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Conrad Veidt (OT)

This is a continuation of the topic Gothic films - part three.

Gothic Literature

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1Rembetis
Oct 15, 2017, 7:17pm Top

(continued from Gothic Films Part Three post 190)

LolaWalser-

I thought Veidt actually made his evil 'Escape' villain appear vulnerable, especially in his final scene, which is quite something given that there is little in the script, but it is all in Veidt's eyes.

I think it's sad that Veidt did not live to see the Nazi regime (he detested so much) crushed.

Gosh, I don't think you realise how eloquent you were in your last post. Transparently projecting thought, acting intelligently and instinctively - spot on.

I am surprised that Valerie Hobson was so much cheaper to hire than Vivien Leigh given Leigh hadn't made a breakthrough film yet and Hobson had been making movies for much longer.

I realise we have been OT with much of our last posts (sorry everyone), so now this is OT - what are the tidbits about 'Dark Journey'?!

2LolaWalser
Edited: Oct 15, 2017, 9:52pm Top

I thought Veidt actually made his evil 'Escape' villain appear vulnerable, especially in his final scene, which is quite something given that there is little in the script, but it is all in Veidt's eyes.

Spot on!--this is something of a specialty of Veidt's, adding a dimension, a shadow, to characters conceived rather flatly on paper. It's something Soister calls his "melancholy", a sadness, but I think it's both that and something more flexible, something ambiguous that the viewer can interpret according to their own emotions. For example, his Cesare Borgia is one of the evil-est villains who ever villained on screen, a poisonous double-lidded snake poured into black Renaissance tights with not a smidgen of a redemptive trait... but at his downfall--which is literal, after a duel, and he's squirming on the ground having to witness the final loss of Lucrezia to his rival, Veidt makes this horrible, ridiculous creature completely human--obviously not humane, not even someone one could truly pity--but, suddenly, stripped of power and tumbling into death, so REAL in his abjectness and misery.

And with women (ETA: and the young man in Anders als die Andern), there's a characteristic gesture that recurs in every movie I've seen so far, which is lifting his hands to their faces, most often not touching them or very lightly so (one exception being in The Hands of Orlac, a study in "hand" eroticism, where he presses his wife's head tightly obscuring it completely and letting both his hands be visible to the camera--a scripted direction, obviously, for the symbolism in the story.)

What struck me is that this gesture occurs not only when he plays a "good" man, but every time--even his reptilian Prussian commander in I was a spy who forces the Belgian nurse to sex uses not the usual repertoire of manhandling moves such as rough grabbing, shaking, let alone slapping--just the feathery touches that, actually, have a far more perverse effect than simply conking her on the head and shoving on the bed would have.

But, the point is, there is always around him a mélange of menace, of psychological suspense (who is he, what does he want?) and physical expression of some flavour of tenderness--the gliding walk, the elegant deportment, the soft-spokeness, and those hands... those very questionable hands.

Dark Journey: we are not alone, no one knows what happened at the end! :)

...Madeleine is "arrested" by the Swedish police and sentenced to deportation, thus outmaneuvering Karl. Once her ship has left Swedish waters, however, a German U-boat blocks its way; Karl boards the ship and arrests Madeleine for being a spy. Out of nowhere, however, comes a British destroyer, which engages the U-boat in battle. The German submarine is sunk and Karl is captured; he is to be interned for the duration of the hostilites. The lovers wave their goodbyes, tacitly promising to meet up again after the war.

(From reviews):

"With a tsk-tsk over the fact that the Britons are apparently still fighting the World War, let it be reported that Central's Dark Journey, a British-made spy melodrama centering around England's most charming screen actress, Vivien Leigh, and that bulwark of villainy, Conrad Veidt, is a swift, colorful and engagingly tangled cinema of virtually no importance whatsoever..."--New York Times, 23 August 1937

"...The film has a tremendous asset in its first-rate acting, with Vivien Leigh and Conrad Veidt carrying off the honours as rival spies for whom the war means a denial of their love."--To-Day's Cinema, 31 August 1937

Notes and Quotes:

"Lajos Biro and Arthur Wimpernis had tailor-made this improbable and naive tale of a French and German espionage and counter-espionage for Conrad Veidt, the intelligent German actor who had just signed a contract with Korda and for whom Alex had difficulty in finding suitable and acceptable roles....

Dark Journey was the first of the WWI/lowering-clouds-over-Europe subgenre features to transcend the traditional generalization of the bellicose Hun. This was more a nod to Veidt's own integrity than an attempt at sanitizing Great War operations...


Oh, did I say what the book is? Haven't catalogued it yet, I mean to enter my Veidt-trove in bulk one of these days: Conrad Veidt on Screen: A Comprehensive Illustrated Filmography by John Soister.

P.S.

I am surprised that Valerie Hobson was so much cheaper to hire than Vivien Leigh given Leigh hadn't made a breakthrough film yet and Hobson had been making movies for much longer.

It seems, as you suggested, that it really was Dark Journey that propelled Leigh onward and that she already received attention from the Americans when The Spy in Black offer came up--hence the higher price. Leigh met up with Selznick and got the Scarlett O'Hara role immediately after she was replaced by Hobson.

3LolaWalser
Oct 15, 2017, 10:01pm Top

This room needs pictures!



From Furcht (Fear), 1917, dir. Robert Wiene

4Rembetis
Oct 16, 2017, 7:18pm Top

>2 LolaWalser: I saw 'Lucrezia Borgia' a couple of years ago on a you-tube upload that wasn't great quality (too dark and pixelated in places) but Veidt gave a delicious performance in it. He so effectively got across Cesare's sheer delight in his own wickedness!! You're right that he was so 'real' in his misery in the final scenes - knowing he was facing his death, and totally stripped of his previous triumphalism, he let us see the human within.

Must say, I haven't noticed Veidt's 'characteristic gesture' with his hands (I obviously need to pay more attention!) I will watch out in future.

Many thanks for the interesting comments on 'Dark Journey'. It's good to know that we are not the only ones who can't figure out what happened at the end!

I did find an interesting comment about 'deleted' footage from 'Dark Journey' (and some good pics) on this web page:

https://conradveidtforever.wordpress.com/film-reviews/sound-films/dark-journey-1...


"The original movie is at least 15 minutes longer than the actual version, of 75 minutes. For example, there was a scene where Karl (Veidt) is trying to seduce Madeleine (Leigh) at the first dinner party they meet. There is a famous photo from that deleted scene with Conrad and Vivien smiling at each other, and clinking two glasses of wine. And this is just one of the many deleted and important sequences from the film."

I suspect this is accurate in that Victor Saville's other 1930's films I have seen (including all the films he made with Jessie Matthews) are cut well, not confusing in the least, and don't have any loose ends.

That Soister book on Veidt looks great, but oh the price! I have leafed through it at my friend's house - the mate who showed me 'Dark Journey'. He is a huge Veidt fan, and was involved with the Veidt Society - he went along to the ceremony at Golders Green Crematorium about 20 years ago when Veidt's ashes were interred there (Vivien Leigh was cremated there before her ashes were scattered on the pond in her country retreat).

>3 LolaWalser: That is a fabulous still, thanks!

5LolaWalser
Edited: Nov 10, 2017, 5:32pm Top

>4 Rembetis:

Wow, now there's a fervent fan. Thanks for the link--if she's scanning Soister's book for every film, it will spare me some typing. (I hope our references are too minor to breach copyright, certainly I wouldn't want to harm his excellent work.)

Yes, the book was expensive for a paperback (I got it from Book Depository) but blasting CAD 135 on a used DVD of Das indische Grabmal opened the floodgates--heck, where I can burn a hundred, I can burn a thousand dollars.

All the more so as I'm expecting the Orangeutan and his pigs to blow the world up any moment now: my final-days plan is to fetch some drugs from my friendly neighbourhood dealer (I'm just assuming we have one--I may have to go slumming), open my best wine (both bottles I currently have on the premises), set up my laptops side by side, and play on a continuous loop Veidt's silents on one, Garbo's on the other, until visions of Die Odaliske von Smyrna arise mystically from this my alchemico-cinematic wedding.

I SHALL make cinema gold!

Fond greetings and THANKS to your friend. It burns me up inside to think Berlin didn't deign the petition to bury Veidt in his birth town with even a word of acknowledgement. To think there is no Conrad Veidt Straße there. (There is in Potsdam. Or was.) No museum, no cinématheque bearing his name.

Actually, I meant to discuss that cutting up of Dark Journey and what the choices reveal about how some people saw, or rather didn't see Veidt, but I'll leave that for later.

I watched Jew Süss and my head's just bursting with stuff. Must process.

P.S. I don't mean to lead you into temptation and wasting money, this is just FYI and the record, the DVD of Lucrezia Borgia available on Amazon US from a "Grapevine Studio" operation is excellent, on par with (this is a random comparison) Kino Video's Beloved Rogue, say. Much better than anything I noticed on YouTube.

6alaudacorax
Oct 17, 2017, 5:42am Top

Gothic films - part three, post 190

Just moving my post over from the end of 'Gothic films - part three' where it was rather in the way:

>190 LolaWalser:

Just HAD to add one more entry here to note a great post! I'm afraid I'm still at the 'the Nazi in Casablanca' stage, but now you've got me really itching to explore Veidt's body of work.

7LolaWalser
Oct 17, 2017, 1:13pm Top

>6 alaudacorax:

Ha!--this ship will sink in fine company! :)

I hope you enjoy whatever you may find or at least don't feel like you've wasted your time--I really should organise my thoughts and make a better effort at explaining what the hell I'm going on about, although I recognise I'm undergoing something one can't normally expect to happen in the run of ordinary movie consumption.

Also, I shudder at the idea that I might "oversell" something. Veidt appeared in a number of turkeys (Under the Red Robe, I'm barely squinting at you through my fingers, you so ugly!), to say nothing of simply trivial fare, and, much as I secretly may believe it, wasn't really half-lily, half-unicorn from another planet. His artistry is, to a degree, "pinnable". One can compare him to others. There are instances where you can see he's being directed by some foreign, obtuse, uncomprehending hand. Where something--terrible scripts, bad direction, uncommunicative co-stars--blocks him.

But consumed in toto, the gallery of his characters and their inner lives is uniquely remarkable in variation within type, in realness, in a special kind of Veidt-dance... right, losing the thread again!

8Rembetis
Edited: Oct 17, 2017, 8:06pm Top

>5 LolaWalser: Gosh, that is alot of money to spend on a used dvd! Reminds me of my huge flirtation with American laserdiscs (yes, I was stupid enough) e.g. I paid £100 for a box set of 6 rare US Gable/Crawford films I was desperate to see, and other such delights.

The World has never been in such a sorry state in my lifetime with so many crazy people 'in charge'. I like your final days plan of making cinema gold with Veidt, Garbo, and drink and drugs helping you conjure up 'Die Odaliske von Smyrna'! Very funny! What a way to go (but let's hope it doesn't ever come to that...)

My Veidt friend was a childhood friend of my partner, and he lives a few miles away (we are all vintage film buffs). Since around 1984 we take it in turns to host dinner and film shows every month or so (it is very civilised lol!) I was only aware of Veidt in 'Casablanca' and 'Caligari' until my friend starting showing us other Veidt films, silent and sound, and it was he who opened my eyes to Veidt's extraordinary body of work.

We too were shocked with the Berlin and German response to bury Veidt at home. Bizarre.

I wonder whether 'Dark Journey' was re-released at some point after 1937 (perhaps after the success of 'GWTW'), and was cut about then, after Britain had entered the War. I also think the most telling quote you provided about the film was:

"Dark Journey was the first of the WWI/lowering-clouds-over-Europe subgenre features to transcend the traditional generalization of the bellicose Hun. This was more a nod to Veidt's own integrity than an attempt at sanitizing Great War operations..."

I haven't seen 'Jew Suss' but have bookmarked a copy on you tube to watch at some point (I have a long list of bookmarked films - some of them disappear before I find the time to watch them, as I am not a huge fan of watching films on you tube).

Many thanks for the heads up on the 'Grapevine' copy of 'Lucrezia Borgia'. I have never heard of the company and thought it would be a poor copy. I had seen this on Amazon uk where some soul is asking £101 for it (!!!) but I just ordered a copy from the US on ebay for £13.

9LolaWalser
Oct 18, 2017, 2:19pm Top

>8 Rembetis:

It's so nice you have a circle of friends like that. Most of mine have trouble wrapping their heads around the idea of seeing a B&W movie, let alone a silent. Another reason I'm still mourning Jackman Hall ten years later--we habituals all became familiar. Of course most were older folk, retired, and I imagine on limited budgets--I didn't see any of them later again when I went to the accursed Lightbox or whatever it's called. But, there is hope in the darkness--the local Goethe Institut is finally, years after they dropped the film programme, reinstating some of it. I'm going to see M (who cares if it's the 300th time) there next. That's where I saw Anders als die Andern and a truckload of Lubitsch, Pabst etc. before. They do sponsor a series of German movies at the cinematheque but it's mostly new stuff that doesn't get North American distribution.

I've come to collecting film very late, basically with the ability to watch DVDs on the computer (I've never owned a television), and I dearly hope no drastic revolution in media will force me to ditch/reinvent my collection before I die.

Jew Süss is one for conflicting responses. It's impossible to discuss (or like or dislike) solely on artistic merits because it's deeply political and there is so much politics around it. Feuchtwanger gave a serious portrait of a complex character, a Jewish man resolved to escape the ghetto but without betraying his origins and his people. The movie botched this (as movies typically do with nuanced literature) and Joseph is left to rely for our sympathy mainly on Veidt's charm. Which is great, even here where he does something unspeakably base (allows his boss to rape the woman he's himself half in love with and who is only present in his house for this to happen because he, basically, invited her on a date) and in general isn't very nice.

The script is hopelessly stilted and clunky and except for Veidt and his "boss" the duke played by Paul Vosper, it's hard to identify a performance that isn't bad or worse. Cedric Hardwicke sleepwalks through his role intoning lugubriously his wretched lines--maybe they shocked him into a coma.

Well, all this said, it is still very moving. The final scene of Joseph's execution I thought too sentimental with the Jesus-y close ups (but who can seriously complain about those marvellous eyes eating up the screen), but when he starts screaming the Sh'ma Yisrael it's... well he hits one tone at one point that skinned me alive.

