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20 October 2017

Danielle Darrieux (1917-2017)

On Tuesday 17 October, French actress and singer Danielle Darrieux (1917-2017) passed away. She was a beautiful, international leading lady whose eight-decade career was among the longest in film history. From her film debut in 1931 on she played in more than 110 films in which she progressed from playing pouty teens to worldy sophisticates. In the early 1950s she starred in three classic films by Max Ophüls, and she played the mother of Catherine Deneuve in five films! Danielle Darrieux was 100.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Edition Chantal, Rueil, no. 96. Photo: x.phot.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 4. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Happy birthday, Danielle Darrieux!
French postcard by SERP, Paris, no. 90. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Danielle Darrieux
Dutch postcard.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 10.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Viny, no. 70. Photo: Universal Film.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Viny, no. 70. Photo: Universal Film.

Romantic Lead


Danielle Yvonne Marie Antoinette Darrieux was born in Bordeaux, France in 1917, but she was raised in Paris. She was the daughter of an army doctor who died when she was seven years old. Her brother was actor Olivier Darrieux.

Her family were keen music enthusiasts and Danielle studied the cello and piano at the Conservatoire de Musique (the Paris Conservatory). When she was only 14 she auditioned for a secondary role in the musical film Le Bal/The Ball (Wilhelm Thiele, 1931). Her beauty combined with her singing and dancing abilities got her the part.

Her performance as a headstrong teenager was impressive and the producer offered her a five-year contract. Her first romantic lead was in the backstage comedy La Crise est finie/The crisis is finished (Robert Siodmak, 1934) with Albert Préjean.

She scored an international hit with the historical love-drama Mayerling (Anatole Litvak, 1936) in which she played doomed Baroness Marie Vetsera opposite Charles Boyer as Archduke Rudolph of Austria.

In 1935, Darrieux married director/screenwriter Henri Decoin, and they made six films together in the following years like Abus de Confiance/Abused Confidence (Henri Decoin, 1938) with Charles Vanel. Decoin encouraged her to try Hollywood, and in 1938 she signed with studio executive Joe Pasternak from Universal Studios to appear in the comedy The Rage of Paris (Henry Koster, 1938) opposite Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Both the film and Darrieux were well-received, but her stay in Hollywood proved short-lived. She quickly returned to Paris, where she continued to star in such major hits as Battement de coeur/Beating Heart (Henri Decoin, 1940) with Claude Dauphin.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Danielle Darrieux in The Rage of Paris (1938)
Dutch postcard by Sparo. Photo: Universal. Publicity still for The Rage of Paris (Henry Koster, 1938) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 959. Photo: Paramount.

Danielle Darrieux
Dutch postcard by J.S.A. (J. Sleding, Amsterdam), no. 640/516. Photo: Lumina Film.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard, no. 96. Photo: UFA.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Editions Chantal, no. 96. Photo: UFA.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Viny, no. 59. Photo: Films Osso.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 1. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

German Occupation


After the occupation of France, Danielle Darrieux found herself working under the scrutiny of the new Nazi regime. She became the leading light of Continental, a Franco-German film company which was closely scrutinised by the Nazis. She distinguished herself in films such as Premier Rendez-Vous/Her First Affair (Henri Decoin, 1941).

After a visit to Germany, where she entertained the German troops, Darrieux’s popularity in France immediately plummeted and her name was placed on a death-list of the French Resistance. Even when her death sentence was lifted after the war, it was several years before she had regained her former popularity.

After the war, she explained that Alfred Greven, the manager of Continental, had threatened to deport her brother Olivier to Germany. After her divorce from Henri Decoin in 1941, she had married Dominican Republic diplomat and international jet-setter Porfirio Rubirosa in 1942. His anti-Nazi opinions resulted in his forced residence in Germany. Darrieux had accepted the promotional trip to Berlin in exchange for Rubirosa's liberation. They lived in Switzerland until the end of the war, and divorced in 1947.

A year later she married script-writer George Mitsikides and lived with him until his death in 1991. Her grand return came in 1949 with Claude Autant-Lara’s period farce Occupe-toi d'Amélie/Keep an Eye on Amelia (Claude Autant-Lara, 1949).

