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:
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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:
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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):
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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.”

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