26 September 2017

Jan Smit

Every year during the last week of September, Utrecht is the Dutch capital of film. This is the time of the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF), and traditionally EFSP organises its own Unofficial Netherlands Film Star Postcard Festival. Today we present Dutch singer, television host and incidental actor Jan Smit (1985). His songs fall under the Dutch genre known as 'Palingsound' (Volendam music). As a child, 'Jantje' Smit had success with his songs in Germany and other European countries. Smit also starred in the film Het Bombardement/The Bombardment (2014).

Jan Smit
German autograph card by Koch Universal, Planegg / München.

Best National Singer

Johannes Hendricus Maria (Jan) Smit was born in Volendam, The Netherlands, in 1985. His parents are Gerda and Ruud Smit. He has two sisters, Jenny Smit and pop singer Monique Smit.

As a kid, Jantje sang for four years with the boys choir De zangertjes van Volendam. At the age of ten, he was discovered when the band BZN was looking for a young local talent who could sing a duet with BZN singer Carola Smit (no relation). Jantje was chosen and their number Mama was a great success.

Following this success, he made a solo single record, Ik zing dit lied voor jou alleen (I sing this song for you alone) produced by three BZN members, Jan Keizer, Jack Veerman and Jan Tuijp. This single topped the Dutch charts.

In the following two years, Jantje Smit scored five more hits including Pappie, waar blijf je nou (Daddy, where are you now). Jantje was also successful in Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy and France. For some time, he often performed in Germany and he recorded ten German albums. In 2001 Smit and his BZN producers received the Dutch export price for the best-selling Dutch act abroad.

At the age of 16, he left school to focus on his musical career. At 17, he changed his choice of music and started to work with the known song writers Cees Tol and Thomas Tol. A few years later he started to write by himself, together with good friend Simon Keizer, who later made name as a singer himself. Together with Nick Schilder, Simon forms a group named Nick & Simon.

In 2005, the daily life of Jan Smit could be followed in the Dutch reality show Gewoon Jan Smit (Just Jan Smit). The program received that year the Golden Televizier Ring, a major television award in The Netherlands. He also started to present TV shows like Muziekfeest op het Plein (Music Party at the Square) and he scored hit after hit with songs like Laura.

The popularity of Smit grew huge in the Netherlands. In 2006, Jan Smit was awarded the Edison Award as Best National Singer for his album In September 2006, a second series of Gewoon Jan Smit (Just Jan Smit) aired. In September 2006, C&A clothing store launched the collection J-style named after Jan Smit. Jan seemed to be everywhere.

Jan Smit
Dutch autograph card by Volendam Music, Volendam.

Jan Smit
German autograph card by Koch Music, Planegg / Munich.

Slashed by both critics and the public

In the following years, Jan Smit continued to score number one hits and to present TV shows. In 2007, he won a TMF Award for Best Dutch Pop Act. In 2009 he released a duet with the Surinamese singer Damaru, Mi Rowsu (A little garden in my heart), which reached the number 1 position in both Suriname and the Netherlands. From 2011 on, he and Cornald Maas are the Dutch commentators for the Eurovision Song Contest, one of Europe’s biggest yearly TV events.

Jan Smit starred in the film Het Bombardement/The Bombardment (Ate de Jong, 2014) with Roos van Erkel and Monic Hendrickx. The film, about the bombing of the city of Rotterdam in 1940 by the Nazis, was slashed by both critics and the public, but Smit was spared, his theme song went to no. 1 at the Dutch charts and the film still attracted more than 100,000 visitors.

Since 2012 Smit presents the TV show De beste zangers van Nederland (The finest singers of the Netherlands). He also founded with his manager Jaap Buijs the record label Vosound Records. Artists who record for this label are his sister Monique Smit, Tim Douwsma and Gerard Joling.

In 2011, he performed three nights at the Amsterdam Arena stadium during the concert series Toppers in Concert. In December 2013 Smit joined the board of soccer club FC Volendam. In 2014, he played a supporting role in the popular TV series Flikken Maastricht/Cops Maastricht (2007-) with Angela Schijf and Victor Reinier.

