Excerpts from works which mention Conrad Veidt. These excerpts are placed in chronological order (rather than by author).


Dorothy L. Sayers is the creator of Lord Peter Wimsey, and wrote 14 novels and several shorts stories about this character, before stopping completely in 1937. She had made all the money she needed because of the popularity of the Wimsey books, and spent the rest of her days writing what she really wanted to write - poetry and plays on a religious theme and a translation of Dante's Divine Comedy. She mentions the Veidt movies The Student of Prague and Dr. Caligari in the short story, "The Image in the Mirror," (collected into the book Hangman's Holiday, copyright 1933.) Its plot is that a man suspects that, during the Great War, a bomb explosion caused him to 'split' into two separate personalities, one of whom is a rotter.

Len Deighton's ''What if Hitler Had Won the War Against England?'' has comments on Veidt and I Was a Spy.

Pandaemonium by Leslie Epstein, 'narrated' by Peter Lorre, has two brief mentions of Veidt.

Nosferatu by Jim Shepard, a fictional account of the life of F.W. Murnau, has a chapter in which Veidt. Murnau and other friends get together.


Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise by Scott Eyman.
The Kindness of Strangers by Salka Viertel.
Conrad Veidt-Lebensbilder by Wolfgang Jacobsen.
Emeric Pressburger, The Life and Death of a Screenwriter by Kevin Macdonald
A Life in Movies, by Michael Powell.
The Lion Roars, Ken Russell on Film by Ken Russell
Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Blacklist, ''Jules Dassin - I'll Always Be An American'' chapter, by Patrick McGilligan
Round up the Usual Suspects, by Aljean Harmetz.

Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise by Scott Eyman, 1993, Simon & Schuster.

The time period being discussed is late 1926. (Veidt arrived in America by ship in September 1926).

When Conrad Veidt arrived in Hollywood to make The Beloved Rogue, Lubitsch took him to a boxing match. The fighters were lackadaisical and the crowd got restless. ''Fight, fight!'' they began screaming, which caused a flattered Veidt to stand up and make a gracious bow to his adoring fans. ''See, you're famous already.'' cracked Lubitsch. (Page 137).

The Kindness of Strangers by Salka Viertel, 1969, Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 03076470-X.

The time period being discussed is the late 1920's. The location is Hollywood, California. The information in ( ) is added by webeditor.

Bottom of page 132.

''Emil and Gussy Jannings gave a party for us (Berthold and Salka Viertel). Emil, a lusty character-actor, had the gross and expansive sense of humor one calls 'Rabelaisian.' His wife Gussy, blond and very chic, had once been a cabaret singer, a well-known 'danseuse', and had become a stoical, imperturbable, though sharp-tongued consort (and had been Conrad Veidt's wife until 1922). Invited with us were Conrad Veidt, lanky and handsome, and short cigar smoking Ernst Lubitsch, now a celebrated film maker, but who had not changed since our Judith days. Both had uninteresting pretty wives. [Wife #2 for Conrad, Felizitas Radke, not Lily, who was #3] A successful German director, Ludwig Berger, was also there. Paramount had signed him because of his European fame, but they did not know what to do with him. Max Reinhardt appeared after dinner, with young Raimund von Hoffmansthal, son of the Austrian poet. He said that he fallen in love with California, which Jannings, who hardly knew it, detested.

All those who had been some time in Hollywood seemed starved for new faces and, as I soon discovered, irritated with the old.

The Jannings lived in a grand-style Hollywood mansion, which they rented from the millionaire Josef Schenk, one of 'filmdom's pioneers.' Situated in the center of Hollywood Boulevard, it had a large garden, swimming pool, tennis court, and a huge living room with a multitude of lamps. The diversity of lamps and especially the extraordinary shapes of the lamps, struck me as a speciality of Hollywood interiors.

