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Rembrandt

Rembrandt(1936)

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Remind Me

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The Hollywood Reporter review credits Lajos Biros [sic] and Carl Zuckmayer with the screenplay, although Biro's name does not appear in the onscreen credits, and it is unclear what contribution he made to the final script. Early Hollywood Reporter production charts list Sophie Stewart in the cast and credit Rene Hubert with costumes, although their contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Rembrandt was the first film to have a trailer projected on an airplane by television transmission. The projection took place on a fourteen-passenger flight bound for London. According to a modern source, this was the first film shot in its entirety at Korda's newly-acquired Denham Studios. According to Elsa Lanchester's biography, at the time that this film was made, it was rumored around Hollywood that if Laughton were cast, Lanchester, who was his wife, would have to be cast also. One biography of Laughton reports that Laughton insisted that Lanchester play "Hendrickje." Korda was opposed to the idea, but relented after being unable to find a suitable alternative. Before filming began, Lanchester was in a car accident in England. She sustained a deep cut above her left eyebrow, which prevented an inch of eyebrow from ever growing back. She writes that it "became a long race between [her] scar and Hendrickje Stoffels," but with the help of make-up, she was able to play the role.
       Lanchester states that when no folk song could be found to evoke "Hendrickje's" memory of flat land and windmills, she wrote one herself, after a drink of gin, in one hour; the melody was woven into the score and was called "Hendrickje's Theme." According to Lanchester, Gertrude Lawrence's ribald story-telling on the set caused Laughton to have a screen put around the set to keep away the "chattering and flittering" of her voice. Lanchester writes that Lawrence "despised films so much that she wouldn't even attempt to learn the words" and wrote her lines on the large white cuffs of her "Geertke Dirx" costume or on the back of a chair. Lanchester states that Korda and Laughton had considered showing several Rembrandt paintings on the screen, but "realized that the dramatic interest of the story lay in the creative needs that drove Rembrandt to paint." Believing that the actual paintings would only remind the audience that Laughton was not a painter, it was decided that the camera should show Laughton painting at an easel, but never show the actual brush touching the canvas. According to a Laughton biography, Laughton had set designer Vincent Korda and costume designer John Armstrong teach him how to create the illusion of painting. Lanchester reports in her autobiography that Laughton visited Holland several times before shooting began and went to every museum that had Rembrandt paintings.
       According to a biography, Laughton added the Bible readings to Zuckmayer's script. The biography also notes that Korda's sets and Georges Perinal's lighting were based on "Rembrandtesque principles of rooms illuminated by a north light." According to his biography, Laughton told many reviewers "that Korda had not had the courage to reveal the true horror of Rembrandt's existence." Laughton reportedly begged Korda to include a scene in which Rembrandt had to sell his first wife's grave in order to pay for his marriage to his second wife, but Korda refused Laughton's request. The speech Laughton recites about women that began, "There was a man in the land of Uz," was written by Zuckmayer. Lanchester states that following the film's release, thousands of people requested a copy of the speech. It was printed in full in Hedda Hopper's column in the Los Angeles Times on September 9, 1948 in response to requests for her "memorable scenes" column. Modern sources list Richard Angst as photographer with Perinal, and include Wilfrid Hyde-White in the cast. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter on June 4, 1985, a nitrate print of this film was restored by the National Film Archive. A Dutch film based on Rembrandt's life, made in 1977 by Jos Stelling Film Produkties, was called Rembrandt-Fecit 1669. It was directed by Jos Stelling and starred Frans Stelling and Ton de Koff. Korda's Rembrandt was re-issued in 1943.