31 January 2023

Pierre de Guingand

Pierre de Guingand (1885-1964) was a French stage and film actor in the 1920s and 1930s, best known for his debut role as Aramis in the popular serial Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (1921) and in its sequel Vingt ans après/The Return of the Musketeers (1922). He also played elegant, rich men in films like Au bonheur des dames/In the happiness of the ladies (1929) and Ich küsse Ihre Hand, Madame/I Kiss Your Hand Madame (1929).

Pierre de Guingand
French postcard by Cinémagazine Edition, no. 18. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinema. Publicity still for Les Trois Mousquetaires (Henri Diamant Berger, 1921).

Pierre de Guingand in L'équipage (1928)
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 200. Photo: Alliance Cinématographique. Pierre de Guingand in L'équipage/Last Flight (Maurice Tourneur, 1928).

Pierre de Guingand
French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 151. Photo: Studio Landau.

Musketeer Aramis


Octave-Pierre Deguingand a.k.a. Pierre de Guingand was born in Paris in 1885. In 1908, he probably debuted on stage in the play 'Ramuntcho' by Pierre Loti, directed by André Antoine at the Théâtre de l'Odéon. A few years later he performed in the play 'La Pèlerine écossaise' (1914) by Sacha Guitry, at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens.

In 1921 Guingand played in 'Une danseuse est morte' by Charles Le Bargy, at the Théâtre des Galeries Saint Hubert. Also in 1921, Guingand made his first appearance in the cinema and had a big role right away as Aramis in the 12-episode film Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921). He also played Aramis again in the sequel Vingt ans après/The Return of the Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1922), a 10-episode serial.

Guingand stayed on with Diamant-Berger for the director's subsequent films Le Mauvais Garçon/Bad Boy (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1922) with Maurice Chevalier, L'Emprise/The influence (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1923), and Le Roi de la vitesse/King of the speed (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1923). In the following year, De Guingand played Lodovico Gonzaga in Le Vert Galant/The Courteous Green (René Leprince, 1924), this time a film in 8 episodes, and in 1925 he performed as marquis d'Aurilly in the 8-episode serial Fanfan La Tulipe/Fan Fan the Tulip (René Leprince, 1924), starring Aimé Simon-Girard.

In 1926-1927, De Guingand was absent from the screen, but he performed on stage in plays such as 'Le Prince charmant' (Prince Charming, 1925) by Tristan Bernard, at the Théâtre Michel, and 'Un perdreau de l'année' (A young partridge of the year, 1926), again by Tristan Bernard, and again at the Théâtre Michel.

In 1928, Pierre de Guingand returned to the film set for L'Équipage/Last Flight (Maurice Tourneur, 1928), starring Charles Vanel and Jean Murat, and La Possession/The Ownership (Léonce Perret, 1928) with Italian film diva Francesca Bertini in the female lead.

Pierre de Guingand and Aimé Simon-Girard in Les trois mousquetaires
French postcard, no. 133. Pierre de Guingand as Aramis and Aimé Simon-Girard as D'Artagnan in Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921).

Les trois mousquetaires (1921)
French postcard by M. Le Deley, Paris. Photo: Pathé. Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921) with Aimé Simon-Girard as D'Artagnan, Charles Martinelli as Porthos, Pierre de Guingand as Aramis, and Henri Rollan as Athos.

Vingt ans après
French postcard. Photo: Pathé. Publicity still for Vingt ans après/The Return of the Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1922). The four musketeers: Porthos (Charles Martinelli), Aramis (Pierre de Guingand), Athos (Henri Rollan), and D'Artagnan (Jean Yonnel).

Marlene Dietrich's ex-husband


In the late silent film Au bonheur des dames/In the happiness of the ladies (Julien Duvivier, 1929), Pierre de Guingand played Octave Mouret, the rich owner of the department store Au Bonheur des dames, who falls for a young mannequin, Denise (Dita Parlo). Her uncle (Armand Bour), however, owns the little shop Mouret wants to tear down for the expansion of his own department store.

De Guingand also made another remarkable late silent performance in Germany in Ich küsse ihre hand, Madame/I Kiss Your Hand Madame (Robert Land, 1929) starring Marlene Dietrich. Guingand plays the ex-husband of Laurette Gerard (Dietrich), who is still infatuated with her despite the divorce. Laurette starts an affair with a gentleman (Harry Liedtke) until she discovers he works as a waiter. In reality, the waiter is a Russian count though.

