20 September 2017

Louis Davids

Every year in early autumn, the Dutch film industry and public gather at the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF). For ten days, Utrecht is the capital of the Dutch cinema. During the festival, EFSP provides you daily with postcards of Dutch films and stars from the past. Today we start with Dutch cabaret and revue artist Louis Davids (1883-1939), who appeared in twenty Dutch films, both silent and sound pictures. He is widely considered one of the Netherlands biggest names in performing arts ever and many of his songs are evergreens in The Netherlands.

Louis Davids
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 582. Photo: Godfried de Groot.

Wonder Child

Louis Davids was born as Simon David in 1883 in Rotterdam's notorious Zandstraat quarter into a poor Jewish family. He was the son of the comedian and cafe owner Levie David and Francina Terveen. Both parents were performing artists and their children Louis, his older brother Hakkie and younger sisters Rika and Heintje started their entertainment career at a young age.

5 years old, Louis sang in mini-costume and high hat at all the state fairs with his brother Hakkie playing the piano. Newspapers called little Louis a ‘Wonder child’ or ‘Miniature Comedian’ and he was very successful. A big chance came a few years later. Only seven, he got a contract at Tivoli Theater in Rotterdam, where he performed under the name Louis Davids Jr.

Later he performed with his sister Rika on fairs and in coffee houses and music halls and he became a versatile artist. After an argument with his father, the 13-years-old left for England to be an assistant to the magician Akimoto. A year later, his father brought his son home, penniless but with a lot more experience in variety theatre. Together with his sister Rika he managed to secure a job outside of the fairs, working at the famous theatre Pschorr.

Brother and sister Davids moved to Amsterdam to work with by the variety director Frits van Haarlem at the Carré circus theatre where they had plenty of success in creating revues after English fashion. In the cafe-chantant Victoria in the Nes (a street in the old centre of Amsterdam) they performed songs like Een reisje langs den Rijn (A trip along the Rhine). During that time, the Nes and the artists who performed there were not really highly rated. Louis therefore hopes to return to Frits van Haarlem.

After Rika married English magician John Weil and moved to England, Louis formed a new duo with his youngest sister Henriëtte (Heintje). The second Davids duo was also a success. Heintje’s husband, Philip Pinkhof, wrote texts for the duo. In 1906, Davids married Rebecca Kokernoot with whom he had a daughter, Kitty. He was unhappy in his marriage.

Louis’ breakthrough was Koning 'Kziezoowat in Amsterdam/King Sissiwat in Amsterdam (1906). This was the first major revue in the Netherlands, written by Louis Davids and Frits van Haarlem, and with Davids in the leading role. For this revue four short films with Louis and Heintje Davids were produced by Frits van Haarlem, which became parts of the revue.

In 1909 Davids furthered his success by working with theatre director Henri ter Hall in the revue Doe er een deksel op (Make it a cover). The performances took place in Rotterdam, his birthplace. Rika was back and Heintje had a characteristic role. As with the previous revue, it was especially up to local events and the surprise element was the key to its success.

Louis Davids
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 803, 1925-1926. Collection: Marlene Pilaete.

He, She and the Piano

While on tour Louis Davids met British dancer Margie Morris who had moved to the Netherlands in 1913. Louis and Maggie formed the duo ‘He, She and the Piano’, where Maggie would take on the role as pianist and composer. They wrote dozens of songs together, he the text, she the music.

The charming Morris led him from the comic repertoire towards more mature songs. Margie encouraged Louis' artistic talents and helped him develop his own style. Thanks to the influence of English and American music in her compositions, the level of Louis’s songs increased. Their innovating, a bit jazz-like repertoire soon became known across the country. Davids and Morris also starred in countless revue such as Loop naar den Duivel (Walk to the Devil) in 1915, for which they wrote We gaan naar Zandvoort aan de zee (We go to Zandvoort by the sea), now a Dutch evergreen.

