Alice O’Fredericks (DK)

Swedish-Danish director, scriptwriter and actress. Born 1899 in Göteborg, Sweden. Deceased 1968. Mainly active in Denmark, the home country of her parents.

With good reason one could ask oneself the question: how has it happened that a Swedish-born film director has become so totally forgotten in her original home country, whereas she became a cornerstone of film history and one of the most popular directors of all time in a neighbouring country? Alice O’Fredericks is not named in some film histories and is mentioned seldom or not at all in feminist film research. And yet she directed more than 70 feature films in Denmark between the years of 1934 and 1965.

O’Fredericks started out as an actor, playing roles that included a nun in Benjamin Christensen’s The Witch (Häxan, 1922) a film for which she also worked as script supervisor. She continued to act in films until 1929, when her interest in screenwriting and film directing took over. She often worked in close partnership with the film director Lau Lauritzen Jr.

Her speciality was family comedies made as series, pointing the way for modern television series. Dismissed by the critics, the films were nonetheless loved by audiences. Her “Far till fire” (‘Father of Four’) series, which comprised eight feature films for the ASA film company between 1953 and 1961, were some of the best-loved ever Danish films. They featured a charming and somewhat absent-minded lone father and his four children. The popularity of this film concept, reminiscent of the Melkersson family in Astrid Lindgren and Olle Hellbom’s “Saltkråkan” (‘Seacrow Island’) films, has proved to be long lived and has spawned a number of successful remakes in recent years.

In 1952 she directed a Danish film version of Selma Lagerlöf’s novelette “Tösen från Stormyrtorpet”: Husmandstøsen, displaying a deep empathy with the young rape victim in the story. In the same year O’Fredericks also co-directed the short film Wilhelm Tell which, with its music by Rossini, was a precursor for the music video genre. In all, O’Fredericks directed 13 music shorts.

It can safely be said that O’Fredericks enjoyed phenomenal success as a director in the so-called studio era, and that in Denmark there was also scope for women filmmakers during that favourable period for film. What is odd is that in Sweden women were not given the same opportunities: it was almost exclusively men who took the creative lead from screenwriting to film criticism.

Alice O’Fredericks made a few forays into Swedish film: in 1938 she directed and wrote the screenplay for the “pilsner-film” (a 1930s Swedish genre of lowbrow comedy) Fröken Julia Celebrates (Julia jubilerar) together with Lau Laritzen Jr. In part it was a partly Danish production, filmed in Sweden and starring Katie Rolfsen, Thor Modéen and Annalisa Ericson. In 1940 she directed and wrote the screenplay for a melodrama about fishermen, Västkustens hjältar (‘Heroes of the West Coast’) which was a remake of her and Lauritzen’s popular Danish film Blaavand melder Storm (‘Blue Water Announces a Storm,’ 1938). The Swedish version, however, was not a success and was panned by the critics.

After the Second World War O’Fredericks came to Sweden to direct Onsdagsväninnan (‘Wednesday Girlfriend,’ 1946) together with Sture Lagerwall. This was actor Lagerwall’s debut as a film director, and only his contribution was discussed in the reviews of the day.

There are two biographies of Alice O’Fredericks in Danish, but none so far in Swedish. An article about her published by the Danish Film Institute notes that in her old age she was pushed around in a wheelchair in order to be able to direct the last of her films.

Mikaela Kindblom (2013)

Basic info

Main profession: Director
Born: 1899
Died: 1968
Active: 1922-1966

Filmography

Regi:
Kidnapped (1935)
Week-end (1935)
Snushanerne (1936)
En fuldendt gentleman (1937)
Frøken Møllers jubiaeum (1937)
Julia jubilerar (1938)Sverige
Livet paa Hegnsgaard (1938)
En ganske almindelig pige (1940)
Västkustens hjältar (1940) Sverige
Tyrannens fald (1942)
Det brændende spørgsmaal (1943)
Affæren Birte (1945)
Panik i familien (1945)
Onsdagsväninnan (1946) Sverige, co-regi m Sture Lagerwall
Lise kommer til Byen (1947)
Naar katten er ude (1947)
Hr. Petit (1948)
Det gælder os alle (1949)
Vi vil ha’ et barn (1949)
I gabestokken (1950)
Husmandstøsen (1952)
Far til fire (1953)
Far til fire i sneen (1954)
Far til fire i byen (1956)
Vagabonderne på bakkegården (1958)
Verdens rigeste pige (1958)
Far til fire på Bornholm (1959)
Far til fire med fuld musik (1961)
Sikke’n familie (1963)
Krybskytterne på Naesbygaard (1966)
Manusförfattare:
Filmens helte (1928)
Højt paa en Kvist (1929)
Pas på Pigerne (1930)
Fy og Bi i Kantonnement (1931)
Han, Hun og Hamlet (1932)
Med fuld musik (1933)
Julia jubilerar (1938)
Västkustens hjältar (1940)
Roll:
Han, Hun og Hamlet (1922)
Häxan (1922)
Flickorna på Solvik (1926)
Laila (1929)
Han, Hun og Hamlet (1932)
Regiassistent:
Højt paa en Kvist (1929)
Scripta:
Häxan (1922)

Read more about the films at Svensk Filmdatabas (SE)

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