Throughout the evening the main topic of conversation was the catastrophic impact of the talking films upon the careers of foreign stars, until the exuberant entrance of the precocious 'Mann children,' Erika and Klaus, brightened the atmosphere. They had just arrived in Hollywood on their journey around the world. Very young and attractive, they were refreshingly irreverent and adventurous. They brought with them the atmosphere of Berlin's night life which electrified the party. It was very late when we left with them, discussing the evening on our way back to the hotel. Berthold was fascinated by Jannings's impersonation of 'Jannings in real life,' an amalgamation of his monstrous egotism with roles he had played: Harpagon, Henry VIII, with glimpses of the good natured, straightforward 'Deutscher Michel'. We agreed that it was a great performance; that Conny Veidt was most handsome and a darling; Lubitsch inscrutable but worth knowing better; and Ludwig Berger's fate a warning to European directors.

Conrad Veidt-Lebensbilder by Wolfgang Jacobsen, published in 1993 by Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek and Argon.

An excerpt in its turn from pages 167-168 of Christopher and his Kind (1929-1939); copyright 1976, an autobiography by Christopher Isherwood written in the third person voice. That's why in the excerpt Isherwood refers to himself as ''he'' and ''Christopher'').

Christopher Isherwood Through the Eyes of Suess

Conrad Veidt was then playing in the film of Feuchtwanger's Jew Suess. Whenever Christopher had the opportunity, he would watch. Two memories remain. His first is of a scene in which Veidt had to read a letter of bad news and, at a certain point, burst into tears. There were three successive takes and, in each one - despite the intermediate fussings of the technicians and the make-up man - Veidt wept right on cue, the great drops rollling down his cheeks as if released from a tap.

His second memory is of the beginning of the scene of Suess's execution. Veidt sat in a cart, his hands manacled, on his way to death - a wealthy and powerful man ruined, alone. However, just as the filming was about to begin, something went wrong with the lights. There was to be a delay of five minutes. Veidt stayed in the cart. And now a stenographer came up to him and offered him a piece of candy. The gesture was perhaps deliberately saucy. Some stars would have been annoyed by it because they were trying to concentrate on their role and remain ''in character''. They would have ignored the stenographer. Others would have chatted and joked with her, welcoming this moment of relaxation. Veidt did neither. He remained Suess, and through the eyes of Suess he looked down from the cart upon this sweet Christian girl, the only human being in this cruel city who had the heart and the courage to show kindness to a condemned Jew. His eyes filled with tears. With his manacled hands he took the candy from her and tried to eat it - for her sake, to show his gratitude to her. But he couldn't. He was beyond hunger, too near death. And his emotion was too great. He began to sob. He turned his face away.

(Isherwood's short stories and a novel about the years he lived in Berlin in the 1920's were the basis for the stage musical and film, Cabaret. At the time he observed the making of Jew Suess in 1934, Isherwood was back in England working as a screenwriter.

Emeric Pressburger, The Life and Death of a Screenwriter by Kevin Macdonald. Faber and Faber, 1994

Two excerpts.

First: Discussing the making of The Spy in Black.(Time period 1938)

Emeric altered the motivation and characterization (of the novel) to make the story both more complex and more psychologically compelling, as well as entirely inventing the chase aboard the St Magnus and the ironic finale in which the steamer with Veidt on board is sunk by his own U-boat.

In the novel the spy in black was a minister of the cloth. In the film the eponymous spy is a U-boat captain. The screenplay compounds the character of the minister with that of a governess into a single character called Miss Burnett, the schoolteacher.

Another significant alteration is to the character of the U-boat captain. Emeric makes him a sympathetic character, who is reluctant from the outset to be a spy. ... Significantly, he altered the captain's name to Captain Hardt - and the character is indeed shown to have plenty of heart. The importance of his romantic attachment to Miss Burnett is increased. She is caught between admiration for her magnetic and charming enemy and the rather limited apppeal of her husband Ashington.

