15 March 2002 | Mozjoukine
Outstanding early German sound film has been neglected.
The German films of the early thirties continued the distinction that the country's silent films had established and this is one of the best, imaginative and original.
Incensed that one of Italy's National treasures is held in a foreign museum, window repair man Forst determines to repatriate it. His method is stunningly low tech - setting the guard a chess problem and moving the painting in plain sight.
This is elaborated with remarkably assured use of the still limited European sound technique - passages of dialogue recorded in interiors and mute exterior shooting, including Paris locations, the musical theme passed on in different forms like the one in LOVE ME TONIGHT, the alternation of dialogue and music along with excellent performance and curious concepts like Forst identifying Von Mollo with his beloved painting.
The film is so good that one is left wondering about the other work done around it, and equally unfamiliar, outside German speaking areas.
The sympathies reflected do sit uneasily with our knowledge of the consequences of the alliances they represented but that's no surprise.