German 43: Exiles and Émigrés

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Photo of Alexander GranachGranach, Alexander

(1890 Werbiwici, Ukraine–New York 1945)

Born as Jessaja Szajko Gronach. Actor. Via Cracow and Vienna Granach comes to Berlin in 1908 in the company of other young Russian revolutionaries. One year later, he joins Max Reinhardt's acting school, taking as his models such luminaries as Alexander Moissi, Paul Wegener, and Albert Bassermann. During World War I he serves in the Austrian Army. After the war, he plays Shylock, his favorite role, at the Munich Schauspielhaus. He debuts in film in 1920, thereafter starring in F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu, Richard Oswald's Lucrezia Borgia, and Leopold Jessner's Erdgeist (all 1922). His acting style is very expressive, and often criticized for lack of nuance. His last film in Germany is G. W. Pabst's Kameradschaft (1931). In 1933 he emigrates, first to Warsaw and then to Kiev, where he plays Georgi Dimitroff, the alleged Reichstag arsonist, in Gustav von Wangenheim's Borcy (1936). In 1938, he leaves for New York to help establishing a German-language theater, but when plans do not materialize William Dieterle brings him to Hollywood. Here he finds work in films by many fellow-émigrés, including Ernst Lubitsch's Ninotchka (1939), Fritz Lang's Hangmen Also Die (1943), and Fred Zinnemann's The Seventh Cross (1944).

GERMAN 43: Exiles and Émigrés
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