20 thoughts on “MCM: Joseph Schildkraut

  1. Hi! I wrote quite a bit of Conrad of Montferrat’s Wiki, and have written extensively on him, including his fictional misrepresentations. Schildkraut’s portrayal (partly from Scott’s ‘The Talisman’ and Hewlett’s ‘Life & Death of Richard Yea-and-Nay’) in turn influenced Ronald Welch’s depiction of him in his YA novel ‘Knight Crusader’ (1954).
    See my article in the Journal of Historical Fictions:

    1. Conrad of Montferrat has his own wiki? The history of the Crusader states is incredibly convoluted with multiply married queens to nobles from outside Outremar. Conrad seems to have been one of the better choices for the crown matrimonial.

      1. I meant his Wikipedia page.
        He’s a wonderful character – always picks himself up and dusts himself down and finds something else to do. His assassination (in which Richard remains a chief suspect) was a tragedy. I’ve been working on and off on a biography of him for years, and have visited Monferrato – beautiful part of Italy.
        One of the great trobador courts, too.

    1. I hadn’t seen that early photo of him at the top before: yes, very handsome! I don’t understand why he didn’t get more romantic lead roles in talkies.

      1. The fact he was from a Jewish family was maybe the reason why if I had to guess. It was highly uncommon for Jewish or other non Anglo Saxon/Celtic actors to be cast as romantic Leads prior to the 1970s new Hollywood era.

        1. I don’t think that’s strictly true… The Fairbankses (real name Ullmann), Leslie Howard, Paul Newman…
          I do wonder if his accent may have been more of an issue, as he played romantic leads in silent era?

            1. I think German accents became identified (for contemporary political reasons) with ‘bad guys’. Unfortunately this meant a lot of actors who were Jewish refugees and/or anti-Nazi ended up playing baddies (even Nazis) in 1930s-40s.

              1. On the plus side, that meant that they got to rob Nazis of their power much as possible- Werner Klemperer was a German-American Jewish actor who insisted that the Nazi he played on Hogan’s Heroes would always be a bumbling fool who never won. Making him menacing would mean he was in some way to be taken seriously and his rhetoric was to be engaged with (even just to refute it). This is also the tactic Mel Brooks took (himself a WWII vet) with the philosophy that while Nazis were evil and dangerous, treating them with any dignity gives them narrative strength that they should not have. (Not gonna pass judgement on if this is the best or only way to portray Nazis, or that something like Hogan’s Heroes isn’t… mixed, as far as how much it’s actually confronting the horrors of WWII. Just that having the ability to rob a monster of its power and menace can be an important part of reckoning with that evil.)
                Being pigeonholed as a refugee absolutely sucks, though, and it’s not like Hollywood (or America in general) was really opening its arms without reservations. If you got in at all, you did what you were told and had to like it. Even if that meant having to play the villain of your own story.

  2. Turns out I only saw him in the 1940 “The Shop Around the Corner” (on which “You’ve Got Mail” was based) with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. And of course saw him “The Diary of Anne Frank” as I saw every version/telling of Anne & her family’s story (almost a prerequisite for a Dutch citizen and daughter of pre-WWII Parents).
    I hope to find a way to see more of his FF movies, as it’s indeed a long and interesting list.

    1. Some of the early ones are on YouTube as now in public domain. ‘The Crusades’ horrified me (it’s basically pasted together from Walter Scott and Maurice Hewlett, despite the on-screen credit to Harold Lamb, who (although a popular writer) was a better historian…). Have been a Conrad of Montferrat fangirl/geek for nearly 40 yrs.

      1. It’s awful, but I also love the ahistorical wackiness. Me and my friends had to watch it for a film class, and we cracked up at Loretta Young’s 12th century cone bras and fluffy bangs, “Michael, King of the Russians” ‘s absurdly low bass voice, the fact that Richard kept a falcon indoors (why???) and this weird little moment near the beginning where he chucks a goblet like a football. Lots of fun if you just want to yell at a screen for a while, though it’s also boring at times and has some insidious undertones that we all felt the need to address. (That’s why I love my friends. We switch from talking about Norman English bias-cut evening wear to imperialism and Orientalism and back on a dime.)

        1. I talk about it a bit in the article I’ve linked to above, and about the novel that it draws on heavily, which was still in copyright, hence DeMille didn’t mention it in onscreen credit! Having Conrad in France and England when he was already almost singlehandedly fending off Saladin in Tyre is taken from Maurice Hewlett’s ‘Richard Yea-and-Nay’, and Berengaria’s role owes a lot to Hewlett’s fictional Jehanne de Saint-Pol (a very Mary-Sue mistress he invents for Richard).

  3. I’ve only seen The Diary of Anne Frank…years ago in school. Never knew of this actor By name, but wow he was handsome!!

  4. To the Question above: we don’t know much About make up on 18th century men. However all notes I saw yet indicates that make up was noticed to be odd. The common Picture that especially French noble men had a lot of make up on them is not true or seems to be a modern Invention. I think that Maybe even the 1920s (and Theater) are a reason for that portrayal of 18th century men. In silent film we find Always costumes, poses and make up exaggerated. I’m almost Always happy to see reasonable portrayals of 18th century aristocrats.

  5. Fine actor, and the question of accents is interesting. I once asked my ma why people were so impressed by Maurice Chevalier, and she immediately said, “The French accent. Most Americans had never heard one.” (She preferred Louis Jourdan; has he gotten a MCM? I think he starred in some frock flicks.) Presumably WWI helped to demonize a German-Austrian accent.

  6. I don’t know if I’ve seen any of these, but I love the “Is this 19th century? Discuss.” Here for the snark even when I don’t know the flicks. :-)

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