After La Ronde/Roundabout (Max Ophüls, 1950), Danielle Darrieux returned to Hollywood to appear as a French chanteuse in the MGM musical Rich, Young and Pretty (Norman Taurog, 1951) with Jane Powell. Joseph L. Mankiewicz then lured her to play the duplicitous lady friend of James Mason in the thriller 5 Fingers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1952).

Back home, she starred in Le Plaisir/Pleasure (Max Ophüls, 1952) with Madeleine Renaud, and opposite Charles Boyer and Vittorio de Sica in Madame de....../Diamond Earrings (Max Ophüls, 1953).

James Travers at Films de France: "The 1950s saw a marked change in Darrieux on-screen persona. She was no longer the care-free ingenue of her pre-war years. She had become a sophisticated and passionate society woman, often appearing cold and calculating, but sometimes showing a tender tragic vulnerability. The film which defined Danielle Darrieux in this period was Madame de… (1953), in which she gave probably her best screen performance. This was the third of three films she appeared in which were directed by her fond admirer Max Ophüls."

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 15. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 76. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 242. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Viny, no. 56. Photo: Universal Film.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Viny, no. 19.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Collection Chantal, Paris, no. 96 A. Photo: Discina, Paris.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 310. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

Lady Chatterley's Lover


During the 1950s, Danielle Darrieux also appeared in Le rouge et le noir/The Red and the Black (Claude Autant-Lara, 1954) opposite Gérard Philipe, and in L’amant de Lady Chatterley/Lady Chatterley's Lover (Marc Allégret, 1955) with Leo Genn. Due to its content, the latter film was banned by the Catholic censors in the United States.

She also played a supporting role in United Artists' epic Alexander the Great (Robert Rossen, 1957) starring Richard Burton. It was her last Hollywood production. Since then she continued to work in the European cinema.

In England she starred opposite Kenneth More in The Greengage Summer (Lewis Gilbert, 1961), and in France she appeared as the mother of Catherine Deneuve in five films: L’Homme à femmes/Ladies Man (Jacques Gérard Cornu, 1960), the classic musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort/The Young Girls of Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1967), the drama Le Lieu du crime/Scene of the Crime (André Téchiné, 1986), the comedy-murder-mystery 8 femmes/8 Women (François Ozon, 2002), and in Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi, 2007). This remarkable animated feature is based on a graphic novel of the same name about the impact of the Iranian Islamic revolution on a girl's life as she grows to adulthood.

The actress sang in concerts and cabarets in the 1960s, and in 1970 replaced Katharine Hepburn in the Broadway musical Coco. In the 1980s, Danielle Darrieux scored a significant success in a Paris staging of the film musical Gigi.

For her long service to the motion picture industry, she was given an Honorary César Award in 1985. Her final film was Pièce montée/The Wedding Cake (Denys Granier-Deferre, 2010) with Jérémie Renier. D.B. DuMonteil at IMDb: "Pièce Montée (Tiered cake) is a funny comedy, with some nostalgia and an attack on the bourgeoisie Chabrol would not disown. Its depiction of a wedding in France is marvelously precise, with all these smug people, wearing their Sunday's best, and taking photographs of each other."

Madame Darrieux, rest in peace. Here at EFSP we salute you.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 54. Photo: Studio Piaz.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Viny, no. 55. Photo: Regina.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris. Photo Sam Lévin.

Charles Boyer, Danielle Darrieux and Vittorio De Sica in Madame de... (1953)
Spanish promotion card by Cosmofilm. Photo: publicity still for Madame de... (Max Ophüls, 1953) with Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica.

Dany Carrel, Gérard Philipe and Danièle Darrieux in Pot-Bouille (1957)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 1294, 1960. Photo: publicity still for Pot-Bouille/Lovers of Paris (Julien Duvivier, 1957) with Dany Carrel and Gérard Philipe.

Danielle Darrieux
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 2715, 1966.

Danielle Darrieux
Vintage collectors card.

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Scene from Madame De... (1953). Source: Classic Movies (YouTube).


Trailer of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967). Source: British Film Institute (YouTube).


