Oct 032016
 

Film director and writer Alfredo (“Fredy”) Bolongaro-Crevenna (1914-1996) visited Ajijic in about 1945 with movie producer Francisco Cabrera. Their visit was noted by Neill James in her 1945 account of the village.

Bolongaro-Crevenna and Cabrera played very significant roles in the golden age of Mexican cinema. Bolongaro-Crevenna directed about 140 films between 1945 and 1995, in genres ranging from melodramas to comedy, horror and science fiction.

Bolongaro-Crevenna was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on 22 April 1914 and was more commonly known as Alfredo B. Crevenna. He studied chemical engineering at Oxford University in the U.K. before returning to Germany to take a position at the UFA film studios in Berlin.

Crevenna married his high school sweetheart Renate Horney (1916-2009), the youngest daughter of German-American psychoanalyst Karen Horney (who also visited Ajijic, in 1945).

In 1938, at age 24, Crevenna left the UFA film studios and moved to New York City, with the intention of finding work eventually in Hollywood. After several wasted months trying to obtain a work visa, he accepted an invitation from an old school friend to go to Mexico City.

alfredo-b-crevennaAt a welcome party, he was introduced to the film producer Francisco de P. Cabrera. Cabrera was about to start shooting La noche de los mayas (1939) and asked Crevenna to take a look at the script. Crevenna did not at that time speak Spanish, so he translated the script into English overnight and then made various suggestions to tighten up the structure. Thus began the lengthy and exceedingly fruitful working relationship between the two men. Crevenna never did return to live in  New York, and eventually became a naturalized Mexican citizen.

Crevenna and Renate Horney settled into family life in Mexico City and Cuernavaca. The couple had at least two children: Angela Karen Bolongaro-Crevenna (1936-1999) and Pedro Bolongaro-Crevenna (ca 1940-1988). In 1960, Renate Crevenna exhibited in a group show of German artists in the Galerias Chapultepec in Mexico City. The show also featured a work by Otto Butterlin.

In 1943, Cabrera suggested that Crevenna begin his career as a director in Mexico with the movie Santa in a version starring Esther Fernández and Ricardo Montalbán. Unfortunately, at that time the U.S. completely controlled the supply of film stock. When the U.S.-based Office of the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs objected to the use of a German-born director, Cabrera was forced to work with Hollywood director Norman Foster, even though Foster did not speak a word of Spanish.

bolongaro-crevennaHis films included Neither Blood Nor Sand (1941), Muchachas de uniforme (1950), Mi esposa y la otra (1951), Una mujer en la calle (1955), Orquídeas para mi esposa (1954), Talpa (1956), Where the Circle Ends (1956), Yambaó (1957), Adventure at the Center of the Earth (1965), La venus maldita (1967), La Satánica (1973). He collaborated on many projects with the legendary Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

Many of Crevenna’s movies won awards. For instance, Talpa received several ”Ariel“ awards and was nominated for Best Picture in 1957.

Alfredo Bolongaro-Crevenna, described by those who knew him as tall, polite, and with a wonderful sense of humor, died in Mexico City on 30 August 1996, leaving a legacy that included some of the finest Mexican movies of all time.

Postscript

Angela Karen Bolongaro-Crevenna, the German-born daughter of Alfred Bolongaro-Crevenna and Renate Horney, and grand-daughter of Karen Horney, had an additional close link to the Lake Chapala area.

After the family moved to Mexico, Angela become a naturalized Mexican citizen. She met German-born otolaringologist Dr. Carl “Hannes” Lohmann in 1955 and married him three years later. They spent most of their time in the U.S. but were frequent visitors to Mexico and had a winter home in Quintana Roo. From 1993, they began to spend winters at Lake Chapala. They bought a home in Chapala Haciendas and, in 1995, moved permanently to the area.

Even after Angela Lohman (née Bolongaro-Crevenna) died in 1999, her husband Carl continued to reside in Chapala until his own death in a Guadalajara hospital a decade later.

Sources:

  • Rogelio Agrasánchez, Jr. Undated. “From the UFA to the Mexican Studios: Alfredo B. Crevenna.”
  • Cinema Reporter. “Crevenna, Alfredo Bolongaro”, Cinema Reporter. No. 482, 11 October 1947, p. 16.
  • José Luis Gallegos C. “Alfredo B. Crevenna colaboró con Luis Buñuel.” Excélsior. Espectáculos. 30 November 1990, p2.
  • Guadalajara Reporter. “Longtime Lakeside resident Dr. Carl Lohmann died in a Guadalajara hospital on June 14 at the age of 84. 19 June 2009.” Guadalajara Reporter, 19 June 2009
  • Jaime Hernández.. “Alfredo B. Crevenna. Sólo en México no protegen al cine.” Novedades, 10 August 1984, p 1-2.

Sombrero Books welcomes comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

  5 Responses to “Alfredo Bolongaro-Crevenna (1914-1996) visited Ajijic in about 1945”

  1. Again fascinating Tony, and such amazing research you have done. Having been a reference librarian, once upon a time, who helped authors and film folks, I really feel connected to this one. Interesting the Horney connection. Don’t know why, and I appreciate it’s been work and incredible delving, but I somehow feel jeaous of what you have done. Not of your subject, but the opportunity to do such fun research. Would never have done it as well, natch. Phyllis

    • Oh, Phyllis, you do say the nicest things, and they are music to my ears and inspiration to continue chipping away at the quarry face (aka computer). Thanks for the kind words and for helping to disseminate the series of bios. Tony

  2. Dr Carl Lohmann was an Otolaringologist (Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist). Hannes (as he was known to friends) was my father

    I didn’t know Renate Horney exhibted art works in 1960. She was my grandmother and would like to know more about this if you have more information (e.g. what type of works did she exhibit)?

    Lars Lohmann

    • Thanks for your valuable comments; I have made a couple of minor edits to the post to reflect your comments. Unfortunately, i don’t know what type of works your grandmother, Renate Horney, exhibited in 1960. at Galerias Chapultepec. The show ran from 26 February to 15 March and was entitled “Orbita Cultural Alemana”, organized by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Secretaria de Educaci6n Publica. The full list of exhibitors, according to the “Catalogo de las exposiciones de arte en 1960”, by Justino Fernandez [Anales Del Instituto De Investigaciones Esteticas, Mexico, 1961.] was:
      Martha Adams, Otto Butterlin, Fischer, Mathias Goeritz, Herbert Hoffmann Ysenbourg, Wolfgang Paalen, Adolfo Laubner, Roger Von Gunten, Walter Back, Gisela E. de Bauer, Francisco Eckermann Zum Felde, Elli Eversbusch, Pedro Friedeberg, Hedda Giesemann, Trude Hauschildt, Irene Hoyos de Hennet, Hoffmann, El Marinero, Kitzia, Franz Hofweber, Karin Ihnen, Anni Krauss-Rozo, Hertha Lans, Gudrun Madsen-Kattentidt, Conny Meissen, Juan Messmacher, Heinz Messtorff, Gerda Hajen de Pilug, Wolfgang Pohlenz, K. H. Riepen, Maria Magdalena Rinech, Brunhilde Roesler, Irm Schaumann, Herbert Schmidt, Erna D. de Schoett, Werner Stein, Luis Strempler Vivanco, Margarita Weihmann, Guillermo Westphal, Alfredo Wolburg, Ruth Zawadzki, Carlos Zenzes, Renate Crevenna, Mummi Roesler.

  3. I forgot to add that Alfred had three children. Frances Bolongaro-Crevenna was the youngest child and like her bother Pedro was born in Mexico City. Frances is still living in Cuernevaca and Mexico City.

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