13 May 2021

Hermann Vallentin

Hermann Vallentin (1872-1945) was a German actor and singer. He joined the film business in 1914 as an established stage actor and became also very popular on the screen during the 1920s. The rise of the sound film offered this stage-proofed actor new challenges and he would have acted in numerous films but the rise of the Nazis finished his career.

Hermann Vallentin
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin.

Dagny Servaes in John Riew (1917)
German postcard by Photochemie, no. K. 2000. Photo: Union Film. Dagny Servaes as Anna Seyers in John Riew (Walter Schmidthässler, 1917). The man left of her is Hermann Vallentin, who plays Captain John Riew. The woman on the right is Käthe Dorsch, who plays Anna's mother.

He could play any kind of character


Hermann Vallentin was born in 1872 in Berlin. He was the son of the wood merchant and factory owner Felix Vallentin. Hermann was the brother of the well-known actress and singer Rosa Valetti.

After playing music at the Königliches Schauspielhaus in Berlin with Max Grube and Hans Oberländer, he received his first engagement at the Central Theater in Berlin in the 1895/96 season. In the next few years, he performed at various Berlin theatres.

From 1914 Vallentin was also a busy film actor. He played the billionaire Lloyd opposite Friedrich Kayßler and Fritzi Massary in the popular film Der Tunnel/The Tunnel (William Wauer, 1915), made by Paul Davidson's PAGU production company. It was the first of several film adaptations of Bernhard Kellermann's 1913 novel 'Der Tunnel' about the construction of a vast tunnel under the Atlantic Ocean connecting Europe and America.

Vallentin was very versatile as an actor and could play any kind of character. He mostly embodied family patriots, patriarchs, and directors, but also small-scale philistines and - often - police commissioners. On stage, he often worked for the Deutsches Theater under the direction of Max Reinhardt and performed with his sister Rosa Valetti in such cabarets as the 'Kabarett Größenwahn' (1920) and 'Die Rampe' (1923).

Hedda Vernon in Fesseln
German postcard in the Film-Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 559/1. Photo: Eiko-Film. Hedda Vernon and Hermann Vallentin in Fesseln (Hubert Moest, 1918).

Hedda Vernon in Fesseln
German postcard in the Film-Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 559/3. Photo: Eiko-Film. Hedda Vernon and Hermann Vallentin in Fesseln (Hubert Moest, 1918).

Emigration to Palestine


Hermann Vallentin acted in five films by Ewald André Dupont and three by Friedrich Wilhelm. Murnau. For Dupont, he played e.g. the lead in Herztrumpf/Hearts Are Trumps (Ewald André Dupont, 1920) opposite Hans Mierendorff and Adele Sandrock, and the crime film Der Mord ohne Täter/Murder Without Cause (Ewald André Dupont, 1921).

For Murnau, he appeared in the silent chamber drama Schloß Vogelöd/The Haunted Castle (Friedrich Wilhelm. Murnau, 1921) and in the classic Der letzte Mann/The Last Laugh (Friedrich Wilhelm. Murnau, 1924), starring Emil Jannings.

Vallentin had a supporting part in the drama Madame wünscht keine Kinder/Madame Wants No Children (Alexander Korda, 1926) starring María Corda, Harry Liedtke and Maria Paudler. The film was made for the American Fox Film Corporation's German subsidiary.

He also could be seen in the British-made German-language drama Atlantik (Ewald André Dupont, 1929), a German-language version of the film Atlantic (1929) made at Elstree Studios by British International Pictures. The film was the first fully talking film to be released in Germany, where it was a major hit. It is based on the play 'The Berg' by Ernest Raymond which itself was based on the Titanic disaster.

Another early sound film was the satire Der Hauptmann von Köpenick/The Captain from Köpenick (Richard Oswald, 1931), based on the Hauptmann von Köpenick affair in 1906. A poor cobbler named Wilhelm Voigt purchased the second-hand uniform of a Prussian infantry captain. Wearing this, he travelled to the borough of Köpenick and ordered a troop of guardsmen to place themselves under his command. He then declared the town hall to be under military law, ordering the arrest of the mayor and treasurer and confiscating all the funds in the exchequer. Max Adalbert played Wilhelm Voigt, the title figure, and Vallentin played the uniform tailor Adolph Wormser.

The takeover of the Nazis ended Hermann Vallentin's film career abruptly - Vallentin was Jewish. In 1933 he emigrated and between 1934 and 1939 he worked on stage subsequently in Basel, Aussig, Prague, Vienna, again Basel, and Zürich.

In 1939 he emigrated to Palestine. Since he was not powerful in Hebrew, he had to cease all acting. He gave lectures, poems, and was temporarily spokesman of German-language news in the Palestine Broadcasting Service (P.B.S.).

Hermann Vallentin died in 1945 or 1948 (the sources differ) in Tel Aviv, Israel. He was 73 or 76. His niece Lotte Stein was also an actress.