In 1931, De Guingand played in the French version of the early sound film Der Ball, Le bal (Wilhelm Thiele, 1931), starring Germaine Dermoz and Danielle Darrieux. Next came La Chance/Luck (René Guissart, 1931) with Marie Bell, the comedy Une faible femme/A Weak Woman (Max de Vaucorbeil, 1932) with Meg Lemonnier, and Chourinette (André Hugon, 1934) with Mireille. He played a supporting part in the classic Le Grand jeu/The big game (Jacques Feyder, 1933) with Marie Bell.

Among his later films were L'Appel du silence/The Call (Léon Poirier, 1936) with Jean Yonnel as North Africa explorer Charles de Foucauld and Guingand as General Laperrine, Sarati, le terrible/Sarati the Terrible (André Hugon, 1937) with Harry Baur in the title role, and finally Remontons les Champs-Élysées/Champs Elysees (Sacha Guitry, 1938) with Guitry himself in a multiple lead role (a.o. Louis XV and Napoleon III) and Guingand as baron de Vitry.

Occasionally Guingand continued stage acting as well, as in 'Le Cyclone' (1931) by Somerset Maugham, directed by Jacques Baumer, at the Théâtre des Ambassadeurs, and 'Tout n'est pas noir' (1941) by André Birabeau, directed by Robert Blome, at the Théâtre Daunou. Pierre Guingand passed away in 1964 in Versailles. He was 79.

Pierre de Guingand as Aramis
French postcard in the series Les Vedettes de l'Ecran by Editions Filma, no. 122. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma. Pierre de Guingand as Aramis in the period piece serial Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921).

Pierre de Guingand in Vingt ans après (1922)
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine no. 43. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma. Pierre de Guingand as Aramis in Vingt ans après/The Return of the Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1922).

Pierre de Guingand
French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by A.N., Paris, no. 105. Photo: Henri Manuel.

Sources: Ciné-Ressources (French), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

30 January 2023

Pina Menichelli

With her contorted postures and disdainful expression, the fascinating and enigmatic Pina Menichelli (1890-1984) was the most bizarre diva of the Italian silent film

Pina Menichelli
Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 377. Photo: Pinto, Roma.

Pina Menichelli
Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 411. Photo Pinto, Roma.

Pina Menichelli
Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano (Milan), no. 410. Photo: Pinto.

Pina Menichelli
French postcard by BPA, Rueil.

Pina Menichelli
Italian postcard, no. 47.

Pina Menichelli
Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 409. Photo: Pinto, Roma.

Notre Dame des Spasmes


Giuseppina Menichelli was born in Castroreale, Italy, in 1890. She was the sister of singer and actress Dora Menichelli.

After starting her film career at the Roman Cines company in 1913, Pina was catapulted into stardom by Giovanni Pastrone's D'Annunzian film Il Fuoco/The Fire (1915) co-starring with Febo Mari. Il Fuoco tells the love story of a young, vulnerable painter and a wealthy woman. The film's erotic atmosphere caused it to be banned and prompted clerical demonstrations against the film.

Because of her femme fatale, men devouring type, and her extreme and sudden gestures she was nicknamed 'Notre Dame des Spasmes'. Menichelli did however know how to play also in a more restrained way, as Tigre Reale/Royal Tiger (Giovanni Pastrone, 1916) showed.

The script was based on a book by Giovanni Verga and was scripted by the author himself. Verga was a Sicilian writer known for his realist (verismo) fiction rather than for his symbolist-decadent works. Despite this, the story of Tigre Reale is a melodrama, full of unlikely twists and turns, but the public was held, mesmerised, by the fascinating and enigmatic Menichelli.

Pina Menichelli and Febo Mari in Il Fuoco (1915)
Spanish postcard. Photo: Itala-Film. Pina Menichelli and Febo Mari in Il Fuoco/The Fire (Giovanni Pastrone, 1915). Collection: Marlene Pilaete. Please note that Menichelli wears her famous owl headwear here.

Pina Menichelli
Italian postcard by Ed. Vettori, Bologna. Photo: Pina Menichelli in Tigre Reale (Giovanni Pastrone, 1916).

Pina Menichelli
Italian postcard. Photo: Pina Menichelli in Tigre reale (Giovanni Pastrone, 1916).

Pina Menichelli
Italian postcard by Vettori, Bologna, no. 461. Pina Menichelli and Alberto Nepoti, probably in Tigre reale (Giovanni Pastrone, 1916).

Pina Menichelli in L'olocausto (1918)
Spanish postcard. Photo: Pina Menichelli in L'olocausto/Méche d'or/Gold Plait (Gero Zambuto, 1918). Collection: Marlène Pilaete.

