20 March 2018

Luchino Visconti

Today, at the Royal Dutch institute in Rome, the presentation will take place of Reframing Luchino Visconti: film and art, a monograph written by EFSP-contributor Ivo Blom and published by Sidestone Press. This study deals with the ways in which Luchino Visconti appropriated visual arts and the cinema of previous filmmakers in his own films. Whilst much has been written about literary and theatrical influences upon Visconti’s work – besides film maker, he was also a leading theatre and opera director – there has been a lot of speculation about but little hard corroboration of pictorial influences in his films. Ivo's book goes deeply into set and costume design and cinematography. For today's post, we did a selection of our postcards of Visconti's films and stage plays.

Giuseppe Visconti's home theatre in Milan
Italian postcard by Officine G. Ricordi e Co., Milano. Luchino Visconti (born 1906) was raised with theatre and staging from a very young age. His father, duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone, staged his own stage plays. Under the pseudonym of Joseph von Jcsti (Von Jcsti is an anagram of Visconti), he directed plays at his home theatre in Palazzo Visconti in Milan. This is a postcard for the play Un po' d'amore (A Little Love), a revue in three acts. A lady named Teresa writes on the card, that it is the revue she saw last winter in Casa Visconti. This must have been Winter 1912-1913, as the card is dated 2 September 1913.

Alida Valli in Senso (1954)
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. 1683. Photo: publicity still for Senso (Luchino Visconti, 1954) with Alida Valli. The picture was taken at Villa Godi Malinverni, Lugo di Vicenza, the first villa designed by Andrea Palladio. The murals were by painters from the School of Veronese.

Alida Valli and Farley Granger in Senso (1954)
Italian postcard by Rotocalco Dagnino, Torino. Photo: Lux Film. Alida Valli and Farley Granger as countess Livia Serpieri and Lt. Franz Mahler in Luchino Visconti's historical film Senso (1954). Visconti refers here to the famous romantic painting by Francesco Hayez, Il Bacio (The Kiss, 1859).

Farley Granger in Senso (1954)
Italian postcard by Bromostampa, Milano, no. 7. Photo: Publicity still of Farley Granger in Senso (1954).

Marcello Mastroianni and Maria Schell in Le notti bianche (1957)
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3486. Photo: G.B. Poletto. Publicity still for Le notti bianche/ White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957) with Marcello Mastroianni and Maria Schell.

Jean Marais in Le notti bianche (1957)
German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 2141. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Film. Publicity still for Le notti bianche/ White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957) with Jean Marais.

Jean Marais and Maria Schell in Le notti bianche (1957)
Photocard. Publicity still for Le notti bianche/ White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957) with Jean Marais and Maria Schell.

Alain Delon
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, 1967. retail price: 0,20 MDN.Photo: publicity still for Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and His Brothers (Luchino Visconti, 1960), featuring Alain Delon as Rocco.

Annie Girardot in Rocco e i suoi fratelli (1960)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 1696, 1962. Photo: publicity still for Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and his brothers (Luchino Visconti, 1960) with Annie Girardot as Nadia.

Alain Delon in Rocco e i suoi Fratelli (1960)
Spanish postcard by Archivo Bermejo, no. 7363. Photo: Radio Films, 1961. Publicity still for Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and His Brothers (Luchino Visconti, 1960) with Alain Delon.

Alain Delon
French postcard by the Bibliothèque Nationale Paris/Imp. Bussière A.G., Paris, 1990. Photo: Roger Pic. Alain Delonin the play Dommage qu'elle soit une p.../Its a pity she's a whore, written by John Ford and directed by Luchino Visconti (1961) in Paris.

