Star Wars VIII(and a half)- The forgotten one.

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With the force being bestowed upon us very soon again with the last Jedi it is a good time to look back at some of the forgotten or  lesser known Star Wars facts.

Darth Vader’s chest piece has Ancient Hebrew etched onto it. It reads: “His deeds will not be forgiven, until he merits”

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The blizzard in the Hoth scenes was real. They were shot at Hardangerjøkulen glacier near Finse, Norway, and no special effects were used.

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Qui-Gon Jinn’s communicator is actually a modified Gillette Ladies Sensor Excell razor.
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The majority of Stormtroopers are left-handed due to the construction of their prop guns. They are modeled on the Sterling L2A3 9mm SMG (sub-machine gun), a military weapon from the 1950s with the magazine located on the left hand side.Stormtrooper_Corps.png

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E.T.’s species (Asogians) appears in The Phantom Menace at a political speech in the galactic senate.
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Bounty Hunter Bossk from The Empire Strikes Back wears a costume from a 1966 Doctor Who episode.
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Many of the buildings constructed to be used in shots of Tatooine are still standing in Tunisia. In fact, some of them are still used by locals.

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Finally

Star Wars-Black Angel

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For all of you die hard Star Wars fans who think that you have seen all movies in the Star Wars universe, more then likely you have not.

A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, in fact this galaxy.

The 1980 short film was created to accompany The Empire Strikes Back in theaters. It was the directorial debut of Star Wars‘ pioneering set decorator Roger Christian and a special request by the big man himself, George Lucas. After it screened in cinemas, it suddenly vanished.

The film was shot at Eilean Donan in Scotland in autumn 1979. The budget of £25,000 was given to Roger Christian by an Eady Scheme fund from the UK government

Sir Maddox, a medieval knight, returns from the Crusades to find his home rife with sickness and his family gone. As he journeys through this mystical realm he encounters a mysterious and beautiful maiden, who appears to him as he is drowning. Sir Maddox learns that the maiden is being held prisoner by a black knight and in order to free her he must confront her captor, the Black Angel.

Star Wars is supposedly set somewhere in arthurian times and the crusades. Dark Angel ties in with that.

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United Artists no more-How “Heaven’s gate” broke the studio

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This is more of a personal blog then factual although the facts are real, but when I say personal it is more a matter of taste.

In 1978 Michael Cimino directed the classic movie “the Deer Hunter” The_Deer_Hunter_posterEven though I was only 10 at the time I did recognize it to be a genuine masterpiece and it has stayed in my top 10 all time favourite movies ever since. It won the oscar for best picture and director and best supporting actor for Christopher Walken and rightfully so.

And although I would love to continue about how brilliant the performances were and the amazing cinematography and the classic sound track, I won’t.

Because this blog is not about the Deer Hunter but the movie that Michael Cimino directed 2 years later and how it stole 149 minutes of my life which I  will never get back and how it basically broke United Artists studios.

The film was “Heaven’s Gate “MV5BMjAxNDE5MzQ5M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTk3MTE3NA@@._V1_a 1980 American epic Western film written and directed by Michael Cimino. Loosely based on the Johnson County War, it portrays a fictional dispute between land barons and European immigrants in Wyoming in the 1890s. The film features an ensemble cast, including Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Isabelle Huppert, Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif,  Terry O’Quinn, Mickey Rourke and Willem Dafoe . It is generally considered one of the biggest box office bombs of all time, and was initially described as one of the worst films ever made.There were major setbacks in the film’s production due to cost and time overruns, negative press (including allegations of animal abuse on-set), and rumors about Cimino’s allegedly overbearing directorial style; the film resultantly opened to poor reviews, earning only $3.5 million domestically (from an estimated $44 million budget.

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The film’s subject was the Johnson County War of 1889-1893, a conflict between Wyoming’s biggest cattle ranchers and the immigrant homesteaders who challenged their monopoly. In Cimino’s version of events, the cigar-puffing patricians of the Stockgrowers’ Association compile “a death list” of 125 Central and Eastern Europeans they have classed as cattle rustlers, and they recruit a small army of mercenaries to wipe them out.

