Henry Blanke - Writer

Producer. Nationality: German. Born: Berlin, 30 December 1901; son of the painter Wilhelm Blanke. Career: 1920—joined UFA, Berlin: personal assistant to Ernst Lubitsch, and accompanied him to Hollywood, 1922; 1927–28—worked for Warner Brothers in Hollywood, then headed their production in Germany, 1928–30, their foreign productions in Hollywood, 1930–31, supervised their American output, 1931–32, and then producer, 1932–61 (sometimes termed "production supervisor" under Hal B. Wallis). Died: 28 May 1981.

Films as Producer:


Female (Curtiz); Bureau of Missing Persons (Del Ruth); The Mystery of the Wax Museum (Curtiz); Lady Killer (Del Ruth); I Loved a Woman (Green); Convention City (Mayo)


Fashions of 1934 ( Fashion Follies of 1934 ) (Dieterle); Madame Du Barry (Dieterle); Fog Over Frisco (Dieterle); Journal of a Crime (Keighley); Gambling Lady (Mayo); Dragon Murder Case (Humberstone); The Firebird (Dieterle); British Agent (Curtiz); Dr. Monica (Keighley)


The Story of Louis Pasteur (Dieterle); Secret Bride (Dieterle); The White Cockatoo (Crosland); The Girl from 10th Avenue (Green); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Reinhardt and Dieterle); I Am a Thief (Florey)


The Petrified Forest (Mayo); Anthony Adverse (LeRoy); The Green Pastures (Connelly and Keighley); The White Angel (Dieterle); Satan Met a Lady (Dieterle); Green Light (Borzage); The Case of the Velvet Claw (Clemens)


The Life of Emile Zola (Dieterle); Call It a Day (May); Confession (May)


Jezebel (Wyler) (co); The Adventures of Robin Hood (Curtiz and Keighley); Four Daughters (Curtiz); White Banners (Goulding); Juarez (Dieterle) (co)


The Old Maid (Goulding) (co); Four Wives (Curtiz); Daughters Courageous (Curtiz); We Are Not Alone (Goulding)


The Sea Hawk (Curtiz) (co); A Dispatch from Reuters ( This Man Reuter ) (Dieterle); Saturday's Children (V. Sherman); Four Mothers (Keighley)


The Maltese Falcon (Huston) (co); The Great Lie (Goulding) (co); Blues in the Night (Litvak); Out of the Fog (Litvak); The Sea Wolf (Curtiz)


The Gay Sisters (Rapper)


The Constant Nymph (Goulding); Old Acquaintance (V. Sherman); Edge of Darkness (Milestone)


The Mask of Dimitrios (Negulesco)


Roughly Speaking (Curtiz)


Deception (Rapper); My Reputation (Bernhandt); Of Human Bondage (Goulding); One More Tomorrow (Godfrey)


Cry Wolf (Godfrey); Deep Valley (Negulesco); Escape Me Never (Godfrey); The Woman in White (Godfrey)


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston); Winter Meeting (Windust); June Bride (Windust)


The Fountainhead (K. Vidor); Beyond the Forest (K. Vidor)


Bright Leaf (Curtiz)


Lightning Strikes Twice (K. Vidor); Come Fill the Cup (Douglas); Goodbye, My Fancy (V. Sherman); Tomorrow Is Another Day (Feist); Room for One More (Taurog)


The Iron Mistress (Douglas); Operation Secret (Seiler)


So Big (Wise); She's Back on Broadway (Douglas); So This Is Love ( The Grace Moore Story ) (Douglas)


Phantom of the Rue Morgue (Del Ruth); Lucky Me (Donohue); King Richard and the Crusaders (Butler); Young at Heart (Douglas)


The McConnell Story ( Tiger in the Sky ) (Douglas); Sincerely Yours (Douglas)


Serenade (A. Mann)


Too Much, Too Soon (Napoleon);


The Nun's Story (Zinnemann); The Miracle (Rapper); Westbound (Boetticher)


Ice Palace (V. Sherman); Cash McCall (Pevney)


The Sins of Rachel Cade Douglas)


Hell Is for Heroes (Siegel)

Films as Assistant Director:


The Marriage Circle (Lubitsch); Three Women (Lubitsch)


My Official Wife (Stein); The Third Degree (Curtiz)


Brass Knuckles (Bacon); The College Widow (Mayo); Dearie (Mayo); The Desired Woman (Curtiz); Don't Tell the Wife (Stein); Ginsberg the Great (Haskin); Matinee Ladies (Haskin); A Million Bid (Curtiz)


Across the Atlantic (Bretherton); Rinty of the Desert (Lederman)


On BLANKE: articles—

Obituary, in Variety (New York), 3 June 1981.

Obituary, in Cinematographe (Paris), July 1981.

Filme (Berlin), July-August 1981.

* * *

Henry Blanke represents one of those individuals of little public fame, but who had immense power as a producer during Hollywood's Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s. His immediate boss, Jack L. Warner, was, of course, well known, as were the stars over whose careers he had so much influence, including Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland. But in his more than 30 years at Warners, Henry Blanke supervised the creation of hundreds of films, including such motion picture classics as The Adventures of Robin Hood , Juarez , The Maltese Falcon , and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre .

Blanke came to Hollywood as part of the then-famous European connection so active during the 1920s. In the two decades before the World War II dozens of directors, producers, and even stars (most notably Marlene Dietrich) emigrated from impoverished European film communities to Hollywood to seek fame and fortune. No European film industry, even that in Germany, could come close to challenging Hollywood. As a native-born German, Blanke made his connection with Hollywood by helping Warners create versions of their films for foreign audiences. Once in the United States he brought the noted director William Dieterle from Germany into Warners's fold.

With the coming of sound Warners became a major Hollywood studio. Quickly Blanke moved into third position of power at the studio, behind only the founding brother Jack and Warners's ace assistant Hal Wallis. When Wallis left for Paramount in the mid-1940s, Blanke had no rival other than the brothers Warner them-selves. He would leave the company only when it was sold to outsiders in the 1950s.

Blanke seemed to have his greatest success with vehicles designed for stars Paul Muni, Errol Flynn, and Bette Davis. Muni starred in the Academy Award-winning The Life of Emile Zola in 1937, as well as Juarez the following year, both Blanke productions. Flynn essayed The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk for Blanke's production unit. The Petrified Forest helped Davis become a major star, and Jezebel earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1938. These and 11 other Davis films were produced directly by Henry Blanke.

Blanke's films for Warners after World War II did not seem to match his pre-war efforts. But make no mistake about it—they made the company millions of dollars. But the studio system in which Blanke had labored for more than 30 years came to an end in the 1950s and his skills were no longer needed at Warners. Blanke left for an independent deal at Paramount but that union produced only one film, Hell Is for Heroes , his final effort as a producer, issued in 1962. Henry Blanke was the product of an earlier era when the studio system produced, year-in and year-out, the classic narrative films which continue to define the Golden Age of American movie making.

—Douglas Gomery

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