I can barely bear to comment on the Nazi obscenity made in the wake of this movie. I never saw it and never want to see it and didn't know until I read Soister's comments that Werner Krauss, Veidt's co-star in so many wonderful, legendary movies and presumably a friend once upon a time, was in it, and not just in it, but played his role with gusto and full Nazi conviction. And Krauss wasn't the only one.

It only makes me feel with deeper despair how singular and alone Veidt had been.

10Rembetis
Edited: Oct 18, 2017, 8:43pm Top

>9 LolaWalser: I am lucky to have a circle of friends around my own age (54) that like old films (though we discuss new films too!) Since my late teens, through regular attendance at the National Film Theatre and as a member of film societies and fan clubs, I became friends with quite a few older film buffs (many with encyclopaedic film knowledge), and it has been very sad these last 10 - 15 years to see so many pass away. I suppose the old friends you had at the Jackman Hall went the same way, sad to say :-(

Turning to more cheerful thoughts, that's great that your local Goethe Institut is showing 'M'. Hopefully they will carry on in the same vein (perhaps write and suggest to them some titles they might want to show in future?)

I don't believe dvds will die out for a very long time, despite blu ray and streaming. Streaming is great but so intangible. Many people still like physically owning films in cases with cover art etc. Blu ray is pernickity (the machines need updates) and the software is expensive. DVD is popular, cheaper, and the machines they play in don't generally misbehave.

I started collecting with Betamax videos (you see my talent for making dumb decisions), then - VHS, laserdisc, dvd, and blu ray. Certain films were purchased in each of those formats (film companies aren't dumb).

Many thanks for your interesting views on 'Jew Suss'. You are right that most films don't reflect nuanced literature. I have an awareness of the history of 'Jew Suss', particularly the notorious remake (which I wouldn't watch). I can see why discussing either version is difficult given the politics. I will try to find time to watch the Veidt version over the weekend (famous last words!)

11LolaWalser
Oct 19, 2017, 10:30am Top

>10 Rembetis:

M is only the second "real oldie" GI are showing this year--the first one was Blue Angel back in January. All the rest was newish and video experiments and docus and the like. Thus have we fallen...

Browsing Soister's filmography, every (LOST) mark is like a punch in the gut, but this one, I think, is the worst (for me):

SATANAS, 1919, directed by... Murnau (waaaah)

Listen to this: Synopsis: (italics mine)

"The frame shows how Satan, the fallen angel, suffers from the loss of the Light. He pleads and wrangles with God, but God's voice repeats the condemnation, concluding, "You are cursed until one person, a single person, brings good out of evil." Satan traverses time and space, seeing only evil and despair, but his eyes betray a yearning for the Light, a yearning for Good..."

Tell me this wasn't a movie written expressly for Veidt's eyes! :)

Last night I was watching Unheimliche Geschichten (Eerie Tales), 1919, and there's a close-up of Veidt where I swear it looks as if the man had lighthouse beams in his head and turns them on. (I plan to take screen caps; will document the phenomenon.)

To continue with Satanas, how smashing does this scene sound (from the first episode, Veidt/Satan masked as Hermit):

"(Pharaonic Egyptian shenanigans, the Hermit is meddling with a couple of lovebirds and whatnot, then...) ... The Hermit changes into a huge angel of death--Satan--who goes through the palace crushing the sundry mortals scornfully. There is no hope for his salvation here."

HOW CAN THIS NOT EXIST ANYMORE...! Can you imagine what that looked like!

Actually, Soister has a footnote about some fragment being found in Madrid, but I can't find anything on the web.

12Rembetis
Oct 19, 2017, 12:31pm Top

>11 LolaWalser: I haven't much time at the moment, but there is a tiny fragment of Satanas (without Veidt) here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQMMOw1Dyn0

I will try and post again later.

13LolaWalser
Oct 19, 2017, 12:47pm Top

Thanks--I'm just surprised that didn't come up in recs after all the trawling I did for Veidtiana. YouTube, thy ways are too too mysterious. *shakes computer*

14LolaWalser
Oct 19, 2017, 4:17pm Top

changes into the huge angel of death... goes through the palace crushing the sundry mortals scornfully...

Shadow projection, maybe? Backlighting and tilting camera? Puppets?

15LolaWalser
Oct 19, 2017, 7:54pm Top

>8 Rembetis:

I hope you think the Grapevine DVD worth it... The one version I saw on YT looks terrible, so it should be an improvement at least on something like that.

A screencap from my DVD:

16Rembetis
Oct 19, 2017, 8:39pm Top

>11 LolaWalser: >14 LolaWalser: Only two real oldies shown at GI this year - that's poor for a cultural institute.

'Satanas' - what can I say?! I wish I could see this film! The synopsis sounds amazing. I read the synopsis on imdb too. It sounds like a major project for Murnau. Wiki says that a fragment of the film is kept in the Cinematheque Francaise archive. Someone on imdb says this runs 2 minutes and is from the Egyptian section of the film (the fragment on you tube).

'changes into the huge angel of death... goes through the palace crushing the sundry mortals scornfully...'

- I see Veidt morphing into the huge angel of death with a succession of shots. Emphasis on the eyes, then back to the frame, perhaps black wings and a scythe... His fingers become elongated, long sharp black nails. His cheeks hollow, the eyes burning. The camera is tilted and glides slowly along, following the shadow of his outstretched arm with his claws passing over the palace inhabitants who die at the touch of the shadow on their skin. Cut back to the scornfull look on Veidt's face as he glides along...

I can but dream.

I am looking forward to seeing your screencaps (when you find the time) of the 'lighthouse beams' from Veidt in 'Eerie Tales'!

>15 LolaWalser: Thanks, Wow! That screengrab from 'Lucrezia Borgia' looks fantastic. I am sure it will be worth the small outlay to see it properly. You're right, the youtube version was awful - especially the constant pixellation.

17LolaWalser
Edited: Oct 20, 2017, 12:24am Top

>16 Rembetis:

Interesting, are you basing your image of Satan on some stills from the production or what?

I picture it like this: the Hermit is a haggard old man in filthy rags, sheep skins and a shepherd's stick, and then, suddenly, BANG!!! the skins fall off, the bent old man straightens up, the figure splits like a ripe chestnut in swirling smoke and WHOOOOOOOOOSH!!!!!--UP goes this GIANT NAKED FIGURE (ok, I understand if they stick to the torso), night-dark, with wicked long hair and these huge luminous eyes light up in WHITE HOT RAGE...! teeth, SNARL, rip CRUSH tear...! etc, etc.

Here are some screen caps from Unheimliche Geschichten, episode 4, The Suicide Club (Veidt plays the club President). (ETA: the DVD is from Filmjuwelen.de, 99 minutes, 5 episodes.) The eyes--eh, stills can't really convey it because the effect relies on transition in movement, his whole expression lighting up the previous ambient dark.

 

18Rembetis
Oct 21, 2017, 7:21am Top

>17 LolaWalser: No, I haven't seen any stills of Veidt as Satan (do any exist?) My description is based on images of the angel of death I have seen in illustrations and films. Murnau used shadows so well in 'Nosferatu' and I can see shadow would have been effective in the scene with the angel of death crushing mortals in the palace.

Your description of the hermit/angel of death sounds great!

Thanks for uploading the stills. Pretty effective, even without the benefit of movement!

19LolaWalser
Edited: Oct 21, 2017, 11:03am Top

>18 Rembetis:

You're welcome, and let me know if you'd care for more. I'm sure there are plenty of googlable scenes but screencaps also give some idea of what the DVD copies are like.

Murnau used shadows so well in 'Nosferatu' and I can see shadow would have been effective in the scene with the angel of death crushing mortals in the palace.

Yes--and there's also the bit in Der Student von Prag when Devil/Scapinelli's gigantic shadow rises ominously on the great wall on top of which the lovers, the Student and the Countess, are coming to an agreement. It had been done many times before even by that time but I bet some gasps went up anyway.

Yesterday I received Le joueur d'échecs (The chess player), 1938, and it's a total delight. I have a huge fondness for automatons, mad scientists, steampunky labs and workshops--and it has all that AND pretty 18th century costumes. To top it all, for once there is someone else on screen as interesting to watch as Veidt, Françoise Rosay giving a performance as Catherine the Great that is for the ages, and really an object lesson in playing "strong women". Others are also on the whole very likeable, especially the two young women and Potemkine. I usually abhor generalisations about "national" styles and whatnot but in this case I can't help feeling there is something very appealingly "French" about the charm of this movie.

Veidt, by the way, sounds great in French! He had a funny voice, light and high-pitched, and in English in particular the German accent gives him an acid edge, but French with its nasal tones and German-friendly pronunciation of consonants makes him sound positively melodious.

20LolaWalser
Oct 23, 2017, 10:38am Top

Ha!! To file under: mentions of Conrad Veidt in least expected places...!

Reading the second volume of Simone de Beauvoir's memoirs, La force de l'âge. The year she's talking about is 1929/30 (she's about 21 years old, Sartre 24).

The subject is "Camille", one of Sartre's previous... erotic interests, I suppose, it doesn't seem correct to call her a girlfriend or even mistress. "Camille" is a character! A beautiful girl from a well-to-do middle class family, she took up prostitution as a hobby, aided in the enterprise and in keeping it secret from her doting parents (with whom she continued to live long after) by a devoted adopted childhood companion/maid--a set-up straight out of some farcical Italian opera. Beauvoir describes their shenanigans, giving some idea of "Camille"'s fantastical turn of mind and... (my translation)

However, Camille admired grand frenzies of passion and aspired to surrender to them. She fell in love with Conrad Veidt, and then, having seen him play the role of Louis XI in Le Miracle des loups, with Charles Dullin.


Note that she actually stalked Dullin until she became his mistress (doesn't sound like it took enormous effort, tbh) and sort of pursued an acting career herself. I fully expect she'd have besieged Veidt too if he'd been less geographically unavailable. :)

21LolaWalser
Oct 23, 2017, 6:37pm Top

Today I got David Thomson's The big screen : the story of the movies and naturally looked up Veidt in the name index--only three entries, but the last one, regarding Casablanca of course, made me laugh...

Ask the man on the street today to name a Hollywood picture, and Casablanca will be there in the first list. It's such a nostalgia-encrusted classic that we are spared having to notice that it is fake, foolish and fanciful beyond belief.


Ha! and HA!!

This is why I can put up with Thomson's silly infatuations with Nicole Kidman and (ughhhh) Julia Roberts and soldier through examples based on tripe like Pretty Woman or whatever.

Infatuation!--that reminds me...

Conrad Veidt- I'm In Love With A German Film Star

LOL!

22LolaWalser
Oct 23, 2017, 6:39pm Top

Actually, watching those clips, I realised I'd forgive Hollywood typecasting him as a Nazi ten times over if only they didn't also slap those horrible, ratty "I'M A DASTARDLY VILLAIN" moustaches on him every. chance. they. got.

23alaudacorax
Oct 24, 2017, 12:42am Top

>21 LolaWalser:

I'm confused by the references to Pretty Woman and Casablanca. Does Thomson actually like Pretty Woman? I mean, '... fake, foolish and fanciful ...' is a pretty exact description. I can see that it could also be applied to Casablanca, but to do so without applying it to Pretty Woman rather takes the breath away ...

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your post?

24alaudacorax
Oct 24, 2017, 12:54am Top

>20 LolaWalser:

Speaking of taking my breath away, I'm still trying to get my head around 'Camille'. I read a lot of Satre around the time the brilliant The Roads to Freedom was on British TV (alas, seemingly impossible to get hold of), but never got round to Simone de Beauvoir. Sadly, it seems one can spend a whole lifetime 'meaning to' read various authors ...

25LolaWalser
Oct 24, 2017, 11:30am Top

>23 alaudacorax:

The quotation itself is about Casablanca. I was amused that it echoed my earlier disparagement of that movie (something I scarcely dare expect from the general public OR the critics. Presumably if I bothered to look I might also find someone who doesn't accord Citizen Kane the title of the best movie ever made! ;))

I skimmed the beginning of the book and Thomson illustrates various things with examples from movies like those with Roberts and Kidman, 99% of which I never even saw, but I respect what he's saying and the way he says it. Very enjoyable, not jargony up-his-arse type or a tediously blathering autodidactic nutter (Manny Farber, I'm looking at you).

>24 alaudacorax:

I was reading Beauvoir at breakfast and got so caught up I had to carry it with me (it's chunkier than my usual commute reads) and then kept sneaking peeks at it all day. The second volume is much livelier than the first, naturally enough, as she's grown up and navigates the open wide world, with zillion people and interests coming into focus. She's a great writer.

26Rembetis
Oct 26, 2017, 8:09pm Top

>19 LolaWalser: Thanks for the interesting review of 'Le joueur d'echecs' (1938). It sounds fascinating. Another film to add to my ever growing 'list I want to see'!

As you like automatons (and silent films), you might like Scorcese's 'Hugo' (though it might be too sentimental for you?!)

>21 LolaWalser: David Thomson - I have a few of his books, including a great little book he wrote on 'Bette Davis'.

Loved that video of 'I'm in love with a German Film Star'!

>25 LolaWalser: The BFI carried out a survey in 2012 which confirmed 'Vertigo' as the best movie ever made ('Citizen Kane' slipped to second place, and Murnau's 'Sunrise' came in fifth):
http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/50-greatest-films-all-time

Unfortunately, my plans to watch 'Jew Suss' last weekend went awry (as ever). It was in fact a horrible weekend with family illness, though things have improved significantly since then, thank goodness.

27LolaWalser
Oct 26, 2017, 9:51pm Top

>26 Rembetis:

Pox on all viruses, bacteria, ill wind...! I hope your routine settles in pleasant waters soon. :)

I just opened the package with A woman's face, but I'll postpone watching it till the weekend.

Thanks for reminding me of Hugo, it's been recommended to me before and I can't remember now how it happened that I didn't go to see it on a big screen--was planning to.

Vertigo, eh? Interesting.

My favourite Hitchcock is Shadow of a doubt.

Tellingly, Joseph Cotten's opening scenes were likened to the classic "vampire laid out in his crypt" imagery.

28LolaWalser
Edited: Oct 29, 2017, 5:34pm Top

Two discoveries this weekend... someone anticipated my "last days of mankind" scenario all the way back in 1975... ;)



and... this is the amazing-est!--or maybe not--guess I simply don't hang out with the right crowd...

a chap called Gustaf Sobin actually wrote a NOVEL about the Veidt-Garbo movie that never happened, In Pursuit of a Vanishing Star!!

