19 April 2018

Jacques Pills

French artist Jacques Pills (1906-1970) was an agreeable light singer and crooner. Before the war, he formed a successful duo with Georges Tabet. In 1959, Pills was the Monegasque entrant at the Eurovision Song Contest 1959 with the song Mon ami Pierrot. He also appeared in several films, but Pills's main claim to fame are his marriages to two illustrious singers, Lucienne Boyer and Édith Piaf.

Jacques Pills
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 260. Photo: Carlet ainé, Paris.

American jazz and Hawaiian style songs


Jacques Pills was born René Jacques Ducos in 1906 in Tulle, France.

After studying medicine, he turned to the music hall by participating in shows at the Casino de Paris, alongside Mistinguett.

He started a duo with the pianist Pierre Courmontagnes, under the name of Pills and Ward. When the latter left, Georges Tabet replaced him at the Casino de Paris. In 1931, they performed American jazz at Boeuf sur le Toit.

In 1932, Pills et Tabet reached success with the song Couchés dans le foin, written by Mireille and Jean Nohain. Several hits followed. Pills and Tabet separated in 1939. That same year, Pills married French singer Lucienne Boyer.

Jacques Pills started a solo career while Tabet became a screenwriter for the cinema. Pills recorded songs of Bruno Coquatrix, his impresario: Mon Ange (1940) and Dans un coin de mon pays (1940). He also had a huge success with a song in Hawaiian style, Avec son ukulele.

Like many other singing stars, Pills made films, including a few alongside Tabet, nearly always in the role of a singer. In 1932 he made his film debut in the sports film Chouchou poids plume/A Gentleman of the Ring (Robert Bibal, 1932), starring Geo Laby.

His films like the comedy Toi, c'est moi/You, it's me (René Guissart, 1936) and Prends la route/Take the road (Jean Boyer, 1936) were no masterpieces, mainly musicals designed to entertain undemanding fans. They cheered up enthusiastic crowds, but are forgotten today.

Jacques Pills and Georges Tabet
Jacques Pills and Georges Tabet. French postcard by PC, Paris, no. 78. Photo: G. Marant.

Pills et Tabet
Pills et Tabet. French postcard by EC, no. 70. Photo: Studio Paz.

A welcome dark spot


From the 1940s on, Jacques Pills continued to appear in a string of light comedies.

The only exception in the unexpected thriller, Seul dans la nuit/Alone in the Night (Christian Stengel, 1945) starring Bernard Blier. In the film a singer (Pills)'s hit Seul dans la nuit is heard whenever a woman is murdered by a lady-killer. Worse, this beloved singer might be the serial killer himself… Guy Bellinger at IMDb: “A welcome dark spot in too sunny an output.”

Jacques Pills and Lucienne Boyer divorced in 1951. The following year, he married singer Édith Piaf. However, in 1957, this marriage also ended in a divorce.

In 1953 he played the lead in the film Boum sur Paris (Maurice de Canonge, 1953). The film was built around the popular radio program La Kermesse aux Étoiles, hosted by Jean Nohain, mixing lottery games and performances of various artists. In the film the show is disturbed by a man (Pills) and his bride (Danielle Godet) seeking to retrieve a dangerous perfume bottle (explosive) which was inadvertently mixed with prizes. Among the performing stars were Gary Cooper, Édith Piaf, Juliette Gréco, Gilbert Bécaud and Gregory Peck as themselves.

In 1959, Pills was the Monegasque entrant at the Eurovision Song Contest 1959 with the song Mon ami Pierrot. The song ended last, in eleventh place and got only one point. Pills was the father of Jacqueline Boyer, who won the 1960 Eurovision contest the year after her father's participation for France singing Tom Pillibi.

Jacques Pills died in 1970 in Paris. He was 64. In the Édith Piaf biopic La môme/The passionate life of Edith Piaf (Olivier Dahan, 2007), his character is interpreted by Laurent Olmedo.

Jacques Pills
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 253. Photo: Harcourt, Paris.

Jacques Pills
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 186. Photo: Carlet ainé, Paris.


Jacques Pills sings Seul dans la nuit. Source: holdabaum (YouTube).

Sources: Guy Bellinger (IMDb), Le Hall de la Chanson (French), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

18 April 2018

Ahasver (1917)

Carl de Vogt played the leading role in the German silent drama Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917), a three-part film on the story of the Wandering Jew, a mythical immortal man whose legend began to spread in Europe in the 13th century. The original legend concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. The exact nature of the wanderer's indiscretion varies in different versions of the tale. In this early film version Ahasver is condemned to bring misfortune.

Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (1917)
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3057. Photo: Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft. Publicity still of Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917).

Carl de Vogt in Ahasver
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, no 3142. Photo: Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft (DBG). Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917).

Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (1917)
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3143. Publicity still of Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917).

The eternal Jew


In the first part of the trilogy, Ahasver, 1. Teil (1917), Ahasver reaches the gates of a castle on a journey through time in the year 1400 during a stormy night, but he is initially rejected by the farmers. While the storm rages outside, they take pity on him and bring Ahasver into the sheltered rooms.

There he begins to tell his story and why he is condemned to eternal restlessness. He describes how he is said to have cold-heartedly rejected the collapsing Jesus Christ in front of his home in Jerusalem. Ahasver later marries the daughter of the tenant, but brings, because of the curse on him, from now on only great misfortune about this family. And so he has to continue to move restlessly.

In the second part, Ahasver, 2. Teil - Die Tragödie der Eifersucht/The Tragedy of Jealousy (1917), Ahasver learns to know Count Gotheberg on his endless wanderings. Gotheberg is sentenced to death and and will be executed by means of a guillotine. Ahasver can save him from this bloody fate, but he develops erotic desires towards the count's beloved Eleonore. It comes as it has to come: the two men are in controversy over the coveted woman and in the fight the count dies.

