Friday, August 1, 2014

Truus van Aalten

Truus van Aalten, a Dutch actress who appeared in many German films in the 1920s and 1930s, was born on this day in 1910. A popular actress, Truus sported bobbed hair which was reportedly modeled after the cut worn by the American actress Colleen Moore. (Which was slightly different from that worn by Louise Brooks. See the previous LBS blog for some postcard images.)

And like Colleen Moore, comedy was what Truus did best. She was the bright spark in what were considered uninspired films. The German film-making community adored her, and referred to her affectionately as "die kleine Hollandische Käse" ("The Little Dutch Cheese").

Truus' popularity went beyond Germany and The Netherlands, spreading throughout Europe. Some of her German films were even shown in the United States. On October 14, 1933, the New York Times reviewed Truus' film Der Bettelstudent, then showing at the 79th St. Theatre in New York City. The movie, the newspaper said, had "a certain amount of charm", but didn't measure up to other operetta films of its type. However, the reviewer noted Truus was "excellent in her leading comedy role."

With the rise of the Nazi party, roles in German films for the Dutch-born actress began to dry up. In 1940, she returned to The Netherlands. According to her Wikipedia page, "Now she found herself being offered film work - to appear in Dutch films controlled and censored by the occupying power. She refused, realising that they only wanted to use her for propaganda - but as she turned the repeated requests down, she knew she was destroying any hope of rekindling her movie career."

After WWII, Truus hoped to find acting work in the Netherlands, in England, and even in Hollywood, but in the depressed atmosphere of the post-war world, few were interested in a forgotten actress with a foreign accent. Truus never acted again. As her reputation faded, she was seldom mentioned in the various film histories published in 1960s and 1970s. Truus died at age 88 in 1999. For more on the actress, see her Dutch Wikipedia page.

Truus' career, which ran from 1926 to 1939, paralleled that of Brooks, which ran from 1925 to 1938. Like Brooks, Truus portrait was taken at the Atelier Binder, a leading celebrity portrait photographer (who also shot Garbo, Lya di Putti, and others). Truus appeared on postcards issued by the Ross, as had Brooks, and the Dutch-born actress even appeared in a Lux soap advertisement, as had Brooks.

Few of Truus van Aalten's films have been released for home viewing. According to Wikipedia, "One possible reason is that the Russian Army seized the Ufa studios in April 1945 and appropriated the contents - including copies of a huge number of German films that have never been seen since." That's unfortunate, as Truss is pretty, charming, expressive, and appears to have real screen presence.

For more on Truus van Aalten, be sure and check out Roger Mitchell's excellent website (at devoted to the actress. It is the source for all of the images used in this blog.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Truus van Aalten - a Dutch actress with a Dutch bob

Tomorrow's blog will feature a write up about Truus van Aalten (1910-1999), a once popular Dutch actress with a Dutch bob. Here are some picture postcard portraits featuring this charming actress.

Truus van Aalten was so popular that there was even a song about her, sung by Lou Bundy (follow the link to listen). Otherwise, here she is filming Jenny's Bummel durch die Männer on Scheveningen Pier in Holland in 1929.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cool pic of the day: Louise Brooks in a snappy outfit

Cool pic of the day: Louise Brooks in a snappy outfit....

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Giorgio Moroder - The Fading Image (short film about silent film)

A dated but interesting little film.... Giorgio Moroder's short documentary about the German silent films of F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang. Moroder also talks about his long ago search for Metropolis footage, and how he created his own score.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kylie Minogue as Louise Brooks

Found online: Singer Kylie Minogue as Louise Brooks as "The Canary" from The Canary Murder Case . . . . can anyone say when this portrait of Kylie was taken? I haven't been able to find much online.

And here is another image, Kylie Minogue adorned with feathers, continueing the Canary theme.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pandora's Box with Louise Brooks on TCM July 27

Turner Classic Movies will air Pandora's Box on Sunday, July 27th at 12:15 ET.

The TCM website reads: "G.W. Pabst's film that catapulted Louise Brooks to international acclaim and made her 'the' icon of the Jazz Age tells the tragic story of Lulu, the hedonistic dancer and prostitute. Based on the plays of F. Wedekind."

Visit the TCM page to watch movie clips and learn more.

Friday, July 25, 2014

New book - Pola Negri: Hollywood's First Femme Fatale

Recently released by the University Press of Kentucky is Pola Negri: Hollywood's First Femme Fatale, by Mariusz Kotowski. This 320 page book is, I believe, the first English language biography of Polish-born silent film superstar. I am about half-way through it, and am enjoying it well enough. I hope to write a fuller eeview at a later time. [BTW: A few vintage recordings by Pola Negri can be heard on RadioLulu.]

From the publisher: "Pola Negri (1897–1987) rose from an impoverished childhood in Warsaw, Poland, to become one of early Hollywood’s greatest stars. After tuberculosis ended her career as a ballerina in 1912, she turned to acting and worked under legendary directors Max Reinhardt and Ernst Lubitsch in Germany. Negri preceded Lubitsch to Hollywood, where she quickly became a fan favorite thanks to her beauty, talent, and diva personality. Known for her alluring sexuality and biting artistic edge, she starred in more than sixty films and defined the image of the cinematic femme fatale.

Author Mariusz Kotowski brings the screen siren’s story to English-speaking audiences for the first time in this fascinating biography. At the height of her fame, Negri often portrayed exotic and mysterious temptresses, headlining in such successes as The Spanish Dancer (1923) and Forbidden Paradise (1924), before returning to Europe in the 1930s. The devastating effects of World War II soon drove her back to the United States, where she starred in Hi Diddle Diddle (1943) and pursued her vaudeville career before retiring from the entertainment industry.

Kotowski also illuminates Negri’s dramatic personal life, detailing her numerous love affairs—including her engagement to Charlie Chaplin and her romance with Rudolph Valentino—as well as her multiple marriages. This long-overdue biography not only paints a detailed portrait of one classic Hollywood’s most intriguing stars and the film industry’s original Jezebel, but also explores the link between Hollywood and European cinema during the interwar years."


By and large, this is a full account of the Negri legend. It’s all here—from the jewels, the husbands, and the misadventures in Nazi Germany to the trumped-up feuds, the adoring fans, and the pet cheetah that, allegedly, was Negri’s companion at home, on the streets, and inside the studios. Kotowski tells the story with finesse. -- Leonard J. Leff, author of Hemingway and His Conspirators

"This is a very special book written on a very special movie star--the kind they don't make any more, and actually, the kind they never did make except for her. Mariusz Kotowski has done a fantastic job of bringing to life the full story, both on and off screen, of a wonderfully talented, colorful, and fascinating woman. His dedication to Negri's career deserves everyone's respect. Pola Negri deserves attention, and this book brings it in just the right way. Highly recommended."-- Jeanine Basinger, author of I Do and I Don't: A History of Marriage in the Movies