From Sobin's obituary in The Guardian:

Sobin's first novel, Venus Blue (1991), focused on Hollywood actresses of the Golden Age, showed his relish of film and ability to depict women. His second, Dark Mirrors (1992), was slightly muddled, linking a writer's affair with the plot of his own novel. If this work did not quite gel, it was a harbinger of the intense, dreamlike world of The Fly-Truffler. With a rich vocabulary - "telluric", "autarky" - The Fly-Truffler tells of grieving Philippe Cabassac, a linguistics lecturer who ekes out an existence on a dwindling family estate, haunted by the memory of a student, Julieta, with whom he has had an affair. Evoking the stark landscape of the area, The Fly-Truffler is that rare thing, a French novel written, in English, by an American.

Sobin always liked to surprise, and his fourth novel, In Pursuit of a Vanishing Star (2003), returned to film, this time drawing on an incident in the early, European life of Greta Garbo as parallel with the dying narrator's own memories of young love.


29Rembetis
Nov 1, 2017, 9:10pm Top

>27 LolaWalser: Thanks for your good wishes about my routine.

My favourite Hitchcock is probably 'Psycho'.

>28 LolaWalser: Well, that is priceless, that someone wrote a book about the Garbo/Veidt movie that was never made (that you, hopefully, won't ever need to magic up)!

I saw 'Jew Suss'. I thought the overall message of the film (against racism/anti-semitism) was commendable, and I would guess that is what drew Veidt to the project. But I thought it overall an odd vehicle to put the message across. However, it is very moving, particularly the final sequence with Veidt displaying coruscating emotion (I don't think it was too sentimental).

I think Cedric Hardwicke was probably directed to be so laboured and ponderous in the delivery of his lines, perhaps mistakenly in the belief that the approach added weight or importance (I've seen a similar approach in Hollywood biblical 'epics').

Ironic that 'Jew Suss' finishes with a message that 'perhaps one day the walls will crumble...and all the World will be one people', given the state of the World today (the wording also made me think of Trump's wall - I was taken from 1934 to 2017 in a heartbeat).

You pointed out how Veidt uses his hands in a previous post (post 2) and I did notice that in 'Jew Suss' in the scenes with his loved ones. I also re-watched 'A Woman's Face' and noticed how he used his hands in the absolutely astonishing scene with Joan Crawford in the attic - tapping her face, caressing her head, and then practically strangling her...!

30alaudacorax
Edited: Nov 2, 2017, 11:40am Top

>2 LolaWalser:,>29 Rembetis:

I watched Dark Journey a few nights ago. I liked it and got so absorbed that after it finished I realised I'd forgotten about paying particular attention to CV's performance - hands, etc. To be honest, it took me a bit of concentration to keep up with the plot.

Given the 'open-heartedness' of the film (can't think of a better description at the moment - I mean particularly the sympathetic portrayal of a German spy-chief) and the time the review was written, I think the New York Times writer's 'tsk-tsk' comment was crass. The sentiments - if that's the right word - tone of the film struck me as quite unusual.

31alaudacorax
Nov 2, 2017, 11:31pm Top

I'm intrigued.

In the day just gone I came across a Folio Society Jerome K. Jerome: My Life and Times in an used book shop. As a youngster, Three Men in a Boat was one of my favourite novels and I used to quite literally fall about laughing at it.

I've just been reading the introduction to My Life and Times (past 3:00am - really should be in bed) and there's reference to the story The Passing of the Third Floor Back. "Hang on - that's a film in my YT Conrad Veidt play list!"

The mind slightly boggles at the combination of Jerome K. Jerome and Conrad Veidt. As I said, I'm intrigued. I've downloaded the story to my Kindle and I suppose I'd better resist the temptation to read and watch right now, and go to bed. Tomorrow evening, perhaps ... er ... I think I mean this evening.

32LolaWalser
Edited: Nov 4, 2017, 3:36pm Top

Aack, I've fallen into my pre-winter vacation black hole earlier than expected! Not much time for anything...

>30 alaudacorax:

I thought the tsk-ing was just Americans reminding Brits not to go to war--in 1937 it looked avoidable to many--and of course they prefer to do it for sheer plunder.

The passing of the Third Floor Back is rather untypical for Veidt so I wouldn't lend too much weight to the association... it's a very saccharine story, in the vein of Christmassy feel-good pap. Some good actors, though, and it's a change to see Veidt play no less than an angel.

>29 Rembetis:

Still haven't watched A woman's face (tomorrow I hope), and in the meantime I received also F.P.1 doesn't answer. I think that will complete what's possible to find/buy of Veidt's on the market at the moment.

I'd talk more about Süss and else but no time right now. I took some screencaps--I hope I'll manage to post before long.

33alaudacorax
Edited: Nov 5, 2017, 4:25am Top

>32 LolaWalser: - I thought the tsk-ing was just Americans reminding Brits not to go to war ...

Yes, but I thought the sentiments of the film were the other way, reminding the Brits that Germans were human, too.

34LolaWalser
Nov 7, 2017, 9:39am Top

Frankly, in 1937 I think the Germans were long past due being reminded of the humanity of others. Dachau had been running for four years already, Buchenwald opened for business that year... to say nothing of racial laws and all the violence, orchestrated and spontaneous, that had started way back with Hitler's breakthrough in the twenties.

There is a Veidt movie that speaks volumes on that point, though--Die andere Seite (The other side) from 1931--only 12 years or so since the end of WWI--based on R. C. Sherriff's Journey's end. Yes, Veidt and co-stars play--Brits. Veidt is Captain Stanhope, a beacon of fortitude to his men, but in reality a shattered man who only makes it through his trauma and terror by drinking.



In this scene a terrified officer begs him for release from duty due to "neuralgia"--Stanhope blocks him and orders him to choose between being a man and getting a bullet between the eyes, from his gun:



After a tense one-minute standoff and the young man's hysterical breakdown, Stanhope picks up the pieces:



35LolaWalser
Nov 7, 2017, 9:44am Top

Even worse is the ordeal Stanhope goes through with another of his officers, Lieutenant Raleigh, who hero-worships the older man since schooldays:



Raleigh dies, in disbelief that he is dying (as Veidt caresses his face):



36LolaWalser
Nov 7, 2017, 9:46am Top

Seconds later Stanhope climbs out into the last battle and his death, which he very clearly SEES:







A shot of a tremendous explosion, and Ende.

37LolaWalser
Nov 7, 2017, 9:52am Top

The movie is available but unfortunately only in German (still, linking for the record): Die andere Seite.

38LolaWalser
Nov 10, 2017, 9:13am Top

The renovation of Conrad Veidt's London house, with some interesting views of the façade (likely the only element retaining much of the original):

Groves Natcheva delicately extends 1930s Hampstead home

The original house was built for the German actor Conrad Veidt who fled Nazi Germany in 1933, and while the original architect is unknown, dark brick and tiles with subtle Art Deco motifs run through the detailing.

39LolaWalser
Nov 10, 2017, 9:24am Top

From David Thomson's entry on Veidt in The new biographical dictionary of film:

Veidt was the most highly strung and romantically handsome of German expressionist actors. He was a creature from Poe's nightmares--tall, gaunt, glowing with a mixture of illness and ecstatic anxiety. Amid so many overweight actors, Veidt was an attenuated, hypersensitive figure, the aesthete or artist tormented by dark forces and driven to violence. His movements were deliberately slowed and prolonged, and the somnambulist Cesare in Das Kabinett des Dr Caligari (19, Robert Wiene) is one of the most influential performances in the history of fantasy and horror film. Veidt was supremely able to suggest the noble hero possessed by some torturing spirit. Thus the riveting first close-up of Cesare, a pale face and harrowed eyes, awakened from sleep; the rhythmic, boldly diagonal way he creeps along the wall to kidnap Lil Dagover; and the sense of emotional exhaustion in his collapse at the end of the chase. These are dancer's movements. Lotte Eisner speaks of the way in Orlacs Hände (24, Wiene) Veidt "dances a kind of Expressionist ballet, bending and twisting extravagantly, simultaneously drawn and repelled by the murderous dagger held by hands which do not seem to belong to him."

40Rembetis
Nov 10, 2017, 8:08pm Top

>30 alaudacorax: I am glad that you enjoyed 'Dark Journey'. I too had to concentrate to keep up with the plot! (I mention in post 4 above, the website that says the film is cut by at least 15 minutes).

>34 LolaWalser: Many thanks for the wonderful sequence of screen caps from 'Die andere Seite'. It looks like another excellent performace from Veidt. Pity it isn't available with English subtitles.

>38 LolaWalser: Thanks for the interesting extract from the Thomson book, and the link about the renovation of Veidt's London home. I wonder if Veidt had intended to return to London from Hollywood had he not died so young.

I have recieved the Grapevine dvd of 'Lucrezia Borgia', and plan to watch it soon.

Hope you have a wonderful Winter vacation Lola.

41alaudacorax
Nov 11, 2017, 5:44am Top

>38 LolaWalser:

That house has me perplexed. I really can't work out what I think about it.

And having written that I discover that the website only lets you look at the pictures once ...

42LolaWalser
Edited: Nov 11, 2017, 10:12am Top

>41 alaudacorax:

I like all the windows--hopefully there's some sunshine to catch on occasion. ;)

>40 Rembetis:

Thanks, I leave in two weeks and should be back after Christmas.

Yes, I think Die andere Seite is one of Veidt's best performances and movies in general (speaking, as ever, from a necessarily limited experience). Another puzzle--given that the Deutsche Kinemathek has a good copy of the film, why on earth doesn't someone issue it? As an example of German filmmaking that assumes the point of view of "the enemy"*--and this after the appearance of Hitler and little before such things would become unimaginable, let alone doable--it has interest greater than for Veidt's fans.

*Veidt, and probably many, maybe most of the men who made the movie, was conscripted in WWI in the first wave. Veidt himself saw action on the Eastern Front, then typhus and general ill health disqualified him from combat and he spent two years acting in a military theatre for the troops.

Oh, I saw A woman's face--Crawford's movie, but that's for sure the best sound role Veidt had had in America (I think the general in Escape had the potential for a really great character, deeper than Barring, but the script just didn't give him the space and attention).

Speaking of Escape, this might amuse you... from J. C. Allen's biography (although "hagiography" may be more apt):

One very well-known film critic of the day wrote that the villain (Veidt) was much more attractive than the hero of the film (Robert Taylor). Veidt's mature good looks, and his poise and charm were especially noticeable in this film, in sharp contrast to Robert Taylor's irritable and loud boorishness.


Assuming this opinion was more widely shared (and I certainly don't see how it could not be! ;)), it would go some way to explain Hollywood's penchant for "uglification" of Veidt.

43LolaWalser
Edited: Nov 18, 2017, 12:59pm Top

This is hands down the funniest thing I've read about Veidt yet (i.e. why Gussy Holl divorced him). I must get Rosay's book--the translation in this excerpt is atrocious (but clear enough as far as meaning goes):

excerpt of Françoise Rosay’s memoirs (translated by {ninja chipmunks united}) where she reminisces about meeting Conrad Veidt in Hollywood in the late 20s.

Also funny (and actually very informative!), Veidt's film persona analysed through TV Tropes:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Creator/ConradVeidt

44alaudacorax
Nov 18, 2017, 6:00am Top

>43 LolaWalser:

Funny, but ... did she divorce him because they were all in women's dresses or because he wore her brand-new Paris gown?

45LolaWalser
Edited: Nov 18, 2017, 12:58pm Top

I'll go out on a limb and suggest that was probably just the proverbial straw... ;) I must say I wondered about how does one go from Veidt to Jannings but fair enough--no way could the latter fit into her dresses.

Some interesting photos and notes on another pretty much impossible to find American movie of Veidt's, the 1942 Nazi Agent, with Jules Dassin's reminiscences:

Nazi Agent (1942): Reflections on Working with Conrad Veidt

(...) {Jules Dassin told Patrick McGilligan:} "The first job I was ever offered at MGM--I never knew I'd be so thrilled--was a film with Conrad Veidt {Nazi Agent, 1941}. I remembered as a youth sitting in a theater in New York watching Conrad Veidt...This first job was a typical MGM masterpiece, with Nazis and anti-Nazis, and Conrad Veidt playing two parts--the good German and the bad Nazi. I remember when I was introduced to Veidt. I had this problem of always looking very young, much younger than I was, even when I was young. I was brought to the executive office, and in came Veidt--a tall, tall, beautiful guy with these gray eyes. They said, 'This is your director.' And he looked down at me, said 'Nein,' turned and left. {Laughs} He was persuaded to try it for one day. (...)


Things I want to post about in the future:

*Veidt's Expressionist manner

*the "laying of the hands"

*every movie individually as I watch them

*the what ifs and could beens of his career--if there hadn't been Nazism and war; if he'd lived longer; if MGM had had the sense and taste of Alexander Korda, or even a basic inkling about what treasure they had on their hands...

*instances of straight men calling Veidt "beautiful"

:)

46alaudacorax
Nov 19, 2017, 4:49am Top

>45 LolaWalser: - ... instances of straight men calling Veidt "beautiful" ...

He had the kind of face that makes me wish I could draw a lot better than I can.

47LolaWalser
Nov 20, 2017, 11:13am Top

>46 alaudacorax:

SAME here! :)

There's a very poor copy on YT of Der Gang in die Nacht, 1921, (apparently released in English as The Dark Road), the earliest surviving Murnau, and the only surviving Murnau-Veidt movie out of the five they made. A comment there led me to the page of forthcoming releases from the Filmmuseum project and the good-good news is that the brilliant new version the MOMA link talks about is scheduled to be released on DVD, but the bad-good part is that months later there is still no firm date or time frame announced...

https://www.edition-filmmuseum.com/product_info.php/info/p34_Forthcoming-release...

