Foreign Filming in Croatia – Early Years

In recent years, increased interest of foreign film crews for filming in Croatia is evident. Nevertheless, filmmakers discovered picturesque Adriatic coast and many islands, unique views of the Mediterranean towns and picturesque fishing villages, as well as the beauty of folk costumes and interesting folk traditions, much earlier, back in the early twentieth century. Proximity to different environments; on the same day filming is possible may on the coast and on mountain tops and favorable climate for recording (summer season lasts practically from April to October) have made Croatia in the period up to World War II, and later, the most desirable filming destination of all the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

On the ground of Yugoslav countries up to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, exteriors for 59 foreign feature films were filmed, of which 48 in Croatia, mainly on the Adriatic. From the list below it’s clear that even in that time Dubrovnik and Split were among favorite filming locations

Attack on the National Bank in Rijeka (Assalto alla Banca Popolare di Fiume) Director: Salvatore Spina, Trieste, 1909th. This film can be considered the first feature film made on Croatian territory. A copy of the film has not been preserved. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the film, a remake was filmed. The film is described in detail in a separate article.

Salamander (Tryton, Der Molch), Hungary, 1917, director: Deesy Alfred. A silent film in 4 acts. Content of the film is not known nor the fact is it preserved. When the film was broadcasted in October 1918, the newspaper said: Magnificent, fantastic-satirical master achievement in 4 acts filmed on Kvarner, Rijeka and Opatija.

Casanova (Casanova), Budapest 1919th. Casanova rises from the grave and re-experiencing his five love affairs. The paper reported that the exteriors were  filmed in 1918 on the Dalmatian coast, but no one knows exactly where and when. Only a few minutes of the film is kept in Hungarian film archive.

Treasure digger from Blagaj (Der Schatzgräber von Blagay), 1919th, director unknown. A melodramatic story of a young shepherd from Herzegovina, Muharem, who falls in love with Austrian girl who came to visit her fiance. The film was produced by the Vienna branch of the Zagreb Yugoslavia JSC. One copy of the film is kept in the Swiss Film Archive.

Mrs. Sunflower (Die Dame mit den Sonnenblumen), Vienna, 1920, director; Mihaly Kertesz. When broadcasted in the Belgrade theater Kolarec, the film was advertised as the first Yugoslav-made according to the original eponymous drama triptych by Ivo Vojnovic. Parts of the film were shot in Split and Dubrovnik. In Italy, with great success movie was screened under the title: La signora del girasole. It is not known whether the film is preserved.

Revenge of the sea (Pomsta mooe), 1921, Prague. Director: Vladimir Pospisil Born. Shot in Dubrovnik and Cavtat. Czechs believe that the film is lost.

Devil’s Mill (Dabluv mlyn), 1921, Prague, director: Vladimir Pospisil-Born. Filmed by the same director in a similar time as the previous film except that the Devil’s mill is not completed.

Robbers revenge (Brigantenrache), 1922, Berlin, director: Reinhart Bruck. The content of the film is not known, it’s not preserved. It was shot in Split.

Lords of the see (Herren der Meer), 1922, Vienna, director: Alexander Korda. In Milan film festival, film has received an award for the best adventure movie. It is not known whether it’s preserved.

The sunken World (Eine Welt Versunkene), 1922, Vienna. The film of the same name director. He received the Gold Medal for best dramatic film at the International Festival in Milan.

Final obstacle (Steeple Chaise), 1922, Prague. Director: Vladimir Pospisil-Born.

Pagoda (Die pagodas), 1923, Berlin. Director: Alfred Fekete. A copy is kept in the German film archive.

Grand Duke’s Finance (Die Finanzen des Grossherzogs), 1923, Berlin. Director: Friedrich Murnau. A few copies of this film is kept in the international film archives. The film is described in detail in a separate article.

The Devil (Der Klabautermann), 1924, Berlin. Little-known director of this film, Dr. Paul Merzbach, recorded only three silent films, of which this is the first. Exteriors were filmed in Dubrovnik, and the film is kept in the German film archive.

Comedians of life (Komödianten des Lebens), 1924, Berlin, director: Georg Jacoby

Little Duke (De kleine Herzog), 1924, Berlin, director: Rudolf Walther-Fein

The Horrors of the Sea (Der Schreck des Meeres), 1924, Munich, director: Franz Osten

The beast from San Silos (die Bieste von San Silos), 1925, Munich, director: Joe Stockel

The Last night (Die letzte Nacht), 1927, Berlin, director: Graham Cutts. Mirko M. Dragovic, Montenegrin filmmaker was sharply critical of the content and implementation of this film, he said that this is one of the films that compromise us and sought the protection of our regions of foreigners who come to shoot. A copy of the film is kept in the German film archive.

Lady and her chauffeur (Die Damen und ihr Chauffeur), 1928, Berlin, director: Manfred Noa.

