11 November 2012

Andrea Domburg

Andrea Domburg (1923 - 1997) was one of the greatest Dutch actresses of the 20th Century. She was unforgettable as Queen Wilhelmina in Paul Verhoeven’s Soldaat van Oranje/Soldier of Orange (1977).

Andrea Domburg
Dutch postcard. Photo: Godfried de Groot, Amsterdam.

Hidden Cameras
Andrea Domburg was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1923. During the war, she was a nurse in the Wilhelmina Hospital in Amsterdam, assisted in the war photographer Marius Meijboom in his studio where a.o. passport photos for false identity cards were made. After the war she posed dressed as a nurse with Marius' wife Margaret Meijboom for photos on which was staged how photographers from the Underground Camera movement made use of hidden cameras. She started her stage career in 1946 at Theater Plezier under Floris Meslier with Toon Hermans and Max Tailleur. A year later she moved to the cabaret of Cor Ruys. Her first theatre company was the Rotterdam Theatre, where she worked from 1951 till 1954. Then she played in several Dutch companies many roles, from classical to modern. In 1957 she made her film debut in the comedy Kleren maken de man/Clothes make the man (1957, Georg Jacoby) starring Kees Brusse. The following year she appeared in the first Dutch color film, Jenny (1958, Willy van Hemert) featuring Ellen van Hemert. A huge hit was the musical comedy Fanfare (1958, Bert Haanstra) about the rivalry between twoamateur brass bands. That same year she also appeared in the Anglo-American spy thriller Spy in the Sky! (1958, W. Lee Wilder) with Steve Brodie and Sandra Francis. The director was the somewhat less prestigious producer-director brother of Billy Wilder. At IMDb, Michael O’Brien reviews: “Steve Brodie is an unexciting hero, and this set-in-Vienna thriller is no Third Man. Camera work is competent, but that just means the occasionally pleasing piece of filming just reminds us how dull the dialogue and the under-rehearsed cast are the rest of the time.” Another thriller, the Dutch production Kermis in de Regen/Fair in the Rain (1962, Kees Brusse), was neither a success. However, Van Domburg's main career was the stage. In 1959 she received the silver medal of the Association of Dutch theatre managements. In 1960 and 1963 she was honored with the silver Bouwmeester medal (named after legendary actor Louis Boumeester), a.o. for her performance in Happy Days by Samuel Beckett. In 1968 she received another prestigious Dutch theatre award, the Theo d'Or for her role in Kooien (Cages). The name of this annual award for the best female lead in a Dutch stage play is a reminder of the famous Dutch actress Theo Mann-Bouwmeester, sister of Louis. Her film career was revived with parts in two films by director René Daalder, Lichaam en ziel 2/ Body and soul 2 (1968) and De blanke slavin/The White Slave (1969) with Günther Ungeheuer. She played the mother of Lex van Delden in the successful TV mini-series Karakter/Character (1971, Walter van der Kamp). In the cinema, she was seen as the matriarch of a family that owns a meat-packing corporation in the dark satire VD (1972, Wim Verstappen) opposite Kees Brusse and Yoka Berretty. Daniel Linssen at IMDb: “The plot is too complicated to tell in a few words, but there is intrigue, love affairs, and even Intel in the story. I myself find the script as written by Verstappen ingenious, and even brilliant. Most of the film is happening in interiors, there is a whole lot of (funny) dialogue, and still it is an entertaining and comic, and very watchable movie from the first minute to the last.”

Ellen van Hemert
Ellen van Hemert . Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 3192. Photo: N.V. Standaardfilms. Publicity still for Jenny (1958).

Yoka Berretty
Yoka Berretty. Postcard by Forronia.

