Paul van Yperen's Blog

February 15, 2019

AB Svenska Biografteatern, also called Svenska Bio, was a film company operating between 1907 and 1919. During the 1910s, Svenska Bio became internationally recognised with films directed by the former stage directors Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller. In 1913, Sjöström directed Ingeborg Holm (1913), which is now considered the first classic of Swedish cinema. A year later, Svenska Bio introduced feature films in the Swedish cinema. In 1919 Svenska Bio merged with Filmindustri AB Skandia and continued its operations as Svensk Filmindustri AB.


Mary Johnson. Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1054. Photo: A.B. Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm.


Harriet Bosse . Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1056. Photo: A.B. Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm.


Lili Beck . Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 10. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.


Victor Sjöström . Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 12. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.

Richard Lund
Richard Lund. Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 13. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.


Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 14. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm. Lars Hanson 's last name is spelled Hansson on this card.

The first Swedish film studio
Sweden has only a small population, but no other country matched the fame of the Swedish cinema during the 1910s and 1920s. The main Swedish studio at the time was AB Svenska Biografteatern, or Svenska Bio.

AB Svenska Biografteatern was formed in 1907 through a conversion of Handelsbolaget Kristianstad Biograf-Teater with a share capital of SEK 150,000 and Nils H. Nylander as the first CEO. At first, the company owned about twenty cinemas and had 170 employees.

The company was based in Kristianstad and engaged in production, distribution and exhibition of films. Svenska Bio produced the first Swedish city films in 1907. These were films that portrayed the places where cinemas were opened.

In 1909, Charles Magnusson became the new CEO, and he would become the major, central figure in Swedish film life. Thanks to him, the number of cinemas grew to some forty around the country. AB Svenska Biografteatern inaugurated in March 1909 its newly built film palace in Kristianstad. In addition to the cinema Cosmorama (about 300 seats), the building also houses workshops, offices, film stores, laboratories and a film studio, that was Sweden's first. The film palace is now the Film Museum in Kristianstad.

Four years later Svenska Bio was the only major player in the Swedish production market. Pathé withdrew after a clash with the Swedish censorship board. Most smaller film companies went bankrupt when multiple film-reel became the new film mode. So Svenska Bio became a monopolist in Sweden and even began to export films to other European nations.


John Ekman. Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 18. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.


Jenny Larsson aka Jenny Tschernichin-Larsson. Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 19. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.


Stina Berg. Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 21. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.


Albin Lavén. Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 22. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.


Adolf Niska. Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 25. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.


Karin Molander . Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm, no. 71. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.

The earliest masterpiece in the Swedish silent film
In 1911 Svenska Bio moved to Lidingö, a municipality east of Stockholm. In 1912, three directors were working at the studio: Georg af Klercker, who was also the studio manager, and the stage directors Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström. Magnusson had hired them both as actor-director. The two would become Sweden's most famous film pioneers.

Stiller and Sjöström came to record some sixty films in Lidingöateljén up until 1917. Ingeborg Holm (Victor Sjöström, 1913) is considered the earliest masterpiece in the Swedish silent film. The film tells the story of Ingeborg Holm who loses her mind when she loses her husband and children. The social commentary in the film lead to a heated debate about the shortcomings of poor care.

Other famous films made in Sweden during that time are Terje Vigen (Victor Sjöström, 1917) after a script by Gustaf Molander, Berg-Ejvind och hans hustru/The Outlaw and His Wife (Victor Sjöström, 1918), and Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919) and others.

In 1914, the company began production and screenings of Svenska Bios weekly. These were the first Swedish film journals. In 1919 Svenska Bio bought land in Råsunda, where the studio planned to build a film city with two studios.

Later in 1919 the company joined forces with Filmindustri AB Skandia, founded a year before in 1918, to form the new Svensk Filmindustri AB. The new company, the biggest film studio in Sweden, had its entire business gathered in the newly built film town, and owned a portfolio of 70 cinemas, then one tenth of the total number of permanent cinemas in Sweden.

A year later, the name of the Svenska Bios weekly was changed to the SF journal and continued to be produced under its new name until 1960.


Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 550. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm. Publicity still of  Lars Hanson ' and Lillebil Christensen in Sängen om den eldröda blomman/The Song of the Red Flower (Mauritz Stiller, 1919).

Karin Molander in Tösen från Stormyrtorpet (1917)
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 843. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern AB. Publicity still for Tösen från Stormyrtorpet/The Girl from the Marsh Croft (Victor Sjöström, 1917), with Karin Molander . Caption: Hildur dressed up as bride.

Berg-Ejvind och hans hustru/The Outlaw and His Wife (1918)
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 844/8. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern AB. Publicity still of  Victor Sjöström  and Edith Erastoff in Berg-Ejvind och hans hustru/The Outlaw and His Wife (Victor Sjöström, 1918). Caption: Outside society.

Victor Sjöström in Thomas Graals bästa film (1917)
Swedish postcard by Ed. Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 876/3. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern AB. Publicity still for Thomas Graals bästa film/Thomas Graal's Best Film (Mauritz Stiller, 1917), with  Victor Sjöström . Caption: The author Thomas Graal at sea.

Hauk Aabel and Stina Stockenstam in Alexander den Store
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 877/1. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern AB. Publicity still for the comedy Alexander den Store/Alexander the Great (Mauritz Stiller, 1917) with Hauk Aabel and Stina Stockenstam. The story of the film deals with a provincial hotel cook, named Alexander the Great, in whose restaurant not only the dishes can be spicy. Caption: Alexander has rediscovered his beloved from his youth.


Swedish postcard by Forlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 993. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm. Publicity still for Sången om den eldröda blomman/Flame of Life (Mauritz Stiller, 1919) with  Lars Hanson '.

Richard Lund in Sir Arne's Treasure
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1078/8. Richard Lund, Bror Berger and Erik Stocklassa in Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919). Caption: On the Lookout.

Klostret i Sendomir (1920)
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1092/15. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern. Publicity still for Klostret i Sendomir/The Monastery of Sendomir (Victor Sjöström, 1920) with Tore Svennberg and Tora Teje .


Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1093/8. Photo: Svenska Biografteatren AB. Publicity still for Karin Ingmarsdotter/God/s Way/Karin Daughter of Ingmar (Victor Sjöström, 1920), starring Tora Teje and with Nils Lundell. It is the second part in Sjöström's large-scale adaption of Selma Lagerlöf's novel 'Jerusalem', following Sons of Ingmar from the year before, and depicting chapter three and four from the novel.

Karin Molander in Fiskebyn
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1094/4. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern. Publicity still of Karin Molander and Egil Eide in Fiskebyn/The Fishing Village/Chains (Mauritz Stiller, 1920).

Sources: Douglas Gomery, Clara Pafort-Overduin (Movie History: A Survey), Nils Kim Gustafsson (Voodoo Film - Swedish), Wikipedia (Swedish) and .
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Published on February 15, 2019 22:00

February 14, 2019

Renée Björling (1888-1975) was a Swedish film and stage actress, who peaked in the Swedish silent cinema. Later she also played small parts in Ingmar Bergman's films and also in his stage plays.

Renée Björling in Carolina Rediviva
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1116/4. Renée Björling in the Swedish silent film Carolina Rediviva (1920), directed by Ivan Hedqvist, who also played one of the leads.

Renée Björling
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, no. 1190. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.

Renée Björling
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1275. Photo: M. Benkow, Atelier Kronen, Stockholm.

Renée Björling
Swedish postcard by Exclusive Ljunggrens Konstförlag, Stockholm, No. 220. Photo: Atelier Gösta Hard.

The Quest for Happiness
Renée Louise Björling was born in 1888 in Lovö, Sweden. Her mother was actress Manda Björling (1876–1960). Her half-sister was opera singer Sigurd Björling (1907–1983).

Renée Björling debuted in 1909 on stage and studied stage acting in 1915-1917 at the Dramatens elevskola. Afterwards she acted at various theatres, e.g. the Nya Teatern, Lorensbergsteatern and the Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern (now Dramaten).

As film actress, she debuted in Fadren/Father (Anna Hofman-Uddgren, 1912), based on a play by August Strindberg. Björling played Bertha, daughter of the protagonist Adolf (August Falck). Afterwards she acted e.g. in the title role in Dunungen/The Quest for Happiness (Ivan Hedqvist, 1919) opposite Hedqvist himself, as Dortka in Victor Sjöström ’s Klostret i Sendomir/The Monastery of Sendomir (1920) with Tore Svennberg and Tora Teje , and as the lead of Carol[in]a in Carolina Rediviva (Ivan Hedqvist, 1920) with, again, Hedqvist himself.

Her silent career continued to flower with films such as En vildfagel/Give Me My Son (John W. Brunius, 1920) with Tore Svennberg, Vallfarten till Kevlaar/The Pilgrimage to Kevlaar (Ivan Hedqvist, 1921) with Torsten Bergström, and Fröken Fob (Elis Ellis, 1923) with Rudolph Forster.

Later films include Norrtullsligan/The Nurtull Gang (Per Lindberg, 1923) with Tora Teje , Carl XIIs Kurir/King Karl XII's Courier (Rudolph Antoni, 1924) with Gösta Ekman and Nils Asther, Livet pa landet/Life in the Country (Ivan Hedqvist, 1924), Halta Lena och Vindögda Per/Limping Lena and Cockeyed Peter (Sigur Wallén, 1925), and Tva konungar/Two Kings (Elis Ellis, 1925).

Her last silent parts were in the farce Charlis tant/Charlie's Aunt (Elis Ellis, 1926), and Gustav Wasa del I/Gustav Wasa, Part One (John W. Brunius, 1928) with Gösta Ekman in the lead.

Dunungen
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1091/1. Publicity still for the Swedish silent film Dunungen/In Quest of Happiness (Ivan Hedqvist 1919), starring Renée Björling and Ragnar Widestedt.

Dunungen
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1091/?. Photo: publicity still for the Swedish silent film Dunungen/In Quest of Happiness (Ivan Hedqvist, 1919), based on a novel by Selma Lagerlöf. The man in the middle is director Ivan Hedqvist as Theodor and the lady on the left is Jenny Tschernichin-Larsson, who plays Teodor's mother.

