31 August 2014

Chaplin (1992)

Last Sunday, 24 August 2014, Richard Attenborough (1923-2014) passed away at the age of 90. In honour of this great English actor, film director and producer, this film special is on his film Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992), which featured Robert Downey Jr. as Charles Spencer Chaplin. All the postcards are from a series of French postcards to promote the film, published by Editions Mercuri.

Chaplin (1992)
French postcard by Editions Mercuri, no. 813. Photo: Tri-Star Pictures. Publicity still for Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992).

Chaplin (1992)
French postcard by Editions Mercuri, no. 814. Photo: Tri-Star Pictures. Publicity still for Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992).

Chaplin (1992)
French postcard by Editions Mercuri, no. 815. Photo: Tri-Star Pictures. Publicity still for Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992).

Haunted by a sense of loss


Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992) is the biography of British comedian Charlie Chaplin, filmmaker extraordinaire.

It was produced and directed by Richard Attenborough and stars Robert Downey, Jr., Paul Rhys as Charlie's brother Sydney Chaplin, John Thaw as the British music-hall impresario Fred Karno, Marisa Tomei as film star Mabel Normand, and Penelope Ann Miller as Chaplin's frequent co-star Edna Purviance.

It also features Chaplin's real-life daughter, Geraldine Chaplin in the role of her own paternal grandmother, the mentally ill Hannah Chaplin.

The film was adapted by William Boyd, Bryan Forbes and William Goldman from the books My Autobiography by Chaplin and Chaplin: His Life and Art by film critic David Robinson.

The film is structured around lengthy flashbacks as the elderly Charlie Chaplin, now living in Switzerland, recollects moments from his life during a conversation with the editor of his autobiography (played by Anthony Hopkins).

Chaplin's recollections begin with his childhood of extreme poverty, from which he escapes by immersing himself in the world of the London music halls, after which he relocates to the United States.

While his screen characters were extremely hilarious, Chaplin shows that the man behind 'The Little Tramp' was constantly haunted by a sense of loss.

Highlighted works such as The Gold Rush (1925) and The Great Dictator (1940) illustrate significant turning points in Chaplin's prolific filmography.

There are references to his many romantic episodes, his professional collaboration with early Hollywood film producer Mack Sennett (Dan Aykroyd) and friendship with Douglas Fairbanks (Kevin Kline), and to J. Edgar Hoover (Kevin Dunn) whose US Federal Bureau of Investigation accused Chaplin of communist sympathies and forced him to leave the USA.

The film ends with Chaplin returning to the United States to accept an Honorary Award at the 1972 Academy Awards ceremony.

Richard Attenborough's director's cut was 147 minutes, 12 minutes longer than the version shown in cinemas. Attenborough later said that the cuts damaged the film.

Michael DeZeburia at IMDb: "Robert Downey Jr., first of all, portrays Chaplin with amazing accuracy. Some parts of this performance are particularly memorable, such as his invention of the famous tramp's walk just after having feverishly picked out the outfit, the astonishingly accurate depiction of Charlie as an old man, and of course, the many parts of the film that involve parts of his life where he was working on his own films."

Lisa Kropiewnicki at AllMovie: "The film is a thoughtful mixture of melancholy and humor, juxtaposing Chaplin's private loneliness and loss with his professional comedic talents and fortitude. Spanning a period of nearly 80 years in the actor's life, the film has been criticized for trying to cover too much narrative ground, but given the enormity of Chaplin's contribution to his art and the personal obstacles he overcame, this is an enjoyable, emotional, and authentic film."

Chaplin (1992)
French postcard by Editions Mercuri, no. 816. Photo: Tri-Star Pictures. Publicity still for Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992).

Chaplin (1992)
French postcard by Editions Mercuri, no. 817. Photo: Tri-Star Pictures. Publicity still for Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992) with Dan Aykroyd as Mack Sennett and Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin, between Sennett's Bathing Beauties.

Chaplin (1992)
French postcard by Editions Mercuri, no. 819. Photo: Tri-Star Pictures. Publicity still for Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992).

Sources: Lisa Kropiewnicki (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.

30 August 2014

Valdemar Psilander

Valdemar Psilander (1884-1917) was the most popular star of the Danish cinema of the 1910s. Psilander took the German, Russian and Hungarian audiences by storm. At Nordisk he would play in six years 83 films.

Valdemar Psilander
German postcard by MMB, no. 452. Photo: F.J. Wesselsky. The card has on the back Dutch publicity for J. Bijloos, Eau de Cologne.

