Sibylle Schmitz - Rotten Tomatoes

Sibylle Schmitz

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The haunting Leone in Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr (1932), Sybille Schmitz remains perhaps the most unusual of Nazi-era German stars, her tragic fate long remembered by such postwar filmmakers as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who based his Veronica Voss (1981) partially on her. Dark and with enormous brooding eyes, Schmitz's almost somnambulistic beauty was perfect for Dreyer's vampire allegory but Ufa didn't know what to do with her and the Nazi minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, disliked her and thought her "too foreign."A favorite of director Frank Wysbar (Wisbar in Hollywood), Schmitz starred in one of the strangest films to emerge during the Third Reich, Fährmann Maria (1936), in which she played a ferryperson attempting to save a doomed youth from Death. Wysbar remade the film for low-budget company PRC in Hollywood in 1945 but former Miss America Rosemary La Planche was hardly a worthy successor to the ethereal Sybille. Schmitz suffered blacklisting by the regime for a while but stage director Gustaf Gründgens persuaded Goebbels to allow her to star in Tanz auf dem Vulkan (Dance on the Volcano, 1938), one of the many circus melodramas made during the Nazi regime. She was also in Titanic (1943), a retelling of the famous maritime disaster that was promptly banned by Goebbels for being too depressing and not anti-British enough. The drama survives, however, and Schmitz once again offers a standout performance.Fearing that she was washed up and probably suffering from the aftereffects of her Nazi-era troubles, the postwar Sybille Schmitz became addicted to alcohol and drugs. She still worked regularly both in films and on the legitimate stage but the old mystique was missing. In April 1955, she was found unconscious in her Munich apartment, an apparent victim of a suicide attempt. Without regaining consciousness, the former star died a few days later at a Munich hospital.

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