Chapter 7: Nino Frank and L'Intransigeant, Berlin and a health shock
When Nino Frank moved to L'Intransigeant in February 1931, he found that running the cinema page of a prestigious newspaper was indeed a new challenge, for which the much looser formats of literary magazines had scarcely prepared him. But whatever his misgivings, he worked very hard to liven up the page, in both content and style. A dramatic full-width section at the top of the page was dedicated to Alexandre Arnoux's writing, and at once secured the reader's attention because of the critic's high reputation, borne out by the interest and good sense of his reviews. These points were especially relevant because he wrote on the films of the moment, which everyone wanted to see. In the first issue edited by Nino, this top review concerned a new war film, The Dawn Patrol, from Howard Hawks (which would go on to win the 1931 Academy Award for Best Original Story). Arnoux was impressed by the film, and wrote of it in glowing terms, which must have influenced many readers to go and see it:
Through its scruples, its honesty, its concern to remain true and not romanticise a subject which could easily lend itself to this, not to make the slightest concession to a facile picturesque, this film belongs in the highest rank. Howard Hawks, the director, has dared to avoid introducing any intrigue, any feminine character, into his work; what he has done is direct, bare, austere...he has depicted men, voluntary sacrifices, with their fervour, their despondency, their resignation, their flashes of revolt and even their surges of fear, with their discipline and their solidarity, and their animosities too.1 | orig
The review demonstrates Arnoux's concern that the film should ring true, a concern which would be central to the judgments made by French critics for at least the next twenty years. When new American crime films arrived in France in 1946, Nino Frank was the first to hail these less conventional thrillers as 'films noirs', films which were more true to life. His colleagues agreed, searching out evidence of realism in these films. All these reviewers were young collaborators and admirers of Arnoux in the 1930s, and their attitudes were greatly influenced by his example.
Working freelance at Pour Vous, Nino had been a very junior writer, commissioned mainly to carry out interviews and minor film reviews. But at L'Intransigeant he was in charge of the film page, and could begin to put his own stamp on it. In his columns on this page, his thinking about cinema - never far removed from his views on literature - began to take shape.
He was always a committed modernist, particularly to literary modernism and its constant search for new themes and new forms of language to express the shifting and fragmenting realities of twentieth-century life. It seemed to him - as to many of his contemporaries - that cinema, with all that it promised, fell short of what it could achieve, because of financial conflicts of interest allied to a certain contempt for the public. Its potential for subversiveness also made it very vulnerable to harsh censorship, leading producers to fall back on reactionary and unchallenging formulas. Later he analysed the ambivalent attitude he had always had towards cinema, which he found fascinating, but also disappointing; tracing to this period in the early sound era his realisation that the highly commercial basis on which it was obliged to function, given its high production and distribution costs, forced it and its practitioners into compromise and deception:
What intrigued me and even bowled me over, was precisely this mixture of the grandiose and the sordid, of reality and bluff, of genius and haggling, of passion and cynicism. I began to perceive the fatal flaw in cinema, and that my earlier prejudices could be as legitimate as my present enthusiasm.2 | orig
During October 1931, Pour Vous carried out a survey among producers, and more widely within the film world, about the films which were appreciated by the public. As Roger Régent's report in Pour Vous indicated, producers were inclined to play safe and offer comedies which they were sure the public would appreciate, with the occasional attempt to venture into more serious films; but critics and cinephiles wanted to see more reality. Thus when Jean George Auriol, director of La Revue du Cinéma, was interviewed for this Pour Vous project, he was adamant that:
when the public is offered a film of which the spirit, the atmosphere and the characters have been taken from life and transported to the screen by a man who is skilful, sensitive and with something to say, they will certainly appreciate it without hesitation.3 | orig
Nino reported on this survey for L'Intransigeant, prioritising in his interpretation the demands of the wider cinema world for worthwhile films, and calling on producers to concentrate on making such films. This was one of his earliest arguments for the vrai, or the vécu, in cinema, to which he would return again and again in later years. He emphasised the need for the true-to-life, whether in comedies or serious films, presenting the results of the survey in a positive, even prescriptive, way; and advising on the best route for French cinema:
Through literary and theatrical films, the French mind has imposed itself on the world in two characteristic forms: works that are lighthearted, cheerful, comedy that is confident, but based on observation of human beings and their lives; and broad dramatic works, where nothing is stylised, but where the colours of what is human, dark or unpredictable, are scrupulously respected. From Molière to Courteline, from La Bruyère to Balzac, that is the true path for the French mind, which rejects both the sentimental fiction of the Anglo-Saxons and the excessively tragic view of the Germans or the Scandinavians. Directors like Jacques Feyder and René Clair, to mention only the top names, fit magnificently into this tradition...