They also started to appear in the Dutch cinema. Their silent films include Amerikaansche meisjes/American Girls (Maurits Binger, Louis Davids, 1918) with Lola Cornero and Beppie de Vries, and De duivel in Amsterdam/The Devil in Amsterdam (Theo Frenkel, 1919) with Eduard Verkade and Louis Bouwmeester.

A famous stage musical from this period, for which they wrote several classic songs, is De Jantjes (The Tars) written by Herman Bouber and Davids in 1920. This hugely successful stage play was also released as a silent film, De Jantjes/The Tars (Maurits Binger, B.E. Doxat-Pratt, 1922) starring Beppie de Vries and Johan Elsensohn, and as a sound film, De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934).

Bouber, Davids and Morris also wrote the stage musicals Bleeke Bet/Bleak Beth (1917) and Oranje Hein/Orange Hein (1918), all situated in the Jordaan. Davids also appeared in other silent films such as the Herman Heijermans adaptation Schakels/Links (Maurits Binger, 1920) with Jan van Dommelen, Adelqui Migliar and Annie Bos, and Menschenwee/People woe (Theo Frenkel, 1921) with Willem van der Veer and Coen Hissink.

Davids celebrated his 25th anniversary as an artist in 1919 in Rotterdam's Pschorr theatre. After his jubilee Louis travelled with Margie, Rika and Heintje to India for a year and a half. In 1922 Margie Morris left him because of his countless infidelities. The couple had never married but they had a son together, Louis. His wife Betsy refused to divorce Louis, so they remained officially married until his death. Both Louis’s children would never have a good relationship with their father in their mature lives.

Jan van Ees, Willy Costello, Johan Kaart jr.
Dutch postcard by Hollandia Film Prod. / Loet C. Barnstijn. Photo: publicity still for De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934) with Jan van Ees, Willy Costello and Johan Kaart jr. as the three 'Jantjes'.

Bleeke Bet
Dutch postcard by Monopole Film, Rotterdam. Photo: Dick van Maarseveen. Still of a set built for Bleeke Bet (Alex Benno, Richard Oswald, 1934), a street in the old neighbourhood De Jordaan in Amsterdam. Set designer was Hans Ledersteger.

The Little Man

Between 1922 and 1926, Louis Davids was the director of the Casino Variété in Rotterdam, but the job of director did not hold his attention for long. In 1929, Davids appeared in the revue Lach en vergeet (Laugh and Forget) with the song which would probably become his most popular title De kleine man (The Little Man). It was written by Jacques van Tol, with whom Davids would work closely until his death in 1939, but Van Tol would be working anonymously.

Despite he was born in Rotterdam, Louis Davids was a popular performer of the ‘Jordaan repertoire’. The Jordaan is a 17th century-built working class neighbourhood in the heart of Amsterdam. Davids also appeared in typical ‘Jordaan films’, a genre based on the popular plays by Herman Bouber and Davids and Morris, such as Bleeke Bet/Bleak Beth (Alex Benno, 1923) with Alida van Gijtenbeek and Jan van Dommelen, and Oranje Hein/Orange Hein (Alex Benno, 1925), starring Johan Elsensohn and Aaf Bouber.

Davids made the transition to sound film in the short Hollandsch Hollywood/Dutch Hollywood (Ernst Winar, 1933), also with Heintje Davids and Fien de la Mar. After the enormous success of the sound version of De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934), he made one more film, Op stap/On the Move (Ernst Winar, 1935), co-starring Fien de la Mar and Frits van Dongen (a.k.a. Philip Dorn). In this musical Davids sang several songs, including his evergreen Als je voor een dubbeltje geboren bent (When you are born for a nickel).

At the time, Davids was especially renowned for his work for the Scheveningen Kurhaus Cabaret in the summers from 1931 till 1938. There Davids founded the careers of Dutch cabaret stars like Wim Kan, Corry Vonk, and Wim Sonneveld. In 1937 Davids had to give up his cabaret work at the Kurhaus due to his asthma. That year, he was named Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau.

