German 43: Exiles and Émigrés
 

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Jannings, Emil

(Rorschach, Switzerland 1884–Strobl, Austria 1950)

Actor. Getting his start with Max Reinhardt's theatrical company in 1915-16, Jannings made his film debut in 1914. Playing Louis XV in Ernst Lubitsch's Madame Dubarry (1919) made him world-famous. Unhappy with the costume drama Quo Vadis (1924), Jannings made a comeback in films like The Last Laugh (1924) and Variety (1925). In 1928, he landed a three-year contract with Paramount, during which he won the first Oscar ever for his acting in The Last Command (dir. Josef von Sternberg, 1928). Jannings returned to Germany in 1929, and in 1930 von Sternberg directed him in The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich. His haunting portrayal of the seduced Professor Rath is probably the role by which most people remember him. When the Nazis took over the filmmaking industry in Germany, Jannings eventually became involved with several propaganda films, including the incredibly expensive anti-British production, Ohm Krüger (1941). His career choices in the Third Reich made Jannings an infamous figure and led to the United States military's 1946 "denazification" of him.


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