Gala Hollywood Premiere for THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD – March 14, 1934

Grauman’s Chinese Theater was the place to be on the night of March 14, 1934. The occasion was the Grand Premiere of THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD and the Hollywood celebrities of the day turned out. Studios moguls Darryl Zanuck, Louis B. Mayer, Sam Goldwyn, and even old Carl Laemmele of Universal Pictures were among those attending. Lots of movie stars too, some of whom I can’t quite identify but maybe you can. They are treated like royalty regardless.

Of course, the center of attention was the film’s star – George Arliss. Here is Mr. A being flanked by Darryl Zanuck on the left and Sid Grauman on the right. The color is by Moi:

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The scenes you are about to see is “raw” footage and in some cases catch the same action from two different camera angles. There is no sound but you can clearly see attendees speaking into a microphone, strongly suggesting a live radio broadcast. The white-haired gentleman who seems to be the radio host is veteran actor Lawrence Grant, who was apparently “moonlighting” when he wasn’t making films. Mr. A gives him a big handshake. I have added captions to note various individuals that I could recognize. I added a music track starting with the opening music of the film itself.

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A conceit of your blogmeister: through the magic of Photoshop I am taking the place of Sid Grauman in the photo from above. A little bit of time travel:

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Arliss Alert! THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD on TCM 9/23 @ 8 PM Eastern Time

George Arliss returns to the air in prime time. This Tuesday, September 23, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is showing THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD at 8 PM, eastern time. Better yet, the finale is being shown in its original Technicolor glory! Better not miss this one.

Mr. A as Meyer Rothschild in the film’s prologue:
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Boris Karloff as the antisemitic Prussian Count Ledranz:
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Loretta Young as Julie and Mr. A as her father, Nathan Rothschild:
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A Technicolor frame capture with Loretta Young and Robert Young:
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Another frame cap from the Technicolor finale, Florence Arliss and Mr. A:
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The House of Rothschild

The House of Rothschild was the first important film made by the then-newly formed 20th Century Pictures in late 1933. The studio acquired Fox Pictures in 1935 and is still known today as 20th Century-Fox.   George Arliss was the studio’s first major star and producer Darryl Zanuck bet that ROTHSCHILD would be hit. It was.

This film was nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award in 1934 – a banner year for superb films. It was no disgrace that IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT picked up the Award. ROTHSCHILD was also one of the very few films ever made dealing with anti-Semitism.  Arliss wrote 14 pages of script suggestions urging the official screenwriters to enlarge the anti-Semitism theme. Here is a particularly fine study of Arliss as Meyer Rothschild in the film’s prologue:

The rise of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany by 1933 made the film especially timely. In a master stroke of casting, Boris Karloff played the anti-Semitic Prussian Ambassador, Count Ledrantz. I believe the character was fictional but served as a composite for a number of real-life Prussians during the Napoleonic Wars:

The film reunited Arliss with fellow British actor C. Aubrey Smith – they played together on the London stage in 1903. Smith as the Duke of Wellington nearly stole the show from Arliss. Florence Arliss played Hannah Rothschild to George’s Nathan Rothschild (son of Meyer). One wit remarked that this film was so big, George Arliss had to play two parts!


In the above photo, note the wedding ring worn by Arliss. He wore it in almost all his films, even when his character was unmarried.

The supporting cast was impressive. Here is Loretta Young playing Julie, Nathan’s daughter

Reginald Owen as Herries, the real-life Chancellor of the Exchequer circa 1815. He and Count Ledrantz don’t see eye-to-eye:

Film History is Made – Arliss Meets Karloff:

Time magazine felt the film important enough to grace its cover:

The Astor Theater in New York City gave ROTHSCHILD the deluxe treatment:

Even a British fan magazine had to acknowledge it:


The film’s artistic and financial success made celebrating the studio’s first anniversary a joyous occasion:


[Click on this image to view “hidden” screen captures from the film itself]

Published in: on February 7, 2011 at 8:50 PM  Comments (1)  
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