20 April 2018

Bromofoto

After the Second World War and the end of the fascist era, new publishing firms started to produce postcards in Italy. One of these firms was Bromofoto in Milano (Milan). Bromofoto started with topographic subjects, but soon discovered the blossoming Italian cinema. They produced a postcard series of the sensational box office hit Riso amaro/Bitter Rice (1949) with Silvana Mangano in hot pants. Throughout the 1950s, the Milanese publisher continued to make postcards with stills of film scenes and international star portraits, all in glamorous black and white.

Mamie van Doren
Mamie van Doren. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano (Milan). Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1958.

Raymond Pellegrin and Gina Lollobrigida in La romana
Raymond Pellegrin and Gina Lollobrigida. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano. Photo: Minerva Film. Publicity still for La romana/ Woman of Rome (Luigi Zampa, 1954).

Nadia Gray
Nadia Gray. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 135. Photo: Dear Film. Publicity still for Puccini (Carmine Gallone, 1953).

Walter Chiari
Walter Chiari. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 136.

Shelley Winters
Shelley Winters. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 316. Photo: Universal International.

Barbara Payton
Barbara Payton. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 348. Photo: Warner Bros.

Marcello Mastroianni in Febbre di vivere (1953)
Marcello Mastroianni. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 460. Photo: Atlantis Film. Publicity still for Febbre di vivere/Eager to Live (Claudio Gora, 1953).

Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy (1949)
Peggy Cummins. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 563. Photo: publicity still for Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1949).

Mara Lane
Mara Lane. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 968. Photo: ENIC.

Maria Felix
Maria Felix. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1068. Photo: ENIC. Publicity still for Les héros sont fatigués/Heroes and Sinners (Yves Ciampi, 1955).

Franco Interlenghi and Antonella Lualdi
Franco Interlenghi and Antonella Lualdi. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1234. Photo: Italy's News Photos.

Anita Ekberg
Anita Ekberg. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano., no. 1603. Photo: Dear Film.

Nino Manfredi in Carmela è una bambola (1958)
Nino Manfredi. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1710. Photo: Euro International Films. Publicity still for Carmela è una bambola/Carmela is a doll (Gianni Puccini, 1958).

Mario Girotti (Terence Hill)
Mario Girotti. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1807. Photo: Titanus. Publicity still for Lazarella (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1957).

Myriam Bru in Il padrone sono me (1955)
Myriam Bru. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1826. Photo: Dear Film. Publicity still for Il padrone sono me/The master is me (Franco Brusati, 1955).

19 April 2018

Jacques Pills

French artist Jacques Pills (1906-1970) was an agreeable light singer and crooner. Before the war, he formed a successful duo with Georges Tabet. In 1959, Pills was the Monegasque entrant at the Eurovision Song Contest 1959 with the song Mon ami Pierrot. He also appeared in several films, but Pills's main claim to fame are his marriages to two illustrious singers, Lucienne Boyer and Édith Piaf.

Jacques Pills
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 260. Photo: Carlet ainé, Paris.

American jazz and Hawaiian style songs


Jacques Pills was born René Jacques Ducos in 1906 in Tulle, France.

After studying medicine, he turned to the music hall by participating in shows at the Casino de Paris, alongside Mistinguett.

He started a duo with the pianist Pierre Courmontagnes, under the name of Pills and Ward. When the latter left, Georges Tabet replaced him at the Casino de Paris. In 1931, they performed American jazz at Boeuf sur le Toit.

In 1932, Pills et Tabet reached success with the song Couchés dans le foin, written by Mireille and Jean Nohain. Several hits followed. Pills and Tabet separated in 1939. That same year, Pills married French singer Lucienne Boyer.

Jacques Pills started a solo career while Tabet became a screenwriter for the cinema. Pills recorded songs of Bruno Coquatrix, his impresario: Mon Ange (1940) and Dans un coin de mon pays (1940). He also had a huge success with a song in Hawaiian style, Avec son ukulele.

Like many other singing stars, Pills made films, including a few alongside Tabet, nearly always in the role of a singer. In 1932 he made his film debut in the sports film Chouchou poids plume/A Gentleman of the Ring (Robert Bibal, 1932), starring Geo Laby.

His films like the comedy Toi, c'est moi/You, it's me (René Guissart, 1936) and Prends la route/Take the road (Jean Boyer, 1936) were no masterpieces, mainly musicals designed to entertain undemanding fans. They cheered up enthusiastic crowds, but are forgotten today.

Jacques Pills and Georges Tabet
Jacques Pills and Georges Tabet. French postcard by PC, Paris, no. 78. Photo: G. Marant.

Pills et Tabet
Pills et Tabet. French postcard by EC, no. 70. Photo: Studio Paz.

A welcome dark spot


From the 1940s on, Jacques Pills continued to appear in a string of light comedies.

