06 July 2022

Basil Rathbone

English actor Basil Rathbone (1892-1967) appeared both in British and Hollywood films. He rose to prominence in the United Kingdom as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in more than 70 films. He played suave villains in such classic Swashbucklers as Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). He also became well-known for his roles in Horror films and for playing Sherlock Holmes in a total of 14 detective films between 1939 and 1946. Rathbone was a Tony Award winner. and was nominated for an Oscar twice.

Basil Rathbone
British Real Photograph postcard, no. 176. Photo: Trafalgar Films.

Basil Rathbone
Spanish collectors card by I.G. Viladot, Barcelona. Image: Cifesa.

Hoping he would forget about acting

Philip St. John Basil Rathbone was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1892 to British parents. His mother Anna Babera George was a violinist, and his father Edgar Philip Rathbone a mining engineer. Three years later his family was forced to flee the country because his father was accused by the Boers of being a British spy at a time when Dutch-British conflicts were leading to the Boer War.

The Rathbones escaped to England, where Basil and his two younger siblings, Beatrice and John, were raised. From 1906 to 1910 Rathbone attended Repton School, where he was more interested in sports - especially fencing, at which he excelled - than studies, but where he also discovered his interest in the theatre.

After graduation, he planned to pursue acting as a profession, but his father disapproved and suggested that his son try working in the business for a year, hoping he would forget about acting. Rathbone accepted his father's suggestion and worked as a clerk for an insurance company - for exactly one year.

Then he contacted his cousin Frank Benson, an actor managing a Shakespearean troupe in Stratford-on-Avon. Rathbone was hired as an actor on the condition that he work his way through the ranks, which he did quite rapidly. Starting in bit parts in 1911, he was playing juvenile leads within two years.

In 1915 his career was interrupted by the First World War. During his military service, as a second lieutenant in the Liverpool Scottish 2nd Battalion, he worked in intelligence and received the Military Cross for bravery. In 1919, released from military service, he returned to Stratford-on-Avon and continued with Shakespeare but after a year moved onto the London stage. The year after that he made his first appearance on Broadway and his cinema debut in the silent film Innocent (Maurice Elvey, 1921).

Basil Rathbone in Loyalties (1933)
British postcard in the Film Shots Series by Film Weekly. Photo: A.B.F.D. Miles Mander, Basil Rathbone and Cecily Byrne in Loyalties (Basil Dean, 1933).

Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone and Bela Lugosi in Son of Frankenstein (1939)
English postcard by Moviedrome, no. M7. Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone and Bela Lugosi (left) in Son of Frankenstein (Rowland V. Lee, 1939).

He abandoned his first love for a film career

For the remainder of the decade, Basil Rathbone alternated between the London and New York stages and occasional appearances in films. In 1929 he co-wrote and starred as the title character in a short-running Broadway play called 'Judas'. Soon afterwards he abandoned his first love, the theatre, for a film career.

During the 1920s, his roles had evolved from the romantic lead to the suave lady-killer to the sinister villain (usually wielding a sword), and Hollywood put him to good use during the 1930s in numerous costume romps, including Captain Blood (Michael Curtiz, 1935) starring Errol Flynn, The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, & Observation of David Copperfield the Younger (George Cukor, 1935), and A Tale of Two Cities (Jack Conway, 1935) with Ronald Colman.

He also appeared in Anna Karenina (Clarence Brown, 1935) starring Greta Garbo, The Last Days of Pompeii (Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper, 1935), The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz, 1938), and The Mark of Zorro (Rouben Mamoulian, 1940) starring Tyrone Power.

Rathbone earned two Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (George Cukor, 1936) and as King Louis XI in If I Were King (Frank Lloyd, 1938).

He also appeared in several early horror films: Tower of London (Rowland V. Lee, 1939), as Richard III, and Son of Frankenstein (Rowland V. Lee, 1939), portraying the dedicated surgeon Baron Wolf von Frankenstein, son of the monster's creator.

Basil Rathbone
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 472a. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

His best-known and most popular character

However, it was in 1939 that Basil Rathbone played his best-known and most popular character, Sherlock Holmes, with Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, first in The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sidney Lanfield, 1939) and then in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Alfred L. Werker, 1939).

These were followed by 12 more films and numerous radio broadcasts over the next seven years. Feeling that his identification with the character was killing his film career, Rathbone went back to New York and the stage in 1946.

The next year he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Dr. Sloper in the Broadway play 'The Heiress', but afterwards, he found little rewarding stage work. Nevertheless, during the last two decades of his life, Rathbone was a very busy actor, appearing on numerous television shows, primarily drama, variety and game shows.

