03 December 2016

Imported from the USA: Joseph Cotten

American film, stage and television actor Joseph Cotten (1905-1994) achieved prominence on Broadway, starring in the original stage productions of The Philadelphia Story and Sabrina Fair. He first gained worldwide fame in the Orson Welles films Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), and Journey into Fear (1943), for which Cotten was also credited with the screenplay. He went on to become one of the leading Hollywood actors of the 1940s, appearing in films such as Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Duel in the Sun (1946) and the British classic The Third Man (1949). 

Joseph Cotten
Dutch postcard, no. 3067. Photo: RKO Radio Films.

Joseph Cotten
Dutch postcard by Foto Archief Film en Toneel, no. 3335. Photo: RKO Radio Films.

Joseph Cotten
Dutch postcard, no. 2419. Photo: RKO Radio Films.

A brilliant comic actor

Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Jr. was born in Petersburg, Virginia, in 1905 to a prosperous Southern family. He was the first of three sons of Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., an assistant postmaster, and Sally Willson Cotten. At an early age, Joseph already showed a passion for story-telling, reciting, and performing acts for his family.

In 1923, when Cotten was 18, he went to Washington D.C. to study at the Hickman School of Expression and then moved to New York City in 1924 to make his way in the theatre world. This was tougher than Cotten had hoped. He ended up working as a shipping clerk for a year before heading south to Miami with friends. In Florida, Cotten supported himself with an odd assortment of jobs, including lifeguard, potato salad merchandiser and as a drama critic for the Miami Herald. That evidently led to appearance in plays at the Miami Civic Theater.

Through a connection at the Miami Herald he managed to land an assistant stage manager job in New York. In 1929 he was engaged for a season at the Copley Theatre in Boston, and there he was able to expand his acting experience, appearing in 30 plays. Cotten made his Broadway debut in 1930 and he began working on radio shows soon after. He also married pianist Lenore La Mont in 1931 and they remained together until her 1960 death.

On the cast of CBS Radio's The American School of the Air, Cotten met in 1934 Orson Welles and the two became friends. Welles regarded Cotten as a brilliant comic actor, and gave him the starring role in his Federal Theatre Project farce, Horse Eats Hats (1936). In 1937, Cotten joined Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre company, where he took the lead in such plays as Shoemaker’s Holiday and Julius Caesar.

Cotten made his film debut in the short, Too Much Johnson (Orson Welles, 1938), a comedy based on William Gillette's 1890 play. The short was occasionally screened before or after Mercury productions, but never received an official release. It was considered lost until it surfaced in 2013.

Cotten appeared in the original Broadway production of The Philadelphia Story (1939–1940) as C. K. Dexter Haven opposite Katharine Hepburn's Tracy Lord. Cotten jumped off the radio and stage and onto the big screen in 1941, making his Hollywood feature debut in Welles’ film debut, Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941). The epic, portrayed the life of a press magnate (played by Welles) who starts out as an idealist but eventually turns into a corrupt, lonely old man. Cotten played the role of Kane's best friend Jedediah Leland, eventually a drama critic for one of Kane's papers.

Cotten would find his finest roles in Welles’ films, and the pair followed Citizen Kane with another masterpiece, The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942), and the Nazi-related thriller Journey Into Fear (Norman Foster, 1943), which was co-written by Cotten and Welles.

Joseph Cotten
Belgian collectors card by De Beukelaer, Antwerp, no A 45. Photo: Warner Bros.

Joseph Cotten
Small German collectors card by Greiling Sammelbilder, Serie E, no. 103. Photo: Paramount.

Joseph Cotten
Italian postcard by Bromostampa, Milano, no. 83.

A very popular romantic leading man

Joseph Cotten had a remarkable film career during the 1940s. He starred as a serial killer in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller Shadow of a Doubt (1943). He then played an eager police detective in the mystery thriller Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944) opposite Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman.

Producer David O. Selznick then launched him successfully as a romantic leading man. Cotten starred with Jennifer Jones in four films for Selznick International Pictures: the wartime domestic drama Since You Went Away (John Cromwell, 1944), the romantic drama Love Letters (William Dieterle, 1945), the box office hit Duel in the Sun (King Vidor, 1946), and the critically acclaimed Portrait of Jennie (William Dieterle, 1948), in which he played a melancholy artist who becomes obsessed with a girl who may have died many years before.

He reunited with Hitchcock in the British historical thriller Under Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock, 1949) as an Australian landowner with a shady past. Another British classic is The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949), in which Orson Welles also plays a pivotal role. Cotten portrays a writer of pulp fiction who travels to postwar Vienna to meet his friend Harry Lime (Welles). When he arrives, he discovers that Lime has died, and is determined to prove to the police that it was murder, but uncovers an even darker secret.

