Julius von Borsody

Julius von Borsody (8 April 1892 in Vienna – 18 January 1960, also in Vienna) was an Austrian film architect and one of the most employed set designers in the Austrian and German cinemas of the late silent and early sound film periods. His younger brother, Eduard von Borsody, was a film director in Austria and Germany. He is also the great-uncle of German actress Suzanne von Borsody.


Julius von Borsody attended the Munich Art Academy before he started in the film industry in 1917. He began his career with Sascha-Film in Vienna, but up to 1924 also worked with other film production companies. In 1920 he was the set designer for Paul Czinner's highly significant pre-Expressionist work, Inferno. Together with Emil Stepanek and Artur Berger he was also responsible in Vienna, on the epics of Michael Curtiz and Alexander Korda, for the most spectacular sets ever constructed for an Austrian film, in particular the gigantic Temple of Sodom in Sodom und Gomorrha (1922), which because of its sheer size had to be built in the open air, on the Laaer Berg. Other Sascha-Film epics on which he worked were Der junge Medardus (1923) and Harun al-Rashid (1924).

In 1925 Borsody moved to Berlin. There, for films about the history of Prussia, he was able to design more ambitious structures than in Vienna. He worked on Hans Behrendt's Potsdam, das Schicksal einer Residenz (1927) and Phil Jutzi' s Berlin Alexanderplatz (1931), based on Alfred Döblin's book of the same name. Besides buildings he also created the façades and decorations of other productions with historical and costumed backgrounds, such as Danton (1931) and the Schubert biography Leise flehen meine Lieder (1933).

Shortly before the National Socialists took power in Germany, Borsody returned to Vienna, where for the next few years he worked on a number of films in the Wiener Film genre, light romantic musical comedies, the action of which was generally set in the late imperial period of about 1900: Hohe Schule (1934), Tales from the Vienna Woods (1934), The White Horse Inn (1935) and others.

After the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria to Germany in 1938) Borsody became principal architect of the Nazi-owned Wien-Film, but also occasionally worked on buildings for productions of Bavaria Film in Munich. He was employed on one of the last large-scale productions of the Third Reich - Shiva und die Galgenblume, filmed in early January 1945 with Hans Albers in the Barrandov Studios in Prague – and also on one of the very first post-war Austrian films - Der weite Weg (1946).

From that time on, in the declining Austrian film industry, he only worked on unpretentious romances and comedies. His last set designs were for the undistinguished Skandal um Dodo (1958), directed by his brother Eduard.

Selected filmography

The following is a list of selected films on which Julius von Borsody worked as film architect or set designer (director's name in brackets):

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