Dunungen
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1091/10. Photo: publicity still for the Swedish silent film Dunungen/In Quest of Happiness (Ivan Hedqvist 1919), starring Renée Björling and Ivan Hedqvist.

Dunungen
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1091/12. Publicity still for the Swedish silent film Dunungen/In Quest of Happiness (Ivan Hedqvist 1919), starring Renée Björling, Ivan Hedqvist and Ragnar Widestedt.

Ingmar Bergman
In the early 1930s, Renée Björling played parts in Vi som gar köksvägen/Servant's Entrance (Gustav Molander 1932) and the sequel Vi som går kjøkkenveien/We who walk the kitchen path (Tancred Ibsen, 1933). During the war years, Björling had two leads in Gustav Molander's Striden går vidare/The Fight Continues (1941) opposite Victor Sjöström , and in Släkten är bäst/The family is best (Ragnar Falck, 1944) with Sigurd Wallén.


Björling also appeared in small parts in several films of Ingmar Bergman. She was Aunt Elisabeth in Sommarlek/Summer Interlude (Ingmar Bergman, 1961) starring Maj-Britt Nilsson , and also appeared in Sommaren med Monika/Summer with Monica (Ingmar Bergman, 1953) starring Harriet Andersson, in En lektion i kärlek/A Lesson in Love (Ingmar Bergman, 1954) with Eva Dahlbeck, and in Kvinnodröm/Dreams (Ingmar Bergman, 1955). Bergman also directed Björling four times at the Dramaten, e.g. in 1964 in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler.

Among her later films were Sceningang/Stage Door (Bengt Ekerot, 1958), written by Erland Josephson, and Kvinnen i leopard/The Woman with the Fur Coat (Jan Molander, 1958), starring Harriet Andersson. She also acted twice on television, in the 1955 American TV series Foreign Intrigue, and as Mrs. Higgins in Pygmalion in 1968, starring Gunnar Björnstrand (Henry Higgins) and Harriet Andersson (Eliza Doolittle). On stage she had already played Mrs. Higgins at the Dramaten in 1952, opposite Lars Hanson and Anita Björk .

At the Dramaten, she acted in some 130 stage plays. Her partners included Gunnar Björnstrand (e.g. Molière's L'Avare in 1935), Lars Hanson (e.g. William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in 1936), Anita Björk (e.g. L'Invitation au Château by Jean Anouilh in 1951), Jarl Kulle (e.g. in Aeschylus' Oresteia in 1954), or Gunn Wållgren (e.g. in Ivanov by Anton Chekhov in 1957).

Björling worked several times with Alf Sjöberg at Dramaten. First as an actor (e.g. in Madame Sans-Gêne by Victorien Sardou and Émile Moreau in 1927), and then as a director (e.g. in Les Mouches by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1945, with Stig Järrel and Mai Zetterling ), as well as Mimi Pollak, also as an actress (e.g. in The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov in 1946) and as director (e.g. in A Flea in Her Air by Georges Feydeau in 1968).

Renée Björling stopped her film and TV career in 1968. She had played in some 40 silent and sound films. On stage, she performed for the last time at the Dramaten in 1971, in Euripides' Les Troyennes (in an adaptation by Jean-Paul Sartre), with Gunnel Lindblom and Mona Malm.

Renée Björling died in 1975 in Täby. She lies buried at Skogskyrkogården cemetery in Stockholm. From 1925 to 1932 she had been married to captain Gunnar Ursell and had a daughter Monica with him. Her granddaughter is opera singer Malena Ernman.

Renée Björling and Tora Teje in Klostret i Sendomir (1920)
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1092/3. Photo: publicity still for Klostret i Sendomir/The Monastery of Sendomir (Victor Sjöström, 1920) with Renée Björling and Tora Teje .

Tora Teje and Renée Björling in Klostret i Sendomir (1920)
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1092/4. Photo: publicity still for Klostret i Sendomir/The Monastery of Sendomir (Victor Sjöström, 1920) with Tora Teje and Renée Björling.

Renée Björling and Richard Lund in Carolina Rediviva
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1116/1. Renée Björling and Richard Lund in Carolina Rediviva (Ivan Hedqvist, 1920).

Renée Björling and Richard Lund in Carolina Rediviva (1920)
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1116/2. Photo: publicity still for Carolina Rediviva (Ivan Hedqvist, 1920) with Richard Lund.

Pauline Brunius, Tore Svennberg, Renée Björling, Paul Seelig in En vildfagel (1921)
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, no.288, Stockholm. Photo: Skandia-Film / Svensk Filmindustri. Publicity still for the drama En vildfågel/My adopted son (John W. Brunius, 1921) with Pauline Brunius , Tore Svennberg, Renée Björling and Paul Seelig.

Sources: Svensk Filmdatabas (Swedish), Wikipedia (Swedish, English and German) and.
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Published on February 14, 2019 22:00

February 13, 2019

Richard Lund (1885–1960) was a Swedish film and theatre actor, who had a prolific career in the films of Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller. He starred in such Swedish silent films as Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919).

Richard Lund
Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern, no. 12. Photo: Ferd. Flodin, Stockholm.

Richard Lund in Sir Arne's Treasure (1919)
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no 1078/1. Richard Lund as Sir Archi(e) in Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919).

The first film that influenced the public debate
Richard Lund was born in Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden, in 1885.

He made his stage debut at the Stora Teatern (The Old Theatre) in Göteborg in 1904. He later came to work in ensembles under such varied theatre directors as Hjalmar Selander, Ivan Hedqvist and Karl Gerhard. In 1909 he played in a stage adaptation of Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin at the Stockholm Oscarteatern.

In 1912 Lund began his – long-lasting - career as a film actor and would appear in 73 films between 1912 and 1952. He played his most important roles during the silent film era. He debuted at the company Svenska Biografteatern in Victor Sjöström ’s film Ett hemligt giftermål eller Bekännelsen på dödsbädden/A Secret Marriage or Confession on His Deathbed (1912), distributed in the US as A Ruined Life, and with Hilda Borgström in the female lead. The film also was the debut for actress Greta Almroth.

Lund became a regular at Svenska Bio, often cast as the young, handsome love interest. In 1913 he acted in Mauritz Stiller’s smuggler’s drama På livets ödesvägar/The Smugglers/ The Fisherman’s Son (1913) with the Danish actors Carlo and Clara Wieth . It was followed by a series of films by Victor Sjöström : Löjen och tårar/Laughter and Tears (1913), Livets konflikter/The Conflicts of Life (1913), Lady Marions sommarflirt/Lady Marion's Summer Flirtation (1913), and Ingeborg Holm (1913). Apart from Löjen och tårar, Hilda Borgström was his co-star in all these films.

Mauritz Stiller directed Richard Lund in the films Gränsfolken/Brother against Brother (1913) and Den moderna suffragetten/The Modern Suffragette (1913). Then followed Blodets röst/The Voice of Passion (Victor Sjöström, 1913) with Sjöström himself in the lead.

While many of these films are lost, Ingeborg Holm (Victor Sjöström, 1913) remains and shows the troubles of a grocer’s widow (Hilda Borgström) who falls down the social ladder and is forced to move to the poor house where her children are taken from her. Lund plays the doctor at the poor house. With its social critique, it was the first film in Sweden - and possibly globally - that influenced the public debate and brought about changes. It is also remarkable for its restrained performance and sophisticated staging.

Richard Lund
Swedish postcard by Ljunggrens Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 212. Photo: Atelier Gösta Hard.

Richard Lund
Swedish postcard by Ljunggrens Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 213. Photo: Atelier Gösta Hard.

An incomplete copy found in Zaragoza
In 1914, Richard Lund’s career at Svenska Bio was confirmed in 1914 with Stormfågeln/Stormy Petrel (Mauritz Stiller, 1914) starring Lilli Bech (or Beck), and För sin kärleks skull/Because of Her Love (1914) with Lilli Bech and Victor Sjöström.

That year, he also appeared in five films by Victor Sjöström : Prästen/The Clergyman (1914) with Egil Eide and Clara Wieth , Kärlek starkare än hat eller Skogsdotterns hemlighet/The Poacher (1914) with John Ekman, Hjärtan som mötas/Hearts That Meet (1914) with Alfred Lundberg and Karin Molander , Dömen icke/Judge Not (1914) with Nils Arehn and Hilda Borgström, and Bra flicka reder sig själv/A Good Girl Keeps Herself in Good Order (1914) with  Clara Wieth .

In 1915 followed ten new films. Lund made again five films with Sjöström: Strejken/The Strike (1915), Skomakare, bliv vid din läst/Stick to Your Last, Shoemaker (1915), Landshövdingens döttrar/The Governor's Daughters (1915), I prövningens stund/In the Hour of Trial (1915), and Det var i maj/It Was in May (1915).

He also made four films with Mauritz Stiller: Lekkamraterna/Playmates (1915), Hämnaren/The Avenger (1915), Hans hustrus förflutna/His Wife's Past (1915), Hans bröllopsnatt/His Wedding Night (1915). He also appeared in Hans faders brott/His Father's Crime (Fritz Magnussen, 1915).

From 1916, the number of films in which Lund played went down but some of his most memorable film titles date from the late 1910s and early 1920s. In 1916, he played in Lyckonålen/The Lucky Brooch (Mauritz Stiller, 1916), Kärlek och journalistik/Love and Journalism (Mauritz Stiller, 1916), Kampen om hans hjärta/The Fight for His Heart (Mauritz Stiller, 1916) and Havsgamar/Predators of the Sea (Victor Sjöström, 1916).

Lund also acted Balettprimadonnan/Anjala the Dancer (Mauritz Stiller, 1916) opposite the debuting Jenny Hasselqvist and rising star Lars Hanson , who had debuted in 1915. The film deals with a violin player (Hanson) who discovers a peasant girl (Hasselqvist) and promotes her as a dancer but a scheming count (Lund) separates the two by offering the violin player a training abroad. Balettprimadonnan was an international success and distributed all over the world. Two copies of the film sent by ship to England disappeared when the ship was torpedoed and sunk in autumn 1917. The film was long considered as lost, but in 1995 an incomplete copy of the film was found in Zaragoza in Spain and restored and reconstructed, using still images and copyright information.

Richard Lund in Sir Arne's Treasure
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1078/8. Richard Lund, Bror Berger and Erik Stocklassa in Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919). Caption: On the Lookout.

