Newspaper Article – Back from Paris




The strains of “Le Gars de la Marine,” the song “hit” from “La Capitaine Craddock,” the latest French musical comedy success, played on a portable gramophone, greeted a Wellington “Post” reporter on the Makura on Monday morning when he sought Miss Patricia Nelson, a Woodville girl who has played successfully in front of the footlights and before the camera and microphone in England and on the Continent during the past four years and has returned via the United States to her native country for six weeks’ holiday.  In the keenest competitive fields of her profession Miss Nelson has made her mark by reason of her natural ability and willingness to work.

Leaving New Zealand with only a school knowledge of French, Miss Nelson has so completely familiarised herself with the language that she now thinks in French, and her conversation is marked by the gestures and facial expressions which characterise the native of France.  “To be a success on the stage in Europe you must know three languages – English, French, and German,” said Miss Nelson.  “There is an idea that English is very largely spoken on the Continent, but that is not so.  French is spoken everywhere.”  She has not yet mastered German, but has sufficient knowledge of it to enable her to take part in a German talking picture.

Miss Nelson’s first engagement was with a company run by the late Edgar Wallace which toured England with the play “On the Spot.”  From England she made her way to the French capital, where she spent most of her time.  In addition to appearing on the stage, including giving specialty dance numbers in the famous Folies Bergeres, Miss Nelson played in six French talking pictures.  “For the pictures I keep an English accent much more pronounced than when I am taking part in ordinary conversation,” said Miss Nelson, “because the French like a foreign accent just as much as we do.”  This was the reason for the success in America of many European stage artists who gained only mediocre popularity in their countries, she continued.  Outstanding examples were Maurice Chevalier, who was comparatively obscure in Paris, and Marlene Dietrich, who did not attain stardom until she was ‘discovered’ by Hollywood.


“The best pictures at present are being produced by the Germans, and the outstanding successes at the moment are German productions,” was another remark made by Miss Nelson.  “Their photography is beautiful and they select simple human subjects which appeal to the people.  One of the best German films was ‘Young Girls in Uniform,’ dealing with girls in a boarding school, but from that simple subject they made a picture which even the most sophisticated enjoyed.  German films are competing very seriously with Hollywood, and the French films are also popular, but very few British films are successful on the Continent.”

The most popular actress in Germany is Lillian Harvey, an English girl who was educated in Germany.  “I also met Marlene Dietrich there,” continued Miss Nelson, “and to see her in private life you would never think she was the same woman who appeared on the screen.  She is so dignified and reserved that you would think she was an English noblewoman.


“The depression doesn’t seem to have touched the Parisians at all when it comes to entertainment.  Plays, revues, and moving pictures are all well patronised, with the legitimate stage the most popular of the lot, and the night clubs are always crowded.  Wherever you go in Paris you meet people from practically every country, and the babel of different tongues is really amazing.”

Miss Nelson’s last appearance in Europe was in “The King of Pausole” a light opera in which she toured through the French provinces to Switzerland and the Riviera.  At the end of her holiday she will go to Hollywood seeking an engagement in foreign pictures produced there, and subsequently will proceed to Holland to appear in a German production.

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