On the Set with Conrad Veidt

Conrad Veidt (1893-1943) was a legendary German film star who first gained attention as Cesare, the somnambulist killer in THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1919):
Conrad Veidt as "Cesare" in the film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". Photograph. 1921

Today Conny seems best remembered for one of his last films, CASABLANCA (1942). As the Nazi villain Major Strasser, Conny was fourth billed behind Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henried, and Claude Rains, but he was the highest paid actor on the film:
Summer Book029 copy_Final

Visiting film star Constance Talmadge seems to strike the same pose as Conny on the set of THE BELOVED ROGUE (1927), Veidt’s first American film. He played France’s King Louis XI to John Barrymore’s Francois Villon:
Constance Talmadge Jan 1927 copy_edited-Final_edited-1

Conny starred in several films for Universal in the closing days of the silent film era. Here makeup artist extraordinaire Jack Pierce, who later made up Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster and Lon Chaney, Jr., as the Wolfman, applies finishing touches to Veidt for THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928):
Veidt021 Final_edited-1

Back in Germany by 1930, Conny effortlessly transitioned to sound films speaking in his native language:
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By 1933, Conny was making films in Britain as well as Germany and worked hard to master English. Here Veidt sits with pal Peter Lorre as they work on F.P.1 (Floating Platform 1), a science-fiction tale that anticipated aircraft carriers. Filmed in three languages, Conny played the hero in the English-language version, but not in the German or French versions. Lorre appeared only in the German version:
Veidt Lorre-1 copy_Final

Conny poses for his bust by sculptor Felix Weiss in Germany, circa 1935. With the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party, Germany became an “unhealthy” place for Veidt to live. He listed himself as a Jew although he wasn’t. However, his wife Lily was Jewish so they decided to relocate to Britain in the mid 1930s:
Conrad Veidt Bust_edited-Final_Final

THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940) would be Conny’s only Technicolor film but he looks terrific in it. Here he examines an ornate dagger and its scabbard:
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Conny as the villainous vizir Jaffar, commands the sky and wind in THE THIEF OF BAGDAD:
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This production photo from THE THIEF OF BAGDAD shows Conny on the left on the floor. The massive Technicolor camera holds three rolls of film that were photographed simultaneously through one lens. A prism split the image into three that was photographed on each of the three rolls sensitive to red, blue and yellow respectively:
Veidt Candid002_edited-Final_Final

Filming the same scene from a back angle view. The camera is mounted on a crane to create a moving dolly shot:
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A stunning portrait of the evil Jaffar:
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Back in America by 1940, Conny donates much of his salary to the British and U.S. war effort, and adds radio broadcasting to his activities. Here on April 19, 1942, he reenacts his role in the 1941 MGM film, A WOMAN’S FACE on Screen Guild Theater. The stars who appeared on this show donated their fee to the Motion Picture Relief Fund:
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Listen to Conny on the actual live broadcast of April 19, 1942, with co-stars Bette Davis and Warren William:

American audiences weren’t too sure how to pronounce Conny’s last name so someone at one of the studios thought up this helpful rhyme: “Women Fight for Conrad Veidt.”
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Conrad Veidt would be surprised to know that his films are popular with new generations of the 21st century. Most of his top films are available on DVD, and a growing number on Blu-ray including THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS (a pioneering film on homosexuality), WAXWORKS, THE BELOVED ROGUE, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, ESCAPE, A WOMAN’S FACEand CASABLANCA. But Conny held no exalted view of himself: when invited to write his autobiography, he dismissed the suggestion by stating, “Who would be interested in my life? I’m just an actor.”

Happy 4th of July!

Rin Tin Tin and Betty Compson as the Spirit of Liberty circa 1925:
Rin Tin Tin and Betty Compson as the Spirit of Liberty Final
Pastiche compliments of Yours Truly.

Published in: on July 2, 2014 at 9:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

Golden Age Stars and Their Dogs

Film stars with their pets have always attracted attention and it’s rare that a major celebrity of the screen would decline an opportunity to pose with a four-legged friend. Sometimes the pet was as famous as the pet parent. Here are a galaxy of vintage stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood who seem only too happy to be upstaged.