He played in occasional films, such as Casanova's Big Night (Norman Z. McLeod, 1954), The Court Jester (Melvin Frank, Norman Panama,1955) with Danny Kaye, Tales of Terror (Roger Corman, 1962) and The Comedy of Terrors (Jacques Tourneur, 1963). He also appeared in his own one-man show, 'An Evening with Basil Rathbone', with which he toured the U.S.

In 1967, Basil Rathbone died of a heart attack in New York City at the age of 75. He was married twice. His first wife was Ethel Marion Foreman (1914-1926). After their divorce, he married actress, playwright and screenwriter Ouida Bergère in 1926. They adopted a child, Cynthia Rathbone. He also had a son with Ethel Marion Foreman: John Rodion. Rathbone remained married to Ouida for over 41 years until his death, and the marriage was considered one of the most exemplary in Hollywood. The couple hosted glamorous parties at their estate in California, which had also once been occupied by Jack Dempsey.

Basil Rathbone
Spanish postcard, no. 773.

Basil Rathbone in Tovarich (1937)
Italian postcard in the series '100 Artisti del Cinema' by Edizione ELAH 'La casa delle caramelle', no. 18. Photo: Warner Bros. Basil Rathbone in Tovarich (Anatole Litvak, 1937).

Sources: Lyn Hammond (IMDb), Wikipedia (Dutch and German) and IMDb.

05 July 2022

Regimantas Adomaitis (1937-2022)

Lithuanian film and stage actor Regimantas Adomaitis (1937) passed away on 20 June 2022. He was particularly active in Soviet and East German cinema, for example in Korol Lir/King Lear (1970) and Jeto sladkoje slovo - svoboda!/That Sweet Word: Liberty! (1972).

Regimantas Adomaitis (1937-2022)
Soviet-Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 093467, 1968. This postcard was printed in an edition of 200,000 cards. Retail price: 8 Kop.

Regimantas Adomaitis
Soviet collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Sodybu tustejimo metas/The time of the homestead retreat (Almantas Grikevicius, 1976).

Regimantas Adomaitis in Cërtova nevesta (1973)
Soviet collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Velnio nuotaka/Cërtova nevesta/Devil's Bride (Arunas Zebriunas, 1973).

Regimantas Adomaitis in Faktas (1981)
Soviet collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Faktas/Facts (Almantas Grikevicius, 1981).

A Lithuanian Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera

Regimantas Vaiksutovitch Adomaitis was born in Šiauliai, Lithuania in 1937. He graduated from the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at Vilnius University. Later he studied acting at the acting department of the Vilnius Conservatory.

He made a debut in the theatre and had engagements in Vilnius, Kaunas and Kapsukas. His film debut was Vienos dienos kronika/The Chronicle of one Day (Vytautas Zalakevicius, 1963) with Donatas Banionis.

In 1966 he had his breakthrough with Niekas nenorėjo mirti/Nobody Wanted to Die (Vytautas Žalakevičius, 1966). This action drama is set in a small Lithuanian farming community after the Second World War. The village is divided as the communists battle those in favour of national independence. When the leader of the community is killed, the man's four sons, including Adomaitis, set out to avenge his death. Adomaitis, director Vytautas Žalakevičius and cinematographer Jonas Gricius were awarded the USSR State Prize for the film in 1967.

That year, he also acted in the a-typical Soviet war film Vostochny koridor/Eastern Corridor (Valentin Vinogradov, 1966) with Lyudmila Abramova. In the historical drama Sergey Lazo (Aleksandr Gordon, 1968), he played the title role of the Communist leader Lazo.

Adomaitis appeared as Edmund in the Soviet Shakespeare adaptation Korol Lir/King Lear (Grigori Kozintsev, Iosif Shapiro, 1971), starring Juri Jarvet. The Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich composed the score. Jugu Abraham at IMDb: “Kozintsev is one of least sung masters of Russian cinema. His cinema is very close to that of Tarkovsky and Sergei Paradjanov. Kozintsev's Lear is not a Lear that mourns his past and his daughters - his Lear is close to the soil, the plants, and all elements of nature. That's what makes Kozintsev's Shakespearean works outstanding.”

In 1973, Adomaitis appeared in the Soviet drama Eto sladkoe slovo - svoboda!/That Sweet Word: Liberty! (Vytautas Žalakevičius, 1973). The film was shot in Chile shortly before the 1973 Chilean coup d'état. The basis for the plot is a real story: the escape from San Carlos prison in Venezuela of three political prisoners. The film was entered into the 8th Moscow International Film Festival where it won the Golden Prize.

