A failure with highlights
Kurt Früh, who directed this movie, wrote in his last book "Rückblenden" (1975) that he considers this movie a failure. As we know from his collaborators, Präsens-Film and mostly Lazar Wechsler were afraid when they read Früh's original treatment: What Früh had in mind was nothing less than a Zurich variation a la Fellini's "Notte Di Calabria", however, with a strong twist in direction of a history of morality. When Wechsler had told Früh his severe doubts that the original story with its "Libertinages" and "Débauches" would be refused both by public and critics and that furthermore the Moral Instances would agrees against the film, Früh started to rewrite and rewrite the original text until there was scenario left which hardly deserved to be filmed. It is true that the great performance of Margrit Winter is simply wasted. Her decision to become a prostitute is basically unmotivated. Also Dr. Kartmann's sympathy is hard to believe (at least then, when one does not know that in real life Erwin Kohlund and Margrit Winter were married). Especially stupid is the role of Emil Hegetschweiler as Waiter Walter and self-proclaimed morality guard. Why Anni (Winter) is afraid of him and does not even think of chasing him away, remains a miracle. Similar things would be to say about the character of Hans Gaugler, an eminent Swiss actor whose "Dällebach ... Dällebaaaaach" from Früh's movie "Dällebach Kari" (1970) nobody forgets until his last days. Not much better is the situation among the whores who stand in a certain sense in the center of the movie: The character of the later Burgtheater actress Blanche Aubry (the barkeeper "Mary" out of Früh's early movie "Polizischt Wäckerli") is completely senseless. Nevertheless, one can see the movie as a phase in the life of Leni, who forced her husband to steal because she wanted a more luxurious life. Let alone while he is in prison, she naively thinks that all she has to do is to go to her sister, and changing the city will automatically change her life. When she learns about the profession of her sister, she just lets herself go and steps into the footprints of Annie, while she is in Italy. That every position in life must be prepared - a bourgeois profession as well as a netherworld-profession - is simply unclear to her. She just clings herself to the first good-looking man she meets in the Odeon, totally ignorant if he is married or not and if she could endanger his marriage. Also, she does not doubt one second that the man will in a jiffy leave his wife and come to her into her apartment house. It is almost a miracle, that real catastrophes go beyond her; the worst she has to suffer is to stay as a house-keeper for the waiter together with his "stinking animals". Real life shows that anybody who unprepared breaks out of his position normally comes under the hammer. However, Früh waits also for Leni with a very dramatic end. The problem is here, again, that it is too little motivated.
- Oct 24, 2010
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