Valdemar Psilander
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1450. Photo: Nordisk. Publicity still for Manden uden Fremtid/The man without a future (Holger-Madsen, 1916).

Valdemar Psilander
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1553. Photo: Nordisk. Publicity still for Manden uden Fremtid/The man without a future (Holger-Madsen, 1916). The German title was Prinz im Exil.

Valdemar Psilander
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1617. Photo: Nordisk. Publicity still for Manden uden Fremtid/The man without a future (Holger-Madsen, 1916).

Valdemar Psilander in Das zweite Ich
German postcard by Photochemie Berlin, no. K. 1850. Photo: Nordisk. Still for Das zweite Ich/Lykken/The Road to Happiness (Holger-Madsen, 1918).

Valdemar Psilander in Das zweite Ich
German postcard by Photochemie Berlin, no. K. 1916. Still for Das zweite Ich/Lykken/The Road to Happiness (Holger-Madsen, 1918) with Ebba Thomsen.

Valdemar Psilander
German postcard by Photochemie Berlin, no. K. 1921. Photo: Nordisk. Still
for Das zweite Ich/Lykken/The Road to Happiness (Holger-Madsen, 1918).

Kneeling and Begging


Valdemar Psilander was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1884. His family originated from Greece (one of his ancestors was named Psilandros), and later lived in Sweden.

Already at the age of 16, he played small parts on stage. Eventually he got leads as a stage actor, but in 1910 he decided to finish his stage career and move over to the burgeoning cinema.

Psilander debuted in the fall of 1910 for the small company Regia Art Film, with the title role in the Oscar Wilde adaptation Dorian Grays Portræt/The Portrait of Dorian Gray (Axel Strøm, 1910) with Clara Wieth (credited as Clara Pontoppidan) co-starring.

Shortly thereafter he was engaged by Nordisk Film. There he rose to stardom thanks to his role in the successful film Ved faenglets port/The Temptations of the Big City (August Blom, 1911) again opposite Clara Wieth. It was his first production at Nordisk, and he became the company's highest paid actor.

In spite of his imposing size and posture, we see him often vulnerable in this film: kneeling to mothers and girlfriends, begging for mercy for his behaviour. Striking is his habit of looking directly towards the spectator, as if he is begging the spectator as well.

Psilander took the German, Russian and Hungarian audiences by storm. The next six years, he would play in 83 films for Nordisk. Even when the film had a mediocre screenplay, it was - at least in the public's eyes - an attraction simply because of the charismatic star.

Valdemar Psilander
Danish postcard. Photo: Nordisk.

Valdemar Psilander
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin.

Valdemar Psilander
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1922. Photo: Nordisk.

Valdemar Psilander
Austrian postcard by BKWI, no. 2. Photo: Projektograph Aktiengesellschaft, Vienna, distributor of Nordisk Films Co., Copenhagen. Valdemar Psilander and Ellen Aggerholm in Højt Spil/A dash for liberty (August Blom, 1913).

Valdemar Psilander
Austrian postcard by BKWI, no. 3. Photo: Projektograph Aktiengesellschaft, Vienna, distributor of Nordisk Films Co, Copenhagen. Publicity still for Gæstespillet/One Life, One Love (Eduard Schnedler-Sørensen, 1913) with Else Fröhlich.

Valdemar Psilander
Austrian postcard by Postkartenverlag Brüder Kohn, Vienna, 1916. Publicity still for Gæstespillet/One Life, One Love (Eduard Schnedler-Sørensen, 1913) with Else Fröhlich.

Valdemar Psilander
German postcard by Photochemie. no. K. 1851. Photo: Nordisk Films.

Valdemar Psilander
Hungarian postcard by Rubens, Budapest. Photo: Strelisky, 1914. Hungarion caption on the back of the card reads 'The world famous star at the Royal Orfeum in Budapest.'

Asta Nielsen


In the same year, 1911, Valdemar Psilander played opposite the new female star of the Danish cinema, Asta Nielsen, in Den sorte drom/The Black Dream, (Urban Gad, 1911). Director Urban Gad had also directed Nielsen in her film debut Afgrunden/Abyss, (Urban Gad, 1910), and he would soon marry his diva.

In Den sorte drom Psilander again showed his character's vulnerability, this time using humour (clumsy mistakes). Asta Nielsen made another film with Psilander, Balletdanserinden/Ballet Dancer (August Blom, 1911), and then left with Gad for Berlin. She would have a prolific career there.