First, Anna May Wong shows off her dachshund circa 1938:
ANNA MAY WONG w Dacshund_Final

Buster Keaton wants to be sure he can always find his canine pal circa 1930:
Buster Keaton and his Dog_Final_edited-1

John Barrymore shared some inspired comic moments with this St. Bernard at the beginning of MOBY DICK (1930):
Moby Dick 1930 Barrymore and Dog_Final_Final

Bette Davis seems entranced by this dog as she waits between filming scenes circa 1937:
Bette Davis and Dog_Final

Douglas Fairbanks Sr.evidently considers this German Shepherd his equal, circa 1920:
douglas-fairbanks-and-dog Final

W.C. Fields famously observed that “any man who hates kids and dogs can’t be all bad” but he got along nicely with his co-star in IT’S A GIFT (1934):
WC Fields and Dog_Final_Final

Jean Harlow with one of her many dogs, circa 1935:
Jean Harlow w Dog

Rudolph Valentino inspired much grieving with his untimely death in August 1926. But none grieved more than his dog who was adopted by Rudy’s brother, Alberto. Regardless, the dog pined away for his master until his own passing some years later:
Rudolph Valentino and his Dog-Final

Warner Oland, famous as Charlie Chan, doted on his schnauzer Raggedy Ann and was a proud papa when she had this litter:
Oland and Raggety Ann Final

Star meets Star: Al Jolson meets Rin Tin Tin on the Warner Bros. lot in 1928:
Al and Rinty 1928_edited-Final

Carole Lombard and friend in 1932:
Carole Lombard and Dog 1932_edited-Final

Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein wants to chat with Rin Tin Tin during his 1929 visit to the United States:
Rinty and Eisenstein 1929_Final

George Arliss seems perplexed as he juggles his wife’s dog and business papers, circa 1925:
George Arliss and his wife's Dog_edited-Final - Copy

Finally, a poignant photo commemorating the passing of Lon Chaney, the Man of 1,000 Faces, who left us much too soon in 1930 at the age of 47. The photo shows two of Lon’s most precious possessions – his makeup case and his dog:
Lon Chaney's Dog_edited-Final Final

Vintage Stars & Cigarette Cards

As the Great Depression took its toll in the early 1930s, film studios on both sides of the Atlantic came up with new marketing ideas to stem the tide of declining box office revenues. An idea that found favor with millions of cigarette smokers of that era were little premiums, about half the size of a typical baseball trading card, of prominent movie stars of the day. Each card was included in a pack of cigarettes and displayed a small but elegant drawing in color and a surprisingly frank biographical sketch reciting the star’s real name, humble origins and previous marriages.
Crawford

The cards were meant to be collectors’ items and indeed many people did just that. The cards displayed here were printed by the British tobacconist John Player as part of its 1933 series. A special book was available by which fans could mount these cards as they would with a typical photo album.
Fairbanks

Although talking pictures had brought many new personalities to the public’s attention, the stars included in this post had been well-established silent film stars and extended their popularity for many years and even decades thereafter.
Garbo

Gary Cooper so successfully straddled the generations from the 1920s through the end of the 1950s that many of his younger fans were unaware that he was once a silent film heartthrob.
Cooper

As the bio notes, Jean Harlow first attracted attention in silent films and appeared in several films with Laurel and Hardy.
Harlow

Ramon Novarro was Ben-Hur to movie fans from 1925 until Charlton Heston took over the role in the 1959 remake.
Novarro

Norma Shearer had quite a following by the late 1920s but her screen personality adopted to talkies effortlessly and she continued as a top star until she chose to retire in 1942.
Shearer

William Haines gained popularity as a wisecracking boy-next-door type of character. In time he became more interested in a career as an interior decorator. Indeed, many of his former co-stars hired him to remodel their homes. His career as a leading man must have seem like it was in another lifetime because for decades he was known as “Billy Haines, Decorator to the Stars.”
Haines

Carole Lombard first attracted attention in the silent film comedies of Mack Sennett in the late 1920s. With sound she proved herself as both a dramatic actress and as a comedienne. Her tragic death in a 1942 plane crash while selling War Bonds has tended to obscure her fine films.
Lombard

Jack Holt was a rugged type who seemed convincing simply because he actually lived the life of many characters he played. He was always an audience favorite from the silent era up through the early 1950s.
Holt

Published in: on April 19, 2014 at 9:13 PM  Leave a Comment  

On the Set with Ronald Colman

June 11, 1939: the British colony in Hollywood prepare to broadcast their welcome to the King and Queen of Great Britain on their first visit to the United States. From left to right are Greer Garson, Leslie Howard, George Sanders in the rear having a smoke, Vivien Leigh hiding her smoke under her script, Brian Aherne, Ronald Colman, and Basil Rathbone:
Colman 1939 Broadcast for Their Majesties_edited-Final_edited-1

It is was said that Ronald Colman’s voice was so beautiful that he could attract a crowd just by reading the phone book. Experience the “velvet voice” in this stunning radio performance from 1945:

Before sound films became popular, Ronnie was a top star of the silent screen. Here he chats with cinematographer J.C. Scrugram on the set of THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH (1925):
Winning Barbara Worth J G Scrugram_Final