This conflict does not arise in the novel, which ends with the girl rushing unselfconsciously into Ashington's arms for the final patriotic clinch. The story had been turned from a simplistic thriller into an eloquent demonstration of the confusion of loyalties in war and the destruction that is the inevitable outcome of following orders to their logical conclusion. Emeric also added a great deal of humour, characteristically about both food (the restaurant with no food at the beginning) and a foreigner's difficulty with the English language. Asked years later what he was trying to do in the film, Emeric responded: 'Nothing. It was our very first picture. I did not have very much to do with choosing the subject. But of course I was young, bursting with all sorts of ideas, having difficulties putting all that I wanted to say into this one script. So there might be something, but it is not intentionally, of course.'...

The final script was something of a collaboration. Michael (Powell) recalled that he, Veidt and Hobson met Emeric every day for a fortnight or so in one of the comfortable rooms in the 'old house' at Denham, and fleshed out the scenes which Emeric had written in rough the night before. Hobson remembered the sessions well. Initially she was rather in awe of Veidt, and worried that Emeric and he would speak German together, which they very rarely did. Veidt still had difficulties pronouncing certain English words and Hobson light-heatedly ticked him off and corrected him. 'But it's not my fault, ' Veidt would joke, 'my scriptwriter has an accent!' Their personal jibes about pronunciation spilled over into the film, where there is a running joke about Captain Hardt's mispronunciation of 'butter'. ''

Second excerpt, about the filming of Contraband:

Another vehicle for Conrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson, Contraband would, of course, be directed by Michael Powell. Veidt, in particular, was glad to be working with them again. He had found Emeric and Michael so sympathetic, both personally and professionally, that he discussed setting up a production company with them and the contracts with British National, who supplied the meagre 35,000 pound budget for "Contraband" were, in fact, signed by the three of them in partnership.

The propaganda element of Contraband was concerned with the activities of the contraband patrols which operated in all British ports, stopping and searching neutral vessels to ensure they were not carrying cargo destined for the enemy. It seems an oddly marginal choice for the first real propaganda feature of the war - an unexpected sabre to rattle. Perhaps the Ministry of Information saw it as a trial run.

Emeric's friendship with both Veidt and Hobson had its effect on the script. There are numerous personal touches. 'He wrote the film around the kind of things that Connie Veidt and I actually did,' said Hobson, 'we used to go out to dinner to this funny restaurant which they actually put into the film as The Three Vikings - they copied it almost exactly in the studio. I can't remember if the original had the same name, but they copied it almost to the Hay Petrie character as the dotty chef. It ws just down by the side of the Strand Palace Hotel, in Glasshouse Street. There were lots of other in-jokes like that.'

Veidt was frequently typecast as a sombre villain and, acording to Hobson, had greatly appreciated the opportunity to play a more humane and sympathetic role in The Spy in Black. 'He was always hoping to make himself attractive and kindly,' says Hobson. 'We mustn't forget that he was German, and at that time, with the war just starting, it was difficult for him. I think he always felt faintly embarrassed by the fact that he'd been a German star and had a very ripe German accent. Very cleverly Emeric made him not a German in Contraband. He was just as believable being a Dane, and that was charming.'

Captain Andersen (Conrad Veidt) of the Danish freighter Helvig is homeward bound with a vital cargo of medical supplies when he is waylaid by the contraband patrols. While waiting for clearance at anchorage off the southern English coast, two of his passengers, including the headstrong Mrs. Sorensen (Valerie Hobson - 'I knew she was trouble as soon as she came on the ship...not that I don't like trouble') jump ship. He follows them through the blackout to London where they are kidnapped by a cell of German spies operating from a basement in Soho. Andersen escapes and brings reinforcements in the shape of a battalion of Danish waiters and chefs from The Three Vikings restaurant. The next morning there is a deceptive appearance of normality on board the Helvig. Once again Mrs. Sorensen refuses to put on her lifebelt and is ordered to the captain's cabin. 'Drop that lifebelt!' commands Andersen, and they fall into each other's arms.

