Paul Georg Julius Freiherr von Hernried Ritter von Wassel-Waldingau
January 10, 1908 - March 29, 1992
PAUL HENREID, BEYOND VICTOR LASZLO is a full length documentary film, encompassing an in-depth exploration of the life of iconic actor/director Paul Henreid; a compelling, three dimensional look at his personal journey and evolvement to ultimately become the man who lived behind, and beyond, the roles and the accolades.
It is an impossibility to provide in one sentence the essence of this project. My father's story is a complicated dichotomy, influenced by both privilege and neglect, artistic triumphs and political discrimination, resounding career comebacks and devastating depression, devotion to family and the tearing of its fabric through the need for power and control. Ultimately, through the making of this documentary, the resolution and acceptance of the sum total of his life's influences, experiences, actions and their consequences are discovered.
Much has been written about my father over the span of many decades; an International movie star, devoted family man and mentor to many who would continue on to achieve their own brilliant careers, PAUL HENREID, BEYOND VICTOR LASZLO will illuminate an entire life of conflict which will not only inform and enlighten his multi-generational fan base, but will provide both historical and educational significance to students of period film and international history, all without today's trend toward sensationalism and scandal.
Through the use of historical footage, personal interviews and relevant film clips, PAUL HENREID, BEYOND VICTOR LASZLO, takes the viewer through his life from its beginning; his birth into privilege in 1908 during the height of Vienna's Belle Epoch era; its culturally rarefied influences subtly and darkly undermined by the religious persecution and ethnic cleansing occurring in old Russia behind 'the waltz'. We examine the political upheaval which ultimately brought about his father's death and the subsequent reversal of his family's fortune. We experience the neglect imposed upon him by a spoiled, pampered mother who sent a teen-aged Paul off to work while completely indulging his younger brother.
We explore his introduction to the theatre and the beginning of what would become a stellar international career, first cut short by Germany's National Socialist Party during the 1930's by the blacklist status imposed upon him by Joseph Goebbels.
We take the viewer through his and my mother's narrow escape from Nazi occupied Austria and the beginning of his English-speaking career in Great Britain, only to be considered an Enemy Alien First Class and blacklisted again...and finally his arrival in the United States where he achieved worldwide stardom and American citizenship only to be blacklisted a third time during the McCarthy/HUAC era. He survived, even flourished, after all three blacklistings by reinventing his life and career on his own terms with his own talent and determination.
We hear first hand from individuals who knew him well throughout his life, along with those whose fledgling careers skyrocketed as a direct result of his mentoring. We experience the painful tearing apart of his family because of his inability to let go of old world values and accept the choices of those he loved the most in modern terms.
This man, this gentleman, this gentle man of elegance, beauty and grace, appreciated all of life's offerings; art, music, literature, fine foods and wines, education and scholarship. Paul Georg Julius Hernried Ritter von Wasel Waldingau became Paul Henreid; beloved and neglected, free thinking and dictatorial, a superior intellect who became depressed and self exiled. His story is one of overcoming extraordinary circumstances. He fought hard and often to achieve his goals of success. To him, success meant leaving behind a good body of work.