Richard Lund in Sir Arne's Treasure
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1078/12. Richard Lund and Mary Johnson in the Swedish silent film Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919). Caption: They have come now to arrest you, escape!

The Masterpiece of the Swedish Silent Cinema
In 1917, Richard Lund did not act in any films by Stiller nor Sjöström, but instead in two by Fritz Magnussen, one by Egil Eide (who had become director) and two by Konrad Tallroth. No films with Lund were released in 1918.

In  1919, Lund appeared in his best-known film role, that of Sir Archie in Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919). In this crime-drama based on Selma Lagerlöf’s novel 'The Treasure', and set on the Swedish coast in the 16th century, Lund is a Scottish mercenary who, together with his cronies Sir Donald (Bro Berger) and Sir Filip (Erich Stocklassa), has escaped from a Scottish prison and fled to Sweden. There, he murders the family of Sir Arne to obtain a treasure, after which he unknowingly starts an affair with the daughter of the murdered family, Elsalill (Mary Johnson).

Sir Arne’s Treasure still goes as one of - if not the - masterpiece(s) of the Swedish silent cinema. Jerzy Toeplitz wrote in his 'Geschichte des Films' (1972): “As with Sjöström, Nature plays a leading role in Stiller's film. Already in the first images, the snow creates the atmosphere of the action. In the tragic finale, the sea becomes a contributor. In the small port of Marstrand lies the ship that should return the Scots to their home. But it is wedged by ice floes.

When the situation is strained to the utmost because the forces of nature cannot be conquered, in the city the news spreads that the criminals want to flee. In the battle with the town guards, Elsalill dies and Sir John Archie is captured. A long train of gray-clad women arrives at the ship to take off the corpse of Elsalill, after which the ice bursts and the occupied ship begins to move. Too late the silent, dangerous sea shows up.”

Next, Lund acted as the antagonist in Klostret i Sendomir/The Monastery of Sendomir (Victor Sjöström, 1920), based on an 1828 short story by Franz Grillparzer. It deals with a monk (Tore Svennberg) who tells two visitors how the convent was built by a repentant count who killed his unfaithful and treacherous wife ( Tora Teje ) after he had discovered she had a long-standing affair with her cousin Oleg (Richard Lund) and even his child was not his own. The monk proves to be the count himself. In Germany a competing version was made in 1919 by Union, starring Ellen Richter and Eduard von Winterstein, and causing a fierce battle over the release over the two films in Sweden.

Tora Teje and Richard Lund in Klostret i Sendomir (1920)
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1092/6. Photo: publicity still for Klostret i Sendomir/The Monastery of Sendomir (Victor Sjöström, 1920) with  Tora Teje  and Richard Lund.

Tore Svennberg, Richard Lund and Tora Teje in Klostret i Sendomir (1920)
Swedish postcard by Förlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1092/11. Photo: publicity still for Klostret i Sendomir/The Monastery of Sendomir (Victor Sjöström, 1920) with Tore Svennberg, Richard Lund and Tora Teje .

A foundling left at the university gate
Richard Lund’s following film was Carolina Rediviva (Ivan Hedqvist, 1920), a film set in the Uppsala university world, in which Renée Björling plays a foundling, whose mother Lina has left her at the university gate, to be adopted by students, and whose identity once revealed causes scandal in the academic world. Lund is Björling’s love interest.

In Det omringade huset/The Surrounded House (Victor Sjöström, 1922). Lund was the brother of the leading character Mary (Meggie Albanesi), while co-actors were Victor Sjöström , Uno Henning and Ivan Hedqvist. Lund’s last silent films were Livet på landet/Life in the Country (Ivan Hedqvist, 1924), Farbror Frans/Uncle Frans (Sigurd Wallén, 1926), and Dollarmillionen (Sigurd Wallén, 1926).

Lund easily made the passage to Swedish sound cinema, starting with Konstgjorda Svensson (Gustaf Edgren, 1929), although that was a part-talkie. Lund also had a major part in Hjärtats röst (Rune Carlsen, 1930), shot at Les Studios Paramount outside Paris, and based on Alden Arthur Knipes’ novel 'Sarah and Son', which had been filmed in the US under its original title in 1930 by Dorothy Arzner.

However, in the 1930s Lund’s prime was past and his parts became smaller as in Valborgsmässoafton/Walpurgis Night (Gustav Edgren 1935), starring Lars Hanson , Victor Sjöström and a young Ingrid Bergman . Until 1952 Lund continued to act small parts, even uncredited, in Swedish sound films, all in all, some 35 films from 1930 onwards.

Still, it was clear Richard Lund had peaked in the silent era of the 1910s and early 1920s. Lund died in Mölndal in 1960.

Renée Björling and Richard Lund in Carolina Rediviva
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1116/1. Photo: publicity still of Renée Björling and Richard Lund in Carolina Rediviva (1920), directed by Ivan Hedqvist, who also played one of the leads.

Renée Björling and Richard Lund in Carolina Rediviva (1920)
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1116/2. Photo: publicity still for Carolina Rediviva (Ivan Hedqvist, 1920) with Renée Björling and Richard Lund.

Richard Lund
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 255. Photo: Gösta Hard.

Sources: The Swedish Film database, Wikipedia (Swedish and English), and .
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Published on February 13, 2019 22:00

February 12, 2019

The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934) was the first English-language film for Vienna-born Elisabeth Bergner. The historical film was directed by Bergner's husband Paul Czinner and - uncredited - by producer Alexander Korda. Tsar Peter was played by Douglas Fairbanks Junior. Although the film was overshadowed by Josef von Strernberg's masterpiece The Scarlet Empress (1934) with Marlene Dietrich, The Rise of Catherine the Great is a good film taken on its own merits.

Elisabeth Bergner in The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934)
British postcard by De Reszke Cigarettes, no. 24. Photo: British and Dominions. Publicity still for The Rise of Catherine the Great (Paul Czinner, 1934) with Elisabeth Bergner .

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934)
British postcard by Valentine's, no. 5904 N. Photo: London Films. Publicity still for The Rise of Catherine the Great (Paul Czinner, 1934) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr.


The way to the assumption of the throne
The Rise of Catherine the Great (Paul Czinner, 1934) is a straightforward biography of the Russian empress, up to her assumption of the throne. It was based on the play The Czarina by two Hungarian writers, Lajos Bíró and Melchior Lengyel.

In 1745 a German princess, Princess Sophie Auguste Frederika of Anhalt-Zerbst ( Elisabeth Bergner ), is summoned by Russian Empress Elizabeth ( Flora Robson ) to marry her nephew, the Russian heir. Elizabeth chose Sophie because of dynastic claims to Swedish and Baltic territories of the Romanov Family dealing with their Holstein blood connections - connections that Anhalt-Zerbst shared.

The young princess arrives at the court of imperial Russia to marry Grand Duke Pyotr ( Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ), who later became Peter III. Sophie, renamed Yekaterina, generally rendered in English as Catherine, initially likes him. But Peter already displays signs of mental instability and a sharply misogynist streak.

Peter rejects Catherine on their wedding night, reacting to something innocently said by his French valet, claiming that she used feminine tricks to win him over. In time, though, Peter accepts her and they have a happy marriage for a while. Meanwhile, Catherine gains important experience of government from working as principal aide to the empress.

Peter's suspicious, unstable nature gradually estranges them, and he finds solace with pretty courtiers. Catherine invents her own fictitious lovers, to make her husband jealous, which temporarily improves matters. But accession to the throne brings out the worst in Peter. After the death of the old Empress, the danger for Catherine increases and she must learn to be very cunning in order to save herself from her insane royal husband.

In reality, Catherine and Peter's marriage lasted for seventeen years, but in the film this period is greatly telescoped and no mention is made of their children. Their son Paul eventually became Tsar after Catherine's death, even though he was nearly as mad as his father.

Peter ascended the throne in 1762. As the Tsar, he proved to be a disaster, and within a few months he was removed from power by a military coup, dying in mysterious circumstances shortly afterwards. The coup plotters invited Catherine to become Empress in her own right. Catherine became the Tsarina Catherine the Great and would rule over Russia for more than 30 years. She became a benign dictator, brought Russia into the modern world, implemented several reforms, and corresponded with Voltaire.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Diana Napier in Catherine the Great (1934)
British postcard in the Filmshots series by Film Weekly. Photo: London Films. Publicity still for The Rise of Catherine the Great (Paul Czinner, 1934). Although the postcard credits the kissing lady as  Elisabeth Bergner , we think she is Diana Napier who portrays Countess Vorontzova, the mistress of Peter III ( Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ).

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Diana Napier in Catherine the Great (1934)
British postcard in the Filmshots series by Film Weekly. Photo: London Films. Publicity still for The Rise of Catherine the Great (Paul Czinner, 1934) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Diana Napier.

A homicidal Hamlet
The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934) was the first English-language film for Vienna-born  Elisabeth Bergner . She is radiant as the obscure German princess who would become the most powerful woman in Russian history. Bergner definitely makes Catherine interesting and worth caring about.

As Grand Duke Peter - later Czar Peter III - Douglas Fairbanks Jr. behaves like a homicidal Hamlet, all moodiness and flares of deadly temper. He makes an interesting effort to create a charmer out of a pathetic man who was obviously a maniac.

The supporting cast is excellent. Dame Flora Robson is wonderful as the Empress Elizabeth: suspicious, domineering and rather wanton. Robson portrays Tsarina Elizabeth as a tired, dying woman, desperate to try to save the dynasty and her nation but aware of the rotten material she has to work with. She has the best lines and delivers them impressively.

Celebrated stage actress Dame Irene Vanbrugh makes a rare screen appearance as Catherine's mother. Vanbrugh was a stage star of the 1890s till the 1920s. She was in the original cast of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. The small role of Peter's French valet is performed by Sir Gerald du Maurier, one of the great English actor-managers of the early days of the century. In this, his penultimate role, a few months from his death, Sir Gerald had become largely forgotten by his once enormous public. He gives his few lines great dignity.

The mid-eighteenth century was a period when clothes and furnishings favoured by the wealthy classes of Europe were particularly fanciful and elaborate, and this is reflected in the lavish sets and costumes on view in the film.