And he ended his article with an exhortation to French producers to commission such films:
...The producers should double their efforts: comic films, yes, but which inspire genuine laughter, not just relying on facile jokes; and above all, true films, no longer conforming to the made-to-measure optimism of Hollywood scriptwriters.4 | orig
By the end of the year, Auriol's own journal had run out of funds, and he was obliged to return to Pour Vous. He and Nino continued to press jointly for the making of better films, with two-pronged attacks through the cinema magazine and its owner, L'Intransigeant. Thus on 31st December 1931, Jean George, summing up the previous year, wrote in Pour Vous:
...people are beginning to realise that audiences will no longer put up with just anything. Already for quite some time we have seen that if a film is really too outrageous in its idiocy or far too boring or ridiculous, it arouses protests among the public...Today, it is very clear: when a film is bad, everyone notices, they spread the word afterwards and the box-office is affected.5 | orig
Two days later, in L'Intransigeant, Nino referred to this article in emphasising the same point:
Those Parisian cinemas which put on good programmes are still having to turn people away.
Cinemas which put on good programmes. Let us underline this sentence. Our colleague Jean George Auriol expressed it very well in the article he gave to Pour Vous on the subject of the film year which has just ended: the public are beginning to look out for films of merit and do not hesitate to complain loudly when they are dissatisfied.
And once again he urged producers to cease "underestimating the tastes of the public".6 | orig
A week later, he interviewed the Hungarian-American director, Paul Féjos, who was in France to shoot a film of Fantômas. It suited his purposes well to quote the opinion of an important director of the time, which coincided with his own: that the reputation of French cinema and the opportunities provided by European talking films should not be allowed to slip away:
[In France], have you ever understood the power of cinema? You don't know anything about it yet. You underestimate its strength. You treat as an entertainment one of the essential social elements of today. So, what are you doing? You are losing, little by little, the lead which the "talkies" have given you. In a year it will be too late, they'll be making good films again in America... Get yourselves organised!7 | orig
Nino also continued to write film reviews in L'Intransigeant, and a regular column on news and documentary programmes in Pour Vous. But he was becoming frustrated by the limitations on space in these publications, and looked for an outlet, still within cinema, for his desire to write more creatively.
As early as February 1932, he got the opportunity to try out an idea in Cinémagazine (the magazine for which Marcel Carné wrote critical reviews for four years, from 1929 to 1933). Gossip about the Hollywood stars, their behaviour, their relationships, together with numerous photographs, circulated widely in the French press. Nino proposed, instead of conducting actual interviews as he did with directors and actors filming in France, to construct situations in which he would "meet" Hollywood personalities. These would be called 'apocryphal interviews', and the subject he chose for this first one was the rivalry between Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson.
At the time these women, like many silent stars, were confronting a crisis in their careers. Both could pass the voice test, but sound film had also brought changes in acting style and subject matter, and a new generation of young stars and starlets. Mary Pickford - 'Little Mary', 'America's sweetheart' - was in her thirties, and could see that she would somehow have to reinvent herself. Gloria Swanson's films, and her personal reputation, were too daring for the new censorship rules. Yet still the publicity machine cranked out the same, dated images.
From their recent films, the gossip about them and a few unguarded remarks they had made, Nino created a heavily ironical discussion between them suggesting more complex characters - each hankering for some of the other's advantages - than the two-dimensional images their publicity agents authorised. Finally, he summed up their meeting:
Gloria talked of money and sensible choices, and we know that she has always made the most extravagant use of these things. As for Mary, she insisted that she needed pleasure and alcohol, and we know that these make up a paradise she will deny herself for ever. One [Gloria] had kicked off her shoes (always this mania for choosing too narrow a fitting), the other [Mary] rubbed her cheeks to disturb the perfection of her make-up. They strained to say exactly the opposite of what they are usually told to say.
...Why should intelligence be so little appreciated in California? To the point where it has to be hidden, in shame... 8 | orig
In essence, this piece was a pilot which would lead to a series of articles and a serialised novel, in other publications, attempting to bring the human beings who were the stars out from behind their publicity images.