I'm delighted also by the pending release of Algol, the tragedy of power, a science fiction movie involving tons of Veidt's colleagues and connections--a curiosity I'd mention specially is the (dancing) presence of Anita Berber's husband Sebastian Droste, a character as flamboyant as she was herself. Their most famous collaboration was a multimedia (as we'd say today) project called Die Tänze des Lasters, des Grauens und der Ekstase--The Dances of Vice, Horror and Ecstasy. What can one say, one person's marital bliss is quiet domesticity; another's a Decadent Apocalypse... :)

48housefulofpaper
Nov 26, 2017, 1:12pm Top

I've been following this thread with interest but nothing to contribute, but >46 alaudacorax: reminded me of a chap offering prints of various horror film and general gothic-related subjects, including one of Veldt as Cesare. so I bought one:

https://www.librarything.com/pic/6110150

49LolaWalser
Nov 26, 2017, 7:06pm Top

>48 housefulofpaper:

Wonderful. The eyes, it's all about those stunning eyes...

50LolaWalser
Edited: Nov 27, 2017, 9:47pm Top

Another dreamer in thrall to the fascination of old movies and endlessly musing on their real irreality was the poet Rolf Dieter Brinkmann. From "Film 1924" (my translation):

What a thrill it must have been/
what a sensation/
as Conrad Veidt and Lya de Putti/
stirred upon each other, as/
they bestirred themselves properly./
There are shadows more real //
for being shadows, the shadows of shadows of what never was.

51housefulofpaper
Nov 27, 2017, 6:37pm Top

>50 LolaWalser:

Brinkmann is a poet I had been totally ignorant of before this evening. Thanks for this glimpse of his work.

52LolaWalser
Nov 27, 2017, 9:47pm Top

You're welcome. I think I'll edit again... (how do translators ever decide when to STOP?!)

53Rembetis
Nov 28, 2017, 7:41pm Top

I'm sorry I haven't found the time for this board lately - life getting in the way again (and not in a good way!)

>42 LolaWalser: Is there any reason you are aware of that the Germans don't seem keen on issuing the Veidt treasures in their vaults? It seems odd.

Oh, I am happy that you saw and enjoyed 'A Woman's Face'. The scene where Veidt first sees Crawford's deformed face is electric and one of my favourites in cinema. The camera captures Veidt's reaction and inner thoughts in close up. Crawford expects him to recoil, while he displays a quiet, serene calm; outwardly ignoring the deformity completely - - but his eyes - so much going on - surprise, fascination, calculation. How do we get that information from his eyes, without a word being said? It's a rare talent.

Lovely quote from J. C. Allen's biography - and so true!

Thanks so much for the excerpt of Francoise Rosay's memoirs (how hilarious - explains alot too!), the TV Tropes (funny and interesting), and Dassin's reminiscences of 'Nazi Agent'. Veidt did seem to make a deep impression on colleagues, with (as you point out) many straight colleagues noting his beauty (which is very odd indeed for those times, but understandable ;-).

Thanks too for the great poem from Brinkmann (a poet I too was unaware of)

>48 housefulofpaper: That's a stunning print. Multiple eyes!

>49 LolaWalser: Another wonderful photo! Many thanks.

54LolaWalser
Dec 8, 2017, 5:13am Top

>53 Rembetis:

Sorry to hear about continuing upsets.

Why is there so little about Veidt in general is something I can only speculate about... a combination of many unfortunate factors and bad luck, I think, but even so, I wonder at the lack (as far as I can tell) of academic interest in him (life/work). I suppose the first thing to remember is that the Nazis actively destroyed everything they could find of his in Germany and occupied countries. And the banning and suppression of Veidt's work lasted more than a decade--nor was postwar Germany considerably friendlier or more interested in people whose resistance forever shamed the majority... Quite a lot of surviving early material seems to have been cobbled from archives scattered all over the globe; no special great discoveries in Germany proper, it seems.

But it's an interesting and inexhaustible discussion, given how little primary documentation there seems to exist. I keep coming back to these questions myself.

55alaudacorax
Dec 11, 2017, 5:56am Top

For some reason, one of my facebook 'suggestions' this morning was for 'Psychotronic Cinema'. Guess whose face is their profile image? It's the 'The Man Who Laughs', 'Joker' pic ...

56Rembetis
Dec 31, 2017, 2:19pm Top

For info - talk (with clips) about Conrad by Thomas Hamilton (director/co-writer of the great documentary 'Leslie Howard: The Man Who Gave a Damn') including interview with Vivienne Phillips of The Conrad Society:

https://vimeo.com/190163204

57LolaWalser
Edited: Jan 7, 2018, 2:18pm Top

>56 Rembetis:

Thanks so much, most interesting! So much one could comment on--the contrast to Barrymore, for example, is something that made me too first realise the special quality of Veidt's acting and provides a good standard to judge both actors. Oh, and in Germany and Central Europe Veidt had been a "matinee idol", i.e. seen as a sexy star, for much longer than since Rome Express!

What piques my curiosity the most--Vivienne Phillips mentions " a girl called Pat Battle who was writing a biography (of Veidt's)"; that's obviously the same Pat Wilks Battle who provided the biography in Soister's book... well, I wonder why did she stop at that, why not write a book-length biography--and a REAL one, not a stilted, censored affair like J. C. Allen's? Puzzles wrapped in enigmas.

This year's Berlinale is presenting, within a "Weimar cinema revisited" module, at least two of Veidt's movies--Die andere Seite and Christian Wahnschaffe (both parts!):

"PRESS RELEASES 68TH BERLINALE"

Anyone fancy Berlin in February? :)

58Rembetis
Jan 8, 2018, 2:20pm Top

>57 LolaWalser: Glad you liked the Conrad talk, and thanks for the interesting information about the Weimar cinema season in Berlin (hopefully they will go on to do more about getting good quality copies of the films available commercially). Berlin in February sounds delightful! If only!

I found time to watch the 'Grapevine' copy of 'Lucrezia Borgia' at Christmas. It was delightful, miles better than the pixelated copy I previously watched on you-tube. What a performance, pure evil!

59alaudacorax
Jan 10, 2018, 5:59am Top

This is probably a pointless post, but ...

I've just read The Nursing Home Murder by Ngaio Marsh, first published in 1935. Quite out of the blue, these lines cropped up:

You think because he's got a face like Conrad Veidt he's a suitable leader of the people - a man to make laws. Typical bourgeois ignorance and stupidity!

60alaudacorax
Edited: Jan 10, 2018, 6:05am Top

>59 alaudacorax:

That reminds me, I've got a batch of books to catalogue - a Kindle, an Amazon account and insomnia are a wallet-nibbling combination ...

61LolaWalser
Jan 10, 2018, 10:10am Top

>59 alaudacorax:

Oh, that's great! On the wishlist it goes. Beauvoir and Ngaio Marsh so far--looks like a list of books that casually mention Veidt would look quite puzzling to the naked eye. :)

But see? He was a household name once upon a time.

>58 Rembetis:

Glad to hear that! By the way, if you buy directly from their website (getting F.P. 1 doesn't answer was cheaper that way than via Amazon), there's a 10% off code, "THANKYOU".

62alaudacorax
Jan 11, 2018, 4:04am Top

>61 LolaWalser: - But see? He was a household name once upon a time.

... and, from those lines, not as a villain ...

63LolaWalser
Edited: Jan 11, 2018, 11:20am Top

>62 alaudacorax:

Yes, in his European career (as opposed to Hollywood) he actually played a large variety of characters, including quite a few "noble" types.

Plus he was a babe, have I mentioned that before? :)

64Rembetis
Jan 11, 2018, 7:47pm Top

>61 LolaWalser: Many thanks for the tip about buying direct from Grapevine - much appreciated!

65LolaWalser
Jan 22, 2018, 1:50pm Top

>64 Rembetis:

A million apologies--I just found the original slip with the discount code and it's "THANKS10". I'm so embarrassed--I hope it didn't cause you any inconvenience. That's it, I have to start checking everything.

66Rembetis
Jan 22, 2018, 7:59pm Top

>65 LolaWalser: No need to apologise Lola - I haven't got around to ordering anything...yet! I spent like Imelda Marcos recently - not on shoes, but Christmas presents, blu ray box sets, and the Folio Society sale. I am trying to rein my spendthrift impulses in for a while! Grapevine have got quite a few interesting titles that are very tempting though (particularly 'Beggars of Life', a couple of the Lon Chaney's, and the two Veidt titles I haven't got - 'FP1 Doesn't Answer' & 'The Passing of the Third Floor Back').

67Rembetis
Jan 23, 2018, 7:57pm Top

>57 LolaWalser: The 'Film Archiv Austria' is currently running a huge Veidt season, started 11 January, finishes 28 February:
http://filmarchiv.at/programmschiene/conrad-veidt/

On this facebook page, someone says they have seen the restored version of 'Christian Wahnschaffe', that it 'looks glorious' and the restoration took 'the good part of two years'.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/37278498968/

68LolaWalser
Jan 23, 2018, 9:18pm Top

>67 Rembetis:

OMYGODDDDDD...!!! OPIUM! And everything else! Rasputin! The Student! The Black Hussar! The last company and DER REIGEN..!! The blackly luscious and luminous young Veidt! Why oh why don't they issue all that stuff, I simply can't understand. What's a body to do, I can't possibly live on stand-by for a retrospective somewhere, anywhere in the whole wide world again in my lifetime. Let me at least have the DVDs... And to think I'm going to Vienna in October! *SOB* It's like someone heard my wishes and scrambled fulfillment! Betcha October's when someone in, what do I know, Montevideo, will decide to have a Veidt gala next...!

But still. At least we know now all of this exists and LIKELY in good shape too.

Thanks so much for this heads up, who knows if I'd have seen. Oh, and whew, I'm glad my faulty memory didn't compromise your shopping.

69alaudacorax
Edited: Feb 18, 2018, 6:35pm Top

I'm about a third of the way through The Hands of Orlac. I was absolutely fascinated; then 'derailed'.

There's quite a long and powerful build-up to Orlac's meeting with his wife, on coming home from the hospital. Then he comes home, comes into the door frame of the room where she's waiting. She walks falteringly towards him, holds out a little posy of flowers (a hark back to an earlier, very poetic bit of dialogue) and ... nothing - an exterior scene of someone loitering suspiciously outside, then we go to a scene where he attempts to renew his relationship with his piano. Surely there's a bit missing?

70alaudacorax
Feb 18, 2018, 5:58pm Top

The Hands of Orlac again:

The body language in this is such, am I the only one to be thinking of shadow puppets?

Having written that, a little searching online and I realise I was thinking of Lotte Reiniger, but the dates are wrong so that the influence could be the other way - but what tradition was Reiniger coming from?

71alaudacorax
Feb 18, 2018, 6:27pm Top

The Hands of Orlac yet again:

In a PM, Lola enthused over Paul Mercer's score for the print she linked for me.

I have to say that it's so good it's several times come close to distracting me from the film. I don't mean it doesn't fit - it really enhances the visual, but every so often I just want to close my eyes and listen.

72alaudacorax
Feb 18, 2018, 6:33pm Top

One last The Hands of Orlac post:

Max Schrenk in Nosferatuwas clearly in the back of the mind of Veidt or Robert Wiene or both.

73alaudacorax
Feb 18, 2018, 6:34pm Top

The trouble with watching films on a laptop is it's too easy to pause, switch tabs and post on LT ...

74housefulofpaper
Feb 18, 2018, 7:15pm Top

>70 alaudacorax:

Marionettes, perhaps?

They have there place in German Romantic thought, apparently. There's an essay, "On the Marionette Theatre" by Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811).

75LolaWalser
Feb 20, 2018, 1:45pm Top

Guysssss!!!! GUESS WHERE I AM....

VIENNA!!! hahahahahahaaaaa

Guess what i just bought.....

TI CKETS TO TWELVE MOVIES IN THE VEIDT RETROSPCTV!!!!!!

geez typing on pho e to post su x

But OH

THE LARK

76LolaWalser
Feb 20, 2018, 1:47pm Top

Rembetis THANKS

totally wdnt hap wout you

77LolaWalser
Feb 20, 2018, 1:51pm Top

Anyone fan cy postcard PM me target coordinates. Mebbe i can find Veidt pictures. ..

78LolaWalser
Feb 20, 2018, 1:58pm Top

Paul so glad u seem to hv.liked Orlac. Influences o Rei iger eh, shadow play? Many many early animation contraptions com ine that graphics + movement

79Rembetis
Feb 23, 2018, 5:17pm Top

>75 LolaWalser: WOW! How brilliant! I hope you have a fantastic time in Vienna by day and with Conrad at night! And when you get back home, I hope you let us know what you thought, particularly on RASPUTIN (*swoons*) and The Black Hussar! Enjoy!

80LolaWalser
Feb 24, 2018, 3:37pm Top

Hi! Ive been trying to post a pic but no joy. Check out my Junk Drawer-- newest is Movie loot Vienna 2018--not that it can b mistaken !
Two Veidt retrospc posters-- bcos THREE wd be just MAAAAD!
(Insane laughter) argh this typing is tiring--will tell all by & by
Met guys who did the thing they cant explain dearth of Veidt either

81LolaWalser
Edited: Mar 6, 2018, 4:37pm Top

xxxxx

Well i dont know

Sorry if output is a mess on yr side

82.Monkey.
Edited: Feb 24, 2018, 6:02pm Top

>81 LolaWalser: Whatever you're attempting to post isn't right, you have "http://www.librarything.com/pic/6254206" which is not an image, there's no file type indicated. If you right-click the images and "copy image source" (or whatever your browser says) that's what you need in there.
ETA
Ah I see, it's the URL of the page. The image is

:)

83LolaWalser
Feb 25, 2018, 3:52am Top

Thanks bunches sweet Monkey!! Cant figure out posting pix on phone

84.Monkey.
Feb 25, 2018, 4:53am Top

No problem! Let's see *checks* on my phone if I do a long-touch on an image on LT it gives me the option to open it in a new tab, and that page is just the image URL, rather than the page the image was on, so that one could be copied for making the pic show. Something like that ought to work for yours, too, for any future phone-picture-posting needs you may have. :D

85housefulofpaper
Feb 25, 2018, 8:01am Top

-

>81 LolaWalser:, >82 .Monkey.:

Thanks to both of you. And look - you've given me the extra bit of knowledge I needed to paste pictures using a Mac (credit where it's due: the print is by Richard Wells who tweets as "@slippery_jack").

86LolaWalser
Edited: Mar 3, 2018, 8:43am Top

Hello honeys I'm hoooome! What a trip! Where to begin!

