Stéphane de Rosti The villain of Egyptian cinema

Stéphane de Rosti was born in Alexandria in 1891. His father, an Austrian baron, married an Italian, bought a palace in Shoubra and decided to live there. As the mother was about to give birth to her child, the father returned to Vienna in obedience to his aristocratic family. When Stéphane Rosti was born, she gave him his father’s name. He lived with his mother in Shoubra and went to El Khedeweya, an Egyptian school. (Another source says that Rosti lived with his mother in Ramleh in Alexandria and went to Ras el Tin Primary School. He probably lived in Alexandria during his childhood, then moved with his mother to Cairo.)
When he got his school certificate, he decided to try to meet his father. At the same time, he got in touch with an Austrian ballet dancer at the Teatro Abbas, with whom he travelled to Vienna. He managed to meet his father there but eventually fell in favour because of his relationship with the dancer, in addition to his artistic tendencies.

Rosti decided to stay in Europe to acquire some cinematic experience and earn a living in the meantime. In Italy, he worked as a translator and as a worker in the port of Naples to accompany immigrants to America, as a salesman, and as an entertainer for aristocratic children. In France, he worked as a tour guide, in a library, and with a theatrical troupe. Some critics include other jobs such as those of a dancer in nightclubs, an undertaker, and a butcher.
It was in Europe that he met the director Mohamed Karim, who was studying cinema in Germany at the time. Later, he also met the actor Serag Mounir, who was there for the same purpose. In 1917, Rosti met Aziz Eid, who was about to form his own theatrical group, El Comedy el Arabi. Eid was fascinated by Rosti’s French and Italian (he also spoke English and German) and decided to let him join the troupe. He also gave him the role of a Russian prince in the play Take Care of Emily (Khali balak min Imilî), which made the critics notice him.

Later, Rosti and Naguib el Rihani presented comic Franco-Arab one-act plays at the Epie de Rose theatre in Alfi Bey Street. El Rihani created the character of El Sheikh Batshot, which Rosti played in a way that allowed him to participate in the majority of the group's operettas. The most important was perhaps El'Ashara el Tayeba (1920), directed by Aziz Eid, in which he played "Hagy Baba Homes Akhdar" (he played this role again in 1961 when he was 70). This time the operetta was directed by Zaki Toleimat, and starred Karem Mahmoud and Shahrazad). Rosti met Youssef Wahbi and Aziz Eid in Paris in 1922, just as they were about to form the Ramsis Group. He returned with them to Egypt and had such a great role to play in the group since its launch in 1923 that Wahbi considered him one of its founders. Rosti was not only an actor in Ramsis Group but he also translated and adapted several plays, such as The Elixir of Love (Aksîr el houbb), Maxim’s Bar (Hanet Maxîm), The Mental Hospital (Moustachfa el magânîn), and Aunt Charlie (el ‘Ama Chârlî). In addition, he directed some plays, such as The Accusation (el Itihâm).

His involvement with the Ramsis Group prompted his colleague Aziza Amir to allow him to complete what was considered the first Egyptian feature film, The Call of God (Nedâ' Allah), which was later renamed Laila in 1927. The Turkish director Wedad Orfi was supposed to direct the film, but he clashed with its producer and heroine, Aziza Amir. Thus, it was a coincidence, or perhaps destiny, as some critics put it, that made Rosti direct this important film, and play the part of Raouf Bey.

In addition to Laila, Rosti directed five films and was the co-writer of six others. However, his reputation rests heavily on his acting career. Even though he was famous for playing the villain, he used to interpret such roles with a unique sense of humour that made the audience sometimes actually like and sympathise with his character. He succeeded in combining the roles of villain and comedian, to become a comic villain, facing competition from only Adel Adham in the seventies. He used to take part in the writing of his character and add some words that usually became features of his personality. It is a measure of his success that some of his lines are still remembered to this very day, the most famous is perhaps "nashint ya fâlih" (good shot, dude). Rosti will always be remembered for his unique accent and tone of voice, especially when playing a foreigner.
Stéphane Rosti died on May 12, 1964, while shooting the last scenes of Midnight Story (Hikayat nous el layl).

