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


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

TIME PERIOD late 1926. (Veidt, famous for Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in 1919 and The Student of Prague in 1926. arrived in America by ship in September 1926).

When Conrad Veidt arrived in Hollywood to make The Beloved Rogue, [with John Barrymore] 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.

TIME PERIOD late 1920's, after Veidt's arrival in 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 'diseuse', 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, Felizitas Radke, not Lily) 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.

Those Dancing Years: The Autobiography of Mary Ellis by Mary Ellis.

TIME PERIOD 1934 Read about her take on Conrad Veidt during their filming in of Belladonna.

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

TIME PERIOD 1934. An excerpt in its turn from pages 167-168 of Christopher and his Kind (1929-1939); copyright 1976, an autobiography by Christopher Isherwood in which he writes sometimes in the third person voice and sometimes in the first person. 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

TIME PERIOD 1938-1940. Two excerpts.

To read them go to Life and Death of A Screenwriter.

A Life in Movies, by Michael Powell.

His writings complements the information from Pressburger's book above, during the same TIME PERIOD 1938-1940. Read its excerpts at A Life in Movies.

The Lion Roars, Ken Russell on Film

..''Many of the films we saw at [Nautical] 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)

Time period 1939

...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.


To read all of the Veidt mentions from this book, go to Round up the Usual Suspects.

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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