I have seen Harry Liedtke star in so many silent pictures with Pola Negri. Well, the German ones, mostly directed by Lubitsch. He was always playing heartbroken, young men who were tortured by her manipulative expressions of love. She really did make his life hell.
Examples of his suffering and her evil:
Madame Dubarry (1919)
Harry here played Armand De Foix, the devoted fiancé of Jeanne Vaubernier, played by Pola. She lied to him in one scene, making him think she was picking a dress for the wife of the Spanish Ambassador, as he waited outside for hours and hours. There was never a wife. She spent all that time kissing and lunching with the Ambassador. Further into the film, he searched for her in one those eighteenth century French balls as she ran to him and kissed him. Her date chased him and challenged him to a duel. The outcome is that poor Harry went to prison and had to sleep in a room infested with rats. He loved her and was with her until the very end….
He was just a young soldier who I think was already engaged…..but he visited another town and fell in love with “Carmencita”, the gypsy with the sultry dark looks, who would eventually lead him to self-destruction. She is unfaithful to him throughout the whole film….and ultimately leaves him for a bullfighter. Great work, Pola. He gave up his family, work and life just for your….so-called “love”. Boo Pola.
OK, he may not have been in love with Pola in this one…but she did irritate him with awkward seduction. She visited his workplace (he was a cloth merchant), all dressed up and tried to tempt him by provocatively lying on a rug. Was he uncomfortable? Yes, he was! He worshiped this other woman called Sumurun, who was one of the girls in the Sheik’s harem. What was he to do with the woman lying on the ground who was all dressed up? When rejected, Pola vanished from the scene in tears! How could he have dealt with such remorse? It wasn’t even his fault she fancied him!
The Yellow Ticket (1918)
Pola was not really evil in this one. She was an orphaned adolescent who went all the way from the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw to Saint Petersburg to study medicine, for the sake of her dead “father”. Harry met her in one of their classes and his likeness for her turned to infatuation. You see, she had to resort to prostitution in order to get a “yellow passport” because she was Jewish. If not, she would have been taken to prison. Once Harry saw her charming other men, he felt ashamed for having even fallen for her and later confronted her about this. To make things worse after the argument, she attempted suicide by jumping out of a window! How was he to deal now with all this pain and confusion?
This is the majority of films where I have seen Harry Liedtke cry, frown and forced to live under the harmful conditions of Pola’s spiteful love. She was Mount Vesuvius burying Pompeii with treacherous lies and infidelities. They were great actors though. I wonder how they got along on the set.