But Cimino wasn’t just planning a series of shoot-outs. Heaven’s Gate was to be a work of art: a monumental American saga encompassing roller-skating and baseball, a graduation waltz at Harvard, and a steamboat puffing through Newport. At its heart would be a tragic love triangle between Kristofferson’s noble marshal, the Association’s ruthless sharp-shooter (Christopher Walken), and the bordello madam they both adore. MV5BNTY5Yzc0ODEtZjUwMS00NGI4LWFkNjctNzUxOGNiMmViZGNjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUyNDk2ODc@._V1_

And in here lies its downfall, the movie was just to complicated. In a way I am lucky because the first cut of the movie was 229 minutes.

The movie had a major negative impact on the US film industry.

The film’s $44 million cost  and poor performance at the box office ($3.5 million gross in the United States) generated more negative publicity than actual financial damage, causing Transamerica Corporation, United Artists’ corporate owner, to become anxious over its own public image and to abandon film production altogether.

Transamerica inserted Andy Albeck as UA’s president. United had its most successful year with four hits in 1979: Rocky IIManhattanMoonraker, and The Black Stallion.

The new leadership agreed to back Heaven’s Gate, the pet project of director Michael Cimino overran its budget and cost $44 million. This led to the resignation of Albeck who was replaced by Norbert Auerbach. United Artists recorded a major loss for the year due almost entirely to this fiasco

Transamerica then sold United Artists to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which effectively ended the studio’s existence. MGM would later revive UA as a subsidiary division. While the money loss due to Heaven’s Gate was considerable, UA was already struggling after the executive walkout in 1978 and several other major box office flops in 1980, including Cruising, Foxes and Roadie.

Six days into filming, Cimino was five days behind schedule, and had spent $900,000 on a minute-and-a-half of usable footage. Two weeks into filming, the studio calculated that, at the rate he was going, Heaven’s Gate was going to cost them $1m per minute of running time. Something had to be done. But when another UA executive, Derek Kavanagh, was dispatched to Wyoming to rewrite Cimino’s schedule, the director responded by dictating and posting a memo: “Derek Kavanagh is not to come to the location set. He is not to enter the editing room. He is not to speak to me at all.” The budget grew from a proposed $7.5m to an agreed $11.6m to a total of $44m.

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Some of the tales of Heaven’s Gate are hair-raising. In a making-of documentary, Jeff Bridges, who played a local entrepreneur, recalls that when it was time to film the climactic battle scenes, the actors would be woken at 3:30am, and driven for three hours along dirt roads to the site. Once there, it was mostly actors, rather than stunt-riders, who had to race their horses full-pelt through clouds of dust, guns blazing. Bridges was terrified by the lack of safety precautions. “Even in a real battle,” he comments, “you don’t do it over and over again.”

Most of the on-set folklore, however, isn’t about a lunatic taking dangerous risks, but about an artist labouring to make the best film possible. “From someone on the outside it would look like it was almost too much,” says Bridges, “but it never appeared that way to me. It was like, oh, this guy really cares.”

Movie are one of my biggest passions and especially westerns, but Heaven’s gate made the movie experience a living hell.

It had all started so promisingly. Cimino had been an advertising whizz-kid who moved into film with the Clint Eastwood/Jeff Bridges crime caper, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, in 1974. His follow-up was an elegiac Vietnam drama, The Deer Hunter, a critical smash that went on to win five Oscars, including best picture, in 1979.

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But the ‘Heaven’s Gate’ fiasco effectively ended Michael Cimino’s career, he did direct a few more movies afterwards but he was never able to rekindle the success he had with “the Deerhunter”

Cimino died July 2, 2016, at age 77 at his home in Beverly Hills, California.Eric Weissmann, a friend and former lawyer of Cimino, said that friends had been unable to reach Cimino by phone for the last few days and called the police, who found him dead in his bed. Weissmann stated that he had not been aware of Cimino having any illness.