Hardly a masterpiece of originality, the story is a piece of consummate professionalism, an expert sugar-coating for a bitter pill of propaganda. It demonstrates just how at home Emeric was in the most English of Thirties genres, the comedy thriller, of which Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes and The Thirty-Nine Steps are the best examples. The hideout beneath the cinema and nightblub, the character of Mr. Pigeon (a talent scout who reads Variety over breakfast), the cabaret singer who sounds like a man and the romance between an antagonistic, stubborn hero, and a troublesome, independent woman, are all characteristic of the genre. Similarly Hitchcockian is the way the plot progresses as a journey, or chase, where the characters find themselves in one peculiar set of surroundings after another, culminating in the Patriotic Plaster Products warehouse filled with busts of Chamberlain ('I always knew he was tougher than they said,' says Captain Andersen, as he coshes the chief spy over the head with one of the busts).

What does make Conraband unique is the blackout, a potent metaphor for the population's general confusion and loss of direction at the start of the war. Emeric had also foreseen the wonderful cinematic opportunities it provided for Michael. 'The filming of blackness does not disconcert Mr. Powell,' wrote the Liverpool Post, 'who realizes that more eerie and emotional effects can be got with studies of say, feet in torchlight - dragging, hurrying, spruce, down-at-heel - than with full daylight which, in camera view, leave so little to the powers of suggestion.' Again there was plenty of opportunity to pay subtle homage to Veidt's Germanic, expressionist heritage with chiaroscuro lighting and visual allusions to his classic films.

The virtual standstill in the British film industry at the beginning of the war meant that John Corfield, the film's producer, was able to provide Michael with the pick of British technicians - at a fraction of their normal salaries. Freddie Young - who had recently completed Pygmalion and Goodbye Mr. Chips - was the cameraman. The art director was Alfred Junge, who had come to England from Germany with Dupont in 1928 to design Moulin Rouge and Picadilly with their celebrated nightclub sequences; he reprised these on a minimal budget in Contraband. 'Alfred Junge is always under budget,' said Michael. 'Hitler could have used him for the invasion of England.'

The unit shot the exteriors at the contraband control port in Southgate in mid-December. By the 20th they were in London for the blackout sequences (shot at dusk - film stock was slow in those days). On 3 January Denham Studios were re-opened for the first time since The Lion Has Wings, for the interiors. The film was trade shown on 26 March 1940, less than six months after the outbreak of war.

Emeric and Michael had their first serious difference of opinion during the filming of Contraband Emeric had promised Miklos Rozsa - who had composed the music for The Spy in Black- that he would also be working on "Contraband". Rozsa recalls that Michael at first agreed to the suggestoin, changed his mind 'seemingly without reason'. Emeric protested but Michael, supported by Corfield, was adamant, according to Rozja. 'I felt we needed more English contributors,' he recalled in his autobiography. Emeric thought it was a 'simple act of bloody-mindedness'.

The public greeted Contraband with even more enthusiasm than The Spy in Black and it did brisk business. Some negative reaction came from the more discerning critics who - under the influence of the idea that documentaary film was socialy responsible and the only British genre untainted by Hollywood - felt that the fictional elements of the story suffered in comparison to the realistic, documentary sequences.

....Hobson and Veidt got on extremely well. 'He was the best-looking man that you could imagine,' she says, 'and very ungrand despite his reputation. I found him sweet and kind and funny and gentle.' Photographs of Veidt on the set show him studying the script, looking decidedly bookish in his cardigan and reading glasses. As an actor he was 'extremely professional and easy to work with'. The sense of ease with which he spoke belied a long struggle with the language. Like Anton Walbrook, the other great Germanic star of Powell/Pressburger films, he made up for lack of fluency with an exact control of tone and volume. Rober Morley, at one time Veidt's dialogue director, said, 'He was a master of delivering lines...He always spoke them very slowly when everyone else spoke rather fast, and soft when everyone spoke loudly'.

