Sfinks

(Sphinx) STUDIO (Towarzystwo Udziałowe Sfinks)
   Established in 1909 and headed by Aleksander Hertz, film studio Sfinks dominated the film industry in prewar Poland. In 1915 Sfinks merged with another Warsaw studio, Kosmofilm, run by Henryk Finkelstein. The new Sfinks production and distribution company established a virtual monopoly and produced several patriotic pictures that reflected the spirit of the times, such as The Secrets of the Tsarist Warsaw Police (Ochrana warszawska i jej tajemnice, 1916). Before the end of World War II, the studio, which relied heavily on its own version of the star system, was immersed in a crisis. Although Sfinks lost its two biggest stars, Pola Negri and Mia Mara (later known as Lya Mara), who moved to Germany in 1917, the early 1920s also belonged to Hertz and his continuing use of a strategy that recognized the commercial appeal of stars. At the beginning of the 1920s, Hertz launched the career of his new star, Jadwiga Smo-sarska, with a series of melodramas known as the "Sfinks golden series," such as The Tram Stop Mystery (Tajemnicaprzystanku tramwajowego, 1922) and The Slave of Love (Niewolnica miłości, 1923), both directed by Jan Kucharski, the latter with Stanisław Szebego and Adam Zagórski. Sfinks dominated mainstream Polish cinema with its combination of patriotic and melodramatic features: the utilization of national themes and mythologies, the exploitative treatment of "educational" topics, and borrowings from Hollywood (sensationalism, dynamic action, stars). The studio lasted until 1936, despite Hertz's premature death in 1928 at the age of forty-nine. Finkelstein replaced Hertz as the head of Sfinks and followed his line.
   Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema by Marek Haltof

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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