26 March 2019

Gunnar Möller

German actor Gunnar Möller (1928-2017) was one of the stars of the Wirtschaftswunder Kino of the 1950s. He appeared in over 160 film and television productions between 1940 and 2016. He later turned to character roles and worked for a number of years in England.

Gunnar Möller
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 244. Photo: Veit / Gloria Film. Publicity still for Ferien vom Ich/Holiday From Myself (Hans Deppe, 1952).

Gunnar Möller in Ehe für eine Nacht (1953)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 743. Photo: Ariston / Neue Filmverleih (NF). Publicity still for Ehe für eine Nacht/Marriage for One Night (Viktor Tourjansky, 1953).

Gunnar Möller
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1210. Photo: Europa / Bristol-Mundus Film. Publicity still for Ein Haus voll Liebe/A house full of love (Hans Schweikart, 1954).

A foothold in the film business


Gunnar Thor Karl Möller was born in 1928 in Berlin, Germany. He was the son of a master optician.

As a child, Gunnar already took part in some 20 films during World War II. After the war, he had a stage education. The theatre offered him his first engagements, and he worked successfully on the stages of Berlin and later Munich with Gustaf Gründgens and other stage directors.

Then he again gained a foothold in the film business with a role as a student in Wozzeck (Georg C. Klaren, 1947). He followed this up with parts in Heimliches Rendezvous/Secret Rendezvous (Kurt Hoffmann, 1949) with Hertha Feiler, and Hans im Glück/Lucky Hans (Peter Hamel, 1949) with Erich Ponto.

In the 1950s followed the height of Gunnar Möller's career with roles in many popular productions. He was especially successful with his role in the romantic comedy Ich denke oft an Piroschka/I Often Think of Piroschka (Kurt Hoffmann, 1955) with Liselotte Pulver.

Later he became a character actor such as in the war film Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben/Stalingrad: Dogs, Do You Want to Live Forever? (Frank Wisbar, 1959), starring Joachim Hansen, and the British thriller SOS Pacific (Guy Green, 1959), with Richard Attenborough and Pier Angeli.

Maj-Britt Nilsson and Gunnar Möller in Was die Schwalbe sang
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 2247. Photo: Berolina / Constantin / Wesel. Publicity still for Was die Schwalbe sang/What the swallow sang (Géza von Bolvary, 1956) with Maj-Britt Nilsson.

Maj-Britt Nilsson and Gunnar Möller in Was die Schwalbe sang (1956)
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf. Photo: Constantin Film / Wesel. Publicity still for Was die Schwalbe sang/What the swallow sang (Géza von Bolvary, 1956) with Maj-Britt Nilsson.

Gunnar Möller and Erika Remberg
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden-Westf., no. 2838. Photo: publicity still for Drei weiße Birken/Three white birches (Hans Albin, 1961) with Erika Remberg.

Second-degree murder


Gunnar Möller's popularity decreased in the 1960s. One of his more interesting films was Liselotte von der Pfalz (Kurt Hoffmann, 1966) featuring Heidelinde Weis.

From then on his activities varied between theatre, cinema and TV. His later films included the Czech war drama Dny zrady/Days of Betrayal (Otakar Vávra, 1973) in which he played Adolf Hitler, the British thriller The Odessa File (Ronald Neame, 1974), and another Czech war drama Osvobození Prahy (Otakar Vávra, 1978).

In 1979 a tragic incident happened when Möller killed his wife, the actress Brigitte Rau, with a stool during a divorce argument in London. He was sentenced to five years in prison in England because of second-degree murder. He served two years and was released on probation in 1981.

He was able to continue his career in Germany and played in the films Im Zeichen des Kreuzes/The Sign of the Cross (Rainer Boldt, 1983), and the crime film Die Nacht der vier Monde/Night of the Four Moons (Jörg A. Eggers, 1984).

Most often he worked in the theatre. His final film appearance was a small part in the Italian/French thriller Le confessioni/The Confessions (Roberto Andò, 2016) with Toni Servillo and Daniel Auteuil.

Gunnar Möller was married from 1954 till her death in 1979 to Brigitte Rau and from 2003 till his death to actress Christiane Hammacher, with whom he had performed in Loriots Dramatische Werke (Loriot's Dramatic Works) at Frankfurt's Fritz Rémond Theater and on tour during the 1980s.

Möller died in 2017 in his hometown Berlin. He had three children from his marriage with Brigitte Rau: Michael, Florian and Hillevi.