Hobson thought he was not particularly subtle as an actor but was rather 'a natural, a real screen actor'. In Britain at that time there was no such thing as a screen actor; talent was invariably drawn from the theatre. In contrast, Veidt, like Marlene Dietrich, knew a great deal about lighting and self-presentation on the screen. He always carried a little pocket mirror around with him in order to see how his face was lit and, it necessary, made recommendations to the cinematographer. It was the visual image that absorbed him. According to Hobson, 'he never bothered a great deal about his characterization...He trusted people to show his character to the best advantage and did just what he was told...He placed himself in Mick's hands and he couldn't have done better than that...I've made 63 films and he was by far my favourite director.'

A Life in Movies, by Michael Powell. His writings complements the information from Pressburger's book above, during the same time period. Read its excerpts here

The Lion Roars, Ken Russell on Film

..''Many of the films we saw at College either glorified Great Britain or had something to do with the sea. "Contraband", with Conrad Veidt as the handsome captain of a Danish merchantman, was typical. It was a light, romantic comedy with bondage overtones.

The captain, confronted by two heavies at gunpoint, is asked to reveal his identity.
'I am Andersen,' he says, 'Hans Andersen'.
'And we are the Brothers Grimm,' reply the heavies.

There's a memorable scene when the captain is tied up back to back with the heroine in two chairs.
'I shall hurt you,' he says, as he prepares to struggle free.
'Go ahead', she says.
She grimaces in agony as he twists and turns to loosen his bonds. Then, free at last, he kisses her on the lips while she remains bound hand and foot. All strangely provocative.

I think that was the kinkiest film we ever had at the Nautical College..''

Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Blacklist, ''Jules Dassin - I'll Always Be An American'' chapter, by Patrick McGilligan (first appeared in the November-December 1996 issue of Film Comment, accompanied by a still from the film featuring the two brothers toasting each other - the 'good' with a glass of milk, the 'bad' with a glass of wine.

Dassin: I loved film before I went to Hollywood.

McGilligan: As art?

Dassin:Absolutely. Especially foreign films. The first job I was ever offered at MGM was a film with Conrad Veidt (Nazi Agent, '41). I remembered sitting in a theater in New York watching Conrad Veidt (in German films) with awe! But Nazi Agent was a typical MGM masterpiece, with Veidt playing two parts - the good German and the bad Nazi. I remember when I was introduced to Veidt. I had this, problem of always looking very young, much younger than I was. I was brought to the executive office, and in came Veidt - a tall, tall, beautiful guy with these gray eyes. They said, ''This is your director.'' And he looked down at me, said ''Nein,'' turned, and left. (Laughs.) He was persuaded to try it for one day.

McGilligan: He was happy after one day?

Dassin: I owned that happiness to a man named Harry Stradling. Harry was a great lighting cameraman - if somewhat inarticulate, nevertheless a brilliant artist. Fortunately he knew Veidt. They had worked together in Europe. So there I was with Conrad Veidt, with Harry Stradling and I knew nothing. And I had just that one day to prove I knew nothing.

So I start with a shot, an insert of a glass. Then three or four such shots. And one simple long shot of Veldt reading a book. This gets me to about 11 o'clock. Stradling asks, ''What's the next shot?'' I just looked at him dumbly. Veidt comes over. ''And now, Herr Director ... and now?'' For answer I said, ''Lunch.'' He looks at his watch, then at me with a mixture of pity and scorn. He repeats, ''Lunch,'' and goes.

Stradling puts a friendly hand on my shoulder. I'm determined not to cry ''Harry, I don't know what I'm doing. And this guy paralyzes me.'' Harry, gently: ''Tell me what's the next scene. I tell him: ''It's suddenly when he (Veidt) feels a presence. He looks up and there is his brother. The Nazi.'' Harry says, ''Here's what you do. Lay down a long track. When Veldt realizes who it is, you rush in to a big closeup.''