With the Schlager group KLUBBB3 (including German singers Florian Silbereisen and Fleming Christoff), Smit tried to conquer the German market once more. Their debut album Vorsicht unzensiert! (Attention, not censured) reached number 4 to 6 in Germany, Austria and Belgium and was also recorded in the Netherlands and Switzerland. In 2017 the trio was awarded the prize Die Eins der Besten in the category Best Band of the year. Their second album Jetzt Geht's Los Richtig (Now it's time to get it right) entered at no. 1 in Germany, number two in Austria and number three in Switzerland. Their single Life Dances Sirtaki became a no. 1 hit in The Netherlands.

In Germany Smit guest starred in the popular TV series Das Traumschiff/The Dream Boat (2017) with Heide Keller and Sascha Hehn. In 2017, Smit also joined the Dutch vocal band De Toppers, consisting of René Froger, Jeroen van der Boom and Gerard Joling. Since 2005, the band yearly gives a series of hugely successful outdoor concerts in the Amsterdam ArenA stadium. In 2011 and 2013 Smit was a guest artist during Toppers in Concert.

Jan Smit had a relation with actress and presenter Yolanthe Cabau van Kasbergen from 2007 till 2009. Since 2009, Smit has a relation with Liza Shelf. The two were married in 2011 and they have three children.

Jan Smit
German autograph card by Koch Universal, Planegg / München.

Jan Smit
German autograph card by Koch Universal, Planegg / München.

Trailer Het Bombardement/The Bombardment (Ate de Jong, 2014). Source: Dutch Film Works (YouTube).

KLUBBB3 performs Das Leben tanzt Sirtaki. Source: ICH FIND SCHLAGER TOLL! (YouTube).

Sources: Athena Dupont (IMDb), Wikipedia (English and Dutch), and IMDb.

25 September 2017

Jetta Goudal

Every year in early autumn, the Dutch film industry and public gather at the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF). Also this year, EFSP presents its own Unofficial Netherlands Film Star Postcards Festival from 20 to 29 September. Today, a temperamental Hollywood star who was born in the heart of old Amsterdam as Jetje Goudeket. She became successful as the exotic beauty Jetta Goudal (1891-1985) in American films of the silent era. In 1984, Life Magazine called her “the most alluring femme fatale in silent movies, also the smartest, best dressed and feistiest.”

Jetta Goudal
French postcard.

Jetta Goudal
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Édition, Paris, no. 511.

Jetta Goudal
French postcard, no. 37. Photo: Erka-Prodisco. Erka-Prodisco Films was a French film distribution company. Her name is erroneously written as Jetta Gondal.

A Parisienne from Versailles

Jetta Goudal was born Julie Henriette Goudeket in 1891. She was the daughter of Mozes Goudeket, a wealthy, orthodox Jewish diamond cutter in the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam, and Geertruida Warradijn. Decades later, during World War II, her father and his second wife would be murdered in the concentration camp of Sobibor.

Tall and regal in appearance, Julie began her acting career on stage, traveling across Europe with various theater companies. In 1917 or 1918 (the sources differ about the date), Julie Goudeket left a Europe, ravaged by World War I to settle in New York City.

There she hid her Dutch and Jewish ancestry; she generally described herself as a ‘Parisienne’ and on an information sheet for the Paramount Public Department she later wrote that she was born at Versailles in 1901 as the daughter of Maurice Guillaume Goudal, a lawyer.

Her publicist at one point even claimed that she was the daughter of legendary Dutch spy Mata Hari, but no one took that statement seriously, though. Goudal first appeared on Broadway in the drama The Hero by Gilbert Emery in 1921, using the stage name Jetta (pronounced with a French J) Goudal. Later that year she returned with the melodrama The Elton Charm.

She met film director Sidney Olcott in a box at Carnegie Hall, who encouraged her to venture into film acting. She accepted a bit part in his film Timothy's Quest (Sidney Olcott, 1922) as a tubercular mother with children, in a pathetic scene with a drunken husband. Convinced to move to the West Coast, Goudal appeared in two more Olcott films in the ensuing three years.

