29 November 2011

Barbara von Annenkoff

Russian born actress Barbara von Annenkoff appeared as an elegant lady in German films of the 1920s and 1930s.

Barbara von Annenkoff
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1822, 1927-1928. Photo: E. Bieber, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Strangely and Undeservedly Forgotten

Barbara von Annenkoff was born St. Petersburg, Russia in 1900.

She started her film career in German silent films like Die Luftfahrt über den Ozean/The aviation about the ocean (Wolfgang Neff, 1924) and Der Sturz ins Glück/The Fall in Luck (Adolf E. Licho, 1924).

That same year she also played in the Dutch/German fisher drama Op hoog van zegen/Die Fahrt ins Verderben (James Bauer, Henk Kleinmann, 1924) starring Adele Sandrock as an old fisher woman and Hans Adalbert Schlettow as her son who’s tragically killed at sea.

The next year, she played Helena in the William Shakespeare adaptation Ein Sommernachtstraum/A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hans Neumann, 1925) with Hans Albers as Demetrius.

At The Bioscope, Urbanora reviews: “Ein Sommernachstraum is a fascinating film, strangely and undeservedly forgotten by the posterity that is to come. It is, of course, based on William Shakespeare’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is the title it has been given in America, though in Britain it has been rather curiously renamed Wood Love. It is the last silent film to be made of a Shakespeare play, and one of the oddest of that distinctly odd genre. (…)

It satirizes the performance of Shakespeare, and the rather confused critics have variously described it as being ribald, charming, stagey, sincere, magical, dull, and grotesque. The Berlin censors pronounced it as being forbidden to juveniles. That this is intentionally a radical production can be seen from the presence of contributors such as the well-known poet and critic Alfred Henschke, writing the titles which slyly parody Shakespeare, while director Hans Neumann has been previously distinguished as a producer of titles such as Robert ‘Caligari’ Wiene’s strikingly expressionist Raskolnikov. Yet some critics see it only as being conventionally charming, with such magical features as double exposures for appearing and disappearing fairy folk.”

Henry Stuart
Henry Stuart. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3448/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Hanni Schwarz.

A German Western

Although Barbara von Annenkoff played mainly supporting parts as elegant ladies, she had also a few leading roles in the German silent cinema, such as in Derby. Ein Ausschnitt aus der Welt des Trabersports/Derby (Max Reichmann, Joe May, 1926) with Henry Stuart.

Other silent films were Höhere Töchter/Higher daughters (Richard Löwenbein, 1927) featuring Grete Mosheim, and Fürst oder Clown/Prince or Clown (Aleksandr Razumnyj, 1928) with Marcella Albani.

There was an interval in her film career after the introduction of sound film. She made her sound debut in a small role as a Russian higher class lady in the operetta Petersburger Nächte/Waltzes at the Neva (E.W. Emo, 1935) starring Paul Hörbiger and Theo Lingen.

The following years she played bit parts in the German Western Der Kaiser von Kalifornien/The Emperor of California (Luis Trenker, 1936) and the Gustave Flaubert adaptation Madame Bovary (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1937) starring Pola Negri.

Her last film was the Marika Rökk operetta Tanz mit dem Kaiser/Dance with the Emperor (Georg Jacoby, 1941). Later, she incidentally appeared on television.

Barbara von Annenkoff passed away in 1978 in Baden-Baden, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. She was 78.

Marika Rökk
Marika Rökk. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 179, 1941-1944. Photo: UFA.

Sources: Urbanora (The Bioscope), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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