09 March 2013

Gretl Berndt

Blonde Austrian actress Gretl Berndt (1907 - ?) had a brief film career in the Austrian and German cinema of the late 1920’s and first half of the 1930’s. But her first love was and stayed the theatre.

Gretl Berndt
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5240/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Aafa-film.

The mysterious legacy
Gretl (sometimes credited as Gretel) Berndt (sometimes Bernd or Bernd-Larsen) was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria) in 1907. She made her film debut as Gretl Bernd-Larsen with the short silent film Das mysteriöse Vermächtnis/The mysterious legacy (1925, Hans Otto). It was followed by the silent films Infantrist Wamperls dreijähriges Pech/Infantryman Wamperl's three years of bad luck (1927, Robert Wohlmuth) and Das Schweigen im Walde/The Silence of the Forest (1929, Wilhelm Dieterle aka William Dieterle). She was devoted to the theatre and after her debut followed only a few more film appearances. She was the leading lady in early sound films like Die Jagd nach den Millionen/Chase for Millions (1930, Max Obal, Rudolf Walther-Fein) with Luciano Albertini, the romantic musical Das Rheinlandmädel/The Rhineland Model (1930, Johannes Meijer), and the Italian production Patatrac (1931, Gennaro Righelli). In the latter she was credited as Greta Berndt. Then she played supporting parts in Die Försterchristl/The Forester’s Little Daughter (1931, Friedrich Zelnik aka Frederic Zelnik) starring Irene Eisinger, and Unheimliche Geschichten/Five Sinister Stories (1932, Richard Oswald) starring Paul Wegener.

Gretl Berndt
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5326/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Atelier Manassé, Wien.

Shadows of the Past
Gretl Berndt later used the name Gretl Bernd–Larsen again. Thus she was credited in Alles für die Firma/Everything for the firm (1935, Rudolf Meinert), and ...nur ein Komödiant/Just a Comedian (1935, Erich Engel). In these later films she mainly played supporting parts. Her last film was the crime drama Schatten der Vergangenheit/Shadows of the Past (1936, Werner Hochbaum) with Luise Ullrich. About this film the Dutch site Cinema.nl writes: "A very interesting direction of a complicated script about changing identities with a courageous wink to the actual situation in Nazi-Germany. Director Hochbaum deserves to be rediscovered." Gretl Berndt then retired from the screen, but she continued with her stage work. During the Second World War, Gretl Bernd-Larsen was a featured performer at the Kabaret Don Juan in Paris during the Occupation. We could not find more information about her on the web. Is she still alife?

Gretl Berndt
Vintage postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Cinema.nl (Dutch) and IMDb. Special thanks to Mary LaMarca, who provided some info on Gretl Berndt in a comment on an earlier version of this post.


papel1 said...

Beautiful ladies. Thanks for stopping by my blog again. Nothing like old movies!

Mary LaMarca (mlamarca@bryant.edu) said...

I am currently doing research on Occupied France using German Language journals. Greta-Berndt-Larsen is the featured performer at the Kabaret Don Juan, 11 rue Fromentin (Pigalle) in Paris during the Occupation. The info comes from "Der Deutsche Wegleiter". I'm up to December 1941, and she's been consistently featured in their ads.

Paul van Yperen said...

Hi Mary, thanks for the information. I really appreciate it. Good luck with your research project and greetings from Amsterdam, Bob