The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934) was overshadowed by the Hollywood epic The Scarlet Empress (1934), directed by Joseph Von Sternberg and starring a glamorous Marlene Dietrich . However, The Rise of Catherine the Great is still a good effort that is worth watching.

Irene Vanbrugh, and Elisabeth Bergner in Catherine the Great (1934)
British postcard in the Filmshots series by Film Weekly. Photo: London Films. Publicity still for The Rise of Catherine the Great (Paul Czinner, 1934) with Irene Vanbrugh as Princess Anhalt-Zerbst, and  Elisabeth Bergner .

Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Flora Robson and Elisabeth Bergner in Catherine the Great (1934)
British postcard in the Filmshots series by Film Weekly. Photo: London Films. Publicity still for The Rise of Catherine the Great (Paul Czinner, 1934) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. , Flora Robson as Empress Elizabeth, and  Elisabeth Bergner .

Elisabeth Bergner in The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934)
Elisabeth BergnerBritish cigarette card in the Stars of Screen & Stage series by Park Drive Cigarettes, Gallaher Ltd., London & Belfast, no. 17. Photo: London Films. Publicity still for The Rise of Catherine the Great (Paul Czinner, 1934). Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Sources: Ron Oliver (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.
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Published on February 12, 2019 22:00

February 11, 2019

In Tugboat Annie (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933), Marie Dressler features as the 'old sea cow' Annie Brennan, the tugboat captain of the title. Dressler gives a funny and touching performance. The film became one of the top moneymakers of the depression era, and was beloved by the public as well as the critics. Film Weekly published a little series of postcards on the film.

Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler in Tugboat Annie (1933)
British postcard in the Filmshots series by Film Weekly. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for Tugboat Annie (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933) with Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler.

Marie Dressler, Robert Young and Maureen O'Sullivan in Tugboat Annie (1933)
British postcard in the Filmshots series by Film Weekly. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for Tugboat Annie (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933) with Marie Dressler, Robert Young and Maureen O'Sullivan.

Queen of the box office despite her weight and age
Tugboat Annie (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933) is based on stories about a female tugboat captain, written by Norman Reilly Raine and published in the Saturday Evening Post.

The film was the second and last teaming of Marie Dressler with Wallace Beery after their big hit with the bittersweet Min And Bill (George W. Hill, 1930), for which Dressler won an Oscar.

Here, Beery is her often-drunk husband and together the comically quarrelsome middle-aged couple operate the tugboat Narcissus. Robert Young is their grown son, ashamed of his drunken father, and Maureen O'Sullivan is his fiancee.

With their chemistry and craft, Dressler and Beery pull off the slightly weak and episodic story. Despite her age and weight, Marie Dressler was queen of the box office when she made this film. She was beloved by millions of film fans.

Dressler would follow this up with her very grand performance in Dinner at Eight (George Cukor, 1933), where she was briefly reunited with Beery for one scene. After one more film, she would retire due to her terminal illness. She would die of cancer in 1934.

There was a sequel called Tugboat Annie Sails Again (Lewis Seiler, 1940), with Marjorie Rambeau as the widowed Annie. But Tugboat Annie remains one of the finest and most fondly remembered performances of Marie Dressler.

Maureen O'Sullivan, Robert Young, Paul Hurst, Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery in Tugboat Annie (1933)
British postcard in the Filmshots series by Film Weekly. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for Tugboat Annie (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933) with Maureen O'Sullivan, Robert Young, Paul Hurst, Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery.

Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery and Paul Hurst in Tugboat Annie (1933)
British postcard in the Filmshots series by Film Weekly. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for Tugboat Annie (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933) with Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, and Paul Hurst.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.
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Published on February 11, 2019 22:00

February 10, 2019

Olivia de Havilland (1916) is a Japanese-born British-American former actress, whose career spanned from 1935 to 1988. She appeared in 49 feature films, and was one of the leading stars during the golden age of Classical Hollywood. She is best known for her early screen performances in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Gone with the Wind (1939), and her later award-winning performances in To Each His Own (1946), The Snake Pit (1948), and The Heiress (1949).

Olivia de Havilland
Belgian postcard by Victoria, Brussels, no. 639/24. Photo: Paramount.

Olivia de Havilland
British Real Photo postcard, no. 163. Photo: Warner Bros. / Vitaphone Pictures.

Olivia de Havilland
French postcard by Viny, no. 124. Photo: Warner Bros.

Olivia de Havilland
British Real Photograph postcard, no. 253.

Olivia de Havilland
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 294. Photo: Paramount.

An intense crush on Errol Flynn
Olivia Mary de Havilland was born in 1916, in Tokyo, Japan, to British parents. Her mother was the former film and stage actress Lilian Fontaine (Lilian Augusta Ruse), and her father was an English professor and patent attorney, Walter Augustus de Havilland. He was the author of the 1910 book The ABC of Go, which provides a detailed and comprehensive description of the Japanese board game. Her sister, Joan, later to become famous as Joan Fontaine, was born the following year.

Her surname comes from her paternal grandfather, whose family was from Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Her parents divorced when Olivia was just three years old, and she moved with her mother and sister to Saratoga, California. At her high school, she fell prey to the acting bug. She made her acting debut in amateur theatre in Alice in Wonderland.

After graduating, Olivia enrolled in Mills College in Oakland, where she participated in the school play A Midsummer Night's Dream and was spotted by Austrian director Max Reinhardt. She so impressed Reinhardt that he picked her up for both his stage version and, later, the Warner Bros. film version in 1935. She again was so impressive that Warner executives signed her to a seven-year contract.

No sooner had the ink dried on the contract than Olivia appeared in three more films: The Irish in Us (Lloyd Bacon, 1935) with James Cagney, Alibi Ike (Ray Enright, 1935), and Captain Blood (Michael Curtiz, 1935), with the man with whom her career would be most closely identified, heartthrob Errol Flynn .

They acted together in seven more films: The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz, William Keighley, 1938), The Charge of the Light Brigade (Michael Curtiz, 1936), Four's a Crowd (Michael Curtiz, 1938), Dodge City (Michael Curtiz, 1939), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (Michael Curtiz, 1939), Santa Fe Trail (Michael Curtiz, 1940), and They Died with Their Boots On (Raoul Walsh, 1941). Both are also featured in a ninth film, Thank Your Lucky Stars (David Butler, 1943), although in separate scenes. Years later, she confessed that she had an intense crush on  Errol Flynn  during the years of their filming, saying that it was hard to resist his charms.

Olivia de Havilland
French postcard, no. 706. Photo: Warner Bros.

Olivia de Havilland
French postcard by Viny, no. 124. Photo: Warner Bros.

Olivia de Havilland
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 285. Photo: Warner Bros.

Olivia de Havilland in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)
Vintage postcard. Photo: publicity still for The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936).

An all-out feud between two sisters
Olivia de Havilland achieved her initial popularity in romantic comedy films, such as The Great Garrick (1937), directed by James Whale. In 1939 Warner Bros. loaned her to David O. Selznick for the classic Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939). Playing the sweet Melanie Hamilton, Olivia received her first nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, only to lose out to one of her co-stars in the film, Hattie McDaniel.

After GWTW, Olivia returned to Warner Bros. and continued to churn out films. In 1941 she played Emmy Brown opposite Charles Boyer in Hold Back the Dawn (Mitchell Leisen, 1941), which resulted in her second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actress. Again she lost, this time to her sister Joan Fontaine for her role in Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941).

Relations between the sisters were never strong and their mutual dislike and jealousy escalated into an all-out feud after Fontaine won the Oscar. Despite the fact that de Havilland went on to win two Academy Awards of her own, they remained estranged. In a rare act of reconciliation, Olivia and her sister Joan celebrated Christmas 1962 together along with their then-husbands and children.

Denny Jackson at IMDb : "After that strong showing (in Hold Back the Dawn), Olivia now demanded better, more substantial roles than the "sweet young thing" slot into which Warners had been fitting her. The studio responded by placing her on a six-month suspension, all of the studios at the time operating under the policy that players were nothing more than property to do with as they saw fit.

As if that weren't bad enough, when her contract with Warners was up, she was told that she would have to make up the time lost because of the suspension. Irate, she sued the studio, and for the length of the court battle she didn't appear in a single film. The result, however, was worth it. In a landmark decision, the court said not only that de Havilland did not have to make up the time, but that all performers were to be limited to a seven-year contract that would include any suspensions handed down. This became known as the 'de Havilland decision'; no longer could studios treat their performers as mere cattle."

Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland in Gone with the wind (1939)
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W. 348. Photo: David O'Selznick Production / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) with Leslie Howard .

Leslie Howard, Olivia De Havilland and Vivien Leigh in Gone with the wind (1939)
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W. 345. Photo: David O'Selznick Production / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) with Leslie Howard and Vivien Leigh . Caption: Bridal scene from Gone with the Wind.

Leslie Howard and Olivia De Havilland in Gone with the Wind (1939)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 247. Photo: publicity still for Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) with Leslie Howard .

Olivia de Havilland
Belgian collectors card by De Beukelaer, Antwerp, no. A 35. Photo: Paramount.  De Havilland is dressed in an outfit for The Heiress (William Wyler, 1949).

The Oldest Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Returning to screen in 1946, Olivia de Havilland made up for lost time by appearing in four films, one of which finally won her the Oscar that had so long eluded her. It was the romantic drama To Each His Own (Mitchell Leisen, 1946), in which she played Josephine Norris to the delight of critics and audiences alike. Olivia was the strongest performer in Hollywood for the balance of the 1940s.

In 1948 she turned in another strong showing in The Snake Pit (Anatole Litvak, 1948) as Virginia Cunningham, a woman suffering a mental breakdown. The end result was another Oscar nomination for Best Actress, but she lost to Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda (Jean Negulesco, 1948). As in the two previous years, she made only one film in 1949, but she again won a nomination and the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Heiress (William Wyler, 1949) with Montgomery Clift.

After a three-year hiatus, de Havilland returned to star in My Cousin Rachel (Henry Koster, 1952) with Richard Burton . From that point on, she made few appearances on the screen but was seen on Broadway and in some television shows. In the cinema, she was seen in the romantic drama Light in the Piazza (Guy Green, 1962), and the psychological thriller Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (Robert Aldrich, 1964) opposite Bette Davis .