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Some critics have since revised their opinion on the movie and are now deeming it to be a masterpiece. I don’t subscribe to that point of view.

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The forgotten James Bond

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Everyone knows there have been 7 actors who played the illusive 007. Sean Connery,Roger Moore,George Lazenby,Timothy Dalton,Pierce Brosnan,Daniel Craig and David Niven(who played Bond in the parody Casino Royale)

And when you exclude the parody Casino Royale there have been 24 movies and number 25 due out in the cinemas in April 2020.

Well on both counts you’d be wrong. Starting with the number of  feature movies there already have been 25 movies made. Never_Say_Never_Again_–_UK_cinema_posterAlthough “Never Say Never Again” does star Sean Connery as James Bond, It is technically not considered to be a James Bond movie.

A  High Court in London in 1963 allowed Kevin McClory to produce a remake of Thunderball titled Never Say Never Again in 1983.The film, produced by Jack Schwartzman’s Taliafilm production company and starring Sean Connery as Bond, was not part of the Eon series of Bond films.

McClory then took Fleming to the High Court in London for breach of copyright and the matter was settled in 1963. After Eon Productions started producing the Bond films, it subsequently made a deal with McClory, who would produce Thunderball, and then not make any further version of the novel for a period of ten years following the release of the Eon-produced version in 1965.

When it comes to playing the character James Bond there is an eighth actor who played him.In fact he was the first actor to play 007.

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In 1954 CBS paid Ian Fleming $1,000  to adapt his first novel, Casino Royale, into a one-hour television adventure as part of their dramatic anthology series Climax!, which ran between October 1954 and June 1958.GW200H303It was adapted for the screen by Anthony Ellis and Charles Bennett; Bennett was best known for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, including The 39 Steps and Sabotage.Due to the restriction of a one-hour play, the adapted version lost many of the details found in the book, although it retained its violence, particularly in Act III.

The hour-long Casino Royale episode aired on 21 October 1954 as a live production and starred Barry Nelson as secret agent James Bond, with Peter Lorre in the role of Le Chiffre and was hosted by William Lundigan.The Bond character from Casino Royale was re-cast as an American agent, described as working for “Combined Intelligence”, supported by the British agent, Clarence Leiter; “thus was the Anglo-American relationship depicted in the book reversed for American consumption”.

Clarence Leiter was an agent for Station S, while being a combination of Felix Leiter and René Mathis. The name “Mathis”, and his association with the Deuxième Bureau, was given to the leading lady, who is named Valérie Mathis, instead of Vesper Lynd.

So you see there were 8 Bond movies and in total 26 movies, 3 of which were titled “Casino Royale”.

 

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Not so much Back to the Future

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Who doesn’t remember the iconic car from Back to the Future? Or should I perhaps say the ironic car from Back to the Future,because although it couldn’t have  hoped for a better marketing tool then the movie franchise, the DeLorean DMC-12 completely failed.

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Despite it’s ultra-cool appearance  not many people actually bought a DeLorean car. They were much too expensive: Each one cost $25,000, compared with $10,000 for the average car and $18,000 for a souped-up Corvette.

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Also the wing doors weren’t that practical if you were parked between 2 cars, you couldn’t open them.

John DeLorean,the designer and the founder of the DeLorean company, grew up in Detroit and began to work for Chrysler while he was still in college. His career was a promising one.

DeLorean attended Detroit’s public grade schools, and was then accepted into Cass Technical High School, a technical high school for Detroit’s honor students, where he signed up for the electrical curriculum.

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DeLorean found the Cass experience exhilarating and he excelled at his studies. His academic record and musical talents earned him a scholarship at Lawrence Institute of Technology (now known as Lawrence Technological University), a small college in Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, that was the alma mater of some of the automobile industry’s best engineers. At Lawrence, he excelled in the study of industrial engineering.

