Weimar Republic cinema

Géza von Bolváry – Der Herr auf Bestellung (1930)

Quote:
“Der Herr auf Bestellung – the gentleman who can be booked” has the Weimar dream team of Walter Reisch as scriptwriter, Geza von Bolvary as director and most importantly, the incomparable Willi Forst as main actor.

This ‘musical burlesque’ tells about a stylish young gentleman (Willi Forst) who works as a so-called ‘Festredner’; an untranslatable term, it indicates a person who makes speeches at important events like marriages etc. for people who don’t feel able to do it themselves. Willi lends his voice to a speech-impaired professor (Paul Hörbiger), but the baroness (Trude Lieske) who falls in love with Hörbiger only does so because of Willi’s voice, and you can guess that this leads to all sorts of complications… Read More »

Géza von Bolváry – Das Lied ist aus AKA The Song Is Over (1930)

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I don’t hesitate to call “Das Lied ist aus” one of the great masterpieces of early German cinema. It is one of the best and most stylish of all the Weimar musical sound films, and it’s unusual for its strongly melancholic undertone and unhappy ending. It can also be regarded as one of the defining films for the team of actor Willi Forst, director Geza von Bolváry and scriptwriter Walter Reisch. Forst fully established his screen persona here: the witty, elegant, but also fragile and thoughtful gentleman, although he was a much too versatile actor to be pinned-down to such keywords. Forst is paired here with the equally stunning Liane Haid, very charming and womanly, and the chemistry these two have has rarely been achieved again in later films with Forst (but check out “Der Prinz von Arkadien” with the same team!). Read More »

Georg Wilhelm Pabst – Kameradschaft AKA Comradeship (1931)

Synopsis:
An old German mine was split in two after the end of WWI because of where the new border was located. In the French part a fire breaks out; the German miners send a rescue group in, helping their French comrades. Three old German miners, who were not treated friendly at a French inn the night before, start their own private rescue through an old tunnel that separated the two mines. Will the official rescue party realize there are others left behind in time to save them? Read More »

Bertolt Brecht & Erich Engel – Mysterien eines Frisiersalons AKA Mysteries of a Barbershop (1923)

Karl Valentin plays a journeyman in a barber shop who prefers to stay in bed than to take care of his (already heavily bearded) customers. When he’s at work, he removes boils with hammer, chisel and pincers, turns long-haired men into skin-heads and chops off people’s heads. Read More »

Phil Jutzi – Berlin Alexanderplatz [+Extras] (1931)

Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Most modern-day viewers are familiar with German author Alfred Doeblin’s naturalistic novel Berlin Alexanderplatz from its epic TV miniseries presentation, directed in 1980 by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The Doeblin work was previously filmed on the very brink of the Nazi takeover in 1933, with Heinrich George as the ex-convict protagonist. Yearning for respectability, George finds he cannot escape the influence of his old criminal cohorts. When George refuses to pay “hush money” to the mob, his faithful wife Margarete Schlegel is killed. George resignedly returns to a life of crime, ultimately descending into madness. The 1933 adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz ran a brisk 90 minutes; Fassbinder’s 1980 TV version ran ten times longer. Read More »

Slatan Dudow – Zeitprobleme: wie der Arbeiter wohnt AKA How the Berlin Worker Lives (1930)

Synopsis:
This documentary shows how the Berliner workers lived in 1930. The director Slatan Dudow shows through images: a) the workers leaving the factory; b) the raise of the rents; c) the “unpleasant” guest, meaning the justice officer that brings the eviction notice; d) the fight of classes of the houses of capitalists and working classes; e) the parks of the working class; f) the houses of the working class, origin of the tuberculosis and the victims; g) the playground of the working class; h) the swimming pool for the working class, ironically called the “Baltic Sea” of the working class; i) the effects of humidity of basement where a family lives, with one member deaf; j) one working class family having dinner while the capitalist baths his dog; k) the eviction notice received from an unemployed family and their eviction. Read More »

Fritz Lang – Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler – Ein Bild der Zeit (1922)

Quote:
One of the legendary epics of the silent cinema – and the first part of a trilogy that Fritz Lang developed up to the very end of his career – Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler. [Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler.] is a masterpiece of conspiracy that, even as it precedes the mind – blowing Spione from the close of Lang’s silent cycle, constructs its own dark labyrinth from the base materials of human fear and paranoia. Rudolf Klein – Rogge plays Dr. Mabuse, the criminal mastermind whose nefarious machinations provide the cover for – or describe the result of – the economic upheaval and social bacchanalia at the heart of Weimar – era Berlin. Read More »