Veidt comes back from lunch. He looks down at the long track with interest. ''Ah?'' I quote Harry word for word. Veidt says ''ah'' again-but this time, it seems to say, ''Perhaps I underestimated you.'' We made the shot. Veidt is pleased. And I passed.

You know who wrote Nazi Agent? John Lee Mahin, and I never met him. I never met the guy who cut the film. I never knew you were supposed to. Thats how ignorant I was, and the studio seemed pleased to keep me ignorant.

Laurence Olivier by John Cottrell (1975)
...Olivier and Jill Esmond (who co-starred with Veidt in the English version of FP 1 Doesn't Answer) were divorced on January 29, 1940 but had not been living together since 1937. Olivier and Vivien Leigh began living together in June 1937 after returning to England from appearing together in ''Hamlet'' with the Old Vic Company in Denmark. (They fell in love while filming Fire Over England in late 1936 or early 1937.)]

The only mention of Veidt in Cottrell's biography of Olivier is the following:

Page 154-155 (describing how British actors and film makers reacted to the news on September 3, 1939 that Great Britain and Germany were at war. Olivier and Leigh were on Catalina Island with David Niven, Douglas Fairbanks, Ronald Coleman and other members of the Hollywood "British Colony".)

... "Alexander Korda heard the news on the radio in his London office, together with his family, close friends and associates. His wife, Merle Oberon, broke into tears. John Justin, his newest star-in-the-making, immediately decided to join the Air Force Reserve, and then tried in vain to get himself called up without completing The Thief of Bagdad. His co-star Conrad Veidt, Berlin born and educated, announced that he would remain in British pictures. But The Thief had to be completed in America and he stayed there, often playing Nazis and giving more of his salary to British War Relief than most British stars in Hollywood.''

Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca - Bogart, Bergman and World War II, by Aljean Harmetz.

Conrad Veidt who played Major Strasser was ''to be billed in fifth position, not less than second feature and the same size type as Claude Rains''. . .

By most definitions, Conrad Veidt and Claude Rains were character actors. By others, they were stars, including the fact that Warner Bros. paid them $5,000 a week and $4,000 a week respectively for Casablanca. Veidt had been a major star in silent films in Germany (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Hollywood (The Man Who Laughs) before Hollywood demanded that he play Nazis....

Conrad Veidt was probably tired of being nasty by the time he was cast as Major Strasser in Casablanca. Former casting director Steve Trilling had suggested Otto Preminger, who was thirteen years younger than Veidt, for the role of Strasser, who was then a Gestapo captain, and Preminger was tested on April 27 [1942]. It wasn't necessary to test Conrad Veidt. He had been playing smart, malicious Germans since the mid-thirties. Including Casablanca, Veidt played Nazis in three movies that reached theaters in 1942. In M-G-M's Nazi Agent he not only played the evil Nazi spy but his loyal-to-America twin brother. In Warner's All Through the Night, he loaded a speedboat with explosives and drove it at a battleship in New York harbor but was foiled by Humphrey Bogart. Just a month before Veidt was given the role of Major Strasser in Casablanca, director Herman Shumlin refused to have him play the Nazi sympathizer in Watch on the Rhine. ''Veidt, I think, is too immediately sinister,'' Shumlin wrote [producer Hal] Wallis. ''I am afraid he would be too much the villain on first sight.'' Shumlin's resistance was another of the accidents that benefited Casablanca. If Shumlin had been pressured into accepting him, Veidt would not have been available.

