27 August 2016

Jean-Louis Barrault

French actor, director and mime artist Jean-Louis Barrault (1910-1994) was a giant of both the classical and avant-garde theater in France. He also acted in nearly 50 films, associating with such great European film directors as Abel Gance, Georg Wilhelm Pabst, Max Ophüls and Jean Renoir. His slender frame, gentle posture and sensitive face belied a great power and those same talents were utilized magnificently, now and then, on film. His pantomime training with Étienne Decroux served him well when he portrayed the 19th-century mime Baptiste Debureau in the classic of the French cinema, Les Enfants du Paradis/Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945).

Jean-Louis Barrault
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 147. Photo: Star.

Jean-Louis Barrault in Le Destin fabuleux de Désirée Clary (1942)
French postcard by Edit. Chantal, Rueil, no. 20. Photo: C.C.F.C. Publicity still for Le Destin fabuleux de Désirée Clary/Mlle. Desiree (Sacha Guitry, 1942) with Barrault as Napoléon Bonaparte.

Jean-Louis Barrault
French photo card by Viny, no. 132. Photo: Star.

Jean-Louis Barrault
French postcard by Edition P.I., Paris, no. 21.


Jean-Louis Barrault was born in Le Vésinet near Paris in 1910. He was the son of a pharmacist. At the age of six he decided that his career would be in the theatre.

From an ordinary working-class state school, he was admitted to the College Chaptel where he took his baccalaureate and taught for a year. His studies were principally in mathematics, philosophy and art, and although a scholarship pupil with no spending money he lost no opportunity to attend the theatre or to act.

At 20, he made his official film debut in the little known Vagabonds imaginaires/Imaginary Vagabonds (1930), billed as J.L. Barrault. A year later followed his stage debut as a servant in Charles Dullin's production of Volpone at the Théâtre de l'Atelier.

He studied drama with Charles Dullin, one of the greatest actors and drama teachers of his time. In his troop he acted from 1933 to 1935, while he supported himself as a bookkeeper and flower salesman during those lean years.

At the age of 25, Barrault met and studied with the mime Étienne Decroux. Years later, Decroux would play the father of Barrault's character Baptiste in Les Enfants du Paradis/Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945).

Barrault started to work with his own ensemble. His first independent production, an adaptation of William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying (1935), was a mime play. His other early productions included Miguel de Cervantes’s Numancia (1937) and Faim (1939), based on the novel Hunger by Knut Hamsun.

He also played supporting roles in such films as Les beaux jours/The Beautiful Days (Marc Allégret, 1935) starring Simone Simon, Un grand amour de Beethoven/Beethoven (Abel Gance, 1936) featuring Harry Baur, and Jenny (Marcel Carné, 1936) with Françoise Rosay.

Then he made quite an impact in the comedy Drôle de drame/Bizarre, bizarre (Marcel Carné, 1937) starring Louis Jouvet, and the classic romantic film Mirages (Alexandre Ryder, 1937) opposite the enigmatic Arletty.

Jean-Louis Barrault
French postcard by Edition Chantal, Paris, no. 620. Photo: Français.

Jean-Louis Barrault
French postcard by A. Noyer (A.N.), Paris, no. 1131. Photo: Raymond Voinquel.

Jean-Louis Barrault
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 132. Photo: Star.

Jean-Louis Barrault
Belgian postcard by Photo Edition (P.E.), no. 155. Photo: Studio Cayet.

Children of Paradise

In 1940, Jean-Louis Barrault joined the Comédie-Française at the instigation of Jacques Copeau and he worked both as actor and director for France's national theatre company. Till 1946 he directed productions like Paul Claudel's Le Soulier de satin (The Satin Slipper) and Jean Racine's Phèdre, two plays that made his reputation. His dedication to both avant-garde and classical plays helped to revive the French theatre after World War II, while presenting world premières of works by such playwrights as Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco and Jean Genet.

In 1940, he married Madeleine Renaud, who was one of the stars of the Comédie-Française since 1928. In 1936 Barrault had met the actress, who was a decade his senior. In 1947, they founded their own company at the Théâtre Marigny under the name Compagnie M. Renaud–J.L. Barrault. They opened with Hamlet in a translation by André Gide, Later they founded other theatres and toured extensively, including in South America.