BARBARA WORTH was not only a big hit for Ronnie, but made a star of Hungarian actress Vilma Banky in her American film debut. Not billed on this poster, the film was also a breakthrough for a lanky young actor named Gary Cooper:
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This is a restored image from a newspaper supplement advertising BEAU GESTE (1926), a film that took Ronald Colman from star to superstar:
Beau-Geste supplement/>

Producer Sam Goldwyn starred Ronnie and Vilma Banky in a series of romantic swashbucklers during the mid-1920s just prior to the arrival of talkies. One of their best is THE NIGHT OF LOVE (1927), here they pose for the ever-present photographer (color transfer by Jeffrey Allan):
Two Lovers on the Set

A scene from THE TWO LOVERS (1928), the fifth and final Colman-Banky teaming:
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A top silent film had its own theme song available on records and on sheet music. Here is the striking cover for THE MAGIC FLAME (1927):
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An unusual aspect of THE MAGIC FLAME is seeing Ronnie as a clown. Here he is unrecognizable under his makeup:
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A striking image of Ronnie as he prepared to go his own way with the arrival of the talkies in 1929. Nobody could know then that his best films were ahead of him: A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1935). LOST HORIZON and THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (both 1937), RANDOM HARVEST and THE TALK OF THE TOWN (both 1942), and A DOUBLE LIFE (1948), for which Ronnie won the Best Actor Academy Award. Eventually, Ronnie focused more on radio and television where his work was always highly rated.
Colman circa 1928_Final
We chose today for this post because February 9th is Ronald Colman’s birthday (1891). His best films, both silent and sound, are readily available now on official DVD releases and much of his radio work can be heard over the Internet. We suspect that Ronnie would be pleased that he continues to have an audience in the 21st century!

2013 – Old Hollywood in Color in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Lt. Humphrey Bogart tells his men, “Boys, by my calculations the New Year should arrive at about midnight.” CHINA CLIPPER (1936)

Bogart_CHINA CLIPPER 1936 copy_edited-1

Click here to see the complete report.

Published in: on December 31, 2013 at 3:34 PM  Leave a Comment  

Your Official 2014 Old Hollywood in Color Calendar Collection!

Start the New Year off right with a gift from OLD HOLLYWOOD IN COLOR. Take your pick from any of these – or all of ‘em. Simply download and print out just as you would do with a photo. If you prefer a larger size or higher quality than home printers can provide, let me suggest that you copy the image to a thumb drive and take it to you local digital print retailer such as Kinko’s. With this in mind, let’s tour the 2014 collection.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, with Jean Harlow, in one of their last silent films LIBERTY (1929):
Laurel and Hardy Calendar Final

La Swanson, Gloria that is, in ZAZA (1923):
Gloria Swanson Calendar

Ronald Colman in a fan photo circa 1929:
Ronald Colman Calendar_Final

Buster Keaton circa 1930:
Buster Keaton calendar Final

Clara Bow, who was dubbed “The It Girl,” meaning that she had “it.” Circa 1928:
Clara Bow Calender Final_edited-1

A debonair-looking Al Jolson in 1935:
Al jolson calendar

Greta Garbo with Nils Asther in WILD ORCHIDS (1929), one of her last silents:
Garbo Calendar

Mary Astor in ROSE OF THE GOLDEN WEST (1927):
Mary Astor Calendar 2014_Final

A calendar from a 1934 UK movie magazine highlighting Conrad Veidt:
Conrad Veidt Calendar_Final_edited-2 copy

Jean Harlow with Clark Gable in RED DUST (1932):
Jean Harlow Calendar

Lon Chaney Sr. as himself and as his character in THE MIRACLE MAN (1919), a lost film:
Lon Chaney Calendar

Rin Tin Tin and his mate Nanette in HERO OF THE BIG SNOWS (1926), another lost film:
Rin Tin Tin Calendar

King Kong006 copy_New Year

Rediscovering a Treasure from Christmas Past – THE JUGGLER OF OUR LADY

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It isn’t often that we have the opportunity to rediscover an old Christmas story that somehow has become forgotten in recent times. For many years during the 1940s, there was an annual Christmas radio broadcast of THE JUGGLER OF OUR LADY, adapted from a story by Anatole France. Ronald Colman narrated this tale in his rich “velvet voice,” while Nelson Eddy sang the role of a monk. This story was once as popular as “The Night Before Christmas” and I think you’ll agree that it’s a wonderful tale.