Born in Berlin in 1893, Veidt had started out as the hero, not the villain. Exceptionally handsome, he had become a star overnight in 1919 as as the sleepwalker in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. In 1926, John Barrymore insisted that Veidt come to Hollywood to costar with him in The Beloved Rogue. Veidt was under contract to Universal for two years at $1,500 a week before the innovation of talking films and his imperfect English sent him back to Germany in 1929. He chose to leave despite his huge success a year earlier as the tragic clown whose face is twisted into a permanent smile in The Man Who Laughed [sic].

Veidt was not Jewish, but his second [sic] wife, Lily, was. They married in 1933 and left immediately for England. ''Veidt would never have moved away from his adored daughter, Viola, unless it was absolutely necessary,'' says Patricia Battle, who is writing a biography of the actor. ''But he made sure his daughter and first wife were safe in Switzerland before the war began. There is a story -- which may not be true -- that when Veidt left Germany for good and had to fill in a form asking religious affiliation, he wrote 'JEW.' ''

When he was interviewed by Carl Combs, a Warner publicist assigned to Casablanca, Veidt denounced Strasser. ''This role epitomizes the cruelty and the criminal instincts and murderous trickery of the typical Nazi,'' he said. ''I know this man well. He is a man who turned fanatic and betrayed his friends, his homeland, and himself in his lust to be somebody and to get something for nothing.''

Veidt became a British citizen in 1938 [sic]. By that time he was playing grand villains like the Grand Vizier in Alexander Korda's The Thief of Bagdad. When war came, he loaned the money he had in the bank to the British government. After he came to America in 1940, he donated most of his salary from his American films to the British War Relief. He was, after all, only forty-nine years old, under contract to M-G-M, with years of good movies ahead of him. But he would be the first of the major participants in Casablanca to die. He dropped dead on a golf course less than a year later.

'Connie must have thought he had fifteen, twenty years more of work,'' says Robbie Lantz, Veidt's friend and fellow immigrant. A talent agent, Lantz brought Lily Veidt to New York to work in his agency. She survived her husband by more than forty years. ''In the most touching and unsentimental and wonderful way, Lily carried the torch to the end,'' says Lantz. ''There was no man after Connie. And she never talked about Connie. Up to the end, it was too painful for her.''

In late May, Warner Bros. borrowed Conrad Veidt from M-G-M for $25,000, five weeks at $5,000 a week. By the time Warners borrowed Dooley Wilson [who played Sam the piano player] from Paramount and Veidt from Metro, the war had caused the studios to cooperate in ways that would have been unthinkable six months earlier.....

The right-wing fervor that swept America from 1947 to 1957 can be read in the files of Bogart, Peter Lorre and even Ingrid Bergman. From this distance, those FBI reports create a world like the one in Alice in Wonderland where the Knave of Hearts is guilty of writing a letter he swears he didn't write because, if he were an honest man, he would not have disguised his handwriting and refused to sign his name.

. . . Like all the files, two-thirds of Lorre's is unreadable because all but two or three words on a page have been blacked out to protect the informer or the internal practices of the FBI. Conrad Veidt's files manage to have their cake and eat it too. Veidt is accused of having pro-Axis leanings and of being associated with fervent anti-Nazis.

The day that Veidt finished work on Casablanca, July 20, 1942, he had plans for the evening. According to FBI file No. 100-3514, Veidt was to be a speaker at the Free Peoples' Dinner held at the Beverly Hills Hotel under the auspices of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee and the Council on African Affairs. Guests included the mayor of Los Angeles, the vice-consul of the USSR, Charles Laughton, Major William Wyler, and an FBI agent who detailed the pro-Russian sentiments of the guest of honor, Paul Robeson. Although Veidt's name was on the program, he never showed up. He may have gone out to celebrate the end of his role in Casablanca or simply gone home to bed. But the fact that he was expected to appear is on file forever.

This page is under construction, and many more excerpts will be added. Help from Society members and the general public is requested. Don't assume that we 'must know' about such and such a reference. Email us with details! These excerpts are not intended to usurp the copyright of the published books. Readers are encouraged to find copies of these books to get the rest of the context.

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