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Marc Allégret
© Danièle Allégret-Rosch

Emile COHL
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Alice GUY
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Adolphe OSSO
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Max Glass

Max Glass was born June 12, 1881 (or 1880, according to some sources) in Jaroslaw (Jawarow), in Oriental Galicia in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The youngest of 5 children, Max arrived as a young boy in Vienna with his parents Hersh Mendel, a Talmud scholar and jeweler and his mother Rachel - known as Rosa - Wachsmann, whose parents were from Krakow. In 1905, Max Glass' Ph.D in philosophy, obtained at the University of Vienna, was published by Strecker and Schröder in Stuttgart under the title "Klassiche und romantishe Satire" (Satire classique et romantique/Classical and romantic satire).

On July 9th 1908, Max Glass married Helene Münz (originally Münzdorf), from the Viennese suburb Pötzleinsdorf, one year his senior. Like Max, she was a Doctor in philosophy. The couple had two sons, Paul, born on May 18, 1909 and Georges, born on October 19th, 1917.

At the turn of the century, only about 5000 students were enrolled at the University of Vienna, half of them at the Faculty of Law. Several professors, dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge, took the initiative of organizing classes for adults in what came to be known as "Volksbildungsbewegung" (Mouvement pour l'éducation populaire/mouvement for popular education). Among the leaders of this movement, one finds two lay Jews Ludo Moritz Hartmann (1865-1924), son of Bohemian poet Mortiz Hartmann, and Moritz Szeps, Chief editor of "Neues Wiener Tageblatt", one of the major progressive daily newspapers in Vienna. In 1900, Hartmann and Szeps help found the "Volksheim" (Maison du peuple/House of the people) where workers were enrolled in evening classes. Max Glass contributed several articles to the weekly "Wissen für Alle" (Savoir pour tous/Knowledge for all), a "synthesis of contemporary knowledge" edited by Moritz Szeps. He also wrote and had several novels published.

After the second world war, Max Glass moved to Berlin where he devoted himself to script writing , to directing and producing films. Berlin was the Mecca for Austrians whose intellectuals suffered from an inferiority complex, exemplified by a passage in a letter written in 1914 by Arthur Schnitzler to his sister-in-law " … the expression "real Austrian" has a derogatory connotation, whereas the associations brought forth by anything "German" are of the order of nobility, strength and beauty".

In Berlin, Max Glass' second novel "Die entfesselte Mescheit" (L'humanité déchaînée/Humanity unleashed) was brought to the screen by Joseph Delmont in 1920, in a Max Nivelli production.. Max Glass rapidly entered production himself and rose to the head of the Terra Film. According to German journalist Georg Fuchs, Terra Film owed its rise to international recognition to Max Glass, sometimes nicknamed "the dictator of cinema" because of his iron will.

Max Glass (on the right)

In 1928 Max Glass started up his own production company, Max Glass Film Produktion GmbH, at Friedrichstrasse 221 in Berlin. His first two productions that same year were signed by Robert Wiene : "Leontines Ehemänner" (Les maris de Leontine/Leontine's husbands) and "Unfug der Liebe" (Les farces de l'amour/Love's pranks). The following year, he took on Maurice Tourneur to direct "Das Schiff der verlorenen Menschen" (Le navire des hommes perdus/Ship of lost Men), starring Marlene Dietrich, Robin Irvine, Gaston Modot, Fritz Kortner and Wladimir Sokoloff. Before Hitler came to power in 1933, Max Glass produced another 8 films, some of them by the second production/distribution company he had set up in 1929, the Kristall Film also located at Friedrichstrasse 221 in Berlin. Like Max Glass Film Produktion GmbH, the Kristall Film was owned by Max Glass.

Many of the films produced and distributed by these companies were eventually banished from any commercial success or even from any commercial distribution, as the racial laws tightened. Not only was Max Glass a Jew (his conversion to Catholicism dating back to his youth in Vienna and his efforts at assimilation were to no avail), but several of the actors that appeared in his films were too, like for example Szöke Szakall, Helga Molander and Grete Mosheim. In 1933, both companies were shut down and Max Glass went into exile in Paris, where he founded yet another production company, Flora Films. With the help of his eldest son Paul, he produced, in the early 1930s, a series of films such as "La Rosière des Halles," "L'Auberge du Petit Dragon," and "La Reine des Resquilleuses." Certain scripts were signed "E. Raymond, Budapest", pseudonym and fictional origin Max Glass sometimes used.

Harry Baur et Michelle Chantal dans
"La tragédie impériale"
de Marcel L'Herbier - 1938
© M. Glass
In 1937 Max Glass and his two sons created a second French production and distribution company called Arcadia Films. It undertook two super-productions, "La Tragédie Impériale" with Harry Baur in the role of Rasputin, and "Entente Cordiale" (1939) after the novel by André Maurois. Both films were directed by Marcel L'Herbier.

On November 23, 1939, a decree granted Max Glass his French citizenship. On September 2, 1942 the Vichy Government issued another decree, bearing the number 2718, stripping him of his French citizenship. But by then, he had already departed for Brazil, then the United States.

Little is known of his sojourns in Brazil and the U.S. He seems to essentially have devoted himself to writing. In 1947, the American Beechurst Press released "Liberation from Yesterday", under the name of Max Glass-Plesching Ph.D. (Plesching was the name of the Austrian village where Max Glass had acquired a country estate before his departure for Berlin in the early twenties) The 672 page volume of this book contains a detailed geo-political survey of the planet, no references whatsoever to cinema, art history or personal hazards….

Upon returning to France after the war, Max Glass discovered that during his exile his companies, Flora Films and Arcadia Films, had been declared bankrupt and dissolved by a provisional administrator on May 28, 1941 and August 12, 1942 respectively. In 1945, Max Glass obtained an agreement that permitted him to recover some of the French films he had produced before the war.

On November 6, 1948, at age 67, Max Glass created what was to become his last company, the Max Glass Films. Within this new structure, he produced three feature length films and some shorts..
Max Glass - Jean Selinger (on the right)

In 1957, Max Glass divorced Helene Münz and married his long-time friend, German-Jewish actress Helga Molander, mother of famous psychiatrist Hans-Jürgen Eysenck (know especially for his I.Q. tests). Helga Molander - whose real name was Ruth Werner - had starred in many of Max Glass' Berlin productions such as the 1923 "Der Mann mit der Eisernen Maske" (L'homme au masque de fer/The Man with the Iron Mask) "Bob und Mary" (Bob et Marie/Bob and Mary) both films not only produced but also directed by Max Glass.

According to some sources, Max Glass had "spent a fortune" buying his friend's freedom after - like most refugees from Germany - she had been rounded up by the French police and locked up in a French internment camp (prelude to Drancy, then Auschwitz for most of those who were handed over to the Nazis). Helga Molander eventually joined Max Glass inBresil, then the United States.

Max Glass died in Paris on July18th, 1965 and was incinerated in the Père Lachaise cemetary.

 Brigitte Berg

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