Saturday, February 2, 2013
Saturday Scream Queen: Pola Negri
Can a silent movie star be a "Scream Queen"? If she can be a "Screen Siren," I don't see why not, especially when she starred in the first mummy move ever made.
Pola Negri spent her childhood in crushing poverty in Warsaw, Poland, but as a teenager she found success first as a ballet dancer and later as a celebrated stage actress. The coming World War I also saw the dawn of Negri's career as a screen siren--and after a string of box office successes in collaboration with German director Ernst Lubitsch, Negri was offered contracts in Hollywood. Negri's popularity in America in the early 1920s initially rivaled that which she had enjoyed in Europe, but when increasing film censorship limited her ability to play the sexy temptresses and sultry vamps she specialized in, and a series of publicity stunts she staged around the funeral of Rudolph Valentino which caused the public to sour on her, crippled her success. The arrival of the talkies was the final blow to her American film career, as her thick accent did not play well with audiences.
Negri went back to Europe in 1933 with hopes of reviving her flagging career. She worked for a time in Germany, but, despite being one of Hitler's favorite actresses, was troubled by the violent and oppressive Nazi regime, In 1941, she returned to the United States. Her film career, however, was at an end.
Although most of her films were romances and dramas, Negri did star in a few of the earliest horror films. Among these are "The Dead Eyes" (1917), "The Devil's Pawn" (1918), "The Eyes of the Mummy" (1918), and "The Charmer" (1925).
Pola Negri passed away in 1987.