24 May 2018

Wo die Lerche singt (1918)

Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (Hubert Marischka, 1918) is the first film adaptation of the 1918 operetta of the same name by Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. Director Hubert Marischka was a popular Operetta star and director in Vienna and made contact early on with the new medium of film, in which he worked as actor, director and screenwriter.

Louise Kartousch, Hubert Marischka, Franz Lehar and Ernst Tautenhayn in Wo die Lerche singt (1918)
German postcard by B.K.W.I., no. 100. Photo: Delta-Film. Publicity still for Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (Hubert Marischka, 1918). From left to right: Louise Kartousch, director/actor Hubert Marischka, composer Franz Lehár and Ernst Tautenhayn.

Ernst Tautenhayn in Wo die Lerche singt (1918)
German postcard by B.K.W.I., no. 103. Photo: Delta-Film. Publicity still for Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (Hubert Marischka, 1918) with Ernst Tautenhayn.

Ernst Tautenhayn, Louise Kartousch and Mariette Weber in Wo die Lerche singt (1918)
German postcard by B.K.W.I., no. 107. Photo: Delta-Film. Publicity still for Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (Hubert Marischka, 1918) with Ernst Tautenhayn, Louise Kartousch and Mariette Weber.

A country girl in the big city

The libretto of the operetta Wo die Lerche singt by A. M. Willner and Heinz Reichert was inspired by the stage play Dorf und Stadt (Village and City) by Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer.

The operetta premiered at the Royal Opera in Budapest on 1 January 1918. It was one of Franz Lehár's most successful wartime operettas.

Margit, a young Hungarian country girl (in the film played by Louise Kartousch) travels to a big city where she is seduced and then abandoned by an artist (Hubert Marischka).

Eventually she returns home to the countryside "where the larks sing" and is reconciled with her peasant fiance Pista (Otto Langer). Ernst Tautenhayn played Margit's uncle, the old farmer Törö Pá.

In 1936 the operetta was again adapted into an Operetta film, Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (Carl Lamac, 1936) starring Márta Eggerth. It was a co-production between Hungary, Germany and Switzerland.

Louise Kartousch and Ernst Tautenhayn in Wo die Lerche singt (1918)
German postcard by B.K.W.I., no. 108. Photo: Delta-Film. Publicity still for Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (Hubert Marischka, 1918) with Louise Kartousch and Ernst Tautenhayn.

Louise Kartousch in Wo die Lerche singt (1918)
German postcard by B.K.W.I., no. 109 Photo: Delta-Film. Publicity still for Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (Hubert Marischka, 1918) with Louise Kartousch.

Ernst Tautenhayn, Louise Kartousch and Otto Langer in Wo die Lerche singt (1918)
German postcard by B.K.W.I., no. 110. Photo: Delta-Film. Publicity still for Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (Hubert Marischka, 1918) with Ernst Tautenhayn, Louise Kartousch and Otto Langer.

Louise Kartousch and Hubert Marischka in Wo die Lerche singt (1918)
German postcard by B.K.W.L. Photo: Ludwig Gutmann, 1918. Publicity still for Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (Hubert Marischka, 1918). Caption: "Wo ist denn der Mann mit der schönen Frau?" (Where is the man with the beautiful woman?)

Martha Eggerth and Hans Söhnker in Wo die Lerche singt (1936)
Martha Eggerth and Hans Söhnker in the 1936 sound version of Wo die Lerche singt. German card. Photo: Mitteldeutsche Union Tonfilm. Publicity still for Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (Karel Lamac, 1936).

Sources: Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.

23 May 2018

Anna-Maria Ferrero (1934-2018)

On 21 May 2018, Italian actress Anna-Maria Ferrero has passed away in Paris. With her fragile beauty and assured talent, Ferrero made a respectable impact in the Italian cinema of the 1950s. As a teenager she started playing leads in films by Michelangelo Antonioni, Mario Monicelli, Mauro Bolognini and other major directors, and she would star in many stage plays and films opposite Vittorio Gassman. She was married to actor Jean Sorel.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 340. Photo: Minerva Film.

Anna Maria Ferrero
French postcard by P.I., Paris, no. 49 B. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Vintage card. Photo: Video.

Anna Maria Ferrero, Sandro Milani
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano (Milan), no. 466. Photo: publicity still for Febbre di vivere/Eager to live (Claudio Gora, 1953) with Sandro Milani.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, no. 408.

