Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hugo Haas

If Hugo Haas is a name you don't recognize, don't worry: I had never heard of him either. One of my other interests besides classic cinema is short-wave radio, or more accurately nowadays, international broadcasting. It's something I got into back in the days when a lot of countries were still brodacsting via shortwave; this was before the internet, which has made short-wave obsolete for much of the developed world as it's a hell of a lot easier to listen to programs from other countries by either downloading MP3s from the broadcasters' websites, or listening to streaming audio.

Why am I mentioning this on a movie blog? One of the stations I've always enjoyed is Radio Prague, from the Czech Republic. Yesterday's program included their "Czechs in History" series, which this week was a rebroadcast of a 2006 piece on the aforementioned Hugo Haas. Haas was an actor in the Czechoslovak cinema of the interwar period who, like many people in Central Europe and Germany, fled to the United States when it was clear the Nazi takeover would mean terrible things for them. As Radio Prague introduces their program on Haas:

Hugo Haas was one of the stars of Czechoslovak cinema's golden age of the 1930s. This versatile actor and director was hugely popular in the First Republic and he appeared in a number of classic films from that era. Despite his success, however, Haas's life and career - like that of so many other Czechs who lived during this period - was blighted by the tide of history that swept through Czechoslovakia in the 20th century.

The rest of the program is quite interesting. If you want to read a transcript, you can find it here, with the title, "Hugh Haas -- More than just a 'foreign Ed Wood'". A roughly 2MB audio file of the program is currently available for download here; I'm not certain how long the audio files are available.

As for Haas himself, you can seem him on TCM tomorrow morning at 7:15 AM in King Solomon's Mines.

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