Thomas Milian & Romy Schneider in Boccaccio 70
Publicity still used in Germany, distributed by Rank, mark of the German censor FSK. Tomas Milian and Romy Schneider in Luchino Visconti's episode Il lavoro in the episode film Boccaccio '70 (1962). Milian plays a bored aristocrat, caught in a scandal with callgirls. Schneider plays his rich and equally bored Austrian wife, who tries to seduce her husband and make him pay for love just like he did with his callgirls. It works, but leaves the woman with bitterness. The set of the film was terribly costly because of all the authentic, valuable objects present.

Romy Schneider in Boccaccio '70
Dutch postcard. Photo: HAFBO. Romy Schneider dressed in Chanel in the episode Il lavoro/The Job (1961) by Luchino Visconti, part of the episodefilm Boccaccio '70. Schneider was a big fan of Chanel's fashion herself.

Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale in Il Gattopardo (1963)
Vintage card. Photo: publicity still for Il Gattopardo/The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963) with Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale.

Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale in Il Gattopardo (1963)
Small Romanian collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Il Gattopardo/The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963) with Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale.

Alain Delon in Il Gattopardo
Small Romanian collectors card. Photo: Alain Delon as Tancredi Falconieri in Il Gattopardo/The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963).

Morte a Venezia/ Death in Venice
Dutch postcard, using an original poster of Morte a Venezia/Death in Venice, for a Dutch rerelease of the film. Photo: Björn Andresen and Dirk Bogarde in Morte a Venezia/Death in Venice (Luchino Visconti, 1972).

Reframing Luchino Visconti: film and art

Where does the visual splendour of Visconti’s films come from? In  the first part of his Reframing Luchino Visconti: film and art, Ivo Blom tells how visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography) served in set and costume design (e.g. as props and as sources of inspiration). The second part of the book focuses on (deep) staging, framing, mobile framing and mirroring.

The book is based on extensive archival research, interviews with Visconti’s collaborators and secondary literature, and is richly illustrated with pictures obtained from museums, photo services and films.

Reframing Luchino Visconti: film and art will be released as paperback and hardback, and will also appear in Open Access. Highly recommended!

Sources: Ivo Blom (personal blog) and Sidestone Press.

Ivo, good luck today!

19 March 2018

Renate Blume

German actress Renate Blume (1944) appeared in more than 70 films and television shows since 1964. Her film debut Der geteilte Himmel/Divided Heaven (Konrad Wolf, 1964) was an international success and later she co-starred in Easterns with Gojko Mitic and Dean Reed.

Renate Blume
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 3538, 1966. Photo: DEFA / Schwarzer. Publicity still for Der geteilte Himmel/Divided Heaven (Konrad Wolf, 1964).

Renate Blume
Big East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 2/74, 1974. Photo: Linke.

Renate Blume and Dean Reed
With Dean Reed. Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 43080.

Divided Heaven

Renate Blume was born in Bad Wildungen, Germany, in 1944. As a twelve-year-old she joined the Gret Palucca ballet school in Dresden. Although her parents wanted her to became a doctor, she secretly applied to the Academy for Performing Arts in Berlin.

While still a student, she played her first leading role in the DEFA drama Der geteilte Himmel/Divided Heaven (Konrad Wolf, 1964). The East-German film, based on Christa Wolf's novel Divided Heaven (1963), is set in the period immediately before the Berlin Wall was built.

Blume is Rita Seidel, who recalls the last two years, in which she fell in love with Manfred (Eberhard Esche), a chemist who is ten years older. As Manfred became disillusioned with his opportunities in East Germany, he moved to the West. Rita followed him there and tried to persuade him to return but soon realised he would never do it.

The film became an international success, thanks in part to Blume’s naturalistic and honest performance. Although some of the characters are shown as overzealous in their support of the regime, for obvious reasons the nature of the East German dictatorship is never depicted or discussed. The Stasi, the all-pervasive secret police headed by the director's brother Markus Wolf, is not mentioned.

The film was removed from circulation on several occasions in the following years, when the Socialist Unity Party of Germany decreed it, depending on the political situation In 1995, a group of historians and cinema researchers chose Der geteilte Himmel/Divided Heaven as one of the 100 most important German films ever made.

