Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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JackFavell
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

Post by JackFavell »

It seems to be the whole movie, whether complete or not, I don't know.

Thanks for the book tip, I haven't read much lately, but went on a bender some years ago finding out all I could about the Holocaust, ending up with Maus and Maus II, which are more about the relationship between the survivors and their children, in comic strip form. I'd like to read more about the survivors kids, causr it must have been really tough.

I would love to hear some more about your work in the nursing home if it's not too painful to relate, if you want to send me a PM.

As for my family's experiences, it is not an unusual story. I'm sure there was a time when almost everyone knew someone who went missing in Europe. I am just too far removed to have any real knowledge of the family members who stayed in Europe, though my father does remember some of the cousins. I find it kind of weird that I ended up married to a first generation American-German, whose mother lived through the war on the other side as a child. Her father was a doctor and they were just plain scared all the time. My mother in law's stories of people disappearing from her school (while she still had one) and neighborhood are chilling. Her best friend disappeared at age 8 or 9. My MIL's mother was adopted and they were constantly in fear that she would be arrested because she had an unknown background and a rather loud mouth, making a scene more than once when her butcher or someone else she knew disappeared literally overnight.
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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JackFavell wrote:Oh thank you Moira! I'm a big fan!

Lederer is one of my favorite unjustly neglected actors. He is surprisingly overlooked, and I cannot figure out why, except that he is so good without letting you see the workings of it. He just fits into whatever milieu he is supposed to be in. He is what is needed, but far far more, above and beyond what you would expect.
I have to say this is the first place where people actually even KNOW who he is, not to mention the first place where I meet someone who says he's a big fan too! YAY!

If you watch movies like Romance in Manhattan, The Man I Married and The Madonna's Secret... he's so different in all three, and I agree with what you said about him fitting into every milieu he is supposed to be in.

You know, what I particularly find sad is that he didn't write an autobiography. Maybe he didn't like to, thought there was no need to, or whatever, but I do not think that there's a big chance that someone will write a book about him, and I bet, or just assume that he could have told a lot of interesting stories of his life, his career, etc. He lead a long and interesting life... there must have been plenty to talk about.

Nah, maybe I should get this 64 pages thingie... better than nothing. Well, there are some 3 pages in a book about Austrians in Hollywood... but.. I WANT MORE. 8)
JackFavell wrote:Man of Two Worlds - I thought this movie was a bit thick, but Lederer really does throw everything he has into the role, as usual. His bewildered innocence makes you want to yell out at the other characters not to destroy it.

Waiting for me here on disc are Romance in Manhattan, and Return of Dracula. I know, I know! But I'm told the Dracula is worth watching. I;m sure he'll be good. :D
Gosh, I bet Man of Two Worlds was shown on TCM, eh? Maybe not, but I want it so badly, and can't get it. Ok, no, I want any movie with Francis I haven't got already.

Anyone has seen Puddin Head, Pursuit of Happiness or My American Wife? These are, at least for me, equally hard to find.

I have heard that Return of Dracula isn't that bad. I'd like to see that one too. Please tell us how it was after you've seen it, will you? :D
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JackFavell
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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I will certainly post my review here, Libertine, when I get to the movies. Sometimes for me, that can be awhile, since we have one TV for three members of my family. :D

BTW, my name is Wendy.

Jack Favell is just my chosen name here on the boards. I really like George Sanders, so I picked that character name, never thinking it might be confusing for people since I am a girl. Sorry for the confusion!

TCM did show Man of Two Worlds, but I did not get a copy of it, unfortunately, otherwise I would be happy to share it with you.

I'm so pleased that you are able to find German language books and information that we might not have available here in the U.S. Is Francis Lederer any more well known in Europe as a classic film actor than he is over here?
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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JackFavell wrote:I will certainly post my review here, Libertine, when I get to the movies. Sometimes for me, that can be awhile, since we have one TV for three members of my family. :D
Hehe, nevermind. I am the same, though I could say I have a TV for myself, but there's too much too watch and I usually watch movies only during the weekend. But whenever you've seen it... think of me. ;)
JackFavell wrote:BTW, my name is Wendy.

