A tribute to Conrad in his memorable heroic roles. Rare footage!
This review was published on IMDb and it was revised by me.
Vivien Leigh and Conrad Veidt – what an interesting and unusual pairing, just like having fire and ice in love! In my opinion, “Dark Journey”, a London Film production of Alexander Korda, is Vivien’s greatest pre-GWTW movie. The script is full of memorable lines, but there are also some great romantic moments between the actors. The combination between Vivien and Conrad is just like having fire and ice in love. It’s a palpable, strong, glacial romanticism. Conrad said once: “The one thing I look for everywhere is beauty. I find it everywhere, and in almost every person. A lovely painting, a good book, or music moves me. It has a life of its own.” In my favorite scene from the movie, which is the kissing scene, you could see that even after the kiss, Conrad is still holding Vivien in his arms, admiring for a few more seconds her beautiful, perfect, feminine, heart-shaped face, with those two big emerald eyes and the sweet, little lips. He is visibly enchanted by Vivien’s unique beauty, as she is telling him “Now, I want you to take me away from my friends and the business, from everyone but you”; and he tells her “That’s my dream”. This is a lovely, unforgettable scene, in which Vivien and the apparently implacable Conrad Veidt make together a wonderful couple of lovers, despite the differences between them. I would recommend to any fan of the two great actors to watch this spy and romantic film, directed by Victor Saville. It would be even nicer if they put back the deleted scenes. 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. This moment is remembered in a totally different scene, which takes place, the following day, at Madeleine’s shop. 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. But, the latest DVD version is 79 minutes in length, because it contains more sequences. I was very happy when I bought it, not only because I found some extra-sequences, but also because the quality of the picture and sound was far superior to all the versions I had seen, so far, of this extraordinary movie, which, I must say, is among my favourites.
I uploaded the entire film here, on my Conrad Veidt YouTube Channel. Enjoy!
In directing and producing “Strangers on a Train”, Alfred Hitchcock was inspired by such films like “Rome Express” and “Shanghai Express”. Despite its many flaws – and one of them is represented by the actors in the leading roles – the film has a good, interesting story, with some entertaining scenes. How would you feel about getting chased by a madman who, above all, is a cold-blooded criminal? But even more than that, how would you feel if the man would want you to commit a murder for him? The film shows all of this, and the plot involves a professional tennis player who wants to get rid of his wife to marry a senator’s daughter, and whose reputation gets compromised by his ill-fated meeting on a train with a psychotic socialite. The maniac proposes him to switch murders between them, so that he would do him “a favour” by killing his wife and he, the tennis player, would in return kill the madman’s tyrannical father – who, in fact, wasn’t a tyrant at all, because he wanted to commit his son to a sanitarium for his mental disease. Both the son and his mother are eccentric characters and their strange behaviour reveals their unbalanced nature. The story of the film gets complicated as soon as the wife of Guy Haines, the tennis player, is strangled by Bruno Antony, the madman, in one of the most impressive scenes in the film. Hitchcock created a special atmosphere in the sequences at the fair and the murder of the girl by the Tunnel of Love is memorable as well. Despite the good points, Hitchcock directed some long and artificially climaxed scenes, especially the ones with the tennis matches of Haines. There were times when I felt I was watching a sports programme instead of a thriller. Totally atypical to the hitchcockian suspensful style, but it was, somehow, effective to the present film. “Strangers on a Train” is very much overrated, as it is commented and extensively exhibited on different cinematic occasions, such as film festivals and cinema album releases and other publications. It received an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography and it’s worth watching, at least just for having fun. But, above all, it conveys an important lesson: that we should never keep secrets, because one day these secrets might turn against us, especially when the beloved ones could become the innocents victims of the case.
This is an article that I wrote several weeks ago and that was published by Angie Schaffer, owner of the website http://www.thelittlejazzbaby.com/. Now I consider it as part of my tribute to Connie on the occasion of his 70th death anniversary.
