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04 April 2015

De Jantjes (1934)

The musical drama De Jantjes (Jaap Speyer, 1934) is a little pre-war Dutch gem. It was the second Dutch sound film and a huge box office hit at the time. The film was based on a popular play by Herman Bouber and one of the leads was played by his wife, character actress Aaf Bouber.

Jan van Ees, Willy Costello, Johan Kaart jr
Dutch postcard by Hollandia Film Prod. / Loet C. Barnstijn. Photo: publicity still for De Jantjes (1934).

Jan van Ees, Willy Costello, Johan Kaart jr.
Dutch postcard by Hollandia Film Prod. / Loet C. Barnstijn. Photo: publicity still for De Jantjes (1934).

Jordaan Play


De Jantjes (the international title is The Tars) was based on a popular 'Jordaan play' (a play set in an old neighbourhood of Amsterdam, the Jordaan) by Herman Bouber.

The music of the songs was written by Louis Davids. The musical was performed for the first time in 1920 with Louis Davids and his wife Margie Morris in the principal parts. The musical is one of the classics of the Dutch entertainment world.

De Jantjes had already been adapted as a silent film in 1922 starring Louis Davids. In 1933 director Jaap Speyer, who had made many silent films in Germany, started to shoot a new sound version.

There was even a competition which film would be the first Dutch sound film in the cinema. The other competitor, Willem van Oranje/Willem of Orange (Jan Teunissen, 1934) won, but lost at the box office, and got the worst reviews.

De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934) has nice camera work by Henk Alsem and Akos Farkas and a couple of classic Dutch songs. The cast is excellent including popular revue and film stars as Fien de la Mar, Cissy van Bennekom, Sylvain Poons, Heintje Davids and her brother Louis Davids, and Aaf Bouber, the wife of the author.

The title characters are three sailors, played by Jan van Ees, Willy Castello and Johan Kaart jr., who return from the Dutch Indies to their old neighbourhood. There they meet love and labour problems.

De Jantjes - Johan Kaart jr., Willy Costello, Jan van Ees
Dutch postcard by M. B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam) for Hollandia Film Prod. / Loet C. Barnstijn. Photo: publicity still for De Jantjes (1934).

De Jantjes, Joan Remmelts, Jan van Ees, Sylvain Poons, Johan Kaart jr., Henriëtte Davids, Willy Costello, Susie Klein
Dutch postcard by Hollandia Film Prod. / Loet C. Barnstijn. Photo: publicity still for De Jantjes (1934).

Johan Kaart, Suzy Klein, Willy Castello, Henriette Davids, Jan van Ees and Sylvain Poons in De Jantjes
Dutch postcard by Hollandia Film Prod. / Loet C. Barnstijn. Photo: publicity still for De Jantjes (1934).

Aaf Bouber


Aaf Bouber (1885-1974), the wife of author Herman Bouber, played the central role of Aunt Piet in De Jantjes/The Tars (1934). She acted in several Dutch films from the 1910s into the 1950s.

As a child she was already loving the stage and performed at parties and markets in her hometown Hoorn. When she was sixteen she left home for Amsterdam and was engaged for the variety show Amsterdam starring Louisette and Chrétienne in grand theatre Carré.

In the following years she worked with such Dutch stage legends as Willem Hart and Louis Bouwmeester. She also acted in silent films like Fatum (Theo Frenkel sr., 1914) with Louis Bouwmeester, the fisher drama Het wrak in de Noordzee (Theo Frenkel sr., 1915) and Genie tegen geweld (Theo Frenkel sr., 1916).

Then she met Herman Bouber, director of the Plantage Theatre. He helped her to develop into an incomparable character actress in his popular folk plays like De Jantjes, Bleeke Bet and Oranje Hein all situated in the old Amsterdam neighbourhood De Jordaan.

She also played in the silent films Cirque Hollandais/Dutch Circus (Theo Frenkel Sr., 1924) starring Louis Bouwmeester, Oranje Hein/Orange Hein (Alex Benno, 1925) and Klassenstrijd/Class Struggle (Willy Mullens, 1928).

In the many performances through the years of De Jantjes, Aaf Bouber (often billed as Aaf Bouber-ten Hoope) would play all the female roles. After the surprising success of the sound film version of De Jantjes (Jaap Speyer, 1934) she would play the title character in another film based on a play by her husband, Bleeke Bet/Pale Beth (Richard Oswald, Alex Benno, 1934), which also became a big hit.

Other films of the 1930s include the fisher drama Op hoop van Zegen (Alex Benno, Louis Saalborn, 1934), De Suikerfreule (Haro van Peski, 1935), another adaptation of Oranje Hein (Max Nosseck, 1936), Drie wensen/Three Wishes (Kurt Gerron, 1937), the Daddy Longlengs adaptation Vadertje Langbeen (Friedrich Zelnik a.k.a. Frederic Zelnik, 1938) and Ergens in Nederland/Somewhere in the Netherlands (Ludwig Berger, 1940). The latter film was just ready for release when the Netherlands were conquered by the Nazis, who forbade its exhibition.

During the war she was seen in 7 maal 7/Seven Times Seven (Walter Smith a.o., 1942) and De laatste dagen van een eiland/The Final Days of an Island (Ernst Winar, 1942). After the war she made one more film, the comedy Sterren stralen overal/Stars Twinkle Everywhere (Gerard Rutten, 1953).

During her long career she would also play hundreds of roles on the stage, radio and television. When Aaf Bouber was 85 she played her last role in the TV thriller Ritueel/Ritual (1970). She passed away in 1974.

Aaf Bouber, Marie van Westerhoven
Dutch postcard. Photo: Loet C. Barnstijn / Hollandia Film Prod. Aaf Bouber is seen on the left with at right Marie van Westerhoven as the gossip Betje.

De Jantjes - Willy Costello, Suzie Klein, Johan Kaart jr., Marie van Westerhoven, Jan van Ees
Dutch postcard by Hollandia Film Prod. / Loet C. Barnstijn. Photo: publicity still for De Jantjes (1934).

Henriëtte Davids and Sylvain Poons
Dutch postcard. Photo: Loet C. Barnstijn / Hollandia Film Prod.

Sources: De Boubers (Dutch), Wikipedia (Dutch), and IMDb.

1 comment:

Vaporizer said...

De Jantjes is een toneelstuk van Herman Bouber. De muziek van de liedjes werd geschreven door Louis Davids.