So let’s go back in time to December 21, 1942, to hear Ronald Colman and Nelson Eddy team up for this classic Christmas story on the Screen Guild Theater. The stars on this show donated their salaries to the Motion Picture Relief Fund:

Ronald Colman excelled in radio as well as motion pictures such as A TALE OF TWO CITIES and LOST HORIZON. You can see and hear why he was so popular:
New027 copy_Final_edited-1

Nelson Eddy was a popular singer, radio and movie star. He is perhaps best remembered for his series of musicals with Jeanette MacDonald such as ROSE-MARIE and MAYTIME:
Nelson Eddy copy_Final_edited-1

santa night2

The Classic John Barrymore Swashbucklers of the 1920s

New Book: We’re proud to announce the first-ever pictorial review of the classic John Barrymore swashbucklers. These productions energetically displayed the talents of “America’s Finest Actor” and remain among the most captivating adventure films ever made:
Book Cover Published001 copy

This large 8.5×11 inch volume displays rare posters, photos, programs, and even paintings by Barrymore himself, in full color:
Painting 2

Before the Academy Awards were instituted, top films of the year were recognized by other organizations. Here Rudolph Valentino presented his own Valentino Award to John Barrymore for BEAU BRUMMEL (1924):
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Rare lobby cards restored to their original colors are among the highlights of the book such as this one from THE SEA BEAST (1926), Barrymore’s first version of MOBY DICK:
Sea Beast LC 2

Our book features vintage souvenir programs such as this from DON JUAN (1926):
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Lost and Found: THE BELOVED ROGUE (1927), one of the most imaginative films made by Hollywood during the 1920s was considered lost for decades but is now on DVD and streaming video:
Beloved Rogue LC 1

John Barrymore would not be the only star of swashbucklers – think Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, among others – but Barrymore was the only star whose films spanned both the silent and sound film eras. Here is his first talkie, GENERAL CRACK (1930):
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Jack reprised his role of Captain Ahab in THE SEA BEAST talkie remake, MOBY DICK (1930) with Joan Bennett:
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The back cover of our book with a painting of John Barrymore from TEMPEST (1928), a story of the Russian Revolution:
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Bonus material includes 3-D photos and a link to Barrymore’s 1937 radio broadcast of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. Our book is available exclusively from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle ebook editions:

On the Set with Colin Clive

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Colin Clive (1900-1937) is forever immortalized as Henry Frankenstein in the first two Universal FRANKENSTEIN films. His real forte as an actor was playing angst-ridden neurotics – meaning that he was perfectly cast as Henry Frankenstein – and when portraying a driven nervous energy character he didn’t seem to be acting. Much has been written about Colin’s health issues including a tubercular condition and alcoholism that eventually brought him to an early death. But here we’d like to celebrate his unique persona and compelling voice that made him so unforgettable even though his career was relatively brief. As you scroll down to the images, listen to his rare “lost” radio performance of November 14, 1935. Colin is introduced by host Rudy Vallee:

Colin takes a tea break with co-star Valerie Hobson on the set of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). They seem to be in the middle of filming their first scene when Henry Frankenstein is brought back home on a stretcher and his fiance Elizabeth believes that he is dead:
Colin-Clive,-Valerie-Hobson copy_Final

Universal publicists were eager to take a number of photos of Colin and Boris Karloff taking breaks on the BRIDE set:
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A playful Colin hugs Valerie Hobson somewhere on the backlot of Universal during the making of BRIDE during January-February 1935:
Clive_ Hobson-copy_Final

Another BRIDE publicity shot – the Monster is supposed to hate fire but perhaps that doesn’t apply to lighting his cigarettes:
Clive and Boris BRIDE copy_edited-Final

When Colin worked for 20th Century Pictures in late 1934, the studio did a publicity shoot at his apartment at the Hollywood Tower located on Franklin Avenue in Los Angeles:
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At Warner Bros. filming THE KEY (1934), a story of the Irish Rebellion. To Colin’s right are director Michael Curtiz and the film’s star William Powell:
Clive Curtiz Powell the Key_edited-1 Final

Colin and girlfriend Iris Lancaster out on the town circa 1935. It is believed that Iris paid the expenses of his funeral. She worked as an actress in films until 1944 and thereafter vanished from public life:
Colin and Iris Lancaster_edited-Final

On the roof of the Hollywood Tower (still in operation today offering luxury apartments), Colin looks out over the LA landscape towards the “Hollywood” sign in the distance:
Clive001 copy_edited-Final
If you are only familiar with Colin’s work in the FRANKENSTEIN films, you definitely will want to check out his performances in CHRISTOPHER STRONG (1933) with Katharine Hepburn, MAD LOVE (1935) with Peter Lorre and Frances Drake, and HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT (1937). with Jean Arthur and Charles Boyer.

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