In 1939, Louis Davids died in Amsterdam, only 55. (Some sources, like IMDb, mention cancer as the cause, other sources mention a heart attack or his asthma as the cause). During the Second World War, Rika and Harkie Davids both were murdered in 1943 in Sobibor concentration camp. Heintje knew to survive the Nazis. After the war she continued to perform and keep the repertoire of her brother alive. Today, Louis Davids’s songs are still popular. They can be heard on the soundtrack of films like Rooie Sien/Red Sien (Frans Weisz, 1975) featuring Willeke Alberti, and TV series like Moeder, ik wil bij de revue/Mother, I want to join the revue (Rita Horst, 2012) with Egbert Jan Weeber.

Heintje Davids and Sylvain Poons sing Omdat ik zoveel van je hou (Beacause I love you so much) in De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934). Source: Pieter de Groot (YouTube).

Louis Davids sings Als je voor een dubbeltje geboren bent (When you are born for a nickel) in Op stap/On the Move (Ernst Winar, 1935). Source: brassens66 (YouTube).

Sources: Heintje Davids, Johan Luger, H.P. van den Aardweg (Louis Davids, Een kleine man die je nooit vergeet – Dutch), M.E.H.N. Mout ( - Dutch), Een leven lang theater (Dutch), Stadsarchief Rotterdam (Dutch), Wikipedia and IMDb.

19 September 2017

Magda Schneider

German singer and actress Magda Schneider (1909-1996) is best known as the mother of film star Romy Schneider, but in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, she herself starred in some 40 films. First she appeared on the screen as a charming Wiener mädel (girl from Vienna) and after the war she often played the understanding mother or aunt.

Magda Schneider
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6561/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Schneider, Berlin.

Magda Schneider
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6817/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Studio Lenné, Berlin.

Magda Schneider
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7099/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Atelier Casparius, Berlin.

Magda Schneider
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7099/2, 1932-1933. Photo: Atelier Casparius, Berlin.

Otto Wallburg and Magda Schneider in Marion, das gehört sich nicht (1933)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7415/1, 1932-1933. Photo: IF. Publicity still for Marion, das gehört sich nicht/Marion, That's Not Nice (E.W. Emo, 1933) with Otto Wallburg.

Magda Schneider
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7930/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Atelier Binder, Berlin.


Magdalena Schneider was born in 1909 in Augsburg, Germany. She was the daughter of a plumber, Xaverius Schneider and his wife Maria Meier-Hörmann.

After visiting a Catholic girl’s school Magda studied stenography and office management at a business school and worked as a steno typist for a grain merchant. In her leisure time she studied singing at the Leopold-Mozart-Konservatorium Augsburg and followed ballet classes at the Stadtheater of her native town.

As a soubrette she made her debut in the operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) and played several parts in comedies in the Stadttheater of Augsburg and later also in the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in München (Munich). There she was discovered by director Ernst Marischka, who invited her to work for the Theater an der Wien.

In 1930 she made her first film appearance in Boykott/Boycott (Robert Land, 1930) with Lil Dagover. Two years later she launched her film career after a film test at the Ufa studio.

She could be seen singing and dancing in such films as Zwei in einem Auto/Two in a Car (Joe May, 1932) with Kurt Gerron, Das Testament des Cornelius Gulden/The Testament of Cornelius Gulden (E.W. Emo, 1932) with Georg Alexander and Theo Lingen, Das Lied einer Nacht/Tell Me Tonight (Anatole Litvak, 1932) at the side of the star tenor Jan Kiepura, and eventually the poetic masterpiece Liebelei/Flirtation (Max Ophüls, 1933) co-starring Paul Hörbiger.

Liebelei, based on a play by Arthur Schnitzler, was one of her best films in which she could unfold her whole acting talent. 25 years later, her role in Liebelei was played by her daughter, Romy Schneider, in the film Christine (Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1958).

