1921).

Kvarnen/The Windmill (John W. Brunius, 1921) was shot at the Skandia studio at Lidingö and with exteriors shot at Sjöbo and Skåne by Hugo Edlund. The basis for the film was the novel 'Møllen' (The Mill, 1896) by Karl Gjellerup. During filming in Sjöbo a real old mill burned down right in front of the camera. The Swedish Film Institute's film archive holds a restored print of the film. Tommy Gustafsson, in his article 'Travellers as a Threat in Swedish Cinema of the 1920s', in the volume Swedish Film: An Introduction and Reader (2010), indicates that Kvarnen was the first Swedish film on miscegenation. Though he has promised his wife on her deathbed not to remarry against the will of his son Hans, miller Jacob (Anders de Wahl) is attracted by the lustful, devious and gypsy-like farm's maid Lise (Klara Kjellblad). Instead Hans hates Lise and prefers the pure sister of the forester, Anna. Indeed, the flimsy and dirty Lise is only after Jacob's money and his mill, while keeping an affair with the farmhand on the side. Jacob and the farmhand are in the palm of Lise's hand, but when Jacob finally catches the couple, he avenges himself by having the mill's millstone crushing the lovers.

Jenny Hasselquist in De landsflyktiga
Swedish postcard by Ed. Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 295. Photo: Skandia Film, Stockholm / Svensk Filmindustri. Still for De landsflyktiga/The Emigrants/The Exiles (Mauritz Stiller, 1921), starring Jenny Hasselqvist.

De landsflyktiga/The Emigrants/The Exiles (Mauritz Stiller, 1921) is a lost film, except for a few very short fragments. Already in 1919, Skandia had merged with Svenska Biograph, although Skandia Film continued as a distributor of Swedish films like De landsflyktiga, which was produced by Svensk Filmindustri.

Gösta Ekman and Jenny Hasselqvist in Vem dömer
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 304. Photo: Skandia Film. Gösta Ekman and Jenny Hasselqvist in the Swedish silent drama Vem dömer/Love's Crucible (Victor Sjöström, 1922).

Jenny Hasselquist, Ivan Hedqvist, Tore Svennberg and Gösta Ekman in Vem dömer
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 305. Photo: Skandia Film. Jenny Hasselqvist, Ivan Hedqvist, Tore Svennberg and Gösta Ekman in Vem dömer/Love's Crucible (Victor Sjöström, 1922). Nils Asther had a small part in this film. He is the man just left of Jenny Hasselqvist.

Vem dömer/Love's Crucible (Victor Sjöström, 1922) is a Renaissance drama about a young woman named Ursula (Jenny Hasselqvist), who is in love with Bertram (Gösta Ekman), the son of the mayor (Tore Svennberg). She is accused of having poisoned her older husband, the sculptor Master Anton (Ivan Hedqvist). She has to prove her virginity through a fire test. The film's title reads: Who judges?

Victor Sjöström in Det omringade huset
Swedish postcard by Ed. Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 327. Photo: Skandia Film / Svensk Filminspelning. Postcard for Det omringade huset/The Surrounded House (Victor Sjöström, 1922), starring Meggie Albanesi and Victor Sjöström.

Sources: Scott Lord (Silent Film: Greta Garbo - Victor Seastöm), Mette Hjort and Ursula Lindqvist (A Companion to Nordic Cinema), David Bret (Greta Garbo: A Divine Star), Mariah Larsson and Anders Marklund (Swedish Film: An Introduction and Reader), Wikipedia and IMDb.

22 February 2019

Der Weg, der zur Verdammnis führt, I. Das Schicksal der Änne Wolter (1918)

Yesterday, EFSP had a post on Otto Rippert's Das Glück der Frau Beate/The luck of the Mrs. Beate (1918). Today, another film by Rippert from 1918, Der Weg, der zur Verdammnis führt, I. Das Schicksal der Änne Wolter/The Fate of Anne Wolter, starring Charlotte Bocklin. Der Weg, der zur Verdammnis führt/The Road to Damnation (1918) was a two part-'Sittenfilm', an exploitation film about white slavery. Both parts were directed by Rippert, and the second part was called Hyänen der Lust/Hyenas of Lust (1919). They were a box office hit.

