This is an interesting gender-confusion movie from 1934 Austria. We see a rather cool grandfather and his granddaughter Eva (with charming Hungarian accent). Desperate to earn some money, they first try backyard singing, with little success. Then Eva tries to get in the newspaper (selling) business, by ridiculously exaggerating the headlines. A customer complains, and in the ensuing chaos crashes a phone booth with his car.
Brief courtroom drama. Eva decides to become a boy (freckles and all...), picks the first name Peter, and even gets hired at a car repair/gas station. Of course, more trouble follows...
...including a doctor who has no patients, and Eva/Peter tries to help him. In many ways.
Or the ball, where (s)he is admitted on second try. (In a more modern frock.)
A quite heartbreaking scene is when her granddad and she are evicted from the gas station, and pull their wagon to (where?)
The doctor speeds by in his car, and crashes another phone booth...
Confusing, you say? I agree. Yet, this is a charming movie. Which in some ways reflects the confusing times it was made in.
First things first: this is an East German propaganda film for teenage children. Without too gory details, we get to see concentration camp prisoners and wards, good communists, bad Nazis, the Red Army liberating the KZ, and finally a parade with jubilant citizens and tanks waving the East German flag, with an uplifting song about socialism as finale.
That said, I must say that the film is very artfully done. In little over one hour of runtime, it delivers memorable and sometimes nail-biting impressions of the concentration camp, children's life in central Berlin in 1939 (including flying a kite, which later ends up torn in a tree, as later often seen in Charlie Brown comics), the drama of a political prisoner ("Pepp") en route to KZ (I suppose) being freed from a boxcar and sheltered in the basement of a former restaurant, the troubles to get non-convict clothing and some money for him, conflicts between the main boys ("Amigo" who surrenders himself to protect the others, and "Sine", who in one scene loves to show his new HJ uniform, whose father is a Nazi tending to drink)... and of course the Gestapo staff working on the case. Quite thrilling, yet without visible violence.
Much atmospheric imagery, with interesting details - the sub-story of the pay-box for electricity (or gas?) fascinated me most.
I rank this film close to "Ich war 19" as a memorable experience. Communism is basically gone, the GDR has ceased to exist, so the political concerns are negligible now, but the imagery of this film has survived all that, and is still impressing, in my eyes.
The titular Roland (diesel locomotive engineer at the East German Reichsbahn) has a complicated love life (with most any woman along his line.) Even when he is assigned to the express train to (East) Berlin.
Add to the complexity: the woman handball teams of both of his line's end points, and their machinations. And the dachshund associations and tests...
As I have never lived in East Germany, I might have missed many subtleties. But still I enjoyed the show.
Comedian Rolf Herricht shows his strengths, but decently.
All in all, a quite well-done comedy from a country that disappeared in 1990. Less about trains than I'd have hoped, but still a lovely blast from the past, from a fallen-flag country since 25 years...
This film was produced in Cinecitta, Rome, in parallel Italian and German versions with different actors (like they did in the early sound film days). I watched the German version, starring Sybille Schmitz.
Set on some pseudonymed island, possibly a British colony, where malaria suddenly strikes hard. A young male doctor out in a jungle camp (which gets attacked by gruesome jungle aborigines) researching mosquitoes, a young female doctor in the city...
A replacement doctor "Dos Passos" arrives by ship, constantly followed by an American reporter, who tries to remember where he has seen him before...
Quite dramatic, somewhat racist, with otherwise decent production values as needed for an escapist movie to make viewers forget the real WW2 outside. Not a highlight of cinematic history, but interesting in the context I mentioned.
Toni (maybe 7 years old) and his sister Rita (maybe 3) travel alone by train to visit their grandma in Bamsdorf, eight stations down the line. Toni doesn't know precisely which the right-hand side is.
From that consequential error, several things go wrong on their separate odysseys through rural (or even bucolic) East Germany... transportation is on foot, or, when you're lucky, by horse cart or steam train.
Camera and quick editing make this a nerve-racking experience, unlike other GDR children films I've watched.
*** Spoiler *** In the end, all goes well.
For trainspotters, a steam locomotive with open-vestibule passenger cars also play roles.
The topic of the girl telegrapher in the small station, keeping a treasure, being assaulted by two tramps, was soon very productive:
A year later (1912), Griffith remade this into "The Girl and her Trust", adding a handcar escape and a locomotive chase;
in 1915, the episode "Escape on the Fast Freight" of the legendary "Hazards of Helen" series started from the same place, and added quite some on-train action (maybe even the concept of "Hazards of Helen" started from Lonedale... the heroine is often a telegrapher, and goes through diverse adventures on the railroad); -... - in 2005, students at Offenburg (Germany) University of Applies Sciences made another remake, using green-screen and computer-animated backgrounds.
Secretary (male) of a cosmetic surgery professor rents an ultra-modern flat (all furniture comes out of the wall; the landlady is rather older), plans to marry his fiancée Mimi. Professor makes an appointment with new patient Mary Tired from Venice for a nose job, sends secretary to pick her up at station and bring her to hotel. Secretary picks the wrong girl, an acrobatic dancer. Meeting with professor reveals error.