Pina Menichelli in La moglie di Claudio
Italian postcard, no. 3037. Photo: Itala. Pina Menichelli and Vittorio Rossi-Pianelli in La moglie di Claudio (Gero Zambuto, 1918), based on 'La femme de Claude' by Alexandre Dumas fils. The film was found and restored in 2011 by Museo nazionale del cinema in Turin and Cineteca di Bologna. See Vimeo.com.

Pina Menichelli in IL padrone delle ferriere
Italian postcard by Vettori, Bologna. Photo: Pina Menichelli in Il padrone delle ferriere (Eugenio Perego, 1919). The other actress must be Lina Millefleurs.

Pina Menichelli and Luigi Serventi in Il romanzo di un giovane povero
Italian postcard by Ed. Vettori, Bologna, no. 1038. Pina Menichelli and Luigi Serventi in Il romanzo di un giovane povero (Amleto Palermi, 1920), based on the novel 'Le Roman d'un jeune homme pauvre' (1858) by Octave Feuillet.

Pina Menichelli in L'età critica
Italian postcard by Ed. Vettori, Bologna, no. 1024. Pina Menichelli and Giorgio Fini in the Italian silent film L'età critica (Amleto Palermi, 1921). Her co-stars were Livio Pavanelli, Giorgio Fini and Gemma De Ferrari. The film was based on the play by Max Dreyer, 'Die Siebzehnjährigen' (1904).

The Letter


La dama de chez Maxim's (Amleto Palermi, 1923) was one of Pina Menichelli's last films. With this film and with Occupati d'Amelia (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1925), both adaptations of French boulevard comedies by Georges Feydeau, Menichelli proved she was well able to do comedy and not only melodramatic and 'vampy' films. In both films, one of her co-stars was the French comedian Marcel Lévesque, on the far right on the card below.

After these comedies, however, Pina Menichelli withdrew from the cinema and held back any attempt to interview her.

Pina Menichelli died in 1984 in Milan at the age of 94. Fifteen years later she was one of the divas featured in Diva Dolorosa (Peter Delpeut, 1999), a montage of scenes featuring silent cinema divas, taken from 12 European films made between 1913 and 1920.

In her fascinating, ironic text, Short Manual for the Aspiring Scenario Writer, the French author Colette gave a typical description of the femme fatale in cinema, largely based on Pina Menichelli.

Talking about the 'arms' of the femme fatale Colette indicates the hat and the rising gorge: "The femme fatale' s hat spares her the necessity, at the absolute apex of her wicked career, of having to expend herself in pantomime. When the spectator sees the evil woman coiffing herself with a spread-winged owl, the head of a stuffed jaguar, a bifid aigrette, or a hairy spider, he no longer has any doubts; he knows just what she is capable of. And the rising gorge? The rising gorge is the imposing and ultimate means by which the evil woman informs the audience that she is about to weep, that she is hesitating on the brink of crime, that she is struggling against steely necessity, or that the police have gotten their hands on the letter. What letter? THE letter."

Pina Menichelli in La seconda moglie
Italian postcard by Edizione G.B. Falci, no. 262. Photo: Pina Menichelli and Livio Pavanelli in La seconda moglie (Amleto Palermi, 1922).

Pina Menichelli in La seconda moglie
Italian postcard by Rinascimento Film, Roma. Photo: Pina Menichelli in La seconda moglie (Amleto Palermi, 1922).

Pina Menichelli and Milton Rosmer in La donna e l'uomo (1923)
Italian postcard by Ed. G.B. Falci, Milano. Pina Menichelli and Milton Rosmer in La donna e l'uomo (Amleto Palermi, 1923), produced by Rinascimento Film and distributed by UCI.

Pina Menichelli in La biondina
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano Milan. Pina Menichelli in La biondina (Amleto Palermi, 1923), based on a book by Marco Praga. It tells the tragedy of a woman whose husband kills her in the end. It seems that Italian censorship forced the scriptwriter to add morality to the film, so Praga's tragedy is framed within a story about a modest, conventional wife who, encouraged by her friend, dreams of breaking out, but then she reads Praga's book and decides to remain honest and loyal. The actress on the left of the card could be the friend (Gemma de' Ferrari).

Pina Menichelli and Giovanni Grasso in Malafemmina
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Fotominio. Pina Menichelli and Giovanni Grasso in Malafemmina, a title unknown to IMDb, but it is the alternative title of L' ospite sconosciuta/The Unknown Guest (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1923).