Henny Porten, Ralph Arthur Roberts, Walter Jankuhn, and Hermann Vallentin in Lotte (1928)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 97/3. Photo: Alex Schmoll, Berlin / HPF (Henny Porten-Froehlich Produktion). Henny Porten, Ralph Arthur Roberts, Walter Jankuhn, and Hermann Vallentin in Lotte (Carl Froehlich, 1928).

Hermann Vallentin
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 438/2. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Sources: Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-Line - German), Wikipedia (English and German), and IMDb.

12 May 2021

Michael Jackson

'The King of Pop' Michael Jackson (1958-2009) entertained audiences nearly his entire life. He started very young in the Jackson 5 and solo he recorded the biggest-selling album of all time, 'Thriller' (1982). He appeared in the film The Wiz (1978), but he was more successful with his elaborate music videos, directed by such famous filmmakers as John Landis, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola.

Michael Jackson
French postcard by Editions F. Nugeron, no. Star 78.

Michael Jackson: Billie Jean (1983)
French postcard by Editions F. Nugeron, no. Star 91. Michael Jackson in the video clip Billie Jean (Steve Barron, 1983).

The dominant voice and focus of the Jackson 5


Michael Joseph Jackson was born in 1958 in Gary, Indiana, and entertained audiences nearly his entire life. His father, Joe Jackson had been a guitarist but was forced to give up his musical ambitions following his marriage to Michael's mother Katherine Jackson (née Katherine Esther Scruse).

Together, they prodded their growing family's musical interests at home. Michael was the brother of Rebbie Jackson, Jackie Jackson, Tito Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Randy Jackson, and Janet Jackson.

By the early 1960s, Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine had begun performing around the city. By 1964, Michael and Marlon had joined in. A musical prodigy, Michael's singing, and dancing talents were amazingly mature, and he soon became the dominant voice and focus of the Jackson 5.

An opening act for such soul groups as the O-Jays and James Brown, it was Gladys Knight (not Diana Ross) who officially brought the group to Berry Gordy's attention. By 1969, the boys were producing back-to-back chart-busting hits for Motown as 'I Want You Back', 'ABC', 'Never Can Say Goodbye', 'Got to Be There', etc.

As a product of the 1970s, the boys emerged as one of the most accomplished black pop/soul vocal groups in music history, successfully evolving from a group like The Temptations to a disco phenomenon. Michael was originally intended to begin his solo career when he turned eighteen in 1976, but financial problems forced him to remain with the Jackson Five, renaming themselves The Jacksons for legal reasons, until 1979.

Michael Jackson
French postcard by Editions F. Nugeron, no. Star 78.

Michael Jackson
French postcard by Editions F. Nugeron, no. Star 96.

One of the greatest music videos of all time


Solo success for Michael Jackson was inevitable, and by the 1980s, he had become infinitely more popular than his brotherly group. He was the first solo artist to generate four top ten hits on the Billboard charts on one album with his debut solo album 'Off the Wall' (1979). It sold around 20 million copies worldwide.

This success culminated in the biggest-selling album of all time, 'Thriller' (1982) with sales of over 100 million copies worldwide. The album generated seven top ten hits in the USA.

With his next album, 'Bad' (1987), he even generated five #1 hits in the USA. He was the highest-earning singer of 1988-1989, with $125 million from his worldwide 'Bad' album tour.

A TV natural, he ventured rather uneasily into films, such as playing the Scarecrow opposite Diana Ross as Dorothy in The Wiz (Sidney Lumet, 1978), but he had much better luck with elaborate music videos.

Jackson hired film director Martin Scorsese to direct the video for the "Bad" album's title track. When the 18-minute music video debuted on television, it sparked a great deal of controversy as it was apparent that Jackson's appearance had changed dramatically. Starting with 'Michael Jackson: Black or White' (1991), Jackson and his record company referred to his music videos as "short films," never "videos".

His video for 'Michael Jackson: Thriller' (1983), which was directed by John Landis, is widely regarded as one of the greatest music videos of all time. In the 1990s, the downside as a 1980s pop phenomenon began to rear itself. Michael grew terribly child-like and introverted by his peerless celebrity.

A rather timorous, androgynous figure to begin with, his physical appearance began to change drastically. In 1993 Jackson claimed that his changing skin color is due to a skin disorder vitiligo whilst on The Oprah Winfrey Show. His behaviour grew alarmingly bizarre, making him a consistent target for scandal-making, despite his numerous charitable acts.

Two brief marriages - to Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley (1994-1996) and to Debbie Rowe (1996-1999) - were forged. He had two children with his second wife. The purposes behind these marriages appeared image-oriented. In November 2002, Jackson shocked his fans when he dangled his third child, infant Bigi Jackson, over a balcony on the fourth floor of a Berlin, Germany hotel for all hovering fans to see.

Michael Jackson died in 2009 in Los Angeles, California. His death triggered an outpouring of grief. Fans gathered outside the UCLA Medical Center, his Holmby Hills home, the Apollo Theater in New York, and at Hitsville U.S.A., the old Motown headquarters in Detroit where his career began, now the Motown Museum. Streets around the hospital were blocked off, and across America people left offices and factories to watch the breaking news on television.