Overview: Minus the travelling days, I had ten full days in Vienna, of which the middle EIGHT I saw a Veidt movie --more often movieS!--in the evening on a big screen EVERY DAY!!!

What I saw: Lucrezia Borgia; Contraband; The spy in black (twice); The passing of the third floor back; The wandering Jew; The thief of Bagdad; Nazi agent; Under the red robe; Rome express; Rasputin, der Dämon der Frauen; and Der schwarze Husar.

Of these, The wandering Jew was the only one that I had never seen before. I had seen none of the rest on a big screen (i.e. in a proper cinema) before. All were film prints, in the original languages without subtitles or dubbing.

I'll comment more on individual titles later. As for the whole trip... bet you thought I was joking when I asked about the interest in the Berlinale? :) Well, it's true I was only about 23% seriously toying with the idea to hop on a plane for a mere THREE movies (Die andere Seite and the two parts of the Christian Wahnschaffe adaptation), but still... And then Rembetis dropped that bomb...! I knew instantly I'd have to go, but the trouble was immense because during the sequence that I would have liked to catch most of all (given that it was already too late for the ENTIRE retrospective!), the one containing Opium; Der Student von Prag; Der Reigen, and others that I hadn't seen at all; the logistics were impossible, I had to hold the fort here. When the Student came and went I even thought "why bother then at all", which is why I didn't mention anything here. It's not that I dislike the later phase of Veidt's work--it's that I like his early silents and that beautiful magical elf persona so much! But then as time went on... Anything was better than nothing. Just the idea that I could go someplace and watch Veidt movies among other people for DAYS, as if it were normal, as if it were all still alive, was too too entrancing.

I'll upload and post now a few pics from the Metro Kinokulturhaus. I'm kicking myself for not taking info on the history of the location--I thought it would all be online, but seems not, the website itself talks only about the period since the Film Archiv Austria took over--it was actually built in the 1880/90s as a picture palace and always served that purpose. They were still renovating and expanding the original structure (more stories, additional theatre) as late as 2015, but the "Historisches Saal" retains its early look.

87LolaWalser
Edited: Mar 3, 2018, 9:14am Top

Please forgive the crap quality, I've an anti-talent for taking pics.

Inside of the cinema, the foyer--ticket box on the right, one of the DVD stands on the left, stairs lead to upper floors with another much smaller theatre, the "historical room" is past the ticket box on the right.

88LolaWalser
Mar 3, 2018, 9:02am Top

Oh joy! :)

There's a bar and little tables, chairs and armchairs scattered around the foyer...

89LolaWalser
Mar 3, 2018, 9:12am Top

Inside the old, "historical room"... The person up front in the hoodie was a pretty blonde girl with a gamine haircut; she showed up for several movies. The audience, by the way, was generally very spare. Possibly, since I was present mostly at second showings, the first waves were bigger; but overall, I don't get the impression this retrospective drew large crowds. Rasputin, which had only one showing, had the largest audience that I saw, about 20+ people. The thief of Bagdad came in second. For most I think we were maybe ten-twelve people or so. Genders balanced, as far as I could tell, mostly loners, tending to older, but there were youngsters too every time. I noticed a few, all men, old enough to have trod or at least crawled the earth during Veidt's lifetime. One of these, and looking oldest by far (I'd say eighties or even older), was also the only other person besides yours truly present at every showing in the period I went (note, though, that I didn't go to the two showings of Above suspicion, the only omission I made--too depressing).

90LolaWalser
Mar 3, 2018, 9:21am Top

Finally, I desperately wondered whether to be that obnoxious person and futz around with taking pictures during the film--at least a few souvenirs... I thought I'd try it during the picture I cared for the least, Under the red robe, and try I did, crouching and shielding the glare from others as much as I could... hence the weird angle and the looming backs of the seats... but it was too much hassle, the click was too loud, and what the hell, I wanted my eyes glued on the screen on the whole time--especially during the movies I'd want to record the most!

91Rembetis
Mar 4, 2018, 2:08pm Top

>86 LolaWalser: Welcome home! The Metro Kinokulturhaus looks gorgeous, a beautiful picture palace with lush red curtains over the screen yet (reminds me of my youth before the age of soul-less tin can auditoriums). That's really sad that the audiences were so sparse for the films. But how brilliant that you went and had a fantastic time!

92LolaWalser
Mar 4, 2018, 4:22pm Top

Yes, yes it WAS! :)

The only regret I have is not knowing about this much earlier, in--well, it would have to have been November at least, so I could have gone FOR THE WHOLE THING! FIFTY days and THIRTY-NINE movies, mes amis! Because when is it ever going to happen again? Never, that's when.

No clue how I'd have swung it. Probably had to quit job and try to relocate to Vienna for good. Claim insanity. A love affair. Amnesia. Or something. BUT I WOULD HAVE! Oh, I would have. :)

However, it seems they went live with it pretty much at the last moment, just days before the retrospective started! It's unclear the website was even running before January? So you pretty much had to be there and follow the goings-on--weirdly, for instance, the printed March programme wasn't out yet by March 2. There were posters for a few specific programmes (I wish I could have seen the movie and exhibition around the newly discovered print of Die Stadt ohne Juden), but no full schedule posted.

And I've had a Veidt Google alert for several years--the Berlinale came up way back--but not a peep about Vienna, then or now.

I also had the impression they did pretty much nothing to advertise the retrospective. There was a poster inside and the booklets, but nothing outside. I'd have papered the city all over. Where were the students? The club members?

And yet someone came up with this HUGE retrospective dedicated to a forgotten actor. In my decades of cinematheque-going I have never seen a programme this big; not on themes, not on directors, to say nothing of actors. Who'd even qualify for something similar? Chaplin? Suppose you told someone, let's do a programme on Chaplin (Bergman; neorealism; Griffith; whathaveyou...) containing THIRTY-NINE movies, what would they say? "Um... how about twelve?"

So, on the one hand, a stupendously ambitious, rich project; but on the other, as if all that was done sort of casually...

93Rembetis
Mar 4, 2018, 7:32pm Top

>92 LolaWalser: It is very rare to have a season of 39 films! Our National Film Theatre in London used to be good at wide, sometimes comprehensive, retrospectives, and they still sometimes pull the stops out (they are currently in the third month of a huge Bergman season, showing everything he produced for the cinema screen and a lot of his tv work too).

That is so strange that the season wasn't publicised in Vienna. I would have expected posters in the U-bahn stations at the least. And surely the Film Archiv would have engaged with film schools, teachers and students in and around Vienna? Very odd. I think that more people would have travelled from abroad too had there been more awareness (one acquaintance I bumped into last week who wasn't aware said 'Aarrrh! Why didn't I hear about this in time?') Barely a mention on social media across the boards about silent film, classic horror etc.

They need someone in charge of publicity at the Film Archiv Austria..!

94LolaWalser
Mar 5, 2018, 6:43am Top

>93 Rembetis:

Oh A-men! It's the truth.

I think that more people would have travelled from abroad too had there been more awareness

Exactly--I can't imagine it wouldn't have drawn considerable interest at least among the (presumably statistically more numerous) fans in Germany--or any other place Vienna's so fabulously a mere 15-20 euro ticket away from.

As it is, when I told the chap who led the project that I had come from Canada just for this, he was all, wow, unbelievable, international interest?! Dude. Maybe a Veidt fan can't be expected to be all on the up about globalisation, social media etc. ;)

I asked about attendance only in the most general terms after it became clear to me how few people came (and, by the way, tickets are very affordable, much cheaper than Toronto, I got ten for 65 euro--the usual ten-block discount--plus two for 17) and sadly, overall it was really low, without a single showing being sold out.

"My" gang here back in the Jackman Hall days filled the theatre to the gills. True-Heart Susie or Apichatpong Weerasethakul's latest, we showed up in numbers.

I roamed all over the old city and beyond (this trip I was on a special mission to do the "Red Vienna" walks, which flung me quite a bit outside the Ring) and saw nary a mention, scrap, word or picture referring to the retrospective. Dropped by the uni (math faculty) to say hi to a friend, saw nothing around there either...

95alaudacorax
Mar 5, 2018, 2:17pm Top

A delight to see such joy in a series of posts. I'm quite envious. And how sad - missed opportunity, really - that nobody seemed to be really hard-selling the retrospective.

96LolaWalser
Mar 6, 2018, 7:44am Top

I had a ball--but now the time of penance is upon me!--nothing but toil and hailmarys and bread and water as far as the calendar stretches...! This cricket must hang her castanets! ;)

Before I forget everything, a few notes on the movies seen...

Lucrezia Borgia--Rembetis, you may be glad to hear that our Grapevine Video version is almost 40 minutes LONGER than the one I saw in Vienna, which cut entirely the initial sequences with Lucrezia disguised as the gypsy (her first meeting with Alfonso) and the introductory sequence to Cesare when he pretends to poison the prisoner--now that's a real pity, as it establishes his character so beautifully. Also cut--severely--is Cesare's fight with Sforza and his death. There are many other shorter cuts, but in counterbalance, in places there were scenes or shots that, as far as I can tell, are missing from the Grapevine--including, I'm sorry to report, several splendid close-ups of Veidt. The scene when he meets Noemi in the street was longer in the film print. There was also more Wegener (as Cesare's main hired thug), after Noemi's abduction. The cuts also changed the chronology of events somewhat.

The film was less dark than the DVD, without the occasional flares, the image more consistently good and somewhat sharper... but all in all, the DVD seems really good to have.

The thief of Bagdad--the quality of the print seemed to me considerably less than the quality of the Criterion DVD, although I suppose this is closer to what the original audiences saw. Still, it was fun to see on big screen.

Under the red robe--this was the biggest surprise of the lot. I'll never positively LIKE this movie but I found it actually enjoyable when seen in a decent print (as a corollary, I would recommend avoiding the copy floating on YouTube). "Annabella", whoever she was (presumably a big star, given the pretentiousness of billing under first name only), seemed more bearable this time--or maybe the awful acting by the women in The wandering Jew humbled my standards.

I hope to discuss the rest at greater length when/if we continue to talk about Veidt.

97Rembetis
Mar 8, 2018, 12:18pm Top

>96 LolaWalser: I am sorry to hear that blood sweat and tears is all you have to look forward to in your calendar :-( I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel...

It never ceases to amaze me how silent films have wildly different versions floating around. It is a great shame that the Vienna copy of Lucrezia Borgia was missing the excellent introductory sequence to Cesare (a great loss), and that Cesare's fight with Sforza was cut severely, etc. At least you had extra scenes that weren't in the Grapevine Video - including more Veidt close ups, by way of compensation!

I have yet to see 'Under the Red Robe'. I have seen a few films with Annabella, and none of her performances stick in my mind. I think she was a popular, award winning French actress, but she failed to make a mark in any of her American pictures. She was married to Tyrone Power.

'Rome Express' turned up one of our tv channels (Talking Pictures) and I am hoping to watch it over the next few days...

98LolaWalser
Mar 9, 2018, 5:18pm Top

>97 Rembetis:

Ah, the movie in which Veidt is introduced to the British public... eating a banana. :)

Do give us your impressions, and I'll share mine.

99Rembetis
Mar 10, 2018, 8:05pm Top

>98 LolaWalser: I watched 'Rome Express', and I thought it was delightful, albeit the resolution was a bit rushed and hackneyed.

I was very surprised how fluid and energetic the camerawork was for an early talkie (how did they get the bulky cameras to move around with such speed?) The Director and cinematographer hid well the fact that the film was made entirely in Shepherds Bush Studios. Apart from some dodgy 'miniature' shots, I felt we were really on a train, speeding its way to Rome.

The script had a good mix of comedy and action, and the ensemble cast worked well together (though Esther Ralston was the weakest link to me - I thought her scenes weren't well scripted from about half way through).

Finlay Currie was great fun as the American publicist, and Gordon Harker was good as the mind-numbingly BORING golf fanatic. The film contained the best performance I have seen from Cedric Hardwicke. For once, his stagey delivery worked in his favour as a repugnant, social-climbing, cruel and stingy multi-millionaire. His character was probably the worst in the film to my mind - worse than Veidt (and that's saying something given what Veidt gets up to).

Veidt provides another delicious and intelligent performance, the most polished in the film. At first I thought he wasn't being given enough to do, but as the film developed, I was very impressed. Truly sinister, unpredictable, scary, and ruthless, combined with a sophisticated charm and elegance that almost makes you want him to get away with anything...! I loved little touches like when he leaned over the coshed Harold Huth and affectionately said 'Goodnight sweetheart' (probably echoing the hit Al Bowly song from 1931).

Donald Calthorp as the man on the run from Veidt was also a delight. I particularly enjoyed the scenes around the card game where Calthorp keeps on winning (very uncomfortably), with Veidt seemingly happy to lose lots of money; Calthorp realising what a dire predicament he is in, with a couple of the card players completely oblivious as to what is actually going on.

This is a very good, exciting ensemble train based thriller. Better than either version of 'Murder on the Orient Express' for my money. Perhaps as good as 'The Lady Vanishes'.

100LolaWalser
Mar 10, 2018, 8:36pm Top

Very nice write-up, I concur.

Doesn't Veidt seem more alive and electric than anyone else on screen? Like dropping a glistening anaconda in a pond with sleepy ducklings.

There's a short scene when he's blithely incriminating the movie star as a shameless hussy and he gives her a dirty once-over that's out of some other movie entirely. Most amusing.

101Rembetis
Mar 10, 2018, 8:53pm Top

>100 LolaWalser: Haha, yes, good description! Veidt's so electric that it seems as if you are watching something that is happening in the moment you are watching it - that he is alive and can step off the screen at any moment (like in Woody Allen's 'The Purple Rose of Cairo').

The scene with Esther Ralston was priceless! I think Veidt had fun making this movie. It must have been a great relief for him to get out of Germany.

102LolaWalser
Mar 11, 2018, 11:36am Top

I'm trying to find out the full programme for MOMA's 2010/11 Weimar film retrospective, but not having much luck. See, for instance, the PDF file: http://press.moma.org/wp-content/press-archives/PRESS_RELEASE_ARCHIVE/WeimarRele...

It ran from November through March and contained 75 or 81 individual films (the latter number from the NY Times, the former from MOMA's website... no clue why the discrepancy).

There's a book that may or may not have this information but I haven't decided to buy it yet.