Velnio nuotaka/Cërtova nevesta/Devil's Bride (Arūnas Žebriūnas, 1974) is the first Lithuanian musical about the victory of love over the trickery of the Devil based on the book Baltaragio malūnas (Whitehorn Mill) by Kazys Boruta. Due to its popularity, it is sometimes called a Lithuanian Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera.

Regimantas Adomaitis (1937-2022)

Soviet-Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. M-31293 9/IV-68. This postcard was printed in an edition of 150,000 cards. The retail price was 8 kop.

Regimantas Adomaitis in Sergey Lazo (1968)
Soviet collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Sergey Lazo (Aleksandr Gordon, 1968).

Regimantas Adomaitis in Korol Lir (1971)
Soviet collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Korol Lir/King Lear (Grigori Kozintsev, Iosif Shapiro, 1971).

Regimantas Adomaitis and Lyudmila Saveleva in Yuliya Vrevskaya (1978)
Soviet collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Yuliya Vrevskaya (Nikola Korabov, 1978) with Lyudmila Saveleva.

Power House

In East-Germany, Regimantas Adomaitis starred in Wolz - Leben und Verklärung eines deutschen Anarchisten/Wolz - Life and Illusion of a German Anarchist (Günter Reisch, 1974) with Heidemarie Wenzel. Tom Dooley at IMDb: “Part comedy at one point, part political statement and a definite swipe at National Socialism, it is very ambitious and it pulls it all off. It has a great musical score too and the music adds to the moods tenfold. The acting is superb and Regimantas Adomaitis as Wolz is a powerhouse.”

For the DEFA, he also starred in Mann gegen Mann/Man Against Man (Kurt Maetzig, 1976). In the historical drama Yuliya Vrevskaya/Between the Tsar’s Court and the Battlefield (Nikola Korabov, 1978), Adomaitas played opposite Lyudmila Saveleva and Stefan Danailov.

Other films were the Maxim Gorky adaptation Vrag/Enemies (Rodion Nahapetov, 1978) with Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy, the Soviet-Italian drama La vita è bella/Life Is Beautiful (Grigoriy Chukhray, 1979) with Giancarlo Giannini and Ornella Muti, and Poloska neskoshennych dikikh tsvetov/A strip of unclosed wildflowers (Yuri Ilyenko, 1980).

He returned to East-Germany for the drama Die Verlobte/The Fiancee (Günter Reisch, Günther Rücker, 1980) with Jutta Wachowiak as a woman sentenced in 1934 to ten years in prison for antifascist activities. The love between her and her fiancée enables her to survive it.

He co-starred again with Donatas Banionis in the Soviet Lithuanian-language war film Gruppa krovi nol/Faktas/Facts (Almantas Grikevicius, 1981). At the 1981 Cannes Film Festival, actress Yelena Solovey won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film.

Other films include Iz zhizni otdykhayushchikh/Life on Holidays (Nikolay Gubenko, 1981), Skrydis per Atlanta/The Flight Across the Atlantic Ocean (Raimondas Vabalas, 1984), Es ist nicht leicht ein Gott zu sein/It’s Hard to Be a God (Peter Fleischmann, 1989), the war drama Angely smerti/Angels of Death (Yuriy Ozerov, 1993), with Fedor Bondarchuk and Powers Boothe, and the French-Russian drama Tu es.../You are… (Vladimir Makeranets, 1995).

On TV, he appeared in the Soviet musical miniseries Trest, kotoryy lopnul/The Trust That Went Bust (Aleksandr Pavlovsky 1983) based on short stories by O. Henry. In 1985, Regimantas Adomaitis was a member of the jury at the 35th Berlin International Film Festival. Adomaitis has received many awards of recognition.

In 1988 he and 34 other prominent people, created the Sąjūdis Reform Movement, which eventually led to the declaration of independence of Lithuania on 11 March 1990. From then on, Adomaitis lived in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, where he worked as an actor at the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre and regularly appeared in TV series. Among his later films were the Norwegian drama Iskyss/The Ice Kiss (Knut Erik Jensen, 2008) with Ellen Dorrit Petersen, and the drama Anton (Zaza Urushadze, 2019).

Regimantas Adomaitis died in 2022 in Vilnius, Lithuania. He had been married to singer Eugenia Baerite, who died in 2011. They had three children, including actor Gediminas Adomaitis.

