24 February 2018

Pauline Brunius

In the first decades of the 20th century, Pauline Brunius (1881-1954) was the Queen of the Swedish stage. For a number of years, she also focused on film acting and directing. Later she became the first female managing director of Dramaten, the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm.

Pauline Brunius in Thora van Deken
Swedish postcard by Verlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1095/7. Photo: Skandia Film. Pauline Brunius and Jessie Wessel in Thora van Deken (John W. Brunius, 1920).

Extremely successful in queen roles

Pauline Brunius was born Emma Maria Pauline Lindstedt in 1881 in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. She started as a ballet girl at the Opera in 1891 where she spent ten years. From 1899 till 1902, she had private acting lessons by actress Lotten Dorsch. In 1902, she made her debut as an actress at the Olympiateatern.

During the early 20th century, Pauline Brunius acted in Stockholm's major theatres, the Svenska teatern, Vasateatern and Dramaten. She was considered 'The Queen of Swedish Theatre'. At Svensk filmdatabas, Mikaela Lindblom described her in 2012 as "a classically-educated actress with a magnificent posture, had a melodic voice and was extremely successful in queen roles."

From 1926 till 1932, she was the managing director of the Oscarsteatern together with her husband, actor and film director John W. Brunius and with star actor Gösta Ekman. They changed the operetta theatre into a respected and innovative scene for stage plays.

Pauline Brunius acted in only 13 film roles. Her cinema career started with Thora van Deken/A Mother's Fight (John W. Brunius, 1920), also with Gösta Ekman. The film was based on a short story by Henrik Pontoppidan about a divorced wife of a wealthy landowner who lies in court that her deceased ex-husband had destroyed his will to secure her daughter's inheritance. In 1914, Brunius had already performed this role on stage and the film focuses on her standout performance.

Brunius would be paired again with Gösta Ekman in Gyurkovicsarna/Lieutenant Tophat (1920) - also with Nils Asther, Kärlekens ögon/A Scarlet Angel (1922), Karl XII/Charles XII (1925), and Gustaf Wasa del I/Gustaf Wasa, Part One (1928), always directed by her husband, John W. Brunius.

The silent historical film Karl XII/Charles XII (John W. Brunius, 1925) was released in two separate parts because of its long running time of nearly six hours. The film depicts the life of Charles XII of Sweden (1682-1718) who oversaw the expansion of the Swedish Empire until its defeat at the Battle of Poltava. It was the most expensive production in Swedish history when it was made, and inspired a string of large-budget Swedish historical films.

Pauline Brunius also acted opposite Renée Björling in En vildfågel/Give Me My Son (John W. Brunius, 1921), and opposite Einar Hanson in Gunnar Hedes saga/Snowbound (Mauritz Stiller, 1923).

In 1930, she appeared in the sound film Charlotte Löwensköld (Gustaf Molander, 1930) featuring Birgit Sergelius. It is an adaptation of the 1925 novel Charlotte Löwensköld by Selma Lagerlöf. The film is almost entirely silent, with only brief dialogue sequences and a few sound effects. The film was not considered a success, and no further adaptations of Lagerlöf's work were made in her lifetime.

Brunius co-starred with Victor Sjöström in his sound film Markurells i Wadköping/Father and Son (Victor Sjöström, 1931). However, Pauline Brunius is today best remembered in Sweden for her role as the high-class Mrs. Lindberg in the social comedy Karl Fredrik regerar/Karl Fredrik Reigns (Gustaf Edgren, 1934) with Sigurd Wallén.

Pauline Brunius in Thora van Deken
Swedish postcard by Verlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1095/9. Photo: Skandia Film. Pauline Brunius, Gösta Ekman, Jessie Wessel and Oscar Johansson in Thora van Deken (John W. Brunius, 1920).

Ten stormy years of stage direction

In the 1920s, Pauline Brunius made a series of short comedies based on her own scripts about the charming Stockholm family Vinner. The series started with Trollsländan/The dragonfly (Pauline Brunius, 1920). The parents were played by the true couple Frida and Olof Winnerstrand and the son Putte by Brunius' son Palle.