Trailer 8 femmes/8 Women (2002). Source: 2663KinkyCyborg (YouTube).

Sources: James Travers (Le Film Guide), Hal Erickson (All Movie), Thanassos Agathos (IMDb), D.B. DuMonteil (IMDb), John Charles (TCM),  AlloCiné (French), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

19 October 2017

Mata Hari (1931)

Earlier this week, the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden opened its exhibition on exotic dancer and executed spy Mata Hari (1876-1917). From the local newspapers in Friesland to the New York Times, all critics were positive in their reviews. EFSP updates an earlier post on the Leeuwarden-born 'red dancer' who was an international society figure between 1905 and the First World War. EFSP contributor Ivo Blom is one of the researchers for the exhibition. About his research he wrote two fascinating articles on his personal blog, of which we post two excerpts in combination with postcards from the classic Hollywood biopic Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) starring Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro.

Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (1931)
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 299. Photo: Clarence Sinclair Bull / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro in Mata Hari (1931)
French postcard by EDUG, no. 1030. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) with Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro.

Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (1931)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 659. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) with Greta Garbo.

Researching a clip of a fashionable lady


Ivo Blom: "Still materials of Mata Hari are abundant: gorgeous coloured postcards, studio photos by prominents such as Emilio Sommariva, actuality photos etc., but what lacked were moving images. With a woman who was such a society figure between 1905 and the First World War, one asks himself why Pathé, Gaumont or any other prominent company did not film this woman, whose oriental dances had caused such a stir in Paris and beyond, and who was the mistress of many a prominent figure in politics, finance and culture?

Thus in films on her life or compilation films on the First World War a clip persisted of a fashionable lady helped in her coat by a doorman. She afterwards steps into a luxurious car with chauffeur and is driven away. This clip, coined as being with Mata Hari, has been used over and again as real footage with Mata Hari.

Even the respectable site EFG1914, supported and replenished by various European Film Archives, including the Dutch EYE, holds a compilation film that contains the same clip. It may be well have been the original culprit of the massive reuse and mythologization of ‘real’ film footage with Mata Hari. The compilation film uploaded by LUCE is the Italian version of 14-18 (1963) by French filmmaker Jean Aurel. The commentary states we notice Mata Hari here, helped into a taxi. The image quality was too poor to recognize any person. So where did Aurel did take it from? Could I get a better image quality?

Researching this clip was quite an adventure. I first contacted the CNC (Centre National pour la Cinématographie) near Paris, where Béatrice Paste kindly indicated me the compilation 14-18 by Aurel was a Gaumont production and CNC had recently digitized the film. Paste advised me to contact the Cinémathèque Gaumont. So I contacted curator Manuela Padoan who referred me to Nathalie Sitko, who proved to be an avid documentalist and helpful researcher.

In the meantime I searched myself on the site of Pathé-Gaumont-Archives. There I found the compilation documentary Paris après 3 ans de guerre (1917) by Gaumont, which contained the same clip, but now without any indication of Mata Hari. The description on the Gaumont site just said: ”Au pied d’un escalier, une femme élégante (bourgeoise) enfile son manteau aidé d’un maître d’hôtel, elle attend son véhicule et monte dans l’automobile.”

The film had been uploaded in HD, so the image quality was really good. Still, I had my doubts whether this was really the famous Mata Hari. My doubts proved to be right. Read on at Ivo Blom's blog."

Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro in Mata Hari (1931)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 701. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

Greta Garbo in Mata Hari
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6521/1, 1931-1932. Photo: MGM. Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (1931)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6522/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Clarence Sinclair Bull / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (1931)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6522/4, 1931-1932. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

Asta Nielsen and the Copy Cats


Ivo Blom: "In many analogue and digital sources a film entitled Mata Hari/Die Spionin (Ludwig Wolf, 1920/1921), starring Asta Nielsen, is listed as the oldest biopic of the life of Mata Hari aka Lady MacLeod aka Margaretha Zelle. You will find this on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), which in general for German silent cinema is quite unreliable.