In 1952, Barrault and Renard made daunting Broadway débuts touring in repertory with Les Fausses Confidences (False Confessions) by Pierre Marivaux, Barrault's own adaptation of The Trial by Kafka, Amphitryon, and other productions. The combination of French and foreign classics with modern plays became the hallmark of the company’s great success. In 1957, they returned with Paul Claudel's Christopher Columbus, Volpone, The Misanthrope, Intermezzo, and others. That year Barrault received a Special Tony Award for his work.

In his 1994 obituary of Barrault in the British newspaper The Independent, John Calder writes: "He improvised his own dramatic versions of great French and European literature and made stunning spectacles of them, and he was a practical man of the theatre who knew how to produce dramas that were didactic and at the same time exciting. He perfectly embodied in his productions (Antonin) Artaud's belief that the theatre had no value if it did not change the lives and attitudes of those who came to it; he was an intellectual who never lost the common touch, who gave his whole life to his profession and through it became a great teacher and exponent of the ideas of others that he developed into his own conception of 'total theatre'. Barrault built a team of loyal and devoted professionals around him, not only actors, but administrators and creative talents as well".

Barrault's greatest film triumph was his portrayal of Baptiste in Les enfants du paradis/Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945). The story was based on the life of the 19th century mime-actor Jean-Gaspard Deburau (Baptiste Debureau), and Barrault originally suggested the subject to director Marcel Carné and author Jacques Prévert. The phenomenal success of this film singlehandedly revived public interest in the art of pantomime and subsequently influenced the popularity of legendary mime Marcel Marceau. On the set of Les enfants du paradis, Barrault hid French Resistance members.

Jean-Louis Barrault
French postcard by O.P., Paris, no. 14. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Jean-Louis Barrault
French photo card by SERP, Paris, no. 132. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Jean-Louis Barrault
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 66.

Jean-Louis Barrault
French postcard by Editions E.C., Paris, no. 20. Photo: Pathé.

Jean-Louis Barrault
French postcard by P.I., Paris, no. 21. Photo: Pathé-Cinéma.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

After the war, Jean-Louis Barrault also appeared in many well-known films. A highlight was the Oscar nominated La ronde/Roundabout (1950), Max Ophüls' ode to love in the Vienna of 1900 with Anton Walbrook as the narrator.

Interesting is also the TV film Le testament du Docteur Cordelier/Experiment in Evil (Jean Renoir, 1959), in which Barrault played Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde using no make-up or camera tricks for his transformation. He also appeared as a priest in the Oscar winning war epic The Longest Day (1962, Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki).

In 1959, Barrault was offered the Theatre de l'Odeon by the government: this was the little-used left-bank second theatre of the Comédie-Française, and renamed the Theatre de France it became the most prestigious playhouse in the country. He now widened the repertory to include the new drama that had emerged from Samuel Beckett, and Eugene Ionesco. He directed and played the lead in Ionesco's Rhinoceros, while Madeleine Renaud made one of the most telling interpretations of her career in Beckett's O les Beaux Jours (Happy Days), a role she continued to play until over 90.

In 1968 it was announced that Barrault had been ordered to leave as manager of the Theatre de France. The death blow was administered in a letter from his old friend André Malraux, General de Gaulle's Culture Minister, who had initially asked Barrault to preside the Theatre de France as its director. The cause of Barrault's dismissal was his role in the May riots there.

During the demonstrations, anarchist students from the Sorbonne 'liberated' the Odéon Theatre and turned it into a discussion hall. They also destroyed 50% of the sets, ripped up red velvet seats and urinated on costumes. Barrault wept when he saw the damage, but government officials believed that he tacitly allowed the rebels to take over. Barrault also took to the stage to proclaim his sympathy with student goals and to denounce France's 'bourgeois culture.' His removal set off a chorus of protests by French stage figures and critics.

In later years Barrault served twice as director of the Theatre des Nations and in 1974-1981 he was the director of the Theatre d'Orsay. A year later he appeared in the film La Nuit des Varennes/That Night in Varennes (Ettore Scola, 1982) in which he was one of the passengers in a stagecoach who find themselves caught up in the events of the French Revolution in 1791.

