Tales of a Young Scamp (1964)

  |  Comedy

Tales of a Young Scamp (1964) Poster

At the end of the 19th century a Catholic pastor and religious teacher confiscated the book Lausbubengeschichten from Ludwig Thoma in his class from one of his students.

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17 November 2014 | t_atzmueller
| As archetypal as the Hofbrauhaus or the Oktoberfest
One of the most beloved Bavarian comedic-writers was without a doubt Ludwig Thoma (1867-1921). Thoma understood it, to dissect the everyday of simple commoners, the bigoted bourgeoisie as well as the local politics and chauvinism, which he would often satirize without mercy or discrimination. Often this would cause problems for the writer, who was occasionally sued for his works and even had to spend time in jail for being 'disrespectful to authority figures". However, today Thomas is best remembered for his humorist "Lausbubengeschichten" (literally "Little Scoundrel's Tales"), a collection of short-stories which, as the lore has it, Thoma based on his own childhood, growing up in rural Oberammergau.

Ludwig (Hansi Kraus) lives at the time of the demise of his royal highness, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, in a small Bavarian hamlet and is the scourge of the community. Be it arrogant Prussian tourists, stern teachers, superstitious village-priest or his nagging aunt, nobody is safe from Ludwigs incessant tricks and pranks. Only his uncle Filsner (Michel Lang) shows sympathy for the "scoundrel" Ludwig and seems to understand that Ludwig doesn't perform his pranks out of spite or malice, but rather in the name of a greater justice (which makes Ludwig somewhat of an early troll).

Of course, by todays standards Ludwigs pranks are generally harmless fun, always targeting particularly bigoted or deserving victims. The urban setting and all-star cast (virtually all actors were well known and well loved at the time) struck a cord with the movie-goers and "Lausbubengeschichten" became a hit at the box-office, spawning numerous sequels. After the reservoir of Thomas Scoundrel's stories was depleted, Kraus was cast in numerous other Films, like the "Lümmelfilme" (yet another word for youthful scoundrel), where he played the Ludwig persona in everything but name. Being typecast as such didn't do the young actor very good, who would later admit, that the industry virtually dropped him soon after he hit puberty and Kraus soon later disappeared into obscurity.

Non-German / -Bavarian viewers might ask themselves what all the fuzz was about. "Lausbubengeschichten" is a strictly local affair and it would require some background-knowledge of time and area to understand all the puns and inside jokes. Yet, it remains one of the most beloved Bavarian films of the 1960s that is still shown on Bavarian Television on a regular basis. In other words: a definite must see for those who are culturally interested (and you'd be hard-pressed to find a Bavarian, who hasn't seen the film(s) or knows them by heart).

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