Conrad Veidt

Conrad Veidt

Additional Names: Konrad Hans Walter Veidt (Geburtsname); Conrad Weidt (Weiterer Name)
Darsteller, Regie, Produzent
*22.01.1893 Berlin; †03.04.1943 Hollywood, Kalifornien, USA

Biography

Hans Walter Conrad Veidt, born on January 22nd, 1893 in Berlin, dropped out of secondary school in 1912 due to insufficient results. Only one year later he turned into a new educational road when he enrolled at Max Reinhardt's theatrical school at the German Theatre, which was groundbreaking for his career. In the very same year he completed his stage debut followed by smaller theatrical parts. Before Veidt could finish the drama training, he was drafted for military service in the First World War and sent to the eastern front in 1915. In 1916 he was released from military service because he was suffering from jaundice. In the following months he acted in different front theatres and returned to Berlin in September 1916, where he was offered an acting job at the German Theatre. From 1919 to 1921 he acted at the Barnofsky-Stages, and in the play time 1922/23 at the Renaissance Theatre.

Parallel to his theatrical work, Veidt started a film career after his return from the First World War. His debut in front of the camera was a role as a countess' lover in the drama "Der Weg des Todes" ("The Road of Death", 1916/17). Due to his striking outward appearance – tall-growing, gaunt figure, narrow cheeks, expressive forehead, distinctive mouth and big eyes with a piercing gaze – he often played mysterious and demonic looking roles, like an Indian Priest in Robert Wiene's "Furcht" ("Fear", 1917) or Satan in "Der nicht vom Weibe Geborne" (1918; directed by Franz Eckstein, Rosa Porten).

In 1917 Veidt started a long lasting cooperation with the director Richard Oswald. Until 1937 he participated in more than 20 of his films as a main actor. Oswald's moral and educational films ("Sitten- and Aufklärungsfilme") such as "Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen" ("The Diary of a Lost Girl", 1918), "Anders als die Andern" ("Different from the Others", 1919), "Der Reigen" (1920) and "Lady Hamilton" (1921) made Veidt one of the most popular and besides Emil Jannings one of the best paid stars of the German film scene. He frequently played social misfits, elegant negative figures or broken heroes such as a homosexual violinist, who commits suicide after being blackmailed in "Anders als die Andern".

Thanks to his bizarre body language Veidt established himself as an ideal and seminal expressionistic actor. At the same time the film parts under Oswald improved and cemented Veidt's image as a specialist for playing demonical or driven characters.

F.W. Murnau for instance cast him for a part in his "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"-adaption "Der Januskopf" (1920). Robert Wiene assigned Veidt the role of the mesmerized medium and murderer Cesare in his masterpiece "Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari" ("The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", 1920), which is one of his most defining film appearances up to the present day. Four years later Veidt played the main character in Wiene's "Orlacs Hände" ("The Hands of Orlac", 1924), a genius pianist who has the hands of an executed murderer transplanted for his own after an accident.

In 1919/20 Veidt produced "Wahnsinn" ("Madness") and "Die Nacht auf Goldenhall" ("The Night of Goldenhall") and cast himself as the chief character.

Further important parts during these years were among others the Maharadscha in "Das indische Grabmal" ("Mysteries of India", 1921; directed by Joe May), Iwan the Terrible in "Das Wachsfigurenkabinett" ("Waxworks", 1924, directed by Paul Leni) and the title role in "Der Student von Prag" ("The Student of Prague", 1926, directed by Henrik Galeen). Veidt, or as Hans-Micheel Bock called him "the Daemon of the German silent film", only occasionally played friendly characters such as the loving father in Paul Czinner's "Der Geiger von Florenz" ("Impetuous Youth", 1926).

Thanks to placement of the actor John Barrymore, Veidt shot four films in Hollywood between 1927 and 1929. Because of his expressive style he did not have a lasting success in the American cinema of the upcoming sound film. In the German sound film however, he was successful, for example in Eric Charell's classic "Der Kongress tanzt" (1931), Gerhard Lamprecht's adventure film "Der schwarze Husar" ("The black Hussar", 1932) and Karl Hartl's science-fiction film "F.P. 1 antwortet nicht" ("F.P. 1 Doesn't Answer", 1933). His last role in Germany was Herman Gessler in the biographical film "Wilhelm Tell" in 1933 (Germany/Switzerland, directed by Heinz Paul).