Coten then made a string of less high-profile roles in films such as the dark Civil War Western Two Flags West (Robert Wise, 1950), the Joan Fontaine romance September Affair (William Dieterle, 1950), and the Film Noir Niagara (Henry Hathaway, 1953) in which he played Marilyn Monroe’s jealous husband. He also had a brief role as a member of the Roman Senate in Orson Welles’ The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1951). On Broadway, Cotten created the role of Linus Larrabee, Jr., in the original 1953 production of Sabrina Fair, opposite Margaret Sullavan.

His film career floundered and Cotten found a new home on TV. He appeared on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and hosting The 20th Century-Fox Hour and The Joseph Cotten Show. In the cinema, Cotten had an uncredited cameo in Welles’ Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958) and a starring role in the film adaptation of Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (Byron Haskin, 1958).

During the 1960s and 1970s, he appeared in a long array of TV and film projects. His most memorable films include the horror classic Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (Robert Aldrich, 1964), with Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland, The Money Trap (Burt Kennedy, 1965), the war film Tora! Tora! Tora! (Richard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku, 1970), the British horror film The Abominable Dr. Phibes (Robert Fuest, 1971) featuring Vincent Price, the Italian horror film La Figlia di Frankenstein/Lady Frankenstein (Mel Welles, 1971) starring Rosalba Neri, The Science Fiction thriller Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973) and the all-star disaster film Airport '77 (Jerry Jameson, 1977).

One of Cotten's last films was the epic flop Heaven's Gate (Michael Cimino. 1980). An on-and-off writer, Cotten published his autobiography, Vanity Will Get You Somewhere (1987), just a few years after suffering a stroke and heart attack. Joseph Cotten died of pneumonia in Los Angeles in 1994. He was survived by his second wife, British actress Patricia Medina.

Joseph Cotten
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, offered by Les Carbones Korès, no. 343, 1953. Photo: Warner Bros.

Joseph Cotten and Shirley Temple in I'll Be Seeing You (1944)
Dutch postcard by J. Sleding N.V., Amsterdam, no. 31 HL. Photo: Nederland Film. Publicity still for I'll Be Seeing You (William Dieterle, 1944) with Shirley Temple.

The Third Man
Publicity still of Alida Valli and Joseph Cotten in The Third Man (1949). Collection: Doctor Macro's.

Sources:, Wikipedia and IMDb.

02 December 2016

EFSP's Dazzling Dozen: photos by Atelier Schenker

This Dazzling Dozen post is inspired by Marlene Pilaete. Recently she did a 'La chambre obscure' post at La Collectionneuse on Atelier Schenker. This was one of the most famous German photo studios between the early 1910s and early 1930s. The two main photographers of the studio, Karl Schenker and Mario von Bucovich had many German film stars of the era for their cameras. The exhibition 'Master of Beauty' on the work of Karl Schenker can be seen at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne till 8 January 2017. And here at EFSP, 12 dazzling film star postcards with pictures by Atelier Schenker.

Gunnar Tolnaes
Gunnar Tolnaes. German postcard by Verlag W.J. Mörlins, Berlin / Vertrieb Ross-Verlag, Berlin, no. 9001/3. Photo: Karl Schenker.

Mia May
Mia May. German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 70/1. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin / May Film.

Alwin Neuss
Alwin Neuss. German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 83/2. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin.

Lotte Neumann
Lotte Neumann. German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 94/2. Photo: Karl Schenker / NBFMB.

Rosa Porten
Rosa Porten. German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 97/1. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin / Treumann- Larsson Film, Berlin.

Alfred Abel as Voltaire in Fridericus Rex
Alfred Abel is not listed as playing Voltaire in any of the Frederick the Great films, but the back of this postcard states this is for the Fridericus Rex series (1922-1923) by Arzén von Cserépy for his Cserepy Film Co.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 647/9. Photo: Karl Schenker. Caption: Alfred Abel as 'Voltaire, the genial friend of Frederick [the Great]'.

Who was Karl Schenker?

Karl Schenker was born in Bukovina in Romania in 1886. He moved to Berlin via Lviv and Mu­nich around 1912 and opened an 'atelier', a photo studio, in the German capital. Atelier Schenker quickly became a great success and ev­ery­body who was any­body had their por­trait tak­en in his stu­dio on the fa­mous Kur­fürs­ten­damm. He also did fashion photography for magazines like Die Dame.

