mandag 3. november 2014
Sonja in the movie no one talks about; EVERYTHING HAPPENS AT NIGHT 1939 - She plays the daughter of a Nobel-laureate who survived an assassination attempt by the Nazis .... but then when they realize he has survived, Gestapo hunts them again
Over the years I have become more and more frustrated and annoyed over the Nazi accusations against Sonja Henie!
Amateur Reporters google her name along with Hitler and find a picture where she greets him after the show in 1936.
She makes Nazi salutes before and after her Olympic appearance at the 1936 Garmisch Partenkirchen ... it may be because she never got a Norwegian judge on the panel - a fact she was entitled to...
We forget back home that already in 1930, Sonja Henie was a global superstar. She appeared throughout Europe and the United States - and she filled all the stadiums so there were queues of people who wanted in ......
Just as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Madonna and Frank Sinatra, she was an institution ....
Since she was little she wanted and did learn ONE thing ---- to be the best in figure-skating! In her book "My life's adventures" (1938, revised 1954) - Wings on Feet in the US, she can not repeat enough how devoted she is to be the best at whatever she's doing ....
I am not writing this to defend her nature .... She was the one she was .... But she was brought up and came to live in her own world - her own bubble. And doesn`t thousands of men and women live like that and meet respect and admiration for the very fact?... Her father trained her to be like a ox.... If she had been a male her efforts would surely have been more appreciated!
I think you have to think of her as a man and when you do - however sad you may think it is - it`s much easier for the general individual to accept her goals and achivements,,,, Women have always found rewards and respect much more scarce than men....
Several people have written that she was politically naive ---- We should not forget that Our peaceloving King Olav V, wrote as a Crownprince, to his cousins Edward and Albert in the British royal family that he was concerned for Russia, hoping for a collaboration between Hitler -Germany and England. This was in 1935.
Tor Bomann-Larsen said it was not unnatural that the crown prince had this view.
- At that time it was not sensational. It was a Peace of hope. The intention was the best, but it was also a blindness to the present, he said.
Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha also attended the wedding of King Carl Gustaf parents Koburg in Germany as the only other European royals.
- The city had a Nazi municipal council before Adolf Hitler in power. Hitler had been there two days before the wedding took place and was appointed honorary citizen of the city mayor who also stood for the ceremony of the Swedish Royal. Source: Skavlan, television show in 2011.
We should not forget Neville Chamberlain's "Peace of our time" in 1938:
Munich Agreement, Munich settlement, agreement in Munich on 30 sept. 1938 between France, Italy, UK and Germany (represented by Daladier, Mussolini, Chamberlain and Hitler) the surrender of the sudetenland areas of Czechoslovakia to Germany. They should be filled in stages by German troops 1.-10. October. An international commission should determine the final boundaries and designate areas where it would be held referendum. In addition Chamberlain and Daladier declared that they maintained the offer to guarantee Czechoslovakia's new borders.
Hitler and Mussolini would join the warranty as soon as the Polish and Hungarian minority issues were settled. Chamberlain and Hitler eastward also a declaration that the Munich Agreement and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement symbolized the parties desire never to go to war against each other, and that they would consult on all important questions. Czechoslovakia was submitted to the final agreement, without being consulted, and had to silently agree.
Source; Great Norwegian Encyclopedia
Meanwhile, Sonja Henie was in Hollywood. The name alone ensured that she starred and got top-billing at 20th Century-Fox. With the first film, One in a Million in 1936, she entered the top 10 list of America's most popular and moneymaking stars.
Sonja wanted more than to be in musicals, she craved to play serious roles too .... But until 1939, she had only shown allure and dimples.... Bodil Stenseth writes in her 2002 Henie biography that Sonja was tested for the role of Scarlett O`Haras in Gone With the Wind .... when you know that little about film history there is a reason why the book - in my case - remained in the shelf....
Anyway gave Darryl F Zanuck her a chance in 1939 that is totally forgotten in the Norwegian media:
On December 22 1939 "Everything Happens at Night" has its premiere ... Sonja is the star and supported by Ray Milland (known from The Lost Weekend-Oscar 1945), Dial M for Murder (with Grace Kelly) & Love Story - and Robert Cummings (also Dial M for Murder, Saboteur and Kings Raw).
But this time - a year before Chaplin premieres with The Great Dictator, three years before MGM sends out Mrs Miniver - Sonja plays the daughter of a Nobel Peace Prize winner who must live in hiding after the Nazis failed an assassination attempt against him in Warsaw.
Gestapo are on track and chase him and daughter ....
Would really Sonja Henie take the lead role in such a film where her father is a man of Peace and a antifascist; She even has monologue about the value of democracy. Would she do that if she was a Nazi? It has been suggested that she and Hitler were close friends .... Would she show such disloyalty to a friend - or would she have provoked him? This was long before Norway was attacked.... It wouldn`t have been in her interest.
