Teuvo Tulio

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Teuvo Tulio

Theodor Antonius Tugai (23 August 1912 – 8 June 2000), better known as Teuvo Tulio, was a Finnish film director and actor. Beginning his career as an actor at the end of the silent era, Tulio turned to directing and producing in the 1930s. His films are noted for their extremely melodramatic style.[1][2][3]


Tulio was born as Theodor Antonius Tugai to a Turkish-Polish father and Persian-Latvian mother in Rēzekne, in the Vitebsk Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Latvia). Tugai spent the early part of his childhood in Latvia with his grandparents, before moving with his mother, who had married a Finn, to Helsinki.

At age fourteen, Tugai was the star of his fellow Russian expatriate Valentin Vaala's film Mustat silmät (Black eyes), which was completed in 1929. Due to his "exotic" appearance, the young Tugai was sometimes referred to as Finland's answer to Rudolph Valentino. In 1936 he changed his name to the more Finnish Teuvo Tulio. His first work as director was the 1936 film Taistelu Heikkilän talosta (Struggle for the House of Heikkila), starring Regina Linnanheimo.[2] Linnanheimo would become Tulio's lifelong companion, though the two were never married. She acted in many of his films and helped write the screenplays for three of his features, including his last film, 1973's Sensuela.

Altogether, Tulio directed 15 feature films, three of which were destroyed in a fire.

Later influence and reputation

Tulio's films were an influence on the Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, whose admiration brought the filmmaker international attention later in his life.[1] In 2008 and 2009, short retrospectives of his work were held in the United States at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Pacific Film Archive. Covering the former for the Village Voice, film critic J. Hoberman wrote: "At once arty and artless, stark and fulsome, Cine Tulio is characterized by an exaggerated emotional intensity and an equally primal lack of self-consciousness...His movies are desperate and insistent, sometimes clumsy but never less than forceful. Tulio's strenuous lyricism allows the objective correlative to run wild."[1]

In a brief essay on the filmmaker for the English-language film website The Auteurs, Anna Bak-Kvapil referred to Tulio's work as "spectacles of suffering and sex,"[3] writing: "His style can be Eisensteinian, with expressionistic montages of the shining faces of the proletariat intercut with kittens, crucifixes, or half-smoked cigarettes, but he adores Hollywood, mimicking in his own over-enthusiastic way, Cukor, Lubitsch and Von Sternberg."[3]


As director[4]


  1. ^ a b c Village Voice: BAM Samples Finland's Teuvo Tulio
  2. ^ a b "How did Theodor Tugai turn into Teuvo Tulio?" at Embassy of Finland, Riga
  3. ^ a b c The Auteurs: The Strange Loves of Teuvo Tulio
  4. ^ Teuvo Tulio at Elonet (in Finnish). Retrieved February 24, 2017.

External links

  • Media related to Teuvo Tulio at Wikimedia Commons
  • Teuvo Tulio on IMDb
  • "How did Theodor Tugai turn into Teuvo Tulio?" at Embassy of Finland, Riga
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