Gunnar Möller
German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag. Photo: Georg Witt / Schorchtfilm. Publicity still for Ich denke oft an Piroschka/I Often Think of Piroschka (Kurt Hoffmann, 1955).

Gunnar Möller in Was die Schwalbe sang (1956)
German postcard by Ufa/Film-Foto, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. HK 3272. Photo: Wesel / Berolina / Constantin Film. Publicity still for Was die Schwalbe sang/What the swallow sang (Géza von Bolváry, 1956).

Gunnar Möller in Was die Schwalbe sang (1956)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. V 104. Photo: Constantin Film / Berolina / Wesel. Publicity still for Was die Schwalbe sang/What the swallow sang (Géza von Bolváry, 1956).

Gunnar Möller
German autograph card by Simon offset, München. Photo: Virginia.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

25 March 2019

Tragödie (1925)

Tragödie/Tragedy (Carl Froelich, 1925) is a lost film. None of the sources gives a plot of the film, but the title says it all. Because of her past (the letter!), Henny Porten loses her wealthy life as a countess and her dearly beloved daughter. I think the last postcard of the two Ross Verlag series is the most beautiful one: it shows the elegant but desperate Henny in tears. Tragödie is indeed a tragedy, and confirms why Henny Porten was one of the most popular German screen stars of the 1910s and 1920s.

Henny Porten in Tragödie (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 41/1. Photo: Henny-Porten-Film. Publicity still of Henny Porten as Countess Maria Tamar, Walter Janssen as Count Tamar and Annemarie Winkler as their daughter Monica in Tragödie (Carl Froelich, 1925).

Henny Porten in Tragödie (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 41/2. Photo: Henny-Porten-Film. Publicity still of Henny Porten in Tragödie (Carl Froelich, 1925).

Henny Porten in Tragödie (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 41/4. Photo: Henny-Porten-Film. Publicity still of Henny Porten and Annemarie Winkler in Tragödie (Carl Froelich, 1925).

Henny Porten and Walter Janssen in Tragödie (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 41/5. Photo: Henny-Porten-Film. Publicity still of Henny Porten and Walter Janssen in Tragödie (Carl Froelich, 1925).

The social repression by patriarchy over women


Tragödie/Tragedy (Carl Froelich, 1925) was produced by Henny Porten's own film production company Henny-Porten-Film. Porten had founded in 1919 in a period when several stars started their own film studio. Most of them were finished after one or two films but Henny-Porten-Film flourished. But during 1923-1924 she was seen as 'box office poison, and could only find work with difficulty.

Henny Porten achieved a renewed comeback with the melodrama Mutter und Kind/Mother and Child (1924), produced and directed by Carl Froelich. On the 26 September 1924, the company Henny Porten-Froelich Produktion GmbH was founded in Berlin, in which Porten, Froelich and Porten's husband Wilhelm von Kaufmann were associates. Till 1929, the company made fifteen star vehicles for Porten, all directed at the general public. Tragödie/Tragedy was one of them.

Hans-Michael Bock writes in his encyclopedia of the German cinema, The Concise Cinegraph: "These films were often solidly produced, but mostly comprised formulaic narratives, such as the maternal melodramas Mutter und Kind (Mother and Child, 1924) and Mutterliebe (Mother Love, 1929)."

Henny Porten used to play women who found fulfilment in serving others and in self-sacrifice, who indulged in submission even against their will. Her films exposed the social repression that patriarchy exercised over women, showed how women with extramarital relationships or who were single mothers were separated from social life, and showed unequal competition between men and women at work.

Porten's personal life also became a tragedy after 1933. Her refusal to divorce her Jewish husband increasingly narrowed her film options. She had only six small roles by 1943. In 1937 she was taken on by the Tobis company on a work for money basis, but was never offered any work.

Carl Froelich joined the Nazi party in 1933. His company became an associate partner of the state-controlled Ufa film studio. From 1939 on, Froelich was in charge of the Gesamtverband der Filmherstellung und Filmverwertung ("Union of Film Manufacture and Film Evaluation").

In 1934, Froelich directed Ich für Dich – Du für mich on behalf of the Ministry of Propaganda. The film depicted women’s involvement in the state labour service. As a producer of entertainment films, Froelich adjusted to the 'new spirit of National Socialism'. In 1937, he was appointed professor, and in 1939, he was appointed president of the Reichsfilmkammer, a public corporation that regulated the German film industry between 1933 and 1945. After the end of the war, Froelich was arrested and 'de-Nazified' in 1948.He died in 1953.

