Willi Forst – Frauen sind keine Engel (1943)


“Frauen sind keine Engel” was made on a moderate budget and has generally found not as much attention as that which has been rightfully accorded to his ‘Viennese trilogy’ made at about the same time. Please don’t expect the outward splendour of some other Forst films, even though script, acting and direction leave nothing to be desired. However, like many of Forst’s more important films this one not only provides great entertainment, but is also a thorough examination of the relation of fiction/art and reality.

So, on a simple level, this is a very entertaining and witty story about a slightly arrogant film director (Axel von Ambesser) travelling on an ocean liner who is constantly pestered by young girls who devise all sorts of schemes to attract his attention because they want to get a role in a film. He is equally pestered by his best friend, a scriptwriter (Richard Romanowsky, who reminds me a little of Edward Everett Horton in this role), who thinks he could use these going-ons as the basis for a new screenplay. But then the film director overhears the talk of a young woman (Marte Harell, magnificent as always) with a police officer who wants to arrest her for having killed her husband. And soon the director finds himself in love with the lady and wants to help her to get away from the police. All very well, but it slowly transpires that some things may be quite a bit different from what they appear to be…

Filmportal.de calls the film ‘remarkably self-reflexive’, and that is actually putting things mildly. The more the story develops, we find ourselves on dizzyingly different levels of ‘fictions’ and maskerades being played. And if one knows that the role of the film director was originally to be played by Forst himself, then even Margot Hielscher’s singing of “Bel Ami” early in the film gets a meaning that goes far beyond a simple attempt at cashing-in again on Forst’s greatest success as a singer and director. Saying more would mean very serious spoilers, but once you’ve watched the film, you may want to read the analysis of the film in Francesco Bono’s book on Forst to sort things out a bit:



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