Jetta Goudal
French postcard by Europe, no. 461. Photo: Regal Film / United Artists.

Jetta Goudal
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5187. Photo: Paramount.

Jetta Goudal
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 273.

Different and Distinctive

Jetta Goudal's real film debut came in The Bright Shawl (John S. Robertson, 1923) with Richard Barthelmess. Jetta created quite a stir with her striking, exotic appearance in a secondary role as a Chinese/Peruvian spy. Critics found her "different" and "distinctive."

She quickly earned more praise for her following film work, especially for her performance in Salome of the Tenements (Sidney Olcott, 1925), a film based on the Anzia Yezierska novel about life in New York's Jewish Lower East Side.

Goudal then worked in the Adolph Zukor and Jesse L. Lasky co-production of The Spaniard (Raoul Walsh, 1925) opposite Ricardo Cortez – ‘the new Sheik’- in his first starring role.

Her growing fame brought her to the attention of producer/director Cecil B. DeMille. He hired her for what turned out to be some of her (and his) greatest critical successes, including her emotional roles in the highly romantic melodrama The Coming of Amos (Paul Sloane, 1925) starring Rod LaRocque, The Road to Yesterday (Cecil B. DeMille, 1925), the excellent mystery melodrama Three Faces East (Rupert Julian, 1926), the extremely powerful drama White Gold (William K. Howard, 1927) and the lush desert romantic melodrama The Forbidden Woman (Paul L. Stein, 1927) with Victor Varconi.

Unfortunately, the exotic allure and element of mystery that made Goudal so popular on-screen came with a price. She was an unrepentant theatrical ‘grand dame’ and possessed a fierce temper well known to the film community. DeMille later claimed that Goudal was so difficult to work with that he eventually fired her and cancelled their contract.

Goudal filed a lawsuit for breach of contract against him and DeMille Pictures Corporation. Although DeMille claimed her conduct had caused numerous and costly production delays, in a landmark ruling, Goudal won the suit when DeMille was unwilling to provide his studio's financial records to support his claim of financial losses.

Jetta Goudal
British postcard by Real Photograph.

Jetta Goudal
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3332/1, 1928-1929. Photo: DPC.

Jetta Goudal
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1475/1, 1927-1928. Photo: DPC.

Vamp or Joan of Arc?

Jetta Goudal appeared as a vamp opposite Marion Davies and Nils Asther in The Cardboard Lover (Robert Z. Leonard, 1928), produced by William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies.

In 1929, she starred with Lupe Velez and cowboy star William Boyd in Lady of the Pavements (D.W. Griffith, 1929), a romantic drama set in the time of Napoleon in Paris. At IMDb, reviewer Drednm loves it: "While William Boyd hasn't much to do here as the Count, the two leading ladies tear the place apart. Fiery Lupe Velez is superb as Nanon, taking full advantage of the comic scenes but then turning in a terrific dramatic performance in the finale. Jetta Goudal is gorgeous and lethal as Diane, using her haughty beauty to good effect."

The next year Jacques Feyder directed Goudal in her only French language film, Le Spectre vert/The Green Spectre (Jacques Feyder, 1930), a made-in-Hollywood, alternate language version of The Unholy Night (1929).

Because of her audaciousness in suing DeMille and her high-profile activism in the Actors Equity's fight for the unionisation of film actors she became known as the Joan of Arc of Equity. However, some of the Hollywood studios refused to employ her and with the arrival of sound her very thick accent left her with limited offers.

At age forty-one, she made her last screen appearance in a talkie, the comedy Business and Pleasure (David Butler, 1932), co-starring with Will Rogers. In 1930, she had married Harold Grieve, an art director and founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Along with her husband, she went into interior design and faded from the Hollywood scene. They had no children.

Plagued by health problems (heart condition) in the 1960s, she suffered a serious fall in 1973 which left her virtually an invalid. She told an interviewer in 1985: "I don't like being called a silent star. Who was silent? I was never silent!"

