Monday, January 10, 2011

Remembering... Paul Henreid

In the 1942 film Now, Voyager - a perennial favourite of ours here at the Pop Culture Institute - suave European Paul Henreid romanced the plain Boston spinster right out of Bette Davis and left in her place a soigne Back Bay socialite; in the process he committed one of the greatest moments in the American cinema to celluloid. By lighting two cigarettes at the same time and handing one to her, he made a necessarily chaste scene - especially in light of that era's repressive on-screen censorship - undeniably erotic...

PhotobucketLater that year he played Victor Laszlo, the hero Ingrid Bergman would have forsaken for the cad played by Humphrey Bogart but - in the end, and due entirely to Bogie's sacrifice - didn't, in Casablanca. It was a role with which Henreid was already familiar, having escaped deportation from England to his homeland (and almost certain incarceration) thanks to the intercession of his colleague Conrad Veidt.

Few careers in Hollywood have opened with that kind of one-two punch; while none of his subsequent work would be as beloved as these two roles, his success in them afforded Henreid - born in Austria on this day in 1908 - that most priceless of assets: star quality.

Which is not to say that Henreid wasn't admired right up until his death in March 1992; he's one of the few people to have received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for film and another for television.
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