12 July 2019

Producer Artur Brauner dies at 100

On Sunday 7 July 2019, prolific film producer and writer Arthur Brauner (1918-2019) has passed away. He was one of the most successful and best-known film producers in Germany. Brauner, himself Jewish, produced over 20 films about the Holocaust. His award-winning films include Il giardino dei Finzi Contini/The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970) and Europa Europa (1990). The postcards in this post give an impression of the films Brauner's company CCC produced.

Artur Brauner (1918-2019)
German autograph card.

Luis Mariano in Der Zarewitsch (1954)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1336. Photo: CCC / Gloria / Arthur Grimm. Luis Mariano in Der Zarewitsch/The Little Czar (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1954).

Nadja Regin in Roman eines Frauenarztes (1954)
German postcard by Ufa/Film-Foto, no. I 240. Photo: A. Grimm / CCC Film / Gloria. Nadja Regin in Roman eines Frauenarztes/Novel of a gynaecologist (Falk Harnack, 1954).

Ingrid Lutz in Du mein stilles Tal  (1955)
West-German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1622. Photo: CCC / Gloria / Arthur Grimm. Ingrid Lutz in Du mein stilles Tal/You my quiet valley (Leonard Steckel, 1955).

Angelika Meissner in Der erste Frühlingstag (1956)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. F 10. Photo: A. Grimm / CCC / Deutsche London. Angelika Meissner in Der erste Frühlingstag/The first day of spring (Helmut Weiss, 1956).

A revival of Dr. Mabuse

Artur Brauner was born Abraham Brauner, the oldest son of a Jewish family, in Łódź, Lódzkie, Poland in 1918. His father was a timber wholesaler. His brother was the later producer and production manager Wolf Brauner.

Brauner attended a general education liceum in Łódź, where he took the matura final exam, and then studied at a local polytechnic technical school. As a young man, he saw Fritz Lang's film Das Testament der Dr. Mabuse/The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), which affected him greatly, making him interested in film.

After the Nazis attacked Poland in September 1939, he and his parents and four siblings were forced to flee. The family moved to the Soviet Union, thus escaping the fate of other family members who were murdered in the massacres by German forces at Babi Yar in Ukraine.

After the war, his parents and three of his siblings emigrated to Israel. Despite his plans to emigrate to the United States, Brauner founded in 1946 his production company Central Cinema Company (CCC) in the American sector of Berlin.

His first production was the romantic comedy Sag' die Wahrheit/Tell the truth (Helmut Weiss, 1946) with Gustav Fröhlich and Mady Rahl. Brauner was the associate producer. Such popular films enabled him to produce films on topics close to his heart, including a number on the Holocaust.

As early as 1948, Brauner made Morituri (Eugen York, 1948), a film about the escape of prisoners from a concentration camp. It was a commercial failure and threw him into debt. Brauner realised that to produce critically successful films he had to make up their losses by producing critically derided films that were appreciated by the public.

With his brother Wolf, he built a career producing a seemingly relentless backbeat of music films, medical dramas, Westerns, tales of youthful rebellion and Heimatfilms. He lured back many Germans who had experience in Hollywood such as Robert Siodmak. His film Der 20. Juli/The Plot to Assassinate Hitler (Falk Harnack, 1955) was a fictionalised recounting of the failed attempt by Claus von Stauffenberg to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944. The film won several German awards.

Brauner convinced the German director Fritz Lang to return to Germany from Hollywood for a sequel to Das Testament der Dr. Mabuse/The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), a film that the Nazis had banned. The sequel, Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse/The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960) with Dawn Addams and Peter van Eyck, was the last film directed by Lang. It started a revival of Dr. Mabuse.

Ivan Desny and Lilli Palmer in Anastasia - Die letzte Zarentochter (1956)
German postcard by Ufa, Wanne-Eickel, no. 393. Photo: Arthur Grimm / CCC / NF-Film. Ivan Desny and Lilli Palmer in Anastasia - Die letzte Zarentochter/Anastasia: The Czar's Last Daughter (Falk Harnack, 1956).

Ulla Jacobsson
German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, no. 1999. Photo: CCC / Constantin-Film / Grimm. Ulla Jacobsson in Die Letzten werden die Ersten sein/The Last Ones Shall Be First (Rolf Hansen, 1957).

Olive Moorefield
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf., no. 2644. Photo: CCC / Deutsche Film Hansa (DFH) / Arthur Grimm. Olive Moorefield in Einmal eine grosse Dame sein/To be a great lady for once (Erik Ode, 1957).

Alice & Ellen Kessler
German postcard by Kolibri Verlag G.m.b.H, Minden/Westf., no. 2797. Photo: CCC / Constantin Film/ Arthur Grimm. Alice & Ellen Kessler in Der Graf von Luxemburg/The Count of Luxemburg (Werner Jacobs, 1957).

Horst Frank in Abschied von den Wolken (1959)
German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorff, no. 2866. Photo: CCC / Deutsche Film Hansa / Grimm. Horst Frank in Abschied von den Wolken/Rebel Flight to Cuba (Gottfried Reinhardt, 1959).

Capturing the emotional range and contradictions of postwar West Germany

Artur Brauner did much to keep Germans entertained through the decades after the second world war — and also made sure that they did not ignore the dark realities of their history that he had experienced at first hand.