In he third part, Ahasver, 3. Teil - Das Gespenst der Vergangenheit/The Spectre of the Past (1917), Ahasver becomes the director of a mine. He discovers a pretty young girl named Johanna in the ghetto, takes her with him and gives her to a junk dealer. Johanna grows up and falls in love with Ahasver's mining engineer Baumann. But Ahasver falls into the same sin: he desires the other one's woman. He seduces Johanna and ensures that his competitor Baumann dies.

Director-writer Robert Reinert shot Ahasver from May to June 1917 in the Bioscop studios of Neubabelsberg. The film sets were designed by Robert A. Dietrich and executed by Artur Günther. Hanns Lippmann was production manager.

The film was received well by the German critics. German film magazine Neue Kino-Rundschau: "All the advantages that we emphasised at the time of the huge film work Homunculus are also valid for this film... The performances are also excellent. Noteworthy is lead actor Carl de Vogt. Even his gloomy appearance seems to have been created for the role of the eternal Jew. He also knows how to express the terrible anguish of the restless."

Carl de Vogt in Ahasver
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3144. Photo: Deutsche Bioscop-Gesellschaft (DBG). Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (Robert Reinert 1917).

Carl de Vogt and Johannes Riemann in Ahasver
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3146. Photo: Carl de Vogt and Johannes Riemann in Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917).

Carl de Vogt in Ahasver
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3147. Photo: Johannes Riemann, Dora Schlüter and Carl de Vogt in Ahasver (Robert Reinert, 1917).

Sources: Neue Kino-Rundschau (German), Filmportal.de (German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

17 April 2018

Finds at the International Collector's Fair

Last Sunday, we visited the International Collector's Fair in the city of Utrecht. Twice each year, this is the spot for an amazing assortment of antiques, bric-a-brac and second-hand trinkets. The postcard section is not as big as it used to be, but still, we met interesting people, bought dozens of postcards and other memorabilia, and had a lot of fun. And we did find some rarities and curiosities (for us anyway), which we like to share with you today and next Sunday.

Walt Disney
Vintage postcard. In 1932, Walt Disney received an honorary Academy Award for creating Mickey Mouse.

Max Maxudian in Napoleon (1927)
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, no. 462. Photo: publicity still for Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927) with Max Maxudian as Barras.

Adolphe Engers
Adolphe Engers. Dutch postcard, no. 47759. Photo: Hilde Meyer-Kupfer.

Adolphe Engers in A jó tündér (The Good Fairy)
Adolphe Engers. Dutch postcard, no. 949. Photo: publicity still for the stage production of A jó tündér/Die Fee/The Good Fairy by Ferenc Molnar, written in 1930.

Heinz Rühmann and Gustl Starck-Gstettenbaur, Strich durch die Rechnung (1932)Toni van Eyck and Gustl Starck-Gstettenbaur in Strich durch die Rechnung (1932)
Left: Heinz Rühmann and Gustl Starck-Gstettenbaur in Strich durch die Rechnung/The Upset Plan (Alfred Zeisler, 1932). Dutch quartet play card, no. VII, 3. Photo: Ufa.
Right: Toni van Eyck and Gustl Starck-Gstettenbaur in Strich durch die Rechnung/The Upset Plan (Alfred Zeisler, 1932). Dutch quartet play card, no. VIII, 4. Photo: Ufa.

Otto Wallburg in Strich durch die Rechnung (1932)Otto Wallburg and Adele Sandrock in Das schöne Abenteuer (1932)

Left: Otto Wallburg in Strich durch die Rechnung/The Upset Plan (Alfred Zeisler, 1932). Dutch quartet play card, no. IX, 3. Photo: Ufa.
Right: Otto Wallburg and Adele Sandrock in Das schöne Abenteuer/Beautiful Adventure (Reinhold Schünzel, 1932). Dutch quartet play card, no. IX, 2. Photo: Ufa.

Truus van Aalten and Roland Varno in Het meisje met den blauwen hoed (1934)
Truus van Aalten and Roland Varno in Het Meisje met de Blauwe Hoed/The girl with the blue hat (Rudolf Meinert, 1934). Dutch postcard, no. 1.

Truus van Aalten and Roland Varno in Het meisje met den blauwen hoed (1934)
Truus van Aalten and Roland Varno in Het Meisje met de Blauwe Hoed/The girl with the blue hat (Rudolf Meinert, 1934). Dutch postcard, no. 8.

Omar SharifOmar Sharif
The young Omar Sharif. Left: Egyptian collectors card, no. 7. Right: Egyptian collectors card, no. 29.

Giulietta Masina in Le notti di Cabiria (1957)
Giulietta Masina in Le notti di Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 1957). Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 3380. Photo: N.V. Standaardfilms.

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong. Vintage postcard, no. 111.

Rutger Hauer in Floris (1969)
Rutger Hauer in Floris (1969)
Rutger Hauer in Floris (1969)
Rutger Hauer in Floris (1969)
Rutger Hauer in the TV series Floris (Paul Verhoeven, 1969). Photos: Gerard Soeteman. Top - down: Dutch collectors card, no. 21, no. 28, no. 44, no. 65, all 1970.

Johnny Hallyday by TibetJacques Dutronc by Tibet
Left: Johnny Hallyday. Right: Jacques Dutronc. Belgian collectors cards by Clark, Brussels. Illustrations: Tibet.

Peter Sellers
Peter Sellers. Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 284.

Source: Verzamelaarsjaarbeurs.