Conrad Veidt (a.k.a. Connie) is, to me, the greatest German actor of all time – if not the greatest actor in the world! He is considered the Prince of the silent German cinema, but he did make several motion pictures around the world, too, in such countries like Great Britain, France, Italy and the USA. This year we celebrated Connie’s 120th birthday, and on April 3 we will remember, with deep sorrow, the difficult moment when he left us for good, 70 years ago. But his remarkable work is his legacy, despite the fact that half of his films are no longer available – at least not to the general public. Connie made 120 films throughout his long career, starting from the late 1910s, and ending in the beginning of the 1940s. 12 of them were made in Hollywood, including 4 silent films. As a great fan and collector of Conrad Veidt for several years, I managed to get over 55 of his splendid works of art and also some unique documentaries. Throughout his extensive career, he appeared in numerous memorable film roles, especially in the silent productions. One of them is the somnabulist Cesare, from the Expressionist masterpiece “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1919/20). The enduring popularity of this film in each and every civilised corner of the world reflects the capacity of Conrad to attract the audiences even in modern times. “No matter what roles I play, I can’t get Caligari out of my system”, he used to say. Connie’s portrayal of Cesare is frightening, mesmerizing and stupendous at the same time. He controls all the scenes he is in, being close to or even better than Caligari himself, his master, played by Werner Krauss. Conrad is a very attractive and fascinating sinister character. He excels in such roles like Caligari’s Cesare, but also as another Cesare, even more cruel and dangerous: Cesare Borgia. In the film “Lucrezia Borgia” (1922), his performance is outstanding, as he overshadows the rest of the cast. Only Albert Bassermann stands up to Connie’s talent, playing the role of his father, Pope Alexander VI. The famous curse scene is one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen in a silent production. Another kind of role that I enjoyed seeing Conrad in is the doppelgänger type, like in “The Student of Prague” (1926), which is his best silent film to me. The brothers he played in “Die Brüder Schellenberg” is another piece of artistry so brilliant because of Connie. It’s unimaginable to think of someone else than Conrad Veidt who could perform two different characters so well at the same time. The good and the bad brother or image in fact reflect the dual nature of Conrad’s own personality, just the way he wrote about himself in an article called “Ist er gut? Ist er böse?”. What is interesting and important to point out is the fact that Connie is so good at being bad. For instance, his portrayal of Ivan the Terrible in the masterpiece “Waxworks” (1924) was so great, that it earned him a contract in Hollywood, where he would make one of his most iconic films, “The Man Who Laughs” (1928). It is well known that his laughing face, his grin in the film was the source of inspiration for the Joker character from Batman. Gwynplaine, close to Cesare from Caligari, is the best remembered role of Conrad in his silent film career.
I also enjoyed immensely his performance as the evil magician torn between love and revenge, in the Hollywood production of “The Last Performance” (1929), his last film in America before the talkies came in and he returned to Germany. I want to mention here that a remarkable trait of Conrad’s personality and interpretation of the character is his vulnerability. He could never be completely good or bad. He becomes a ruthless man, a villain owing to a psychological distress or inner disturbance: an unshared love, an unfortunate life, a deep frustration, a denial of the world in which he was born etc. His character becomes bad – really bad, I might say – when he doesn’t get what he really wants – most of the times the girl of his dreams, who either rejects him or simply doesn’t care about him. Physically, Conrad was a commanding presence. He was very tall (1.91 m) and had the most magnetic and piercing blue eyes. His hands (just like his voice) were one of his numerous assets, and we could see how wonderfully he conveys all sorts of emotions through them – anger, love, hate, despair, uselessness – in “The Hands of Orlac” (1924), a horrifying thriller, but a gem of a film. Conrad’s large, bulging veins on the forehead and temples also contributed to his lively performance. Sometimes the energy and the strength he put in his roles would make one believe he could have killed himself during the act of creation, because he had a weak heart. But, above all, he wanted to become the character he played, he wanted to look, feel, behave and react like Cesare, Orlac, Balduin, Ivan, Erik and so many others. Because he played, indeed, a complexity of personalities, and owing to his good looks he was the perfect choice for the exotic roles, like in the outstanding German masterpiece “The Indian Tomb” (1921). He was also excellent in historical roles, like the ones in “Lucrezia Borgia” (1922), “Carlos and Elisabeth” (1923/24), “Waxworks” (1924) and “The Beloved Rogue” (1927). An interesting discovery to me was his film – considered officially lost – “Lady Hamilton” (1921). Here he portrays Lord Nelson, a man of honour, torn between the duty to his country and the burning love for his mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton. The film has miraculously survived in a Russian archive and I am very grateful for having it, because it shows once again the fine artistic background of the German cinema, especially in the 20s, a period dominated by Conrad Veidt and his memorable and masterful productions that, to some extent, we, his fans and film goers, can still enjoy.