In 1932, Roland Dorgelès founded the magazine L'Image, and asked Pierre Mac Orlan to contribute. This he did, with two short stories, and it is probable that he then put his young friend in touch with Dorgelès. In any event, in September 1932 another of Nino's "interviews" appeared, this time in L'Image. The subject was Marlene Dietrich, 'Une soirée chez Marlène Dietrich avec Sternberg'.
After the success of The Blue Angel in Berlin, Joseph von Sternberg had taken Dietrich to Hollywood, where she quickly appeared in Morocco and Dishonored. He had imposed an iron control over her behaviour and her image, never allowed to deviate in public from that of the screen "vamp". The interview imagined a different Marlene, hidden but peeping out when she could escape von Sternberg's eye:
At last the seductive vamp decided to make her entry: she was wearing one of these discreet tailored suits which fit perfectly with her sad pallor. She sat down on a table, as in her films, and took out a cigarette while gazing at some distant horizon...[but after a few minutes' conversation], all her "fatalism" disappeared, she began to laugh and chatter away, and if her eyes no longer had their characteristic charm, if her features became less perfect in this metamorphosis, I noticed that in exchange her rather naïve good humour was like that which livens up so many young women in the cheap cabarets of Berlin.
But when von Sternberg entered the room:
He gestured, almost imperceptibly, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Marlene pull her skirt up above her knees, revealing the whole length of her magnificent legs, clad as always in black silk.
Then the dream was finally dashed, as he sent her away to change her clothes, and she returned in a top-hat and tails.9 | orig
This series of articles continued in L'Image, with pieces on Douglas Fairbanks Senior, Charlie Chaplin and finally, in August 1933, a 'reception' held by Norma Shearer. In this article the "interviewer" - the Nino Frank who later admitted to finding the screen actors less interesting than the directors - was at last forced to recognise that there was no mystery: these screen gods could at the same time be ordinary, banal individuals, as Lionel Barrymore told him: "My friend, you are the one who is mad; we are perfectly normal."
Berlin, after the Reichstag fire
By the end of 1932, Nino was restless again, after two years in an administrative rôle at L'Intransigeant. He was looking for new challenges and, most immediately, he was chasing a new "grand amour", a Russian this time. He resigned from his film page in January 1933, and at the end of March set off for Berlin, where her family were staying: having persuaded L'Intransigeant to pay him for film articles which he would send from Berlin, at this tricky stage in German politics and, presumably, also in German filmmaking.
He arrived in March, shortly after the Reichstag fire of 27th February and the subsequent attacks on Jewish businesses, and quickly sent two articles back to L'Intransigeant. One was an innocuous piece about a visit to the studios at Neubabelsberg, with brief descriptions of the films being made, some with French casts. What he did not express in this report, but did enlarge on later in his memoirs, was his disappointment that the French actors he talked to remained resolutely determined to avoid commenting on the already sinister German political situation: other than to say that it was up to the Germans to sort out their own affairs.10
The other article was an overtly political assessment of the state of German cinema, from its title onwards: 'Le cinéma sous le signe de la croix gammée [swastika]'. He spoke of a "malaise profond", and of a serious slowdown in film production everywhere except at UFA, the company making Government propaganda films, and pointed out that:
all the other producers, large and small, are foreigners or Jews, so they prefer to wait for the course of events to become clear...a definite exodus of foreign directors and actors is beginning. Which will no doubt not displease the authorities, or the new Minister for "Cultural Propaganda", Dr. Goebbels. German films for Germans...and the cinema a State organisation, as in Russia or Italy, these are the two principles on which the policy of German cinema is based, a policy which will undoubtedly have a doctrine, one of these days.11 | orig
As a victim, and subsequently a close observer, of the way Italian fascism had developed, he was highly sensitive to the danger signals in the German situation; and his stay in Berlin, associating with Jewish friends, made him acutely aware of the risks facing Jews.
His contacts with L'Image gave him the opportunity to repeat and expand his warning, a few weeks later, in an article in that magazine. He forecast that soon the only films it would be possible to find in Berlin would be those with heroic, nationalistic themes:
For Dr. Goebbels, dictator of culture in Germany, is determined to fulfil his rôle correctly, like Lounatcharski in the USSR or his fascist colleagues in Italy.
And in all that, what will become of the stars, these pretty stars with platinum blonde hair or "cinema-coloured" overcoats?
