“Dame Rose ( Dame Carmen Cartellieri ) is a liberal and impudent youngster who sells flowers in selected and important places for aristocrats. There she is obliged by her greedy brother Toni ( Herr Eugen Preiss ) to flirt with old and rich aristocrats ( having in mind that Dame Rose is also a thin girl, that’s a inversely proportional situation for this German count… ). She catches the eye of banker Bergern ( Herr Fritz Helmers ).
Who has a young and handsome nephew, Baron Stein ( Herr Hans Rhoden ). Dame Rose promptly falls in love with Stein so she continues her flirtation both men at the same time.
One night Toni forces Rose to reveal where in his house Bergern keeps his money. As Toni is robbing the house, the banker unexpectedly returns and is shot dead by Toni. Rose and Toni escape to the Austrian “Semmering” to avoid capture as well as starting a new life. There our shameless heroine will meet the richest man of the place ( with pleasure! ) Hannes ( Herr Hugo Werner-Kahle ). Hannes’ family are know as “würghand” for a legend and some terrible incident about the powerful force of their hands but that’s no problem for Rose who will seduce and marry Hannes, a fact that doesn’t set well with Hannes’ father ( Herr Viktor Kutschera ) who warns him that Rose is a wicked girl.
When afterwards, Baron Stein ( now richer than ever since he has inherited his murdered uncle’s fortune ) appears in the same snowy Austrian mountains, Rose finds herself torn between him and Hannes. Obviously, this terrible conflict of love and interests will end in tragedy.
“Die Würghand” (1920) is an Austrian silent film production directed by the little known Herr Cornelius Hintner ( at first, he has success as a painter and then became more interested in photography and pictures, working as a cameraman on the Balkan front during the first world war ). During the 20’s his artistic association with the Italian actress Carmen Cartellieri was decisive. Dame Cartellieri had come to Austria in 1920 and became one of the most popular actresses of that country. She founded the “Cartellieri Film Company”, “Die Würghand” being her first silent film production. It’s a careful film that takes advantage of the scarce technical improvements of that era, or at least in the Austrian film industry, that includes skilful film continuity and some effective special effects.
“Die Würghand” is a perfect film vehicle for Dame Cartellieri as she is the main protagonist of the film, a terrible femme fatale who uses and discards men for her own purposes. Her character of Rose is startling nowadays, displaying a lack of inhibition in a cold and selfish woman who has no scruples. Sometimes Dame Cartellieri is a bit theatrical but that’s not a problem because the overacting fits perfectly for the character; that is to say, a faithful caricature of what is supposed to be a wicked girl.
Don’t forget also the suffering men of the film and how even minor characters are ruthlessly used by Rose to advance her interests. By the way, another interesting aspect of the story, though perhaps not intentional, is that until the middle of the oeuvre, the audience doesn’t know exactly the true relationship between Rose and Toni. Judging by scarce but evident signs one assumes they are a couple. When their real relationship is revealed later an extra element of perversity is added to the story.
As a curiosity, Dame Cartellieri will participate years later in “Orlacs Hände” (1924), another film in which conflictive hands are a main character in the oeuvre, MEIN GOTT!!… A handy and obsessed subject for Dame Cartellieri, Ja wohl!!….
And now, if you’ll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must continue to rule his servants with a heavy hand.”
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