Cu­ra­tor Miri­am Hal­wani of the Museum Ludwig: "Af­ter all, no one made their sub­jects look bet­ter, and there was no greater mas­ter of re­touch­ing. He wrapped ac­tress­es, dancers, and so­ci­e­ty ladies in tulle and furs be­fore tak­ing their pic­ture—or he paint­ed the fur in­to the pic­ture af­ter­wards."

In 1925, Schenker left for the US, where he stayed for five years. In New York, he main­ly il­lus­trat­ed and paint­ed por­traits un­der the name Karol Schenk­er. His atelier in Berlin was then taken over by Mario von Bucovich. Von Bucovich was born in 1884 in Pula in Istria.

Schenker returned to Berlin in 1930, but when the Nazis took the power in 1933 the Jewish Schenker could not stay in Berlin. He emigrated to England in 1938. There he opened a studio in London on Regent Street and he died in the British capital in 1954.

Mario von Bucovich worked during the 1930s in Wiesbaden, London, Paris and the US, before settling at the end of the decade in Mexico. There he died in a car accident in 1947.

The Mu­se­um Lud­wig re­cent­ly ac­quired around 100 por­traits and took this as an oc­ca­sion to trace Schenk­er’s life and work for the first time and to re­dis­cov­er an un­just­ly for­got­ten artist. Around 250 works are pre­sent­ed in Cologne, in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tio­n­al loans: pho­to­graph­ic por­traits of once-fa­mous wo­m­en and men, fashion and wax fig­ure pho­to­graphs, mag­azine cov­ers de­signed by Schenk­er, an orig­i­nal draw­ing, a paint­ing, and yes, even film star post­card­s.

Ossi Oswalda
Ossi Oswalda. German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 3310. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin.

Leni Riefenstahl
Leni Riefenstahl. German postcard. Photo: Karl Schenker. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Aud Egede Nissen
Aud Egede Nissen. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1144/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin.

Elisabeth Bergner
Elisabeth Bergner. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3228/2, 1928-1929. Photo: M. v. Bucovich (Atelier K. Schenker). Publicity still for Doña Juana (Paul Czinner, 1928).

Gustav Fröhlich
Gustav Fröhlich. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3018/1, 1928-1929. Photo: M. v. Bucovich (Atelier K. Schenker).

Renate Müller
Renate Müller. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8751/2, 1933-1934. Photo: Atelier Schenker, Berlin.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at the The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.

Sources: Marlene Pilaete (La Collectionneuse - French), Museum Ludwig and Wikipedia (French).

01 December 2016

Renzo Ricci

Renzo Ricci (1899-1978) was an Italian stage and screen actor and also stage director. The modern theatre, focused so strongly at the introspection of the characters, found in Ricci one of its most careful forerunners. At the end of his career he worked with the great film directors Michelangelo Antonioni, Roberto Rosselini and Luchino Visconti.

Renzo Ricci
Italian postcard by SIF, no. 49. Photo: Vettori Bologna.

Renzo Ricci
Italian postcard, no. 3067. Photo: Vettori, Bologna.

Always looking for new experiences

Renzo Ricci was born in Firenze (Florence), Italy in 1899. He was trained at the Accademia dei Fidenti. Ricci started working as a professional in 1915 at the famous Gramatica-Carini-Piperno company with actress Emma Gramatica.

He married the stage actress Margherita Bagni, daughter of Ambrogio Bagni and Ines Cristina. Their daughter, Nora Ricci, would also become an important prose actress and first wife of Vittorio Gassman. Ricci later remarried with actress Eva Magni, with whom he formed a stage company after World War II.

He worked with some of the great innovating directors of the Italian theatre. Guido Salvini directed him in La Nave by Gabriele d'Annunzio, which in 1928 opened the season of the Italian director's renewal. Renato Simoni directed him in Adelchi by Alessandro Manzoni in 1940. He also worked with Luchino Visconti on his famous production of Troilus and Cressida staged in the Boboli Gardens in Florence in 1949.

In 1946 Ricci proposed to the young Giorgio Strehler to re-stage Caligula by Albert Camus for which he had presented the world premiere in Geneva, at the Théâtre de la Comédie. For Strehler, Ricci would also play Richard III, at the Piccolo Teatro in 1950, Firs in The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov (1972) and the Plenipotentiary in Jean Genet's Balcony (1976), which would also be his last performance.

Always looking for new and current experiences, Ricci created a vast and committed repertory, which included the major classic and modern authors from Italy and from abroad. He starred in the Italian premiere of Long Day's Journey Into Night by Eugene O'Neill, for which he also did the direction, in collaboration with Virginio Puecher in 1957. For his performance, he won the San Genesio Prize, an Italian stage award which existed between 1954 and 1968.