They will become good little nationalist girls and boys: and it won't be for fun.
And all our French stars will come home.
And he pushed his argument further:
The nazi doctrine declares that the Jews must have their necks wrung, foreigners must be eliminated everywhere; now, if you take away the Jews and the foreigners from German cinema, what will be left? When you think that, even to make a nationalistic film like Morgenrot, the producers had to turn to a foreigner, a Czech: to be precise, the director Ucicky. And Kurt Bernhardt who made Le Rebelle, another stirring film, isn't he a Jew?12 | orig
When Nino Frank returned to Paris after the visit to Berlin which had left him deeply shocked, he had another idea for a story in L'Image. Paris cinemas were showing Le Testament du Dr. Mabuse, the French-language version of Fritz Lang's German film. This film concerned the mad master-criminal Dr. Mabuse, who had an uncanny power to control minds, and after his death took over the mind of the psychiatrist Dr. Baum, who had been treating him. The film ended abruptly with the investigating detective Lohmann foiling a terror plot by Dr. Baum, who was obeying Mabuse's instructions from the grave, and with the now mad Baum incarcerated in an asylum; but the sense was that the story was far from over. Lang had hinted that the film had political relevance, and it clearly pointed to aspects of Nazi behaviour.
Nino now proposed, in a story entitled 'What happened after...The Testament of Dr. Mabuse', to imagine how the strategies of Baum, under the ghostly tutelage of Mabuse, would develop. In a tone containing sufficient irony to deflect rightwing criticism, he sketched a scenario which seems eerily similar to the actual forward progress of Nazism:
The big idea of Dr. Mabuse, which Dr. Baum had adopted, consisted of the following: a series of criminal acts organised with brilliant shrewdness and executed in the same way, would be bound to create in the city a state of terror which could not fail to have salutary effects; an excess of evil, systematic destruction, turning urban life upside-down, must infallibly result in the rule of the Good, this philosophical, capital-letter Good of which only desperate psychopaths can conceive.
He then sarcastically put forward the effects of this 'rule of the Good', which would result in human beings becoming unable to face harming any other creatures, or even the stones under their feet, so that society came to a complete standstill. After vain efforts by the police to bring life back to normal, the spirit of Mabuse appeared again to Baum, this time in the guise of the police chief Lohmann, telling him to turn his criminal attention to foreigners now:
You will bring suffering to those who are not of your religion. You will behave towards them with brutality and injustice. You will expel them from your country and confiscate their goods: it will be a way to make up our deficit....You will make vengeful, threatening speeches. You will make the world tremble on its foundations.
And a final fateful comment was put in the mouth of Mabuse: "Perhaps if it's well done, you will make people take you seriously - you never know!"13 | orig
Warnings had already reached Paris, from a few German expatriates and the French Communist newspapers, especially L'Humanité, of how serious the situation in Germany had already become for minorities unpopular with the new regime. But it is a measure of how forcefully exposure to this society affected Nino that it led him to imagine a scenario which seemed like science fiction to most people at the time. In fact, when he returned to the normality of Paris, he tried to convince himself that the German people would soon come to their senses and make a new start, only to be crushed by the Russian Ilya Ehrenbourg: "Don't try to judge what isn't really your affair. Your new Spring is death."14 | orig
The return to normality in Paris did not for long mean a return to normal life for Nino. A few months later, during a visit to London, "a shudder went through me, and I had the very distinct feeling of a cord snapping".15 | orig By October 1933, he was in a sanatorium in Switzerland with tuberculosis, and he would remain there for most of the next three years. Amazingly, apart from the first six months when he was very seriously ill, for all that time he managed to send articles to Pour Vous once or twice a month. Many of these were based on earlier notes and interviews (for instance, a long series on the famous star Françoise Rosay, Jacques Feyder's wife), but he did also manage to see and review a number of films.