Graphic-for-its-times Sexual Content

Anna-Maria Ferrero was born Anna-Maria Isabella Guerra in Rome in 1934. Anna-Maria later changed her last name in honour of famous musical director and conductor Willy Ferrero, who was her godfather.

At the age of 15, she made her screen debut in Il cielo è rosso/The sky is red (Claudio Gora, 1950). Director Claudio Gori had spotted her walking through Via Aurora in Rome, and had offered her a screen test.

At AllMovie, Hal Erickson writes: “The Italian The Sky is Red (Il Cielo è Rosso) details the romantic adventures of two postwar couples. Despite being confined to a quarantined zone (quarantined for political, rather than health reasons), love finds a way. The Neorealistic elements are passable, but what really 'sold' this film abroad was its graphic-for-its-times sexual content. The cast is headed by Jacques Sernas and Marina Berti, another step in the right direction box office-wise.”

Her next roles were in Domani è un altro giorno/Tomorrow is another day (Léonide Moguy, 1951) starring Pier Angeli, and opposite Raf Vallone in Il Cristo proibito/The forbidden Christ (1951), the only film directed by famous author Curzio Malaparte.

In Le infedeli/The Unfaithfuls (Mario Monicelli, Steno, 1953), she appeared with Gina Lollobrigida. Her delicate, photogenic beauty and assured talent attracted director Michelangelo Antonioni, who cast her opposite Franco Interlenghi in the Italian episode of his I vinti/Youth and Perversion (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1953), three stories of well-off youths who commit murders, one taking place in Paris, another in Rome, and another in London.

The following year she co-starred with Marcello Mastroianni in Cronache di poveri amanti/Chronicle of Poor Lovers (Carlo Lizzani, 1954). Her rich role in this film was noted by the critics and the film went on to win the International Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Next she starred opposite Alberto Sordi in Una parigina a Roma/A Parisian in Rome (Erich Kobler, 1954), and with comedy star Totò in Totò e Carolina/Toto and Carolina (Mario Monicelli, 1955). On television she starred in 1956 in the drama Cime tempestose/Wuthering Heights alongside Massimo Girotti.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard in the Italy's News Photos by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1244.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Bromostampa, Milano, no. 295.

Anna Maria Ferrero
German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1217. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Dial-Unitalia Film, Rome.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 363. Photo: Universalfoto.

Anna Maria Ferrero in Canzoni di mezzo secolo (1954)
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, no. 721. Photo: Minerva Film. Publicity still for Canzoni di mezzo secolo/Half a Century of Song (Domenico Paolella, 1954).

Gassman and Sorel

Although her career would only span some 15 years, Anna-Maria Ferrero achieved reasonable status in the Italian cinema. She acted rarely outside Italy, but she was featured in the star-studded Paramount epic War and Peace (King Vidor, 1956) starring Audrey Hepburn, Mel Ferrer and Henry Fonda.

Another co-star in this production filmed in Cinecittà was Vittorio Gassman, who had been her partner since 1953. The couple often worked together. On stage, she had joined his theatre company and worked there for several seasons. Notable were her Ophelia in Hamlet, Desdemona in Othello and her title role in the musical Irma la Douce.

In the cinema, Ferrero and Gassman starred together in the Alexandre Dumas' drama Kean/Kean: Genius or Scoundrel (Vittorio Gassman, Francesco Rosi, 1956), the adventure Giovanni dalle bande nere/The violent patriot (Sergio Grieco, 1956), the romantic comedy Le sorprese dell'amore/Surprise of love (Luigi Comencini, 1959), the drama La notte brava/Bad Girls Don't Cry (Mauro Bolognini, 1959) and the comedy Il mattatore/Love and larceny (Dino Risi, 1960). In 1960 their relationship ended.

Ferrero had some spirited performances in the adventurous Il gobbo/The Hunchback of Rome (Carlo Lizzani, 1961), and L'oro di Roma/Gold of Rome (Carlo Lizzani, 1961), both with Gérard Blain.

The following year she married the French actor Jean Sorel, with whom she starred in the comedy Un marito in condominio/A husband in the condominium (Angelo Dorigo, 1963).

Ettore Scola directed her opposite Nino Manfredi in Cocaina di domenica/Cocaine on Sunday, an episode of the anthology film Controsesso/Countersex (1965), in which a husband and wife start snorting cocaine after the friend who owned the bottle with the drug is arrested.