From the mid-1930s till the 1960s, Ricci also was active as a voice actor. He also did performances of stage plays on RAI radio in the 1950s, including The Fourposter by Jan de Hartog, directed by Ricci himself.

Renzo Ricci
Italian postcard by SIF, no. 979. Photo: Vettori, Bologna.

Renzo Ricci in Otello.
Italian postcard by Fotostampa Angeli, Terni. Photo: A. Terzoli, Roma. Ricci played a mature Otello (Othello) under direction of Maner Lualdi in 1964, at the Teatro San'Erasmo in Milan.

Marcella Albani in Corte d'Assise (1930)
Italian postcard. Photo: Produzione Cines-Pittaluga. From left to right: Lya Franca, Renzo Ricci, Marcella Albani, Mercedes Brignone, and far right Elio Steiner, in the court case melodrama Corte d'Assise (Guido Brignone, 1931).

The great modern actor

When sound cinema set in in Italy, Renzo Ricci started his career as film actor. His first part was in the court case drama Corte d’Assise/Before the Jury (Guido Brignone, 1930), starring Elio Steiner, Lya FrancaMarcella Albani and Carlo Ninchi. It was the second Italian sound feature after La canzone dell’amore/The Song of Love (1930) directed by Gennaro Righelli. The film is now seen as a precursor to the later genre of Giallo films.

Ricci reunited with Ninchi in the mountain drama La Wally (Guido Brignone, 1932), starring Germana Paolieri, and with Ricci as her jealous suitor. After two more films in the early 1930s, the comedy Ninì Falpalà (Amleto Palermi, 1933) with Dina Galli and Ricci in the lead, and Aurora sul mare (Giorgio SImonelli, 1934), Ricci stopped acting in film.

In 1940, he returned to play ‘the great modern actor’ next to Ermete Zacconi, Irma Grammatica, Memo Benassi and other ‘monstres sacrés’ of the Italian stage in L’Orizzonte dipinto/The Painted Horizon (Guido Salvini, 1940). Valentina Cortese had her debut in this film. After another film, Turbamento/Perturbation (Guido Brignone, 1941), Ricci stayed off the film set for more than a decade.

In 1953, he returned to the screen as Petronius in the historical epic Nerone e Messalina/Nero and the Burning of Rome (Primo Zeglio, 1953), with Gino Cervi and Yvonne Sanson in the title roles. In the Italian-French biopic Casta Diva (Carmine Gallone, 1954) on the life of composer Vincenzo Bellini (played by Maurice Ronet), Ricci was the judge Fumaroli, with whose daughter Maddalena (Antonella Lualdi) Bellini falls in love.

Perhaps most famous Ricci is for his supporting parts in a series of films of the early 1960s made by famous directors. In L’Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960) he was the father of Anna (Lea Massari), the girl who mysteriously disappears at the start of the film. In Viva l’Italia/Garibaldi (Roberto Rossellini, 1961), Ricci played the legendary Giuseppe Garibaldi, leading his military campaign of volunteers, the Thousand (I Mille), who embarked for Sicily to free Southern Italy from the Bourbon rule. This was the film director Rossellini stated he was proudest of.

After the peplum Io, Semiramide/I am Semiramis (Primo Zeglio, 1962), starring Yvonne Furneaux, Ricci played in Luchino Visconti’s Vaghe stelle dell’Orsa/Sandra (1965) the family lawyer Gilardini, stepfather of the protagonists Sandra (Claudia Cardinale) and Gianni (Jean Sorel). Particularly Sandra hates Gilardini, as she suspects that her mother (Marie Bell) and he are responsible for the death of her father, the Jewish scientist Wald-Luzzati, killed in a concentration camp. Instead Gilardini accuses Sandra and Gianni of incest. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

After this, Ricci quitted the film set again, but he returned for one last performance, a small part in Patrice Chéreau’s excellent thriller La chair de l’orchidée/The Flesh of the Orchid (1975), starring Charlotte Rampling. Renzo Ricci died in Milan, Italy in 1978. He was 79.

Germana Paolieri and Renzo Ricci in La Wally (1932)
Italian postcard, no. 70. Photo: Cines-Pittalugafor. Publicity still for La Wally (Guido Brignone 1932), starring Germana Paolieri as Wally and with Renzo Ricci as her jealous lover.

Renzo Ricci and Laura Adani
Italian postcard. Publicity card for Fiat, La nuova Balilla. The actors Renzo Ricci and Laura Adani in a Fiat car.

Renzo Ricci
Italian postcard by A. Terzeli, Roma, no. 59. Photo: Foto Luxardo.

Sources: Wikipedia (Italian and English) and IMDb.