Gustaf Gruendgens: 2 Vintage promotion postcards and movie program. 1 postcard issued by Tobis – Majestic, one by Ross and the film program by Gloria. All 3 in fine condition.
The movie program is for Gruendgens most famous and controversial film: Mephisto after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Gründgens was born in 1899. Injured in the First World War (due to the negligence of an army comrade) Gründgens began performing for an Army theater troupe. Already as a young man Gründgens was determined to make a name for himself. Following army demobilization Gründgens attended acting school and began seeking work on the stage. One of the most perceptive of the German critics, Herbert Ihering, described Gründgens' appearance in a revue as “crude and simplistic”. Somewhat against his own wishes, Gründgens was continually cast as and made a name for himself playing villains. Gründgens was condemned to playing sharks, arrogant snobs, social climbers, as well as morally unstable and neurotic types. In 1926 he married Erika Mann, the actress and daughter of author Thomas Mann, and also enjoyed a close friendship with Erika's brother Klaus. In the twenties he politically was leaning to the left. In Mephisto Klaus Mann describes how Gründgens (Hendrik Höfgen in the book) was on friendly terms with Communist Party members who worked in the theatre, always ready to exchange a clenched-fist welcome on his way to rehearsals. At the same time Gründgens did not hide his abhorrence for the Nazis. His chance came when Germany's most prominent director Max Reinhardt invited him to come to Berlin and work for his company. His great role in the 1932-33 season is to be Mephisto.” Gründgens was out of the country when the Nazis came to power in early 1933. We have no way of knowing what went through his head. We do know that he was apprehensive about returning to Germany. He had not, after all, made his feelings about the Nazis a secret and he was wise enough to know that he could also encounter problems as someone, despite his short-lived marriage, known to be a homosexual. In Mephisto, Mann, who knew Gründgens very well (some say to the point of a sexual relationship), speculates on Höfgen's deliberations about returning to Germany: “He belonged to no party. And he wasn't a Jew, and so everything could be forgiven him.... He was a blond Rhinelander.....
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