Valdemar Psilander remained in Denmark and continued to appear in such films as Et drama paa havet/The Great Ocean Disaster (Eduard Schnedler-Sørensen, 1912), Den sorte Kansler/The Black Chancellor (August Blom, 1912), Evangeliemandens Liv/A Preacher's Life (Holger-Madsen, 1915), Pro Patria (August Blom, 1916), and Klovnen/The Clown (A.W. Sandberg, 1917).

Before and during the First World War, the Danish company Nordisk gained enormously - thanks to Psilander's success. Psilander earned 100.000 Danish crowns in 1915. In comparison, his colleague Olaf Fönss only gained 14.000 crowns that year.

In 1916 Nordisk however refused him when he called for a raise to 250.000 Danish crowns, so he quitted at the end of 1916. Psilander founded his own production company Psilander-Film. But before it had really started, he suddenly died.

Only 32 years old, Valdemar Psilander passed away in 1917. At the peak of his career. Some say he died of a cardiac affliction, others say it was suicide.

Valdemar Psilander had been married to actress Edith Buemann. She afterwards said that he had been on drugs and was warned by doctors not to combine this with alcohol. Yet another version, more apt to his film roles, was that a Russian rival in love had come from St. Petersburg to shoot him.

After Valdemar Psilander's death, Nordisk still had so many of his films on the shelves that they continued to release new films with him until 1920.

Valdemar Psilander
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1852. Photo: Nordisk. Publicity still for Klovnen/The Clown (A.W. Sandberg, 1917).

Valdemar Psilander and Gudrun Houlberg in Klovnen
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1853. Photo: Nordisk. Valdemar Psilander and Gudrun Houlberg in Klovnen/The Clown (A.W. Sandberg, 1917).

Valdemar Psilander and Gudrun Houlberg in Klovnen
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1854. Photo: Nordisk. Valdemar Psilander and Gudrun Houlberg in Klovnen/The Clown (A.W. Sandberg, 1917).

Valdemar Psilander in Lydia
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1912. Photo: Nordisk Films. Valdemar Psilander in Lydia (Holger Madsen, 1918).

Valdemar Psilander in Lydia
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1932. Photo: Nordisk Films. Valdemar Psilander in Lydia (Holger-Madsen, 1918).

Valdemar Psilander in Das Geheimnis des Sphinx
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1939. Photo: Nordisk Films. Alma Hinding and Valdemar Psilander in Das geheimnis des Sphinx, German release title for the Danish silent film Sfinxens Hemmelighed/The Secret of the Sphinx (Robert Dinesen, 1918).

Valdemar Psilander and Else Fröhlich in Um das Bild des Königs
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1930. Photo: Nordisk. Valdemar Psilander and Else Fröhlich in Rytterstatuen/For the king's statue (A.W. Sandberg, 1919). Its German release title was Um das Bild des Königs.

Valdemar Psilander in Um das Bild des Königs
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1943. Photo: Nordisk. Valdemar Psilander in Rytterstatuen (A.W. Sandberg, 1919). Its German release title was Um das Bild des Königs (For the king's statue). The woman left of him is probably Augusta Blad, who played the mother of Psilander's character.

Valdemar Psilander in Um das Bild des Königs
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1944. Photo: Nordisk. Valdemar Psilander in Rytterstatuen/For the king's statue (A.W. Sandberg, 1919).

Valdemar Psilander in Panik
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1945. Photo: Nordisk Films. Valdemar Psilander in Hans store Chance/Jernaktierne/His Big Breakthrough (Hjalmar Davidsen, 1919), released in Germany as Panik. The actress left might be Johanne Blom Fritz-Petersen.

Sources: Det Danske Filminstitut (Danish), Schiave bianche allo specchio. Le origini del cinema in Scandinavia 1896-1918, Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), and IMDb.

29 August 2014

Danielle Godet

Beautiful and distinguished Danielle Godet (1927-2009) had everything for a great career in the cinema, but she lacked the right film parts to live up to her many capacities. In secondary roles the charming French actress continued to work on stage, television and in 45 films.

Danielle Godet
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 345. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

The Idol


Danielle Gabrielle Rose Godet was born in Paris in 1927. She was the daughter of an industrialist and a stay-at-home mother, passionate about piano and classical music.

