03 May, 2018

Pierre Fresnay

Pierre Fresnay was a French stage and film actor.

Born Pierre Jules Louis Laudenbach, he was encouraged by his uncle, actor Claude Garry, to pursue a career in theater and film. During the 1920s, Fresnay appeared in many popular stage productions, most notably in the title role of Marcel Pagnol’s Marius (1929), which ran for over 500 performances. His first great screen role was as Marius in the 1931 film adaptation of the play of the same name. He replayed the role in the next two parts of Marcel Pagnol's Marseilles Trilogy, Fanny (1932) and César (1936).

He appeared in more than 60 films, eight of which were with Yvonne Printemps, with whom he lived since 1934. In that same year, he appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. In 1937, he portrayed the aristocratic French military officer Captain de Boeldieu in Jean Renoir's masterpiece La Grande Illusion.

In 1947, he played Vincent de Paul in Monsieur Vincent, for which he won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival.

Conrad Veidt

Hans Walter Conrad Veidt was a German actor best remembered for his roles in films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Man Who Laughs (1928), and, after being forced to migrate to Britain by the rise of Nazism in Germany, his English-speaking roles in The Thief of Bagdad (1940), and, in Hollywood, Casablanca (1942), in which he appeared as Major Strasser. After a successful career in German silent film, where he was one of the best-paid stars of Ufa, he left Germany in 1933 with his new Jewish wife after the Nazis came to power. They settled in Britain, where he participated in several films before emigrating to the United States around 1941.

Veidt was born in a bourgeois district of Berlin, Germany, the son of Amalie Marie (née Gohtz) and Phillip Heinrich Veidt.

In 1914, Veidt met actress Lucie Mannheim, with whom he began a relationship. Later in the year Veidt was conscripted into the German Army during World War I. In 1915, he was sent to the Eastern Front as a non-commissioned officer and took part in the Battle of Warsaw. He contracted jaundice and pneumonia, and had to be evacuated to a hospital on the Baltic Sea. While recuperating, he received a letter from Mannheim telling him that she had found work at a theatre in Libau. Intrigued, Veidt applied for the theatre as well. As his condition had not improved, the army allowed him to join the theatre so that he could entertain the troops. While performing at the theatre, he ended his relationship with Mannheim. In late 1916, he was re-examined by the Army and deemed unfit for service; he was given a full discharge in January 1917. Veidt returned to Berlin to pursue his acting career.

From 1916 until his death, Veidt appeared in more than 100 films. One of his earliest performances was as the murderous somnambulist Cesare in director Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), a classic of German Expressionist cinema, with Werner Krauss and Lil Dagover. His starring role in The Man Who Laughs (1928), as a disfigured circus performer whose face is cut into a permanent grin, provided the (visual) inspiration for the Batman villain the Joker, created in 1940 by Bill Finger. Veidt also starred in other silent horror films such as The Hands of Orlac (1924), another film directed by Robert Wiene, The Student of Prague (1926) and Waxworks (1924) where he played Ivan the Terrible.

Veidt also appeared in Magnus Hirschfeld's film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others, 1919), one of the first films to sympathetically portray homosexuality, although the characters in it do not end up happily. He had a leading role in Germany's first talking picture, Das Land ohne Frauen (Land Without Women, 1929).

He moved to Hollywood in the late 1920s and made a few films, but the advent of talking pictures and his difficulty with speaking English led him to return to Germany. During this period, he lent his expertise to tutoring aspiring performers, one of whom was the later American character actress Lisa Golm.

Veidt fervently opposed the Nazi regime and donated a major portion of his personal fortune to Britain to assist in the war effort. Soon after the Nazi Party took power in Germany, and by March 1933 Joseph Goebbels was purging the film industry of anti-Nazi sympathizers and Jews, and so in 1933, a week after Veidt's marriage to Ilona Prager, a Jewish woman, the couple emigrated to Britain before any action could be taken against either of them.

Goebbels had imposed a "racial questionnaire" in which everyone employed in the German film industry had to declare their "race" to continue to work. When Veidt was filling in the questionnaire, he answered the question about what his Rasse (race) was by writing that he was a Jude (Jew). Veidt was not Jewish, but his wife was Jewish, and Veidt would not renounce the woman he loved. Additionally, Veidt who was opposed to anti-Semitism wanted to show solidarity with the German Jewish community, who were rapidly being stripped of their rights as German citizens in the spring of 1933. As one of Germany's most popular actors, Veidt had already been informed that if he was prepared to divorce his wife and declare his support for the new regime, he could continue to act in Germany. Several other leading actors who had been opposed to the Nazis before 1933 switched allegiances. In answering the questionnaire by stating he was a Jew, Veidt rendered himself unemployable in Germany, but stated this sacrifice was worth it as there was nothing in the world that would compel him to break with his wife. Upon hearing about what Veidt had done, Goebbels remarked that he would never act in Germany again.

After arriving in Britain, he perfected his English and starred in the title role of the original anti-Nazi version of Lion Feuchtwanger's novel, Jew Süss (1934) directed by German-born US director Lothar Mendes and produced by Alexander Korda for Michael Balcon's Denham Studio. He became a British citizen by 1938. By this point multi-lingual, Veidt made films in both French with expatriate French directors and in English, including three of his best-known roles for British director Michael Powell in The Spy in Black (1939), Contraband (1940) and The Thief of Bagdad (1940).