Her last screen appearance was as the Queen Mother in The Fifth Musketeer (Ken Annakin, 1979), and her final career appearance was in the TV movie The Woman He Loved (Charles Jarrott, 1988) about the love story between American divorcee Wallis Simpson and Edward VII.

Olivia de Havilland married and divorced twice: her first husband was writer Marcus Goodrich (1946-1953) and her second writer-husband was Pierre Galante (1955-1979), an executive editor for the French journal Paris Match. With both husbands, she had a child. She lost her son, Benjamin Goodrich (1949), to Hodgkin's disease in 1991. With Galante, she had daughter Gisèle Galante (1956). The former couple remained close friends, and after Galante became ill with cancer, she nursed him until his death in 1998.

Since the mid-1950s, she lives in Paris in France. In 1962, she showed flair as a writer with 'Every Frenchman Has One', a light-hearted autobiographical account of her attempts at adapting to French life. Two weeks before her 101st birthday, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2017 Birthday Honours by Queen Elizabeth II for services to Drama. She is the oldest woman ever to receive the honour. In a statement, she called it "the most gratifying of birthday presents." Today, Olivia de Havilland enjoys a quiet retirement in Paris.

Olivia de Havilland
Dutch postcard by Foto-archief Film en Toneel, no. 3283. Photo: Paramount.

Olivia de Havilland
Dutch postcard by DRC. Photo: Paramount / mpea.

Olivia de Havilland
French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 285. Photo: Paramount Pictures, 1950.

Olivia de Havilland
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, offered by Les Carbone Korès 'Carboplane', no. 328. Photo: Paramount, 1953.

Sources: (IMDb), Wikipedia and .
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Published on February 10, 2019 22:00

February 9, 2019

The Rank Organisation dominated British cinema throughout the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and to some extent the 1960s. The British entertainment conglomerate was founded by industrialist J. Arthur Rank in April 1937. It quickly became the largest and most vertically integrated film company in Great Britain, owning production, distribution and exhibition facilities. During the 1940s, the companies Rank controlled produced some of the finest British films of the period. From the 1950s fewer adventurous films were attempted and solidly commercial ventures, largely aimed at the family market, were made instead. Rank diversified into the manufacture of radios, TVs and photocopiers (as one of the owners of Rank Xerox).

John Mills and Juliet Mills in the studio
British postcard by Rotary Photo, London, no. F.S. 18. Caption: John Mills with his small daughter 'Bunch' in the studio. The picture was taken during the shooting of Great Expectations (David Lean, 1946). At the time, Juliet Mills (or Bunch) must have been four years old.

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W. 654. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation Ltd. Publicity still for The Red Shoes (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948) with Moira Shearer .

Sabu in Black Narcissus (1947)
British postcard in the Picturegoer series, London, no. W 343. Photo: Cannons. Publicity still for Black Narcissus (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1947) with Sabu .

Laurence Olivier in Hamlet
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 214. Photo: Victory Rank. Publicity still for Hamlet (Laurence Olivier, 1948) with Laurence Olivier .

Laurence Harvey and Susan Shentall in Romeo and Juliet (1954)
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D 554. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation. Publicity still for Romeo and Juliet (1954) with Laurence Harvey and Susan Shentall.

A Methodist Millionaire spreading the Gospel through Films
Lord J. Arthur Rank, born in Kingston upon Hull, UK, was a wealthy industrialist through his father's flour milling business, Joseph Rank Ltd. He made his somewhat unlikely start in film-making, financing short religious subjects in line with his Methodist beliefs. During the 1920s he had owned a Methodist newspaper, and when he realised the value of films in Sunday school instruction, he entered the film business with British National Pictures in order to improve the quality of these religious films. From these modest origins, the British film company emerged in 1937 as Rank sought to consolidate his film-making interests.

The company logo, the Gongman, was first used in 1935 by the group's distribution company General Film Distributors and seen in the opening titles of the films. Rank originally wanted a wolf to rival the MGM lion, as the opening trademark of his films. The only wolf available was rather mangy-looking. Someone suggested they bang a gong. The gongs used in the famous opening were actually made of papier-mache, and the strongmen like Bombadier Billy Wells simply mimed their strikes. It became a celebrated and enduring film emblem.

J. Arthur Rank had entered the film industry with the intention of making films with strong religious and moral themes, but realised early on that this kind of subject was unlikely to be very profitable. Consequently, Rank went on to make an enormous number of films with a very wide appeal. One of the first Rank films was the comedy Oh, Mr Porter! (Marcel Varnel, 1937) starring Will Hay. It grossed £500,000 at the box office – equal to over £30,000,000 in modern-day money. Oh, Mr Porter! is probably his best-known film to modern audiences. The plot of Oh, Mr Porter was loosely based on the Arnold Ridley play The Ghost Train. It is widely acclaimed as the best of Hay's work, and a classic of its genre. In the following years, Hay made for Rank the comedies Hey! Hey! USA (Marcel Varnel, 1938) and Ask a Policeman (Marcel Varnel, 1939).

The Rank company grew quickly, largely through acquisition. In 1938, the Odeon Cinemas chain was purchased. The chain was started by Oscar Deutsch (ODEON was an acronym for 'Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation'). With builder Charles Boot, Rank bought the grounds of an old Victorian house (Heatherden Hall) in Hertfordshire and turned it into Pinewood Studios. After Alexander Korda ran into financial difficulties, Rank also bought Denham Studios. These were merged with the facilities at Pinewood and the Amalgamated Studios in Borehamwood were acquired, but not used for making films. Also in 1939, the British sites of Paramount Cinemas were purchased. Two years later followed the purchase of the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, which also owned Gainsborough Pictures, 251 cinemas and the Lime Grove Studios.

During the Second World War, Rank produced the patriotic war film In Which We Serve (Noël Coward, David Lean, 1942). It was made with the assistance of the Ministry of Information. The screenplay by Noël Coward was inspired by the exploits of Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was in command of the destroyer HMS Kelly when it was sunk during the Battle of Crete. Coward composed the film's music as well as starring in the film as the ship's captain. The film also starred John Mills , Bernard Miles, Celia Johnson and Richard Attenborough in his first screen role. The film was the second most popular movie at the British box office in 1943, and remains a classic example of wartime British cinema through its patriotic imagery of national unity and social cohesion within the context of the war.

In 1944, Rank produced the Technicolor film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Henry V (1944). It stars Laurence Olivier , who also directed. The film begins as a recreation of a stage production of the play in the Globe Theatre, then gradually turns into a stylised cinematic rendition of the play, with sets reminiscent of a medieval Book of Hours. Henry V was intended as a morale booster for Britain, and partly funded by the British government. The film won Olivier an Academy Honorary Award for "his Outstanding achievement as actor, producer and director in bringing Henry V to the screen." It was the first Shakespeare film to be both critically and commercially successful.

Trevor Howard
Trevor Howard . Dutch postcard, no. AX 289. Photo: Cornel Lucas / J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

Valerie Hobson
Valerie Hobson . Dutch postcard. Photo: J. Arthur Rank.

Richard Attenborough
Richard Attenborough . British postcard by Show Parade Picture Service, London,  in the series 'The People', no. P1065. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation Ltd.

Moira Shearer
Moira Shearer . British postcard by 'The People' Show Parade Picture Service, London, no. P. 1041. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation Ltd.

Anton Walbrook (Adolf Wohlbrück)
Anton Walbrook . British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W. 432. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organization Ltd.

The Classics of the Independent Producers
One of the best things about filmmaking for Rank was the freedom given to talented directors that allowed them to make some of the most successful and spectacular films ever made in Britain. After the war, a loose collective of film makers was established under the banner of Independent Producers Ltd. In 1945, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made the romance I Know Where I'm Going! starring Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey, David Lean directed the romantic drama Brief Encounter (1945) about British suburban life on the eve of World War 2, with  Trevor Howard  and  Celia Johnson . In the next year followed two more classics, Great Expectations (David Lean, 1946), based on the novel by Charles Dickens and starring  John Mills , and the fantasy-romance A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1946), set in England during the Second World War, and starring David Niven .

In the following years, Independent Producers delivered more classics like Black Narcissus (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1947) with Deborah Kerr , Jean Simmons and Sabu , and The Red Shoes (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948), with Moira Shearer and Anton Walbrook . The duo Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat came with the spy film I See a Dark Stranger (1946) and the comedy The Happiest Days of Your Life) (1950) with Alastair Sim and Margaret Rutherford. Ken Annakin made the comedy Holiday Camp (1947) with Flora Robson , and Muriel Box directed the melodrama The Seventh Veil (1945) with James Mason and Ann Todd .

In the mid-1940s Two Cities Films became part of the Rank Organisation producing key films such as the Film Noir Odd Man Out (Carol Reed, 1947) featuring  James Mason , Hamlet (Laurence Olivier, 1948), the comedy Vice Versa (Peter Ustinov, 1948) and the fantasy The Rocking Horse Winner (Anthony Pelissier, 1949). In 1946, Rank bought for £1 million+ a 50 per cent share in a chain of 133 cinemas from New Zealander Robert James Kerridge, the biggest exhibition chain in Australasia; it was renamed Kerridge Odeon. In the late 1940s, a majority shareholding in Allied Cinemas and Irish Cinemas Ltd was gained, thus becoming the largest exhibition circuit in Ireland. Rank maintained this position maintained until the early 1980s.

So by the late 1940s J Arthur Rank (or the Rank Organisation as it was now called), owned five major film studio complexes, Pinewood Film Studios, Denham Film Studios, Ealing Studios, Lime Grove Studios and Islington Studios. (The studios at Lime Grove were sold to the BBC in 1949.) Rank owned 650 UK cinemas (the Odeon, Gaumont and Paramount chains) plus various international holdings, including subsidiaries in Canada and The Netherlands, and General Film Distributors (later Rank Film Distributors), including the UK distribution rights to Universal Pictures.

In 1945, the Company of Youth, the Rank Organisation acting school often referred to as 'The Charm School, was founded. It launched several careers including those of Donald Sinden, Dirk Bogarde , Diana Dors and Christopher Lee . Although she was not a member of the school,  Petula Clark  was under contract to Rank for a period of time and starred in a number of films released by the studio, including London Town (Wesley Ruggles, 1946), one of the costliest flops in British film history. Also under contract to Rank was the Canadian actor Philip Gilbert.