Jack Favell is just my chosen name here on the boards. I really like George Sanders, so I picked that character name, never thinking it might be confusing for people since I am a girl. Sorry for the confusion!
Ah, no problem. I figured out that you're a girl - after a while. 8)
JackFavell wrote:TCM did show Man of Two Worlds, but I did not get a copy of it, unfortunately, otherwise I would be happy to share it with you.
Thank you so much! We get almost no classic movies on TV anymore, and the German TCM, which is now called TNT Film, always showed more modern movies than anything else. It's a shame.
JackFavell wrote:I'm so pleased that you are able to find German language books and information that we might not have available here in the U.S. Is Francis Lederer any more well known in Europe as a classic film actor than he is over here?
Ah, um.. no, he isn't known. There is one book I have, which was published by the Austrian Film Archive, I mentioned it above, it's called "Austrians in Hollywood". There are some 3 pages devoted to Francis, because there were quite many Austrians in Hollywood, and the book is already about 3 inches, so there was no space for more pages about each person. Besides of these 3 pages I only know of a German 64 pages-print, from the 80s, but I suppose it'll be mainly focused on his movies, if not only on them.

In general, Francis is for sure only known by classic movie buffs. And only by those.

BTW, I know found out that an Austrian journalist and writer is the nephew of Francis Lederer. God, I am shocked. Well a bit. I am annoyed by this guy. He writes every year a book, and it features somehow more or less always the same stories about the same Austrian prominence from Mozart to Romy Schneider... but he could write a book, eh? BUT, why I mention that is, he did in 1999 a documentary on Francis, or worked on it. Chances are small that it will be shown on TV again.. but, well.. maybe one day.
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JackFavell
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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It is too bad that there is no way to find that documentary somewhere available for sale, or at a University for screening, maybe? I know how it is when trying to research someone you have a feeling for, but no way to find out more about them. Maybe there is an archive somewhere, in Prague perhaps?
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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JackFavell wrote:. Maybe there is an archive somewhere, in Prague perhaps?
Deutsches Filminstitut, located in Frankfurt, Germany might have more material, though it's possible that much of the European ephemera, films and records of Lederer's early career were destroyed in WWII.

I just came across an excellent interview with Francis Lederer in Classic Images Magazine from June, 1997:

Francis Lederer: A Man of Many Worlds by by Charles P. Mitchell
Avatar: Frank McHugh (1898-1981)

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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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JackFavell wrote:
As for my family's experiences, it is not an unusual story. I'm sure there was a time when almost everyone knew someone who went missing in Europe. I am just too far removed to have any real knowledge of the family members who stayed in Europe, though my father does remember some of the cousins. I find it kind of weird that I ended up married to a first generation American-German, whose mother lived through the war on the other side as a child. Her father was a doctor and they were just plain scared all the time. My mother in law's stories of people disappearing from her school (while she still had one) and neighborhood are chilling. Her best friend disappeared at age 8 or 9. My MIL's mother was adopted and they were constantly in fear that she would be arrested because she had an unknown background and a rather loud mouth, making a scene more than once when her butcher or someone else she knew disappeared literally overnight.
I found this very moving Wendy. We don't have any Jewish community away from our cities and whilst I'm well aware of what went on when it's told by someone you know it becomes more resonant. Plenty of stories have been passed down from refugees particularly from Poland and some from Italy, all Catholics but not firsthand from the Jewish community. It must have been quite something to grow up with.

I hope we dig up some more information about Francis Lederer.
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JackFavell
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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Thank you, Alison. It's funny, I felt that same feeling last night watching this movie, that I had been at a remove from it all until now, even with my background.

Moira, as I look at the Wikipedia entry (you were right, it's quite extensive) there may be more info on him in Los Angeles than in all of Europe.
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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I remember reading about Lederer in Barry Paris' well documented biography of Louise Brooks. I think he taught acting after he left the movies. Paris interviewed him. That's a good start to get info.
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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I already wrote an e-mail to the producer of the documentary. I doubt I will get a positive reply - if at all. It hasn't been released on DVD, and they usually do not do copies on demand. But, who knows? Maybe I'll be lucky.

There's the Austrian Filmarchive... as they try to get hold on movies which are in any way related to Austrians... well.. just a possibility. I think I should go there one day and do a research...
Last edited by Libertine on June 24th, 2011, 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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The Classic Images interview I linked above with Lederer talks about his teaching acting in some detail.