Six episodes were made that were shown as short films at the cinema and remind of our current situation and action comedies. Fragments are preserved from De läckra skaldjuren/The Delicious Shellfish (Pauline Brunius, 1920) and Herr Vinners stenåldersdröm/Mr. Winner's Stone Age Dream (Pauline Brunius, 1924), plus a complete version of Lev livet leende/Laugh Live Smile (Pauline Brunius, 1921).

In co-operation with her husband, Pauline Brunius directed her only feature, Falska Greta/The False Greta (John W. Brunius, Pauline Brunius, 1934). The film was inspired by the obsession about Greta Garbo's Swedish visit in 1928. The script is kept at the Swedish Film Institute's library. Svenska Film's production manager Vilhelm Bryde approved of making the film with the addition of "an entertaining summer anniversary".

In the end the script was filmed without Svenska's participation in Finland as a Swedish-Finnish co-production. The film, with Karin Albihn playing the title role, is today considered lost. Brunius henceforth dedicated herself exclusively to theatre.

In 1938, Pauline Brunius was the first woman, who was appointed managing director of Dramaten, the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, since the opening in 1788. She succeeded Olof Molander, who had ruled Dramaten with iron hand.

Brunius had ten stormy years at Dramaten. Leading Sweden's national theatre through the years of the Second World War can't have been easy. She was criticised for a performance by Dramaten in Berlin in 1941. Under Brunius' leadership, Marika Stiernstedt's anti-Nazi play Attentat (The Attack) was staged by Alf Sjöberg in 1944. She was praised for her consciously strong initiative at Dramaten and for her initiative to build a second stage, the Little Stage, to increase the competitiveness and capacity of the national theatre. In 1948, she resigned due to illness.

In 1954, Pauline Brunius died in Stockholm at the age of 73. She had been married to John W. Brunius from 1909 till 1935. Their children were actress Anne-Marie Brunius and actor Palle Brunius. Director Nils Brunius is Pauline Brunius's grandson.

Gösta Ekman and Pauline Brunius in Gyurkovicsarna
Swedish postcard by Forlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1096/2. Photo: Skandia Film. Gösta Ekman and Pauline Brunius in Gyurkovicsarna/Lieutenant Tophat (John W. Brunius, 1920).

Gösta Ekman in Gyurkovicsarna (1920)
Swedish postcard by Forlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1096/1. Photo: Skandia Film. Gösta Ekman in Gyurkovicsarna/Lieutenant Tophat (John W. Brunius, 1920).

Source: Mikaela Kindblom (Svenska Filminstitutet/Svensk filmdatabas - Swedish), Julie Rongved Amundsen (Store norske leksikon- Norwegian), Mette Hjort and Ursula Lindqvist (A Companion to Nordic Cinema), Wikipedia (English and Swedish), and IMDb.

23 February 2018


During the 1950s and 1960s, German publisher Ilse-Stern-Verlag better known as ISV produced many film star postcards both in black and white and in colour. Very popular were ISV's postcard series of seven Karl May films of the 1960s.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe. German postcard by ISV, Sort. VI/6.

Tommy Steele
Tommy Steele. German postcard by ISV, no. H 14.

Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot. German postcard by ISV, no. H 11. Photo: Sam Lévin, 1957.

Johnny Hallyday
Johnny Hallyday. German postcard by ISV, no. H 85.

Jester Naefe
Jester Naefe. German postcard by ISV, no. C 4. Photo: Divina / Gloria / Arthur Grimm.

Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard. Big German postcard by ISV, no. HX 103.

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda. German postcard by ISV, Sort. 19/6.


The first Karl May Western with Lex Barker in the role of Old Shatterhand and French actor Pierre Brice as his friend, the Apache-chief Winnetou was Der Schatz im Silbersee/Treasure of Silver Lake (Harald Reinl, 1963).

With this Karl May adaptation, producer Horst Wendlandt, head of Rialto Film, sought to target the younger markets than the audiences that came to his Edgar Wallace thrillers. Der Schatz im Silbersee/Treasure of Silver Lake became the most successful German film of the 1962/1963 season and it even beat the first James Bond film, Dr. No (1962), at the German box offices.