Petula Clark in The Card (1952)
Petula Clark . Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 129. Photo: Rank Film. Publicity still for The Card (Ronald Neame, 1952).

Dirk Bogarde
Dirk Bogarde . British Greetings card, no. E. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

Diana Dors
Diana Dors . Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 536. Photo: Rank.

Anthony Steel
Anthony Steel . British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D 140. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

Jean Simmons
Jean Simmons . German postcard by F.J. Rüdel Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 115. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

Aiming at the family market
Despite backing some excellent films, Rank was in crisis by 1949. An over-ambitious attempt to expand into America had brought Rank to near bankruptcy. He had built up a debt of £16 million, and the studio reported an annual loss of £3.5 million. Managing Director John Davis cut staff, reduced budgets and concentrated film production at Pinewood. Other studio facilities (in Islington) were closed, sold (Lime Grove Studios) or leased (Denham). The Rank Organisation closed Independent Producers Ltd. The policies of Davis alienated many in the industry, in particular they led film director David Lean, responsible for some of Rank's most critically and financially successful films, to look elsewhere for backing.

In 1949, the company bought the Bush Radio manufacturing facility and began to diversify its interests. In the early 1960s Rank took over Murphy Radio to form the Rank Bush Murphy Group which was eventually sold to Great Universal Stores in 1978. In 1956 Rank began a partnership with the Haloid Corporation to form Rank Xerox. Rank was also a significant shareholder in the consortium which became Southern Television, the first ITV television contract holder for the south of England. In the late 1950s, Rank set up Rank Records Ltd. (the record label was named Top Rank) and Jaro Records (a US subsidiary). In 1960, Top Rank was taken over by EMI, and in 1962 they replaced it with Stateside Records. Top Rank artists included Gary U.S. Bonds, the Shirelles, B. Bumble and the Stingers, and John Leyton.

From the 1950s, fewer adventurous films were produced and solidly commercial ventures, largely aimed at the family market, were made instead. These include the popular Norman Wisdom comedies, the Doctor films series with  Dirk Bogarde . and, later, Rank took on the Carry On film series. However some films of note were produced during this era including The Browning Version (Anthony Asquith, 1951), the comedy Genevieve (Henry Cornelius, 1953) and Reach for the Sky (Lewis Gilbert, 1956), as well as a clutch of prestige topics such as the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and filmed performances by the Royal Ballet.

During the 1950s the British photographer Cornel Lucas set up the Pool Studio at Pinewood where he photographed many of the film stars of this era of cinema, such as  Diana Dors , Marlene Dietrich , David Niven and Lucas' wife Belinda Lee.

J. Arthur Rank had stepped down as managing director of the Rank Organisation in 1952, but remained as chairman until 1962. In 1960, Rank Audio Visual was created, bringing together Rank's acquisitions in multimedia, including Bell & Howell (acquired with Gaumont British in 1941), Andrew Smith Harkness Ltd (1952) and Wharfedale Ltd (1958). Subsequent acquisitions included Strand Electric Holdings (1968) and H.J. Leak & Co. (1969). In the mid and late 1970s, Rank Audio Visual made a 3-in-1 stereo music centre, as well as TV sets in conjunction with NEC of Japan. The production of the 'classic' Rank TV ran in the mid to late 70s, some interim models appeared and the 'modern' Rank TV appeared in the early 1980s.

Susan Shaw
Susan Shaw . Dutch postcard, no. AX 495. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

Norman Wisdom
Norman Wisdom . German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 988. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation. Publicity still for Trouble in Store (John Paddy Carstairs, 1953).

Laurence Harvey
Laurence Harvey . German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1322. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation. Publicity still for Romeo and Juliet (1954).

Diana Dors
Diana Dors  German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 2061. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

Belinda Lee
Belinda Lee . German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H, Minden/Westf., no. 2720. Photo: Cornel Lucas / J. Arhur Rank Organisation.

A deliberately downbeat alternative to 007
In 1960, John Davis announced that Rank would concentrate on bigger budgeted, internationally focused productions. In 1961 they announced a production slate of a dozen films worth £7 million. From 1959 to 1969: the company made over 500 weekly short cinema films in a series entitled Look At Life, each film depicting an area of British life. Unfortunately, Rank failed to invest in television when the medium was becoming increasingly popular and cinema audiences were declining.

A highlight of the Rank film production during the 1960s was the espionage film The Ipcress File (Sidney J. Furie, 1965) starring Michael Caine . The screenplay, by Bill Canaway and James Doran, was based on Len Deighton's novel, The IPCRESS File (1962). It received a BAFTA award for the Best British film released in 1965. This film and its sequels were a deliberately downbeat alternative to the hugely successful James Bond films, even though one of the Bond producers, Harry Saltzman, was involved with the Harry Palmer series, along with other personnel who had been contracted to work on one or more of the 007 movies.

From 1971 to 1976 Rank only invested around £1.5 million a year in film production. According to executive Tony Williams "the two main streams that they were down to was Carry On pictures and horror films made by Kevin Francis". However, in 1976 Rank enjoyed much success with Bugsy Malone (Alan Parker, 1976) which they co-produced with Paramount Pictures. It features only child actors with Scott Baio and Jodie Foster in pivotal roles. This success encouraged Rank to re-enter film production.

In 1977 Rank appointed Tony Williams head of production and over two years Rank made eight films worth £10 million, including the horror film The Shout (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1978), the thriller The Thirty Nine Steps (Don Sharp, 1978), and the spy thriller Riddle of the Sands (Tony Maylam, 1979) with Michael York . One of the more interesting productions was psychological thriller Bad timing (Nicolas Roeg, 1980), starring Art Garfunkel and Theresa Russell. Many of these stories were set in the past. Few of these new Rank films performed well at the box office, losing £1.6 million over all. (The company's pre-tax profit was £131 million.)

At the Cannes Film Festival in 1980 Ed Chilton of Rank announced a £12 million slate of projects. However, by June they withdrew from production once again. Rank's final production was the motorracing film Silver Dream Racer (1980) starring British pop star David Essex. The Rank films that had been announced for production were cancelled. After a time Rank Film Distributors was in trouble because they hadn’t got any new product. They did an output deal with Orion.

In 1995, the Rank Group acquired all the outstanding shares of the Rank Organisation. In spring 1997, Rank sold Rank Film Distributors, including its library of 749 films, to Carlton Television for £65 million and immediately became known as Carlton/RFD Ltd. Pinewood Studios and Odeon Cinemas were both sold off in 2000. The company finally severed its remainings connection with the film industry in 2005 when it sold its DVD distribution business and Deluxe technical support unit.

Peggy Cummins
Peggy Cummins . Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 673. Photo: Rank Film.

Terence Morgan in Dance Little Lady (1954)
Terence Morgan . Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1004. Photo: Rank Film. Publicity still for Dance Little Lady (Val Guest, 1954).

Jack Hawkins in The Long Arm (1956)
Jack Hawkins. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1288. Photo: Rank Film. Publicity still for The Long Arm (Charles Frend, 1956).

Maureen Swanson
Maureen Swanson . Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., no. 3682. Photo: Rank Organisation. Publicity still for Robbery Under Arms (Jack Lee, 1957).

Anne Heywood in Floods of Fear (1958)
Anne Heywood . Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no 1498. Photo: Rank. Publicity still for Floods of Fear (Charles Crichton, 1958).

Sources: Lou Alexander (BFI Screenonline), Wikipedia and .
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Published on February 09, 2019 22:00

February 8, 2019

Thursday, 7 February 2019, English actor Albert Finney (1936–2019), one of the ‘angry young men’ of the Kitchen Sink Theatre and Free Cinema wave, died. The dynamic, often explosive, stage and screen star was one of the working class and provincial actors that revolutionised British theatre and film in the 1950s and 1960s. Although his early fame was later tempered by long absences from major films, he continued to earn awards and acclaim in a varied five-decade career on stage, films, and television. Albert Finney was 82.

Albert Finney
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1616, 1961. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress. Publicity still for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960).

Albert Finney (1936–2019)
British postcard by NPG - National Portrait Gallery. Photo: Lewis Morley, 1960.

Successful Bookmaker
Albert Finney was born in the working-class town of Salford, England, to Alice Finney-Hobson and Albert Finney, Sr. in 1936. Although he was born working class, his was a relatively privileged upbringing as his father was a successful bookmaker.

He trained at the RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), where his classmates included Alan Bates and Peter O'Toole .

Finney began his stage career with the Birmingham Repertory Company playing Brutus in Julius Caesar. He made his London debut in the company's production of George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra in 1956.

Two years later, Finney earned critical acclaim opposite Charles Laughton in a West End production of Jane Arden's The Party, directed by Laughton.

He then joined the famed Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon for their 100th anniversary season, performing Cassio in Othello (directed by Tony Richardson with Paul Robeson in the lead), reteaming with Charles Laughton for A Midsummer Night's Dream as Lysander and understudying Laurence Olivier 's Coriolanus.

His cinema debut was a small role as Laurence Olivier 's son in The Entertainer (Tony Richardson, 1960). His triumphant performance on the London stage as Billy Liar (1960) raised his profile higher.

Albert Finney, Shirley Anne Field
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1615, 1961-1962. Photo: still from Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960) with Shirley Anne Field .

Albert Finney, Shirley Anne Field
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1614, 1961. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress. Publicity still from Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960) with Shirley Anne Field .

Angry Young Man Cinema
Albert Finney's upbringing in Lancashire, a region of mills and smokestacks, exposed him to the kind of social injustice and economic hardship that helped prepare him for his first leading film role. He played a nonconformist, disillusioned factory worker in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). The film was directed by Karel Reisz and produced by Tony Richardson and based on the novel by Alan Sillitoe.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) brought Finney worldwide acclaim. Mike Cummings at AllMovie calls the film “a milestone in the development of British realist cinema” and TCM names it “a classic of British ‘angry young man’ cinema”. Finney was originally chosen for the title role in Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962) after a screen test shot over four days at a cost of £100,000. He later balked at the film's monumental shooting schedule, and did not want to commit to such a long term contract.