Then, at the age of 37, Anna Maria Ferrero suddenly ended her career. Her retirement surprised many, but she never made a come-back to the film world.

At the time of her death, Anna Maria Ferrero was still married to Jean Sorel. She was 84.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Vetta Traldi, Milano in the Divi del Cinema series, no. 51. Sent by mail in 1955.

Anna Maria Ferrero and Maurizio Arena in Totò e Carolina (1955)
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano. Photo: Ponti - De Laurentiis. Publicity still for Totò e Carolina/Totò and Carolina (Mario Monicelli, 1955) with Maurizio Arena.

Anna Maria Ferrero in Kean - Genio e sregolatezza (1957)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. I 282. Photo: Union Film. Publicity still for Kean - Genio e sregolatezza/Kean: Genius or Scoundrel (Vittorio Gassman, Francesco Rosi, 1957).

Anna Maria Ferrero (1935-2018)
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. N. 138.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano (Milan), no. 60.

Sources: Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia (English and Italian) and IMDb.

22 May 2018

Károly Huszár (Charles Puffy)

Fat Hungarian stage and film comedian Károly Huszár (1884–1942 or 1943) was the most popular slapstick star of the Hungarian silent era. He later worked in both Germany and Hollywood, also using the names Karl Huszár-Puffy and Charles Puffy. He played minor roles in feature films and was the star of a series of slapstick shorts for Universal. Besides his film work, he frequently appeared on stage, mostly as a comedian.

Charles Puffy
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1207/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Roman Freulich / Unfilman (Universal).

290 pounds

Károly Huszár or Charles Puffy was born as Károly Hochstadt (according to some sources: Hochstein) in Budapest, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary) in 1884.

At 16, the still thin Hochstadt became the long distance swimming champion of Germany. He studied acting at the Országos Színészegyesület Színészképző Iskoláját (National Actor Association's Actor Training School).

Then he worked 16 years on stage in Budapest, where he became a star of the cabarets, and also wrote some comedies.

He started his film career as Károly Huszár in such silent shorts as Víg egyveleg, avagy Pufi és társai/Merry Pompi, or Pufi and his companions (Kornél Tábori, 1914) and Pufi cipöt vesz/Puffy buys shoes (Kornél Tábori, 1914).

In these films he played a character called 'Pufi'. It became his nickname and stage name. ‘Pufi’ means ‘Fatty’ in Hungarian and indeed the thin swimming champion had a legendary appetite and had gained quite some pounds. In his prime Pufi weighted ca. 290 pounds.

In 1917 he worked with director Michael Curtiz (then still Mihály Kertész) at Tavasz a télben/Spring in Winter (1917), and Az Ezredes/The Colonel (1917) with the young Béla Lugosi. That year he also worked with another famous director-to-be, Alexander Korda (as Korda Sándor), at Szent Péter esernyöje/St. Peter's Umbrella (1917) with Victor Varconi.

In 1920 he made his first film in Germany, Putschliesel (Erich Schönfelder, 1920) featuring Ossi Oswalda. He was featured as Karl Huszar-Puffy.

The next year, such films followed as Der Mord ohne Täter/The murder without offender (Ewald André Dupont, 1921), the serial Der Mann ohne Namen/The Man Without a Name (Georg Jacoby, 1921) featuring Harry Liedtke, and Der Roman eines Dienstmädchens/The Novel of a Handmaid (Reinhold Schünzel, 1921) with Liane Haid.

That year, he worked twice with director Friedrich Zelnik (later Fredric Zenik) and his star-producer Lya Mara, on Miss Beryll... die Laune eines Millionärs/Miss Beryll, the mood of a millionaire (Friedrich Zelnik, 1921) and on Aus den Memoiren einer Filmschauspielerin/From the memoirs of a film actress (Friedrich Zelnik, 1921).

However, the most famous director he worked with that year was Fritz Lang. Puffy appeared as the emperor of China in the fantasy Der müde Tod/Destiny (Fritz Lang, 1921).