Fritz Schulz and Magda Schneider in Das Lied einer Nacht (1932)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 146/1. Photo: Cine-Allianz-Film der Ufa. Publicity still of Fritz Schulz and Magda Schneider in Das Lied einer Nacht/The Song of Night (Anatole Litvak, 1932).

Magda Schneider
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 441. Sent by mail in 1933. Photo: City Film.

Magda Schneider, Georg Alexander
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 397. Photo: City Film. Publicity still for Ein bißchen Liebe für Dich/A Bit of Love (Max Neufeld, 1932) with Georg Alexander.

Hermann Thimig & Magda Schneider
Dutch Postcard for Glück über Nacht/Happiness Over Night (Max Neufeld, 1932) with Hermann Thimig. Photo: City-Film. Notice the modern furniture & set design.

Albert Lieven, Magda Schneider
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8843/1, 1934-1935. Photo: Badal Filmproduktion. Publicity still for Fräulein Liselott/Miss Liselott (Johannes Guter, 1934) with Albert Lieven.

Magda Schneider and Willi Forst in Ich Kenn Dich Nicht Und Liebe Dich (1934)
British postcard. Photo: publicity still for Ich Kenn Dich Nicht Und Liebe Dich/I Don't Know You, But I Love You (Géza von Bolváry, 1934) with Willi Forst.

Wolf Albach-Retty

During the production of the film Kind, ich freu mich auf dein Kommen/Child, I please me about your arrival (Kurt Gerron, 1933), Magda Schneider met her first husband, actor Wolf Albach-Retty.

They appeared in eight films together, including G'schichten aus dem Wienerwald/Tales from Vienna Woods (Georg Jacoby, 1934), and Rendezvous in Wien/Rendezvous in Vienna (Victor Janson, 1936).

The couple married in 1937 and would have two children, Rosemarie Magdalena, called Romy (1938-1982), and Wolfgang Dieter (1941), later a surgeon. The couple divorced in 1945 (some sources say 1946, others 1949).

Other films in which Magda appeared during the 1930s and 1940s were Eva (Johannes Riemann, 1935) with Heinz Rühmann, Frauenliebe – Frauenleid/Woman’s Love – Woman’s Sorrow (Augusto Genina, 1937) with Iván Petrovich, and Liebeskomödie/Love’s Comedy (Theo Lingen, 1942).

Wolf Albach-Retty and Magda Schneider
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1597/1, 1937-1938. Photo: Sandau, Berlin. With Wolf Albach-Retty.

Magda Schneider
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3640/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

Magda Schneider
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3826/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Hämmerer / Wien Film. From Tatiana.

Magda Schneider
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3826/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Wesel / Berlin-Film.

Magda Schneider
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. W 88. Photo: Berlin Film / Wesel.

Magda Schneider
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 151, 1941-1944. Photo: Wesel / Berlin-Film.

Ambitious Mother

After the Second World War, Magda Schneider found that film offers were scarce, and she mainly appeared in guest roles on stage.

The first post-war film in which she was seen was <1>Ein Mann gehört ins Haus/A man belongs in the house (Hubert Marischka, 1948), that was already filmed in 1945.

In the 1950s, she got more film offers, but she decided to focus herself on the film career of her daughter Romy Schneider. Mother and daughter appeared together in Romy's film debut Wenn der weiße Flieder wieder blüht/When the White Lilacs Bloom Again (Hans Deppe, 1953), Mädchenjahre einer Königin/The Story of Vickie (Ernst Marischka, 1954), Die Deutschmeister/A March for the Emperor (Ernst Marischka, 1955), Robinson soll nicht sterben/The Legend of Robinson Crusoe (Josef von Báky, 1956), and Die Halbzarte/Eva (Rolf Thiele, 1958).

Best known of course is the Sissi Trilogy (Ernst Marischka, 1955-1957), based on the life of Elisabeth of Bavaria. Romy Schneider starred in the title role and Magda Schneider played the role of her mother, Princess Ludovika of Bavaria.

