January 2, 2017


Anton Walbrook (1900-1967) b. Vienna, Austria.

Anton Walbrook

From a family background of actors, Anton Walbrook entered German film in the German serial Mater Dolorosa (1924). He established himself as a matinee idol in the early talkies, starring in such Mittel-European productions as the gender-bending comedy Viktor und Viktoria (1933) and Maskerade (1934). He made two more significant films in Germany, The Student of Prague (1935) and Jules Verne adaptation Michel Strogoff (1935), before heading to RKO-Radio in Hollywood to feature in a remake of Michael Strogoff (1937). Disillusioned by his American experience, Walbrook emigrated to England in 1936 and was cast as Prince Albert in his first British film, Herbert Wilcox�s Victoria the Great (1937), a characterisation he repeated in Sixty Glorious Years (1938). His British popularity was cemented by his elegantly chilling portrayal of the murderous central character in Thorold Dickinson�s version of Gaslight (1940).

In the 1940s, Walbrook worked frequently with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger; playing the Hutterite leader in 49th Parallel (1941) and affable German officer Theodor Krestchmer-Schuldorf in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943). He became a British citizen in 1947. The following year gave rise to his greatest performance in a Powell-Pressburger assignment, the role of obsessed ballet impresario Boris Lermontov in The Red Shoes (1948). One of his most captivating performances was in Thorold Dickinson‘s stylish gothic chiller Queen of Spades (1949), as a man desperate to learn the secret to cards. In the 1950s, Walbrook brilliantly played a brace of roles for director Max Ophuls: the worldly-wise raconteur in La Ronde (1950) and the ageing, foolhardy Ludwig I of Bavaria in Lola Montes (1955). Anton Walbrook‘s final screen role was Major Esterhazy in I Accuse ( 1958).

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