In the end, I want to express my appreciation towards Angela for inviting me to write on her wonderful website. She is doing a marvellous job here and I wish her all the best with her admirable work.
You could as well visit my two Conrad Veidt websites, with tons of high quality scans of my original collections, and also of contributions from fans of this magnificent actor from all over the world.
Together we can fight for Conrad Veidt!
You could find the article also here
It’s a great pleasure for me to announce that a new book on Vivien Leigh will be released on the occasion of her 100th birthday! The book consists of a collection of super rare photos of Vivien and also some interesting information about her life. Be sure it really worths the price, because Kendra Bean, the author, has had access to the Olivier archives, as she has been working on the vivandlarry.com website for several years. I highly recommend this book, even more because it was written with great love and devotion by a true professional like Kendra. So, don’t waste time, Vivien Leigh fans and movie fans around the world! Pre-order the book, because I have a feeling it is going to be a best-seller! One of the websites where you could find it is amazon.
“The Third Man” is considered one of the best movies ever made and it is included in most of the prestigious books and albums related to the cinematic art. Its popularity has grown over the time and nowadays many moviemakers and moviegoers include it on their top favourite films list, among them being the famous actor Sir Michael Caine, who once said in an interview that this was his personal favourite. “The Third Man” is a cult film in the British cinema and it is also a typical film noir of the 40s. The plot involves a mysterious crime, committed by a controversial character – of course, “the third man”-, who is revealed only in the last half of the film. Orson Welles makes a magnificent piece of artistry out of a tiny, but significant role. His genius as both an actor and a producer-director has brought many awards and recognitions that elevated the prestige of the British cinema, together with other personalities, such as Sir Laurence Olivier, Anton Walbrook, Claude Rains and Alfred Hitchcock. Welles improved the seventh art; his rebel and sinister originality brought quite often some shocking, memorable moments on the big screen. Aside from Welles, I ought to mention the fine actor Joseph Cotten (who made several productions together with Welles, such as “Citizen Kane” and “The Magnificent Ambersons”). In this particular movie he becomes some sort of detective looking for clues so he could solve the complicated and all too sudden death of his friend. In addition to this, you will have the pleasure to enjoy the performance of the vamp-like lady, Alida Valli, in perhaps her most memorable role in her entire career. Even though she was considered a sultry and seductive brunette, who could also act very well, her career didn’t last long and she received less and less interesting parts after the end of the 1940s. Trevor Howard is also recognisable in the film as the detective who investigates the murder, even though he is best remembered for another magnificent British creation, “Brief Encounter”. The director Carol Reed (who was nominated for an Oscar) and the screewriter Graham Greene managed to bring to life some unforgettable sequences. In my opinion, all the scenes with “the third man” are perfect, especially the chase in the Wienkanal, where the villain is trapped like a beetle. No wonder why it received an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing and also a BAFTA award for Best Film, in 1950. There is one thing I didn’t like about it and that is the obsessive music performed on a zither, that is repeated over and over again in the most awkward moments possible. It disturbs me and it also distracts my attention, as a viewer, from the action that is being developed. In order to understand “The Third Man”, one has to watch it several times, as you will certainly find it challenging and fascinating, the same way the German expressionist films were in the 20s (in fact, those silent films were the source of inspiration to the film noir productions, 20 years later). “The Third Man” has an excellent camera management – the photography is perfect and the cinematography, that earned it an Oscar, reminds me of the expressionist mise-en-scène (or visual theme), that is so necessary when you show the public a very complex story, with lots of poignant moments, just like in the German masterpiece “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”.
