Cutting a dash in 1930s Hungary: the enduring stardom of Pál Jávor

Gergely, Gabor (2014) Cutting a dash in 1930s Hungary: the enduring stardom of Pál Jávor. In: BAFTSS Annual Conference, 24-26 April, 2014, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

Jávor is one of the enduring stars of early Hungarian cinema. His stardom was built around a persona of dashing masculinity, a pencil moustache and a volcanic temper. Despite a rapidly aging body and the visible marks of hard living, his stardom endured in a fast-evolving industry. He went from powerful and handsome in 1931’s first domestic talkie, Blue Idol (Lázár) to haggard and paunchy at just 42 in 1944’s Madách (Németh). Over the same period the industry was gradually brought under state control and put in the service of an anti-Semitic, far-right regime. Nationalist poster-boys and virginal pinups displaced the stars of the 1930s. Even as Jávor’s relationship with industry bosses grew fractious and the period’s far-right press singled him out for vitriolic attacks, his popularity endured, and his output did not flag.

This paper introduces Jávor the star, the actor and the public figure, and analyses his stardom in the context of radical right-wing Hungary in 1931-44. I argue that Jávor embodied Hungarianness in a way that none of his contemporaries did. Thanks to his chief character-trait, volatility, he was able to embody contradictory concepts of Hungarianness: proud nobility, coarse common sense, defeatism and vigour. He was so successful in representing the ‘old’ Hungary that the far right sought to overthrow that he was imprisoned after the Nazi-backed Arrow Cross coup in 1944.

In assessing his career and stardom I make references to key films, including Emmy (Székely, 1934), Uz Bence (Csepreghy, 1939) and Flames (Kalmár, 1940), as well as fan literature, the trade papers and Jávor’s memoires. This latter will be used to throw light on Jávor’s view of himself as a figure in the public eye. I conclude by considering the longevity of Jávor’s appeal, and link it to nostalgia for the era in present-day Hungary.

Keywords:Hungary, Cinema, Stardom, Pál Jávor, Anti-Semitism
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
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ID Code:29927
Deposited On:06 Dec 2017 12:41

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