31 January 2004 | F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
What's the German for 'this movie stinks'?
Serves me right for watching German comedies. 'Kyritz-Pyritz' is a mistaken-identity farce, but it's trite and predictable and there's nothing here I haven't seen in literally dozens of bad sitcom episodes, dinner-theatre disasters and Brian Rix comedies. I'll make allowances for the fact that 'Kyritz' was made in 1931, when all the old jokes on offer here were slightly newer. But that's only a partial excuse. In the 1920s, Ben Travers was staging farces at the Aldwych Theatre with hackneyed situations like these ... but he got fresher jokes and wittier characterisations out of this unpromising material.
Well, let's wade through the strudel. Max Adalbert plays Herr Doktor Lietzow, the mayor of the little German burgh of Kyritz. Twenty years ago, he had a fling with a Berliner fraulein which resulted in an illegitimate daughter. The girl has grown to adulthood without ever meeting her father or seeing a photograph of him. (This backstory is set up via some very unwieldy dialogue and insert shots of illegible German handwriting.) Now, all of a sudden, Lietzow decides to go to Berlin to meet his daughter ... and to get away from Frau Lietzow for a while.
The mayor enlists the aid of his two cronies, Piepenberg the pharmacist (Henry Bender) and Rux the wine merchant (Paul Hoerbiger). The three of them cook up an excuse for a dirty weekend in Berlin, telling their wives they're going on a business trip. Lietzow telegrams his daughter, telling her which train he and his two beer-buddies will be on.
Still with me? Next door over from the little burgh of Kyritz is the slightly more cosmopolitan burgh of Pyritz. En route to Berlin, the three 'bachelors' decide to get off in Pyritz for a drink. Meanwhile, three male musicians from the local Sängerbund (singers' guild) board the train at Pyritz. Of course, Lietzow and his pals miss the train. Of course, the trio of yodelers arrive in Berlin. Of course, the daughter and her landlady mistake these three kappelmeisters for Lietzow and his buddies.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (I mean, back in Kyritz), Frau Lietzow finds the telegram form that her husband sent to Berlin. She sees that her husband is sloping off to Berlin to meet a young woman, and of course she assumes that the fraulein is her husband's mistress. (Little does she know that the girl is her husband's blanket-brat.) Mrs Lietzow summons Mrs Piepenberg and Mrs Rux, and they all hop the next choo-choo to Berlin.
The results are painfully unfunny and completely predictable. Everybody in this film overacts, and the director shows a leaden sense of comedy. The pacing is bang awful, and there are some really dire continuity errors. The only things I liked about 'Kyritz-Pyritz' were the location sequences of Berlin and its suburbs, in the last years before Hitler took over the franchise. For the historical value of a few exterior scenes in this movie, I'll rate 'Kyritz-Pyritz' one point out of 10. Schweinhunds!