Charlotte Böcklin in Das Schicksal der Anne Wolter (1918)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 555/5. Photo: Decla. Publicity still for Der Weg, der zur Verdammnis führt, I. Das Schicksal der Änne Wolter (Otto Rippert, 1918) with Charlotte Böcklin sitting far right.

Scheming white slave traders


In Der Weg, der zur Verdammnis führt, I. Das Schicksal der Änne Wolter/The Road to Damnation, 1. The Fate of Anne Wolter (Otto Rippert, 1918), Anne Wolter (Charlotte Böcklin) falls in the hands of scheming white slave traders.

In the second part, two other girls fall in the hands of the white slave traders, the two naive girlfriends Ilse von Giersdorf (Käthe Haack) and Lilly Gross (Grete Weixler). The two very young girls pass their first night in a disputable club and soon fall into the hands of the merciless white slave traders Madame Duval (Margarete Kupfer) and Ignatz Czyslow (Guido Herzfeld).

Änne Wolter, the protagonist of the first part, is taken to a bordello to Cairo, while Ilse ends up in the house of pleasure of Madame Forget (Rosa Murger) in Valencia and eventually ends up in Cairo as well. There, with the help of a young-girls-protection association, her father (Paul Otto) manages to free Ilse from the clutches of the ruthless gangs. Änne, though, does not survive her suffered tortures.

In name, the film was made by the Gesellschaft zur Bekämpfung des Mädchenhandels (Society for the Struggle Against White Slavery) to inform the public about the trafficking of European girls and their impressment into prostitution, often in South America.

The whole film premiered at the Berlin Marmorhaus on 1 August 1919. The cinematography was by the notable Carl Hoffmann, the script was by Julius Sternheim, and the film was produced by Erich Pommer. It was a huge success at the box office.


Charlotte Böcklin in Das Schicksal der Anne Wolter (1918)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 555/5. Photo: Decla. Publicity still for Der Weg, der zur Verdammnis führt, I. Das Schicksal der Änne Wolter (Otto Rippert, 1918) with Charlotte Böcklin. The man may be the white slave trader Ignaz Czyslow (Guido Herzfeld).

Otto Rippert


Director Otto Rippert (1869-1940), a former stage actor, had already started his film career in 1912 as actor in the Titanic disaster film In Nacht und Eis/In Night and Ice (Mime Misu, 1912), produced by Continental Kunstfilm. He then became director for Continental Kunstfilm, where he made some 10 films.


Rippert had his breakthrough in 1916 with the internationally commercially and artistically successful serial film Homunculus, starring Olaf Fönss. A group of scientists, led by a Professor Ortmann (Ernst Ludwig), produce a living human child using scientific processes - a 'homunculus'. This creature is human in every way, except that he cannot experience love. During World War I, Homunculus was the most popular and influential serial in Germany. The film was a coproduction of Deutsche Bioscop and Decla.

From then on, he worked for Erich Pommer's Decla-Film. In the later 1910s he directed various films there with Ressel Orla, e.g. Arme Lena!/Poor Lena! (1918), and Hella Moja, e.g. Die Tochter der Gräfin Stachowska/The Daughters of Countess Stachowska (1917); Das Mädel von nebenan/The Girl Next Door (1917); Heide-Gretel (1918); and Das verwunschene Schloß/The enchanted castle (1918).

With Richard Oswald, Otto Rippert was one of the most succesful directors of the film genre of the 'Sittenfilme'. These were exploitation films on taboo subjects which served as erotic entertainment. The genre experienced its peak in Germany from about 1918, favoured by the fact that there was no film censorship between November 1918 and May 1920.