The only exception in the unexpected thriller, Seul dans la nuit/Alone in the Night (Christian Stengel, 1945) starring Bernard Blier. In the film a singer (Pills)'s hit Seul dans la nuit is heard whenever a woman is murdered by a lady-killer. Worse, this beloved singer might be the serial killer himself… Guy Bellinger at IMDb: “A welcome dark spot in too sunny an output.”

Jacques Pills and Lucienne Boyer divorced in 1951. The following year, he married singer Édith Piaf. However, in 1957, this marriage also ended in a divorce.

In 1953 he played the lead in the film Boum sur Paris (Maurice de Canonge, 1953). The film was built around the popular radio program La Kermesse aux Étoiles, hosted by Jean Nohain, mixing lottery games and performances of various artists. In the film the show is disturbed by a man (Pills) and his bride (Danielle Godet) seeking to retrieve a dangerous perfume bottle (explosive) which was inadvertently mixed with prizes. Among the performing stars were Gary Cooper, Édith Piaf, Juliette Gréco, Gilbert Bécaud and Gregory Peck as themselves.

In 1959, Pills was the Monegasque entrant at the Eurovision Song Contest 1959 with the song Mon ami Pierrot. The song ended last, in eleventh place and got only one point. Pills was the father of Jacqueline Boyer, who won the 1960 Eurovision contest the year after her father's participation for France singing Tom Pillibi.

Jacques Pills died in 1970 in Paris. He was 64. In the Édith Piaf biopic La môme/The passionate life of Edith Piaf (Olivier Dahan, 2007), his character is interpreted by Laurent Olmedo.

Jacques Pills
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 253. Photo: Harcourt, Paris.

Jacques Pills
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 186. Photo: Carlet ainé, Paris.


Jacques Pills sings Seul dans la nuit. Source: holdabaum (YouTube).

Sources: Guy Bellinger (IMDb), Le Hall de la Chanson (French), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

18 April 2018

Ahasver (1917)

Carl de Vogt played the leading role in the German silent drama Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917), a three-part film on the story of the Wandering Jew, a mythical immortal man whose legend began to spread in Europe in the 13th century. The original legend concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. The exact nature of the wanderer's indiscretion varies in different versions of the tale. In this early film version Ahasver is condemned to bring misfortune.

Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (1917)
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3057. Photo: Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft. Publicity still of Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917).

Carl de Vogt in Ahasver
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, no 3142. Photo: Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft (DBG). Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917).

Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (1917)
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3143. Publicity still of Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917).

The eternal Jew


In the first part of the trilogy, Ahasver, 1. Teil (1917), Ahasver reaches the gates of a castle on a journey through time in the year 1400 during a stormy night, but he is initially rejected by the farmers. While the storm rages outside, they take pity on him and bring Ahasver into the sheltered rooms.

There he begins to tell his story and why he is condemned to eternal restlessness. He describes how he is said to have cold-heartedly rejected the collapsing Jesus Christ in front of his home in Jerusalem. Ahasver later marries the daughter of the tenant, but brings, because of the curse on him, from now on only great misfortune about this family. And so he has to continue to move restlessly.

In the second part, Ahasver, 2. Teil - Die Tragödie der Eifersucht/The Tragedy of Jealousy (1917), Ahasver learns to know Count Gotheberg on his endless wanderings. Gotheberg is sentenced to death and and will be executed by means of a guillotine. Ahasver can save him from this bloody fate, but he develops erotic desires towards the count's beloved Eleonore. It comes as it has to come: the two men are in controversy over the coveted woman and in the fight the count dies.

In he third part, Ahasver, 3. Teil - Das Gespenst der Vergangenheit/The Spectre of the Past (1917), Ahasver becomes the director of a mine. He discovers a pretty young girl named Johanna in the ghetto, takes her with him and gives her to a junk dealer. Johanna grows up and falls in love with Ahasver's mining engineer Baumann. But Ahasver falls into the same sin: he desires the other one's woman. He seduces Johanna and ensures that his competitor Baumann dies.

Director-writer Robert Reinert shot Ahasver from May to June 1917 in the Bioscop studios of Neubabelsberg. The film sets were designed by Robert A. Dietrich and executed by Artur Günther. Hanns Lippmann was production manager.

The film was received well by the German critics. German film magazine Neue Kino-Rundschau: "All the advantages that we emphasised at the time of the huge film work Homunculus are also valid for this film... The performances are also excellent. Noteworthy is lead actor Carl de Vogt. Even his gloomy appearance seems to have been created for the role of the eternal Jew. He also knows how to express the terrible anguish of the restless."

Carl de Vogt in Ahasver
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3144. Photo: Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft (DBG). Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (Robert Reinert 1917).

Carl de Vogt and Johannes Riemann in Ahasver
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3146. Photo: Carl de Vogt and Johannes Riemann in Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917).

Carl de Vogt in Ahasver
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3147. Photo: Johannes Riemann, Dora Schlüter and Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917).

Sources: Neue Kino-Rundschau (German), Filmportal.de (German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.