Three years later she appeared in the two-part war film Die gefrorenen Blitze/Frozen Flashes (János Veiczi, 1967) which tells the history of the resistance movement in Peenemünde during the Second World War and its attempt to sabotage the V-2 program. Among the large cast were also Alfred Müller, Leon Niemczyk and Mikhail Ulyanov. From 1965 to 1970, Blume was a member of the Dresdner Staatstheater ensemble, where she continued giving guest performances until 1986.

Renate Blume
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 2.159, 1964. Photo: DEFA / Schwarzer. Publicity still for Der geteilte Himmel/Divided Heaven (Konrad Wolf, 1964).

Gojko Mitic and Renate Blume in Ulzana (1974)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 65/74, 1974. Photo: DEFA / Dassdorf. Publicity still for Ulzana (Gottfried Kolditz, 1974) with Gojko Mitic.


In 1970, Renate Blume joined the East German television ensemble and acted in over 40 TV productions over the next 20 years. Although Blume regularly appeared on TV, she rarely worked in the cinema.

In 1974, she co-starred in the Eastern Ulzana (Gottfried Kolditz, 1974), as the wife of Gojko Mitic,the chief of the Mimbrero tribe. It was followed by the comic Eastern Kit & Co. (Konrad Petzold, 1974) with Dean Reed, an American actor, singer and songwriter, living in East Germany.

Blume appeared in Archiv des Todes/Archives of Death (1980). This 13-part East German war television series was set during World War II and also starred Gojko Mitic, Leon Niemczyk and Barbara Brylska.

In the cinema, Blume appeared in the fantasy Der Prinz hinter den sieben Meeren/The Prince of the Seven Seas (Walter Beck, 1982). After the Wende, Blume played a supporting part in the family film Die Distel/The Thistle (Gernot Krää, 1992) with Katja Riemann. In between she appeared in popular TV series such as Polizeiruf 110/Police Call 110 (1978-1998).

Since the Wall came down, she has taught performing arts, performed at theaters in Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, and Munich, and acted in TV movies and TV series. In the cinema, she played a small part in the film Sternzeichen/Zodiac Sign (Peter Patzak, 2003) as the wife of Vadim Glowna. More recently she appeared in TV series such as Fünf Sterne/Five Stars (2005-2008) with Ralph Bauer, and Schloss Einstein (2008-2009) about students at a boarding school in Erfurt.

From 1969 until 1975 Blume was married with film director Frank Beyer. Their son Alexander also became an actor. From 1974 till 1976 she lived together with Romanian actor Gojko Mitic. In 1981, she married Dean Reed, but he died in 1986.

In 2007, Renate Blume was featured in Der Rote Elvis/The Red Elvis (2007), a German documentary about Reed’s life. Her most recent screen appearance was in the TV-Krimi Lindburgs Fall/Prime Time Crime (Franziska Meyer Price, 2011) with Fritz Wepper.

Sources: DEFA Film Library, Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.

18 March 2018

Ray Danton

American actor Ray Danton (1931-1992) was a handsome and smooth natured leading man who often played oily individuals in Hollywood film and TV series. He also worked in Europe where he directed some film too.

Ray Danton
Italian postcard by Rotalcolor, Milano, no. N. 139.

A smooth but dangerous villain

Ray Danton was born Raymond Caplan in New York in 1931. Raymond was the son of Myrtle (née Menkin) and Jack Caplan. Danton entered show business as a child radio actor on NBC radio's Let's Pretend show in 1943.

Danton did many stage roles whilst attending the University of Pittsburgh. He was dramatically trained at Carnegie Tech and in 1950 went to London to appear on stage in the Tyrone Power production Mister Roberts. Danton's acting career was put on hold when he served in the United States Army infantry during the Korean War from 1951–1954.