But one also traces it in the English and Dutch Wikipedia, James Monaco’s The Movie Guide, David Thompson’s The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, James Robert Parish’s Prostitution in Hollywood films, Jerry Vermilye’s More films from the thirties, Georg Seeßlen’s Filmwissen: Thriller: Grundlagen des populären Films and several earlier publications by the same author, Léon Schirmann’s Mata-Hari: autopsie d’une machination, Michael R. Pitts’s The Great Spies Pictures, Valeria Palumbo’s Le figlie di Lilith: vipere, dive, dark ladies e femmes fatales : l’altra ribellione femminile, Rüdiger Dirk and Claudius Sowa’s Paris im Film: Filmografie einer Stadt, and many others. The English Wikipedia even indicates Mata Hari (1920) and Die Spionin (1921) as two separate films, both about Mata Hari.

Nevertheless, my suspicions arose when I could not find the film on the generally quite thorough German films site www.filmportal.de. When I launched a call for more information on the Facebook site of Domitor, the network for researchers dealing with early cinema, my suspicions increased.

Joseph Juenger, Artistic Director at Stummfilm-Festival Karlsruhe, asked if I was really sure about this film. He could‘t find a film with the title Die Spionin, neither on the FIAF-CD nor in the 2010 two-volume extensive monography on Asta Nielsen by Heide Schlüpmann and Karola Gramann, nor on filmportal.de. Juenger remarked there was only a film with the title Die Rache der Spionin (1921), but the director was Richard Eicherg and Nielsen lacked.

I therefore contacted Asta Nielsen expert Heide Schlüpmann, who kindly told me despite her thorough research she never found a film with Nielsen called either Mata Hari or Die Spionin. It just seemed that all the above mentioned authors had just copied each other without bothering to check any original sources." Read on at Ivo Blom's blog.

Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (1931)
French postcard by Europe, no. 20. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

Ramon Novarro
French postcard by Europe, no. 391. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Ramon Novarro as Lt. Alexis Rosanoff in Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

Great Garbo and Ramon Novarro in Mata Hari (1931)
Dutch postcard, no. 300. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Clarence Sinclair Bull. Publicity still for Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931) with Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro.

Thanks Ivo, for the permission to copy-cat your posts!

18 October 2017

Feodor Chaliapin

Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin (1873–1938) was an international sensation and is considered as the greatest Russian singer of the twentieth century, as well as the greatest male operatic actor ever. The possessor of a large, deep and expressive basso profundo, he was celebrated at major opera houses all over the world and established the tradition of naturalistic acting in operas. The only sound film which shows his acting style is Don Quixote (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1933).

Feodor Chaliapin
Russian postcard, no. 2036. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Feodor Chaliapin as Mephisto
Russian postcard, no. 499. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. He sang the title role on the occasion of his first appearance outside Russia at La Scala, Milan in 1901 and also on his North American debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in 1907. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Feodor Chaliapin as Boris Godunov
Russian postcard, no. 57. Photo: publicity still for the stage production of Modest Mussorgsky's opera Boris Godunov. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Feodor Chaliapin as Don Quixote
Feodor Chaliapin as Don Quixote. German postcard by B.K.W.I.

Feodor Chaliapin
Russian postcard by Dynamo, no. MB 22975-86, 1954.

His approach revolutionised acting in opera


Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin (Russian: Фёдор Ива́нович Шаля́пин, or Fyodor Ivanovich Shalyapin) was born in 1873, into a poor peasant family in Omet Tawi, near Kazan, Russia. His childhood was full of suffering, hunger, and humiliation. From the age of 10, he worked as an apprentice to a shoemaker, a sales clerk, a carpenter, and a lowly clerk in a district court before joining, at age 17, a local operetta company. 

In 1890, Chaliapin was hired to sing in a choir at the Semenov-Samarsky private theatre in Ufa. There he began singing solo parts. In 1891, he toured Russia with the Dergach Opera. In 1892, he settled in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Georgia), because he found a good teacher, Dmitri Usatov, who gave Chaliapin free professional opera training for one year. He also sang at the St. Aleksandr Nevsky Cathedral in Tbilisi. In 1893, he began his career at the Tbilisi Opera, and a year later, he moved to Moscow upon recommendation of Dmitri Usatov.

