Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Emil Jannings



Born: July 23,1884

Died: January 3, 1950

Aged: 65 Years from cancer

Real Name: Theodor Friedrich Emil Janenz

Married: 5 times

A Swiss born, German actor considered one of the greatest actors of the 20th century who is now disgraced, rightly so, for his willing involvement in pro Nazi films. To see his acting, even today, in these films, does compel one to give credit where it is due, namely that he was an excellent actor that could create pathos in some great characters. He started acting for the famed Max Reinhardt and his theatre. The German film industry was in its expressionistic heyday after World War 1 and during the 1920's and he was a huge part of this industry. At this time, Hollywood called and like many German actors, writers and directors, left the country and came to Hollywood. He had the typical arrogant demeanor that actors have when they believe they are the greatest. He starred in some great films and then...da, da dum dum-sound arrived. He had such a heavy, thick German accent that people had a difficult time understanding him so he headed back to Germany. Of course, this was after he won the very first best actor award Oscar for which he did not attend since the winners all knew beforehand (it took a little over 5 minutes to hand out the awards-big difference now eh?). He is also the first one who did not attend the ceremony. He made his most famous film "The Blue Angel" with Marlene Dietrich in Germany and then came more roles that Joseph Goebbels personally asked Jannings to be part of and he willingly accepted. Later he became head of the German film industry of UFA. When the war ended and the Allies came in he apparently held up his Oscar to say he was one of them so as not to be killed or arrested. He also claimed he was forced to work but this seems unlikely. The arrogance, ability to work and the power that came with it was too enticing. He went to the dark side, became disgraced and died in obscurity, completely forgotten.

Oscar Win: "The Last Command", The Way of All Flesh" (could win for more than 1 film at the beginning)

Films: "Othello", "Faust", "The Street of Sin", "The Sins of our Fathers", "The Blue Angel"

The films in bold is a good place to start. Some films like "The Way of All Flesh" is conserved lost.



71 comments:

  1. I saw the 'Blue Angel' ages ago. I know his name from Oscar wins, but knew nothing about his life.

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    1. I really like the Blue Angel. He really brought allot of pathos to the war

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    2. I was going to say almost the same thing, except Faust... some great history and thank you for sharing it.

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  2. Nasty piece of work! I thought I had never heard of him, but I've seen Blue Angel so I must have at some point.
    Anabel's Travel Blog

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    1. I have read many articles on him and was hoping that he was coerced like he said at the end of the war. I have a feeling he liked to work and liked having the control

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  3. I don't think I know him. I don't recall having seen any of his movies. Too bad about his accent, but it seems like it was a smart move for him to go back to Germany.

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    1. Oh he knew the jig was up when sound came in because his accent was so thick people could often not understand him

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  4. I don't think I know him. I don't recall having seen any of his movies. Too bad about his accent, but it seems like it was a smart move for him to go back to Germany.

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    1. Yeah-he does actually-looks snobby

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  6. Disgraced is how he should be after the nazi crap. Can't say I've ever herd of him though. Wow, the oscars sure are different today.

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    1. I think he should hang his head low but he was a great actor

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  7. Actually, he may well have been forced to make those films. People didn't have much say in their actions in those days. It was either join us or be rejected, despised and possibly killed or at the least imprisoned. Also, in the beginning, Hitler's crowd were very stirring and exciting to many Germans who were depressed after the first world war. I too have seen Blue Angel but don't remember him.

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    1. Oh I know what you mean. My mom is German and suffered through the whole war and so did my Oma and Opa. You are absolutely right that many people did what they had to or else. If we, in Canada or U.S. had a similar deal you bet many people would just go along if it meant they or their family would die. I just not sure about this man. I have read articles and many passages in my film books about him. My feeling, which is just a gut feeling in the end as we will never truly know, is that he wanted to act period. They gave him the ability and so he acted because that was his passion plus he liked the power they gave him when they let him run the studio. I don't think he looked deeper into what was truly going on. He was near-sighted and it bit him in the butt

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  8. It ended the way it should've then.
    And Woody Allen wasn't the first to snub the Oscars, huh? Good to know.

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    1. Oh goodness no. Claudette Colbert had to be dragged off her train to go accept the award and Katherine Hepburn never went to the Oscars

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  9. You know, you never know what people do or don't do just to survive. War is a deal breaker - the wild card. I'm going to reserve judgement on him. The whole deal was so sad; so many suffered in WWII.