His last film performance was in the romantic drama La lumière du lac/The Light of the Lake (Francesca Comencini, 1988) starring Nicole Garcia.

In 1994 Jean-Louis Barrault died in his sleep, apparently of a heart attack in his house in Paris, at the age of 83. The beloved actor was the uncle of actress Marie-Christine Barrault. His wife Madeleine died in September of that same year at age 94.

Among Barrault’s publications are Réflexions sur le théâtre (Reflections on the Theatre, 1949), Nouvelles Réflexions sur le théâtre (The Theatre of Jean-Louis Barrault, 1959), and Souvenirs pour demain (Memories for Tomorrow, 1972). Barrault was named an officer of the Legion of Honour.

Trailer for Les Enfants du Paradis/Children of Paradise (1945). Source: Pathé (YouTube).

Compilation of La ronde/Roundabout (1950). Source: illmatikss (YouTube). Music: Duke Ellington & John Coltrane: In a sentimental mood / My little brown book.

Trailer The Longest Day (1962). Source: Danios 12345 (YouTube).

French trailer La Nuit des Varennes/That Night in Varennes (1982). Source: Gaumont (YouTube).

Sources: John Calder (The Independent), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Alan Riding (New York Times), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Encyclopaedia Britannica, IMDb and Wikipedia.

26 August 2016

EFSP's Dazzling Dozen: Film actors flying in from around the world

I like this German postcard, 'Filmschauspieler aus aller Welt'. The caption translates as 'Film actors from around the world'. Photos of film stars posing glamorously in front of airplanes was a well known phenomenon in the 1950s, that 'Golden Age Of Travel'. Famous is a series created by Air France. But how was it really to fly during the 1950s? Dangerous, I guess, smoky, boozy, boring and very, very expensive.

Filmschauspeieler aus aller Welt
German postcard by Kunst und Film Verlag H. Lukow, Hannover, no. L2/1042.

Married in 1954

Who are these film stars on this postcard, posing on the stairs of an airplane or standing nearby? And from which side of the world were they coming?

The pictured film actors are from top left to down right:
Linda Darnell (USA), Tyrone Power (USA),  Elizabeth Taylor (UK/USA),
Robert Taylor (USA) and his wife Ursula Thiess (Germany), Gina Lollobrigida (Italy) and her husband, the  physician Milko Škofič (Slovenia), Audrey Hepburn (UK) and husband Mel Ferrer (USA),
Mona Baptiste (Trinidad), Mara Lane (UK/Austria) and Gloria DeHaven (USA).

So this curious postcard must date from the mid 1950s. Ursula Thiess and Robert Taylor married in 1954, and Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer also became a couple in 1954.

Below I selected 10 dazzling pictures of these 'Filmschauspieler aus aller Welt' for you. When there was no postcard of a film actor in our collection available (yes, we try to specialise in European stars), I selected an image from that wonderful picture source Flickr. As an extra, I added a postcard with an Air France picture.

Gina Lollobrigida
German postcard by ISV, no. B 28. Photo: MGM.

Italian actress and photojournalist Gina Lollobrigida (1927), was one of Europe’s most prominent film stars of the 1950s. ‘La Lollo’ was the first European sex symbol of the post war years and she paved the way into Hollywood for her younger colleagues Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale.

Linda Darnell
Collection: Playboy75UK @ Flickr.

American film actress Linda Darnell (1923-1965) progressed from modeling as a child to acting in theatre and film as an adolescent. At the encouragement of her mother, she made her first film in 1939, and appeared in supporting roles in big budget films for 20th Century Fox throughout the 1940s and early 1950s. She rose to fame with co-starring roles opposite Tyrone Power in adventure films, and established a main character career after her role in Forever Amber (1947). She won critical acclaim for her work in Unfaithfully Yours (1948) and A Letter to Three Wives (1949).

Tyrone Power
German postcard by Wilhelm Schulze-Witteborg Grafischer Betrieb, Wanne-Eickel. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Beloved Hollywood star Tyrone Power (1914-1958) may have been all-American, but he sure loved European ladies - he was married to both French Annabella and half-Dutch Linda Christian. 'Ty' was one of the great romantic film stars.