All in all, I recommend you to watch this great British motion picture and to pay attention to all the details, if possible, because they contribute to the understanding of the plot and they also represent vivid samples of the originality that we see only in the good old movies.
You could watch “The Third Man” here
Începând cu data de 1 mai a.c., articolele de pe acest site vor fi scrise exclusiv în limba engleză. Am luat această decizie la încurajarea prietenilor și colaboratorilor mei din străinătate. Site-ul va trece printr-o serie de transformări pe parcursul verii și, în funcție de limita de spațiu, intenționez să pun la dispoziția vizitatorilor mai multe imagini scanate cu o parte din colecțiile mele pe profil de cinema.
Filmul despre care Alfred Hitchcock spunea că este cea mai importantă realizare a sa (asta înainte de capodoperele de mai târziu, „În spatele ferestrei”, „Vertigo”, „Psycho” și „Păsările”), „Îndoiala”/Shadow of a Doubt (1943) este o producție foarte interesantă și cu un mesaj perfect valabil și în viața reală. În anii ’40, maestrul suspansului pare să fi avut un soi de curiozitate obsedantă, aproape, pentru filmele cu substrat psihologic. Alături de „Îndoiala” aș mai aminti de „Suspiciune” și de „Fascinație”, acesta din urmă abordând chiar tematici din psihanaliza lui Sigmund Freud. Revenind, însă, la „Îndoiala”, ce îmi place mult la acest film este originalitatea ideii (primind o nominalizare la Oscar pentru cel mai bun scenariu original) și apropierea sa de public. La fel ca și „În spatele ferestrei”, pelicula de față prezintă intriga din perspectiva unui personaj care face investigații pe cont propriu, ajutat din când în când și de alte personaje care sunt de partea sa. Aș nota aici prestația de excepție a tinerei Teresa Wright și, bineînțeles, a marelui actor Joseph Cotten, în rolul unchiului excentric, ce ascunde un secret greu de imaginat. Cei doi, unchi și nepoată, au o legătură extrem de puternică, nu doar pentru că poartă același nume, Charlie, dar și pentru că între ei pare a fi o comunicare aproape telepatică.
În anumite scene aș înclina să cred că el îi poartă chiar o dragoste incestuoasă, comportându-se aproape ca un iubit în momentele în care sunt singuri împreună și, apoi, ca un bărbat gelos atunci când nepoata preferată este curtată de un detectiv insistent, aflat pe urmele lui. Dar dorința de răzbunare și ura împotriva lumii banale – și a propriei sale familii – devin tot mai puternice spre sfârșitul filmului, astfel că unchiul dulce și amabil își dă arama pe față, dovedind că are gândirea rece și calculată a unui asasin. Este fascinant cum filmul dezvoltă, pe parcurs, psihologia unchiului misterios și bogat de la New York și care își impresionează rudele provinciale cu daruri scumpe, adunate din călătoriile sale la fel de misterioase. „Unchiul Charlie” este tipul de personaj ce ar merita discutat și ca studiu de caz, mai ales că el este întruchiparea atâtor și atâtor criminali în serie – indiferent de epocă – ce au scăpat nepedepsiți doar pentru că au excelat în arta disimulării, având în favoarea lor, uneori, și lipsa de probe. Este ironic faptul că „unchiul Charlie” rămâne în conștiința majorității oamenilor naivi și neștiutori drept o persoană cu totul deosebită, șarmantă, generoasă, altruistă, elegantă și cuceritoare, un etalon demn de urmat. Adevărul este știut, însă, doar de nepoata care îl venera cândva și care i se confesează în ultima clipă detectivului devenit logodnicul ei. „Îndoiala” este presărat cu multe detalii importante (ca inelul gravat, indiciul principal) și cu scene remarcabile (a se vedea, printre altele, aluziile la opereta „Valsul văduvei vesele”, a lui Franz Lehar) și este, indubitabil, o mare realizare a lui Alfred Hitchcock, pe care o puteți urmări integral aici