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    1. Too many people suffered and I know because my mom and my grandparents and Uncle lived through it and they are German. People are too quick to say all Germans were Nazis and that is horrible. I think his main goal was to act-it was his passion. I think he loved being in control so when they gave him a studio to run he couldn't pass it up. Did he know all that was going on...I don't think to the degree but he knew something was up since so many Jewish people were in the film industry. He just wanted to act and thought that was aok. Sad in the end. He is a superb actor

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  10. Interesting. I love the name Theodor. Have a fun weekend. =D

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    1. Yup, despite how his career ended he was excellent at his craft

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  11. I have never heard of him. We all pay the price for the choices we make... Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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  12. The actor who went to the dark side. He's a good example for the Darth Vader Award, if there was one.

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  13. Wow, no kidding, I've never even heard of him. What a way to ruin your entire legacy. Can't say I feel sorry for him, though... unless he truly was forced to make them. Sad that we'll never really know.

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    1. No we won't know for sure but from what I read I think he turned a blind eye because he wanted to work-it was everything to him plus he liked being in power when Goebbels gave him UFA

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  14. That was some career path. I'll have to see Blue Angel again to remember who he was. These bios are so interesting.

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  15. What a bumpy path his relatively short life was! Five marriages, Nazis, cancer...

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  16. That's what you call a very full life! I had never heard of him but found this post fascinating.

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    1. It is and he is an excellent actor

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  17. Had not heard of him, interesting life he had. I had to laugh about the comment about his thick accent no one could understand him, I think I have typed reports from similar men, LOL.

    Betty

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  18. Married five times? You'd think he would have learned his lesson the first time. Rimshot please.

    Stephen Tremp
    A to Z Cohost
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  19. That was a difficult time. They either went along with the evil or suffered for it. I don't know what his life was like at the time, so I'll reserve judgement. But there were too many complicit...

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  20. Interesting that stars used to know beforehand whether they were receiving an Oscar. I heard a while ago that many of the awards ceremonies are still like that--it's how they make sure celebrities actually show up to the 9,000 awards shows that aren't the Grammys and Oscars!

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    1. It was in the mid '30's when they decided to keep it hush, hush. I would not doubt that some know

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  21. I've not heard of Emil, but his life sounds like a highly dramatic story with Nazis, five marriages, and then cancer.

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  22. It was a abject dark chapter in human history which Emil is a part of. He was definitely walking amongst darkness. Perhaps as humans we should forgive.

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    1. It is a dark part and no one really knows what he felt or did it willingly or not. One thing we do know is that he was a great actor

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    1. Oh he thought quite highly of himself:)

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  24. One I have never heard of, I'm afraid!

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    1. The silent film people are often forgotten which is a shame...maybe not him but his acting is great

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  25. I've not heard of this guy, but sounds like he had quite the dramatic life.

    Cait @ Click's Clan

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  26. I don’t comment that often, because I normally don’t know what to say. This movie world is new to me, but that’s why I also really enjoy your posts: I’m learning a lot!

    Thank you for visiting my blog! I just wanted to let you know that your links don’t work. Every time I click on your name to come to your blog, the page isn’t found. It’s no biggie; it’s easy to repair the link manually, and I don’t mind. I just thought that you’d like to know that your links are broken. (At least I’d like to know)

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    1. I am glad you are learning allot. Hmmmm I wonder what I can do to make the link better. I am not great with computers so I will try to see what I can do. If anyone can help me that would be great

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  27. Quite a story! I don't know his films at all.

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    1. Usually people have heard of The Blue Angel but I am not surprised:)

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  28. Cancer seems to have taken its toll on a lot of them.
    He doesn't sound like he was a particularly nice man.

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    1. I think arrogance was his failing actually and Cancer and heart disease seems to be the top 2

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  29. I've seen Othello but I'm having a hard time remembering this actor. I guess I need to watch it again!

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    1. It would have been the silent version so not sure if you meant this one or not

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  30. Have seen Blue Angel--great pathos.
    Thanks for giving this forgotten actor some time on the blog stage.

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    1. They all need to be known because of their acting

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  31. Have seen Blue Angel--great pathos.
    Thanks for giving this forgotten actor some time on the blog stage.

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  32. Sounds like karma had a hand in his demise. I like that!

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    1. I believe Karma did. He is an excellent actor but he leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Even though one does not know for sure if he was coerced or not my gut, from all I read, tell me that he wanted to act so bad and he liked having the control so that meant more than whatever he felt about the Nazi regime-sad really

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  33. Really interesting post. I agree with Rawknrobyn about Karma!

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  34. I remember seeing The Blue Angel years ago and this guy was an exceptional actor. I had no idea he later ended up with the Nazis. Leaves a bitter taste for sure.

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    1. It does but I keep that separate from his acting which is great

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  35. Looks familiar but name isn't. Sounds like the war, the demise of silent film and his arrogant German nature got the best of him!
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