Danielle inherited her artistic flair from her mother. The little girl studied and piano and dance, going as far as to win a first prize at the Léopold Belland dance contest. But it was the call of the cinema she was actually going to heed.

She made her film debut by chance, as the small village in which Danielle and her parents spent their summer holidays of 1943 harboured the shooting of L'homme sans nom/The Man without a name (Léon Mathot, 1943). Extras were needed and the pretty sixteen-year old was noticed and hired as one.

Later, she took drama lessons with Maria Ventura and Jean Martinelli. Famous French director René Clair tested her for the female lead in his Le silence est d'or//Man About Town (1947) but all she was given was a bit as a spectator. Marcelle Derrien played the role opposite Maurice Chevalier instead.

The same mishap occurred to her two years later when, after being considered by Henri-Georges Clouzot for Manon (1949), the part went to Cécile Aubry.

In 1947, though, she starred alongside another beginner named Yves Montand in the boxing film, L'idole/The Idol (Alexandre Esway, 1948).

Then she made an impression in the cinema opposite François Périer in La souricière/Sorceror (Henri Calef, 1950). In this noir thriller, Godet showed that she could be given other roles than the ingénues she had played until then.

That year she also appeared in the British adventure film The Elusive Pimpernel (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1950) starring David Niven as the British aristocrat who goes in disguise to France to rescue people from The Terror of the guillotine.

Danielle Godet
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 448. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Danielle Godet
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 199. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

Artistic Fall


From then on, Danielle Godet's screen career started to falter. Guy Bellinger at IMDb: “Godet's artistic fall started and despite her efforts to find worthwhile roles, never ended. In the batch, there are a few unpretentious but entertaining French or Spanish B movies.”

She appeared in the musical comedy Nous irons à Monte Carlo/We Will All Go to Monte Carlo (Jean Boyer, 1951) which was one of the first films with Audrey Hepburn before Hollywood.

She played Constance who conquered the heart of D'Artagnan (Georges Marchal) in the all star Les 3 Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Bernard Borderie, 1953).

She was the romantic interest of Eddie Constantine in the crime comedy Votre dévoué Blake/Yours Truly, Blake (Jean Laviron, Jerome Epstein, 1954), and appeared with another French film heavy, Frank Villard, in the thriller Rapt au deuxième bureau/Operation Abduction (Jean Stelli, 1958).

In Spain, she appeared in the thriller Cuatro en la frontera/Four at the border (Antonio Santillán, 1958), and Muerte al amanecer/Death at dawn (Josep Maria Forn, 1959).

On stage, she had success in the boulevard comedy La brune que voilà (There is the Brunette), by Robert Lamoureux.

In the early 1960s, she played in the war drama Les honneurs de la guerre/The Honors of War (Jean Dewever, 1961) and the adventure film Le capitaine Fracasse/Captain Fracasse (Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1961) starring Jean Marais. However, her film roles diminished during that decade.

On stage she starred in Les hommes préfèrent les blondes (Gentlemen prefer blondes) (1962) by Anita Loos, and several other plays.

A noteworthy later film is Un bellissimo novembre/That Splendid November (Mauro Bolognini, 1969) with Gina Lollobrigida.

She regularly worked for TV, including three times with director Juan Luis Buñuel, son of maestro Luis Bunuel. She appeared in his Photos de famille/Family pictures (Juan Luis Buñuel, 1978) an episode of the series Les héritiers/The Heirs, Le mort qui tue/The Dead Man Who Killed (Juan Luis Buñuel, 1980), an episode of the Fantômas TV series starring Helmut Berger, and Un homme ordinaire/An ordinary man (Juan Luis Buñuel, 1981), an episode of the series De bien étranges affaires/Very strange business.

Two years later, she made her final screen appearance in the TV series La route inconnue/The unknown road (1983). After that she retired from show business.

In 2009, Danielle Godet died of cancer in her hometown Paris. She was 81.

Danielle Godet
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 555. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Sources: Guy Bellinger (IMDb), Marlène Pilaete (L’Encinémathèque) (French), Le Figaro (French), Pure People (French), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

28 August 2014

Vera Korène

Russian born actress Véra Korène (1901-1996) played seductive spies and vamps in the French cinema of the 1930s. After a dozen films, the Nazi occupation of France cut her screen career short.

Vera Korène
French postcard. Photo: G.L. Manuel Frères. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Korene
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute, Berlin. Photo: Klawi-Film. Publicity still for Les bateliers de la Volga/The Volga Boatman (Vladimir Strizhevsky, 1935).