After the "Machtübernahme" (seizure of power) of the Nazis in 1933 Veidt and his Jewish wife moved to Great Britain. There he played the main character in the screen adaption of Lion Feuchtwanger's "Jew Süss" (directed by Lothar Mendes), which in comparison to the Nazi propaganda film "Jud Süß" (1940) does not draw a racist distorted picture of Joseph Süß Oppenheimer. Actually the opposite was the case: In Germany, the film and especially Conrad Veidt were accused of heresy due to "pro-Semitic tendencies". In England Veidt, who became a British state resident in 1938, often acted in spy movies such as "Dark Journey" (UK 1937; directed by Victor Saville), "The Spy in Black" (UK 1939; directed by Michael Powell), and "Contraband" (UK 1940, directed by Michael Powell), in which his German accent did not cause a dramaturgical inconsistency. In addition, he also participated in adventure films, for example the award-winning blockbuster "The Thief of Baghdad" (UK 1940), which was also Veidt's only colour film.

In 1940 he went to Hollywood once more, where he was privately as well as in his roles actively engaged against fascism. Thus, he played in Jules Dassin's "Nazi Agent" (1942) the dual role of twin brothers, who are separated after birth - one of them is raised as a patriotic American, whereas the other one becomes a high-ranking Nazi. Supposedly his most popular role in the United States is the Nazi-major Heinrich Strasser in Michel Cutiz' cult film "Casablanca" (1942), although his scenes were cut out of the German version in the 1950's and not refitted until the 1970's. Veidt played his last role in 1949 in the spy movie "Above Suspicion" alongside Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray.

On April 3rd, 1943 Conrad Veidt died of a heart attack on a golf links in Hollywood.

