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Courant, Curt

COURANT, Curt



Cinematographer. Nationality: German. Born: 1895 (?); also known as Kurt or Curtis. Family: Son, the cinematographer Willy Kurant. Career: Early work as cameraman for German and Italian films; 1917—first film work on Hilde Warren und der Tod; 1933—left Germany after rise of Nazis, worked in France and England.


Films as Cinematographer:

1917

Hilde Warren und der Tod (May) (co)

1920

Das Mädchen aus der Ackerstrasse (Schünzel); Hamlet (Glade) (co); Präsident Barrada (Lund)

1921

Das Mädel vom Piccadilly (Zelnik); Der Abenteurer

1922

Peter de Grosse (Peter the Great) (Buchowetzki); Der Pantoffelheld (Schünzel)

1923

Das Paradies im Schnee (Jacoby) (co)

1924

Quo Vadis? (D'Annunzio and Jacoby); Komödianten des Lebens (Jacoby); Zwei Kinder (Hilber)

1925

Liebesfeuer (Stein)

1926

Die Insel der Träume (Stein); Ich liebe dich (Stein); Die Fahrt ins Abenteuer (Mack); Gräfin Plättmamsell (David); Die Flucht in die Nacht (The Flight in the Night) (Palermi); Die kleine vom Variété (Schwarz); Wehe, wenn die lossgelassen (Froehlich); Die Welt will belogen sein (Felner) (co); Heinrich der Vierte (Palermi)

1927

Der fesche Erzherzog (Land); Die Czardasfürsten (Schwarz); Familientag im Hause Prellstein (Steinhoff); Der Kampf des Donald Westhof (Wendhausen)

1928

Schuldig (Meyer) (co); Geheimnisse des Orients (Wolkoff) (co); Hurrah! Ich lebe! (Thiele) (co)

1929

Die Frau, nach der Mann sich sehnt (Lang); Das brennende Herz (The Burning Heart) (Berger); Die Frau im Mond (The Woman in the Moon) (Lang) (co)

1930

Der Hampelmann (Emo); L'Homme qui assassina (Bernhardt and Tarride); Der König von Paris (Mittler) (co); Die singende Stadt (Gallone) (co); Der weisse Teufal (Wolkoff) (co)

1931

Le Chanteur inconnu (Tourjansky); Der Mann, der den mord Being (Bernhardt); Meine Cousine aus Warschau (Ma cousine de Varsovie) (Boese and Gallone); Son altesse l'amour (Schmidt and Peguy); Wer nimmt die Liebe ernst? (Engel)

1932

Coeur de Lilas (Litvak); Un Fils d'Amérique (Gallone); Gitta entdeckt ihr Herz (Froelich); Die—oder Keine (Froelich); L'Homme qui ne sais pas dire non (Hilpert); Rasputin (Der Dämon der Frauen) (Trotz)

1933

Ces messieurs de la santé (Colombier); Cette vieille canaille (Litvak); Ciboulette (Autant-Lara); Ich will dich liebe lehren (Hilpert) (co); Scampolo, ein Kind der Strasse (Steinhoff); The Perfect Understanding (Gardner)

1934

Le Voleur (Tourneur); Amok (Ozep); The Man Who Knew Too Much (Hitchcock); The Iron Duke (Saville)

1935

The Passing of the Third Floor Back (Viertel)

1936

Broken Blossoms (Septan); Spy of Napoleon (Knowles); The Man in the Mirror (Elvey)

1937

Le Mensonge de Nina Petrowna (Tourjansky); Le Puritain (Musso); Tarakanova (Ozep); Dusty Ermine (Vorhaus)

1938

La Bête humaine (The Human Beast) (Renoir); Le Drame de Shanghaï (Pabst); Lumières de Paris (Pottier); La Maison du Maltais (Chenal)

1939

Le Jour se lève (Daybreak) (Carné); Louise (Gance); Monsieur Bretonneau (Esway)

1940

De Mayerling à Sarajevo (Mayerling to Sarajevo) (Ophüls)

1947

Monsieur Verdoux (Chaplin) (co)

1961

It Happened in Athens (Marton)



Publications


By COURANT: article—

"Cameramen in the Golden Age of Cinema," in Film Culture (New York), no. 9, 1965.

On COURANT: article—


Focus on Film (London), no. 13, 1973.


* * *

Most of Curt Courant's work as a cinematographer was done in Germany before 1933, and he is recognized as one of the best of his profession, especially on melodramas and spectaculars. He worked for Gallone, Froelich, Thiele, May, and Buchowetzki, as well as making two films for Fritz Lang (including Die Frau im Mond). In the early 1930s, he made several French-language versions of German Films, but when he left Germany with the rise of the Nazis, he worked first in England, where he was partly responsible for the wonderful incongruities of Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Though he made films with Max Ophüls and Charlie Chaplin in the 1940s, his most famous films are two he made in 1938 and 1939, La Bête humaine and Le Jour se lève. These two films, directed by Renoir and Carné, respectively, represent the final flourishing of what is often called "poetic realism," a concept which to current thinking looks very much like romanticism. The mood of poetic intensity, the melancholy and bittersweet fatalism, and the dreaminess that pervade both films—though much stronger in Le Jour se lève—centers on proletarian heroes (almost anti-heroes) caught up in psychological intensities they cannot quite understand or control. The despair they represented in the late 1930s has been muted into nostalgia, but they are still powerful and moving films.

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