Shortly after, Jetta Goudal died in 1985 in Los Angeles, at age 94. For her contribution to the film industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Jetta Goudal
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3332/2, 1928-1929. Photo: LPG.

Jetta Goudal
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3947/1, 1928-1929. Photo: United Artists.
Jetta Goudal
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3791/1, 1928-1929. Photo: MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mayer).

Sources: Charles C. Benham (Classic Images), Hans J. Wollstein (AllMovie), Operator_99 (Allure), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

24 September 2017

Coen Hissink

Every year in early autumn, the Dutch film industry and public gather at the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF). Also this year, EFSP presents its own Unofficial Netherlands Film Star Postcards Festival from 20 to 29 September. Coen Hissink (1878-1942) was a Dutch stage and screen actor who acted in many silent films by Theo Frenkel Sr. First in the Netherlands in such films as Levensschaduwen (1916), Het proces Begeer (1918) and Menschenwee (1921) and afterwards in Berlin in Alexandra (1922) and other films. He also played in various silent Hollandia films. In the 1930s he acted in Dutch sound films. Hissink died in concentration camp Neuengamme.

Coen Hissink
Dutch postcard. Coen Hissink as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. This postcard may date c. 1907-1908 when Hissink played Shylock on the Dutch stage.

A Dutch Western

Johan Coenraad ‘Coen’ Hissink was born in 1878 in Kampen, The Netherlands.

After studying at the Toneelschool (Stage School) for a year, he began his acting career in the theatre in 1902. He made his stage debut in the Revue De Nieuwe Haring (The New Herring) and would have a long career on stage in both the Netherlands and Flanders.

He was also known as a writer. In 1910, he published the dissertation Louis Bouwmeester's Shylock-creatie. When legendary Dutch actor Louis Bouwmeester starred as Shylock in Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice - his most famous - Hissink sat in the stalls with pen and paper and recorded everything he saw and heard.

Hissink was best known for his stage work, both on and behind the stage. Together with Albert van Dalsum and Eugene Gilhuys, he founded the stage company Het Groot Toneel (The Big Stage) in the Plantage theater in Amsterdam. He also played many classic stage roles, such as Othello in 1918.

Hissink made his film debut in the Dutch Western (!) Een telegram uit Mexico/A Telegram from Mexico (Louis H. Chrispijn sr., 1914), a silent short film produced by Maurits Binger for his film studio Filmfabriek Hollandia. Hissink played the blind father of the Dutch colonist Willem (Willem van der Veer), who gets lost in the revolution in Mexico. The home front waits eagerly for news.

Next followed the silent drama De Vloek van het Testament/The Fatal Woman (Maurits Binger, Louis H. Chrispijn sr., 1915) starring Dutch diva Annie Bos. At the time, it was for the Netherlands a huge production with 48 copies through Europe and 12 copies crossing to America.

Hissink continued to appear in a stream of silent Dutch films. In Fatum (Theo Frenkel, 1915) he again played with the legendary Louis Bouwmeester. Annie Bos was the star in Ontmaskerd/Unmasked (Mime Misu, 1915). Still existing is the seaman’s drama Het wrak van de Noordzee/The Wreck in the North Sea (Theo Frenkel, 1915).

Another relatively large-scale production was Het geheim van Delft/The Secret of Delft (Maurits Binger, 1916). The film required the construction of a 20 metre high ruined lighthouse, and a 15 metre long pier of the coast of Zandvoort. These constructions meant high production costs and the film starred the most famous actors in the Netherlands at that time, including Willem van der Veer, Esther De Boer-van Rijk, Jan van Dommelen and Annie Bos.

