04 October 2012

Louis Chrispijn Jr.

This week EFSP has its yearly Netherlands Film Star Postcards Festival again. During the Netherlands Film Festival (26 September - 5 October 2012) we provide you daily with postcards and bios of Dutch film stars. Louis Chrispijn junior (1876 - 1931) was an actor and director of the Dutch theatre and (silent) cinema.

Louis Chrispijn junior
Dutch postcard by Weenenk & Snel, Den Haag. Photo: Willem Coret.

999 Adulterous Couples
Louis Johan Franciscus Chrispijn junior was born in Amsterdam in 1876, as the son of theatre and film director Louis Chrispijn senior and stage actress Marie van Westerhoven. Between 1892 and 1894 he did his theatre school training. He then worked at the Nederlandsch Tooneel, co-founded by his father (1899-1902), Van Lier (1902-1903), Prot (1903-1909) - where he had his first triumphs - and Willem Royaards' Het Tooneel. He then worked with famous author Herman Heijermans and played a.o. in the latter's miner’s drama Glück auf! (1912). Returned to Prot, he was also successful with Het Cafétje (Tristan Bernard's Le petit café). From 1912 on, Chrispijn had his own stage companies. In 1912-1914 he had the Frascati Ensemble, specialised in comedy. In 1909, Chrispijn junior had directed the film comedy 999+1, produced at the new film studio by Anton Nöggerath junior, entitled Filmfabriek [film factory] F.A. Nöggerath. Actually it was not a real film, but a stage play with film inserts. In this play, based on the French farce Le 1000ième Constat, a police inspector (Jan Buderman) who has traced 999 adulterous couples discovers number 1000 is his own wife. She has an affair with the Director of the Department of Public Morals. In 1911 Chrispijn directed another play in which filmic inserts were used: Amsterdam op hol! (Amsterdam on the Run). This time it was a revue in five acts and Leon Boedels directed the inserts. It showed the internationally widely used format of an actor – Isidore Zwaaf in this case - being filmed while running across the city, trying to get in time at the theatre, after which the performer would appear alive on stage. The same year Chrispijn directed a complete film for Nöggerath: the drama Ontrouw/Infidelity (1911). It was the first production at Nöggerath’s newly built film studio in Sloten near Amsterdam. In this film a colonel’s wife (Caroline van Dommelen) falls in love with a young lieutenant (Chrispijn himself). When the husband (Kees Lageman) is deadly hurt in a duel with the lover, he curses his wife. After this film, Chrispijn continued to act in four more films, but stopped film directing. Until the studio’s collapse in 1913, directing at the Nöggerath film studio would be continued by Leon Boedels and Caroline van Dommelen, the first female film director in the Netherlands.

Mary Smithuysen, G. Chrispijn-Mulder, Sylvain Poons, De familie van mijn vrouw
Gusta Chrispijn-Mulder with Mary Smithuysen and Sylvain Poons. Dutch postcard by M. B.& Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Loet C. Barnstijn Productie. Publicity still for De familie van mijn vrouw/My Wife's Family (1935).

From 1913 on, Louis Chrispijn junior acted in the films directed by his father. Chrispijn Senior was hired by director/producer Maurits Binger to direct films at the new Hollandia film company. In Krates (1913, Louis Chrispijn sr.) Chrispijn junior played the supporting part of a notary, in a story about the poor hunchback Krates (Cor Laurentius) who proves to be a talented musician. Others plot to rob him from an inheritance by pretending another young hunchback is the heir, but the swindlers are unmasked in the end. After a minor part in the drama Telegram uit Mexico/Telegram from Mexico (1913, Louis Chrispijn sr.), Chrispijn had a more substantial part in the drama Gebroken levens/Heilig recht/Broken Lives/Holy Right (1914, Louis Chrispijn sr.), in which he played a banker’s son who is courting the daughter of the bank’s doorman (Annie Bos). When he is shot, the doorman (Louis Bouwmeester) is suspected and even his daughter believes he is guilty. While his father had an intense career as film director at Hollandia between 1913 and 1915, his son only played in a handful of these films. Instead most of the films by Chrispijn senior starred Hollandia actress Annie Bos or Chrispijn senior’s second wife, Christine Chrispijn-van Meeteren. Dissatisfied with the level of production at Hollandia, Chrispijn senior turned to the stage again, and was director and actor at the Rotterdam stage until 1922. After years of absence from the screen, Louis Chrispijn junior returned one last time to the Hollandia film set for the film Zuster Brown/Sister Brown (1920), directed by Hollandia producer Maurits Binger and the British director Bernard Edwin Doxatt-Pratt, now for the company Anglo-Hollandia. Again Chrispijn played the victim of a gunshot, and again the wrong man is suspected of murder. In 1916-1917 Chrispijn acted with De Rotterdammers company and from 1917 on at the Hofstadtooneel of Cor van der Lugt Melsert in The Hague. His sarcastic mockery on stage was one of his assets cherished by critics. In 1923-1924 Chrispijn directed the company De Rotterdammers, in 1925-1926 the Odeon company (with Eduard Veterman and Nico de Jong) – here actress Fie Carelsen was the leading lady - and the Gezelschap Chrispijn, the Hollandsch Revue-en Operettegezelschap (1928-1929) and the Neerlandsch Tooneel (1929-1930). After a few months of deadly disease, Louis Chrispijn junior died in Amsterdam in 1931. He was only 55 years old. In 1902 he was married to stage and film actress Gusta Chrispijn-Mulder, who would pursue a career as supporting actress in Dutch sound cinema in the 1930's and after. Their daughter was actress Lous Chrispijn.

Scene from Telegram uit Mexico/Telegram from Mexico (1913). Source: Ximon.nl (YouTube).

Sources: Film in Nederland (Dutch), Theaterencyclopedie (Dutch), Geoffrey Donaldson (Of Joy and Sorrow), Database Historische Kranten (Dutch), and IMDb.

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