Hitler is one of the most documented men in history and his romances, mistresses and eventually wife(Eva Braun)is well documented. Sonja`s name is not among them! Still Vivi-Ann Hulten(a Swedish figure skater who won the bronze medal at 1936 Olympics) insulted her own intelligence and from the mid 90s claimed Henie was Hitler`s girlfriend!
Would Sonja Henie carry a film With a anti-nazi content? With the status she had until she passed away, she was in the absolute highest of social circles. She mingled with royalty and heads of state ----- When she hears that Thin Ice isn`t released in Germany while she is in Norway in 1937, she takes the phone and speaks to Goebbels ....
Strange you think? When Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Martha, visits the United States in 1939, they include Sonja as a natural part of the visit and witness the filming of a scene where she cries in "Second Fiddle". Olav laughs as the director asks Sonja to provide more feeling into her tears hehe
Both Crown Prince Olav and Sonja most afraid and suspect of the Bolsheviks ..... And was it not because of the time they actually grew up in? We must not put things out of context and judge too quickly ...
In the next film for Fox - Sun Valley Serenade (1941), she plays a Norwegian refugee who has lost everything in Norway and is seeking asylum in the United States. Iceland 1942 and the 1943 Wintertime are also movies where war is the backdrop .... The last three are not preachy movies with great dramatic tension - no they have not trembling reputation today, although Sun Valley Serenade appear worldwide today - now on DVD and Blueray.
But these films had a star name in Sonja Henie and was seen as propaganda movies! These films were seen throughout the free world, but not in Norway because of the content - in other words, they were banned!
This is never mentioned.
The thing that always comes up is that she calls her housekeeper at Landøya after April 9 and asks her to put a photo of her and Hitler on the piano ----- Nazis come to confiscate the property and running down her dog,,, But when they see the Picture they are leaving the scene and never come back
Another legend that has been cemented is that Sonja did not own any acting talent. But the comic flair and timing she shows in these last films is noteworthy! She learned through experience. She dances with Cesar Romero and Don Loper in Wintertime and It`s a Pleasure (1945) and contrary to what Norwegian critics believe, she is certainly in her element. Too bad there was never a movie with Fred Astaire, although I have a clip from the 70s where he presents her and her outstanding career. The man is full of admiration.
Little Norway in Canada requests the assistance of Sonja before Pearl Harbour 1941. Can she donate or hold a show to raise funds for new aircraft? But she responds that since she is now an American citizen she feels it difficult to do so ... She encloses a Picture of herself - "The handsome Norwegian airmen - I'm proud of you" ---- The picture is hung upside down face in against the Wall.
What we forget is that Neutral United States was not eager to provoke Hitler. The government started giving the pointed finger to the Hollywood studios so they would not let Der Fuhrer be unnecessarily provoked.
The producer Alexander Korda came to Hollywood to make propaganda film about Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton. The result was Winston Churchill's favorite film, That Hamilton Woman (played by Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh)
Korda was summoned to the Senate Subcommittee (Senate Foreign Relations) just before the bombing of Pearl Harbour was a fact. However, the attack soon afterwards, saved him from being deported. From then on - The US was not neutral anymore ....
When America was no longer neutral, Sonja pulled in uniform and visited and gave money to Little Norway. All Norwegians got free tickets to her shows during the war and repeatedly paid and held parties for them.
After the war, Sonja feels that the Norwegians do not like her anymore since she has built up her empire while her countrymen were suffering ... But then she comes to the Jordal Amphitheatre in 1953 and holds 33 shows.....The Norwegians go crazy and set up buses throughout the territory and 360,000 people watch the show ---- in 1955 she is back and holds a full house for 3 weeks ...
What is important here is that King Haakon and his whole Family came and saw Sonja .... Norwegians looks boundlessly up to the King after the war and they watch who he shows up for and who he doesn`t.
Though she did not deserve it, the King refused the same year (1953) to be included in the Bergen International Festival when Kirsten Flagstad was set to appear. In the end they both were there, but not simultaneously.
Sonja Henie and Kirsten Flagstad in Paramount studios in 1937 - Kirsten played in his only film; THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1938 where she performs Brunhilde`s Battlecry.
Norway has been hard on their female artists .... Flagstad wanted to Return from the States to her husband and went to occupied Norway .... She refused all offers to act --- but she was still nazi declared. Sonja Wigert, Zarah Leander and Sonja Henie were also streaked after the war ..... The men were "forgiven their sins," ladies to lesser extent.
If female artists made an effort - such as Sonja Wigerts case - she must also be Terboven mistress? (She provoked a risk when she flirted her father free from the Grini camp and gave Terboven information that the Swedish general staff had given her - but that was of little value. So the nazis planted Nazi-tied-rumours out about Sonja. But even though she was cleared, she was never given the official gratitude as her male counterparts did.)
In other words; If these women did something - was it wrong .... they did nothing, it was also wrong ...
Sonja wrote in 1954 that as the Olympics in Garmisch Partenkirchen were of such outstanding quality that even Hollywood would have been numb with admiration ---- She mentions nothing about the fascist aspect, but vouches for how well organized it all was ... .
