15 October 2003 | F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Alfred less than Abel in substandard Douglas Sirk
Alfred Abel had a long career as an actor in German films, but is remembered for only one role: as the master builder in 'Metropolis'. Two different film historians in Europe have separately told me that Abel also directed a substantial number of films, but neither historian has offered me specifics for this. IMDb lists only a few films which Abel is known to have directed. One of these is 'Alles um eine Frau' ('All for a Woman').
The attractive actress Charlotte Susa (blonde, with a regal Prussian accent) stars as Blanche Keyne, the wife of an English industrialist: her husband Frederick (Gustav Diessl) was an aviator in the British Expeditionary Force during the Great War, but after the Armistice he made a fortune manufacturing aeroplanes. During the war, Blanche was a cabaret dancer, but she has long since put those days behind her.
By chance, Frederick crosses paths with an old acquaintance, with the unfortunate (and unintentionally funny) name Heinrich Droop. During the war, Heinrich was a German air ace. At one point, he shot down Frederick's 'plane over France. When the English aviator's aeroplane caught fire, Heinrich landed and risked his own life to pull Frederick from the burning wreckage. (I found this absolutely plausible; during World War One there were many examples of German and British servicemen violating the rules of battle for the sake of chivalry. Very few such examples in World War Two, alas.)
Heinrich did not prosper after the war, and he's now running a petrol station in Germany. Frederick straight away offers him a job managing Frederick's largest aircraft factory in England. When Charlotte and Heinrich meet, they are instantly attracted to each other. Ach, du lieber! Meanwhile, out of the past emerges Charlotte's former dance partner (Hubert von Meyerinck). When he discovers that Charlotte and Heinrich are having an affair, he starts blackmailing Charlotte.
This movie is a soap opera, and not a very good one. What's the German word for 'turgid'? There is some unfunny (and patronising) comic relief from Willi Schur and Carsta Löck as a couple of servants. This film assumes, as a given, that a German man is automatically sexier than an Englishman. Based on what I see here, Alfred Abel wasn't a very good director: the film's pacing is bad, and the actors' performances are much too erratic. Bad photography, too. I'll rate this movie 2 points out of 10.