Through January 31, at least, the following movies with Veidt were shown: Caligari; Anders...; F.P.1...; Waxworks; Der Kongress tanzt; Die Brüder Schellenberg. As usual, my interest in noting this is in the fact that versions good enough to show exist, some even restored, but not all have been made available commercially.

(Not about Veidt, but another example that's killing me--Hintertreppe with Henny Porten, designs and direction by Paul Leni, according to the programme was shown in a length of 70 minutes--I only ever saw a much shorter remnant, maybe 40 or so. And this is a really interesting movie, a landmark of style in direction and performance--for example, Porten's acting here is much more like Veidt's than the typical silent era product. In sum, films like these hint at a different, "modern" cinema--paths not taken or abandoned by the mainstream. Etc.

Argh! All this that exists, but I can't get to it!)

103frahealee
Edited: Apr 27, 2018, 11:41am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

104LolaWalser
Mar 11, 2018, 8:19pm Top

Welcome to Veidt-mania! I'm sure you've come across scenes and stills from his movies even if his name didn't register--what, no Caligari at all?! Of course, I don't suppose silent cinema is all (or any part of) the rage today and that's usually the gateway to interest in these forgotten stars.

Casablanca and other movies from the last part of Veidt's life are very different to his beginnings. There's hardly any comparison... I read somewhere that after the success of A woman's face, L. B. Mayer wrote a memo to the effect that he wanted better roles for Veidt, but it was too little too late.

And as you can see from the thread, what survives today is a very mixed bag, in several ways--but the magic is still strong for the chosen few. ;)

105Rembetis
Mar 13, 2018, 8:58pm Top

>102 LolaWalser: It might be worth dropping MOMA a line to ask if they have a list of all the films they showed in their 2010/2011 Weimar season?

I had a quick look on line but could not find a full list. I did find a link to a MOMA page which states they were showing 75 full length features and 6 shorts (which accounts for the discrepancy you mention 75 - 81). I also found a page about MOMA showing Werner Hochbaum’s 1932 film “Razzia in St. Pauli” in late Jan/early Feb.

https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1104
https://forward.com/schmooze/135028/friday-film-lost-weimar-classic-resurfaces-a...

106LolaWalser
Edited: Mar 18, 2018, 11:06am Top

>105 Rembetis:

The sort of thing that keeps us hoping!

Meanwhile, Amazon.de announces the issue of Die andere Seite on April 5:

https://www.amazon.de/dp/B079VQ4STF/?coliid=I2N8I7GN6AM0AZ&colid=2Z2JG4FKO5J...

Note that it will contain English subtitles.

For my purposes, however, this seems rather disappointing--is it my imagination, or are the screencaps on Amazon less sharp than the Deutsche Kinemathek version I've linked above, and my own screencaps from there?

I'd still be tempted if there were any extras, but there seem to be none. Sigh.

So, after impulsively pre-ordering, I've scrapped it and decided to wait for reviews.

107alaudacorax
Edited: Mar 24, 2018, 8:19pm Top

>99 Rembetis:, >100 LolaWalser:, >101 Rembetis:

I've just thoroughly enjoyed Rome Express.

I really can't add anything much: everything I'd like to say >99 Rembetis: nailed, and I fully agree with >100 LolaWalser: about Veidt being more 'alive and electric than anyone else on screen' - and that in a pretty good ensemble cast. Veidt packed in so much, though - so much facial expression and body language. He stole the film.

I was pretty much rooting for him to somehow get away with it at the end - the police failing to find his body, perhaps - I agree the actual ending was a bit pat and perfunctory - almost as if they unexpectedly found they had to wind things up, fast.

108Rembetis
Mar 26, 2018, 7:47pm Top

>106 LolaWalser: You're right, your screen caps look sharper. The English subs are calling me though...

>107 alaudacorax: That's great you enjoyed 'Rome Express'. I agree with you about rooting for Veidt to get away with it at the end. I was hoping that the horrible Cedric Hardwicke character would come to a sticky end instead!

109LolaWalser
Mar 27, 2018, 5:40pm Top

>108 Rembetis:

If you do get it, maybe it will at least serve to inform you enough about the dialogue that you could enjoy the DK version.

Haven't had much chance to tackle some of the topics I mused about above, and I'm still waiting for a pause to enter my most recent DVD loot (Veidtian and not), but I was browsing in a bookshop the other day, between commutes, and picked up two tidbits from a Marlene Dietrich bio (published by a university press--I want to say Stanford but not sure)--no idea if true or not but I'd like to believe a uni press furnishes a better class of material--anyway; according to this bio, Veidt rented (for a while) an apartment (house? cottage?) from an uncle of Dietrich's; also, supposedly Veidt was present offstage when Sternberg was filming Dietrich's first number in The Blue Angel. This is delightful if true, and of course there's nothing mysterious or unexpected about these people crossing paths.

But it does make me regret again the "misses" of Veidt's career. No work with Lang, Pabst, and above all (personally my biggest regret) none with Dreyer. Watching Ingmarsarvet, Veidt's Swedish movie in which he played a religious fanatic, one can only fantasize with melancholy about what a "deep" director like Dreyer could have given and taken from Veidt. As for other actors, the list is too long but yes, no Garbo (*SIGHHHH*) or Dietrich or--why not, Louise Brooks...

110LolaWalser
Aug 8, 2018, 10:15pm Top

I picked up Jim Shepard's Nosferatu along with a copy of Shadow of the vampire (John Malkovich as Murnau and Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck) and was gratified to see that Veidt figures briefly but significantly in Shepard's imagining of Murnau's entry on Berlin's cultural scene. There's a short bibliography in the back but I can't tell how much is fact-based and how much "pure" fiction... at any rate, we know Veidt and Murnau had at one time been close enough to form a production company together (although Shepard's narrative doesn't cover that at all), and I've gathered from other reading that some of their correspondence survives (or, at least a few of Veidt's letters).

I'd love to know most of all what was their vision for that enterprise but, alas, it does not seem likely we'll ever be able to reconstruct it.

111LolaWalser
Edited: Sep 24, 2018, 7:10pm Top

More tidbits for the "unexpected Veidtian connections" files... In the 1954 Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, Kenneth Anger's film dedicated to Aleister Crowley, Curtis Harrington plays... "Cesare the Somnambulist"--not really playing "the same character" as Veidt, but rather Veidt's performance of the character (costume, makeup, hair, mannerisms).

There was a conversation before where Rembetis brought up the friendship of Anger and Harrington and their mutual interest in the occult, but this particular event was news to me. Since I like to watch first and look at the cast lists etc. after, "Cesare" came totally out of the left field... and that being Curtis Harrington making it all the more curious!

112alaudacorax
Sep 25, 2018, 2:37pm Top

>111 LolaWalser:

Do you have the 'Complete Magick Lantern Cycle' discs? I read about them somewhere or other recently and I've been wondering whether it was worth buying the set.

113LolaWalser
Sep 25, 2018, 3:07pm Top

>112 alaudacorax:

Yes!--watched the first DVD (Fireworks; Puce Moment; Rabbit's Moon; Eaux d'artifice; Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome). Much as could be predicted, given my penchant for experimental/avant-garde/just weird stuff, I'm loving it. Don't expect to be disappointed by the second DVD either.

I got it cheaply from Amazon US for about 25 dollars including shipping and tax. So if you're interested in this type of filmmaking and you can find the set at that cost or thereabouts, I'd say definitely go for it.

I was actually shopping for a copy of Genet's Un chant d'amour and this set came up as a recommendation. I'd known of some of the films by reputation but never thought to look for them as I expected silly prices (the Genet is still ridiculously expensive)...

114housefulofpaper
Edited: Sep 25, 2018, 7:48pm Top

>111 LolaWalser:

I found a review of Curtis Harrington's memoir. It's a little sad to reflect that aside from Night Tide, I've only ever seen his TV work, stray episodes of Charlie's Angels, Wonder Woman, Logan's Run, Vega$ (I never did watch the likes of Dynasty or The Colbys)...the fruit of Harrington's "descent into Hell", apparently.

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/negotiating-the-dangerous-compromise-curtis-...

(and look - touchstones work for all those ropey old TV shows!)

115LolaWalser
Edited: Sep 26, 2018, 12:19am Top

>114 housefulofpaper:

Thanks very much for that link, most interesting. I've never seen those soap operas and it wouldn't have meant anything even if I did, but yes, it's talking about What's the matter with Helen and Who slew Auntie Roo that brought him up--I think you should be able to find those relatively easily, btw... I'll look for Games--the memoir too.

Ah, by the way--I think I talked about this somewhere before but maybe not in this group--another more "ordinary" Veidtian association of Anger's is Max Reinhardt--Veidt started on his acting career in Berlin in Reinhardt's theatre (as who didn't!), and Anger appeared as a child in Reinhardt's 1935 A Midsummer Night's Dream. Apparently there is some doubt cast on whether the child (the little boy Titania and Oberon quarrel over) was Anger, and/or more than one child may have been used, but in any case, Anger was not only adamant that it was he, he seems to have felt he was marked, or was marked (what's the difference?) for life by being in the film--was kissed by the fairies, so to speak... :)

I recalled that strongly as I was watching, especially Rabbit's Moon, which is like a reconstruction of a dream a child might have had of a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. In purely visual terms, like recreating a childlike memory of shapes, lights, shadows and gestures without the knowledge and understanding of the plot and characters.

116alaudacorax
Sep 26, 2018, 7:31am Top

>113 LolaWalser:

Thanks, Lola.

>114 housefulofpaper:, >115 LolaWalser:

"Had we but world enough and time ..." (not to mention money ...)

I'm getting afraid to log on to LT. Read three posts and a link and there's at least two new books to read and a whole stack of films to watch.

To be honest, Kenneth Anger's books have been 'meaning to reads' for years - decades, probably - and now there's Harrington's book.

The trouble is I've drifted my way into a pretty massive project.

I started reading a couple of books on the directors Ingmar Bergman and Jacques Rivette. I quickly realised (a) I didn't really understand half the concepts referred to and (b) I really needed to have watched all the key works of both directors before starting reading. So I temporarily abandoned the two and I've started laboriously working my way through Peter Barry's Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, which is hefty, and, at the same time trying to watch my way through a huge stack of Bergman's and Rivette's films (they both tend to make films I can watch over and over-hence the original reading, of course-so I didn't mind shelling out for them).

Put that together with my other interests I'm starting to really know that life just isn't long enough.

And then there's that leak in the bathroom which I really should be fixing now rather than faffing about on LT ... and the hedge is shockingly overgrown ...

117LolaWalser
Edited: Sep 27, 2018, 10:00pm Top

>116 alaudacorax:

I salute your project-undertaking energy. I'm not familiar with Anger's books except Hollywood Babylon--a mass of gossip (god knows how much true or not) copiously illustrated. Apparently it raised quite a stir once upon a time, but a lot has changed since then...

My favourite Rivette and one of all-time favourites generally is Céline et Julie vont en bateau. Simply magical. :)

118alaudacorax
Sep 28, 2018, 7:22am Top

>117 LolaWalser:

I may have been a bit ambiguous - by 'Anger's books' I meant Hollywood Babylon and its follow-up. Vulgar curiosity, perhaps - as he is reputedly not to be relied on ...

I adore 'Celine ...' and I've puzzled often about if I can talk about it in a Gothic literature thread - doesn't quite seem to fit, somehow, despite the mysterious house and the dark, secret schemes. Love La Belle Noiseuse and Le Pont du Nord, too, but came a bit unstuck a night or two back with Va Savoir. Perhaps I was in the wrong mood, but it seemed to me as if it were made by a different director - fell asleep half-way through.

I suppose this is all a massive tangent - not Veidt and not Gothic ...

119LolaWalser
Dec 16, 2018, 12:00pm Top

Was browsing yesterday when I came across a mint copy of a book (and writer) previously unknown to me--imagine my surprise when I saw this cover...



This is the first time I see a photo of Veidt in his own person used for illustration of something that's got nothing to do with him. I wonder if it was the author's or the designer's idea. It would be nice to know whether the author was inspired by Veidt in creating the character or whether it was a "post-production" flourish. In any case, they had to secure the owner's permission to use the photo, so it was a very deliberate choice.

I approve of this! :) Too bad it isn't likely to represent a trend I could start collecting...

120LolaWalser
Edited: Dec 16, 2018, 12:01pm Top

double post

121LolaWalser
Apr 19, 1:00pm Top

Announcements of two upcoming releases, both scheduled for end of May:

Der Geiger von Florenz (1926)



and (oh my! Really?!)

Das indische Grabmal (1921)



All glee suppressed until I hold these babies in my hands... ;)

122LolaWalser
Apr 19, 1:17pm Top

Murnau's Der Gang in die Nacht from Filmmuseum is also finally out. This could turn out to be a good year for Veidtians...

123Rembetis
Edited: Apr 19, 7:02pm Top

>121 LolaWalser: Exciting news - especially 'Das indische Grabmal'! This bodes well for the restored 'Opium' (in colour) and reconstructed 'Student of Prague' getting released. But - English subtitles. How hard is it to learn German?!

124Rembetis
Apr 19, 7:06pm Top

Forgot to say there was a gorgeous HD print of 'The Spy in Black' on Film 4 a few months ago. Better quality than the dvd that's out. Veidt is a very strong presence in this film. Steals every scene (as ever).

125LolaWalser
Apr 19, 9:47pm Top

>124 Rembetis:

Oh yeah. :) I'm happy with the DVD but I'd love something with bonus material... surely there must be more out there.

Yes, one would hope these releases are a sign of increased interest--there have now been several recent retrospectives dedicated to the Weimar film and/or Veidt and his directors and each time I noticed articles giving special attention to Veidt, not least because of the newly found copies and restorations. There's also a new book on Veidt out (in German; I'm waiting for it).

It's truly ridiculous that something like The student of Prague hasn't been released at all (not counting the wild off-air packages).

126LolaWalser
Apr 19, 9:49pm Top

For example--on the cover of the catalogue for last year's retrospective on Joe May (repeated this year in Vienna too):

127alaudacorax
Edited: Apr 20, 7:20am Top

>123 Rembetis: - How hard is it to learn German?!

Don't know, never tried, but I've been learning French for thirteen months--about an hour every morning--and I STILL can't watch new-to-me French films without subtitles. Maybe it's because I'm getting old (though I blame it on the actors for talking too fast).

