Giganten Unterhaltung Slideshow W p

Gigants of entertainment | Paula Wessely and Hermann Leopoldi

Two giants of Austrian entertainment


Through her marriage to Attila Hörbiger, she became a member of a renowned acting clan. Above all, however, Wessely had appeared in many entertainment films, with which she decisively shaped the style of the - not only Austrian - cinema of the time.

Paula Wessely already paved the way for Nazi ideas in Austrofascist tendency films such as "Ernte" (1936). In the 1950s, when Wessely had her own film production company, she hired former Nazi propagandists such as Gustav Ucicky and "Jud Süß" director Veit Harlan, with whom she made the anti-homosexuality film "Anders als du und ich" in 1957. In her first film after the war, "Der Engel mit der Tromune" (1948), Wessely played a half-Jew who is driven to suicide. For Elfriede Jelinek, Wessely is a "war profiteer" who was "dealt with very lightly" in post-war Austria. This aspect of Wessely's career will also be discussed - and with it the fact that she was one of the few who later apologized for it. In addition, an interview with André Heller, who was one of Wessely's confidants.

Excerpts from her most important films will be counter-cut and compared with her major stage roles. In addition, interviews with family members (Maresa Hörbiger, Cornelius Obonya), confidants (Andre Heller, Erika Pluhar, Klaus Bachler) on the most important stages of Wessely's career and on her private life.


Hermann Leopoldi is one of the most celebrated composers, pianists, singers and, as he called himself, "piano humorists" of the Viennese Lied as well as the German-language Schlagers of the 1920s to 1950s. Beyond wit and satire, his songs also reflect the political and social upheavals of his time. His life and career paint a picture of mores from the Danube monarchy through the interwar period, the Nazi dictatorship, to postwar democracy.

After the end of the war and at the invitation of the then Minister of Education Hurdes as well as the Viennese City Councilor for Culture Matejka, Leopoldi returned to Vienna and was able to continue where he had been abruptly interrupted in 1938. Bars, vaudevilles and entertainment venues flocked to him, and together with his partner Helly Möslein he toured Austria, Germany and Switzerland, becoming the first post-war star of German pop.

Some of his songs are still known today, but the person behind them and their fate have unfortunately been forgotten more and more in recent decades. The film aims to change that. Leopoldi's life story is told along his songs, in a mixture of "classic" documentary and music documentary (with Erwin Steinhauer as "performing host").

A Clever Contents GmbH and ORF III cooproduction funded by Film von Wien and RTR

Genre | documentary

Author and director | Gabriele Flossmann and Alexander Frohner

Production management | Ronald Graf

Length | 2 documentaries a 45 minutes each

Year of production I 2021

First broadcasting | June, 19th and in autumn 2021 ORF III

Ronald Graf
+43 699 18610004

© Clever Contents GmbH 2023, Impressum, Datenschutz, AGB


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