Rembrandt (1936)

81 or 85-86 mins | Drama | 25 December 1936

Full page view
HISTORY

The HR 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 HR 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 HR 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 ...

More Less

The HR 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 HR 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 HR 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 LAT on 9 Sep 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 HR on 4 Jun 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.

Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
HISTORY CREDITS
CREDIT TYPE
CREDIT
Personal note credit:
Corporate note credit:
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Dec 1936
p. 3
Film Daily
21 Nov 1936
p. 7
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1936
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 1936
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 1936
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 1936
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 1936
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
4-Jun-85
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Sep 1948
p. 23
Motion Picture Herald
31 Oct 1936
p. 8, p. 16-17
Motion Picture Herald
21 Nov 1936
p. 51, 54
Motion Picture Herald
30 Nov 1936
pp. 16-17
New York Times
3 Dec 1936
p. 31
Variety
18 Nov 1936
p. 12
Variety
9 Dec 1936
p. 12
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Alexander Korda Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITERS
Carl Zuckmayer
Film play by
Scen by
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Set des
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Francis Lyon
Film ed
Supv film ed
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
A. Fisher
Sd rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Special eff dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Unit mgr
SOURCES
SONGS
"Hendrickje's Theme," music and lyrics by Elsa Lanchester.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 December 1936
Premiere Information:
London premiere: 6 Nov 1936; International premiere: 4 Dec 1936
Production Date:
early Jun--mid Sep 1936 at Denham Studios, England
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
London Film Productions, Ltd.
27 November 1936
LP6882
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
81 or 85-86
Length(in reels):
9
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1642 in Leyden, Holland, Rembrandt van Rijn, a painter and miller's son, experiences the death of his beloved wife Saskia and, during her funeral, finishes her portrait before her face fades for him forever. Later, while working on a painting commissioned by Captain Banning Cocq, Rembrandt depicts the sixteen gentlemen of the civic guard as disfigured. After humiliating them at a public unveiling of the painting, Rembrandt refuses to apologize and loses the portrait commissions that had assured his income. Still racked with grief about Saskia's death, Rembrandt longs for another wife and marries the cold and shrewish Geertje Dirx. Ten years following Saskia's death, Rembrandt has become bankrupt, and his house and its furnishing are sold at auction. He then paints a beggar and tells him the Biblical story of David and Saul. Geertje harangues Rembrandt about their poverty, and he learns that Govaert Flinck, an old student of his, is now making a handsome living painting aristocrats. Rembrandt, however, refuses to compromise his art for money. Because the king was once Rembrandt's patron, Rembrandt finally agrees to see the prince, but goes instead to his father's mill in Leyden and reads from the Bible at dinner. When he returns to Amsterdam, he meets his new housemaid, Hendrickje Stoffels, and paints her portrait. Jealous of Rembrandt's attentions toward the kind and beautiful maid, Geertje threatens her. Rembrandt is intent on marrying her, but knows that half of Geertje's money will go to Rembrandt's son Titus if he remarries. When Hendrickje becomes pregnant, Geertje charges her with "unchastity, concubinage and immoral conduct." Hendrickje is tried before a jury of Lutheran elders ...

More Less

In 1642 in Leyden, Holland, Rembrandt van Rijn, a painter and miller's son, experiences the death of his beloved wife Saskia and, during her funeral, finishes her portrait before her face fades for him forever. Later, while working on a painting commissioned by Captain Banning Cocq, Rembrandt depicts the sixteen gentlemen of the civic guard as disfigured. After humiliating them at a public unveiling of the painting, Rembrandt refuses to apologize and loses the portrait commissions that had assured his income. Still racked with grief about Saskia's death, Rembrandt longs for another wife and marries the cold and shrewish Geertje Dirx. Ten years following Saskia's death, Rembrandt has become bankrupt, and his house and its furnishing are sold at auction. He then paints a beggar and tells him the Biblical story of David and Saul. Geertje harangues Rembrandt about their poverty, and he learns that Govaert Flinck, an old student of his, is now making a handsome living painting aristocrats. Rembrandt, however, refuses to compromise his art for money. Because the king was once Rembrandt's patron, Rembrandt finally agrees to see the prince, but goes instead to his father's mill in Leyden and reads from the Bible at dinner. When he returns to Amsterdam, he meets his new housemaid, Hendrickje Stoffels, and paints her portrait. Jealous of Rembrandt's attentions toward the kind and beautiful maid, Geertje threatens her. Rembrandt is intent on marrying her, but knows that half of Geertje's money will go to Rembrandt's son Titus if he remarries. When Hendrickje becomes pregnant, Geertje charges her with "unchastity, concubinage and immoral conduct." Hendrickje is tried before a jury of Lutheran elders and is ex-communicated from the church. A forced sale of Rembrandt's property drives him and Hendrickje into the country. When he sells a painting of the Blessed Virgin to an art buyer for the cardinal in Paris, the court purloins his paintings for his creditors, claiming that he has no right to sell his own work. Hendrickje cunningly becomes Rembrandt's art dealer and the official owner of his paintings and is able to sell them. Hendrickje then gets sick from nursing their baby and sends the child to her mother. In light of Hendrickje's failing health, Rembrandt decides to marry her and, as Titus arrives with his bride, Rembrandt sends for the baby and Hendrickje's mother. He then paints Hendrickje's portrait as he did when they met, and she falls dead while posing. Years later, in 1669, Rembrandt has become a beggar and recites profound words to a group of young painters, who finally recognize him. He then begins a self-portrait, muttering the Biblical words of King Solomon, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

Less

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

Night Moves

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Matt Stepanski, a student at ... >>

Stagecoach

The American folk songs adapted for the score included the traditional ballads "Lily Dale," "Rosa Lee," "Joe Bowers," "Joe the Wrangler," "She's More to Be Pitied Than Censured," "She ... >>

The Sound of Music

The onscreen title reads "Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music."
       The Sound of Music was adapted from the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.