Coolly Elegant


Véra Korène was born as Rebecca Véra Koretzky in Bakhmut in the Russian Empire (now Artemivsk, Ukraine) in 1901. With her family, she fled the Russian Revolution of 1917 and settled in Paris, France.

There she made her film debut in the French film Son excellence le Bouif/His Excellency Le Bouif (Louis Osmont, 1922) with Tramel. Using the Francized name Korène, she made a career in the theatre and entered the prestigious Comédie-Française in 1931.

In the sound era, she returned to the screen in the film La voix sans visage/The faceless voice (Leo Mittler, 1933) opposite Lucien Muratore and Jean Servais.

She had her breakthrough the following year with her lead role in La belle de nuit/The beauty of the night (Louis Valray, 1934) with Aimé Clariond. Kinsayder at IMDb: “In the dual role, the statuesque Véra Korène is coolly elegant as the actress Maryse and coldly severe as the world-weary, man-hating prostitute Maïthé. It was her second feature film [sic], but Korène was already an established stage actress and her performance here, while less alluring than that of the eroticised Marie Bell in (Jacques) Feyder's picture (Le Grand Jeu), is intense, striking and complex.”

The following year Korène played the female lead opposite Pierre Blanchar and Charles Vanel in the drama Les bateliers de la Volga/The Volga Boatman (Vladimir Strizhevsky, 1935), based on a novel by Joseph Kessel. Korène then starred as Erna Flieder, a notorious female spy of the WWI era in the Espionager Deuxième Bureau/Intelligence Service (Pierre Billon, 1935).

Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Though she seemingly has ice water in her veins, Erna forgets all about her mission in life when she falls in love with her AEF adversary Captain Benoit (Jean Murat). In time-honored tradition, our heroine ultimately lays down her own life to save Benoit from harm.”

Vera Korène
French postcard by Edition Roger Tricot. Photo: Harcourt.

Vera Korène
French postcard by Editions et Publications Cinematographiques (EPC), no. 111. Photo: Harcourt.

Rare and Subtle


In 1936, Vera Korène starred opposite Pierre Richard Willm and Olga Tschechova in L’Argent/Money (Pierre Billon, 1936). They reunited the next year in the historical drama Au service du tsar/Serving the Tsar (Pierre Billon, 1936).

In another historical drama, La danseuse rouge/The red dancer (Jean-Paul Paulin 1937), her co-star was Maurice Escande. The following year, she played the title role in Tamara la complaisante/Tamara (Jean Delannoy, Félix Gandéra, 1938) opposite Victor Francen.

One of her best films was the murder mystery Café de Paris (Yves Mirande, Georges Lacombe, 1938) with Jules Berry.

Didier Fort at IMDb: “It's a treat. Many subplots are going on, all supported by brilliant and funny dialogs, among which the regular phone calls of a journalist (Carette) to his redaction, giving step by step the progress of the inquiry in an emphatic tone. Most of the (very numerous) cast is at his best. Above all of them, Jules Berry, rather restrained here, hence more efficient than ever, and the rare and subtle Véra Korène, acting with a 'natural' rarely seen in those times.”

She then played opposite Charles Vanel in the war drama La brigade sauvage/Savage Brigade (Marcel L'Herbier, Jean Dréville, 1939).

Then Korène's promising film career was cut short by the Nazi Occupation. As a Jew, she was forbidden from acting and fled to Canada.

After the war, she returned to France. In the 1950s she organized her own theatre production company, putting on performances at the Comédie Française.

In 1956 she was named director of the Théâtre de la Renaissance, a position she held until 1978.

Vera Korène died in 1996 in Louveciennes, France. She was 95.

Vera Korène
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1057 Photo: Manuel Frères. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Vera Korene
French postcard by Erpé, no. 644. Photo: Piaz.

Sources: Caroline Hanotte (CinéArtistes) (French), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.

27 August 2014

Dan Leno

English music hall star Dan Leno (1860-1904) was known as the ‘Funniest Man on Earth’. Short, with a wide grin, broadly comic features and a conspicuous part in his hair, he also became one of the most popular pantomime dames of the 1890s. Towards the end of his life, he made 14 short films.

Dan Leno
Small British postcard in the Midget postcard Series by Rotary Photo EC., no. 6317. Photo: Langfier, Glasgow.