In 1953 Magda married Hans Herbert Blatzheim, a Cologne restaurant owner, who died in 1968. Her last appearance for the cameras was in the TV series Drei Frauen im Haus/Three Women in the House (1968) and the sequel Vier Frauen im Haus/Four Women in the House (1969).

In 1982, Magda married cinematographer Horst Fehlhaber. That same year she was awarded the Filmband in Gold. In the last years of her life Magda Schneider had to bear the tragic deaths of her grandson David in 1981 and of her daughter Romy in 1982.

Magda Schneider passed away in 1996 in Berchtesgaden, Germany. She was 87.

Magda Schneider
Lithuanian postcard by Izd. IRA, Riga.

Romy Schneider and Magda Schneider
Dutch postcard. Photo: Melior. Sent by mail in 1957. Photo: publicity still for Wenn der weiße Flieder wieder blüht/When the White Lilacs Bloom Again (Hans Deppe, 1953) with Romy Schneider.

Romy Schneider and Magda Schneider in Sissi - Die junge Kaiserin (1956)
Dutch postcard by Takken, no. 3092. Photo: Filmex NV. Publicity still for Sissi - Die junge Kaiserin/Sissi: The Young Empress (Ernst Marischka, 1956) with Romy Schneider.

Romy Schneider and Magda Schneider in Venice
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg. Photo: Ufa/Film-Foto. The photo was made during the shooting of Sissi - Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin/Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress (Ernst Marischka, 1957) with Romy Schneider.

Final scene of Liebelei (Max Ophüls, 1933). Source: BD130.

German trailer for Sissi - Die junge Kaiserin (Ernst Marischka, 1956). Source: UweundPiaFan (YouTube).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-Line - German), Wikipedia, (German), Fippi2000 (IMDb) and IMDb.

18 September 2017

Jean Toulout

Jean Toulout (1887-1962) was a French stage and screen actor, director and scriptwriter. He was married to the actress Yvette Andreyor between 1917 and 1926. From 1913 on, he had an intense career in the French silent cinema.

Jean Toulout
French postcard by Editions-Cinémagazine.

A jealous, evil husband

Jean Joseph Charles Toulout was born in Paris in 1887. This biography is largely based on Toulout’s filmography while no real bio has been published online about him. According to Wikipedia, Toulout started to act on stage around 1907, when he played in the Victor Hugo play Marion Delorme at the Comédie Française.

One year after, he was acting at the Théàtre des Arts, so if he ever was a member of the Comédie Française, then it was not for long. In 1911 he travelled around with Firmin Gémier’s wandering stage company, but around 1913 he settled in Paris playing in André Antoine’s 1913 stage production of Paul Lindau’s The Prosecutor Hallers.

In 1912, Toulout debuted in the French cinema. Soon, his film career would become much more intense than his stage career. All-in all he would act in some 100 films within four decades.

Toulout started his screen career in short films by Abel Gance for Gance’s company Le film français. These included Il y a des pieds au plafond/There are feet on the ceiling, Le Nègre blanc/The White Negro, La Digue/The Dyke, Le Masque d’horreur/The Mask of Horror, all made in 1912. Soon, he also played various parts for Gaumont, Pathé and smaller companies. These films included La Maison des lions/The House of the Lions (Louis Feuillade, 1912), L’Homme qui assassina/The man who assassinated (Henri Andréani, 1913) and Les Enfants d'Édouard/The Children of Édouard (Henri Andréani, 1914).

In L’homme qui assassina, he is the evil, adulterous Lord Falkland [!], who presses his equally adulterous but goodhearted wife (Mlle Michelle) to either say goodbye to her child or publicly confess her sin, but her lover (Firmin Gémier) kills the husband and is even acquitted by the local Turkish commissionary (Adolphe Candé), who is very understanding in these matters.

Toulout didn’t act on screen in 1915, possibly because he was in the army during the First World War. From later 1916, he was back on track in several Gaumont films by Louis Feuillade and others. When he played in L’Autre/The Other (Louis Feuillade, 1917), he met the actress Yvette Andreyor, famous for her parts in Feuillade’s serials Fantomas and Judex. They married in 1917. Toulout and Andreyor would perform together in various films until their divorce in 1926.

