The eyes have it, and that is one of the reasons why lovely Luise Rainer, the Viennese star, was chosen to play the role of Anna Held in The Great Ziegfeld.
Anna Held was famous for her large, lustrous eyes…eyes that would not behave…eyes that captured the heart of America’s greatest showman, Florenz Ziegfeld…eyes that inspired poets and composers to praise them in poetry and song.
“Miss Rainer’s eyes are equally as beautiful as Anna Held’s, if not more beautiful,” says producer Hunt Stronberg who chose her for the role. They are as large, lustrous and contain that same tantalising quality of pseudo-naughtiness.
“Although Anna Held was known to millions of people for amusing naughtiness on the stage, I knew her as a woman with a very sweet temper off-stage, a lovely and gentle woman.
“This also is true of Miss Rainer. In person she possesses one of the sweetest personalities I have ever known. Yet, in her characterisations for the screen she is capable of adapting herself to an opposite personality tinged with polite naughtiness and a little devilish twinkle in every glance and an impish suggestion in every movement of her lithe body.” Luise has the gift of making those who work with her like her.
Before Luise Rainer ever made a picture, William Powell said that she was a dramatic actress, and a “very individual individual.”
Being the first actor to work with Miss Rainer in films, he was in a position to know. And after the preview of Escapade, he was able to tell any doubters: “I told you so.” For in that picture the petite star proved her ability beyond question.
Luise Rainer is a most definite personality. A key to her character is her entire simplicity. It is reflected in her gestures, her spoken thoughts and her mode of living. That is why Hollywood and its glamour are so confusing to her. And she asks wonderingly: “They make gods of us in Hollywood. Why?”
Then she goes on: “I do not want to be thought of in this way. I am only an actress. All of us should do our work well if we do it at all. Why should there be such acclaim when we only do what is our duty?”
Luise means it sincerely when she says: “I am only an actress.” And sincerity marks everything the elfin girl with the brilliant dark eyes and wistful mouth does.
Either she hasn’t run across the art of subterfuge or she spurns it entirely.
She says exactly what she thinks. She is a dynamo of energy. Though seriously inclined, Luise by disposition is all sunshine. Hers is the happiness gained through a sane sense of values gathered from life.
There is an air of informal charm about her house in Santa Monica canyon with the warm California sun and Pacific breeze pouring through the open windows. Music is played continually in her house. Luise has a continuous gramophone which plays symphonies all day long.
“I live in music,” she declares.
When not at the studio , Luise passes most of her time at home. She rarely attends social gatherings. She prefers to be home with a few intimates, or to be alone. But by no means is she a recluse. For Luise Rainer is genuinely fond of people. Only large groups of strangers terrify her.
Luise was one of three children in a wealthy Dusseldorf household . Her father, who had a passion for travel, took his family with him wherever he went. As a child Luise toured Europe.
When she was fifteen, the Rainer fortunes commenced to dwindle. Eager to find some way to carve her own career, Luise decided on acting. But she did not confide her plans to her parents, fearing their disapproval.
On the pretext of visiting her grandparents, Luise appeared for her first audition on the stage of the Dumont Theatre. Mme. Dumont, who was in the audience, was greatly impressed, and incited her to return the next day. After that second audition, Luise found herself with the most important role of the season.
Luise remained with the Dumont group for two years, then she went with Max Reinhardt with whom she acted for three years. During that time her fame grew throughout Europe – finally across the Atlantic and she was signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer [sic].
As a child Luise Rainer had the advantages of the finest schools in Europe. She first studied art, then took up writing. Book learning was always tedious for her. She would rather learn from life.
Luise learns rapidly. And that is why she hates to study.
“I’m lazy about studying from books becomes learning things comes very easily. It is a bad habit because I put things off,” she smiles.
When Luise appeared in Escapade, it was not only her first Hollywood picture, but it marked her film debut. Yet she was completely at ease before the cameras.
“But I have William Powell to thank in many ways,” she declares. “He was wonderful to me. Completely unselfish, he taught me camera angles. Even if a scene could have been to his advantage he would show em what to do so that I could have an equal if not better chance for characterisation.
“He loved to tease me, too,” she laughs. “But I will never forget his kindness and understanding.”
 It is unusual, at this early stage in Luise’s Hollywood career, for the press to mention her German roots. The MGM publicity machine usually ensured she was from Vienna.
 Luise had already appeared in three films made in Europe before going to Hollywood. This is another example of MGM publicity – they wanted to highlight their discovery.