World War II interrupted his studies. In 1943, DeLorean was drafted for military service and served three years in the U.S. Armyand received an honorable discharge. He returned to Detroit to find his mother and siblings in economic difficulty. He worked as a draftsman for the Public Lighting Commission for a year and a half to improve his family’s financial status, then returned to Lawrence to finish his degree

He worked his way up the corporate ladder at General Motors, where he is credited with designing the GTO and the Firebird, and became a vice-president in 1972, but he left the company just a year later to pursue his own business interests. In 1978, he started the DeLorean Motor Company in Northern Ireland

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The British government, along with investors like Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis, Jr., paid the bulk of his start-up costs—to build his dream car: the DMC-12, a sports car that was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Its stainless-steel body was unpainted; its doors opened up, not out; it had a 130-hp Renault engine and could go from zero to 60 mph in eight seconds.

However John DeLorean got into difficulties.On October 19, 1982, he wass arrested and charged with conspiracy to obtain and distribute 55 pounds of cocaine. DeLorean was acquitted of the drug charges in August 1984, but his legal woes were only beginning.

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He soon went on trial for fraud and over the next two decades was forced to pay millions of dollars to creditors and lawyers. Nevertheless, DeLorean occupies an important place in automotive history: Thanks to its starring role in the 1985 film “Back to the Future,” his gull-wing sports car is one of the most famous cars in the world.

DeLorean was already mired in legal problems by the time  Steven Spielberg chose a DMC–12 to serve as Marty McFly’s time machine in “Back to the Future.”

Back_to_the_FutureSpielberg had originally planned to use an old refrigerator instead of a car, but had changed his mind at the last minute. (The director liked the DeLorean’s futuristic look, but more than that he was worried that young fans of the movie might accidentally get stuck in refrigerators and freezers while playing make-believe.) While the DeLorean’s instant celebrity did not do much to revive its creator’s fortunes, it granted him a permanent footnote in pop-culture history.

DeLorean died at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey from a stroke, on March 19, 2005 at age 80. He was a resident of Bedminster, New Jersey. His ashes are interred at the White Chapel Cemetery, in Troy, Michigan. His tombstone shows a depiction of his DMC-12 with the gull-wing doors open.At the request of his family, and in keeping with military tradition, he was interred with military honors for his service in World War II.

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Pulgasari-North Korean crazy Sci-Fi movie

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It is a well known fact that the  North Korean dictator Kim Jong -Un has “issues” (to keep it PC).

But this has been running in the family for generations.

In the late 1960s, Kim Jong-il, heir to the North Korean dictatorship at the time, became interested in making propaganda films.

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Kim was already deeply fascinated by film. He had even established an underground operation to obtain bootleg copies of international films that were banned in North Korea for his viewing pleasure, expressly against the wishes of his father, national leader Kim Il-sung.

The younger Kim reportedly amassed a library of more than 15,000 titles, particularly enjoying the James Bond and Rambo franchises.

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In the 1960s, Kim became fascinated in making films himself. Fortunately for him, it was at that point that his father began to place more responsibility on Kim, who was installed as director of the Motion Picture and Arts Division in the Propaganda and Agitation Department of North Korea.

Kim’s early movies focused on the anti-Japanese struggle of Kim Il-sung and his comrades in Manchuria during the 1930s. While these films helped Kim curry favor with his father, they were unfulfilling for the young movie lover.

He bemoaned that his casts and crew were far inferior in skill to those employed by Western productions and that his employees were unmotivated and lazy.

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It was then that Kim began to obsess over Shin Sang-ok, the hottest director/producer in South Korea at the time.

In 1978, Shin had already created more than 60 movies and was well respected in the industry, but his future career was in jeopardy after his studio was shut down by the repressive South Korean government.

Kim believed that Shin was the only director that could save the North Korean movie industry, and began to create a complex plan to capture the director.