Henny Porten in Tragödie (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1192/1. Photo: Henny-Porten-Film. Publicity still of Henny Porten in Tragödie (Carl Froelich, 1925).

Henny Porten in Tragödie
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1192/2. Photo: Henny-Porten-Film. Publicity still of Henny Porten in Tragödie (Carl Froelich, 1925).

Henny Porten in Tragödie (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1192/3. Photo: Henny-Porten-Film. Publicity still of Henny Porten in Tragödie (Carl Froelich, 1925).

Henny Porten in Tragödie (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1192/4. Photo: Henny-Porten-Film. Publicity still of Henny Porten in Tragödie (Carl Froelich, 1925).

Henny Porten in Tragödie (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1192/5. Photo: Henny-Porten-Film. Publicity still of Henny Porten in Tragödie (Carl Froelich, 1925).

Henny Porten in Tragödie (1925)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1192/6. Photo: Henny-Porten-Film. Publicity still of Henny Porten in Tragödie (Carl Froelich, 1925).

Sources: Hans-Michael Bock (The Concise Cinegraph), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia and IMDb.

24 March 2019

Haarlem Film City

Today a new film book will be presented, 'Haarlem filmstad' (Haarlem film city), edited by Harry Hosman and Arie Vestering. 'Haarlem Film city' describes the cinema life and the well-known and lesser-known studios, filmmakers and stars from the Dutch city. During the 1910s and 1920s, Haarlem even seemed to be the centre of the Dutch film world. Cameramen, actors and set builders walked back and forth in the Filmfabriek Hollandia at the Spaarne river, where dozens of silent films were created. Haarlem-based actresses like Annie Bos achieved star-status. For this new book, I wrote a chapter on film poster designer Frans Bosen, who worked and lived in Haarlem, and designed dozens of colourful film posters during the 1920s. EFSP joins the festivities around the book presentation with a post on the work of Frans Bosen, but we start with a very rare card with Annie Bos which we found just a few weeks ago.

Annie Bos in Toffe jongens onder de mobilisatie (deel 1) (1914)
Dutch postcard by E & B. Photo: Annie Bos in Toffe jongens onder de mobilisatie (deel 1)/Cool boys under the mobilisation (part 1) (Jan van Dommelen, 1914). Translation caption: The coast guard, My Johnny is here all day on the coast watching, I think he likes a bath, so I'll be the coast guard.

Salammbo, 1924, o Frans Bosen
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Salammbo (Pierre Maradon, 1924) with Jeanne de Balzac.

The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924) starring Douglas Fairbanks.

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (1883-1939) was the elegant, dashing, and athletic star of several classic swashbuckling films of the silent era. He produced and starred in ever more elaborate, impressive costume films, such as The Three Musketeers (Fred Niblo, 1921), Robin Hood (Allan Dwan, 1922), The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924), The Black Pirate (Albert Parker, 1926, the first full-length Technicolor film), and The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927) with Lupe Velez. With his marriage to Mary Pickford in 1920, the couple became Hollywood royalty and Fairbanks was referred to as ‘The King of Hollywood'.

Don Q Son of Zorro (1925)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Don Q Son of Zorro (Donald Crisp, 1925) starring Douglas Fairbanks.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, 1925) with Lon Chaney.

Lon Chaney (1883-1930) was one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema. Between 1912 and 1930 he played more the 150 widely diverse roles. He is renowned for his characterisations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and his groundbreaking artistry with makeup in such silent horror films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Wallace Worsley, (1923), He Who Gets Slapped (Victor Sjöström, 1924) and The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, 1925).

Tartüff (1925)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Tartüff/Tartuffe (F.W. Murnau, 1925) starring Emil Jannings.

If Weimar cinema had one film star, then it was Emil Jannings (1884-1950) for sure. Jannings managed to get away from his famous historical characters in such films as Anna Boleyn (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920) and Quo Vadis (Georg Jacoby, Gabriellino D'Annunzio, 1925) with two major films. In Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's Der letzte Mann/The Last Laugh (1924) he was a proud hotel doorman who loses his self-esteem and the esteem of others when he is reduced to a toilet man, working in the basement of the hotel. In Varieté/Variety (Ewald André Dupont, 1925), he was the strong acrobat, who killed his rival out of jealousy. Jannings magnificently expressed the fears and doubts of proud and big-hearted men, who are cheated by their surroundings. Murnau directed him in two more silent classics Tartüff/Tartuffe (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1925) with Lil Dagover, and Faust (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1926) as Mephisto opposite Gösta Ekman as Faust.