Below is a clickable thumbnail with background from Francis Lederer's 1999 obituary from The New York Times (I hope it is readable):
Image
Avatar: Frank McHugh (1898-1981)

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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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I watched The Wonderful Lies of Nina Petrowna last night and was really bowled over by the lovely, sad, charming film. Charming is not something I would usually say about such a tragic story, but the description fits.

Director Hanns Schwarz has a kind of Lubitsch simplicity - the paring away of unnecessary exposition into a single shot or a pan across a room, but he also brings out the character depth of Pabst. His camera moved like a ballet dancer, never obtrusive, but liquid and conveying so much more than we are used to nowadays. All was kept light, which meant that the ending was more powerful to me than if it had been heavily underscored. The fluidity of the camera, the attention to details, the focus on matches, candles and clocks, light and dark, really appealed to me, and gave it a certain warmth, unusual in the more heavy tragedies or chamber dramas of the time. The film is circular which also is something I enjoy. It had a sweet, gavotte rhythm to it, perhaps a little like that of the chiming clock we see at the start and end of the film.

Image
Franz Lederer is just amazing, registering surprise and wonder at his good fortune, and shocked despair when his luck is manipulated and turned. He is an innocent in the world. Love falls into his lap as if by magic, and just as easily it's taken from him, leaving him with the lingering doubt and torment in his mind that he has allowed himself to be played somehow, but not understanding why.

Image
Brigitte Helm plays Nina as an odd little waif, knowing, but somehow innocent. She is basically a child who must create magic in her life because she is in the odd predicament of having everything she wants, but no one to share it with. One gets the idea that she is constantly imagining, play-acting to pass the time, or even when her lover (Warwick Ward in a superbly nuanced and cruel performance) is there with her. He has no understanding of her, and she is a young trophy to him. Somehow, Warwick Ward invested this character with some humanity, I do think at the end he really loved her.

Image
Her sudden wonderful lie brings her the love of a young man with whom she is completely sympatico. This is the one thing she hasn't got, living amongst the riches and wealth of her older husband/lover. She tells him, as he catches her staring at the soldier, that the soldier is a childhood friend. Her lover berates her for that lie, before he is even sure that it IS a lie. He maliciously invites the young soldier to their table to openly prove her wrong. The young man has a sense of magic and wonder equal to Nina's.... and he is almost too gentlemanly. Later, in a deliciously ironic twist, the lover accuses her of infidelity with Lederer, which is untrue but she doesn't even bother to deny it. Once she meets her soldier, she has no need to lie. She takes the opportunity to leave, and she and Lederer spend blissful months together, scrimping by on nothing.

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In another ironic twist, Lederer realizes that Helm deserves better, and strives to make more money, while waiting to get promoted. His position is tenuous, I believe he will always be under Nina's ex-lover's command, but I may have misunderstood this part of the film. Michael's fixation on getting her the things she needs leads him astray, and before he knows it, he is duped into playing cards with the cruel ex-lover, who seems to have had it in mind all along to get revenge for being cuckolded in his own home.

The way the story plays out is fairly obvious, but it just doesn't matter, the movie held me spellbound wondering how it was going to get to the finale. Hanns Schwarz did an absolutely beautiful, outstanding job embellishing the story, bringing it all around full circle gently. I would hope other fans of Francis Lederer, Brigitte Helm and German silent films would watch this movie because it's a brilliant, perfectly paced, perfectly staged, emotional film.
Image

Thank you Ann Harding for bringing this movie up in the first place.
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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JackFavell wrote:Thank you Ann Harding for bringing this movie up in the first place.
My pleasure! 8) I loved it at first sight. The wonderful score by Maurice Jaubert (written for the first release of the film) added immensely to the pleasure. Schwarz was a brilliant director. You should check his Hungarian Rhapsody (1929) with Dita Parlo and Willy Fritsch. It's just as wonderful. (it's available from Grapevine Video) :)
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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Thank you Ann! I most certainly will. I've been sending out the movie to everyone I know, who might have an interest in silents.

The score is just brilliant,starting with that beautiful chiming sequence at the beginning. I knew it must have been original, because both videos I watched had it, though one was considerably better quality.
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Re: Francis Lederer (1899-2000)

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Where did you get it, just out of curiosity? (the film was broadcast on Arte TV in 2000)
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