Anton Artefact #6

It’s a delight to have my Anton blog back up and running again after a long hiatus, beginning with the next in the Artefact series, a programme for a screening of Michael Strogoff at the Stoll Picture Theatre in London.

 

Opened as the London Opera House in 1911, it was taken over by Oscar Stoll and converted to use as a cinema in 1917. As befitted a grand opera house, it had a spectacular design and lavish interior, replete with pillared galleries, carved facades and groups of sculpted figures depicting Melody, Harmony, Inspiration, Composition, Comedy, Tragedy, Dance and Song. Although Michael Strogoff is not a hugely popular film among Anton fans, watching the movie in such a setting must have been quite an experience.

We tend to forget sometimes that the 1930s moviegoers’ experience was quite different from our modern Odeons and multiplexes. This programme is for the week beginning Monday 9th August 1937, when Michael Strogoff was shown four times a day. As the page detail below illustrates, the film was not watched in isolation, but was an integral part of a twelve-hour continuous programme that included a live organ recital, orchestral music with comic performances and skaters, news bulletins and trailers, concluding with the National Anthem. (It was common for most people to make a dash for the exits during the end credits so they wouldn’t have to stand to attention for the anthem.)

 

Royal affairs were much on AW’s mind at the time, as filming of Victoria the Great had finished in May and everyone was getting ready for the premiere in September, which was held in Leicester Square. The Stoll Picture Theatre closed in 1940 and despite some postwar use as a theatre, was demolished in the late 1950s.

It was fifty years ago today…

AW in 1961

…that AW died at the home of his old friend, actress Hansi Burg, in Garatshausen, Bavaria, where he had been convalescing from a heart attack he had suffered on stage at the Kleine-Komödie in Munich at the end of March. I have written about this in more detail on previous anniversaries (see here and here.)

It had been my intention to mark this year’s special anniversary with the publication of my biography of the actor, but for various reasons this has not been possible. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the text is complete – watch this space for further news!

The website has been undergoing some behind-the-scenes transformations which have prevented me from uploading any new material in recent weeks, and again, I hope normal service will be resumed very soon. Thank you for continuing to visit the blog.

Anton Artefact #5

‘Mascherata’ (Milan: Edizioni, 1935)
This 64 page pocket-sized booklet is written in Italian and is an early example of a movie novelisation, albeit in miniature. King Kong (1933) was perhaps the first big sound film to be adapted into a novel, but Mascherata sits midway between a book length adaptation and the concise retelling of the story found in various cinema programmes and magazines of the period such as Illustrierter Film-Kurier or Le Film Complet. There are a couple of section breaks in the text but no chapters and the entire narrative is covered in about 8,000 words. These cineromanzos remained popular for many decades, developing into a glossier magazine format in the 1950s and 1960s, although as a genre they have received scant critical attention.

Anton Artefact #4

AW as Duke Alfonso II of Ferrara (1533-97), patron of the poet Torquato Tasso, from a theatre programme for a performance of Goethe’s Torquato Tasso ​at the Sächsische Staatstheater, Dresden, in February 1930.