Faust, o Frans Bosen
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Faust (F.W. Murnau, 1926) starring Emil Jannings.

Frans Bosen


As a designer of film posters, Bosen was a pioneer: he was one of the first Dutch designers to use film images. Before 1920, mainly 'letter posters' were made in the Netherlands: cinema advertisements with text only, on which a number of films were announced simultaneously. Another habit was to take over the placards from abroad with the films and stick the Dutch title on them. Frans Bosen, on the other hand, designed film posters with original images that stood out with their bright colors and short, powerful texts.

Frans Bosen (1891-1949) made dozens of film posters. The circumstances for these assignments were not comfortable: there was little time and money for it and he had to base his designs on a press photo of the film.

What is striking about his posters is that there is hardly any text on it. Modern film posters mention the credits of the actors, the producers, the director, the screenwriters, the composer, etc. In addition to the film title, Bosen sometimes only gave the name of the protagonist.

He designed the letters himself. Many posters also feature the logo of publisher De Brakke Grond, which was designed by him. The logo even contains his signature, on which he made small variations over the years. The result is often a calm, clear image.

The Bosen posters give a colorful insight into what was seen in Dutch cinemas in the 1920s. There are Hollywood classics among them, including the horror film The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, 1925) and films with action hero Douglas Fairbanks, for example The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924). But he also made many posters for European films, such as the religious film La Vie merveilleuse de Bernadette/The wonderful life of Bernadette (George Pallu, 1929).

The Triumph of the Rat (1926)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for The Triumph of the Rat (Graham Cutts, 1926) with Ivor Novello.

Gorgeous matinee idol Ivor Novello (1893-1951) was one of the multi-talents of the British stage and cinema during the first half of the 20th century. On stage, the 'British Sex God in tight pants' produced and composed a string of hit musicals, starring himself. The 'Valentino from The Valleys' also appeared in the classic Hitchcock thriller The Lodger (1927) and other successful silent and early sound films in France, Great-Britain and Hollywood.

Wien, wie es weint und lacht (1926)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Wien, wie es weint und lacht/Vienna, how it cries and laughs (Rudolf Walther-Fein, Rudolf Dworsky, 1926) with Mady Christians.

Austrian-born stage actress Mady Christians (1892-1951) was a star of the German silent cinema and appeared in Austrian, French, British and Hollywood films too.

Die geschiedene Frau (1926)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Die geschiedene Frau/The Divorcée (Victor Janson, Rudolf Dworsky, 1926) with Mady Christians.

An der Schönen blauen Donau (1926)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for An der Schönen blauen Donau/The Beautiful Blue Danube (Frederic Zelnik, 1926) with Lya Mara.

Lya Mara (1897-1960?) was one of the biggest stars of the German silent cinema. Some immensely successful silent operettas presented her as the perfect Viennese Girl. Hundreds of postcards and trading cards cemented her stardom, which was even the subject of a novel, published in 100 episodes between 1927 and 1928. Her career virtually ended after the arrival of sound film.

Die tolle Lola (1927)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Die tolle Lola/Fabulous Lola (Richard Eichberg, 1927) with Lilian Harvey.

Ufa's biggest star of the 1930s was British born German actress and singer Lilian Harvey (1906-1968). With Willy Fritsch she formed the 'Dream Team of the European Cinema'. In 1924, Harvey made her film debut as the young Jewish girl Ruth in the silent film Der Fluch/The Curse (Robert Land, 1925). Director-producer Richard Eichberg signed her on, and under his direction she played her first leading roles in Leidenschaft/Passion (Richard Eichberg, 1925) with Otto Gebühr, Liebe und Trompetenblasen/Love and Trumpet Blows (Richard Eichberg, 1925) opposite Harry Liedtke, Die keusche Susanne/The Innocent Susanne (Richard Eichberg, 1926) for the first time with Willy Fritsch, and Die tolle Lola/Fabulous Lola (Richard Eichberg, 1927).

The Ghost Train (1927)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for The Ghost Train (Geza von Bolvary, 1927).

La vie merveilleuse de Bernadette (1929)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for La Vie merveilleuse de Bernadette/The wonderful life of Bernadette (George Pallu, 1929) with Alexandra.

A silent film reconstruction of Bernadette Soubirous's life (1844-1879), a 14-year-old girl that catholics believe had eighteen visions of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in a grotto near Lourdes, France. The place became a peregrination centre since then.

For more information in Dutch on 'Haarlem Filmstad' see Haarlemfilmstad.nl