Elizabeth Taylor
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/20.

British-American actress Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011) is considered one of the great actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. She began her career as a child star, and as an adult she became known for her acting talent and beauty. 'Liz' had a much publicised private life, including eight marriages and several near death experiences.

Collection: Maria @ Flickr. Photo: Robert Taylor in 1943.

American film actor Robert Taylor (1911-1969) was one of the most popular leading men of his time. Taylor began his career in films in 1934 when he signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. His popularity increased during the late 1930s and 1940s with appearances in A Yank at Oxford (1938), Waterloo Bridge (1940), and Bataan (1943). Taylor married actress Ursula Thiess in 1954, and they had two children. He died of lung cancer at the age of 57.

Ursula Thiess
Mexican collectors card, no. 160. Photo: publicity still for The Iron Glove (1954).

German film star Ursula Thiess (1924–2010) was dubbed by Life magazine as the ‘most beautiful woman in the world’. Howard Hughes offered her a long-term contract to RKO, but five years later she gave up her acting career after marrying Robert Taylor. The glamorous, luscious looking actress had only starred in a handful of Hollywood movies.

Audrey Hepburn
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-5. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Paramount Film.

Elegant, talented and funny Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) was a Belgian-born, British-Dutch actress and humanitarian. After a start in the European cinema she became one of the most successful Hollywood stars of the 1950s and 1960s.

mel ferrer & audrey hepburn
Collection: Fred Baby @ Flickr. Photo: Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn.

Mel Ferrer (1917-2008) was an American actor, film director, and film producer. He made his screen acting debut in Lost Boundaries (1949), and is best remembered for his roles as the injured puppeteer in the musical Lili (1953), as the villainous Marquis de Maynes in Scaramouche (1952) and as Prince Andrei in War and Peace (1956), co-starring with his then-wife, Audrey Hepburn.

Mara Lane
German postcard by UFA, no. CK-200. Photo: Klaus Collignon / UFA.

British-Austrian actress Mara Lane (1930) was considered one of the most beautiful models in Great Britain during the early 1950s. She appeared in more than 30 English and German language films of the 1950s and early 1960s, but seems completely forgotten now.

Gloria DeHaven (1925-2016)
British postcard in the Celebrity Autographs Series, no. 192. Photo: Universal-International. Publicity still for So This Is Paris (Richard Quine, 1954).

Gloria DeHaven (1925-2016) was an American musical actress, with mostly supporting roles or leading lady in B movies. In Hollywood, she started as a child star then worked as a juvenile actress and finially became a leading-lady. During her long and varied career she would also perform as nightclub singer, as stage actress in Broadway and the West End and as a TV actress and hostess.

Jacques Brel
French postcard by Editions F. Nugeron, Star 134. Photo: Air France / Distribution VU. Caption: Jacques Brel, 20 Novembre 1964.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at the The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.

Source: John Brownlee (Terminal Velocity), IMDb and Wikipedia.

25 August 2016

Heli Finkenzeller

German stage and film actress Heli Finkenzeller (1914-1991) had her greatest successes in popular Ufa comedies of the 1930s and 1940s. After the war she often played mother roles.

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 125, Photo: Bavaria Filmkunst.

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 216, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. K 1417. Photo: Tobis / Star-Foto-Atelier.

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3648/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Terra.

Box-office Hits

Helene Finkenzeller was born in München (Munich), Germany in 1914 (according to some sources in 1911). She grew up in Munich where her parents ran a family business which sold office furniture. As a kid she was already interested in everything connected to the theatre and she wanted to become an opera singer.

After finishing school she attended a conservatory, but she soon realised that her voice was too weak for the opera stage. Instead she took acting classes from Otto Falkenberg at his newly established drama school in Munich. In 1934 she joined the Münchner Kammerspielen (Munich Chamber Plays) and for the next two years she performed there with such actors as Ferdinand Marian, Elizabeth Flickenschild, and her later husband Will Dohm.

In 1935 she made her first film appearance in a supporting part in the Ufa comedy Ehestreik/Matrimonial Strike (Georg Jacoby, 1935) with Paul Richter. She played her first lead for the Ufa in the comedy Weiberregiment/Petticoat Government (Karl Ritter, 1936).