The woman of the format (Eine Frau von Format), 1928, Berlin, director: Fritz Wendhausen. The film premiered at the end of ’28. in Mozartsaal in Berlin.

The Republic of flapper (Die Republik der Backfische), 1928, Berlin, director: Constantin J. David. The film is described in detail in a separate article.

Law of black hills (Das Gesetz der Schwartz Berge), 1928, Berlin, director: Romano Mengon. A film about blood revange is almost entirely filmed in Montenegro and Dubrovnik.

Hunting a million (Die Jagd nach Million), 1930, Berlin, director: Max Obal.

Withdrawal on Rhein (Zapfenstreich am Rhein) 1930, Berlin, director: Alexander Alexander (Yaap Speyer). One of the first foreign tonal films made on the ground of the former Yugoslavia, somewhere on the Adriatic coast, announced as “sound operetta”.

He or I (Er oder ich) 1930, Berlin. Very popular German actor, writer and director Henrich-Harry Piel exteriors for this comedy filmed in and around Dubrovnik.

Melody of love (Melodie der Liebe) 1932, Munich, director: Georg Jacoby.

Prince of Arkadia (Der Prince von Arkadien) 1932, Vienna, director: Karl Hartl. According to a scarce film data, this is a contemporary musical comedy.

You have only one love (Es gibt nur eine Liebe), 1933, Berlin, director: Johannes Meyer.

Castle in the South (Das Schloss am Suden), 1933, Berlin, director: Geza von Bolvary.  Filmed in Split and the surrounding area, screened also in Yugoslavia. Criticized for the opening sequence as it does not state it was filmed in Yugoslavia.

The Island (Die Insel), 1934, Berlin, director: Hans Steinhoff. Diplomatic spy movie whose plot takes place in South America, and the Dalmatian coast represents the continent. A copy is kept in the German film archive.

Miss from counter post-restant (Panienka z poste Restante), 1935, Warsaw, director: Jan Nowina-Pscybylski, Michal Waszynski. It is not known whether the film is preserved.

Liquid gold, 1935, Prague. There is almost no data about this film.

And life goes on (A život jde dal), 1935, Prague, director: Karl Junghaus. The film had a lot of publicity, famous stars appear like Ita Rina and Zvonimir Rogoz, and supporting roles are played by our actors. It was filmed in Split, Solin, Sibenik, Trogir, Vis, and the most in Komiža. The film was successfully screened at the International Film Festival in Venice. A few copies is kept.

Savage / Hunting deer (Divoch / Der Wildfang), 1936, Vienna, director: Jan Svitak. Musical comedy of modern life, filmed in Dubrovnik.

Irene’s Closet (Irčin Romanek), 1936, director: Karel Hasler. Musical comedy about a girl who escaped to the Adriatic, Dubrovnik.

90 minutes retention (90 minuten Aufenhalt), 1936, Berlin, director: Harry Piel. Dynamic and naive story of a detective’s adventures who’s search for criminals leads him to Lisbon where the action happens. The film was shot in Trogir and Split, and starring Harry Piel who is also the director of the film.

White Slaves (Weisse Sklaven), 1936, Berlin, director: Karl Anton. The film is in the spirit of the Nazi regime and it was extremely anti-Soviet oriented so it was forbidden for screening.

The Wheel of Fate,1937, London. It is possible that the film has not been fully realized, it is not known whether is preserved.

Address unknown, 1937, Prague. Other information unknown.

Florentina (Florentine), 1937, Vienna, director: Carl Lamac.

Princess coral (Die Korallenprinzessin) 1937, Berlin, director: Viktor Janson. The film is described in a separate article.

Navy’s pet (Liebling der Matrosen) 1937, Wien, director: Hans Hirlich. Associate director was Josip Bogoslav Tanko, later a film director, born in Sisak. The film was shot in Dubrovnik and it’s keept in the German film archive.

Gasparone (Gasparone) 1937, Berlin, director: Georg Jacoby. Operetta about the leader of the bandits, Gasparone, who actually helps the police to catch the gang. The story takes place in “the Mediterranean port of Dubrovnik”. A copy is kept in the German film archive.

Impossible Mr. Pit (Der unmögliche Herr Pit) 1938, Berlin. Adventure comedy typical for Harry Piel, filmed in Split with a large number of extras. Seafront has been turned into oriental port. The film is kept in the German archives.

American yacht in the port of Split (Bila jachta ve Splitu) 1939, Prague, director: Ladislav Brom. The film was shot in Split and completed just before the outbreak of World War II. It was first presented in mid-1939 in Prague where is keept in the film archive.

Wedding trip in three (Hochzeitsreise zu Dritte) 1939, Vienna, director: Hubert Marischka. Comedy filmed in Vienna and Dubrovnik, kept in the German archives.

The island of lost ships, 1939. The film was not realized because of the outbreak of war.

Auteur: Sunčana Ivančić

Source: Hrvatski filmski ljetopis, god 11/2015, br 42, str. 130-142 Kosanović D.