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Max Schreck Biography: Nosferatu Was the 1922 ‘Batman’

Max Schreck Nosferatu 1922
Max Schreck in Nosferatu 1922.

Max Schreck: Nosferatu 1922 ‘batman’ biography to come out in Germany

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

The first biography of Max Schreck, best known as the “batman” a.k.a. vampire in F.W. Murnau’s 1922 Dracula rip-off Nosferatu / Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, will be published later in 2008 in Germany according to Reuters‘ Dave Graham.

In Max Schreck – Gespenstertheater (“Max Schreck – Ghost Theatre”), author Stefan Eickhoff has tried to bring to light Schreck’s acting career, though the man himself – no real vampire he (born on September 6, 1879, in Berlin) – apparently will remain a mystery. Precious little was written about him either while he was alive or after his death.

As per Graham’s piece, the few reminiscences about Schreck, who died of heart failure in Munich in 1936, refer to him “as a loyal, conscientious loner with an offbeat sense of humor and a talent for playing the grotesque.”

Max Schreck movies

Although Max Schreck is chiefly – or rather, only – associated with Murnau’s 1922 Nosferatu, he was featured in more than forty films from 1920 to 1936. Among Schreck’s credits are Peter Paul Felner’s The Merchant of Venice / Der Kaufmann von Venedig (1923), starring Werner Krauss (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) as Shylock and Henny Porten as Portia; Paul Czinner’s Doña Juana (1928), with Schreck as the father of Elisabeth Bergner’s Doña; and, as a doctor, Carl Boese’s A Woman Like You / Eine Frau wie Du (1933), with Liane Haid and Georg Alexander.

Max Schreck’s last movie appearance was in Werner Klingler’s Die letzten Vier von Santa Cruz (“The Last Four from Santa Cruz”), featuring an international cast that included German Hermann Speelmans, German-Russian Irene von Meyendorff, Russian Valéry Inkijinoff, and Frenchwoman Françoise Rosay. Die letzten Vier von Santa Cruz was released in 1936.

The most effective movie vampire of them all was played by Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe in E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire (2000). In that movie, John Malkovich was an absurdly over-the-top Murnau.

‘Nosferatu’ 1922

Nosferatu is presumably the first feature film based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In this unauthorized movie adaptation written by Henrik Galeen, the Count is called Orlock. Also in the Nosferatu 1922 cast: Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Alexander Granach, Ruth Landshoff, and Wolfgang Heinz.

Werner Herzog’s homage-cum-remake, Nosferatu the Vampyre, came out in 1979 – whether or not a coincidence, the centenary of Max Schreck’s birth. Frequent Herzog collaborator Klaus Kinski starred in the title role, while pale-faced Isabelle Adjani was the object of his thirst.

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1 comment

Alex -

Max Screck is my absolute FAVORITE actor. I ADORE him!!!


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