Regimantas Adomaitis
Former Sovietunion postcard by Ykrreklamfilm YRF, Kiev, 3-1-1978.

Regimantas Adomaitis and Elena Solovey in Vragi (1978)
Soviet collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Vragi/Enemies (Rodion Nahapetov, 1979) with Elena Solovey.

Regimantas Adomaitis and Zhanna Bolotova in Iz zhizni otdykhayushchikh (1981)
Soviet collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Iz zhizni otdykhayushchikh/Life on Holidays (Nikolay Gubenko, 1981) with Zhanna Bolotova.

Regimantas Adomaitis
Soviet-Russian postcard. Photo B. Plotnikova.

Sources: Jugu Abraham (IMDb), Tom Dooley (IMDb), Roman A. Ivanov (IMDb), Mubi, AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.

04 July 2022

Marieluise Claudius

Marie Luise Claudius (1912-1941) was a beautiful German stage and film actress who passed away when she was only 29.

Marieluise Claudius
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1572/1, 1937-1938. Photo: Sandau, Berlin.

Marieluise Claudius and Werner Hinz in Der alte und der junge König (1935)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 9052/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Lindner / Deka-Film / NDLS. Marieluise Claudius and Werner Hinz in Der alte und der junge König/The Making of a King (Hans Steinhoff, 1935).

Marieluise Claudius
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2054/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Sandau, Berlin.

Ripening youth

Marie Luise Claudius born in 1912 in Meiningen, Saxe-Meiningen (now Thuringia), Germany. She was the daughter of the court actor and writer Erich Claudius and the actress Lisbeth Reschke.

During her childhood, she appeared several times on the stage of the Meininger Theater. Her first engagement was in 1932 in Düsseldorf.

She made her film debut as Christa von Borck, a high schooler, in Reifende Jugend/Ripening youth (Carl Froelich, 1933) with Heinrich George and Hertha Thiele.

It was well-received by the Nazi press on its release, and drew inspiration from the earlier Mädchen in Uniform/Girls in Uniform (Leontine Sagan, Carl Froelich, 1931), also starring Thiele, which was admired by film journalists of the Third Reich.

Her next films included the Operetta film Die Stimme der Liebe/The Voice of Love (Victor Janson, 1934), and the Henrik Ibsen adaptation Peer Gynt (Fritz Wendhausen, 1934) starring Hans Albers. The latter was one of the most expensive productions made by Bavaria Film and involved location shooting in Norway.

Marieluise Claudius and Hans Albers in Peer Gynt (1934)
German collectors card in the series 'Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Tonfilm', album no. 11, picture no. 175. Photo: Bavaria-Tofa / Ross Verlag. Marieluise Claudius and Hans Albers in Peer Gynt (Fritz Wendhausen, 1934).

Marieluise Claudius
Big German card by Ross Verlag. Photo: Tobis / Sandau.

Marieluise Claudius in Die Entführung (1936)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 9540/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Rota / Boston-Film. Marieluise Claudius in Die Entführung/Abduction (Géza von Bolváry, 1936).

The man who was Sherlock Holmes

Marie Luise Claudius played supporting parts in such films as the drama Der rote Reiter/The Red Rider (Rolf Randolf, 1935) starring Iván Petrovich and Camilla Horn, and the historical drama Der alte und der junge König/The Old and the Young King (Hans Steinhoff, 1935) starring Emil Jannings and Werner Hinz.

Another historical drama was the German-Polish biographical film August der Starke/Augustus the Strong (Paul Wegener, 1936) starring Michael Bohnen and Lil Dagover. The film depicts the life of Augustus the Strong, the Eighteenth Century ruler of Saxony and Poland.

She played the female lead in the German mystery comedy Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war/The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes (Karl Hartl, 1937) starring Hans Albers and Heinz Rühmann.

Her final film was the drama Ein Robinson/A German Robinson Crusoe (Arnold Fanck, 1940), a modern-day Robinson Crusoe story about a man (Herbert A.E. Böhme) so angry about the post-World War I conditions in Weimar Germany that he voluntarily goes to live on a desert island. The film was shot partly on location in South America.

At the age of 29 years, Marie Luise Claudius died of heart failure in 1941 in Berlin and was buried in the New Cemetery Wannsee in Berlin. Her grave has since been lost.

Marieluise Claudius
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1376/1, 1937-1938. Photo: Atelier Willott, Berlin.

Marieluise Claudius
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2499/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.

Marieluise Claudius
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2503/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Tita Binz, Berlin.

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