Pina Menichelli in La dame de chez Maxim (1923)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Pina Menichelli in her last film La dama de Chez Maxim (Amleto Palermi, 1923). Menichelli played the legendary Môme Crevette in one of the many film adaptations of Georges Feydeau's classic boulevard comedy.

Pina Menichelli and Marcel Lévesque in La dame de Chez Maxim's
Italian postcard. Photo: G.B. Falci, Milano. Publicity still for La dama de chez Maxim's (1923) with Marcel Lévesque at far right.

Pina Menichelli in La dame de Chez Maxim
Italian postcard. Photo: G.B. Falci, Milano. Publicity still for La dama de chez Maxim's (1923).

Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio), Greta de Groat (Unsung Divas of the Silent Screen), Il Cinema Ritrovato 2015 and IMDb.

29 January 2023

Rob Lowe

Hunky American actor Rob Lowe (1964) was one of the members of the Brat Pack and a teenage idol during the 1980s. He is also known for the television series The West Wing, in which he played the role of Sam Seaborn.

Rob Lowe
British postcard by Santoro Graphics Ltd, no. C245.

Rob Lowe
French postcard by Spotlight Magazine.

Rob Lowe
British postcard by Just Seventeen, one of a set of six postcards. Photo: Retna Pictures Ltd.

Among the original members of the Brat Pack


Robert Hepler (Rob) Lowe was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1964. He was the son of Charles Lowe and Barbara Hepler and grew up in Dayton (Ohio) and Los Angeles. Lowe has one brother, the actor Chad Lowe (1968), and a younger half-brother from his father's second marriage, Justin.

His career began when he was eight years old, with appearances on the local television station and summer theatre. After his parents' divorce, Lowe moved with his mother and brother to Los Angeles where, along with Emilio Estevez and others, he was educated at Santa Monica High School. In 1979, Lowe got the role of Tony Flanagan, the teenage son of star Eileen Brennan, in the television sitcom A New Kind of Family (1979-1980). The series ended after only 11 episodes.

However, his name stuck when newspaper and magazine articles began aligning the handsome, sensitive young actor with the up-and-coming members of the Brat Pack. Along with Judd Nelson, Mare Winningham, Anthony Michael Hall, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, and Ally Sheedy, he was among the original members of the Brat Pack. He did a number of television films and earned his first Golden Globe nomination for the teen drama Thursday's Child (David Lowell Rich, 1983). Lowe appeared alongside Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise in The Outsiders (Francis Ford Coppola, 1983).

The following year, he got the lead role in the film The Hotel New Hampshire (Tony Richardson, 1984), alongside Jodie Foster and Nastassja Kinski. Lowe starred with his fellow Brat packers in the coming-of-age film St. Elmo's Fire (Joel Schumacher, 1985). Lowe won his first award for this film: a Razzie Award for worst male supporting actor. Partly because of his looks, Lowe became one of the Pack's most famous members. In between, Lowe starred in less noteworthy productions. In 1988, Lowe received his second Golden Globe nomination for the film Square Dance (Daniel Petrie, 1987).

In 1988, however, his popularity suffered serious damage when a video emerged showing Lowe filming himself having sex with two girls, one of whom appeared to be underage. This happened in Atlanta, where Lowe was attending the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Lowe claimed he did not know she was underage, which was confirmed by the doorman of the bar where they met. She had also lied to get into the bar. For this, Lowe performed 20 hours of community service in Dayton. Around the same time, a leaked home video, in which Lowe could be seen with a model called Jennifer and a boyfriend, Justin Morris, while they were doing a threesome in a hotel room in Paris, was commercially marketed. This was one of the first celebrity sex videos to be sold commercially. Both videos caused a lot of damage to Lowe's career.

Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe and Tom Cruise in The Outsiders (1983)
Australian postcard by TV Hits. Photo: N. Moran / Sygma / Austral International. Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe and Tom Cruise in The Outsiders (Francis Coppola, 1983).

Rob Lowe
British postcard by Box Office, no. BOPC 3006.

Rob Lowe
British postcard by Minerva, Edinburgh, no. PC253, 1989.

After the scandals faded into oblivion


After these scandals, Rob Lowe sought treatment at a clinic for alcohol and sex addiction. After the scandals faded into oblivion, Lowe's career revived. This was partly because he mocked his irresponsible behaviour during an appearance as host of Saturday Night Live. In one of his appearances with the church lady, played by Dana Carvey, the latter promises to keep quiet about sex videos during the interview. In return, Lowe gets spanked by her live on TV.