In their dramaturgical structure, the majority of the 'Sittenfilme' were based on crime films and melodramas. The plot, however, served only as a motor for the presentation of genre-typical key scenes such as seduction, disguise, rape, fetishism and sexual perversion. The focus was not on sexual pleasure, but on the constraints and violence it exerts on people.

Other major successes of Rippert at Decla where Totentanz/Dance of Death (1919), starring Sascha Gura and based on a script by Fritz Lang, and Die Pest in Florenz (1919), again scripted by Fritz Lang and starring Theodor Becker. In 1925 Rippert stopped directing films.

Charlotte Böcklin in Das Schicksal der Anne Wolter (1918)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 555/7. Photo: Decla. Publicity still for Der Weg, der zur Verdammnis führt, I. Das Schicksal der Änne Wolter (Otto Rippert, 1918) with Charlotte Böcklin.

Charlotte Böcklin


Charlotte Böcklin (before 1900-1925) was a German actress of the silent screen. During her film career, she worked with directors such as Alexander von Antalffy, Lorenz Bätz, Carl Boese, Arthur Gunsburg, Gerhard Lamprecht, Max Obal and Otto Rippert.

She acted with Conrad Veidt in Die Okarina/The Ocarina (Uwe Jenss Krafft, 1919), based on the novel Good as Gold (1912) by the Danish author Karin Michaëlis. In Das goldene Buch/The Golden Book (1919) she acted opposite Alexander Granach. In Die schwarze Marion/The Black Marion (Uwe Jenss Krafft, 1919), she appeared next to Reinhold Schünzel. In Die Sumpfhanne (Carl Boese, 1919), Ernst Dernburg and Ferdinand von Alten were her partners.

Rather cheerful was the - nowadays forgotten - two-reeler series around the film character Krause, whom the actor Karl Neisser embodied. Böcklin acted in two episodes, Ganz ohne Krause/Without Krause (Lorenz Bätz, Albert Paul, 1918) and Papa Krause/Daddy Krause (Lorenz Bätz, Albert Paul, 1918). Karl Figdor wrote a whole series of scripts for her films, while Hans Hyan and Marco Brociner wrote the scripts for two films each.

Her character was either that of the 'disreputable' wife, or the battered, fate-stricken suffering one. Her role spectrum ranged from the demi-mondaine in crime films such as Die Edelsteinsammlung (Viggo Larsen, 1918) with Viggo Larsen as detective, via social outlaw figures as in Die schwarze Marion and Die Sumpfhanne.

She was the 'Asphalt Rose' Hilde Brunn in the metropolitan crime scene Die Asphaltrose (Richard Löwenbein, 1922). Then followed a role as the unbecoming lover Aline Puvogel in Gerhard Lamprecht's film adaptation of Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks (1923). Her final role was as the 'woman without a conscience' Felicitas Alberti, in Die Frau ohne Gewissen (Richard Strauss, 1925).

Charlotte Böcklin in Das Schicksal der Änne Wolter (1918)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 555/8. Photo: Decla. Publicity still for Der Weg, der zur Verdammnis führt, I. Das Schicksal der Änne Wolter (Otto Rippert, 1918). The name Änne Wolter is sometimes also written as Anne Wolter.

Sources: Filmportal.de (German), Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.

21 February 2019

Das Glück der Frau Beate (1918)

Little is known about the German silent film Das Glück der Frau Beate/The happiness of Mrs. Beate (Alwin Neuß, Otto Rippert, 1918). The title figure was played by Ressel Orla, whose career peaked at the end of the 1910s and early 1920s.

Ressel Orla in Das Glück der Frau Beate
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 548/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Decla. Publicity still for Das Glück der Frau Beate/The happiness of Mrs. Beate (Alwin Neuß, Otto Rippert, 1918).