Finkenzeller appeared with star comedian Heinz Rühmann in Der Mustergatte/Model Husband (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1937).

The box office hits Opernball/Opera Ball (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1939) with Paul Hörbiger, Kohlhiesels Töchter/Kohlhiesels daughters (Kurt Hoffmann, 1943) in which she played the double roles of Veronika and Annamirl Kohlhöfer, and especially Das Bad auf der Tenne/The bathroom in the barn (Volker von Collande, 1943) with her husband Will Dohm made her known to a large audience and she became one of Germany’s most popular film stars.

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 9490/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Atelier Anton Sahm, München.

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute für Film und Theater G.m.b.H., Berlin. Photo: Bieber, Berlin / Ross Verlag.

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute für Film und Theater G.m.b.H., Berlin. Photo: Bavaria / Ross Verlag.

Heli Finkenzeller and Willy Fritsch in Boccaccio (1936)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 9677/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Boccaccio (Herbert Maisch, 1936) with Willy Fritsch.

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3434/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Tobis / Haenchen.

Big World Allure

After the Second World War, Heli Finkenzeller continued her film career, often in mother roles. Thus she played the wife of Heinz Rühmann in Briefträger Müller/Postman Müller (John Reinhardt, 1953) and Emil’s mother in Emil und die Detektive/Emil and the Detectives (Robert A. Stemmle, 1954) based on the classic children’s book by Erich Kästner.

In the German-Dutch coproduction Ciske - Ein Kind braucht Liebe/Ciske – A Child Needs Love (Wolfgang Staudte, 1955) with Kees Brusse, she was the aunt of the title figure. She was also seen in another Dutch-German coproduction Jenny (Alfred Bittins, Willy van Hemert, 1959) featuring Ellen van Hemert.

On stage, she appeared in the musical Gigi at the Theater des Westens (Theatre of the West) in Berlin, and in many plays. She also can be heard on records with songs and texts.

From the early 1960s on, the former Ufa star played mainly on stage and in many TV films and series, such as Unser Pauker/Our Crammer (Otto Meyer, 1965) with Georg Thomalla, the comedy Meine Schwiegersöhne und ich/My sons-in-law and I (Rudolf Jugert, 1969) opposite Hans Söhnker, the Krimi Der Kommissar/The Commissioner (1974) starring Erik Ode, Das Traumschiff/The Dream Boat (Fritz Umgelter, 1981), Der Gerichtsvollzieher/The Bailiff (Peter Weck, 1981) and finally, three years before her death in Lorentz & Söhne/Lorentz and Sons (Claus Peter Witt, 1988).

In between, she played in one final film, the black comedy Satansbraten/Satan’s Brew (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1976). Heli Finkenzeller and Will Dohm had a daughter, actress Gaby Dohm (1943) who is well known in the German language countries. After Will Dohm’s death in 1948, Heli remarried in 1950 to film producer Alfred Bittin. They stayed together till his death in 1971.

Heli Finkenzeller died from cancer in 1991 in her hometown Munich. She was 76. The German weekly Der Spiegel wrote in an obituary: “Her type was much in demand at the UFA: charm with distance, elegance without any wickedness. She even had big world allure, but on a small Pan-German scale. It made Heli Finkenzeller in the middle of the thirties a star in light entertainment films.”

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3958/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3746/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

Heli Finkenzeller in Briefträger Müller (1953)
German postcard by Film und Bild, Berlin, no. A 916. Photo: Berolina / Herzog-Film / Wesel. Publicity still for Briefträger Müller/Mailman Mueller (John Reinhardt, 1953).

Heli Finkenzeller and Wolfgang Lukschy
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1235. Photo: Berolina / Herzog-Film / Wesel. Publicity still for Emil und die Detektive/Emil and the Detectives (Robert A. Stemmle, 1954) with Wolfgang Lukschy.

Heli Finkenzeller
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg. Photo: Christian Pantel, Hamburg.

Heli Finkenzeller sings Heute möchte ich, with Theo Lingen and Marte Harell in Opernball/Opera Ball (1939). Source: BD 130 (YouTube).

Sources: Stephanie D’Heil (Steffi-Line) (German), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Der Spiegel (German), Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.