When Lowe is also spanked at the end of the skit, it turns out that, to the dismay of the church lady, this gets him sexually aroused. She starts exclaiming that Satan should be expelled from Lowe's buttocks, to which Lowe tells reporters, "I love getting spanked. I love the feeling of a glowing ass so much".

In 1989, he sang the song 'Proud Mary' with the band Snow White at the Academy Awards, which was not a success. His role opposite James Spader in the film Bad Influence (Curtis Hanson, 1990), in which he had to portray a villain, brought Lowe positively back into the limelight. In 1992, he made his Broadway debut in the play 'A Little Hotel on the Side'. The roles he was offered improved and in the same year Lowe appeared in Wayne's World (Penelope Spheeris, 1992) with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey.

For his portrayal of the deaf-mute and strangely plague-immune Nick Andros opposite Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald in the miniseries The Stand (Mick Garris, 1994) based on a book by Stephen King, Lowe received rave reviews. After this, Lowe temporarily disappeared behind the camera, where he produced the Western Frank & Jesse (Robert Boris, 1994) in which he also co-starred with Bill Paxton.

In 1997, he wrote and directed the television film Desert's Edge (Rob Lowe, 1997). Also in 1997, he played the role of the right-wing leader of a Christian movement in the Sci-Fi film Contact (Robert Zemeckis, 1997), starring Jodie Foster. In the comedy Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Jay Roach, 1999) starring Mike Myers, he imitated the voice of Robert Wagner for the role of Young Number Two and did an extra as the Decapitated Henchman's Friend.

Rob Lowe in  Youngblood (1986)
Belgian promotion card by U.I.P. S.N.C., Bruxelles. Photo: United Artists. Rob Lowe in Youngblood (Peter Markle, 1986).

Rob Lowe
German collectors card by Bravo, ca. 1986.

Rob Lowe
Italian postcard by Vitorius Roma, no. VR 461.

The West Wing


In 1999, Rob Lowe was back on television regularly when he got the role of acting head of communications Sam Seaborn in the NBC hit series The West Wing, about the life of President Bartlett (Martin Sheen). Basically, the series was supposed to revolve around his role, which was then the focus of the pilot episode, but the reviews for the complete cast were so raved, that a shift was made in the role assignment.

In 2000 and 2001, Lowe received Golden Globe nominations in the "Best Actor" category for this, and in 2001 he also received an Emmy Award in the same category. In 2002, however, Lowe left the series because he could not agree on his role and salary. He wanted a more prominent role in the series with an accompanying salary than NBC was willing to give him. Although the other actors and especially Martin Sheen tried to keep him in the series, the episode featuring his departure was aired in February 2003, earlier than expected. During the final season of The West Wing, Lowe returned to his role of Sam Seaborn, appearing in two of the final four episodes.

After this, he featured in the series Lyon's Den (2003), where he plays an idealistic attorney trying to get out of the shadow of his father, who is a senator. The series flopped and was taken off TV after 13 episodes. The same happened with the series Dr. Vegas (2004-2005), also produced by Lowe. It stopped after 10 episodes due to a lack of success. Lowe starred in the remake of the Stephen King miniseries Salem's Lot (Mikael Salomon, 2004) with Donald Sutherland and Samantha Mathis.

In 2005, Lowe played the role of Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee in the theatre production of Aaron Sorkin's play 'A Few Good Men' in West End London. Lowe played a supporting role as a movie agent in the satirical black comedy Thank You for Smoking (Jason Reitman, 2006) starring Aaron Eckhart. In 2013, Lowe played a notable role as the evil plastic surgeon Dr Jack Startz in Behind the Candelabra (Steven Soderbergh, 2013), the successful film about the last decade of pianist and entertainer Liberace's life.

In 2017, Lowe made a reality series with his two sons, the then 24-year-old Matthew and 22-year-old Jon Owen, The Lowe Files. With the exception of the hour-long pilot, the series featured 30-minute road trips with the Lowe boys, and occasional TV guest stars known in the field, investigating common urban myths and legends that Rob has loved since he was a young boy and has shared with his boys throughout their growth. Recently, he starred in and produced the TV series 9-1-1: Lone Star (2020-2023) about firefighters in Austin, Texas. In 2015, Lowe received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Lowe has been married to makeup artist Sheryl Berkoff since 1991. They met on a blind date in 1983.

Rob Lowe
British postcard by Photographs, no. 130.

Rob Lowe
British postcard by Photographs, no. 135.

Rob Lowe
French postcard by Editions Humour à la Carte, Paris, no. ST - 133.

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.