His on-screen debut was as a moody Native American opposite Victor Mature in Chief Crazy Horse (George Sherman, 1955), a biography of the famous Lakota Sioux war chief which was told entirely from the Indian viewpoint. He was contracted to Universal Pictures.

He next played a supporting part as a smooth but dangerous villain in I'll Cry Tomorrow (Daniel Mann, 1955) starring Susan Hayward. For this part he won the Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer.

At the set of his third film for Universal The Looters (Abner Biberman, 1955) he met his future wife Julie Adams. Danton guest-starred in many 1950s TV shows including Playhouse 90 (1956), Wagon Train (1957), and 77 Sunset Strip (1958), often as a gunslinger or a slippery criminal.

Danton found plenty of demand for his talents and appeared in several minor films including the Film Noir The Night Runner (Abner Biberman,1957), the war film Tarawa Beachhead (Paul Wendkos, 1958), in which he starred with his wife, Julie Adams, and then as a serial rapist in The Beat Generation (Charles F. Haas, 1959) opposite Steve Cochran and Mamie van Doren.

However, his most well remembered role was as the vicious prohibition gangster Jack Diamond in The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960) also starring a young Warren Oates and directed by Budd Boetticher. Wikipedia: "Danton played his role using dynamic body language with his smooth persona fitting the character like a glove." Danton reprised his Legs Diamond role only a year later in the unrelated, and not as enjoyable Portrait of a Mobster (Joseph Pevney, 1961).

Ray Danton
British postcard in the Celebrity Autograph Series by Celebrity Publishers LTD., London, no. 2789. Photo: Universal-International. Publicity still for The Night Runner (Abner Biberman, 1957).

Ray Danton
Spanish postcard by Raker, no. 1126.

Europe beckoned

Cornering the market on playing shady characters, Ray Danton then portrayed troubled actor George Raft in The George Raft Story (Joseph M. Newman, 1961) with Jayne Mansfield, but he was back on the side of good in 1962 playing an Allied officer at the invasion of Normandy in The Longest Day (Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, 1962).

Europe then beckoned for the virile Danton, and like many other young US actors in the early 1960s, he made several films in Italy and Spain between 1964 and 1969 with a mixture of success. These films included Sandokan alla riscossa/Sandokan Fights Back (Luigi Capuano, 1964) with Guy Madison, and the Eurospy films Corrida pour un espion/Code Name: Jaguar (Maurice Labro, 1965) with Pascale Petit, and New York chiama Superdrago/Secret Agent Super Dragon (Giorgio Ferroni, 1966) with Marisa Mell and Margaret Lee.

Danton returned to the USA in the early 1970s, but also ran his own production company in Barcelona, Spain. In Europe he directed the AIP production of Deathmaster (Ray Danton, 1972) starring Robert Quarry who was riding high on the success of the Count Yorga vampire films. Danton also co-directed La tumba de la isla maldita/Crypt of the Living Deads (Julio Salvador, Ray Danton, 1973) with Mark Damon.

Later he became involved in television and directed episodes of some of the most popular TV series of the 1970s and 1980s, including Quincy M.E. (1976), The Incredible Hulk (1978), Magnum, P.I. (1980), Dynasty (1981), and Cagney & Lacey (1981). His final directorial work was an episode for the TV series Mike Hammer (1989).

Ray Danton passed away in 1992 from kidney failure. He was only 61. He was divorced of his wife, Julie Adams, in 1978 (IMDb) or 1981 (Wikipedia). They had two sons, assistant director Steve Danton (1956) and editor Mitchell Danton (1962). His companion at the time of his death was actress Jeannie Austin, who was cast in a couple of TV episodes Ray directed, including Magnum, P.I. (1980).

Trailer for The George Raft Story (Joseph M. Newman, 1961). Source: horrormovieshows (YouTube).

Trailer for the EuroSpy adventure New York chiama Superdrago/Secret Agent Super Dragon (Giorgio Ferroni, 1966). Source: Night Of The Trailers (YouTube).

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.