Kim lured Shin’s recently divorced wife, South Korean movie star Choi Eun-hee, with a forged message offering her a directing position in Hong Kong. Once there, Kim arranged for the actress to be abducted and brought to North Korea.

As planned by Kim, Shin began searching for his captured ex-wife and traveled to Hong Kong to try to find her, where he was chloroformed and abducted by North Korean agents.

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Shin attempted to escape the tyrannical nation multiple times, resulting in him being imprisoned in a North Korean prison camp where he lived on a diet of grass, salt, rice, and ideological indoctrination.

“I experienced the limits of human beings,” Shin wrote of his experience there. After four years of imprisonment, in 1986, Kim was convinced that Shin was ready to start making films, and released Shin and Choi from their confinement and brought them to a meeting.

Shin and Choi had each not known that the other was being held in North Korea and were elated to see each other alive.

The two were brought before Kim, where, in a speech secretly recorded by Choi, he explained his plan for the couple. He wanted them to produce communist propaganda for him and to claim that they had come to North Korea to escape government repression in the South.

Shin agreed to cooperate with the dictator and was immediately put to work directing Kim’s propaganda films. Shin and Choi also remarried, on the recommendation of Kim.

“I hated communism, but I had to pretend to be devoted to it, to escape from this barren republic,” Shin recalls. “It was lunacy.”

While in North Korean captivity, Shin and Choi were showered with gifts and lived in some of the greatest luxury that the country could muster.

Despite this treatment, Shin said that, “To be in Korea living a good life ourselves and enjoying movies while everyone else was not free was not happiness, but agony.”

As a director for North Korean, Shin created seven movies, the most perplexing, as well as the last, of them being the 1986 Godzilla rip-off Pulgasari.

Pulgasari tells the story of an iron-eating Godzilla knock-off molded out of rice and blood by an elderly imprisoned blacksmith. The titular monster’s hunger for iron drives him to overthrow a villainous emperor, but then renders him the villain when he threatens the very resources of the farmers who supported him.

In feudal Korea, during the Goryeo Dynasty, a king controls the land with an iron fist, subjecting the peasantry to misery and starvation. An old blacksmith who was sent to prison for defending his people creates a tiny figurine of a monster by making a doll of rice, and before dying asks the gods of earth and sky to make his creation a living creature that protects the rebels and the oppressed.

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When the figurine comes into contact with the blood of the blacksmith’s daughter, the creature springs to life, becoming a giant metal-eating monster who the blacksmith’s daughter names Pulgasari, which is the name of the mythical monster his father used to mention as an eater of iron and steel.

After much suffering, the peasants form an army, storm the palace of the Governor and kill him. The evil King becomes aware that there is a rebellion being planned in the country, and he intends to crush it, but he runs into Pulgasari, who fights with the peasant army to overthrow the corrupt monarchy. After the defeat of the king, Pulgasari attacks the people and eats their tools.

In order to create the special effects for the film, Kim stayed true to his methods and tricked a Japanese special effects team, the one who created the original Godzilla movies, to come to North Korea when they believed they were to work on a film in China.

What they created was a goofy, disjointed film that included a rubber puppet attacking swords and a despotic emperor whose attitude actually bore a resemblance to that of Kim himself. Its anticapitalist message is obscured by its bizarre central character.

Despite these issues, the film was a hit in North Korea, and Kim began looking for foreign distributors for the film so that he could spread his propaganda across the world. He began talks with a distributor in Austria, and later that year, Shin and Choi traveled to Vienna to meet with them.

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It was there that the couple would make their escape. With the help of a Japanese movie critic friend, Shin and Choi were able to lose the North Korean agent supervising them and make their way to the American embassy where they were granted political asylum.

This escape outraged Kim, and Pulgasari was pulled from theaters around the country.

Due to this limited release, Pulgasari was virtually unseen outside of North Korea until it was given international release in 1998 in a rare period of greater openness from the North Korean government.

While the filmed bombed at South Korean theaters, it slowly began to gain a cult following worldwide for its eccentricities. Now the film can be found at underground and cult movie theaters around the world.