Finney cemented his film stardom with the lead role in the lavish and bawdy Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963), adapted by screenwriter John Osborne from the Henry Fielding novel of the same name. He earned an Oscar nomination for his rakish, startlingly handsome and picaresque hero. The film was a rollicking, uproarious hit and won four Academy Awards.

Rather than attend the Oscar ceremony in 1964, Finney went on vacation sailing in the South Seas. When informed that he had been beaten as Best Actor by Sidney Poitier, he offered Poitier his heartfelt congratulations. He later would be nominated again for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet, 1974), The Dresser (Peter Yates, 1983), and Under the Volcano (John Huston, 1984). He was also nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Erin Brockovich (Steven Soderbergh, 2000). Despite his nominations, he never appeared in person at an Oscar ceremony.

Albert Finney (1936–2019)
Czech collectors card by Pressfoto, Praha (Prague), no. 1964. Photo: publicity still for Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963).

Disdainful of his Pretty Boy Image
In 1963, Albert Finney took Broadway by storm in John Osborne's Luther, helmed by Tony Richardson. Then he reteamed with Karel Reisz for Night Must Fall (1964), on which Finney made his debut as producer. In 1965, he formed Memorial Films in association with actor Michael Medwin, responsible for several outstanding films including Lindsay Anderson's If... (1968) and O Lucky Man! (1973).

With hints of autobiography, in 1967 he directed and starred in Charlie Bubbles (Albert Finney, 1967), a film from a Shelagh Delaney script about the disenchantments of success. The loss of youth was also at the centre of Two for the Road (Stanley Donen, 1967), in which he starred with Audrey Hepburn .

After these productions his film appearances became less frequent. With absolutely no interest in being a ‘personality’ actor and disdainful of his pretty boy image, Finney took pictures for their fun value, hamming his way through the title role of Scrooge (Ronald Neame, 1970), a handsome musicalisation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and delivering a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a Humphrey Bogart wannabe in Gumshoe (Stephen Frears, 1971), another offering from his production company.

In 1974, Albert Finney was only the third choice after Alec Guinness and Paul Scofield to play Belgian master detective Hercule Poirot in the star-studded Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet, 1974), but author Agatha Christie felt Finney's performance came closest to her idea of Poirot.

Finney was so well-known for the role that he complained that it typecast him for a number of years. After Murder on the Orient Express, Finney would appear in only one film over the next seven years, playing a small role in The Duellists (Ridley Scott, 1977), starring Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel.

He directed several plays while he was associate artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre from 1972-1975. As a member of the National Theatre from 1975 on, he concentrated exclusively on stage acting, portraying the title roles of Hamlet, Tamburlaine the Great, Macbeth and Uncle Vanya, among his varied work. Finney was twice nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Actor: in 1964 for playing the title character of Martin Luther in John Osborne's Luther, and in 1968 for Peter Nichols' A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. Both plays were adapted to the screen with other actors. Finney was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where he performed for three seasons in the early 1980s.

Albert Finney (1936–2019)
Spanish postcard by Raker, no. 1144.


Albert Finney in Alpha Beta by E. A. Whitehead. Royal Court Theatre 1972. Photo: John Haynes. Collection: Performing Arts / Artes Escénicas (Flickr).

Powerful, Sexually-charged, Rage-filled Performance
Albert Finney found new cinema success in Alan Parker's harrowing portrait of divorce, Shoot the Moon (1981), giving a powerful, sexually-charged, rage-filled performance as a writer crased with jealousy that his wife (Diane Keaton) and children seem to be getting along fine without him since his departure.

After pocketing a reported $1 million to play Daddy Warbucks in the huge hit Annie (John Huston, 1982), he co-starred with Tom Courtenay in The Dresser (Peter Yates, 1983). Finney played a boozing Shakespearean actor whose life strangely parallels the tragic life of one of the characters he portrays, King Lear. Both actors earned Best Actor Oscar nominations for their work.

Finney was perhaps never better as the gruellingly drunk diplomat of Under the Volcano (John Huston, 1984), adapted from Malcolm Lowry's autobiographical novel set in 1930s Mexico. He earned his fourth Best Actor Oscar nomination for an extraordinary performance requiring him onscreen almost the entire film. He reprised his stage role as a deceptive, drunken Chicago gangster in Orphans (Alan J. Pakula, 1987), demonstrating his flair for dialects with an authentic South Side accent.

Another highlight was his charismatic Irish gang leader in the Coen brothers’ crime epic Miller's Crossing (1990). Finney made an appearance as the Judge during the trial at The Wall: Live in Berlin (Ken O'Neill, Roger Waters, 1990), a video recording of the 1990 Berlin benefit concert in which Roger Waters leads an all star cast in performing his famous concept album. Next, Finney offered a masterful performance as the public school teacher-scholar at the centre of a remake of The Browning Version (Mike Figgis, 1994).

Finney made several television productions for the BBC in the 1990s, including The Green Man (Elijah Moshinsky, 1990), based on a story by Kingsley Amis, the acclaimed drama A Rather English Marriage (Paul Seed, 1998) with Tom Courtenay, and the lead role in Dennis Potter's final two plays, Karaoke (Renny Rye, 1996) and Cold Lazarus (Renny Rye, 1997). In the latter he played a frozen, disembodied head.


Trailer of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). Source: Britfix (YouTube).


Trailer of Tom Jones (1963). Source: Movieclips Classic Trailers (YouTube).

Big Fish
Albert Finney essayed a former racing commissioner in the film adaptation of Sam Shepard's Simpatico (Matthew Warchus, 1999), a role particularly well-suited to this breeder of horses and son of a bookie. He then found himself in the commercial smash Erin Brockovich (Steven Soderbergh, 2000), playing the sceptical, but open-minded California lawyer boss of Julia Roberts’ titular legal assistant whose interest in a cancer cluster case, gradually re-energised him for what becomes the case of his career.

That same year, Finney had a cameo in Traffic (Steven Soderbergh, 2000). In 2002, he played Winston Churchill opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the HBO drama The Gathering Storm (Richard Loncraine, 2002), for which he won BAFTA, Golden Globe and Emmy awards as Best Actor. He played the leading role in the series My Uncle Silas (Tom Clegg, Philip Saville, 2001-2003), about a Cornish country gentleman looking after his great-nephew.

Albert Finney received a Golden Globe nomination for his role as the senior Ed Bloom, a man whose tendency toward fanciful self-mythologising puts him at odds with his disillusioned son (Billy Crudup) in Big Fish (Tim Burton, 2003). Finney also had a voice-over role as Finnis Everglot in Tim Burton's animated film Corpse Bride (Tim Burton, 2005).

His more recent films were the successful action thriller The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2007) starring Matt Damon, the thriller Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007), with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and The Bourne Legacy (Tony Gilroy, 2012). His final film was the 23rd instalment of the James Bond series, Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012), starring Daniel Craig .

Albert Finney married four times. His spouses are Jane Wenham (1957-1961), French film star Anouk Aimée (1970-1978), Katherine Attson (1989-1991) and Pene Delmage (2006-his death). He had two children: film technician Simon Finney with Jane Wenham, and actor Declan Finney with Katherine Attson. He turned down the offer of a C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1980 and a Knighthood in 2000 for his services to drama.


Trailer of Miller's Crossing (1990). Source: Sparmanator 666 (YouTube).


Trailer of Big Fish (2003). Source: FilmTrailersChannel (YouTube).

Sources: Mike Cummings (AllMovie), (IMDb), TCM Movie Database, Wikipedia, Britmovie and .
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Published on February 08, 2019 22:00 • 1 view

February 7, 2019

Delicately beautiful Maureen O'Sullivan (1911-1998) was an Irish-born actress best known for playing scantily clad Jane in the Tarzan film series starring Johnny Weissmuller. She also appeared in such classics as David Copperfield (1935), A Yank at Oxford (1938) and Pride and Prejudice (1940). After marrying writer-director John Farrow and becoming the mother of seven, she worked only incidentally, with Farrow’s The Big Clock (1948) and Where Danger Lives (1950) among her few film appearances. In 1986, she returned to the cinema with great roles in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen, 1986), playing the mother of her real-life daughter Mia Farrow. 

Maureen O'Sullivan
British postcard in the Film-Kurier Series, London, no. 39. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Maureen O'Sullivan
British Real Photograph postcard. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.

Frank Lawton and Maureen O'Sullivan in David Copperfield (1935)
British postcard for Abdulla Cigarettes, no. 38. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for David Copperfield (George Cukor, 1935) with Frank Lawton .

Maureen O'Sullivan
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 387. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn (MGM).

Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan in Tarzan Finds A Son! (1939)
British postcard by Real Photograph, London, no. FS 208. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Publicity still for Tarzan Finds A Son (Richard Thorpe, 1939) with Johnny Weissmuller .

"Tarzan . . . Jane"
Maureen Paula O'Sullivan was born in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland, in 1911. She was the daughter of Mary Eva Lovatt (née Frazer) and Charles Joseph O'Sullivan, an officer in the Connaught Rangers who served in World War I.

She attended a convent school in Dublin, then the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton (now Woldingham School), England. One of her classmates there was Vivian Mary Hartley, future Academy Award-winning actress Vivien Leigh . After attending finishing school in France, O'Sullivan returned to Dublin to work with the poor.

In 1929, director Frank Borzage was in Dublin filming exterior shots for Song O' My Heart (1930) when Maureen, then 18, met him at a dinner-dance of Dublin's International Horse Show. Borzage had the waiter send her a note: "If you are interested in being in a film, come to my office tomorrow at 11am", and subsequently he cast her as the daughter of tenor John McCormack in Song O' My Heart. The part was a substantial one, so much so that Maureen had to go to Hollywood to complete the filming.

In October 1929, she sailed to New York with her mother on the British steamer R.M.S. Baltic, on the way to sunny California to work for the Fox Film Corporation. The film was a great success and the studio (20th Century Fox) gave the new actress a contract. Maureen wasted no time landing roles in such films as So This Is London (John G. Blystone, 1930) with Will Rogers. She appeared in six films for Fox.

In 1932, Maureen signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. She was chosen by Irving Thalberg to appear as Jane Parker opposite Olympic medal winner Johnny Weissmuller as Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous jungle hero Tarzan in Tarzan the Ape Man (W.S. Van Dyke, 1932). The film was MGM's biggest film of the season with a worldwide rental of $2,540,000. Five other Tarzan films followed.

