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Blanke, Henry

BLANKE, Henry



Producer. Nationality: German. Born: Berlin, 30 December 1901; son of the painter Wilhelm Blanke. Career: 1920—joined UFA, Berlin: personal assistant to Ernst Lubitsch, and accompanied him to Hollywood, 1922; 1927–28—worked for Warner Brothers in Hollywood, then headed their production in Germany, 1928–30, their foreign productions in Hollywood, 1930–31, supervised their American output, 1931–32, and then producer, 1932–61 (sometimes termed "production supervisor" under Hal B. Wallis). Died: 28 May 1981.


Films as Producer:

1933

Female (Curtiz); Bureau of Missing Persons (Del Ruth); The Mystery of the Wax Museum (Curtiz); Lady Killer (Del Ruth); I Loved a Woman (Green); Convention City (Mayo)

1934

Fashions of 1934 (Fashion Follies of 1934) (Dieterle); Madame Du Barry (Dieterle); Fog Over Frisco (Dieterle); Journal of a Crime (Keighley); Gambling Lady (Mayo); Dragon Murder Case (Humberstone); The Firebird (Dieterle); British Agent (Curtiz); Dr. Monica (Keighley)

1935

The Story of Louis Pasteur (Dieterle); Secret Bride (Dieterle); The White Cockatoo (Crosland); The Girl from 10th Avenue (Green); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Reinhardt and Dieterle); I Am a Thief (Florey)

1936

The Petrified Forest (Mayo); Anthony Adverse (LeRoy); The Green Pastures (Connelly and Keighley); The White Angel (Dieterle); Satan Met a Lady (Dieterle); Green Light (Borzage); The Case of the Velvet Claw (Clemens)

1937

The Life of Emile Zola (Dieterle); Call It a Day (May); Confession (May)

1938

Jezebel (Wyler) (co); The Adventures of Robin Hood (Curtiz and Keighley); Four Daughters (Curtiz); White Banners (Goulding); Juarez (Dieterle) (co)

1939

The Old Maid (Goulding) (co); Four Wives (Curtiz); Daughters Courageous (Curtiz); We Are Not Alone (Goulding)

1940

The Sea Hawk (Curtiz) (co); A Dispatch from Reuters (This Man Reuter) (Dieterle); Saturday's Children (V. Sherman); Four Mothers (Keighley)

1941

The Maltese Falcon (Huston) (co); The Great Lie (Goulding) (co); Blues in the Night (Litvak); Out of the Fog (Litvak); The Sea Wolf (Curtiz)

1942

The Gay Sisters (Rapper)

1943

The Constant Nymph (Goulding); Old Acquaintance (V. Sherman); Edge of Darkness (Milestone)

1944

The Mask of Dimitrios (Negulesco)

1945

Roughly Speaking (Curtiz)

1946

Deception (Rapper); My Reputation (Bernhandt); Of Human Bondage (Goulding); One More Tomorrow (Godfrey)

1947

Cry Wolf (Godfrey); Deep Valley (Negulesco); Escape Me Never (Godfrey); The Woman in White (Godfrey)

1948

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston); Winter Meeting (Windust); June Bride (Windust)

1949

The Fountainhead (K. Vidor); Beyond the Forest (K. Vidor)

1950

Bright Leaf (Curtiz)

1951

Lightning Strikes Twice (K. Vidor); Come Fill the Cup (Douglas); Goodbye, My Fancy (V. Sherman); Tomorrow Is Another Day (Feist); Room for One More (Taurog)

1952

The Iron Mistress (Douglas); Operation Secret (Seiler)

1953

So Big (Wise); She's Back on Broadway (Douglas); So This Is Love (The Grace Moore Story) (Douglas)

1954

Phantom of the Rue Morgue (Del Ruth); Lucky Me (Donohue); King Richard and the Crusaders (Butler); Young at Heart (Douglas)

1955

The McConnell Story (Tiger in the Sky) (Douglas); Sincerely Yours (Douglas)

1956

Serenade (A. Mann)

1958

Too Much, Too Soon (Napoleon);

1959

The Nun's Story (Zinnemann); The Miracle (Rapper); Westbound (Boetticher)

1960

Ice Palace (V. Sherman); Cash McCall (Pevney)

1961

The Sins of Rachel CadeDouglas)

1962

Hell Is for Heroes (Siegel)



Films as Assistant Director:

1924

The Marriage Circle (Lubitsch); Three Women (Lubitsch)

1926

My Official Wife (Stein); The Third Degree (Curtiz)

1927

Brass Knuckles (Bacon); The College Widow (Mayo); Dearie (Mayo); The Desired Woman (Curtiz); Don't Tell the Wife (Stein); Ginsberg the Great (Haskin); Matinee Ladies (Haskin); A Million Bid (Curtiz)

1928

Across the Atlantic (Bretherton); Rinty of the Desert (Lederman)

Publications


On BLANKE: articles—

Obituary, in Variety (New York), 3 June 1981.

Obituary, in Cinematographe (Paris), July 1981.

Filme (Berlin), July-August 1981.


* * *

Henry Blanke represents one of those individuals of little public fame, but who had immense power as a producer during Hollywood's Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s. His immediate boss, Jack L. Warner, was, of course, well known, as were the stars over whose careers he had so much influence, including Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland. But in his more than 30 years at Warners, Henry Blanke supervised the creation of hundreds of films, including such motion picture classics as The Adventures of Robin Hood, Juarez, The Maltese Falcon, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Blanke came to Hollywood as part of the then-famous European connection so active during the 1920s. In the two decades before the World War II dozens of directors, producers, and even stars (most notably Marlene Dietrich) emigrated from impoverished European film communities to Hollywood to seek fame and fortune. No European film industry, even that in Germany, could come close to challenging Hollywood. As a native-born German, Blanke made his connection with Hollywood by helping Warners create versions of their films for foreign audiences. Once in the United States he brought the noted director William Dieterle from Germany into Warners's fold.

With the coming of sound Warners became a major Hollywood studio. Quickly Blanke moved into third position of power at the studio, behind only the founding brother Jack and Warners's ace assistant Hal Wallis. When Wallis left for Paramount in the mid-1940s, Blanke had no rival other than the brothers Warner them-selves. He would leave the company only when it was sold to outsiders in the 1950s.

Blanke seemed to have his greatest success with vehicles designed for stars Paul Muni, Errol Flynn, and Bette Davis. Muni starred in the Academy Award-winning The Life of Emile Zola in 1937, as well as Juarez the following year, both Blanke productions. Flynn essayed The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk for Blanke's production unit. The Petrified Forest helped Davis become a major star, and Jezebel earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1938. These and 11 other Davis films were produced directly by Henry Blanke.

Blanke's films for Warners after World War II did not seem to match his pre-war efforts. But make no mistake about it—they made the company millions of dollars. But the studio system in which Blanke had labored for more than 30 years came to an end in the 1950s and his skills were no longer needed at Warners. Blanke left for an independent deal at Paramount but that union produced only one film, Hell Is for Heroes, his final effort as a producer, issued in 1962. Henry Blanke was the product of an earlier era when the studio system produced, year-in and year-out, the classic narrative films which continue to define the Golden Age of American movie making.

—Douglas Gomery

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