One of the highest-paid comedians in the world


Dan Leno was born George Wild Galvin in St Pancras, London in 1890. He was the youngest of six children.

His parents, John Galvin and his wife Louisa, née Dutton, performed together in a music hall double act called ‘The Singing and Acting Duettists’. They were not very successful, and the family struggled in poverty.

In 1864, at the age of four, George joined his parents on stage in their music hall act, billed as 'Little George, the Infant Wonder, Contortionist, and Posturer'.

That same year, his father, an alcoholic, died at the age of 37. The family moved to Liverpool a few months later, where his mother married the comedian William Grant a.k.a. William Leno.

In 1865, George and his brother Henry formed a clog dancing double act known as ‘The Great Little Lenos’. Tired of surviving on little or no money, Henry left the clog dancing act to take up a trade in London, forcing Leno to consider a future as a solo performer.

He made his first solo appearance, aged nine, at the Britannia Music Hall in Coventry. In his teen years, he became the star of his family's act. Leno's clog dancing continued to be so good that in 1880 he won the world championship at the Princess's Music Hall in Leeds and won a silver belt. The judges sat under the stage and listened to the beats.

He adopted the stage name Dan Leno and, in 1884, made his first performance under that name in London. That year he married Lydia Reynolds, a young dancer and comedy singer.

As a solo artist, he became increasingly popular during the late 1880s and 1890s, when he was one of the highest-paid comedians in the world. He developed a music hall act of talking about life's mundane subjects, mixed with comic songs and surreal observations, and created a host of mostly working-class characters to illustrate his stories.

In 1886 Leno played the dame in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Surrey Theatre. Such was his success that Augustus Harris hired him as dame at Drury Lane for the 1888 production of Babes in the Wood. He became one of the greatest and most popular of all pantomime dames and continued to play during the Christmas season at Drury Lane for the next 15 years.

Dan Leno, Sister Ann
British postcard by Rotary photo, no. 139C. Photo: Davey Photo. Leno in costume as Sister Ann(e) in the pantomime Bluebeard (1901) by J. Hickory Wood and Arthur Collins. Leno starred opposite Herbert Campbell's Bluebeard.

Dan Leno
British postcard by Rotophot, no. 8084. Photo: Davey, Islington.

The King's Jester


The highly paid Dan Leno was generous and active in charitable causes, especially to benefit performers in need.

He continued to appear in musical comedies and his own music hall routines until 1902, although he suffered increasingly from alcoholism. This, together with his long association with dame and low comedy roles, prevented him from being taken seriously as a dramatic actor, and he was turned down for Shakespearean roles.

Between 1901 and 1903, Leno recorded more than twenty-five songs and monologues on the Gramophone and Typewriter Company label.

Towards the end of his life, he also made 14 short films distributed by the Warwick Trading Company or British Mutoscope & Biograph Company, including Dan Leno's Attempt to Master the Wheel (1900), An Obstinate Cork (1902), and Dessert at Dan Leno's House (1902). In these crude silent shorts he portrayed a bumbling buffoon who struggles to carry out everyday tasks, such as riding a bicycle or opening a bottle of champagne.

In 1901, Leno, along with Seymour Hicks and his wife, the actress Ellaline Terriss, was invited to Sandringham House to take part in a Royal Command Performance to entertain King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, their son George and his wife, Mary, the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Leno performed a thirty-five minute solo act that included two of his best-known songs: ‘How to Buy a House’ and ‘The Huntsman’. As a memento, the king presented Leno with a jewel-encrusted royal tie pin, and thereafter, Leno became known as ‘the King's Jester’.

Leno was the first music hall performer to give a Royal Command Performance during the king's reign. Dan Leno had begun to drink heavily after performances, and, by 1901, like his father and stepfather before him, he had become an alcoholic. By 1902, he began to behave in an erratic and furious manner, and he suffered a mental breakdown in early 1903. He was committed to a mental asylum, but was discharged later that year.

After one more show, his health declined, and he died at his home in London in 1904, aged 43. His death and funeral were national news. The Daily Telegraph wrote in its obituary: "There was only one Dan. His methods were inimitable; his face was indeed his fortune ... Who has seen him in any of his disguises and has failed to laugh?"

Dan and Lydia had five children. Their three youngest children – Ernest (1889), Sidney (1891) and May (1896) followed their father onto the stage. Sidney became known as Dan Leno Jr.