She actually forgot to be human as we know it... she was a product ... and she enjoyed herself in the role .... As a woman many feel it is not appropriate.... There must be something suspicious, tacky or right Down illegal that a woman of that time became number one in any Field she ever entered. Had she been a man however, her energy, talent and business ventures would have been applauded!
To the last she was a competitor in everything she did .... But for me she is not a negative person ---- For me she is a role model in that you to "go to the head" when you have a problem (advice from father Wilhelm Henie) ... she is a role model of what she succeeded and made in her life ---- She was indeed a fighter!!
lørdag 1. november 2014
"Til Lykke" Sonja`s greetings, hands and a skateprint in front of the Chinese Theatre 1937 - my friend Karin Mustvedt-Pluss 2013
Sonja and Michael O`Shea in It`s a Pleasure 1945 - photographed by Ray Rennahan -who won an Oscar for Gone With The Wind
In her Hollywood years 1936-1948 - she starred in 11 films. In the years 1936-1939 she was among the top 10 of the Hollywood stars and top salaried.... Indeed - within 10 years she was the wealthiest woman in America.
Sonja Henie was taught to be competetive from an early age----- She was taken out of School after only 4 years - and thus - this was her core all through her life-- As Such - her contract and starbilling demands With 20th Century-Fox`s Darryl F Zanuck - are legendary. Result? A tough colloboration..... It has been suggested that the reason Zanuck never gave her Technicolor was because of her high salaries.....
When she seemed to be a has been(Hollywood is ruthless) by 1941, Production chief Darryl F Zanuck sold her ice rink to Republic.
But when he saw the rushes of her swansong, Sun Valley Serenade, he realised he had a blockbuster and regrettably had to renew her contract for two more films(Iceland 1942 & Wintertime 1943....)
Today Sun Valley Serenade is remembered as one of the greatest Musicals ever to come out of Hollywood.
One should also never forget some of her other films as well - Thin Ice 1937, Happy Landing - My Lucky Star (both)1938 and Second Fiddle 1939. They show Sonja at her best and With 20th Century-Fox giving her the best of co-stars and Production values.
After the Fox years - she starred in International`s IT`s a Pleasure in Technicolor -showcasing some of her best numbers, but
regrettebly a weak performance as an actress.... By 1948 - International had merged With Universal; and she made excellent acting With Olga San Juan in the comedy The Countess of Monte Christo. It was not on her usual Budget and she never made another Hollywood film, but a semidocumentary in UK - Hello London in 1958. The numbers were Nice and she still had her charisma and timing - but the rest - let there be silence.
Just to make my point - here are 11 films produced and released the years Sonja`s Hollywood films came out - and many of her cast, craftsmen, crew and friends are all featured in them:
1. Friend Clark Gable - his widow became her closest friend - SAN FRANCISCO 1936
2. SNOW-WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS 1937 - Disney showcased Sonja in the 1939 cartoon With Donald Duck - The Autograph Hound
3. THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD 1938 - includes supporting cast from Thin Ice 1937 - Alan Hale & Melville Cooper
4. Clark Gable - GONE WITH THE WIND 1939 - 1939 and photographed by Ray Rennahan(he did Sonja`s only Technicolor film - It`s a Pleasure 1945)
5. THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939 - Judy Garland - Buddy Ebsen(the original Tin Man - replaced by Jack Haley because of his allergy to Heavy make-up and costume - starred With Sonja in My Lucky Star 1938 - he still sings "We`re Off To See The Wizard on the soundtrack)
6. THAT HAMILTON WOMAN 1941 screen play by Walter Reisch who also wrote the story of The Countess of Monte Christo 1948
7. SUN VALLEY SERENADE 1941- Sonja`s top film and still screened all over the world!
8. CASABLANCA 1942 - Ingrid Bergman as Norwegian Ilsa Lund - S.Z. Zakall supports in this and Sonja`s 1943 film - Wintertime.
9. PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 1943 - Fritz Feld - supporting her in Everything Happens at Night 1939
10. THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY 1945 - my own favorite from the era
11. EASTER PARADE 1948 - Judy Garland - Irving Berlin who wrote the score for her film Second Fiddle 1939
from right; Alan Hale, Melville Cooper(both in The Adventures of Robin Hood) With Sonja in Thin Ice 1937
Walter Reisch - who co-wrote That Hamilton Woman and was behind the story of The Countess of Monte Christo
Buddy Ebsen as The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz - before replaced through sickness.... Richard Greene, Sonja & Buddy Ebsen(in the car window) - My Lucy Star
Ray Rennahan and Rhonda Fleming - he photographed It`s a Pleasure and co-photographed Gone With The Wind
Sonja With her co-star in two films - Thin Ice & Second Fiddle - Tyrone Power - The Man That Got Away
Sonja 1968 With Sonja Haraldsen, King Olav V and Princess Astrid.... only a year later he attended Sonja`s funeral