Filmography

1957/1958 Das gab's nur einmal
Participation
 
1943 Above Suspicion
Cast
 
1942 Casablanca
Cast
 
1941/1942 All Through the Night
Cast
 
1941/1942 Nazi Agent
Cast
 
1941 The Men in Her Life
Cast
 
1941 Whistling in the Dark
Cast
 
1941 A Woman's Face
Cast
 
1940 The Thief of Bagdad
Cast
 
1940 Escape
Cast
 
1940 Contraband
Cast
 
1939 The Spy in Black
Cast
 
1938 Le joueur d'échecs
Cast
 
1937/1938 Tempete sur l'Asie
Cast
 
1937 Under the Red Robe
Cast
 
1937 Dark Journey
Cast
 
1935 The Passing of the Third Floor Back
Cast
 
1935 King of the Damned
Cast
 
1934/1935 Bella Donna
Cast
 
1934 Jew Süss
Cast
 
1933/1934 Wilhelm Tell. Das Freiheitsdrama eines Volkes
Cast
 
1933/1934 The Legend of William Tell
Cast
 
1932/1933 Ich und die Kaiserin
Cast
 
1932/1933 F.P. 1
Cast
 
1932 Der schwarze Husar
Cast
 
1932 Rome Express
Cast
 
1931/1932 Congress Dances
Cast
 
1931/1932 Rasputin
Cast
 
1931 Die andere Seite
Cast
 
1931 Der Kongreß tanzt
Cast
 
1931 The Night of the Decision
Cast
 
1930/1931 Der Mann, der den Mord beging
Cast
 
1930 Menschen im Käfig
Cast
 
1930 Die große Sehnsucht
Cast
 
1929/1930 Die letzte Kompagnie
Cast
 
1929 The Last Performance
Cast
 
1929 Das Land ohne Frauen
Cast
 
1928/1929 Rund um die Liebe
Participation
 
1928 Die Filmstadt Hollywood
Participation
 
1928 The Man who Laughs
Cast
 
1927/1928 Geächtet. Die Tragödie eines Homosexuellen
Cast
 
1927 Gesetze der Liebe
Cast
 
1927 A Man's Past
Cast
 
1927 The Beloved Rogue
Cast
 
1926 Die Flucht in die Nacht
Cast
 
1926 Der Student von Prag
Cast
 
1926 Kreuzzug des Weibes
Cast
 
1926 Dürfen wir schweigen?
Cast
 
1925/1926 Die Brüder Schellenberg
Cast
 
1925/1926 Der Geiger von Florenz
Cast
 
1925 Liebe macht blind
Cast
 
1925 Ingmarsarvet
Cast
 
1924/1925 Schicksal
Cast
 
1924 Nju
Cast
 
1924 Graf Kostja
Cast
 
1924 Orlacs Hände
Cast
 
1923/1924 Das Wachsfigurenkabinett
Cast
 
1923/1924 Der Film im Film
Participation
 
1923/1924 Don Carlos und Elisabeth
Cast
 
1923 Wilhelm Tell
Cast
 
1923 Glanz gegen Glück
Cast
 
1922/1923 Paganini
Cast, Creative supervisor, Producer
 
1922 Lucrezia Borgia
Cast
 
1921 Das indische Grabmal, Teil 2 - Der Tiger von Eschnapur
Cast
 
1921 Das indische Grabmal (2 Teile)
Cast
 
1921 Das indische Grabmal, Teil 1 - Die Sendung des Yoghi
Cast
 
1921 Lady Hamilton
Cast
 
1921 Danton
Cast
 
1921 Landstraße und Großstadt
Cast
 
1920/1921 Sehnsucht
Cast
 
1920/1921 Die Flucht aus dem goldenen Kerker
Cast
 
1920/1921 Der Leidensweg der Inge Krafft
Cast
 
1920/1921 Die Liebschaften des Hektor Dalmore
Cast
 
1920/1921 Liebestaumel
Cast
 
1920/1921 Der Gang in die Nacht
Cast
 
1920/1921 Das Geheimnis von Bombay. Das Abenteuer einer Nacht
Cast
 
1920 Weltbrand
Cast
 
1920 Manolescus Memoiren
Cast
 
1920 Moriturus
Cast
 
1920 Abend - Nacht - Morgen
Cast
 
1920 Der Januskopf
Cast
 
1920 Künstlerlaunen
Cast
 
1920 Kurfürstendamm
Cast
 
1920 Die Augen der Welt
Cast
 
1920 Die Nacht auf Goldenhall
Cast, Director, Producer
 
1920 Patience. Die Karten des Todes
Cast
 
1920 Menschen im Rausch
Cast
 
1920 Die Sippschaft
Cast
 
1919/1920 Der Reigen
Cast
 
1919/1920 Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari
Cast
 
1919/1920 Satanas
Cast
 
1919/1920 Nachtgestalten
Cast
 
1919/1920 Der Graf von Cagliostro
Cast
 
1919 Unheimliche Geschichten
Cast
 
1919 Wahnsinn
Cast, Director, Producer
 
1919 Prinz Kuckuck
Cast
 
1919 Die Okarina
Cast
 
1919 Die Prostitution, 2. Teil - Die sich verkaufen
Cast
 
1918/1919 Anders als die Andern
Cast
 
1918/1919 Peer Gynts Jugend
Cast
 
1918/1919 Peer Gynts Wanderjahre und Tod
Cast
 
1918/1919 Die Prostitution, 1. Teil - Das gelbe Haus
Cast
 
1918/1919 Opium
Cast
 
1918/1919 Die Japanerin
Cast
 
1918/1919 Nocturno der Liebe
Cast
 
1918/1919 Die Reise um die Erde in 80 Tagen
Cast
 
1918 Jettchen Geberts Geschichte. 2. Henriette Jacoby
Cast
 
1918 Sündige Mütter (Strafgesetz § 218). Es werde Licht! 4. Teil
Cast
 
1918 Colomba
Cast
 
1918 Jettchen Geberts Geschichte. 1. Jettchen Gebert
Cast
 
1918 Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen
Cast
 
1918 Das Dreimäderlhaus. Schuberts Liebesroman
Cast
 
1918 Die Mexikanerin
Cast
 
1918 Die Serenyi
Cast
 
1918 Opfer der Gesellschaft
Cast
 
1918 Der nicht vom Weibe Geborene
Cast
 
1918 Dida Ibsens Geschichte. Ein Finale zum "Tagebuch einer Verlorenen" von Margarete Böhme
Cast
 
1917/1918 Das Rätsel von Bangalor
Cast
 
1917 Furcht
Cast
 
1917 Der Spion
Cast
 
1917 Wenn Tote sprechen
Cast
 
1917 Die Seeschlacht
Cast
 
1916/1917 Der Weg des Todes
Cast