Dan Leno
British postcard by J. Beagles & Co., London, no. 347. Photo: R. Haines.

Dan Leno
British postcard in the Empire Series, London, no. 45.

Sources: Victoria and Albert Museum, Wikipedia and IMDb.

26 August 2014

Dolly Davis

French actress Dolly Davis (1896-1962) was a very popular comédienne in the 1920s. She was often paired with André Roanne, and they even performed in a film simply called Dolly (Pierre Colombier, 1928).

Dolly Davis
French postcard in the 'Les Vedettes de Cinéma' Series by A.N., Paris, no. 112. Photo: G.L. Manuel Freres.

Dolly Davis
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 139. Photo: P. Apers.

Dolly Davis
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 515. Photo: Studio Lorelle.

Dolly Davis
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 665. Photo: G.F.F.A.

The Imaginary Voyage


Dolly Davis was born as Julienne Alexandrine David in Paris, France, in 1896.

She already made her first film in 1919: La bourrasque (Charles Maudru, 1919). She followed it up with Un conte de Noël/A Christmas Story (1920) and Les étrennes à travers les âges/New Year's Gifts Through the Ages (Pierre Colombier, 1920).

She was much beloved in films such as the serial Vidocq (Jean Kemm, 1922) starring René Navarre as Vidocq, Genevieve (Léon Poirier, 1923) with Pierre Blanchar, Paris (René Hervil, 1924) with Marie Bell, and Mon frères Jacques/My Brother Jacques (Marcel Manchez, 1925) with Enrique Rivero.

A highlight was the fairytale-like Le voyage imaginaire/The Imaginary Voyage (René Clair, 1925) with Albert Préjean.

Another success was Paris en cinq jours (Pierre Colombier, Nicolas Rimsky, 1926), a comedy about Americans in Paris.

With André Roanne, she appeared in La petite chocolatière/The Chocolate Girl (René Hervil, 1927) and La femme du voisin/The Neighbour's Wife (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1928).

Dolly Davis
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 933. Collection Didier Hanson.

Dolly Davis
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 932.

Dolly Davis
French postcard by Europe, no. 299. Photo: Cinéromans / Films de France.

Dolly Davis
French postcard by Europe, no. 773. Photo: Paramount.

Dolly Davis
Belgian postcard by N.V. Universum, Antwerpen.

Tingel Tangel


In the late silent era Dolly Davis also performed in various German films.

These included Fraulein Josette-meine Frau (Gaston Ravel, 1926), Tingel tangel (Gustav Ucicky, 1927) with Paul Hartmann, Verirrte Jugend/Misled Youth (Richard Löwenbein, 1928), Frauenraub in Marokko (Gennaro Righelli, 1928) opposite Vladimir Gajdarov, Die weisse Rosen von Ravensberg/The White Roses of Ravensberg (Rudolf Meinert, 1929) starring Italian diva Diana Karenne, and a film directed by actress Olga Tschechowa: Der Narr seiner Liebe/Fool For Love (1929), starring Michael Chekhov.

In 1928 Davis also played in the American silent film Lights of Paris, shot in Paris and directed by Pierre Hemp.

When sound came along, Davis starred in the French comedy Un trou dans le mur (René Barberis, 1930) with Jean Murat.

More little known French sound films followed including Gagne ta vie/Earn Your Living (André Berthomieu, 1931), Brumes de Paris/Mists of Paris (Maurice Sollin, 1932), Un train dans la nuit/A Train in the Night (René Hervil, 1934), Bichon (Fernand Rivers, 1935), and Bar du sud/Southern Bar (Henri Fescourt, 1938) starring Charles Vanel.

After the latter film, Dolly Davis retired. From then on, she dedicated her time to painting, and she died in 1962 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.

Dolly Davis, publicity for Campari
French postcard. Photo: Studio Lorelle. Caption: "Si Paris vous attire, Campari vous retient."

Dolly Davis
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 676. Photo: Studio G.L. Manuel Frères.

Dolly Davis
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazines, no. 325. Photo: Studio G.L. Manuel Frères.

Dolly Davis
French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 401. Photo: Studio Lorelle, Paris.

Dolly Davis
French postcard by EC (Editions Chantal), Paris, no. 77. Photo: Piaz.


Scene from Le voyage imaginaire/The Imaginary Voyage (1925). Source: Maxence Cyrin (Cinemix).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), CineArtistes.com, Wikipedia (French), and IMDb.