Silent films 1927-1929: Hollywood

Nils Asther
2: Silent movies in Hollywood 1927-1929

In 1927, Asther arrived in America, signed to United Artists, for whom he had already filmed Sorrell and Son in England.

Topsy and Eva, 1927, United Artists, dir Del Lord (also DW Griffiths and Lois Weber, uncredited)

Topsy and Eva was Asther's first Hollywood film. He was 30. The stars of the picture were the Duncan sisters, Vivian and Rosetta. For years they had been touring their Topsy and Eva stage show, very loosely based on the anti-slavery book Uncle Tom's Cabin

Lobby card: Topsy dresses up as Santa Claus in a piece of comic business

 A typically melodramatic scene. The wicked Simon Legree (Gibson Gowland) beats Uncle Sam (Noble Johnson) while George Shelby (Nils Asther) protects Topsy (Rosetta Duncan).
The consequences of a fight with the villian.
Nils Asther and Marjorie Daw in the love interest roles.
 Movie card: Nils Asther and horse

 Eva (Vivian Duncan) and Sam (Noble Johnson)

 Nils Asther met Vivian Duncan on set and they married in 1930 after an on-off relationship.

 Nils Asther with the Duncan sisters at a Shrine charity performance, 1933, Los Angeles

Behind the scenes


Honour Above All (The Blue Danube, La Fille du Danube) 1928, DeMille Pictures, dir Paul Sloane

 "DECEIVED by those she trusted, she became the spite-bride of the creature she loathed. Don't fail to see this, the most enthralling love romance ever screened."
Music score
Movie cards

Movie still
Leatrice Joy, Nils Asther 

Laugh, Clown, Laugh (Die lachende Maske), 1928, MGM, dir Herbert Brenon

Nils Asther plays Count Luigi, a philandering nobleman in love with circus girl Simonetta (Loretta Young) - only so is her adopted father, the clown Tito (Lon Chaney).
lobby cards
movie magazine
film stills
Loretta Young, Nils Asther
Lon Chaney, Nils Asther
Lon Chaney, Nils Asther


The Cossacks, 1928

Based on the novel The Cossacks by Tolstoy.  John Gilbert and Nils Asther fight for the affections of peasant girl Renee Adoree.

film stills 
Renée Adorée as Maryana (centre) Nils Asther (right) as Prince Olenin Stieshneff


Loves of an Actress, 1928

In this lost film, a French actress (Pola Negri) falls in love with a young man soon to become ambassador (Nils Asther). Unfortunately, the lady has had former dalliances and one of these refuses to quit the field without a fight.

Lobby cards
movie cards

promotional stills
stills from the film
Nils Asther, Pola Negri
Nils Asther, Mary McAllister


The Cardboard Lover, 1928

Sally (Marion Davies), a naive American flapper, is on a European tour when she sees Andre (Nils Asther), a handsome European tennis champ. As she asks him for his autograph, she sees he is plagued with a tempestuous girlfriend (Jetta Goudal). Sally puts forward the idea of being Andre's 'Cardboard Lover' in order for him to regain the upper hand.

promotional painting from 1928
stills from the film
Nils Asther, Marion Davies
Jetta Goudal, Marion Davies 
Marion Davies, Nils Asther, Jetta Goudal
Marion Davies imitates Jetta Goudal while wearing her hat
Marion Davies, Nils Asther
Andre pretends to be ill. Sally 'tends' to him and adminsters a chest plaster.

Behind the scenes 
Marion Davies nearly drives a car into Nils Asther and cameraman John Arnold. Director Robert Z Leonard sends her off set.

- 1928 review by the New York Times

 Our Dancing Daughters, 1928

 Norman (Nils Asther) and his fiance Bea (Dorothy Sebastian) are modern and young, daincing and having parties with their friends. Then Norman discovers he wasn't Bea's first love, and turns out to be the old fashioned one of the group.
movie cards
Dorothy Sebastian, Nils Asther
lobby card
stills from the film
Dorothy Sebastian, Nils Asther
Nils Asther, Dorothy Sebastian, Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford, Nils Asther, Johnny Mack Brown, Edward Nugent
Dorothy Sebastian, Nils Asther
Movie magazine

Dream of Love, 1928

The disposed Prince Mauritz (Nils Asther) has nothing to do but spend his time having affairs, including with a Duchess (Aileen Pringle) and a gypsy girl, Adrienne (Joan Crawford). The Duke (Warner Oland) finds out and arranges to have the Prince shot by firing squad. Meanwhile, Adrienne has become a famous actress.

lobby cards
movie cards
stills from the film
Joan Crawford, Nils Asther
Aileen Pringle as The Duchess, Joan Crawford as Adrienne, Nils Asther as Prince Mauritz
Ruth Holly, Nils Asther

- 1928 review by the New York Times - modern review

The Holywood Revue of 1929

Asther is billed as being in this film, along with his wife, Vivian Duncan. In fact his scenes were cut from the film after its Los Angeles premiere.

More on the films of Nils Asther
2: this page
5: Free agent and to England 1933-1941
6: Later career 1941-1960