Somehow, despite how insane this movie can be, its absurdity is continually upstaged by the insanity of its backstory.

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In a galaxy far far away.

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Well actually it was not that far far away. It was actually on this planet all along.

These are just some “behind the scene” images of Star wars. The above picture is lunch time on set.

Filming Star Wars inside of the iconic “Millennium Falcon” spacecraft.

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Would you care for a dance your higness

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Getting a bit thirsty

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Cheers

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Aarrgghh, put the mask back on

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I find your lack if camera skills disturbing.

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Give us a kiss

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The tragic life and death of Harry Baur

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Harry Baur (12 April 1880 as Henri-Marie Baur in Montrouge, Hauts-de-Seine – 8 April 1943 in Paris) was a French actor.. Thanks to his impressive performance and his melodic voice he became one of the most important French actors of his time.

His father died in 1890 when his business was left ruined  after a break-in. His mother placed him in  a Catholic boarding school, but he ran away to Marseille.

He initially intended to become a sailor but opted for a career as actor.

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Initially a stage actor, he was described by film academic Ginette Vincendeau as “a corpulent man with a resonant voice, his stagey performance style ranged from the hammy … to the soberly moving”. Baur appeared in about 80 films between 1909 and 1942. He gave an acclaimed performance as the composer Ludwig van Beethoven in the biopic Beethoven’s Great Love (Un grand amour de Beethoven, 1936), directed by Abel Gance.

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And as Jean Valjean in Raymond Bernard’s version of Les Misérables (1934). He also acted in Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset’s silent film, Beethoven (1909), and in La voyante (1923), Sarah Bernhardt’s last film.

But Harry Baur had to bear two bad blows during the time of success, when his wife,actress Rose Grane, and his 20 year old son died in 1930.

He married actress Rika Radifé in 1936.

With the Nazi occupation of France in 1940, Baur made public pro-French statements and as punishment was forced into making films in Germany. In 1942 in Berlin he was to star in his last film “Symphone eines Lebens”

While filmimg  Baur’s Jewish wife was arrested on false charges of espionage, and when he tried to secure her release he was arrested himself and tortured by the Gestapo. He was subsequently sent to the concentration camp at Drancy, on the outskirts of Paris. In April of 1943 Baur was released but died mysteriously in Paris a few days later. His death further inflamed anti-German sentiment and his funeral was the occasion of a huge public demonstration.

 

 

The positive vibes of the Rocky movies.

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This is going to be a completely bias blog and I am not apologizing for it.For some reason I tend to watch the Rocky movies every time I am going to a bit of a rough time.

Although the movies are really not of the standard I usually would watch, I can’t but help having a soft spot for the franchise, yes even for the last 2 installments. It is not only the story of someone not giving up despite a lot of hardship, it is also  the music that works uplifting.

I was going for a walk earlier this week and as usual I would listen to music while walking. At one stage I was reflecting on some recent hard times and nearly became overwhelmed by emotion, but before the tears had a chance to make an appearance Bill Conti’s “Flying High now” was piping through my head set and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.

It is also because of the Rocky movies and especially III and IV I was introduced to one of my all time favourite rock bands Survivor. “Eye of the Tiger” became an instant classic as did “Burning heart” and again both songs will leave you with this great and positive feeling, as if you are able to take on the world.

Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay for Rocky in three and a half days, shortly after watching the championship match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner that took place at Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio on March 24, 1975. Wepner was TKO’d in the 15th round of the match by Ali, but nobody ever expected.

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When Rocky Balboa runs up those steps in Philadelphia you feel like you’re running up with him and you get an equal buzz when you reach the top. And I think that is what the message is from the movies’It may seem like a lot you have to overcome but when you get to the top, the view is great’

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Joachim Gottschalk’s suicide.