Kids loved the adventures of Winnetou and his friend Old Shatterhand and collected all the film merchandise. The Old Shatterhand-Melodie, the title melody played on the harmonica by René Giessen and composed by Martin Böttcher was the most successful track in the German hitparade in the 1960s. It stayed there for several months and over 100,000 copies were sold. Ilse-Stern-Verlag produced a series of 64 postcards of the film which also became a hit.

In total ISV produced seven postcard series of Karl May films: Der Schatz im Silbersee/Treasure of Silver Lake (Harald Reinl, 1963), Winnetou - 1. Teil/Apache Gold (Harald Reinl, 1963), Winnetou – 2. Teil/Last of the Renegades (Harald Reinl, 1964), Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (Alfred Vohrer, 1964), Der Ölprinz/The Oil Prince (Harald Philipp, 1965), Durchs wilde Kurdistan/Wild Kurdistan (Franz Josef Gottlieb, 1965), and Winnetou 3. Teil/Winnetou: The Last Shot (Harald Reinl, 1965).

The Karl May postcards were sold by ISV in surprise bags and with a portion of puffed rice. All postcards were in the typical postcard format to send by mail and with a caption about the film scene of which the photograph was taken. The complete Karl May postcard series published by ISV consists of a total of 233 colour postcards.

Götz George in Der Schatz im Silbersee
Götz George in Der Schatz im Silbersee (1962). German postcard, no. E 61. Photo: Constantin. Still for Der Schatz im Silbersee/The Treasure of Silver Lake (Harald Reinl, 1962).

Winnetou I, Lex Barker
Lex Barker in Winnetou I (1963). German postcard, no. E 23. Photo: Constantin. Still from Winnetou I (Harald Reinl, 1963). Caption: "Old Shatterhand has also been sentenced to die at the stake. He regrets emphatically, that he rescued Winnetou from the Kiowas. An ordeal by battle will decide."

Pierre Brice (Winnetou) is dead
Pierre Brice and Karin Dor in Winnetou II. Teil (1964). German postcard, no. R 8. Photo: publicity still for Winnetou 2. Teil/Winnetou: The Red Gentleman (Harald Reinl, 1964). Caption: "Noch ahnt man nicht, wie bald von diesem Versteck Gebrauch gemacht werden muss; den Forrester, der sein dunkles Gerwerbe auf Kosten der Indianer betreibt, schmiedet schon Pläne." (Yet nobody suspects how soon this hiding place must be used; Forrester, who runs his shady business at the expense of the Indians, already makes his plans).

Karin Dor in Winnetou II. Teil (1964)
Karin Dor in Winnetou II. Teil (1964). German postcard, no. R 30. Photo: publicity still for Winnetou 2. Teil/Winnetou: The Red Gentleman (Harald Reinl, 1964). Caption: Der Friede ist gerettet. Ribanna weiss, dass ihr und Winnetous Opfer nicht umsonst war. (Peace is saved. Ribanna knows that her and Winnetou's sacrifice was not in vain.)

Pierre Brice (Winnetou) is dead
Pierre Brice and Lex Barker in Winnetou III. Teil/Winnetou: The Last Shot (Harald Reinl, 1965). German postcard, no. 3. Photo: Rialto / Constantin. Publicity still for Winnetou III. Teil/Winnetou: The Last Shot (Harald Reinl, 1965). Caption: "Während Winnetou und Old Shatterhand zurückreiten, berichtet der Sekretär des Gouverneurs - der dem Letter des Desperados als Spitzel dient - von der Unterredung. Man beschliesst den Tod Winnetous und Old Shatterhands, der als Unfall hergestellt werden soll, und zwar durch vorzeitige Sprengung des Steinbruchs." (While Winnetou and Old Shatterhand ride back, the secretary of the governor reports about the conversation - which letter serves the spying Desperados. They decide to kill Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, produced as an accident, by premature detonation of the quarry.)