Béla Lugosi
Béla Lugosi. Hungarian postcard. Photo: Angelo, Budapest. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Károly Huszár
Vintage postcard by Verlag Hartiq, no. 576. Photo by Hartiq. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Charles Puffy

In 1922 Károly Huszár made his American debut in Arctic Adventure (Chester Withey, 1922). That year he also had a part in Fritz Lang’s classic crime thriller Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler - Ein Bild der Zeit/Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922) starring Rudolf Klein-Rogge as arch-criminal Dr. Mabuse. He also appeared opposite film legend Henny Porten in Sie und die Drei/She and the Three (Ewald André Dupont, 1922).

In 1923, Universal offered him a contract to make a series of comedy shorts in Hollywood under the name Charles Puffy. He starred in some 26 shorts between 1924 and 1927 including City Bound (Richard Smith, 1925), Unwelcome (Richard Smith, 1925) and Ah! Gay Vienna! (Harry Sweet, 1927).

He also appeared in minor roles in such feature films as Open All Night (Paul Bern, 1924) starring Viola Dana and Jetta Goudal, the melodramas The Rose of Paris (Irving Cummings, 1924) featuring Mary Philbin as a poor French orphan, and The Love Thief (John McDermott, 1926).

In Hollywood, Puffy also worked with several European directors. He played supporting parts in Benjamin Christensen’s melodrama Mockery (1927) starring Lon Chaney, in Ewald André Dupont’s comedy Love Me and the World Is Mine (1927) and in Alexander Korda’s comedy The Private Life of Helen of Troy (1927).

One of his most interesting Hollywood films is The Man Who Laughs (1928) directed by the German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni. The film is an adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel of the same name and stars Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine and Mary Philbin as the blind Dea. Universal put over $1,000,000 into The Man Who Laughs, an extremely high budget for an American film at the time.

Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Károly Huszár in Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (1922)
German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 94, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still with Károly Huszár (left) and Rudolf Klein-Rogge (second from left) in Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler/Dr. Mabuse, King of Crime (Fritz Lang, 1922). Caption: Dr. Mabuse, who prints false money, lets the false notes sort by blind people who can not betray him.

Conrad Veidt
Conrad Veidt. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, nr. 1426/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Vaida M. Pál, Budapest.


At the time of the introduction of the sound film, Károly Huszár returned to Germany. He appeared twice in minor roles opposite Marlene Dietrich, in Ich küsse Ihre Hand, Madame/I Kiss Your Hand Madame (Robert Land, 1929), and in her breakthrough film Der blaue Engel/The Blue Angel (Josef von Sternberg, 1930) in which Puffy played the club owner.

After several of such bit roles Puffy played a leading part in the comedy Der nächtse Bitte/Next please (Erich Schönfelder, 1930) opposite Adele Sandrock. However, the following years he was seen only in supporting parts.

Károly Huszár reunited with Alexander Korda for Die Männer um Lucie/The Men around Lucie (Alexander Korda, 1931) with Liane Haid.

In 1933, after the Nazis came to power, he returned to Hungary, where he continued to play supporting parts. Among these Hungarian films are Pardon, tévedtem/Romance in Budapest (Steve Sekely, Géza von Bolváry, 1933) with Franziska Gaál and Paul Hörbiger, Helyet az öregeknek/Room for the Aged (Béla Gaál, 1934) with Szõke Szakáll, and Kleine Mutti/Little Mother (Hermann Kosterlitz a.k.a. Henry Koster, 1935) featuring Franziska Gaál.

His final Hungarian film was Nehéz apának lenni/It's Hard to be a Dad (Márton Keleti, 1938).

Károly Huszár’s death place and date are still unconfirmed. Puffy was Jewish, and decided to flee Hungary when the Holocaust started. About what then happened the sources differ.

A source mentions that Károly Huszár and his wife tried to get into the United States in 1941. Some sources say that he died in Tokyo, Japan in 1942. Others that his train was stopped by the Soviet army and he was imprisoned in a Gulag labour camp in Karaganda, Kazakhstan where he performed in the camp theatre company. Reportedly he died there from diphtheria in 1943, but other sources say he and his wife died of starvation.

Charles Puffy, Universal Super Shot, Octavus Roy Cohen,
Advertisement 'Octavus Roy Cohen, Charles Puffy, Truly a Universal Super Shot'. Collection: Stonemason@Flickr.

Charles Puffy
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4570, 1929-1930. Photo: Defina.

Sources: Hans J. Wollstein (AllMovie), Jan-Christopher Horak (Film History), The Missing Link, Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.