Cesar Romero + Asta Nielsen: Curious Tribute + 'Hamlet' in Berlin

Cesar Romero
Cesar Romero: Hollywood leading man and second lead in the 1930s and 1940s.

Cesar Romero centennial tribute: 'The White Rose'

Los Angeles' Cervantes Center of Arts & Letters will be celebrating the birth centennial of Cesar Romero – born in New York City on Feb. 15, 1907 – with a screening of the 1954 biopic The White Rose / La rosa blanca, accompanied by Romero's last filmed interview. The Cesar Romero tribute will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15, at the University of Southern California's Leavey Library Auditorium. The screening will be followed by a reception. Of note: Cesar Romero is not featured in The White Rose (more on that below).

Cesar Romero movies

Though never a first- (or even second-) rank star, from the late 1930s until his death in 1994 Cesar Romero was a well-known face and name in movies and later on television.

Among Romero's screen credits as a 20th Century Fox contract player, almost invariably in supporting roles, are the Shirley Temple musicals Wee Willie Winkie (1937) and The Little Princess (1939); the Alice Faye musicals Week-End in Havana (1941) and The Great American Broadcast (1941); the Betty Grable musicals Springtime in the Rockies (1942) and Coney Island (1943); the highly fictionalized historical drama Captain from Castile (1947), starring Romero's close friend Tyrone Power; in addition to several Cisco Kid flicks, among them The Gay Caballero (1940) and Ride On Vaquero (1941).

On TV, Cesar Romero was a popular Joker in the Batman series of the '60s. Other TV credits include dozens of guest appearances in series such as The Love Boat, Charlie's Angels, Fantasy Island, and The Golden Girls, besides a recurring role in Falcon Crest.

Cesar Romero not in The White Rose

Directed by one of Mexico's most respected filmmakers, Emilio Fernández (María Candelaria, Flor Silvestre), The White Rose is based on the life of Cuban poet José Martí, Cesar Romero's grandfather. Romero, however, doesn't appear in the film. Instead, The White Rose features Roberto Canedo, Gina Cabrera, Raquel Revuelta, Julio Capote, and Julio Villareal.

Asta Nielsen in Hamlet
Asta Nielsen in Hamlet

Sure, the 2007 Berlinale, which has kicked off this evening, will offer a number of good – hopefully, even a few great – new films. But for my money, the most interesting section this year is the Retrospective covering the roles of women in silent films of the 1910s and 1920s.

I've mentioned the Retrospective in a previous post, but I didn't know at the time that a restored (two-strip) color version of Sven Gade and Heinz Schall's Hamlet was going to be screened. Accompanied by Michael Riessler's new score, Hamlet, starring Grand Diva Asta Nielsen as the angst-ridden, cross-dressing prince(ss) of Denmark, will have its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival at 6 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Deutsche Kinemathek.

James Bazen, currently working on a research project about the silent era, watched one of the several circulating black-and-white versions of Hamlet. James (we've known one another for quite some time) calls Hamlet a “fascinating film,” made particularly intriguing by a gay subtext involving Horatio's affections for Hamlet – Horatio doesn't realize that the young prince is actually a princess in disguise. (Nielsen may have liked this sort of gender-bending role. She also played an androgynous character at least once before, in Urban Gad's Zapata's Band.)

The recently rediscovered color version has never been shown since the movie's initial release. It has been restored by the Deutsches Film Institut (DIF) and broadcaster ZDF, in cooperation with ARTE.

Claudia Dillmann (DIF), Nina Goslar (ZDF/ARTE), Karola Gramann (Kinothek Asta Nielsen) and Anke Mebold (DIF) are scheduled to take part in a panel discussion before the screening.

Additionally, the Berlin festival will present another recently rediscovered work, the 1931 sound (as in, added music and sound effects) version of Giovanni Pastrone's 1914 epic Cabiria. The original silent version of the Italian classic will also be screened. The sound and silent versions will be shown, respectively, on Sat., Feb. 17, and Sun., Feb. 18, both at 2 p.m. at CinemaxX 8. Both Cabiria versions have been restored by Turin's Museo Nazionale del Cinema.

The 57th Berlin International Film Festival runs until Feb. 18.

Cesar Romero + Asta Nielsen: Curious Tribute + 'Hamlet' in Berlin © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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