He co-produced Il giardino dei Finzi Contini/The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Vittorio De Sica, 1971), starring Dominique Sanda and Helmut Berger. The film was based on Giorgio Bassani’s book about a Jewish family in 1930s fascist Italy. It won an Academy Award for best foreign film.

His film Die Weisse Rose/The White Rose (Michael Verhoeven, 1982), starring Lena Stolze, told the story of a German anti-fascist resistance group whose leaders were guillotined by the Nazis in 1943.

In 1992, Brauner produced Europa Europa, Agnieszka Holland’s film about a Jewish boy who disguised himself as a Hitler Youth to survive the war. The film, based on the autobiography of Solomon Perel, was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe award.

Brauner also produced and co-wrote Babij Jar (Jeff Kanew, 2003), a film about the Babi Yar massacres, where many of his own relatives had been killed. According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, about 100,000 people were murdered there.

In 2010, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel named a new media centre for Brauner. He reportedly called the recognition “the crowning achievement of my film career.”

Last year he allowed director Dominik Kuhn to re-work Fritz Lang's Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse (1960). Kuhn is known in the German-speaking world as 'Dodokay' from his comedic dubs in Swabian (a south German accent) on YouTube. He completely re-cut the film, shot additional footage, re-formatted it to 2.35:1, fitted the new version with a new story line, visual effects, new sound design, a score by Dennis Le Rose and finally dubbed all the original voices himself. The result was the comedy Die 1000 Glotzböbbel vom Dr. Mabuse (2018).

On 7 July 2019, Artur Brauner died in Berlin, Germany at the age of 100. He had been married to costume designer Maria Brauner-Stammgast, from 1947 till her death in 2017. They had four children, including the film producer Alice Brauner. Over the years, Artur Brauner’s company Central Cinema Company Film (CCC) produced over 700 films and TV programs. Brauner was a recipient of the Bundesverdienstkreuz. At the 2003 Berlinale, he was awarded the Berlinale Kamera honouring his lifetime achievement.

Frederick Studemann in The Financial Times: "Brauner is remembered for capturing the emotional range and contradictions of postwar West Germany — from memory and suppression, thrill-seeking and modernity, to the desire for harmony and homeliness — all the while reminding fellow citizens of recently perpetrated horrors."

Carlos Thompson in Franziska (1957)
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. FT 20. Photo: CCC / Gloria-Film / Grimm. Carlos Thompson in Franziska (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1957).

Der Schut (1964) with Lex Barker and Ralf Wolter
German postcard by Heinerle Karl-May-Postkarten, no. 15. Photo: CCC / Gloria. Lex Barker and Ralf Wolter in Der Schut/The Yellow One (Robert Siodmak, 1964). Caption: "Am Abend im Hause Galingré: 'Halef, ich werde dem Mübarek einen Streich spielen. Deshalb musstest du mir Wismut und Quecksilber besorgen. Daraus mache ich Kugeln, die genau aussehen wie Bleikugeln, aber beim Schiessen zerfallen. Nun lade ich das Gewehr immer abwechselnd mit einer Kugel aus Blei und mit einer falschen...''" (In the evening at home Galingré: "Halef, I will play a trick on the Mübarek. Therefore, you had to get me bismuth and mercury. From this I''ll make bullets that look like lead bullets, but disintegrate during firing. Now I'll load the gun alternately with a bullet made of lead and a fake one ...")

Guy Madison in Old Shatterhand (1964)
German postcard, no. 23 (1-36). Photo: CCC Produktion / Constantin. Guy Madison in Old Shatterhand (Hugo Fregonese, 1964). Caption: "Captain Bradley ist der neue Kommandant von Fort Grant." (Captain Bradley is the new commander of Fort Grant).

Die Nibelungen (1966)
German postcard, no. 15. Photo: CCC / Constantin Film. Publicity still for Die Nibelungen, Teil 1 - Siegfried / Siegfried (Harald Reinl, 1967) with Uwe Beyer as Siegfried and Siegfried Wischnewski as Hagen. Caption: "Hagen überredet König Gunther, zu Siegfrieds Abschied einen Jagdausflug zu veranstalten. Unter dem Vorwand, Siegfried eine nahe gelegene Quelle zu zeigen, lockt Hagen mit des Königs wissen diesen von der Jagdgesellschaft weg. Als sich Siegfried, Erfrischung suchend, über die Quelle neigt, trifft ihn Hagens wohlgezielter Speer an der verwundbaren Stelle. Vergebens bäumt sich Siegfried noch einmal auf." (Hagen persuades King Gunther to organise a hunting trip as Siegfried's farewell. Under the pretext of showing Siegfried a nearby source, Hagen lures with the king know, him off the hunt. When Siegfried, searching for refreshment, leans over the source Hagen's well-aimed spear hits him on the vulnerable spot. In vain Siegfried rears up again. ")

Karin Dor (1939-2017)
German postcard, no. 15 (1-36). Photo: CCC / Constantin. Karin Dor in Winnetou und Shatterhand im Tal der Toten/The Valley of Death (Harald Reinl, 1968). Caption: Mabel wants to give the letter to the bandits to save Lieutenant Cummings.

Sources: Toby Axelrod (The Jerusalem Post), Frederick Studemann (Financial Times), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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