FACES OF THE SILVER SCREEN
All the moviegoers know the main characteristic of Conrad Veidt: his personality. A man with class, made to play roles of aristocrats that reflect his intelligence on taking remarkable screenplays. Aside from that, Conrad Veidt possesses all the special qualities that make him a great actor. But his most important asset is his distinctive personality, which helps him play the best roles, and that is why he is considered to be “number one” among all the actors of the cinema. When we meet Conrad Veidt on the steps of the studio, or when we see him performing a scene in front of dozens of cameras and lights, we know that beneath the make-up or the costume that he wears at a certain the moment, there is a man. A man of great ambition, a master of his work, who has so many unusual qualities, that he could reach the pinnacle in any sphere of his life. He could triumph in anything, because he possesses the necessary quality: an exceptional personality.
He was born on January 22, 1893, in Berlin; so, he is 42. Veidt was educated at the Hohenzollern College of Grammar, in Schönberg. At the age of 20, he decided to dedicate himself to the theatre; he was presented to Max Reinhardt, the famous German producer, and under his guidance, Veidt made his stage debut in 1913. During the war, he constantly performed in the military theatres, especially in Libau and Tilsit.
In 1917, he returned to the company of Reinhardt. His first major part in the cinema was in the movie “The Journal of a Woman”. Soon after that he was present among the major German stars and his acting made him famous in England, in the USA, and almost simultaneously all over the world. Among his most famous movies in Germany are “Lady Hamilton”, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” and “Student of Prague”.
In 1927, he went to North America for a 3-year contract. He had the leading role in the movie “The Man Who Laughs”, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, and he played important parts in movies made in California. When the talkies came in, Conrad Veidt abandoned Hollywood and made German movies, like “The Last Company”, and in Elstree (England) he was the star of the German version of “Cape Forlorn”. He reached success around the world in the role of Count Metternich, in the English and German versions of the famous movie “The Congress Dances”.
Almost instantly he started to work for Gaumont-British studios. His first movie for this company was “Rome Express”, in which he played a master criminal. After that, he made “I Was a Spy”, where he played the role of a German commandant during the European war, co-starring with Madeleine Carroll in the role of the spy. Both movies will live for ever in the memory of all the cinemagoers, owing to Conrad Veidt, who played his parts in a realistic and convincing manner, truthful to the story. We won’t forget too easily that implacable, but human commandant, a military officer and a real man at the same time, who falls in love with the enemy of his country, and who makes his duty while discovering the secret, despite his suffering; also, we won’t forget those sudden changes of personality of Conrad Veidt, when his lovely and tender conversations with the spy are radicalized by tough phrases of a man who knows how to give orders.
After that, Veidt made two more movies for the British studios: “The Wandering Jew” and “Jew Süss”. This one, too, was a memorable creation, even if quite different from all the others. Possessing the genuine talent of a great actor, Conrad Veidt knows how to enter the atmosphere of the 18th century. Each time he appears on the scene, Veidt adapts himself to the special ambient, creating the sense of reality, and the illusion of the things that his character is supposed to live. He offers us again a great and ambitious hero, who dissimulates and sinks his strongest feelings in his soul, and who passes through intrigue and tragedy with incomparable dramatic power.
The major American studios tried to convince Conrad Veidt to return to Hollywood, but the actor preferred to sign a contract with the Gaumont-British company for the filming of three movies. One of them – “The Passing of the Third Floor Back” – is at this very moment in production. The next one will probably be “King of the Damned”, with Noah Beery.
Finally, we should say that Conrad Veidt is 1.88m. tall and has blue eyes.
ABC Sevilla, 26.05.1935, page 129
Translated from Spanish into English by Monique classique