Rik Battaglia and Pierre Brice in Winnetou 3. Teil (1965)
Rik Battaglia and Pierre Brice in Winnetou 3. Teil (1965). German postcard, no. 9. Photo: Rialto / Constantin. Publicity still for Winnetou - 3. Teil/Winnetou: The Last Shot (Harald Reinl, 1965).

Source: Karl May Wiki (German), Wikipedia and IMDb.

22 February 2018

Max Linder

French comedian Max Linder (1883-1925), with his trademark silk hat, stick and moustache, was an influential pioneer of the silent film. He was largely responsible for the creation of the classic slapstick comedy.

Max Linder
French postcard by Helio Paul et Vigier, Paris. Publicity card for the Pathé-Baby projector.

Max Linder
German postcard by Verlag Herm. Leiser, no. 9977. Photo: Gerlach.

Max Linder
French postcard by Pathé Frères. Photo: Felix.

Gentleman Max

Max Linder was born Gabriel-Maximilien Leuvielle in Saint-Loubès, France in 1883 to a Jewish wine growing family.

He grew up with a passion for the stage and at 17 he dropped out of school in order to join a touring theatre troupe, which did not please his parents.

While working in Paris as an actor in the theatre and vaudeville, Leuvielle became fascinated with motion pictures. In 1905 he took a job with Pathé Frères and in the following years he became a comedic actor, director, screenwriter, as well as a producer under the stage name, Max Linder.

His debut was La première sortie d'un collégien/First Night Out (Louis J. Gasnier, 1905). He created what was probably the first identifiable film character: ‘Max’, an elegant, joyful, romantic, top-hatted dandy.

Max appeared for the first time in Les Debuts d'un patineur/Max Learns to Skate (Louis J. Gasnier, 1907) and would return in successive situation comedies. ‘Gentleman Max’ was frequently in hot water because of his penchant for beautiful women and the good life.

When in the credits for Max et la doctoresse/Max and the female doctor (Max Linder, 1909) the text “written by Max Linder and played by the author” appeared, it was the first time in film history that an author was mentioned in connection with a cinematic work.

Max Linder
French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 24.

Max Linder
French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 188.

Max Linder
French postcard by Edition Pathé Frères.

Comedy Star No. 1

After comedian André Deed went to Italy, Max Linder moved up and became the comedy star no. 1 for Pathé.

In 1910 he shot one comedy each week. By 1911, Linder was directing all his own films as well as writing the script and the universality of silent films brought Linder fame and fortune throughout Europe. By 1912, he was the highest-paid film star in the world, with an unprecedented salary of one million francs.

His success didn't have any limits: whether Spain, Germany, Italy or Russia, Max Linder was everywhere welcomed with enthusiasm during his live entrances in the capital cities. In Russia the police had to call the Army for help so that Linder was able to leave the Moscow railroad station.

One of the best and more successful examples of his type of humour is the one-reeler Max et la Statue/Max and the Statue (Max Linder, 1912). Max attends a costume ball, dressed as a suit of armor. After drinking too much at the party, he passes out on the sidewalk. Meanwhile, during the evening, a new suit of armour to be unveiled at the Louvre the next day is stolen by a pair of thieves. The police, discovering the theft, stumble upon Max. They take him back to the Louvre where he is unveiled for the Museum committee. They depart, whereupon the thieves return, take Max, and, back in the hideout, attempt to open the armour with tools. Max awakens, scares the burglars, then, in the final frame, strolls away, strumming a guitar.

The weekly adventures of Max were impatiently awaited by faithful and enthusiastic audiences. In 1914 Linder decided to realise one of his old dreams: to start a cinema. He bought a cinema in Paris with 1,200 sears, created in 1912, the Kosmorama. The Ciné Max Linder opened in December 1914.

World War I brought a temporary end to Linder's career in film. Physically unfit for combat duty, he worked as a dispatch driver during the war until he was seriously wounded. He was gassed, and the illness that resulted would blight his career.

Max Linder
French postcard. Photo Pathé.

Max Linder
French postcard by Pathé Frères. Photo: Felix.

