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Reinhold Schünzel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Reinhold Schünzel
Reinhold Schünzel in 1921
Born7 November 1888
Died11 November 1954 (1954-11-12) (aged 66)
Occupation(s)Actor, director, writer, producer
Years active1916–1954 (film)

Reinhold Schünzel (7 November 1888 – 11 November 1954) was a German actor and director, active in both Germany and the United States. The son of a German father and a Jewish mother, he was born in St. Pauli, the poorest part of Hamburg. Despite being of Jewish ancestry, Schünzel was allowed by the Nazis to continue making films for several years until he left in 1937 to live abroad.

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Life in Germany

Reinhold Schünzel (or Schuenzel) started his career as an actor in 1915 with a role in the film Werner Krafft. He directed his first film in 1918's Mary Magdalene and in 1920 directed The Girl from Acker Street and Catherine the Great. He was one of Germany's best-known silent film stars after World War I, a period during which films were significantly influenced by the consequences of the war. Schünzel performed in both comedies and dramas, often appearing as a villain or a powerful and corrupt man.

He was influenced by filmmakers such as his mentor Richard Oswald and Ernst Lubitsch, for whom he worked as an actor in the film Madame Du Barry in 1919.

Schünzel's work was very popular in Germany and the Nazi regime gave him the title of Ehrenarier or Honorary Aryan, allowing him to continue to direct and act despite his Jewish heritage (his mother was Jewish). He found that the government, first under Kaiser Wilhelm II and later under Adolf Hitler, interfered with his film projects, compelling him to leave in 1937. Schünzel described both the Kaiser and Hitler "persons of recognized authority and the worst possible dramatic taste."

Moving to the United States, he worked in Hollywood, playing Nazis and scientists. One of many examples was the film The Hitler Gang (1944), directed by John Farrow. Made in the style of a gangster film, it depicts the rise of Hitler from a small political adventurer to the dictator of Germany. Reinhold Schünzel played the role of General Erich Ludendorff.


Schünzel had a daughter Marianne Stewart, who was born in Berlin, Germany and followed her father by becoming an actress. She appeared in Broadway plays and was known for The Facts of Life (1960), Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), and Time Table (1956).

Schünzel in the United States

Schünzel came to the United States in 1937, and began his American career in Hollywood at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Among the films he directed were Rich Man, Poor Girl (1938), Ice Follies (1939), Balalaika (1939), and New Wine (1941). He also acted in films like The Hitler Gang (1944), Dragonwyck (1946), and The Vicious Circle (1948), among others. His most memorable performance was as Dr. Anderson, a Nazi conspirator, in the film Notorious released in 1946. Schünzel went to New York in 1945 to make a debut on Broadway. He acted in Temper the Wind in 1946 and Montserrat in 1949.

Among the prizes he received was the Federal West German Film prize for the best supporting role in the movie My Father's Horses. He became a U.S citizen in 1943 and he returned to Germany in 1949.[1] Schünzel died of a heart attack in Munich, Germany.[2][3][4][5][6] Before returning to Germany, he starred in the 1949 Clifford Odets Broadway play The Big Knife.


German films

American films

West German films

  • The Dubarry (1951, director)
  • Meines Vaters Pferde I. Teil Lena und Nicoline (1954) as Konsul Rittinghaus
  • Meines Vaters Pferde, 2. Teil: Seine dritte Frau (1954) as Konsul Rittinghaus
  • A Love Story (1954) as Schlumberger, Schauspieldirektor (final film role)


  1. ^ ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) Pg. 27
  2. ^ "German Films: Home".
  3. ^ "German Films: Personal Info: Reinhold Schuenzel".
  4. ^ "Reinhold Schünzel". IMDb.
  5. ^ "Definition of aryan -".
  6. ^ "The Hitler Gang (1944) - IMDb" – via

External links

This page was last edited on 19 November 2023, at 21:09
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