Gary Brumburgh at IMDb: "His passion and artistry as a singer, dancer, writer, and businessman were unparalleled, and it is these prodigious talents that will ultimately prevail over the extremely negative aspects of his troubled adult life." Michael Jackson sold over 750 million albums worldwide.

Michael Jackson (1958-2009) RIP
French postcard by Editions F Nugeron, no. Star 89.

Michael Jackson: Billie Jean (1983)
French postcard by Editions F. Nugeron, no. Star 77. Michael Jackson in the video clip Billie Jean (Steve Barron, 1983). Caption: The Little Prince of Rock.

Michael Jackson
French postcard by Editions SPR, Réf. 163.

Sources: Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

11 May 2021

Il pastor fido (1918)

The Italian silent film Il pastor fido/The Faithful Shepherd (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918) is an Arcadian tragicomedy among the descendants of Hercules and Pan. Two young people of divine descent have to marry to prevent the sacrifice of virgins to the goddess Diana. The plot is filled with love and jealousy, there is a secret meeting in a cave, an accidental shot with an arrow and a suicide... The Italian press liked the luminosity of the images of the film, and the beauty of the actresses and actors.

Pastor Fido

Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9416, no. 1 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: Oh, father of the one who is destined to be a victim of the Great Goddess, stop!... (Carino, Mirtillo's foster father, indicates Montano as his real father).

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9417, no. 2 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: The Bacchae.

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9418, no. 3 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: Proud and handsome hunter Silvio goes boar hunting.

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9419, no. 4 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: The dance of the Bacchae.

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9421, no. 5 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: The Satyr leads the priests to the cave of Ericina. (Lured by Corisca and the Satyr, the priests discover Amarilli and Mirtillo in the cave).

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9422, no. 6 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: Dear or alive, today you will be my wife, and with you Silvio will be dead or alive too. (Silvio after he has shot Dorinda and recognised his love).

A secret rendez-vous in a cave


Il pastor fido/The Faithful Shepherd (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918) was based on the pastoral tragicomedy 'Il pastor fido'(1590) by Giovan Battista Guarini, which was enormously popular in the late 16th and 17th century. It inspired many madrigals by a.o. Claudio Monteverdi, an opera by Georg Friedrich Händel, etc. The text had over 100 re-editions.

The silent Italian film was made by the Roman company Floreal-Film. The sets were designed by Giuseppe Sciti and the cinematography was by Mario Bacino.

The plot deals with two couples who cannot have each other. The Arcadians are forced to sacrifice virgins to the goddess Diana unless two young people of divine descent marry each other. The high-priest Montano, a descendant of Hercules, therefore decides to marry his son Silvio with the nymph Amarilli, a descendant of Pan.

Yet, Silvio is only interested in hunting, despite Dorinda's love for him. Instead, Amarilli loves the shepherd Mirtillo, while he is being loved by the perfidious Corisca. The latter concocts a plan to get rid of her rival Amarilli, warning the priests she is having a secret rendezvous with Mirtillo in a cave.

Amarilli is condemned to death but Mirtillo sacrifices himself to go in her place. Yet, Mirtillo's father comes just in time to declare that Mirtillo is really the son of Montano, so Mirtillo and Amarilli may marry, as both are of divine descent, ending the wrath of the goddess. Silvio too at last has found love with Dorinda, after having her accidentally shot with an arrow, thinking she was a beast. While in Guarini's tale Corisca repents and is forgiven, in the film she commits suicide.

Tito Alacci in the journal Film raved about the luminosity of the images, and the beauty of the actresses and actors, in the first place the main actress Mary Bayma-Riva, as well as Annibale Ninchi, who had the male lead in the film. Instead, Renato Landi in Apollon disliked 'the American style' of the film (meaning the analytical editing) and the too-lose outdoor scenography, even if praising the film too.

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9424, no. 8 (from a series of 14 postcards - no. 7 is missing). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: The perfidious Corisca turns with subtle weapons to Mirtillo.

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9425, no. 9 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: [Mirtillo:] Amarilli, pardons, the necessity of love has no laws.

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9426, no. 10 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: [Mirtillo:] Oh spring, the youth of the year, beautiful mother of flowers of new herbs and new loves.

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9427, no. 11 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: Blindfolded [Amarilli and Mirtillo].

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9428, no. 12 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: O god of men and gods, defend her, I pray thee, from the impious snare of death. [Silvio devastated as he has wounded Dorinda, thus discovering love]. Silvio may have been acted by Annibale Ninchi.

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9428, no. 13 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: And the fake braids, which even in those times added beauty to girls, serve to complete a sweet deception [Probably Corisca and Amarilli].

Pastor Fido
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex 9429, no. 14 (from a series of 14 postcards). Photo: Floreal Film. Publicity still for Il pastor fido (Telemaco Ruggeri, 1918). Caption: Glimpsing from her flowering bushes, Corisca sees the young Ephebe and admires his graceful appearance [Corisca and Mirtillo]. It seems like Mirtillo was played by Mary Bayma-Riva, who was the star of the film.

Sources: Aldo Bernardini/Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano - Italian), Wikipedia (Italian, English and Dutch), and IMDb.