Writer. Nationality: German. Born: 1885; sometimes credited as Hans Kraly in the United States. Career: Stage and film actor; 1912—first film as writer, Die Kinder des Generals, the first of several films for Urban Gad; 1916—first of many films for Ernst Lubitsch, Schuhpalast Pinkus; 1923—accompanied Lubitsch to Hollywood, and continued to write until 1943. Award: Academy Award for The Patriot, 1928–29. Died: In Los Angeles, California, 11 November 1950.
Films as Writer:
Die Kinder des Generals (Gad)
Engelein (Gad); Die Filmprimadonna (Gad)
Das Feuer (Gad); Die ewige Nacht (Gad); Weisse Rosen (Gad)
Schuhpalast Pinkus (Lubitsch)
Der Blusen König (Lubitsch); Eine Walternacht (Kaden)
Die Augen der Mummie Mâ (The Eyes of the Mummy) (Lubitsch); Carmen (Gypsy Blood) (Lubitsch); Das Mädel vom Ballett (Lubitsch); Der gelbe Schein (Janson and Illes); Der Prozess Hauers (Zeyn); Die drei van Hells (Brenkin)
Meine Frau, die Filmschauspielerin (Lubitsch); Comtesse Doddy (Jacoby); Die Austerprinzessin (The Oyster Princess) (Lubitsch); Das Rosa Trikot (Lasko); Madame Du Barry (Passion) (Lubitsch); Die Fahrt ins Blaue (Biebrach); Die Puppe (The Doll) (Lubitsch); Monica Vogelsang (Biebrach); Rausch (Lubitsch )
Sumurun (One Arabian Night) (Lubitsch); Arme Violetta (Stein); Anne Boleyn (Deception) (Lubitsch); Kohlhiessels Töchter (Lubitsch); Romeo and Juliet im Schnee (Lubitsch)
Die Bergkatze (The Wildcat) (Lubitsch)
Das Weib des Pharao (The Loves of Pharoah) (Lubitsch)
Alles für Geld (Fortune's Fool) (Schünzel); Die Flamme (Montmartre) (Lubitsch); Boheme (Righelli); Rosita(Lubitsch); Das Paradies im Schnee (Jacoby); Black Oxen (Lloyd)
Komödianten des Lebens (Jacoby); Three Women (Lubitsch); Forbidden Paradise (Lubitsch); Her Night of Promise (Franklin)
The Eagle (Brown); His Sister from Paris (Franklin); Kiss Me Again (Lubitsch)
So This Is Paris (Lubitsch); The Duchess of Buffalo (Franklin); Kiki (Brown)
Quality Street (Franklin); The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Lubitsch)
The Patriot (Lubitsch); The Garden of Eden (Milestone)
Eternal Love (Lubitsch); Betrayal (Milestone); The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (Franklin); The Kiss (Feyder); Wild Orchids (Franklin); Devil-May-Care (Franklin)
Lady of Scandal (Franklin); A Lady's Morals (Franklin); Die Sehnsucht jeder Frau (Sjöström—German version of A Lady to Love )
Private Lives (Franklin)
My Lips Betray (Blystone); By Candlelight (Blystone)
Broadway Gondolier (Bacon)
One Hundred Men and a Girl (Koster)
Broadway Serenade (Leonard)
It Started with Eve (Koster); West Point Widow (Siodmak)
The Mad Ghoul (Hogan)
* * *
While still a teenage actor in Berlin before the Second World War, Hanns Kräly wrote for the burgeoning German cinema. After his scripts for Danish director Urban Gad's Die Kinder des Generals, Engelein, and Die Filmprimadonna had done much to make Gad's wife Asta Nielsen a star, Kräly was approached by Ernst Lubitsch, another ex-actor with ambitions to direct, and even younger than himself. Lubitsch filmed Kräly's Schuhpalast Pinkus in 1916. In 1918, both men joined Paul Davidson's tiny Union-Film A. G., where Kräly became Lubitsch's dramaturg, editing, adapting, and coscripting almost all the satires and comedies that built the director's reputation.
Kräly and Lubitsch satirized the American nouveau riche in Die Austerprinzessin, made an adaptation of E. T. A. Hoffmann's fable of an inventor's daughter masquerading as a robot as Die Puppe, and filmed Sumurun, the Arabian Nights pantomime/ballet in which Max Reinhardt launched Pola Negri. In Die Augen der Mummie Mâ, Emil Jannings played a religious visionary pursuing Negri around the world. Its success sparked the Negri/Jannings historical romances which made them Europe's biggest stars.
Cleverly manipulating literature and history, Kräly turned Anne Boleyn, Dubarry, and Carmen into archetypal Negri women—trashy, treacherous, irresistible. Intrigued in particular by Passion, Lubitsch and Kräly's version of the Dubarry story, Mary Pickford invited Lubitsch to America in 1922, and Kräly soon joined him. Asked to destroy forever Pickford's coy image, the partners, with Edward Knoblock, adapted a nineteenth-century Spanish romance into the Negri-esque story of a street girl who catches a king's eye. Tough Berlin humour fills Rosita. A scented handkerchief handed around her family is sniffed by everyone but a kid brother, who blows his nose on it, while, in a carnival scene, a girl whose lover has just been stabbed releases his corpse to embrace the killer with equal passion. Horrified, Pickford shelved Rosita, but Lubitsch and his team flourished.
Kräly wrote Negri's first American film, Forbidden Paradise, and followed it up with a version of The Student Prince with Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer. Both films sparkled with the visual double entendres that Hollywood (with no resistance from the director) now called "Lubitsch Touches." Kräly's contribution was seldom mentioned, despite the evidence of his scripts for The Eagle, a Russian comedy romance with Valentino, and The Garden of Eden, a romp through Hapsburg high life and low morals with Corinne Griffith as an ambitious actress on the loose among the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy. Both are as witty and sophisticated as anything by Lubitsch, yet they were directed by Clarence Brown and Lewis Milestone, respectively. Kräly also wrote The Kiss and Wild Orchids for Garbo, but Hollywood continued to credit Lubitsch alone with real genius.
Inevitably, the partnership ended. Eternal Love, in 1929, was their last film together. To be "liquidated by Lubitsch," as Josef von Sternberg put it, was no novelty, and it was Kräly's turn in 1931. The two men had a famous fist fight over a real or fancied affair with Lubitsch's wife, from which the writer emerged effectively black-listed. Ernest Vajda and Samson Raphaelson supplanted him on Lubitsch's sound films. Kräly went on to adapt Private Lives at MGM, and wrote the Deanna Durbin vehicle One Hundred Men and a Girl, but his credits dwindled. His last script, for a cheap horror film, was a squalid end to a distinguished, yet blighted career.