An interesting and little-known work which he produced during this time was a humorous novel about Hollywood, serialised in Pour Vous, entitled 'La Femme de la Nuit: roman d'aventures cinématographiques'. It charted the career of a star from her chance appearance as a child in a film made by the famous silent film actor and director Max Linder, through her life and personal problems as a star, and her final decline. Many of the more bizarre episodes were taken from incidents Nino had seen when visiting studios as a journalist, or were inspired by the gossip columns of the fanzines. The whole novel was an affectionate send-up of life in Hollywood, with the final chapter, 'La chute d'une étoile', reprising the familiar trope of the star finding herself replaced by a younger woman - in this case, to add insult to injury, her own daughter. The final paragraphs read like the scenario of a film about a doomed diva:
It was almost dark on the set, but at once she made out the black eyes of the cameras. She pretended not to see them, and wandered round the studio humming, looking round for something. For what? At last she saw a hammer, forgotten no doubt by one of the crew. She seized it, pretending to look elsewhere, and looked towards the movie cameras. They hadn't moved: they hadn't understood. Then, she moved slowly towards them. She was smiling kindly at them, and did not bring out the hammer she was hiding behind her back until the moment she reached them; then, furiously, she began to hit the camera lens, stammering out insults, flames in her eyes.
The enemy. At last. The enemy was dying. Her enemy. The one who had caused her all the harm.
And then, she found herself on a bridge on the Seine, with the past calling to her:
In the water she saw a face looking at her, the face of Max Linder. He was smiling at her. He called her. She obeyed. A dive.16 | orig
CLICK HERE to read the first instalment of La Femme de la nuit.
This novel can be read in full on-line or downloaded (Pour Vous, nos.304-316, 13.9.34-6.12.34) at:
When Nino returned permanently to Paris in the summer of 1936, he would find that the cinema world had moved on, and that there were new and exciting developments in French filmmaking. He continued to work for L'Intransigeant and Pour Vous, and the next chapters will chart the debates, not solely but especially in these publications, in the years of what later became known as "poetic realism" in French film.
All translations from European texts are my own.
[CLICK HERE to open notes in a new window]
1 Alexandre Arnoux, 'Les films à voir: "La patrouille de l'aube" ', L'Intransigeant, 14.2.31, p.6.
2 Nino Frank, Petit Cinéma sentimental, p.62. Also see pp.76-77 for his reactions to important actors of the day.
3 Jean George Auriol in 'Une enquête de "Pour Vous": Vérité? Réalisme ou convention?', Pour Vous, no.154, 29.10.31, p.11. Auriol's name was a pseudonym, spelt (he insisted) Jean George, without hyphen or final 's'. This preferred spelling was often disregarded by other writers and editors.
4 Nino Frank, 'Des films pour rire et des films vrais', L'Intransigeant, 31.10.31, p.6.
5 Jean George Auriol, 'Regard sur l'année cinématographique 1931', Pour Vous, no.163, 31.12.31, p.3.
6 Nino Frank, 'Nouvelle année', L'Intransigeant, 2.1.32, p.6.
7 Nino Frank, 'Quand Fantômas se repose...', L'Intransigeant, 9.1.32, p.6.
8 Nino Frank, 'Interviews apocryphes: Mary Pickford et Gloria Swanson à l'œuvre', Cinémagazine, no.1932-2, p.15.
9 Nino Frank, 'Interviews apocryphes: Une soirée chez Marlène Dietrich avec Sternberg', L'Image, no.29, September 1932, pp.23-25.
10 Nino Frank, 'L'âne, la girafe et Brigitte Helm', L'Intransigeant, 25.3.33, p.8; and Nino Frank, 'Nuits de Cristal', Mémoire brisée, pp.229-243. (It is not clear whether this title was a deliberate elision of the Reichstag fire and the 1938 Kristallnacht, or whether it was an error of memory over thirty years later.)
11 Nino Frank, 'Le cinéma sous le signe de la croix gammée', L'Intransigeant, 25.3.33, p.6.
12 Nino Frank, 'En temps de révolution: Berlin Cinéma', L'Image, no.57, April 1933, pp.11-12.
13 Nino Frank, 'Ce qui se passa après..."Le Testament du Dr. Mabuse" ', L'Image, no.63, May 1933.
14 Nino Frank, 'Nuits de Cristal', Mémoire brisée, p.243.
15 Nino Frank, Petit cinéma sentimental, p.81.
16 Nino Frank, 'La Femme de la Nuit' (final chapter), Pour Vous, no.316, 6.12.34, p.5.
17 Nino Frank, 'La Femme de la Nuit', Prologue and Chapter I. The complete serialised novel, Pour Vous, nos.304-316, 13.9.34 - 6.12.34, can be found on-line at Cinémathèque de Toulouse.
