Paul Davidson (producer)

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Paul Davidson
Paul Davidson.jpg
Paul Davidson
Born (1867-03-30)30 March 1867[note 1]
Lötzen, East Prussia (modern Giżycko, Poland)
Died 18 July 1927(1927-07-18) (aged 60)
Ebenhausen, Weimar Germany[note 2]
Nationality German
Occupation film producer
Religion Jewish

Paul Davidson (30 March 1867 – 18 July 1927) was a German film producer.

Biography[edit]

Paul Davidson was born in Lötzen, East Prussia (modern Giżycko, Poland) the son of Moritz Davidson. He initially worked as a commercial traveller in the textile industry and became the manager of a security firm in Frankfurt am Main in 1902. On vacation to Paris he saw his first movie, a Georges Méliès film, in a cinema.[1][2][3] Back in Frankfurt he founded the "Allgemeine Kinematographen-Theater Gesellschaft, Union-Theater für lebende und Tonbilder GmbH" (A.K.T.G.) on 21 March 1906 and opened Mannheim’s first permanent cinema, the Union-Theater (U.T.). Further cinemas followed in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Strasbourg, Amsterdam and Brussels.[1][2]

On 4 September 1909 Davidson opened the Union-Theater at Berlin, Alexanderplatz.[4][5] Another Union-Theater was opened at Berlin's Unter den Linden on 21 August 1910, by 1910 Davidson had built up a "sizeable chain of 600–1000 seater luxury cinemas".[6] On 2 August 1913 the Union-Palast, Kurfürstendamm, one of the first buildings of Berlin exclusively built as a movie theater, premiered with Max Reinhardt’s "Die Insel der Seligen".[6][7] In March 1910 Davidson founded the Projektions-Aktiengesellschaft Union (PAGU), Germany’s first joint-stock company in film industry and the first to integrate production, distribution and equipment hire.[1]

Following the success of Asta Nielsen’s The Abyss he founded the Internationale Film-Vertriebs-Gesellschaft in conjunction with Nielsen and her husband Urban Gad on 1 June 1911.[8] The company held the European rights on all Nielsen films and Nielsen became a “scintillating international film star” with an annual fee of 85,000 Marks in 1914 alone.[1][9]

Grand Hotel Alexanderplatz, the location of Davidson’s first Union Theater in Berlin

Davidson described Nielsen as the decisive factor for his move to film productions:

I had not been thinking about film production. But then I saw the first Asta Nielsen film. I realised that the age of short film was past. And above all I realised that this woman was the first artist in the medium of film. Asta Nielsen, I instantly felt could be a global success. It was International film Sales that provided Union with eight Nielsen films per year. I built her a studio in Tempelhof, and set up a big production staff around her. This woman can carry it ... Let the films cost whatever they cost. I used every available means – and devised many new ones – in order to bring the Asta Nielsen films to the world.[8][10]

In late 1912 the PAGU moved to Berlin and opened a studio in Berlin-Tempelhof (Davidson would also play an important role in the founding of the Babelsberg studios).[11] The PAGU engaged directors like Ernst Lubitsch and Paul Wegener as well as actors like Asta Nielsen, Fern Andra, Pola Negri, Ossi Oswalda, Emil Jannings and Harry Liedtke.[1]

In January 1914 PAGU was merged with Jules Greenbaum’s company to form PAGU-Vitascope, however, the project, including a cooperation with the French Pathé Freres ended at the outbreak of World War I. In August 1915 Davidson sold his cinemas to the Danish Nordisk Film.[9] [12] PAGU became part of the newfounded Universum Film AG (UFA) in 1917 and Davidson worked as the UFA’s artistic director and head of production.[12] In 1920 he left the UFA to produce Lubitsch’s "Das Weib des Pharao" (The Wife of the Pharaoh) and "Die Flamme" (The Flame) within the short-living Europäische Film-Allianz (EFA).[1][13]

When Lubitsch moved to Hollywood in 1922, Davidson had produced 39 movies directed by Lubitsch.[10][14] From 1922 he produced pictures independently, but exclusively for the UFA. He canceled his contract early in 1927 and committed suicide on 18 July that year.[1]

Selected filmography[edit]

Scenery at the Tempelhof studios (1920)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas Elsaesser (A second life: Germany's cinemas first decades) gives 1871 as year of birth
  2. ^ The exact place of death remains unclear:
    * Hans-Michael Bock (The concise Cinegraph: encyclopaedia of German cinema) gives Ebershausen
    * Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie: Ebenhausen, Oberbayern
    * Kay Weniger: Das große Personenlexikon des Films: Dresden on 11 June 1927
    * IMDb: Berlin (IMDb biography)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Bock, Hans-Michael; Bergfelder, Tim (2009). The Concise Cinegraph: Encyclopaedia of German Cinema. Berghahn books. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-57181-655-9. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Elsaesser, Thomas; Wedel, Michael (1996). A second life: German cinema’s first decades. Amsterdam University Press. pp. 79, 80. ISBN 90-5356-183-8. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  3. ^ sztetl.org
  4. ^ Grand Hotel Alexanderplatz (German)
  5. ^ Jochheim, Gernot (2006). Der Berliner Alexanderplatz (in German). Ch.Links. p. 104. ISBN 978-3-86153-391-7. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Elsaesser: A second life: German cinema’s first decades; page 24
  7. ^ berlin.de (German)
  8. ^ a b Elsaesser: A second life: German cinema’s first decades; page 85
  9. ^ a b Ingram, Susan; Sark, Katrina (2011). Berliner Chic: A Locational History of Berlin Fashion. Intellect Books. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-84150-369-1. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Prawer, Siegbert Salomon (2005). Between two worlds: The Jewish Presence in German and Austrian Film, 1910–1933. Berghahn books. pp. 2, 3. ISBN 1-84545-074-4. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  11. ^ biography at Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (German)
  12. ^ a b Elsaesser, Thomas (2000). A second life: Weimar cinema and after: Germany’s historical imaginary. Routledge. p. 112. ISBN 0-415-01234-1. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Kreimeier, Klaus (1999). The Ufa story: a history of Germany’s greatest film company, 1918–1945. University of California Press. p. 74. ISBN 0-520-22069-2. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Lubitsch joined Davidson after a brief experiment with a company of his own, and eventually made thirty-nine films for PAGU – most of them before and some after it became one of four main units that merged into Ufa", in Between two worlds: The Jewish Presence in German and Austrian Film, 1910–1933 by Prawer, 2005, in this reference list.

External links[edit]