In 1895 ,Chaliapin debuted at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre as Mephistopheles in Charles Gounod’s Faust, in which he was a considerable success. In 1896 he also joined Mamontovs Private Russian Opera in Moscow, where he mastered the Russian, French, and Italian roles that made him famous. Savva Mamontov was a Russian industrialist and philanthropist, who staged the operas, conducted the orchestra, trained the actors, taught them singing and paid all the expenses. At Mamontov's, he met in 1897 Sergei Rachmaninoff, who started as an assistant conductor there. The two men remained friends for life.

With Rachmaninoff he learned the title role of Modest Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, which became his signature character. Rachmaninoff taught him much about musicianship, including how to analyse a music score, and insisted that Chaliapin learn not only his own roles but also all the other roles in the operas in which he was scheduled to appear. When Chaliapin became dissatisfied with his performances, Chaliapin began to attend straight dramatic plays to learn the art of acting. His approach revolutionised acting in opera.

In 1896, Savva Mamontov introduced Chaliapin to a young Italian ballerina Iola Tornagi, who came to Moscow for a stage career. She quit dancing and devoted herself to family life with Chaliapin. He was very happy in this marriage. From 1899 until 1914, he also performed regularly at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. The couple settled in Moscow and had six children. Their first boy died at the age of 4, causing Chaliapin a nervous breakdown.

In 1901, Chaliapin made his sensational debut at La Scala in the role of the devil in Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito under the baton of conductor Arturo Toscanini. Other famous roles were Boris Godunov in Mussorgsky's opera, King Philip in Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlos., Bertram in Giacomo Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable, and Ivan the Terrible in The Maid of Pskov by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. His great comic characterizations were Don Basilio in Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Leporello in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

In 1906, Chaliapin started a civil union with Maria Valentinovna Petzhold in St. Petersburg, Russia. She had three daughters with Chaliapin in addition to 2 other children from her previous family. He could not legalize his second family, because his first wife would not give him a divorce. Chaliapin even applied to the Emperor Tsar Nicholas II with a request of registering his three daughters under his last name. His request was not satisfied.

In 1913, Chaliapin was introduced to London and Paris by the brilliant entrepreneur Sergei Diaghilev. He began giving well-received solo recitals in Paris in which he sang traditional Russian folk songs as well as more serious fare, and also performed at the Paris Opera. His acting and singing was sensational to the western audiences. He made many sound recordings, of which the 1913 recordings of the Russian folk songs Vdol po Piterskoi and The Song of the Volga Boatmen are best known.

In 1915, he made his film debut as Czar Ivan IV the Terrible in the silent Russian film Tsar Ivan Vasilevich Groznyy/Czar Ivan the Terrible (Aleksandr Ivanov-Gai, 1915) opposite the later director Richard Boleslawski. Fourteen years later, he appeared in another silent film, the German-Czech coproduction Aufruhr des Blutes/Riot of the blood (Victor Trivas, 1929) with Vera Voronina and Oscar Marion.

Feodor Chaliapin Sr.
Feodor Chaliapin as as Czar Ivan the Terrible. Russian postcard, sent by mail in 1905.

Maxim Gorky and Feodor Chaliapin
Maxim Gorky and Feodor Chaliapin. Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson. Chaliapin collaborated with Gorky, who wrote and edited his memoirs, which he published in 1933. They broke after the publication.

Maxim Gorky, Feodor Chaliapin
Maxim Gorky and Feodor Chaliapin. Russian postcard, no. 1213. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Chaliapin. Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Feodor Chaliapin as Don Quixote
Feodor Chaliapin as Don Quixote. German postcard by B.K.W.I.

The undisputed best basso in the first half of the 20th century


Feodor Chaliapin was torn between his two families for many years, living with one in Moscow, and with another in St. Petersburg. With Maria Petzhold and their three daughters, he left Russia in 1922 as part of an extended tour of western Europe. They would never return. The family settled in Paris. A man of lower-class origins, Chaliapin was not unsympathetic to the Bolshevik Revolution and his emigration from Russia was painful. Although he had left Russia for good, he remained a tax-paying citizen of Soviet Russia for several years. Finally he could divorce in 1927 and marry Maria Petzhold.