128Rembetis
Apr 20, 7:37pm Top

>125 LolaWalser: I saw that new Veidt book on Amazon, thanks. Exciting! Wish it was in English.

You're right it is ridiculous that 'The Student of Prague' hasn't had a proper release. It is also ridiculous that when 'restored' silent films hit dvd/blu-ray in Germany - German is the only language option. So strange that something like the restored version of 'Zur Chronik von Grieshuus' has English subtitles on you-tube, ripped from a tv showing, whereas the official dvd release does not!

>127 alaudacorax: Good point about actors talking too fast! I am quite fluent in Greek (grew up learning it) but sometimes lose track in Greek films because they talk too fast! Not sure I can learn a new language. I am at that stage in life where I sometimes read a page in a book then have to go to the top again as I have lost track!

129Rembetis
Edited: Apr 20, 8:27pm Top

Surfing on France Amazon, I see a dual package blu ray/dvd was issued in January of 'The Man Who Laughs':

https://www.amazon.fr/LHomme-qui-rit-Combo-Blu-ray/dp/B07MMP3LVQ/ref=sr_1_1?__mk...

Bizarre that none of the reviews seem to relate to the product (typical Amazon!) But I did find a user review elsewhere, which says it is a fantastic 4k restoration, with English title cards with removable French subtitles. The extras are in French with no subtitles:

https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-Man-Who-Laughs-Blu-ray/230715/#UserReviews

Edited to add - the film is getting a US dvd/blu ray release from Flicker Alley in June:

https://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Laughs-Blu-ray/dp/B07PK6K31Q/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=...

130housefulofpaper
Apr 22, 8:51pm Top

>129 Rembetis:
Ordered! I also ordered a copy of Paul Leni's The Cat and the Canary which came up as a recommendation below it.

131LolaWalser
Edited: May 12, 2:29am Top

I received Der Gang in die Nacht (the only surviving Murnau-Veidt collaboration, and the earliest surviving Murnau) from BookDepository and I can't recommend it highly enough--this, of course, if you don't mind the kind of melodrama it is to begin with. The restoration is beautiful; moreover, the second DVD contains Lupu Pick's Scherben--to my mind a much better movie than Der Gang...--with Werner Kraus (Dr. Caligari himself) in the lead role.

The newest Filmmuseum DVDs seem to be region-free, if that's a consideration.

I also received Sabine Schwientek's biography of Veidt. I'm sorry to say that so far it doesn't seem to be the sort of book I will be recommending enthusiastically, although no doubt it will have its uses. Schwientek relies heavily on Jerry Allen's absurd hagiography, Soister, and several well-known interviews with Veidt. Despite the subtitle that translates as "Conrad Veidt AND THE GERMAN FILM...", so far I have seen no evidence of a deeper study of Veidt in this context, relating his work to the history, nature, meaning of the German theatre and cinema. Like Allen, it's a torrent of chronological narrative with almost no comment or critical distance. She reports everything Veidt said to his interviewers as fact. At least one is spared Allen's constant compliments to Viola Veidt...

So, this is not an in-depth, thoughtful, informed academic biography I have been wanting. I presume the odds for getting one are no better now, while also recognising that the amount of labour I envision such an undertaking would demand is probably unrealistically gigantic.

I'm also beginning to think that the "Conrad Veidt Society" (also Schwientek's source and reference) may be more of a hindrance than help in a project of that kind. There seems to exist a tacit pressure to depict Veidt officially as an ordinary heterosexual bourgeois husband and father, when he obviously was neither. For example, Schwientek reports a fragment of that quote of Françoise Rosay's I had posted about before, when she told of her meeting with Veidt. Rosay said of him that he liked women (actually "jeunes filles", young girls), but that he also liked men ("les messieurs", gentlemen). Schwientek quotes only the bit about the women. Even if one decided that this kind of information is mere rumour, why then report it--if at all--in such a selective manner? Besides, it's not like it was only Rosay who thought he was at a minimum bisexual, and possibly, actually gay. It was common knowledge among the theatre and film folk.

Mais, passons... I'll post more on this when I finish the book.

132Rembetis
May 22, 9:29pm Top

>131 LolaWalser: Many thanks for the info on 'Der Gang in die Nicht'. Irresistible - especially as it has English subtitles (something I wish the Filmmuseum did on every one of their releases).

I wasn't intending to buy Schwientek's biography of Veidt - as it is in German, but the whitewash account of his sexuality sounds very annoying, and, frankly, unprofessional of the biographer. At least provide the quotes from sources and say why one disagrees with them instead of brushing the issue under the carpet.

I have not been able to get to any of the Weimar season, and doubt I will get to any, which is very frustrating. The first performance of 'Student' sold out, but there are a few seats left for the next one on the 30th. I did find one review of the first NFT showing here (it sounds magnificent):

http://ithankyouarthur.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-veidt-stuff-student-of-prague-19...

There are a couple of articles on Weimar cinema in the latest issue of 'Sight and Sound', including info on an upcoming exhibition in Berlin. When I find the time, I will post a few extracts.

133LolaWalser
Edited: May 23, 1:49pm Top

>132 Rembetis:

Ahhh! Here's hoping they'll release that print before the world melts courtesy of climate change and the orange ape and his diabolical minions. I think the frames shown are from the internet copies, though.

I'm past half done with Schwientek and will report more fully later. It's irritating to have to plunge into the dodgy ocean of rumour on the topic of Veidt's private life, but wilful distortion of what little record there is is insufferable.

134LolaWalser
Edited: Jun 5, 2:38pm Top

Guysss, what a find. WHAT A FIND. Turns out H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), the modernist poet and Ezra Pound's great friend, published several film reviews in the 1920s--one of them being of the Veidt's Student of Prague. Weirdly, Soister doesn't mention it!--and yet fangirling of this quality is surely a monument in itself.

The whole article is too long to quote (for the whole text see the PDF link and page reference in this post: https://www.librarything.com/topic/307717#6837301), but have a few excerpts and bask in this contemporary moviegoer's beautifully in-the-moment captured cinematic infatuation-at-first-sight (apparently this was the first time she saw a movie with Veidt?)

(...) Students sing under summer trees. Students have filed under summer trees and seated in a garden make obvious opera bouffe groups with beribboned guitars. Students sing in a garden... grey eyes cut the opera bouffe to tatters. The student of Prague has entered.
   His visage, his form, the very obvious and lean candour of him spell something different. He is and he isn't just this person sitting under a tree. The little man gesticulating at the top of a sandy hill has given one the clue to the thing. This is and isn't Conrad Veidt or this is and isn't Baldwin the famous fencer. His eyes cut the garden, the benches, the sun-light (failing obviously) to tatters. How did this man get here? Steel and fibre of some vanished lordlihood. Conrad Veidt has entered.
   A gesture, a tilt of a chin, the downward sweep of a student's wide-brimmed cap and the world has altered. With the same obvious formality and the same obvious banality as the little Italian conjurer, the least hunch of shoulder of this famous artist has some hidden meaning. He is lean and wild. He is firm and sophisticated and worldly. He will break from his skin like a panther from a tight wicker box. He is tight in his personality and behind his personality his mind glints like his own steel. Conrad Veidt impersonating the famous Baldwin may not be the Conrad Veidt of The Hands of Orlac, or Nju. I have seen only this film. But I don't want to see another Conrad Veidt if it must abuse my mind of this one. (...)

This Jekyll and Hyde are alike elegant, alike poised, alike at home in the world of fact and the supernatural. For by a magnificent trick of sustained camera magic we have Baldwin the famous fencer student selling his shadow, rather his brave reflection to the little obvious Italian magician of the first reel. The little Punchinello obtains it, by a trick; gold poured and poured Danae shower, upon the bare scrubbed table of the student's attic, 'for something in this room'. The student has lifted his magnificent blade ruefully and cynically has decided (as that is the only object worth a sou in the bare attic) to be done with it. It is not that blade that our friend Punchinello's after. He beckons with his obvious buffoon gesture toward the mirror.
Baldwin regards (in its polished surface) the face of Baldwin. Tall, alert, with that panther grace, like some exquisite lean runner from an archaic Delphic frieze, Baldwin regards Baldwin. It is true there should be Baldwin upon Baldwin, Veidt upon Veidt, elegantly pursuing (across some marble entablature), Baldwin upon stripped Baldwin, Veidt upon naked Veidt. In that, the little Punchinello shows his aptitude for beauty. Such charm, such lean and astute physical intellectuality should be repeated. (...)

135LolaWalser
Edited: Jun 5, 2:35pm Top

Ugh double post

Well, let's have this snapshot of the top of the article--is it legible at all? Never mind, at least the title is...

136housefulofpaper
Jun 5, 2:54pm Top

>134 LolaWalser:
That's fascinating.What a find! How enlightening to see someone recording the moment-by-moment apprehension of a silent film. It feels familiar, but of course I'd never be able to put it into words like that.

137LolaWalser
Jun 5, 3:04pm Top

>136 housefulofpaper:

Isn't it something! Surely she can't have been taking notes during the projection? Maybe she saw it several times... some scenes are mentioned out of order but there's no telling if that's due to faulty memory or if perhaps the reels were shown in that order--for instance, the "little man", the "Punchinello" (Werner Krauss as Scapinelli, i.e. the devil) on top of a hill watching something in the distance comes AFTER the students in the garden scene, AFTER his first approach to Balduin. But don't let me get boring with that stuff...

The sourcebook that collects this article (the whole PDF is available!) looks very interesting, the theme overall is modernist film criticism.

138alaudacorax
Jun 6, 4:24am Top

>134 LolaWalser:

She comes close to poetry in a lot of that quote.

Intriguing: something I've long meant to hunt up but never got round to is people's reactions to moving pictures when the medium was still new--'A great new art form or penny dreadfuls for the masses?' and that sort of question. She seems to be in the corner for art form. I really must read more memoirs from the times.

139alaudacorax
Jun 6, 4:30am Top

>134 LolaWalser:

It's rather a delight to see someone being so obviously smitten ... her enthusiasm is infectious.

140LolaWalser
Edited: Jun 6, 1:31pm Top

>138 alaudacorax:

'A great new art form or penny dreadfuls for the masses?' and that sort of question. She seems to be in the corner for art form.

Interesting you should say that, it's a thought that she ends the article with (I'll post the snip instead of writing it out--it ought to be legible, maybe with a little zoom):



141alaudacorax
Edited: Jun 7, 6:24am Top

>134 LolaWalser:

That article is a joy to read pretty much for its own sake. I have to explore more of that lady.

And I have to watch 'The Student of Prague' again as soon as I get home tomorrow--I said she was infectious (at the moment I'm on the edge of Dartmoor watching the pouring rain through the window--ran out of weather-luck on the final day of my holiday).

142LolaWalser
Jun 7, 1:45pm Top

Sorry about the rain... yea me too with the impulse to watch the Student again, only I wish I could sit next to her and go *nudge* "so, H, tell us again about that panther grace and lean archaic friezes and beauty and charm and and and"

143LolaWalser
Edited: Jun 12, 3:51pm Top

The link won't give you the whole article (unless you're a subscriber to The New York Review of Books) but there's a smashing photo of Veidt and Lillebil Christensen on top of the first few paragraphs:

Miracle in Bologna: Il Cinema Ritrovato a film festival in Bologna, Italy, June 23–July 1, 2018

To roam at will among films lost, films never seen, films quite likely not even known by you to exist, day after day among spectators all animated by a common attentiveness and palpable curiosity, as if nothing existed outside the parallel world of cinema: for some of us that might be the most irresistible escape of all, a plunge not into oblivion but into all the corridors of memory, lit by a thousand cameras. In early summer of each year Bologna becomes the site of such a collective immersion. On July 1, Il Cinema Ritrovato wrapped up its thirty-second edizione, in which during nine days more than five hundred films (of lengths ranging from a minute to many hours) were shown on as many as nine screens.


"L'immagine ritrovata" is the name of the Bolognese film conservation company that restored so many of the Murnau-Stiftung, Kino Lorber, Criterion etc. releases.

144Rembetis
Oct 26, 8:41pm Top

I am catching up with these boards having taken a break. The past few months have been tough - the worst was my father passing away.

I didn't get to any of the Weimar NFT season. However, it was good to see that it was well attended, with both screenings of the reconstructed 1926 'The Student of Prague' sold out. I dropped a line to Eureka Video back in June to ask if they had any plans to release this version on dvd/blu ray, but they sadly replied 'no'.

>134 LolaWalser: Wow! Hilda Doolittle seems to have fallen head over heels in love! And she certainly has a wonderful way with words! Thank you!

As promised, here are a few extracts from Margaret Deriaz's long and thought provoking article on Weimar Cinema in the June 'Sight and Sound':

'Around 3,500 features were produced during the 14 years of the Weimar Republic...we still have roughly 500 productions of the period... Rich in ambiguity and capable of multiple interpretations, the acknowledged masterpieces retain their power. But it's also the little known titles in less familiar popular genres, now being brought to wider attention, that enrich our insight into a multifaceted cinema shimmering with contradictions.

'Right from the start, films were often not quite what they seemed to be, such as the Aufklarungsfilme (enlightenment films) made during the brief initial period without censorship between November 1918 and May 1920 - which purported to educate the public in matters of sex. Today the best known of these is Richard Oswald's 'Different from the Others' (1919), a passionate plea for the decriminalisation of homosexuality, but others are more ambivalent in nature, ostensibly attacking moral depravity while catering to the audience's appetite for sensation. A truly spectacular example is Robert Reinert's 'Opium' (1919) recently restored in gorgeous colour by the Filmmuseum Munchen. This exotic slice of silent hokum, which warns against drug addiction and sexual debauchery, uses all the techniques at its disposal to conjure both the pleasures and perils of vice (its brazenly erotic opium dream sequences were hailed as a triumph of the medium)....

'Weimar cinema remained remarkably adept at having its cake and eating it - a tendancy of which Kurt Pinthus, a contemporary critic, was clearly aware. His review of 'Dr Mabuse the Gambler' (1922) sees Lang's sensational thriller as providing a playful, harmless outlet for 'the dangerous lusts and instincts of the confused masses'....

