Borgiastic

A spectacular siege from Richard Oswald’s LUCREZIA BORGIA.

Post number 3001 at The Daily Notebook seems to require something special… but instead, it’s me, with another edition of The Forgotten, a whistle-stop tour through the cinematic history of the Borgias. The family that lays together, slays together!

15 Responses to “Borgiastic”

  1. david wingrove Says:

    Oo-er…can we please have a Borgias week?!

    The sublime lunacy of Mitchell Leisen’s BRIDE OF VENGEANCE! The Eurotrash splendour of Christian Jaque’s SINS OF THE BORGIAS! The sheer daring of Abel Gance’s LUCRECE BORGIA, complete with openly gay characters and full frontal nudity – by Edwige Feuillere, no less!

    I can feel a theme coming on…

  2. I may have splurged too much of that away over at The Forgotten — I’d been meaning to talk about all those versions, and this was a way to sort of wrap them together, along with Richard Oswald’s rather splendidly mounted version with Conrad Veidt as Cesare (no somnambulist this time).

  3. david wingrove Says:

    There’s definitely more mileage in each of those films.

    Must admit, though, I got so excited at even the prospect of Borgia movies that I posted my comment before I had actually read your piece at The Forgotten…so apologies for that!!

  4. kevin mummery Says:

    Nice piece at The Forgotten, David…there’s definitely a need for Borgia-centric film making these days. Even if it means employing Jeremy Irons, who looks more Karloff-like every day.

    On an unrelated note I just learned that Michael Gough died today, at the age of 94. Another old Hammerite lost to the ages.

  5. Yep. Time for a mini-obituary. Though I didn’t much like Alice in Wonderland, it’s nice that he went out working for Tim Burton, in a big hit, with Christopher Lee also in the cast.

  6. The Grapevine version of Richard Oswald’s Borgia movie seems to be complete to a fault, but I found it no easier to follow than a previously viewed version which was about half the length. I don’t think I quite figured out which actress was playing Lucrezia, although in fairness I didn’t really care. It was all big sets and Cesare, plus Albert Bassermann as his real Holy Father.

    (Actually it also has an array of interesting actors in secondary parts: Alexander Granach as the fake poisoning victim, Shadowplay mud-man Paul Wegener and Heinrich George as two of a trio of clown/thugs, Wilhelm Dieterle as Paul Henreid, noble third wheel.)

  7. Dieterle’s acting is always enjoyed! “He was a big guy, not talented. We called him the iron stove.” ~ Edgar Ulmer.

    Yes, the labyrinthine plotting is a bit… labyrinthine. Macchiavelli would need a dramatis personae to pick his way through it.

  8. If you want more Dieterle trundling around while Conrad Veidt wastes away, try another Richard Oswald spectacular, “Carlos and Elisabeth.”

  9. Sounds good! I like his galumphing around in Faust also. It’s the worst thing in a great movie, but I still like it.

  10. david wingrove Says:

    Have you ever seen Dieterle directing himself as the mad King Ludwig of Bavaria?!

  11. Not yet! It’s lined up for viewing at the appropriate time, whenever that is.

  12. Oy, I just got hold of another Richard Oswald historical drama, one that I believe was considered lost until recently. It’s “Lady Hamilton,” with: design by Paul Leni! Conrad Veidt (as Nelson)! Werner Krauss! Reinhold Schuenzel! Heinrich George! Many other well-known future Nazis and exiles! Oh, and Lianne Haid in the title role.

    Also with: no sound track, no Dieterle, timecode at the bottom, Russian intertitles (lucky for me, actually, since I read Russian). Anyway, I’ve only watched the first few minutes. But I’m excited!

    Ilka Gruenig has a small role as a landlady. Years later she would have a small role in Casablanca, as the “What watch?” lady.

  13. Sounds great! I particularly like the Germans taking on British history, as with Lubitsch’s Anna Boleyn. It feels so weird, even though it’s no stranger than Hollywood doing The Three Musketeers, in principle.

  14. Still haven’t watched the whole thing, but Lady Hamilton is quite lively, with satirical/grotesque overtones. The Paul Leni effect?

    Also in the category of Germans making like the British is a film I’m awaiting from my Connie supplier: Die Andere Seite, the German version of “Journey’s End,” the British WWI play. German actors circa 1931 playing British army officers circa 1918.

  15. Good lord! The James Whale version is quite powerful, though primitive as hell. I would imagine any 1931 production would be much slicker, which would be very interesting. I don’t see why they wouldn’t just make it about Germans — respect for the play, I guess, which I’m sure was as big there as here.

    But that title — The Other Side, right? — is super-evocative.

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