Hissink often played supporting parts as the bad guy. He had a rare leading role in the silent crime film Levensschaduwen/Life's Shadows (Theo Frenkel, 1916). He was also one of the leads in another crime film, Het Proces Begeer/The Begeer Case (Theo Frenkel, 1918). He played smaller parts in the silent dramas Pro domo (Theo Frenkel, 1918) with Louis Bouwmeester, Theo Mann-Bouwmeester and Lily Bouwmeester, and Schakels/Connections (Maurits Binger, 1920) based on a play by Herman Heijermans and starring Annie Bos, Jan van Dommelen and Adelqui Migliar.

Esther de Boer van Rijk and Coen Hissink in Op hoop van zegen (1934)
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z / M.H.D. Film. Photo: Maarseveen, Den Haag. Publicity still for Op hoop van zegen/The Good Hope (Alex Benno, 1934) with Esther de Boer van Rijk.

Decadence, homosexuality, prostitution and cocaine

During the 1920s, Coen Hissink continued to appear in such silent films as the British-Dutch silent crime film Bloedgeld/Blood Money (Fred Goodwins, 1921), with Adelqui Migliar, the adventure film De zwarte tulp/Black Tulip (Maurits Binger, Frank Richardson, 1921) based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas père, Menschenwee (Theo Frenkel, 1921) with Louis Davids, and De Bruut/The Brute (Theo Frenkel, 1922) with Willem van der Veer, Erna Morena and Bruno Decarli.

He also appeared in such international films as the German-Dutch co-productions Der Mann im Hintergrund/The Man in the Background (Ernst Winar, 1922) with Adolphe Engers, and Frauenmoral/Women's Morals (Theo Frenkel, 1923) with Olga Engl, Helena Makowska and Theo Mann-Bouwmeester.

His final silent film was De cabaret-prinses/The Cabaret Princess (Theo Frenkel, 1925) with Emmy Arbous.

In 1928, he wrote a volume of short stories about decadence, homosexuality, prostitution and cocaine. For inspiration, he visited a gay club in Berlin where he sniffed cocaine in a toilet. The book about his experiences was titled Cocaïne: Berlijnsch zedenbeeld (Cocaine: Berlin's pictorial image).

He returned to the screen in the sound film Op Hoop van Zegen/Hoping for the best (Alex Benno, Louis Saalborn, 1934) starring Esther de Boer van Rijk and Frits van Dongen (Philip Dorn). The film was based on a 1900 play by Dutch socialist dramatist Herman Heijermans, situated in a fishing village, about the conflict between the fishermen and their employer.

It was the third filming of the play in less than twenty years. The film ends in tragedy with the unsound boat setting out to sea and sinking with all hands and the owner pocketing the insurance money. The film won an award at the Venice Film Festival in 1935 and is known as one of the most successful film productions of the Dutch pre-war cinema.

The success lead to more small roles for Hissink in the film dramas Merijntje Gijzens Jeugd/Merijntje Gijzen's Youth (Kurt Gerron, 1936) after the popular novel of the same title by A.M. de Jong, and the Dutch-French film De Man Zonder Hart/The Man Without Heart (Léo Joannon, Louis de Bree, 1937), starring Louis de Bree and Dolly Mollinger. During the 1930s he also often worked for radio plays.

Hissink’s final film role was in De Laatste Dagen van een Eiland/The Last Days of an Island (Ernst Winar, 1942) with Max Croiset. It was already shot in 1938, but premiered in 1942. The film mixes a documentary that tells about the last days of the island of Urk and its inhabitants, and a story of a young couple.

During the Second World War, Hissink refused to join the Kulturkammer (Culture Room) of the Nazi regime and he joined the Resistance. In 1941, he was caught by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp Neuengamme in Germany. There Coen Hissink was killed in 1942. He was 64.

Esther de Boer-van Rijk, Coen Hissink, Willem v.d. Veer, Op Hoop van Zegen
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Dick van Maarseveen, Den Haag/M.H.D. Film. Publicity still for Op Hoop van Zegen (Alex Benno, Louis Saalborn, 1934) with Esther de Boer van Rijk and Willem van der Veer. Collection Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Sources: Piet Hein Honig (Acteurs – en Kleinkunstenaars-Lexicon – Dutch), Eye, Wikipedia (English and Dutch) and IMDb.