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Gottschalk, the son of a physician, was born in the small town of Calau, in the Prussian province of Brandenburg, on April 10 1904. He attended the Gymnasium high school in Cottbus and from 1924 worked for four years on seagoing vessels. He later began an theatrical education in Cottbus and Berlin. During an engagement in Stuttgart, he met with his later wife, the Jewish actress Meta Wolff  They married on 3 May 1930 in Halberstadt, shortly before Hitler came to power. They had a son, Michael, who was born in February 1933.

After the Nazi party took power in 1933, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels promoted the establishment of the Reichskulturkammer (Chamber of Culture) instituition. Actors were required to apply for membership in the Theaterkammer (Chamber of Theatre) for an “Aryan certificate” which meant a prohibition (Berufsverbot) for Meta Wolff.

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The couple managed to avoid the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws and rising tide of anti-semitic violence in Nazi Germany. From 1934 Gottschalk performed at the Schauspielhaus Frankfurt and in 1938 joined the Volksbühne ensemble in Berlin. In the same year he began his film career starring in the romance You and I directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner, side by side with the popular German actress Brigitte Horney.

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During World War II , Gottschalk and Horney appeared as a “dream couple” in a string of successful movies.

One day Gottschalk took his Jewish wife to a social function and introduced her to some of the prominent Nazis who were present. Although the Nazis were charmed, Goebbels  learned about this incident, and decreed that Gottschalk would be required to separate from his Jewish wife. When Gottschalk refused, Goebbels ordered Gottschalk’s wife and child transported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The minister’s Special Representative Hans Hinkel insisted on the divorce and Gottschalk was told he would never work as an actor againHans Hinkel

Gottschalk insisted on accompanying Meta and Michael to Theresienstadt, but Goebbels ordered Gottschalk inducted into the German Army, the Wehrmacht.

On 6 November 1941, minutes before the expected arrival of the Gestapo at their house in Berlin-Grunewald, Gottschalk and his wife committed suicide by gas poisoning after sedating their son, who died with them.

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They are buried at the Stahnsdorf South-Western Cemetery. Though warned by Minister Goebbels, Brigitte Horney and Wolfgang Liebeneiner, as well as other artists like Gustav Knuth, Hans Brausewetter, Werner Hinz, and Ruth Hellberg attended the funeral.

Goebbels ordered no further mentions of Gottschalk in the German newspapers.Because of Nazi censorship, most of his devoted fans did not learn of the awful circumstances of his death until after the war. In 1947 Kurt Maetzig directed the movie Marriage in the Shadows after a novella by Hans Schweikart based on Gottschalk  and Wolff.Ehe_im_schatten

 

The 2002 drama Times Like These written by John O’Keefe is  also based on this tragedy.

 

 

Max Ehrlich-Told to be funny or be shot.

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Max Ehrlich (1892-1944) was one of the most celebrated actors and directors on the German comedy and cabaret scene of the 1930s. But his brilliant career was brutally interrupted by the rise of Nazism and his resulting deportation in 1942 to Westerbork concentration camp in Holland. Amazingly, there behind the walls and barbed wire, Max Ehrlich formed a theater troupe composed of fellow prisoners – the majority of them also famous Jewish show business personalities – and produced high quality musical and comedy revues. This artistic activity provided the means for everyone concerned, audience and actors alike, to retain a small measure of humanity, free their minds – if only momentarily – from the tragedy of daily life and nourish the illusion of survival. But, in the end, comedy did not prevail: like almost all of his colleagues from this theater of despair, in 1944 Max Ehrlich was transported to Auschwitz and gassed.

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Born on 25 November 1892, Max Ehrlich began his career as a stage actor in the 1920s, quickly building a reputation as a vital force on the Berlin cabaret scene. A popular parodist and poet, he performed with many other Jewish and leftist artists during the Weimar years.  However, like most of his fellow performers, his work was largely apolitical or only subtly critical.  Ehrlich also became a successful movie actor, with more than forty movie credits to his name by the time the Nazi take-over in 1933 abruptly ended his career.

