Polish Blood

Béla Balogh, 1920. One of the biggest hits of the 1920s.

Premiere: 20, 27 December 1920 (Corso, Budapest)
Genre: feature film, drama, silent film
Director: Béla Balogh

Original length: 9 acts, 4100 m
A fragment of just a few minutes is all to have survived of the film.

Part 1 – Fledgling cuckoo: On the run, the leader of the Polish rebels entrusts his little boy to the care of Count Dynar, who raises the child together with his own daughter. Xénia has no idea that Janek is not her real brother, and when she finds out the truth she calls him a fledgling cuckoo and drives him out. Janek’s true father is the last Polish prince but he doesn’t reveal this to the arrogant Xénia, who considers him to be a descendant of a simple refugee and as such she aims to deprive him of any inheritance. Finally, offended by this treatment the young man quits the Dynar mansion and makes his living from singing, calling himself Janek Proczna.

Part 2 – The knight of flames: Leonie, the courtier's wife, invites Janek Proczna to the court of Augustus Ferdinand in order to entrap her enemy, Xénia Dynar. Xénia is extremely angry when she realizes she has been duped, while Leonie falls in love with the handsome Janek who, however, resists her advances. Soon after Janek wins the contest organized at court, news arrives of the outbreak of the Polish revolution. The man causes general consternation when he sings the Polish national anthem. After the guests make a hurried departure, he is left alone with Xénia who confesses that she loves him. Janek shows her his seal with coat of arms, thereby proving his noble origins.

What makes it interesting?
The film was shot at the Star Film Studio on Budapest’s Pasaréti Road. According to contemporary reports, during the screening at Corso cinema a delegation of Poles stood to attention and were extremely moved by the scene where the national anthem is sung. It was one of the biggest hits of the 1920s, and public demand was so great that it had to be rescreened several times in Hungarian cinemas. Béla Balogh considered this his finest silent film. The topic of the film is interesting also from the aspect of Polish culture.

Cast & Crew
Production Companies: Star Filmgyár és Filmkereskedelmi Rt.
Writer: Nataly von Eschtruth (original novel: Polnisch Blut, 1887)
Screenwriter: József Pakots
Cinematographer: Dezső Nagy
Cast: Szvetiszláv Petrovich, Ferkó Szécsi, Gusztáv Vándory, Géza Bolváry, Adorján Nagy, Juci Boyda, Lajos Ujváry, Ilona Mattyasovszky, Soma Szarvasi, Lys Norton (Alice Nagy), Ila Lóth

International Distribution
Germany (Der Heimatslose, part 1: Das Kukusjunge, part 2: Der Flammenritter)


Photo: the film's poster. Source: NFI