Toulout was the evil antagonist of Emmy Lynn in La Dixième Symphonie/The Tenth Symphony (Abel Gance, 1918), blackmailing her for having accidentally killed his sister. She risks to wreck her new marriage with a composer (Séverin-Mars) but also the life of the composer’s daughter (Elizabeth Nizan). Luckily for the others he doesn’t kill them, only himself. As Wikipedia writes, “Gance's mastery of lighting, composition and editing was accompanied by a range of literary and artistic references which some critics found pretentious and alienating.”

He would be reunited with Emmy Lynn in La faute d’Odette Marchal/The fault of Odette Maréchal (Henri Roussel, 1920), and also - again as a jealous, evil husband - with Séverin-Mars in Jacques Landauze (1920) by André Hugon. With Hugon, Toulout would do several films in the 1920s and 1930s: including Le Roi de Camargue/The King of Camargue (1921), La Rue du pavé d'amour/The Pavement of Love (1923), and the first French sound film, Les Trois masques/The Three Masks (1929), shot at the London Elstree studios in only 15 days.

Jean Toulout
French postcard in the series Les Vedettes du Cinéma by Editions Filma, no. 28. Photo: Agence Générale Cinématographique.

A night in a haunted house

Jean Toulout also acted in films by Pierre Bressol, such as Le Mystère de la villa Mortain/The mystery of Villa Mortain (1919), and La Mission du docteur Klivers/The Mission of Doctor Klivers (1919), by Jacques Robert, Henri Fescourt, Armand du Plessis, and by Germaine Dulac, such as La fète espagnole/Spanish Fiesta (1920), and La belle dame sans-merci/The beautiful lady without mercy (1920). In La belle dame sans-merci he is a local count who finds a playful femme fatale he brought home is wrecking his whole family.

In Chantelouve (Georges Monca, 1921), he was once more the jealous husband who threatens to kill his wife (Yvette Andreyor). In La conquête des Gaules (Yan B. Dyl, Marcel Yonnet, 1923) he is a film director who tries to film Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul (modern France and Belgium) with only modest means. In Le Crime de Monique/The Crime of Monique (Robert Péguy, 1923) Yvette Andreyor is accused of killing her brutal violent husband (Toulout, of course).

Toulout also acted in Abel Gance’s hilarious comedy Au secours!/Help!(1924), starring Max Linder as a man who takes a bet to stay a night in a haunted house. When Max Linder returned to France after working in the US, he bet his friend Abel Gance - known for making big spectacles - that he couldn't make a film in less than three days. Gance accepted the bet, and this film is the result.

Toulout masterfully performed the persistent commissioner Javert in Les Misérables (Henri Fescourt, 1925), opposite Gabriel Gabrio as Jean Valjean. When a restored version was shown at the Giornate del Cinema Muto festival in Pordenone in October 2015, Peter Walsh wrote on his blog Burnt Retina: “Gabriel Gabrio as Jean Valjean was a towering presence on screen, and his redemptive arc, and gradual aging were shown in a convincing way. Jean Toulout as Javert was also superb, at times overpowered by some of the mightiest brows and mutton chops I’ve seen in a long time. The climax of his personal crisis, and collapse of his moral world was incredibly striking, with extreme close-ups capturing a bristling performance.”

After smaller parts as in Antoinette Sabrier (Germaine Dulac, 1927), in which Toulout would be paired with Gabrio again, Toulout left the set in 1928 and returned to the stage for Le Carnaval de l'amour at the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin.

In 1929, however, Toulout was back on the screen as Mr de Villefort in the late silent film Monte Christo (Henri Fescourt, 1929) – the last big silent French production. He also appeared in the first French sound film Les Trois masques/The Three Masks (André Hugon, 1930) as a Corsican whose son (François Rozet) makes a girl (Renée Heribel) pregnant, after which her brothers take revenge during the carnival.