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Max Ehrlich took part in over 40 movies and directed ten of it in his career. He published several records and wrote the book “From Adalbert to Zilzer”, in which he wrote humorous stories and anecdotes about many of his colleagues.

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With most performance venues either shut down or prohibited to him, that year he decided to assess the scene in Austria.  However, in Vienna as in Berlin, Nazis harassed him while he was on stage, ultimately making his act impossible.  Reluctantly he moved through Switzerland on to the Nerherlands, where he was already well-known as a touring comedian and cabaret star.  (German cabaret was popular in continental Europe during the inter-war years).  After two years touring Amsterdam, Zurich and Bern with other émigré artists, however, homesickness and the hope that things would get better drove him back to Berlin.

In 1935, Ehrlich returned to Nazi Germany. Jewish entertainers once again were permitted to perform there but only within the framework of the Jüdischer Kulturbund (Jewish Cultural Union) and exclusively in front of Jewish audiences.

In 1937 he left Germany and with the help of Ernst Lubitsch he went to the USA.

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Unfortunately he was not able to get work there, so he made the fatal decision to return to Europe

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Ehrlich was named director of the Kulturbund’s light theatre departments. However, following the 1938 pogrom “Kristallnacht,” he decided to leave Germany definitively.

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Both of his farewell performances immediately sold out, so that a third presentation on 2 April 1939 was added. Here, in front of a full house of fans, calling out their affection and encouragement, Ehrlich made his final appearance in Germany.

Subsequently, he returned to the Netherlands once again and joined Willy Rosen’s “Theater der Prominenten” (Theatre of Celebrities),

 

 

 

until in 1943 ,like so many of his colleagues– Ehrlich was imprisoned in the Westerbork concentration camp. While at Westerbork, he created and became director of the “Camp Westerbork Theatre Group,” a cabaret troupe that during its eighteen-month existence staged six major theatre productions, all within the concentration camp’s confines. A majority of the actors were famous Jewish show business personalities; prominent artists from Berlin and Vienna, such as Willy Rosen, Erich Ziegler, Camilla Spira, and Kurt Gerron; or well known Dutch performers, like Esther Philipse, Jetty Cantor, and Johnny & Jones. At its high point, the group counted fifty-one members, including a full team of musicians, dancers, choreographers, artists, tailors, and make-up, lighting, and other technicians, as well as stage hands.

Most of the shows combined elements of revue and cabaret –songs and sketches– but, on one occasion, the program included a revue-operetta, Ludmilla, or Corpses Everywhere—a production whose theme sadly was a premonition of the actors’ and other prisoners’ fate. While some scenes were implicitly critical, of course, the Theatre Group at no time produced openly political cabaret or directly attacked the Nazi regime.

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To do so would have violated the most fundamental condition for the troupe’s and its members’ survival, as life in Westerbork was dominated by the persistent threat of deportation on the next transport to an unknown but deeply feared fate in the East. So, standing helplessly and unaided before the fascists’ executioners and their lackeys, the Theatre Group, of necessity, limited itself to entertaining its audiences and to momentarily distracting them from the surrounding horrors. But in so doing, it also gave their captive audiences renewed hope and the courage to face an otherwise unbearable existence.

Doubtlessly, this artistic activity provided the means for everyone concerned, audiences and actors alike, to retain a small measure of humanity, free their minds –if only momentarily– from the tragedy of daily life and nourish the illusion of survival.

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During the summer of 1944, increasing numbers of transports carried Westerbork’s prisoners to the extermination camps in the East. Of 104,000 camp inmates, fewer than 5,000 survived. In the last transport to leave Westerbork, on 4 September 1944, Ehrlich was number 151 on the list of victims. Eyewitnesses recount that, after reaching Auschwitz, he was recognized by a Hauptsturmführer. As a result, Ehrlich was subjected to additional torture: brought before a group of SS officers holding their loaded guns aimed at him, he was ordered to tell jokes. On 1 October 1944, Ehrlich was murdered in the Auschwitz gas chambers.

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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