Filmography

1927: Laila (Layla) (actor and director)
1928: The Sea Laughs (el Bahr biyidhak) (actor, director, and scenario writer)
1931: His Excellency Keshkesh Bey (Sahib el Sa'ada Kichkich Bek) is a silent actor and a director.
1932: Song of the Heart (Ounchoudat el Fouad) (co-director with Mario Volpi)
1934: His Excellency Keshkesh Bey (Sahib el Sa'ada Kichkich Bek) sound (actor and director)
1935: Antar Effendi (Antar Afandi) (actor, director, writer of the scenario, and co-writer of the script and story with Ahmed Zaki Saleh).
1937: The Song of Hope (Nachid el Amal)
1937: The Eternal Glory (El Magd el Khalid)
1937: Salama is Fine (Salama fi khayr)
1938: That’s My Nature (Ana tab’i kidah)
1939: A Rainy Night (Laylah Moumtirah)
1940: The Workshop (El Warchah) (actor and director)
1941: Mr. Omar (Si'Omar)
1942: The Countryman (Ibn el Balad) (actor and director)
1943: The Right Path (el Tariq el Moustaqim)
1944: The Martyrs of Love (Chouhada’ el Gharam)
1945: Appearances (el Mazahir)
1945: The Prettiest (Ahlahoum) (Actor, Director, Writer of Scenario, and Co-Writer of Story and Script with Ahmed Zaki Saleh)
1945: Gamal and Dalal (Gamal and Dalal) (scenario director and writer)
1946: Their Excellencies (Ashab el Sa'adah)
False Pride (el Nafkhah el Kaddabah), 1946
1947: "My Heart is My Guide" (Qalbi dalili)
1947: Antar’s Son (Ibn ‘Antar)
1948: El Hawa wa-l-chabab (Love and Youth)
1948: The Adventurer (el Moughamir)
1948: Boulboul Effendi (Boulboul Afandi).
1948: Anbar (Anbar)
1948: The Adventures of Antar and Abla (Moughamrat "Antar wa'Ablah")
1948: A Woman's Imagination (Khayal imraah)
1949: A Holiday in Hell (Agazah fi gohannam)
1949: The Murderer (el Qatilah)
1949: Girls' Flirtation (Ghazal el banat)
1949: Ms. Ghost (‘Ifritah hanim).
1949: The Eve of the Feast (Laylat el'id)
1950: Tears of Happiness (Doumou’ el Farah)
1950: The Love Beach (Chati el Gharam)
1950: The Hero (El Batal)
1950: Local and Cute (Baladi wa-khiffah)
1950: The Thorny Road of Dangers (Tariq el Chowk)
1950: Never Mind, Dice (Ma’lich ya zahr)
1950: The Millionaire (El Millionnaire)
1950: The Wedding Night (Laylat el-Doukhlah)
1950: The Last Lie (Akhir kidbah)
1951: Fayrouz Hanem (Fayrouz Hanem)
1951: My Father Deceived Me (Khada’ani abi)
1952: "Do not Tell Any One" (Mat̓oulch li-hadd)
1952: Good News (Bouchret Khayr)
1952: I believe in God (Amint billah)
1952: It's For You (Halal ‘alayk)
1953: The Administrative Board (Maglis el Idarah)
1953: The Hell of Jealousy (Gahîm el Ghirah)
1953: The Night Train (Qitar el-Layl) (actor and co-writer of the story and script with Ahmed Zaki Saleh)
1953: The Unfair Judgement (Houkm qaraqouch)
1953: The Elite (Ibn Dhawat) (actor and co-writer of the story and script with Ahmed Zaki Saleh)
1953: This is Unfair (Haram ‘alayk)
1953: When it Smiles (el Dounia limma tidhak)
1954: The Farwell Dance (Raqsat el Wada)
1954: Hassan, Marcos and Cohen (Hasan wa Morkqos wa Kohin)
1954: April Fool (Kidbat April)
1954: Sheikh Hassan (El Chaykh Hasan)
1954: Women Cannot Lie (el Sittât ma ya’rafouch yikdibou)
1954: The Country Girl (Bint el Balad) (actor and co-writer of the story and script with Ahmed Zaki Saleh)
1955: The Lover (‘Achiq el Rouh)
1955: The Lovers (‘Ahl el Hawa)
1955: Love and Tears (Houbb wa doumou’)
1956: Wondering Souls (Qouloub ha’rah)
1956: "Enough, Darling, No More Tears" (Kefaya Ya ‘Ain)
1957: The Prisoner of Abou Zouboul (Saguin Abou Zou’boul)
1957: Tamarind (Tamr Henna)
1957: I Claim My Heart Back (Roudda Qalbi)
1958: Fierce Love (Houb min nar)
1958: Ismail Yassin Tarazan (Isma’il Yasin Tarazan).
1958: "I Love You, Hassan" (Ahibbak ya Hasan)
1958: My Dark Lover (Habibi el Asmar)
1958: The Lady of the Palace (Sayyidat el Qasr)
1958: Daring Eyes (Abou ‘Oyoun Gariah)
1959: Hassan and Naima (Hasan we Na’imah)
1959: The Poor Millionaire (El Millionnaire el Faqir)
1959: The Highway Man (Qati’ tariq) (actor and co-writer of the story and script with Ahmed Zaki Saleh)
1960: The Hairdresser (Hallaq el Sayyidat)
1960: Ismail Yassin in Prison (Isma’il Yassin fi-l-sign)
1961: No Return (Bila ‘Awdah)
1961: "Do not Remember Me" (La Tazkourini)
1961: The Crook (el Nassab)
1961: The Interpreter (el Tourgman)
1962: The Tyrants' Struggle (Sira’ el Gababirah)
1962: The Oil King (Malik el Bitroul)
1963: The Pickpocket (el Nachchal)
1963: Crazy People Are in Bliss (el Maganin fi na’im)
1963: The Funny Crime (el Garimah el Dahikah)
1963: A Woman Set Aside (Imraah ‘ala el Hamish)
1964: The Black Bag (el Haqibah el Sawdaa)
1964: Very Naughty (Akhir Chaqawah)
1964: Midnight Story (Hikayat nos el layl)

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Ahmed Ibrahim

Full-fledged Content Creator & Tech Journalist. Worked previously with top publishers like AkhbarTech, Abda Adv, and RobbReportArabia.