Nationality: Austrian/British. Born: Adolf Wohlbrück in Vienna, Austria, 19 November 1896; became British citizen, 1947. Education: Studied acting at the Max Reinhardt theater school. Career: Appeared on German-language stage; 1922—film debut in Mater Dolorosa, but made few films until the sound period, when his voice made him a popular leading man; from 1937—made films in England; also appeared on the stage in England. Awards: Deutscher Filmpreis (as Adolf Wohlbrück), 1967. Died: In Munich, 9 August 1967.
Films as Actor:
Mater Dolorosa (von Bovary)
Das Geheimnis auf Schloss Almshoh (Der Fluch der Bosen Tat) (Obal)
Der Stolz der 3 Kompagnie (Sauer); Salto Mortale (Trapeze) (Dupont) (as Robbie); Cinq gentilshommes maudits (Duvivier)
Drei von der Stempelstelle (Thiele); Baby (Lamac)
Walzerkrieg (Waltz Time in Vienna) (Berger); Keine Angst vor Liebe (Steinhoff); Viktor and Viktoria (Schunzel)
Der vertauschte Brant (Lamac); Maskerade (Masquerade in Vienna) (Forst) (as Heidinick); Eine Frau, die weiss was sie will (Janson); Die englische Heirat (Schunzel) (as Robert); Regine (Waschneck) (as Frank Reynold)
Zigeuner-baron (Harth); Der Student von Prag (Robison) (as Balduin); Ich war Jack Mortimer (Froelich)
Allotria (Forst); Michael Strogoff (Der Kurier des Zaren) (Eichberg) (title role); The Soldier and the Lady (Michael Strogoff) (Nicholls) (as Strogoff); I Give My Life (Port Arthur; Orders from Tokyo) (Farkas) (as Boris)
Victoria the Great (Wilcox) (as Prince Albert); The Rat (Raymond) (as Jean Boucheron, title role)
Sixty Glorious Years (Queen Victoria; Queen of Destiny) (Wilcox) (as Prince Albert)
Gaslight (Angel Street) (Dickinson) (as Paul Mallen)
49th Parallel (The Invaders) (Powell and Pressburger) (as Peter); Dangerous Moonlight (Suicide Squadron) (Hurst) (as Stefan Radetzky)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Colonel Blimp) (Powell and Pressburger) (as Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff)
The Man from Morocco (Max Greene and Greenbaum) (as Karel Langer)
The Red Shoes (Powell and Pressburger) (as Boris Lermontov); The Queen of Spades (Dickinson) (as Herman Suvotin)
La Ronde (Circle of Love) (Max Ophüls) (as Master of Ceremonies); König für eine Nacht (May)
Wien tantz (Vienna Waltzes; Wiener Walzer) (Reinert) (as Johann Strauss); Le Plaisir (House of Pleasure) (Max Ophüls) (as narrator of German version)
L'Affaire Maurizius (Duvivier) (as Warenne)
Oh, Rosalinda! (Fledermaus '55) (Powell and Pressburger) (as Dr. Falke); Lola Montès (The Sins of Lola Montès; The Fall of Lola Montès) (Max Ophüls) (as King Ludwig I of Bavaria)
Saint Joan (Preminger) (as Cauchon); I Accuse! (Ferrer) (as Maj. Esterhazy)
Laura (Franz Josef Wild—for TV)
By WALBROOK: articles—
Interviews, in Picturegoer (London), 25 September 1937 and 27 April 1940.
On WALBROOK: articles—
Film Weekly, 25 December 1937.
Obituary in Times (London), 10 August 1967.
Films in Review (New York), December 1967.
Ciné Revue (Paris), 2 February 1978.
Films and Filming (London), March 1978.
* * *
For most filmgoers, Anton Walbrook is associated, more than any other role, with the ballet impresario Boris Lermontov in The Red Shoes. A slim, straight Diaghilev, Lermontov views ballet as his "religion." He reserves the roles of the virgin consort for Moira Shearer, who, no less dedicated, dances herself literally to death for him and her art. The expressionless Walbrook, whether watching Shearer dance Swan Lake to records in a London church hall or summoning her to an overgrown Riviera chateau to reveal her elevation to stardom, defined a vision of the aesthete/saint for whom art is all, and more than enough.
Queen Victoria's consort Prince Albert established the image of the refined and cultured Continental gentleman in the British popular consciousness. Walbrook, who played Albert twice on screen, sustained and explored it. His Polish bomber pilot/pianist in Dangerous Moonlight made him the star he had never been in Austria. Richard Addinsell's thundering Warsaw Concerto on the soundtrack expressed the passion and sensitivity of the tortured émigré in a way that instantly captivated audiences.
Powell and Pressburger soon incorporated Walbrook into their stock company. In 49th Parallel he led a Mennonite community in Canada with Christlike self-effacement. In The Life and Death ofColonel Blimp he played Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff, the classic "good German"—aristocratic, English-speaking, polite, anti-Nazi, Beethoven-loving—to Roger Livesey's equally stylized Briton. In Thorold Dickinson's The Queen of Spades and Powell's Oh, Rosalinda! based on Die Fledermaus, he was no less well-bred.
In 1950 Walbrook capped a career as observer of the vagaries of emotion by playing the weary meneur de jeu of Ophüls's La Ronde, cynically overseeing the interlocking romances of Schnitzler's lovers. Walbrook is buried in a shady corner of north London's tiny Hampstead Cemetery, fitting interment for an actor who personified European style and good manners for the British.