'Until fairly recently, the wealth of Weimar comedy, from gender bending farces to sparkling musicals, has been largely overlooked, but these too shed interesting light on the deep divisions and double standards of Weimar society. It was not by chance that the filming of 'Heaven on Earth' coincided with the introduction of a new obscenity law (the Law to Protect Youth against Trash and Filth Writings) in December 1926. This brilliant satire of Weimar hypocrisy, now almost forgotten, was officially directed by Alfred Schirokauer, but its presiding genius was (the film's producer and co-writer) Reinhold Schunzel...who starred as a moralising politician who embarks on a double life when he inherits 'Heaven on Earth', the city's most notorious nightclub. As in so many comedies, order is reassuringly restored, but what leaves a lasting impression is the film's transgressive humour, its self-delighting cinematic exuberance...

'What stands out...is the extent to which so many films of different types, though made for the moment, delight us still with their extraordinary energy and sheer creativity. Expressive of a complex fractured society, they also resonate with current concerns. How often during our Brexit crisis have commentators invoked the turmoil of Weimar - its polarised politics, social inequality, and culture of resentment and blame? ....

'It's striking how frequently films portray the perils of extremism, the inability to respect difference, communicate rationally and hear other views. Not only in ('the superbly realised action film') 'The Cat's Bridge' (1927), but across a range of genres, the spectre of the lynch mob is conjured up, whether in the horror film (Murnau's 'Nosferatu'), the historical epic (Lubitsch's 'Madame Dubarry' 1919) the sci-fi or urban thriller (Lang's 'Metropolis' and 'M') or indeed the mountain film (Riefensthal's 'The Blue Light' (1932). And yet another recently restored film - 'Christian Wahnschaffe' (1920/21)...culminates with a scene of mob fury that evokes the violence of the young Rebublic. Such alertness to danger, back in its time, was surely positive, steering away from potential disaster. Weimar Cinema contains multitudes - not just doom and despair, but a sense of hope and infinite possibilities. In our own age of strife and uncertainty, its experimental spirit, ironic wit and multiple perspectives are especially cherishable. Whether through imaginative direction, nuanced acting, deft scripts, or virtuouso camerawork, it encourages us to stand in another's shoes.

The article also discusses a new exhibition on Weimar Cinema in Germany, which has now finished:
https://www.deutsche-kinemathek.de/sites/default/files/public/presse/PM/2019/EN/...

There are also 2 further lengthy articles on Weimar Cinema in this issue; one on the Jewish figures in Weimar Cinema; and another on contemporary film critics of Weimar Cinema, like Siegfried Kracauer, Lotte Eisner, and Rudolf Arnheim.

145LolaWalser
Oct 27, 11:45am Top

>144 Rembetis:

Welcome back!

Deeply sorry to hear about your father. The past few years seem to have been inordinately tough for you--I really hope you'll see the clouds dispersing soon.

Thanks for the quotations, it's amazing how resonant all things Weimar are even a century later.

Reinhold Schünzel is another figure badly in need of rediscovery and due recognition. Never a leading star, but he appeared in so many classics and important movies, including Eerie tales and Different from the Others next to Veidt (in the latter he's the blackmailer who drives Veidt's character to suicide). They also acted on stage together.

His role as a writer and director is even more remarkable--including, as I discovered recently, being the writer and director of the original Viktor und Viktoria from 1933. (Anton Walbrook played the guy who falls for the title character--both of them. ;))

146Rembetis
Oct 28, 7:21pm Top

>145 LolaWalser: Many thanks for your kind thoughts.

I do remember Reinhold Schünzel from 'Different from the Others' in particular. He is multi talented - producer, screenwriter, actor, director. I haven't seen 'Heaven on Earth', which sounds fascinating. The storyline sounds so relevant to today. It reminds me strongly of hypocritical politicians (you know the type - 'do as I say, not as I do'!)

I saw 'Victor und Victoria' many years ago at the NFT, and was impressed with it. Schünzel's script certainly had legs, being remade in the UK in 1935 as 'First A Girl' staring Jessie Matthews, and of course, Julie Andrews' version in the 80s. Renate Müller was sublime in the original film. I believe she subsequently refused to work for the Nazis, and died in mysterious circumstances, falling from a hospital window, possibly at the hands of the gestapo.

'Der Geiger von Florenz' is getting a blu ray release in Germany in 2 days. Doesn't seem to have English subs:

https://www.amazon.de/Geiger-von-Florenz-Deluxe-Blu-ray/dp/B07NRFRVDY/ref=sr_1_1...

147LolaWalser
Oct 28, 7:30pm Top

>146 Rembetis:

I saw recently a muddy YouTube version of Viktor und Viktoria (there is or was a DVD available but very expensive when I last looked), it comes across as rather tame, but still groundbreaking in context. (Of course there was some censorship and changes imposed.)

I didn't know there was a UK remake of such early date, I must track that down.

Müller made a very handsome lad although borderline jailbaitish--maybe... :)

148Rembetis
Oct 28, 9:08pm Top

>147 LolaWalser: 'First A Girl' is worth tracking down. Network dvd issued it in a double bill with another Jessie Matthews film 'Friday the 13th' (no Jason Vorhees in this one - it deals with an Omnibus accident and the lives of the people travelling on the bus - Jessie plays a showgirl). The dvd is usually cheap on Amazon etc. Clips from both here on Network's webpage:

https://networkonair.com/all-products/2136-jessie-matthews-revue-the-volume-1

There are also a few clips of 'First A Girl' on youtube. My partner and I are massive Jessie Matthews fans (he used to run an online web page about her in his healthier days). Her singing voice isn't great, but she was known as 'the dancing divinity' - certainly one of the greatest dancers to grace the silver screen (particularly in 'Evergreen' and 'It's Love Again'). She was big in the US and UK in the 30s, with films like 'Evergreen' opening at the huge Radio City Music Hall. Sadly, poor mental health plagued her most of her life.

Know what you mean about Müller ;-)

149LolaWalser
Oct 29, 5:22pm Top

>148 Rembetis:

Fascinating. Somehow or other I'd never heard of her--but I just ordered the DVD, so thanks!

150Rembetis
Oct 29, 8:25pm Top

>149 LolaWalser: I do hope you enjoy 'First A Girl'.

Network have released most of Jessie's films, but she is largely forgotten today (although Andrew Lloyd Webber remains a great admirer, and has named a bar at the Adelphi Theatre after her, with lots of stills and posters of her theatre shows and films on the walls).

The second feature, 'Friday the 13th' has a great supporting cast - Ralph Richardson, Donald Calthorp (you will remember him as the man on the run from Veidt in 'Rome Express'); Gordon Harker (the boring golf fanatic in 'Rome Express); a young Martita Hunt (so memorable as Miss Havisham in Lean's 'Great Expectations' and in Hammer's 'Brides of Dracula'), and the comedian Max Miller.

151LolaWalser
Oct 30, 12:40pm Top

Great, I love picking out familiar faces in the background--gives everything a touch of "theatrical company".

Speaking of theatre and backgrounds... The other day I was browsing through a guide to the Los Angeles homes of European artistic exiles and there was a short entry for the place where Veidt lived 1940-1943, 617 Camden Drive.

This is a (much) later photo but with the house, at least from the outside, appearing unchanged:



As you can see, it has a weird, totally incongruous Alpine vibe going--the guidebook notes something like "immediately we think of Dr. Caligari"... well... maybe...

Anyway--it's apparently gone now, replaced (in 2011, as far as I can make out) by this:

Stunning Tuscan Villa – $9,995,000

From faux-Alpine to faux-Tuscan settings, treating "homes" like stage décor, I suppose that very fakeness and transitoriness represent the authentic movie-Californian experience.

But it makes me feel again for those unhappy uprooted old Europeans, forced to live as if imprisoned in a frame of a film.

152Rembetis
Oct 30, 7:54pm Top

>151 LolaWalser: Fascinating that Veidt picked that house to live in - a reminder of home (and prettier than that ostentatious mock Tuscan villa). This reminds me, funnily enough, of a Marlene Dietrich costume exhibition I saw in Paris about 10 years ago. Among all the suits, and outrageous and glamorous outfits, there were Bavarian 'Dirndl' or folk dresses, which she and her daughter Maria wore in the US. The notes said that Marlene did this as an act of resistance, almost re-appropriating the traditional German dress. But I think it's also a longing for home. It must have been very difficult for those actors who were forced to uproot themselves from their homeland.

I also note how the Europeans congregated together in their 'down' time in Hollywood. This also applies to the British contingent. Elsa Lanchester reflects on this in her autobiography 'Herself'. Which reminds me of a funny story therein where her American cook produces green apples, and the British attending lunch wouldn't eat them as they had never seen green apples before. Ernest Thesiger's priceless comment was 'Ah - arsenic apples'!

153dypaloh
Oct 31, 2:02am Top

>151 LolaWalser:
A 10 million dollar villa in which the “exquisite wood-paneled library” has more shelves than books? The horror! The horror!

154LolaWalser
Nov 1, 5:46pm Top

>153 dypaloh:

Optimistically, maybe the owners will fill them up. Library shelves abhor a vacuum!

>152 Rembetis:

It would be interesting to know why they chose it. Sentimentality is stereotypically taken to be a German trait but somehow I don't get the feeling Veidt suffered from it... Or Dietrich, come to think of it--but who knows?

Not that these actors were unfortunate, compared to many other exiles. I read recently some of Alfred Polgar's correspondence (he was a famous "man of letters" in pre-war Vienna), during and after his last-minute escape to the US and the problems he and his wife faced, the poverty, the difficulty of getting any work, the loneliness and isolation and constant fear and insecurity, were probably more common than not. It's interesting that relatively few adapted really well or wanted to stay in the States. Someone like Dietrich is a rare exception. (But then so is the scale of her success.)

'Ah - arsenic apples'

I'll never look at a Granny Smith without recalling this now. :)

155Rembetis
Nov 1, 8:48pm Top

> It's interesting, this question of sentimentality. Maybe, being forcibly ripped away from everything that is familiar - community and family, colleagues, places, customs and environment - even a pragmatic person might compare and contrast and perhaps feel some sentimentality for what has been lost?
In the 1984 documentary 'Marlene', directed by Maximilian Schell, (where Dietrich is interviewed but not seen) Dietrich dismisses nearly every film she starred in as 'kitsch'! She does not look back at the past with any fondness, not a shred of sentimentality. However, towards the end of the documentary, she gets emotional and tearful when she joins Schell to recite a poem from her childhood. I think this shows things aren't as straightforward as Marlene would like us to think. Maybe it's this other Marlene who enjoyed wearing the traditional German dress in the US?

Alfred Polgar's experiences were probably the norm for many exiles.

'Ah arsenic apples' - it stuck in my head too!

156LolaWalser
Edited: Nov 9, 12:55pm Top

Reading about the pre-war cabaret scene in Vienna and Berlin, came upon a reference to a song by Max Hansen that mentions Veidt:

Max Hansen - Jetzt geht's der Dolly gut (1928) (original recording--the same one Veidt played to his friends!)

The beginning, and my unrhymed translation:

Voriges Jahr, genau um diese Zeit,
War ich verlobt. Was bin ich heut'?
Meine Freundin Dolly war sehr nett.
Da neulich las ich in der B.Z.*:

Jetzt geht's der Dolly gut,
Die sitzt in Hollywood,
An einem Tisch
Mit Lillian Gish.
Die kennt den Harold Lloyd,
Die kennt den Conrad Veidt.
Wen kennt sie nicht?
Ich glaube, mich!
Dabei hab ich ihr hundert Mark geschenkt,
Damit sie immer, immer an mich denkt!
Jetzt geht's der Dolly gut,
Die sitzt in Hollywood,
In USA -
Und ich steh da!

Last year, around this time,
I was engaged. What am I today?
My friend Dolly was very nice.
Recently I read in the {newspaper}:

Dolly's doing really well now,
She sits in Hollywood
At a table
With Lillian Gish.
She knows Harold Lloyd,
She knows Conrad Veidt.
Who doesn't she know?
I believe, me!
And to think I gave her 100 Marks
to remember me always!

Dolly's doing really well now,
She sits in Hollywood,
In the USA--
And I'm stood here!

Full German lyrics here: https://lyricstranslate.com/en/max-hansen-jetzt-gehts-der-dolly-gut-lyrics.html

157Rembetis
Nov 8, 6:45pm Top

>157 Rembetis: How fascinating, Conrad's cultural reach - in this thread we find him mentioned in fiction books, non-fiction books (including astute early film criticism), now a song - what next?!

Also, the song sounds like it's straight out of Kander and Ebb's 'Cabaret', down to the quirky instrumental riffs. I wonder if Joel Grey was tipping his hat to Max Hansen in the film - they sound so similar, even down to the delivery. Amazing. Thank you!

158LolaWalser
Nov 9, 12:22pm Top

>157 Rembetis:

Now that you mention it, yes, it does bring to mind Grey's performance.

now a song - what next?!

As it happens, I do have something!

The other day I picked up a book of Edward Steichen's photographs, mostly fashion and glamour shots. It includes his well-known portrait of Veidt--this is also on the back cover (I'm not saying that made the sale, but it certainly clinched it).

It got me wondering about whether there are any paintings of Veidt--it's actually curious that there don't seem to be many, if any, famous paintings of movie stars in general. Perhaps their photographic ubiquity worked against the impulse to paint them? Too much exposure, too familiar to be interesting to painters? Not sure what to think about it...

In any case, I discovered one painting of Veidt:



The author was Milena Pavlović-Barili, (1909-1945), a Serbian modernist painter. The painting seems to have been made when she was still a teenager, sometime in the 1920s, but I can't seem to find the exact year. She also painted Valentino in his role as the Sheikh.

There are more examples of her work and info on her life on the website for the gallery dedicated to her: http://galerijamilenepavlovicbarilli.rs/en/

159Rembetis
Nov 9, 7:29pm Top

>158 LolaWalser: Interesting, thanks! Steichen's photograph of Conrad is stunning! The Pavlović-Barili doesn't quite capture him?

I think you are spot on about movie stars photographic ubiquity. Also, moving quickly from film to film and the hours they kept would probably work against long sittings for painters.

160LolaWalser
Today, 12:01pm Top

>159 Rembetis:

Yeah, I don't know what it is, but it does seem a little unexpected that people with, generally, such interesting faces would not be widely sought as models.

O, btw, I received last week the First a girl DVD--it's on schedule for tonight.

161Rembetis
Today, 3:50pm Top

>160 LolaWalser: I hope you enjoy 'First A Girl'! Let me know what you think.

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