Tom Valance in his obituary after the death of O'Sullivan in The Independent : "O'Sullivan, besides her attractiveness, brought a sense of humour plus an appealing blend of sophistication and innocence to the girl who teaches the jungle-bred hero how to speak, starting with "Tarzan . . . Jane" (not "Me Tarzan, you Jane" as commonly misquoted). The second of the series, Tarzan and His Mate (1934) is generally considered the best, matching the first in lyrical beauty and excelling it in excitement and dramatic impetus. "

Maureen O'Sullivan
British postcard in the Film Weekly series, London.

Maureen O'Sullivan
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 486.

Johnny Weismuller and Maureen O'Sullivan in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, no. 680. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for Tarzan the Ape Man (W. S. Van Dyke, 1932) with Johnny Weissmuller .

Maureen O'Sullivan and Franchot Tone in Stage Mother (1933)
British postcard in the Filmshots Series by Film Weekly. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for Stage Mother (Charles Brabin, 1933) with Franchot Tone.

Marie Dressler, Robert Young and Maureen O'Sullivan in Tugboat Annie (1933)
British postcard in the Filmshots Series by Film Weekly. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for Tugboat Annie (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933) with Marie Dressler and Robert Young.

Maureen O'Sullivan and Robert Taylor in A Yank at Oxford (1938)
British postcard in the Film Partners Series, London, no. P 255, Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for A Yank at Oxford (Jack Conway, 1938) with Robert Taylor.

A grandmother kidnapped by aliens
Between the Tarzan films, MGM cast Maureen O'Sullivan as ingenue in over 40 films - leading roles in B pictures but usually supporting roles in major ones. She was the distraught daughter who asks investigator Nick Charles (William Powell ) to locate her missing father in the comedy-mystery The Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke, 1934). She also played beautifully Dora, David's silly and ill-fated wife in the classic David Copperfield (George Cukor, 1935) opposite  Frank Lawton , and was the flirtatious Kitty in Anna Karenina (Clarence Brown, 1935), starring Greta Garbo .

In 1936, she married writer-director John Farrow. After co-starring with the Marx Brothers in A Day At The Races (Sam Wood, 1937), she appeared as Molly Beaumont in A Yank at Oxford (Jack Conway, 1938), in which she vied with Vivien Leigh for Robert Taylor. The script was written partly by F. Scott Fitzgerald. At her request, he rewrote her part to give it substance and novelty. O'Sullivan turned in yet another fine performance as Jane Bennett in Pride and Prejudice (Robert Z. Leonard, 1940) with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson .

After appearing in Tarzan's New York Adventure (Richard Thorpe, 1942), O'Sullivan asked MGM to release her from her contract so she could care for her husband, director John Farrow, who had just left the Navy with typhoid. In the following decade she devoted her time to their seven children: Michael, Patrick, Maria (Mia Farrow), John, Prudence, Theresa (Tisa Farrow), and Stephanie Farrow. Maureen O'Sullivan became a US citizen in 1947.

In 1948, she re-appeared on the screen opposite Ray Milland in The Big Clock, directed by her husband for Paramount Pictures. She continued to appear occasionally in her husband's films, like in the Film Noir Where Danger Lives (John Farrow, 1950) with Robert Mitchum . She also played a supporting part in All I Desire (Douglas Sirk, 1953), starring Barbara Stanwyck, acted in the Western The Tall T (Budd Boetticher, 1957) starring Randolph Scott, and appeared on television. In 1958, Farrow and O'Sullivan's eldest son, Michael, died in a plane crash in California, while taking flying lessons.

By 1960 she believed she had permanently retired, but in 1962 she began her Broadway career with the hit comedy Never Too Late, receiving the best notices of her career as a middle-aged wife who becomes pregnant. She later also appeared in the film version, Never Too Late (Bud Yorkin, 1965). O'Sullivan stuck with acting on stage after John Farrow's death in 1963. Other onstage successes included The Subject Was Roses (1965), the Broadway version of No Sex Please, We’re British (1973), and the revival of Paul Osborn's Morning’s at Seven (1980).

When her daughter, actress Mia Farrow, became involved with Woody Allen both professionally and romantically, she appeared in Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen, 1986), playing Farrow's mother. She also had a fine role in Peggy Sue Got Married (Francis Coppola, 1986) and appeared as grandmother who is kidnapped by aliens in the obscure Science Fiction thriller Stranded (Fleming B. Fuller, 1987). Her final screen appearance was in the TV film Hart to Hart: Home Is Where the Hart Is (Peter Hunt, 1994) with Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers. She had appeared in over 90 films and TV productions.

In 1983, Maureen O'Sullivan had married James Cushing, a wealthy businessman. They remained wed until her death in 1998. She died in Scottsdale, Arizona, of complications from heart surgery, at age 87. Her son Patrick Villiers Farrow, a sculptor and peace and environmental activist, committed suicide in 2009. Her grandson, Ronan Farrow, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

Maureen O'Sullivan
British Real Photograph postcard, no. B-31. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Maureen O'Sullivan
British postcard by Milton, no. 56.B. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Maureen O'Sullivan
British cigarette card in the Stars of Screen & Stage series by Park Drive Cigarettes, Gallaher Ltd., London & Belfast, no. 25. Photo: M.G.M. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Johnny Weismuller and Maureen O'Sullivan
Belgian postcard. Photo: M.G.M. With Johnny Weissmuller .

Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan in Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)
Vintage card. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for Tarzan Finds a Son! (Richard Thorpe, 1939) with Johnny Weissmuller .

Maureen O'Sullivan in Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941)
Belgian postcard by Les Editions d'Art (L.A.B.), Bruxelles, no. 1009. Photo: Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Publicity still for Tarzan's Secret Treasure (Richard Thorpe, 1941).

Maureen O'Sullivan
British postcard in the Picturegoer series, no. 426. Photo: Paramount.

Sources: Tom Vallance (Independent), Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Wikipedia.
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Published on February 07, 2019 22:00

February 6, 2019

Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (Jacob Fleck and Luise Fleck, 1927) is a silent film operetta, a popular genre of the Weimar cinema. It is an adaptation of Carl Millöcker's popular operetta The Beggar Student, but without the music. The cast is lead by Harry Liedtke, Agnes Esterhazy and Maria Paudler.

Agnes Esterhazy and Harry Liedtke in Der Bettelstudent (1927)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 91/1. Photo: Aafa. Publicity still for Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (Jacob Fleck, Luise Fleck, 1927) with Agnes Esterhazy and Harry Liedtke .

Maria Paudler and Agnes Esterhazy in Der Bettelstudent (1927)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 91/2. Photo: Aafa. Publicity still for Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (Jacob & Luise Fleck, 1927) with Maria Paudler and  Agnes Esterhazy .

One of the triumphs of the European musical theatre of its era
I've never seen this film version of Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student, but the publicity photos on this series of Ross Verlag postcards are enticing. The film's sets were done by Botho Hoefer and Hans Minzloff under the art direction of Rudolf Walther-Fein and the camera work was done by Edoardo Lamberti and Guido Seeber. All five did an elegant job.

The cast is also promising.  Harry Liedtke  plays the lead as Simon the beggar student, and his leading ladies are the beautiful  Agnes Esterhazy  as countess Laura and Maria Paudler as her sister Bronislawa. Furthermore there is Ida Wüst as Gräfin Nowalska, the mother of the girls, Ernö Verebes as Jan, another student, and there are the scene stealers Hans Junkermann, Kurt Vespermann and Hermann Picha as the authorities.

Walter Reisch wrote the screenplay for Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (Jacob Fleck, Luise Fleck, 1927). He gave another direction to the story of the operetta by Carl Millöcker. As in the original, the film is situated in Krakow, 1704. Poland is under the rule of the unpopular Saxon king, August II. Two poor, revolting students Simon and Jan have been jailed by Colonel Ollendorf. But they can trick the officer and conquer the hearts of the two daughters of Countess Palmatica Nowalska. But at the end of this cheerful film version, even Colonel Ollendorf does not remain empty-handed. Author Reisch gave Ollendorf the countess as a wife.

Carl Millöcker's operetta with a libretto by F. Zell and Richard Genée was premiered at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, on 6 December 1882. It was an immense success. In Berlin, the Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater’s production proved a sensation, racing past its 200th performance in seven months and in Hungary the reception won by A koldusdiák was equally as violent. The operetta was one of the triumphs of the European musical theatre of its era, and was played regularly throughout Europe and the US for many years. There have been nearly 5,000 productions since 1882.

The operetta has been filmed at least six times. The first adaptation, a silent 1922 film by Hans Steinhoff is considered lost. Der Bettelstudent (1927) by the husband and wife team of Jacob & Luise Fleck was the second silent version. In 1931, sound adaptations in both an English and a German version followed, The Beggar Student (Victor Hanbury, John Harvel, 1931) and Der Bettelstudent (Victor Janson, 1931). In the latter starred Hans Heinz Bollmann, Jarmila Novotná , and Truus van Aalten .

Two other German sound versions later followed, Der Bettelstudent (Georg Jacoby, 1936) with Johannes Heesters and Marika Rökk , and Der Bettelstudent (Werner Jacobs, 1956) starring Gerhard Riedmann and Waltraut Haas . The most recent The Beggar Student to come to the screen did so in Hungary in 1977, directed by László Seregi. Local operetta star Marika Németh played Countess Palmatica. It has also been adapted for German television, and the operetta continues to be performed on stage.

Agnes Esterhazy and Harry Liedtke in Der Bettelstudent (1927)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 91/3. Photo: Aafa. Publicity still for Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (Jacob Fleck, Luise Fleck, 1927) with  Agnes Esterhazy  and  Harry Liedtke .

Maria Paudler and Ernst Verebes in Der Bettelstudent (1927)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 91/4. Photo: Aafa Film. Publicity still for Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (Jacob Fleck, Luise Fleck, 1927) with Maria Paudler and Ernö (or Ernst) Verebes.

Agnes Esterhazy in Der Bettelstudent (1927)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 91/5. Photo: Aafa. Publicity still for Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (Jacob Fleck, Luise Fleck, 1927) with  Agnes Esterhazy . Collection: Didier Hanson.

Sources: Kurt Gänzl (Operetta Research Center), Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.
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Published on February 06, 2019 22:00

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