The Sherlock Holmes of the silent era


What do we know about Das Glück der Frau Beate/The happiness of Mrs. Beate (1918)? The film is considered as lost and the plot is unclear. Das Glück der Frau Beate was produced by Decla Film (originally Deutsche Eclair), a German film production and distribution company of the silent era.

Decla was formed in 1911 as the German subsidiary of the French company Eclair, it was taken into German ownership in 1915 during the First World War. Under the leadership of Erich Pommer, Decla emerged as one of the leading German film companies of the early Weimar era.

The film was directed by a tandem, Alwin Neuß and Otto Rippert, according to IMDb and Wikipedia. However, Filmportal.de claims that only Neuß was the director. Neuß was a well-known actor/director, noted for playing Sherlock Holmes in a series of silent films during the 1910s. Rippert was a noted film director during the silent era. In 1912 he started to work as a director for Continental-Kunstfilm of Berlin and made some ten films between 1912 and 1914. However, his reputation as one of the pioneers of German silent film rests on some of his later achievements,

Otto Rippert directed the classic silent film Homunculus (1916), produced by Deutsche Bioskop in 1916. Homunculus is a six-part serial science fiction film involving mad scientists, superhuman androids and sinister technology. The film foreshadows various elements of Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927), as well as serving as a model for later adaptations of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'.

Das Glück der Frau Beate/The luck of Mrs. Beate (1918) was the only film Otto Rippert and Alwin Neuss directed together. In 1924, Rippert stopped directing films and began to work as a film editor. The fame of Alwin Neuss began to fade in the 1920s, and he only appeared in few more films. Sound ended his film career.

Ressel Orla
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 548/4, 1919-1924. Photo: Decla. Publicity still for Das Glück der Frau Beate/The luck of Mrs. Beate (Alwin Neuß, Otto Rippert, 1918).

Ressel Orla in Das Glück der Frau Beate (1918)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 548/5, 1919-1924. Photo: Decla. Publicity still for Das Glück der Frau Beate/The luck of Mrs. Beate (Alwin Neuß, Otto Rippert, 1918).

Fritz Lang


The three main characters in Das Glück der Frau Beate/The happiness of Mrs. Beate (1918) were played by Emil Biron as the husband, Ressel Orla as Beate, and Max Ruhbeck as the admirer.

Although the husband of Beate got rich through his wife, he rejects her for her alleged infidelity. More we don't know about the plot.

German actor Emil Biron made 29 films between 1917 and 1935, including Die Weber/The Weavers (Friedrich Zelnik, 1927) in which he played King Frederick William IV.

Ressel Orla was an Austrian-Jewish actress, who appeared in some of Fritz Lang's earliest films, including Halbblut/Half-blood (Fritz Lang, 1919), the first film Lang directed, and the serial adventure film Die Spinnen/The Spiders (Fritz Lang, 1919-1920), both starring Carl de Vogt.

Max Ruhbeck was a German actor, who appeared in more than ninety films from 1915 to 1923, including Otto Rippert's six chapter German science fiction film Homunculus, directed by Otto Rippert.

Ressel Orla and Max Ruhbeck in Das Glück der Frau Beate (1918)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 548/7, 1919-1924. Photo: Decla. Publicity still for Das Glück der Frau Beate/The happiness of Mrs. Beate (Alwin Neuß, Otto Rippert, 1918).

Ressel Orla in Das Glück der Frau Beate (1918)
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 548/8, 1919-1924. Photo: Decla. Publicity still for Das Glück der Frau Beate/The happiness of Mrs. Beate (Alwin Neuß, Otto Rippert, 1918).

Tomorrow EFSP has a post on another film by director Otto Rippert from the same year, the 'Sittenfilm' Der Weg, der zur Verdammnis führt, I. Das Schicksal der Änne Wolter/The Road to Damnation, 1. The Fate of Anne Wolter (Otto Rippert, 1918), with Charlotte Böcklin.

Sources: Early German Film Database, Filmportal.deWikipedia and IMDb.