Original quotations from which translations taken
(numbers match relevant endnotes)
1 Par le scrupule, l'honnêteté, le souci de demeurer vrai et de ne pas romancer une matière qui s'y prêterait aisément, de ne rien accorder au pittoresque facile, ce film se place au premier rang. Howard Hawks, le metteur en scène, a osé n'introduire aucune intrigue, aucune figure féminine, dans son ouvrage; il a fait direct, nu, austère...il a peint des hommes, des sacrifiés volontaires, avec leur fièvre, leurs abattements, leur résignation, leurs sursauts de révolte et même leurs mouvements de peur, avec leur discipline et leur solidarité, avec leurs inimitiés aussi.
2 Ce qui m'intriguait et me bouleversait même, c'était justement ce mélange de grandiose et de sordide, de réalités et de bluff, de génie et de marchandage, de passion et de cynisme. Je commençais à deviner la tare originelle du cinéma, et que mes préventions de naguère pouvaient être aussi légitimes que mon ardeur d'à présent.
3 Et quand on leur offrira un film dont l'esprit, l'atmosphère et les caractères auront été pris dans la vie et transportés sur l'écran par un homme habile, sensible et ayant quelque chose à dire, ils sauront sûrement l'apprécier sans réserve.
4 sur le film littéraire et sur le film du théâtre, l'esprit français s'est imposé au monde sous deux formes bien caractérisées: l'œuvre gaie ou joviale, d'un comique sûr mais qui part de l'observation de l'homme et de sa vie; l'œuvre large et dramatique, où rien n'est stylisé, mais où les couleurs, sombres ou fantasques, de l'humain sont scrupuleusement respectées. De Molière à Courteline, de La Bruyère à Balzac, là est la voie royale de l'esprit français, qui sait répudier et la fiction doucereuse des Anglo-Saxons et le tragique sans mesure des Allemands ou des Scandinaves. Or, des metteurs en scène comme Jacques Feyder et René Clair, pour ne citer que les têtes de file, s'insèrent magnifiquement dans cette tradition... Que les producteurs redoublent de bonne volonté: des films comiques, oui, mais qui fassent rire pour de bon, sans avoir recours aux blagues faciles; et surtout des films vrais, où l'on ne sacrifie plus à l'optimisme de commande des scénaristes d'Hollywood.
5 ...on se rend compte que les spectateurs ne se laissent plus faire. Depuis pas mal de temps déjà, il arrive qu'un film, réellement par trop scandaleux par sa sottise ou par trop ennuyeux ou ridicule, suscite des protestations dans le public....Aujourd'hui, c'est très net: quand un film est mauvais, tout le monde s'en aperçoit, on le dit à la sortie et la recette s'en ressent.
6 ...les salles parisiennes qui donnent de bons programmes continuent à renvoyer du monde..
Les salles qui donnent de bons programmes. Soulignons cette phrase. Notre collaborateur Jean-Georges Auriol le dit fort bien dans l'article qu'il a donné à Pour Vous, au sujet de l'année cinématographique qui vient de s'achever: le public commence à rechercher les films de valeur et n'hésite pas à manifester bruyamment son mécontentement.
7 [Vous autres, en France], avez-vous jamais compris la puissance du cinéma? Vous n'y connaissez rien encore. Vous en sous-estimez la force. Vous prenez pour un divertissement ce qui est l'un des éléments sociaux essentiels d'aujourd'hui. Or, que faites-vous? Vous êtes en train de perdre, peu à peu, l'avance que vous avait procurée le "parlant". Dans un an il sera trop tard, car on fera de nouveau de bons films en Amérique...Organisez-vous!
8 Gloria parlait argent et sagesse, et on sait que de ces choses elle a toujours fait l'usage le plus extravagant. Quant à Mary, elle criait qu'elle avait besoin de joie et d'alcool, et on sait que ce sont là le paradis qu'elle se refusera toujours. L'une s'était déchaussée (toujours cette manie de choisir une pointure trop étroite), l'autre se frottait les joues en mettant un certain désordre dans son maquillage. Elles s'acharnaient à dire exactement le contraire de ce qu'on leur fait dire d'habitude. ...Et pourquoi faut-il que l'intelligence soit si peu appréciée en Californie? A telle enseigne qu'il faille la cacher honteusement...
9 Enfin la séduisante vamp se décida à entrer: elle portait un de ces tailleurs discrets, qui seyent à ravir à son aspect maladif. Elle s'assit sur une table, comme dans ses films, prit une cigarette en fixant Dieu sait quels lointains...après dix minutes de conversation...tout son "fatalisme" disparut, elle se mit à rire et à bavarder vite, et si ses yeux n'avaient plus leur charme caractéristique, si ses traits paraissaient enlaidis par cette métamorphose, je m'aperçus qu'en échange sa bonne humeur un peu simplette ressemblait à celle qui anime tant de jeunes femmes dans les "kabarett" bon marché de Berlin..
