Now on the Media History Digital Library: several of my film magazines

Well, when I say ‘now’, I mean ‘several months ago’. Last year, I went on holiday to Europe (including taking in Il Cinema Ritrovato), and while in the Netherlands, I picked up several issues of the Dutch journal Cinema en Theater from the early 1920s. Back home, I made high-resolution scans, and submitted the issues to the Media History Digital Library. I imagine many readers are familiar with this brilliant resource, which provides access to digitized copies of books and magazines about films, broadcasting, and recorded sound.

You can find the Cinema en Theater issues linked here on the Global Cinema Collection page, but I thought I’d point out an interesting thing or two about each issue here on Silents, Please. As you’ll see, the visual design of the magazine is really lovely. Plus, there’s a blog-only exclusive that involves Pola Negri!

A quick background note about the journal: Cinema en Theater was a Dutch film and theater magazine, published in Leiden. It was launched on 08 Feb, 1918 as De filmwereld [Film World], becoming Cinema en Theater in 1921. At the beginning of 1924, it was retitled Het weekblad cinema en theater [Cinema and Theatre Weekly]; in 1942 the name reverted to Cinema en Theater. The last issue was published in 1944. As per the name, it covers screen and stage entertainments of the day, both domestic and international.

The issues that I bought each had 12 pages. The paper has a lovely quality/texture, with almost a slight shimmer to it.

Cinema en Theater no. 12, 1921

Highlight: The two-page photo spread of Asta Nielsen in Irrende Seelen (DE 1921; De dwaas), based on Dostoyevksy’s The Idiot. This film isn’t extant, which is a shame, because the pictures look great. (More images here).

Also: Reviews and pictures of Sept de pique (FR 1917; Schoppen zeven); King Spruce (US 1920, Het geheim van het woud); and William S. Hart’s Wagon Tracks (US 1919, De gids der prairiën).

Read the issue here.

Cinema en Theater no. 14, 1921

Highlight: Review and photo spread of Fernanda (IT 1917), starring Leda Gys. Gys co-starred with Gustavo Serena in this melodrama based on the Victorien Sardou’s 1870 play Fernande.

Also: A page called ‘Die vrouw, die lacht’ (‘The woman, the laugh’), showing a range of notable Dutch woman—including film actress Annie Bos—laughing and/or smiling. Reviews and photos of Wallace Reid in The Roaring Road (US 1920; De Kilometervreter); Rosa Porten serial Auri Sacra Fames (DE 1920); Een vrouwelijke demon (? – despite Cinema Context listing this film as Satan Junior [US 1919], judging by the plot and imagery of Satan Junior, I think it’s a different film).

Read the issue here.

Cinema en Theater no. 21, 1921

Highlight: Dance diva Stella Fontaine interviews Asta Nielsen. According to Fontaine, Asta was the most “warm, simple, charming hostess imaginable”. She visits Die Asta on the set of Die Geliebte Roswolskys (DE 1921); her wardrobe is “a jewel of luxury and taste”. Naturally Asta loves Holland, and wishes to come for a holiday, or to act in a Wedekind work in the Netherlands.

Geraldine Farrar

Also: Reviews/photo spreads of William S. Hart’s Truthful Tulliver (US 1917; Drie schoten knalden in de nacht) and Geraldine Farrar’s The World and its Woman (US 1919; Uit woelige dagen; available here on the EFG). There’s also a fun page of pictures taken at a society event.

Read the issue here.

Cinema en Theater no. 29, 1921

Highlight: Review and double-page photo spread of Lucy Doraine vehicle Herzogin Satanella (AT 1921; Good and Evil). This film partially survives—I know because I’ve seen it in the flesh. Large chunks of it were in very poor condition.

Lucy Doraine

Also: Reviews and photo spreads of Pitfalls of a Big City (US 1919; De gevaren eener groote stad), starring Gladys Brockwell, and The Pretenders (US 1916; De Benzine-baron), starring Emmy Wehlen.

Read the issue here.

Cinema en Theater no. 55, 1922

Highlight: two-page photo spread on Sex (US 1920), starring Louise Glaum.

Also: full page Sessue Hayakawa and Tsuru Aoki advert; spread on De koning der woestijn (The King of the Desert; most likely Allein im Urwald), an adventure film which has colonialist/ethnographic overtones; review of Was she guilty? aka Thou shalt not (GB/NL 1922; Gij zult niet dooden).

Read the issue here.

Unknown issue

I also ended up with several loose pages that aren’t from any of the issues above. Luckily, they contained a spread and photopage of Pola Negri in Sappho (DE 1921)!

I’ve seen this one. The first thing you should know is that despite the title, it is NOT GAY. Boo. Pola is Sappho, a femme fatale type decides to reform when she finds true love. However, true love has a mad brother who is contained in an asylum: he has been driven insane by the wiles of a wicked, wicked woman. Was that woman Sappho? Yes, yes it was.

The most notable thing about the film is that Alfred Abel plays the mad brother, and he goes nuts with it. I always think of him as such a stately, dignified presence, but here he’s running around gesticulating wildly, doing a lot of eyebrow acting, and generally hamming it up. It’s pretty fun, and definitely livens up what I remember as a pretty boilerplate film. Pola, of course, is her usual awesome self.

Yes, this is the man you remember from Metropolis, L’Argent, etc.

– – –

Anyway, I was very pleased to make a (small) contribution to such a great project! If you ever come across any film magazines that aren’t on there, hit them up.

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