Anna Sten

  1. Miriam Hopkins,  Barbary Coast, 1935.     Wild Bill Wellman was to begin  shooting in the Spring of ’34 with Gary  Cooper and Gloria Swanson.  By May, it was Coop and Sten. As ’35 arrived,  the couple became Joel McCrea and the Paramount favourite… Well, Hopkins was the mistress of  Paramount boss BP Schulberg
  2. Rose Stradner, The Last Gangster, 1936.    OK, title role goes to Edward G Robinson. Like who else? But who should be his wife?   Luise Rainer was top choice. (Perfect!). Then MGM tried to borrow Sten.  Finally, the Austrian Stradner (refusing to be re-named Ann Marlow for movies) made the first of her three only Hollywood movies. Well, she had wed the latest Metro writer-producer-director-genius. Joseph L Mankiewicz.  His “it’s going to be a bumpy night” scene in his All About Eve was based on “a very despondent and unhappy” Rose.
  3. Dorothy  Tree, Confessions of a Nazi Spy, 1938.   The script was so anti-Nazi that some German stars like Dietrich and  Sten refused to participate, fearing reprisals against their families back home. Other Euro-refugee actors in LA changed names and looks in order to play roles. Film historian Colin Shindler said Warner Bros was then warned by the US Government to stop making such movies, In fact, one Production Code suit, Karl Lischka, declared the script violated the Code for unfairly representing Hitler – and actually praised Hitler’s “phenomenal public career and his unchallenged political and social achievements”! Presumably, the twat shut upn after several exhibitors who booked the film in Poland were hung inside their own cinemas.
  4. Paulette Goddard, North West Mounted Police, 1939.    No, no, CB DeMille told Paulette Goddard (then Mrs Charlie Chaplin),  you’re not right for an Indian half-breed.  And yet, somehow, he thought his daughter, Katherine, was. Plus German Marlene Dietrich, Hungarian Steffi Duna, British Vivien Leigh,  Russian Anna Sten and the French Olympe Bradna and  Simone Simon! Goddard refused to give up.  Decked out in full costume, make-up and pidgin English, she stormed  into CB’s office on  the Paramount lot… and soon sashayed  away  with a script, a deal and a triumphant  grin!
  5. Mary Astor, The Great Lie, 1940. Or   Women of the World when Bette Davis decided to play nice for once instead of her close to home bitches (and then, naturally, called it  “one of the few times I played a character basically like myself.” Hah!  The concert pianist Sandra Kovak (“cold and poisonous” said critic Bosley Crowther) was the harder to fill.  Perfect for Miriam Hopkins but she and Davis had…. issues. Next in line were Sylvia Sidney, Anna Sten and the unknown Muriel Angelus and  Katherine Locke. But Mary Astor could play piano.    And so the most sublime “character: was… Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1…perfectly fingered by Astor but actually recorded by Max Rabinovitch.
  6. Margaret Wycherly, The Moon Is Down, 1942.       In the mix for Madame Sarah Oxen after all the major studios fought for John Steinbeck’s praised/vilified novel/play about the Nazi occupation of Norway. (It was, in fact, superb propaganda for anti-Nazi resistance). Fox chief Darryl F Zanuck won because of how well he made Steinbeck’s previous book, The Grapes of Wrath. (The then highest price of $300,000 also helped… just a tad).
  7. Maria Schell, The Brothers Karamazov, 1957.    Joining the gold rush of Greta Garbo wannabes to Hollywood, Sten was booked by producer Samuel Goldwyn to repeat her 1930 German and French language Karamassof/Karamazoff films.  He switched her to Nana, 1934, instead, and they both caught a cold. (Zola, too).  Indeed, as her Hollywood output tanked, she became known as Goldwyn’s Last Sten.  Disliking her intensely during The Wedding Night, 1934. Gary Cooper, who was usually a gentleman,  called her… Anna Stench.  

 Birth year: 1908Death year: 1993Other name: Casting Calls:  6