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JackFavell

Paul Lukas

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Paul Lukas has got to be THE most underrated actor of all time.

 

In my younger years, I never paid too much attention to him - yes, I thought he was great in *Watch on the Rhine*, but other than that, I didn't know much about his career.

 

Then I got TCM, and over the last two years, I've seen him in pre-codes like *Downstairs* and *Captured* ; and mid thirties films like *The Casino Murder Case* and *I Found Stella Parish*.

 

This morning I awoke to find him in *Address Unknown*. I didn't get to watch most of it due to family stuff like getting the kid off to school, and a furnace on the fritz.

 

I do hope that someone else saw this amazing performance, because if I had not been literally pulled away because of these obligations, I would have sat fascinated for every minute of this film. Lukas was so fine, never stagey or overdone, his sense of increasing panic was played with such chilling reality, that I found I must start a thread showing my appreciation. I wish I had recorded it.

 

Born in Hungary, under the name Lukacs Pal, he started his career there, becoming famous in as a light comedian and leading man. In Germany and Austria, he worked with Max Reinhardt, as did so many of his contemporaries.

He came to the U.S. In 1927, and became a citizen in 1933.

 

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I agree with you, completely.

 

*ADDRESS UNKNOWN* should be held in much higher esteem than it seems to be. The story, acting and direction are flawless and the design/cinematography are superb. William Cameron Menzies had a remarkably artistic eye. K.T. Stevens was great in her first role. The only negative comment I'd make is the score was a bit much at times; but nontheless, it was a very good pic. Lucas was excellent.

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Ah, visualfeast - I meant to record it but forgot to set up the recorder last night ... what a shame! I could kick myself.

 

I missed the end, but I saw the scenes in which he was interrogated by the German Baron about the letters. When he begged Elsa (well played by Mady Christians) to take his own letter (begging Max to stop writing to him) with her as she leaves him, it was so telling. He knows he has been awful, and why she is leaving, but instead of begging her for forgiveness, he cravenly begs her to take the letter that he thinks will keep him in good with the Nazis! And Lukas makes you understand it.... even as you abhor what he is doing.

 

I had to leave after the Baron came back to say that his wife had been interrogated. I was sure she was going to be held by the Nazis, but they didn't. The letter had been torn up, leaving Martin to dangle...

 

All in all, it was an amazing film, and the image of Lukas' fearful face is imprinted on my mind.

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Funny that you should mention Paul Lukas and specifically, "Captured". I had the chance to see it recently on TCM and although not very impressed by the movie, I enjoyed Lukas tremendously. In what was a small part in terms of screen time, he gave the most interesting performance in the movie. And when the stars are Leslie Howard and Douglas Fairbanks Jr, that's saying a lot.

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I liked Paul Lukas in GRAND SLAM (1933) a comedy about playing bridge! Loretta Young co-stars as his wife and bridge partner. It would seem that a comedy about bridge playing would be all that interesting, but the dialogue in this film is a hoot. The next time TCM shows this, don't miss it!

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I agree - Lukas was fascinating in *Captured* - he had that bad/good thing going on, and the brotherly comeraderie he shared with Howard made him sympathetic. The two understood one another. I was actually amazed to see such a performance so early - Hollywood didn't get back to these kind of semi-rounded characters in war movies till the sixties.

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Thanks, Scottman! I will definitely keep an eye out for it... maybe I'll even brave the suggest-a-movie site and put in a good word for Grand Slam. It sounds like my kind of movie....

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With the discussion of Paul Lukas going on, I had to visit IMDB to refresh my memory of his work. It's pretty amazing how many movies he made and how few I've actually seen. Each one I did recognize contained a memorable performance and several unfamiliar titles look interesting. Seems like I say it a lot in my posts, but another actor who was somewhat unappreciated because of his consistently good work.

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I know....think how many fewer we'd have seen without TCM......two others that appear quite often are *Berlin Express* - he's really wonderful and unexpected in it... and *Dodsworth.*

 

And of course *The Lady Vanishes*.... but although he is good in it, and I love the movie, it isn't a favorite Lukas role for me.

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It's hard to believe but I have never seen "The Lady Vanishes", but will certainly watch for it in the listings now.

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A couple of other early Paul Lukas performances to check out are CITY STREETS (1931), he plays such a rotter in that one (it also has Gary Cooper and Sylvia Sidney in it too!) and STRICTLY DISHONORABLE (1931) which has a wonderful Preston Sturges script. TCM ran STRICTLY DISHONORABLE about 12 or 13 years ago. I hope since TCM has a deal with Universal that perhaps we will get to see both titles (CITY STREETS is a Paramount film).

TCM does on occasion show DOWNSTAIRS (1932) and one gets the pleasure of watching both Paul Lukas and John Gilbert. :)

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Didn't *City Streets* just get released? Or am I thinking of another Cooper film? Maybe I just thought it was coming out because TCM showed it a little while ago. I would love to see it, and I had no idea that Lukas was in it.... Thanks for the tip!

 

I think *Strictly Dishonorable* was on a couple of years ago on TCM, but I missed it. I should have recorded it, but I was a new TCM subscriber and I guess I thought it would be on again... DUH.

 

*Downstairs* is a hoot! Poor Lukas! What a well written story - by John Gilbert himself. Makes you wish he had done more writing.

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CITY STREETS hasn't run yet on TCM. Lukas plays a mob boss in this one. This is also one of the few films you 'll ever see Guy Kibbee play a real scumbag rather than the dithering old duffer that he made such a great career portraying.

 

You may be thinking of the 1951 remake of STRICTLY DISHONORABLE. I believe that has run on TCM in the recent past.

 

I agree with you I wish that John Gilbert had done more writing and I wish he was allowed to try his hand at directing.

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I must have been thinking of *Street Scene*.... sorry!

 

and Strictly Dishonorable WAS probably the 51 remake, which explains why I lost interest or fell asleep or went to do something else. I can't imagine having the 31 version on and not watching it. I read the play once, but really wanted to see it on the screen.

 

There's an *Address Unknown* thread here, in case someone didn't see it already:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/jive/tcm/thread.jspa?threadID=151081&tstart=0

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