Il fit un geste imperceptible et du coin de l'œil, je vis que Marlène tirait sa jupe sur ses genoux, découvrant entièrement ses magnifiques jambes immuablement gainées de soie noire.
11 ...tous les autres producteurs, grands et petits, sont étrangers ou juifs, aussi préfèrent-ils s'attendre que le cours des événements se précise...l'exode des metteurs en scène et artistes étrangers devient-il définitif. Ce qui n'est pas pour déplaire aux autorités, sans doute, au nouveau ministre de la "Propagande culturale", le Dr. Goebbels. Le cinéma allemand aux Allemands...et le cinéma, organisation d'Etat, comme en Russie ou en Italie, voilà les deux principes sur lesquels est basée la politique du cinéma allemand, politique qui aura, sans doute, un de ces jours, une doctrine.
12 Car le docteur Goebbels, dictateur de l'Allemagne culturelle, tient à faire correctement son métier, comme Lounatcharski en URSS ou, en Italie, ses collègues fascistes..
Et les étoiles, dans tout cela, que deviendront les jolies étoiles aux cheveux blonds platinés ou aux pardessus "couleur de cinéma"?.
De bonnes petites nationalistes, de bons petits nationalistes: elles et ils ne font pas ça pour s'amuser..
Et toutes nos vedettes réintégreront leurs pénates..
...la doctrine nazi dit qu'il faut tordre le cou aux Juifs, qu'il faut éliminer de partout les étrangers: or, si on ôte au cinéma allemend les israélites et les étrangers, que lui restera-t-il? Songez que, même pour réaliser un film nationaliste comme Morgenrot, les producteurs ont dû avoir recours à un étranger, un Tchécoslovaque, pour préciser: le metteur en scène Ucicky. Et Kurt Bernhardt qui a fait Le Rebelle, autre film revigorant, n'est-il pas juif?
13 La grande idée du Dr. Mabuse, que le Dr. Baum avait adoptée, consistait en ceci: une suite d'actes criminels, organisés avec l'astuce la plus éclatante et exécutés pareillement, devaient engendrer dans la métropole un état de terreur dont les effets ne pouvaient qu'être salutaires; l'excès dans le mal, la destruction systématique, le bouleversement de la vie citadine, devaient avoir pour résultat infaillible le règne du Bien, ce Bien philosophique et avec majuscule, que seuls des psychopathologues déchus peuvent concevoir..
Tu feras souffrir ceux qui ne sont pas de ta religion. Tu te conduiras vis-à-vis d'eux avec brutalité, injustice. Tu les mettras à la porte de ta patrie en confisquant leurs biens: ce sera un moyen de combler notre déficit...Tu prononceras des discours vengeurs et menaçants. Tu feras trembler le monde sur ses bases..
Peut-être, si c'est bien fait, te feras-tu prendre au sérieux, on ne sait jamais.
14 ...ne vous mêlez pas de juger ce qui n'est guère votre affaire. Votre printemps, c'est la mort!
15 ...j'eus subitement, dans un frisson, le sentiment très net qu'un fil cassait.
16 Il faisait presque sombre sur le plateau, mais elle découvrit immédiatement les yeux noirs des cameras. Elle feignit de ne pas les voir, erra dans le studio en chantonnant, et ses yeux cherchaient. Quoi? Elle aperçut enfin un marteau oublié sans doute par un machiniste. Vite, elle le prit, l'air ailleurs, et jeta un regard vers les appareils. Ils n'avaient pas bougé: ils n'avaient pas compris. Alors, elle s'approcha lentement d'eux. Elle leur souriait gentiment et ne brandit le marteau qu'elle cachait derrière son dos, qu'au moment où elle se trouva tout près d'eux; furieusement, elle se mit à taper sur l'objectif, en bégayant des insultes, des flammes dans les prunelles..
L'ennemi. Enfin! L'ennemi mourait. Son ennemi. Celui qui avait fait tout le mal..
Elle vit, dans l'eau, un visage qui la regardait, celui de Max Linder. Il lui souriait. Il l'appela. Elle obéit. Un plongeon.