27 September 2013

Adolphe Engers

Every year during the last week of September, Utrecht is the Dutch capital of film with the Netherlands Film Festival. During the festival, EFSP provides you daily with postcards of Dutch films and stars from the past. Today's star is Adolphe Engers (1884-1945), who appeared in some 55 German and Dutch films during the 1920s and 1930s.

Adolphe Engers
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3186/1, 1928-1929.

Extra for the Comédie-Française

Adolphe Engers was born in 1884 in Gulpen, in the south of the Netherlands. He was the son of a policeman, and attended a trade school in Elberfeld, Germany. There he also took acting classes from Max Martersteig. He returned to the Netherlands and worked a while for an insurance company.

Soon he moved to Paris and started to work as an extra for French theatre companies like the Comédie-Française. In Paris he made also his first film appearances. In 1912 he returned to Holland and got employ here as a stage actor. He also worked as a translator, in particular of the works of Franz Molnar.

Engers made his Dutch film debut with De Kroon der schande/The Crown of Shame (Maurits Binger, 1918) before he appeared in the British-Dutch production Fate's Plaything/Wat eeuwig blijft (Maurits Binger, B.E. Doxat-Pratt, 1920) and the Dutch production De Bruut/The Brute (Theo Frenkel, 1922).

Ernst Winar
Ernst Winar. Vintage postcard, no. 988/1. Collection: Egbert Barten. The Dutch actor-director Ernst Winar directed Adolphe Engers in the silent Flappy serial in Berlin, and later again in Holland in the film musical Op stap/On the Road (1935).

Asta Nielsen

In 1920 Adolphe Engers moved to Germany where he became a very busy film actor. He played in well-known films like Die Benefiz-Vorstellung der vier Teufel/The Benefit performance of the Four Devils (A.W. Sandberg, 1920), Die Geliebte Roswolskys/The Lover of Roswolky (Felix Basch, 1921) starring the Danish diva Asta Nielsen, Sie und die Drei/She and the Three (Ewald André Dupont, 1922) starring Henny Porten, Der Frauenkönig/The King of the Ladies (Jaap Speyer, 1923), Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s delicious comedy Die Finanzen des Grossherzogs/Finances of the Grand Duke (1924), Auf Befehl der Pompadour/By Order of That Pompadour Woman (Friedrich Zelnik, 1924) and Elegantes Pack/Elegant Suit (Jaap Speyer, 1925).

Adolphe Engers was also very successful with his leading role in the Flappy serial, three short films directed by Dutch director Ernst Winar for the Berliner Terra Film AG. Winar directed him also in the Dutch-German crime film De man op den Achtergrond/Der Mann im Hintergrund/The Man in the Background (Ernst Winar, 1923).

In the second part of the 1920s the impressive actor went on to appear in such films as Der Prinz und die Tänzerin/The Prince and the Dancer (Richard Eichberg, 1926) with Hans Albers, Die Fahrt ins Abenteuer/The Wooing of Eve (Max Mack, 1926) with Ossi Oswalda and Willy Fritsch, Gehetzte Frauen/Badgered Women (Richard Oswald, 1927) again opposite Asta Nielsen, Die Königin seines Herzens/The Queen of His Heart (Victor Janson, 1928) with Liane Haid, Don Juan in der Mädchenschule/Don Juan in the Girls’ School (Reinhold Schünzel, 1928), Sündig und süss/Sinful and Sweet (Carl Lamac, 1929) with Anny Ondra, and Sensation im Wintergarten/Their Son (Joe May, Gennaro Righelli, 1929) till the end of the silent era. He also appeared on stage, e.g. at the Deutschen Künstlertheater.

Johan Kaart, Sylvain Poons, Hansje Andriesen, Matthieu van Eysden, and Adolphe Engers in De Big van het regiment (1935)
Dutch vintage postcard by Monopole Film NV. Photo: Dick van Maarseveen. Still for De Big van het Regiment (Max Nosseck, 1935). Collection: Egbert Barten.


The sound film meant the end of Adolphe Enger's film career in Germany. After a tour through the Dutch Indies, he returned to Holland where he co-wrote and played the lead in the film Terra Nova/New Land (Gerard Rutten, 1932). This fisher drama was meant as the first Dutch sound film, but disappeared completely after differences about the result between the director and the producer.

In the following years, Engers acted regularly in front of the camera, while the Dutch film industry blossomed and many German emigrants started to work here. Engers appeared in the musical Op stap/On the Road (Ernst Winar, 1935) with Fien de la Mar, the military comedy De Big van het regiment/The Mascot of the Regiment (Max Nosseck, 1935) with Frits van Dongen a.k.a. Philip Dorn, Op een avond in mei/One Evening in May (Jaap Speyer, 1936), Veertig Jaren/Forty Years (Johan De Meester, Edmond T. Gréville, 1938) and as a nervous magician in the comic thriller De spooktrein/The Ghost Train (Carl Lamac, 1939), again co-starring with Fien de la Mar.

In the 1930s he was also active as an author of stage plays and novels like Ardjoena - Indische roman (1936). He also gave acting classes at the Conservatory of The Hague. At the start of World War II, he was a member of the stage company De Komedianten (The Comedians), but the Nazis gave the half Jewish Engers a Berufsverbot.

Engers last film was a curiosity he made while hiding for the Nazis. Moord in het modehuis/Murder in the Fashion Store (Alfred Mazure, Piet van der Ham, 1943), was a film version of Mazure’s popular detective comic Dick Bos. The film would never be shown in the cinema. One of the reasons was that Mazure refused to make a Nazi of his hero.

Adolphe Engers died in 1945 in The Hague. In 1991 suddenly a copy of his lost film Terra Nova (1932) was found. The former Dutch Filmmuseum (now Eye) reconstructed the film, added a new score to it and reissued the film in 1994.

Frits van Dongen, Cruys Voorbergh, Matthieu van Eysden, Adolphe Engers, and Johan Kaart
Dutch vintage postcard by Monopole Film NV. Photo: Dick van Maarseveen. Still for De Big van het Regiment (Max Nosseck, 1935). Collection: Egbert Barten.

Source: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Filmtotaal.nl (Dutch), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

1 comment:

Bob of Holland said...

After reading this post, Jan sent me a mail. Before Terra Nova (1932),Adolphe Engers worked in 1931 also on Finale, another failed project by director Gerard Rutten. Jan guesses Engers did not appear in Rutten's later project Dood Water, because he did not want to be involved in another debacle. (Dood Water became one of the best films of the Dutch cinema of the 1930's though).

Source: Henk Nijkeuter (Ben van Eysselsteijn (1898-1973), Drent uit heimwee en verlangen).