Le joueur d’échecs (1938)

Synopsis:

Personal opinion: “Tempête sur l’Asie” and “Le joueur d’échecs” are the only films in which you could listen to Connie speak in French. These two motion pictures were filmed in France in 1937-1938, where Connie stayed for several months, after leaving the British studios owing to the bad scripts. He initially wanted to make two films about Sigmund Freud and Alfred Nobel, but he couldn’t raise the necessary funds, so he accepted the invitation of director Richard Oswald to appear in the first French film (that, despite the fact that it’s officially lost, it was shown a few years ago at a film festival in the honor of Oswald). Then came “Le joueur d’échecs”, an unusual film, that provided Conrad the chance to reveal once again his great talent, as Baron von Kempelen, an eccentric inventor. The role fit him to perfection, and “Le joueur d’échecs” was successful, as it received an award from the jury at the Film Festival in Venice in 1938. The sets and costumes are wonderful, and the creations of the Baron (including the Chess Player) are bizarre, but really fascinating. Connie put his heart on the role, like always, but the tension between him and the French actress Françoise Rosay (who wrote in an autobiography many bad things about him, all shameless lies) is obvious, and it affects, somehow, the picture itself. Connie is again superior to the others and the quality of the film is lifted only because of this extraordinary German actor, who could speak English, French and Russian as easily as his native language.

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