Chaliapin worked for impresario Sol Hurok and from 1921 on, he sang for eight seasons at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His debut at the Met in the 1907 season had been disappointing due to the unprecedented frankness of his stage acting. In 1921, the public in New York had grown more broad-minded and the eight seasons were a huge success. According to Steve Shelokhonov at IMDb, Chaliapin was the undisputed best basso in the first half of the 20th century. He had revolutionised opera by bringing serious acting in combination with great singing.

His first open break with the Soviet regime occurred in 1927 when the government, as part of its campaign to pressure him into returning to Russia, stripped him of his title of 'The First People’s Artist of the Soviet Republic' and threatened to deprive him of Soviet citizenship. Prodded by Joseph Stalin, Chaliapin’s longtime friend Maxim Gorky tried to persuade him to return to Russia. Gorky broke with him after Chaliapin published his memoirs, Man and Mask: Forty Years in the Life of a Singer (Maska i dusha, 1932), in which he denounced the lack of freedom under the Bolsheviks.

The only sound film which shows Chaliapin's acting style is Don Quixote/Adventures of Don Quixote (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1933). He had also starred onstage as the knight in Jules Massenet's 1910 opera, Don Quichotte, but the 1933 film does not use Massenet's music, and is more faithful to Miguel de Cervantes' novel than the opera. In fact there were three versions of this early sound film. Georg Wilhelm Pabst shot simultaneously with the German language version also English and French versions. Feodor Chaliapin Sr. starred in all three versions of Don Quixote, but with a different supporting cast. Sancho Pansa was played by Dorville in the German and French versions but by George Robey in the English version.

Benoit A. Racine at IMDb: "These films (the French, English and German versions) were an attempt to capture his legendary stage performance of this character even though the songs are by Jacques Ibert. Ravel had also been asked to compose the songs for the film but he missed the deadline and his songs survive on their own with texts that are different from those found here. The interplay between the French and English versions is fascinating. Some scenes are done exactly the same for better or worse, some use the same footage, re-cut to edit out performance problems, while others have slight variants in staging and dialogue. (The English version was doctored by Australian-born scriptwriter and director John Farrow, Mia's father, by the way.) Even though the films are short and they transform, reduce and simplify considerably the original novel, they still manage to carry the themes and the feeling that would make Man of La Mancha a hit several decades later and to be evocative of Cervantes' Spain."

In the late 1930s, Feodor Chaliapin Sr. suffered from leukaemia and kidney ailment. In 1937, he died in Paris, France. He was laid to rest is the Novodevichy Monastery Cemetery in Moscow. Chaliapin was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6770 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California. In 1998, the TV film Chaliapin: The Enchanter (Elisabeth Kapnist, 1998) followed.

His son Boris Chaliapin became a famous painter. who painted the portraits used on 414 covers of the Time magazine between 1942 and 1970. Another son Feodor Chaliapin Jr. became a film actor, who appeared in character roles in such films as the Western Buffalo Bill, l'eroe del far west/Buffalo Bill (Mario Costa, 1965) with Gordon Scott, and Der Name der Rose/The Name of the Rose (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1986), starring Sean Connery. His first wife, Iola Tornagi, lived in the Soviet Union until 1959, when Nikita Khrushchev brought the 'Thaw'. Tornagi was allowed to leave the Soviet Union and reunited with her son Feodor Chaliapin Jr, in Rome, Italy.

Feodor Chaliapin as Mephisto
Russian postcard, no. 495. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Feodor Chaliapin as Mephisto
Russian postcard, no. 496. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Feodor Chaliapin in Mephisto
Russian postcard, no. 499. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Feodor Chaliapin as Mephisto
Russian postcard, no. 500. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Feodor Chaliapin in Mephisto
Russian postcard, no. 521. Photo: K. Fisher. Publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.


Don Quichote/Adventures of Don Quixote (1933). Source: LikeManyThingThings (YouTube).

Sources: Steve Shelokhonov (IMDb), Benoit A. Racine (IMDb), Encyclopaedia Britannica, Wikipedia and IMDb.