Cinema manager, film distributor and producer, 8 Aug. 1871 – 1953.
Madsen was one of the first Danes to take moving pictures seriously. As early as 1898 he shot a film in Tivoli – on the amusement park’s anniversary – and screened it the same night at Tivoli’s Pantomime Theatre. For a few years he shot and bought films, screening them in Norway, Sweden and elsewhere, in variety theatres and circus buildings. In 1907 Madsen became co-owner of the cinema Cityteatret in Ålborg and he later chaired the organisation of provincial cinema owners. In 1912, he founded a distribution company, Dansk-Svensk Film A/S, serving as its director, while also, in 1914, becoming manager of Metropolteatret (now Grand) in Mikkel Bryggersgade, Copenhagen. In 1915 he bought Copenhagen’s old central station and converted the building into a cinema designed by Constantin Philipsen. Three years later, in 1918, he built the new Paladsteater on the same lot where it stands today. He managed the Paladsteater, Copenhagen’s biggest cinema with almost 1,800 seats, until the early 1930s.
Madsen produced two films in his career, Once Upon a Time (1922) and Livets Karneval (Life is a Carnival) (1923 – with Svend Nielsen, Palladium). In a 1938 interview on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Madsen said this about Once Upon a Time:
"It did pretty well as a film. But because it was estimated at 90,000 kroner and ended up costing 222,000 – even though we cut the costliest set, for the market scene – I had had enough of film production."
Importing The Passion of Joan of Arc, which was not a popular hit in Copenhagen, was a surprising move. Urged by a member of parliament who had seen the film and thought it deserved a wider audience, Madsen invited 1,800 unemployed people to Paladsteatret for a free show. Afterwards, the audience was asked to state their opinions by filling out a questionnaire. In 1928 Madsen sent one of the two prints of Joan of Arc he had acquired to the Norwegian physician Harald Arnesen. Why is a bit of a mystery. The film was never shown in Norway. But 53 years later it reappeared when an attic was cleaned out at the Dikemark Hospital in Oslo – a flawless print of the original premiere version that was thought lost forever.
By Lisbeth Richter Larsen | 23. May