By 1941, he and Ilona had moved to Hollywood to assist in the British effort in making American films that might persuade the then-neutral and still isolationist US to join the war against the Nazis, who had conquered all of continental Europe and were bombing the United Kingdom at the time. Before leaving the United Kingdom, Veidt gave his life savings to the British government to help finance the war effort. Realizing that Hollywood would most likely typecast him in Nazi roles, he had his contract mandate that they must always be villains.

He starred in a few films, such as George Cukor's A Woman's Face (1941) where he received billing just under Joan Crawford's and Nazi Agent (1942), in which he had a dual role as both an aristocratic German Nazi spy and as the man's twin brother, an anti-Nazi American. His best-known Hollywood role was as the sinister Major Heinrich Strasser in Casablanca (1942), a film which was written and began pre-production before the United States entered World War II.

Conrad Veidt died on April 3, 1943 of a massive heart attack while playing golf at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. 

Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard is a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic. He rose to prominence as a pioneer of the 1960s French New Wave film movement.

Like his New Wave contemporaries, Godard criticized mainstream French cinema's "Tradition of Quality", which "emphasized craft over innovation, privileged established directors over new directors, and preferred the great works of the past to experimentation." Because of such argument, he and like-minded critics started to make their own films. Many of Godard's films challenge the conventions of traditional Hollywood in addition to French cinema. In 1964, Godard described his and his colleagues' impact: "We barged into the cinema like cavemen into the Versailles of Louis XV." He is often considered the most radical French filmmaker of the 1960s and 1970s; his approach in film conventions, politics and philosophies made him arguably the most influential director of the French New Wave. Along with showing knowledge of film history through homages and references, several of his films expressed his political views; he was an avid reader of existential and Marxist philosophy.

Since the New Wave, his politics have been much less radical, and his recent films are about representation and human conflict from a humanist, and a Marxist perspective.

In a 2002 Sight & Sound poll, Godard ranked third in the critics' top-ten directors of all time; which was put together by assembling the directors of the individual films for which the critics voted. He is said to have "created one of the largest bodies of critical analysis of any filmmaker since the mid-twentieth century." He and his work have been central to narrative theory and have "challenged both commercial narrative cinema norms and film criticism's vocabulary." In 2010, Godard was awarded an Academy Honorary Award, but did not attend the award ceremony. Godard's films have inspired many directors including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Brian De Palma, Steven Soderbergh, D. A. Pennebaker, Robert Altman, Jim Jarmusch, Wong Kar-wai, Wim Wenders, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Oliver Baldwin

Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin, 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, known as Viscount Corvedale from 1937 to 1947, was a British socialist politician who had a career at political odds with his father, the Conservative prime minister Stanley Baldwin.

Educated at Eton, which he hated, Baldwin left as soon as he could. After serving in the army during the First World War he undertook various jobs, including a brief appointment as an officer in the Armenian army, and wrote journalism and books on a range of topics. He served two terms as a Labour Member of Parliament between 1929 and 1947.

Baldwin never achieved ministerial office in Britain. His last post was as Governor of the Leeward Islands, from 1948 to 1950.

Robert T. Hartmann

Robert Trowbridge Hartmann was an American political advisor, speechwriter and reporter, who served as Chief of Staff for Vice President Gerald Ford and Counselor to the President when Ford was elevated to the presidency in 1974.

Hartmann was born April 8, 1917, in Rapid City, South Dakota, the only child of Miner Louis and Elizabeth Trowbridge Hartmann. His father was a chemical engineer and a patent lawyer. Hartmann grew up in Upstate New York and Southern California. He joined the Los Angeles Times as a reporter in 1939, a year after graduating from Stanford University.

During World War II, he worked in public relations and press censorship roles for the Navy in the Pacific. He retired from the Navy Reserve in 1977 with the rank of captain. Resuming his career at the Times after the war, he was Washington bureau chief from 1954 to 1963 and finished his newspaper career the next year after opening the Rome bureau.

After leaving the LA Times, Hartmann became an information adviser for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In 1966, he went to work for the House Republican Conference as a press aide. In 1969, Hartmann joined the staff of then-Minority Leader Gerald Ford as a Legislative Assistant, rising to become one of Ford's most trusted advisors.

After President Nixon nominated Gerald Ford to be Vice President on October 12, 1973, Hartmann coordinated Ford's preparations for the confirmation hearings on the nomination. He then became Vice President Ford's chief of staff. It soon became obvious that the burden of administrative matters -- hiring staff, finding office space, etc. -- kept Hartmann from devoting sufficient time to speeches, political liaison, and advising the Vice President. Ford solved this problem by hiring L. William Seidman as an assistant for administration, which left Hartmann to advise Ford on political matters.

When Gerald Ford succeeded to the presidency on August 9, 1974, he quickly named Hartmann as Counselor to the President, with Cabinet status. In this position, one of Hartmann's main responsibilities was supervision of the editorial Staff in the preparation of presidential speeches, statements, messages, and correspondence. He also handled White House liaison with Republican Party organizations and advised President Ford on a wide variety of matters that went beyond his formal duties.

Hartmann drafted President Ford's address to the nation upon taking office, coining the phrase "long national nightmare" to describe the Watergate scandal and resignation of Nixon.

After Ford left office, Hartmann served as a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution at his alma mater Stanford, and a trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation.
In 1980, he wrote his autobiography, Palace Politics, focusing on his time at the White House.

Robert T. Hartmann died April 11, 2008 at the age of 91 in Washington, D.C.