Max Linder
French postcard by Pathé Frères. Photo: Felix.


While in the hospital in 1916, Max Linder was visited by George K. Spoor, president of Essanay films. Having lost Charlie Chaplin, Spoor wanted Linder to "take his place" and offered him $5,000 per week to write, direct, and star in 12 three-reel comedies to be made in the studio's Chicago location.

Linder went to the US, but his first few American-made Max films didn't make the same impression as the Chaplin shorts. Recurring ill-health meant that his US films had little of the sparkle of his early French work. After only three films were completed Linder headed back to France.

For the convalescence of his pleurisy, Linder went to the lake of Geneva. In 1919 it seemed like Max was his old self again and his screen version of Le Petit Café/The Little Cafe (Raymond Bernard, 1919) was received enthusiastically by critics and audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

He made another attempt at film making in the US for the recently-formed United Artists (one of whose founders was Charles Chaplin). He worked as a film producer, screenwriter, director and leading actor in three films: Seven Years Bad Luck (Max Linder, 1921), Be My Wife (Max Linder, 1921), and the film he considered his best, the inventive parody The Three Must-Get-Theres (Max Linder, 1922).

Endowed with an overflowing imagination, he filled his films with an inexhaustible variety of gags. For example, Max was the original creator of the genius mirror gag in Seven Years Bad Luck, which the Marx Brothers used again so memorably in their film Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933). These later films are now regarded as classics.

However, the work exhausted Max, and after finishing the last film he left the United States once again. Back in France he appeared in only two more films. In Au Secours!/Help! (Abel Gance, 1923) he played a tragic part. Later he forbade the showing because he feared his reputation as a comedian was in danger.

His last film, Der Zirkuskönig/King of the Circus (Max Linder, Édouard-Émile Violet, 1924) with Vilma Bánky, was made in Vienna, Austria. For the film Chevalier Barkas/The Knight Barkas he contacted the in those days unknown director René Clair. But the film would never be realised.

Max Linder
French postcard by Pathé Frères. Photo: Felix.

Max Linder
French postcard by A.N, Paris in the Les Vedettes de Cinéma series, no. 87. Photo: United Artists.

Max Linder
Italian postcard by Casa Editrice Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 787.

Suicide Pact

The after-effects of Max Linder's war service was that he suffered from continuing health problems including bouts of severe depression.

In 1923, he married the 18 year old Hélène Peters, a wealthy Paris heiress, with whom he had a daughter, Maud. At the same year he sold his Max Linder cinema.

The emotional problems besetting Linder evidenced themselves when he and his wife made a suicide pact. In early 1924 they attempted suicide at a hotel in Vienna, Austria. They were found and were recuperated, but on 31 October 1925 Linder and his wife were successful in taking their lives in Paris.

After Linder's death, Chaplin dedicated one of his films: "For the unique Max, the great master - his student Charles Chaplin". But in the ensuing years, Max Linder was relegated to little more than a footnote in film history.

In 1963, a compilation film titled En compagnie de Max Linder/Laugh with Max Linder was released. Later his daughter made a documentary film titled L'homme au chapeau de soie/The Man in the Silk Hat (Maud Linder, 1983). Max Linder's comic gestures, planned expressions, anachronisms, contrasts, and use of the unexpected, as well as his comic chase scenes (pursuits) became again the inspiration for young comedians.

Max Linder appeared in more than 400 films, mostly short comedies. Only about 80 survive. His daughter and the keeper of his heritage, Maud Linder, passed away on 25 October 2017).

Clip with Max Linder and Maurice Tourneur in Champion de boxe/Boxing Champion (1910). Source: TheBzzz (YouTube).

Max Linder, Paris
A May 2009 photo of the Max Linder cinema in Paris.

Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, Pathe posters
Left a poster for the Max Linder comedy Avant et après/Before and After, exhibited at the Cinema Ritrovato festival 2009. Atrium of the Lumiere cinema, Bologna, Italy.

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Michael Brooke (IMDb), Wikipedia, Golden Silents, and IMDb.