Queen Wilhelmina
From 1973 on, Andrea Domburg lived for many years in France with husband painter and jazz musician Ferdi Posthuma de Boer. In that period she played mostly roles for television and film, and she was not on stage. A huge commercial hit was Keetje Tippel/Katie Tippel (1975, Paul Verhoeven) starring Monique van de Ven and Rutger Hauer. She worked again with Verhoeven on his war film Soldaat van Oranje/Soldier of Orange (1977, Paul Verhoeven). Karl Williams at AllMovie: “With this fact-based World War II drama and the equally memorable The Fourth Man (1983), Dutch director Paul Verhoeven gained an international following, eventually translating his reputation into Hollywood fame as the director of bloody science fiction spectacles and prurient sex thrillers. Rutger Hauer stars as Erik Landshof, an aristocratic Dutch student, one of six carefree friends who don't care much for politics. When the Nazis invade Holland, however, the group is drawn inevitably into the conflict. While Alex (Derek de Lint) joins the German army, the suave Guus (Jeroen Krabbe) becomes a resistance leader, eventually escaping with Erik to England, where they become pawns in a much larger underground movement to restore their country's Queen Wilhelmina (Andrea Domburg) to her rightful throne.” Playing the key role of Queen Wilhelmina asked for a complete physical transformation of the actress. She later said it was her most difficult but also most beautiful role. Two years later she also appeared in a little known TV film by Verhoeven, Voorbij voorbij/All Things Pass (1979, Paul Verhoeven) about the revenge of a group of resistance fighters 35 years after the war. She continued to mix roles in feature films like Kort Amerikaans/Crew Cut (1979, Guido Pieters) starring Derek de Lint with prestigious TV series like Van oude mensen, de dingen die voorbij gaan/About old people and things that pass by (1975-1976, Walter van der Kamp), based on the novel by Louis Couperus. During the 1980’s she played the biggest shareholder in the popular TV series De fabriek/The Factory (1981-1982, Andrew Wilson). Chip Douglas at IMDb: “Dallasty Done Dutch. By transferring the American formula of commerce and sex into a typically Dutch setting of farming and ‘Boerenkool met worst’ and success was almost unavoidable. The series garnered massive ratings and media attention.” More intimate was the slow-paced, dark film drama De stille Oceaan/The Silent Ocean (1984, Digna Sinke) in which she played the mother of Josée Ruiter. One of her last films was the Belgian historical drama Het gezin van Paemel/The Van Paemel Family (1987, Paul Cammermans) with Senne Rouffaer. In 1989 she received her second Theo d'Or for her role in the one-act stage play Nocturne by Herman Heijermans. Her final screen appearance was a guest role in an episode of the popular police series Baantjer (1995, Berend Boudewijn) featuring Piet Römer as a Dutch Columbo. Andrea Domburg died in 1997 in Amstelveen, the Netherlands.

Short reissue trailer for Fanfare (1958). Source: Karel van het Runsel (YouTube).

American trailer for Keetje Tippel/Katie Tippel (1975). Source: Destro713 (YouTube).

Opening scenes of Soldaat van Oranje/Soldier of Orange (1977) with historical news scenes with Queen Wilhelmina mixed with scenes played by Andrea Domburg. Source: Jeanne1431x (YouTube).

Sources: Trouw (Dutch), Karl Williams (AllMovie), Michael O’Brien (IMDb), Daniel Linssen (IMDb), Chip Douglas (IMDb), Pauline Wesselink (De Mirandabuurt) (Dutch), Wikipedia (Dutch) and IMDb.


Buywartrol.org said...

I had a favorite little theatre at Ansley Mall in Atlanta back in the early 1980s when I lived there where I enjoyed quite a few films from France, Spain, and one favorite from the Netherlands I still consider one of my favorite movies, "Ketje Tippel".

Bob of Holland said...

Thanks for sharing your memory. I saw Keetje Tippel for the first time in the 1970's in a big Dutch cinema. Everybody loved the stars and the daring scenes.

To me, Keetje Tippel also shows a side of Holland which you can see nowhere else in films. The slums in Amsterdam as shown in the film were a very real social problem. In the 1920's socialist politicians destroyed and replaced them by the modernist palaces for the workers, called The Amsterdam School. I am living now in such a house and love it.