Toulout had the lead in the Henry Bataille adaptation La Tendresse/Tenderness (André Hugon, 1930) as a famous, older academic who discovers his much younger wife (Marcelle Chantal) isn’t as much in love with him as he is with her. When he gravely falls ill he however discovers she still gave the best of her life to him.

Jean Toulout
French postcard in the series Nos artistes dans leur loge, no. 325. Photo: Comoedia.

Fathers, judges, doctors, officers, and aristocrats

In 1930, Jean Toulout also tried his luck in film direction. Together with Joe Francis, he directed Le Tampon du Capiston (Joe Francis, Jean Toulout, 1930), a comical operetta film on an old spinster (Hélène Hallier), a captain’s sister, who wants to marry the captain’s aide (Rellys) who presumably has inherited a fortune.

In the same year, Toulout also wrote the scripts for two other films, both directed by André Hugon: La Femme et le Rossignol/Nightingale Girl (1930) and Lévy & Cie (1930), the first film of a series of four featuring Salomon and Moïse Lévy. In 1931 Toulout also scripted Moritz macht sein Glück, a German film by Dutch director Jaap Speijer.

The collaboration with Hugon continued when Toulout scripted and starred in Le Marchand de sable (André Hugon, 1931), while he had a supporting part in Hugon’s La Croix du Sud (André Hugon, 1931). The collaboration with Hugon would last till well into the mid-1940s with Le Faiseur (1936), Monsieur Bégonia (1937), La Rue sans joie (1938), Le Héros de la Marne (1938), La Sévillane (1943), and Le Chant de l'exilé (1943).

All through the 1930s Toulout had a steady, intense career as actor, but in 1934 he also directed his second film, La Reine du Biarritz, in which he himself had only a small part. Alice Field played Elenita de Sierra Mirador, who is the toast of Biarritz. For her, a young groom leaves his wife, and a forty-year-old inflamed suddenly deceives his young wife. But Elenita watched by her mother resigns herself to becoming honest and returns to her husband.

Otherwise Toulout had mostly supporting parts, as in Le petit roi/The Little King (1933) by Julien Duvivier, Fédora (Louis Gasnier, 1934), Les Nuits moscovites/Moscow Nights (Alexis Granowsky, 1934), and Le Bonheur/Happiness (Marcel L’Herbier, 1934). He played the jealous, shooting husband again in Le Vertige/Vertigo (Paul Schiller, 1935), again opposite Alice Field.

Toulout was the judge who forces Henri Garat and Lilian Harvey to marry on the spot in Les Gais lurons (Jacques Natanson, Paul Martin), the French version of Martin’s Glückskinder/Lucky Kids (1936). He is also the prosecutor in La Danseuse rouge/The Red Dancer (Jean-Paul Paulin, 1937), a courtroom drama starring Vera Korène, inspired by Mata Hari’s trial.

Toulout continued to act minor film parts in the late 1930s, during the war years and the late 1940s. Continuously, he played fathers, judges, doctors, officers, aristocrats. But he didn’t have major parts anymore. Memorable were his roles in Édouard et Caroline (Jacques Becker, 1951), starring Daniel Gélin and Anne Vernon, and – again, as a judge - in Obsession (Jean Delannoy, 1952) with Michèle Morgan and Raf Vallone.

Toulout also worked as voice actor in France. He dubbed Donald Crisp in How Green Was My Valley (John Ford, 1941, released in France in 1946), and Nigel Bruce in Limelight (Charles Chaplin, 1952). In the late 1950s, Toulout also acted on television.

Jean Toulout died in Paris in 1962. He was 75.

Au Secours/Help! (Abel Gance, 1924) with Max Linder and Jean Toulout. Source: Gunner Lonnberg (YouTube).

Sources: Peter Walsh (Burnt Retina), CinéArtistes (French), Wikipedia (English, French and Italian), and IMDb.