Tag Archives: German film stars

Peter Lorre’s Sympathetic Psychopath

Peter Lorre in M (1931)

Peter Lorre in M (1931)

Peter Lorre, the pint size, bug-eyed actor with a nasal Viennese accent, made his name in Hollywood playing ruthless murderers and hooligans.

Lorre got his start in Germany in (shocker of shockers) comedies and musicals on the stage. But it was his breakthrough performance in the Fritz Lang thriller M (1931), along with his unconventional, sinister looks, that set him on the path of being typecast as some of the most despicable creatures ever put on film.

In M, Lorre plays Hans Beckert a serial killer in an unnamed city who preys on children, luring them with candy and toys. Continue reading

The 10 Best Actors in Black and White (Part 2)

10 Best Actors, James Cagney

James Cagney and Ann Sheridan in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

As promised, this is the second part of the post I did yesterday on the 10 best actors in black and white.

You may recognize some of them, and there are others you may not know at all.  Whatever the case might be, I feel they should be included on any top 10, top 20, or even top 50 of anyone’s list.  They were brilliant onscreen.

Are your favorites among them? Continue reading

Real Funny v. Real Vulgar—What is Comedy?

Year after year, since the beginning of time, people’s tastes have changed as far as what they define as “comedy”.

Way back, I am sure that the heathens in Rome got a real kick out of a Christian getting their butt kicked by a hungry lion.

As the years progressed, people unleashed a hearty guffaw at everything from political satire to naughty limericks.  Even disabled children in a sideshow were considered comedy.  Nothing was sacred. Continue reading

An Actor at Auschwitz

Deutsch: Der deutsche Schauspieler Johannes Ri...

Public domain photograph of Johannes Riemann (don’t even get me started…lol) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

German actor Johannes Riemann is hardly a household name these days.  And to American audiences, he was never one to begin with.  That is one of the reasons I decided to talk about him on my blog today.

Another reason—the main reason, in fact—I decided to talk about him today is because of his association with the Nazi Party.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post on Nazi propaganda, many film stars in Germany became members of the National Socialist Party (NSDAP).  By 1933, Riemann pledged his allegiance to the Nazi cause, and in 1939, Adolf Hitler rewarded Riemann for his loyalty by appointing him as a “state actor”. Continue reading

Nazi Propaganda, Destroyer of German Film Stars

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession to make:  I did not want to write this post.  I also did not want to write the post about the Reichstag Fire back in February.

Why?

Nazism infuriates me more than anything in the world.  The mere mention of the Third Reich puts me in a bad mood for days, sometimes weeks.  I do not exaggerate.

So why am I bothering with it here?  As a German-American who is fully immersed in researching German history and the arts, I feel that I must.  It is a dark part of German history that I cannot ignore, even though i would like to.

What Was Nazi Propaganda?

Triumph of the Will

Triumph of the Will (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Propaganda was essential for the Nazis to obtain power and control people.  They used posters, books, films, and other materials to show off their so-called “superiority” and cut down anyone they considered an enemy or political suspect.  They used these things to sway public opinion in their favor, essentially scaring people into supporting them.

If you did not submit, you died.  Plain and simple.

Many Germans, such as actors William Dieterle, Conrad Veidt and Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, openly defied the Nazis and barely escaped with their lives.  They were forced out of Germany and had to plant roots in countries far away from the Fatherland, where people did not speak their language or share their culture. Continue reading

The Memorable Roles of Conrad Veidt

This guest post was written by Conrad Veidt collector and fan “Monique Classique”, who writes for The Conrad Veidt Website and Fight for Conrad Veidt! and is a great source for several rare Conrad Veidt images and films on the web.

Cesare in Caligari

Conrad Veidt as Cesare in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Image via Monique Classique)

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. Continue reading

Sleepwalking Cesare (The World’s First Goth?)

Cesare in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Promotional still for Cesare in the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Just by the headline alone, you old school horror fans know what this post is about.  If you have no idea what it means, then allow me to introduce you to Cesare from German expressionist masterpiece, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).

Cesare (Conrad Veidt) is a somnambulist clad in a black turtleneck sweater, tights, and a haircut that reminds one of Moe from the Three Stooges.  He is kept in a large, rickety old cabinet and is only brought out during mealtimes, a carnival sideshow hosted by Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss)…and to commit murder in the middle of the night. Continue reading

The Man Who Laughs is Drama, Not Horror

The Man Who LaughsOne of the things that has long irritated me about descriptions/summaries and reviews of the 1928 Universal Picture The Man Who Laughs is that it is often dubbed a horror film when it is not, even by 1920s standards.

There are reasons, I suppose, that so many people classify it as horror.  The number one reason being the grotesque Glasgow Smile permanently fixed on Gwynplaine’s face.  Another good reason would be the use of shadows and grim scenery that are often so prominent in German Expressionist films of the era.

However when one watches The Man Who Laughs, they soon find out that it is not really a horror picture at all.  It is, in fact, a drama—a love story, even. Continue reading

January’s Jazziest Posts

Conrad Veidt and AngThe month has finally come to an end, my babies. And starting this month, at the end of each month, you will find a wrap-up of the month’s best posts.  A top five list.

The “best” posts, mind you, are not always the most popular ones, but rather my favorite ones.  And sometimes my favorite posts are the ones that have gotten little to no attention!

So what are January’s jazziest posts on The Little Jazz Baby?  This month it has been all about Conrad Veidt and German silent cinema for me.  I love those two  things more than life itself, and was totally excited to bring you content featuring these things (even if it was not as often as I would have liked!) Continue reading

Before There Was 007, There Was No 326

When you think of director Fritz Lang, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  For most of us, it is probably the image of Brigitte Helm as a robot on the DVD cover of the science fiction masterpiece Metropolis (1927).  Even if the name of the film does not immediately ring any bells, the images from it do.

Some of you might also think of Lang’s first talking picture, the thriller M, which introduced most audiences to the pint-sized psychopath extraordinaire Peter Lorre.

Willy Fritsch

Ross Verlag Postcard of German teen idol Willy Fritsch

But if I were to mention the thriller Spione (English title Spies), would you know what I am talking about?  Maybe, maybe not.  And you (especially if you are outside of Germany) are probably even less familiar with the film’s star, Willy Fritsch. Continue reading