Waszyński, Michał

(Michał Waks, 1904-1965)
   Prolific film director Waszyński, who made as many as thirty-nine films from his 1929 debut Under the Banner of Love (Pod banderą miłości) to the 1939 film The Tramps (Włóczęgi), is responsible for some of the most representative Polish works of the 1930s. For example, his The Quack (Znachor, 1937) remains for many the symbol of Polish popular cinema in the 1930s. The story concerns a well-known surgeon, Rafał Wilczur (Kazimierz Junosza-Stępowski), who loses his memory, lives as a tramp for many years, and, eventually, settles in a village and helps the locals as a quack doctor. Later, due to some happy coincidences, he regains his memory as well as his previous social standing and material status. The popularity of this film helped Waszyński to produce an equally popular sequel, Professor Wilczur (Profesor Wilczur, 1938). Waszyński is also responsible for one of the best-known examples of the flourishing Yiddish cinema in Poland—The Dybbuk (Der Dibuk, 1937).
   Before his debut film, Waszyński received a high-quality training in Russia, Poland, and Germany where he worked as an assistant to F. W. Murnau. This background, in addition to Waszyński's indisputable talent and organizational skills, was apparent in several of his films from different genres. Although he made a successful patriotic picture, The Heroes of Siberia (Bohaterowie Sybiru, 1936), he excelled mostly in melodramas and comedies. For example, one of his first films, the melodrama The Cult of the Body (Kult ciała, 1930, Polish-Austrian coproduction), received international praise. In 1938 he directed seven melodramas, among them Anguish (Gehenna), A Mother's Heart (Serce matki), and Women on the Edge (Kobiety nad przepaścią). Waszyński is also well known for comedies. He directed several popular comedies starring Adolf Dymsza, including classic works such as Antek, the Police Chief (Antek policmajster, 1935), often considered the best prewar Polish comedy, ABC of Love (ABC miłości, 1935), Wacuś (1935), and Dodek at the Front (Dodek na froncie, 1936). He also made musical comedies featuring Eugeniusz Bodo with music by Henryk Wars, such as His Excellency, the Shop Assistant (Jego ekscelencja subiekt, 1933), The Bard of Warsaw (Pieśniarz Warszawy, 1934), and His Excellency, the Chauffeur (Jaśnie pan szofer, 1935).
   During World War II, Waszyński produced several documentary films working for the Polish army of General Władysław Anders. After the war, he settled in Italy and later in Spain. He directed two feature films in Italy and acted as an assistant director on Orson Welles's Othello (1952). He also worked as an art director on Roman Holiday (1953, William Wyler) and as associate producer on two films directed by Anthony Mann (El Cid, 1961, and The Fall of the Roman Empire, 1964) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (The Barefoot Contessa, 1954, and The Quiet American, 1958).
   Other films: A Dangerous Love Affair (Niebezpieczny romans, 1930), Nameless Heroes (Bezimienni bohaterowie, 1931), A Seduced Woman (Uwiedziona, 1931), The Sound of the Desert (Głos pustyni, 1932), One Hundred Meters of Love (Sto metrów miłości, 1932), The Twelve Chairs (Dwanaście krzeseł, 1933, Polish-Czech coproduction, codirected by Martin Frić), District Attorney Alicja Horn (Prokurator Alicja Horn, 1933), The Toy (Zabawka, 1933), What My Husband Does at Night (Co mój maż robi w nocy, 1934), The Black Pearl (Czarna perła, 1933), He Loves, He Likes, He Respects (Kocha, lubi, szanuje, 1934), The Reservists' Parade (Parada rezerwistów, 1934), The Young Lady from the Post Office (Panienka z poste-restante, 1935, with Jan Nowina-Przybylski), Happy Days (Będzie lepiej, 1936), Bolek and Lolek (Bolek i Lolek, 1936), Daddy is Getting Married (Papa się zeni, 1936), 30 Carats of Happiness (30 karatów szczęścia, 1936), A Second Youth (Druga młodość, 1938), The Last Brigade (Ostatnia brygada, 1938), Rena (1938), At the End of the Road (U kresu drogi, 1939), The Three Hearts (Trzy serca, 1939), The Great Road (Wielka droga, 1946).
   Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema by Marek Haltof

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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