Mimi has seen from the tram secretary and dancer in taxicab, threatens to break engagement. Secretary goes out and gets wildly drunk.
Professor and his wife go to a nightclub, where the dancer girl is working (great somersaults) and recognizes the professor. Wife gets angry, wants to go home. The coats and hats of professor and secretary get mixed up at the wardrobe counter. Professor goes for it, meets dancer again, gets wildly drunk. ...
Hilarity, and more plot twists than I care to describe here, ensues. I enjoyed it. If you like, try it ;^)
While this film sometimes has the subtlety of a Punch and Judy show, at other times it certainly brought me good laughs, and it milked many jokes out of the Mechanical Woman topic. Then there are foreigner stereotypes about the Italian hotel manager and the Swiss waiter, some being less painful than others. Then again, the catastrophic finale triggered by "love" very well wraps it up... The scenes in the Underground were quite well executed, where the smoking ears were a bit over the top.
I watched this shortly after "Die Puppe" (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919) which had a similar concept as center of the plot: an artisan builds a lifelike woman robot as the likeness of his daughter/niece, but for public appearance, the original must double up as the copy, the real woman acting as if she were the robot. A mouse/hairpin destroys the illusion.
In this juxtaposition, I found The Perfect Woman a very interesting watch - compare how Ossi Oswalda (in Die Puppe) and Patricia Roc in this play the most difficult role, both halfway plausible, and very charming.
I give it 9/10 - not for great cinematic art, but for the fun I had.
This technically quite well-made cartoon from pre-war Nazi Germany is a commercial (or propaganda piece) for Volksempfänger ("people's receiver"), inexpensive radios.
First we see agricultural statistics: the far-away village of Miggershausen is quite below standards in milk and egg production. An anthropomorphic radio undertakes the long voyage by express train, steam train, hay carriage to Miggershausen to advertise its services. It is not well received.
Then, it collects and leads an army of radios to try again. They flood all the farmhouses and seem to be more convincing that way - at day, they spread agricultural knowledge to bring milk and egg production up to standards; later, they just play music and illustrate how various people enjoy various kinds of music.
A very interesting old piece. I found it on YouTube.
This East German comedy reminded me more than once of films like Carry On Sergeant, where a group of initially incompetent recruits grows with their tasks. In this case, it is almost the military - namely, the para-military GST (Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik) which was used in the GDR to teach adolescents dual-use skills to prepare them for military service. They had uniforms, barracks, jeeps and near-military discipline requirements. (All of this I gather from this film, the first I ever saw dealing with GST).
Willi Zubrot seems to have been recommended by his factory to take a sky-diving course there. Early, he gets in conflict with the discipline, but makes friends mostly with the girls, and is on the point of either being fired or quitting himself. He then develops some eagerness to excel in both theory and athletics, and in reward is registered for his first jump (which he refuses in panic, high in the air). On second attempt, a girl lets loose a bee, of which Willi is even more afraid, so he jumps in panic - however, out of area of the airstrip, so he ultimately lands in a sewage pond.
Again he is on the point of being fired from the course, but on the following weekend his factory has already arranged a collective trip to the airstrip to watch their colleague skydive. He and the sexy female GST officer go up in an old Russian biplane, and he is preparing to jump, when the pilot announces they have to return to base, as a bad weather front is coming up. Maybe Willi doesn't want to disappoint his colleagues, so he jumps without instructions. The GST officer jumps after him to save him, but lands in a pond (fresh-water this time), while Willi is hanging from a tree. On the way back to base, the officer is picked up by a Trabant car, while Willi continues on foot, over a deserted construction site, where he (with good reasons) breaks into an office trailer and steals a dumper for a wild cross-country trip. (My favorite scene is the dumper at the railroad crossing).
Not to spoil everything, I won't reveal his good reasons :^) I found this film both funny (well, some scenes are a tad slow) and informative - of course it also had propaganda purposes, to motivate young people to join GST and meet all the friendly officers... :^) 8/10.
This movie begins in the American sector of Berlin, introducing the two boys and the troubles that they have to go through. To make money to buy boxing gloves, one sells his knife and gets 4 marks for it - plus two tickets for the Eastern circus. They learn a lot when they go there.
You can sure call it propaganda. In the east, a former mechanic can study (for free) veterinary medicine, while in the west, even an apprenticeship for the boy seems impossible to get.
The boys, more or less willingly, join a gang (ironically headed by Erwin Geschonneck) to steal horses from the Eastern circus. The Berlin Wall didn't exist until 7 years later, but they break a hole into a cemetery wall on the borderline (covered up on the Eastern side, another big irony, with a poster "Wir bauen auf!" - "we're building up") in order to get the horses out, to be shipped to a cowboy show in Munich.
Some things are predictable, but the show of force of the Eastern police (with cars, motorbikes, trucks, radio communication) is somehow over the top.
Anyway, the good guys (that is, the Eastern) win, and an elephant presents two pairs of boxing gloves to the boys. All in all, a nice and interesting viewing experience.
Before the East Bloc went down, it used to be famous for its high production value movies for children, and this one is no exception.
Karli is a sailor aboard the MS Wismar which seems to cruise regularly between Rostock and fictitious Coccatuttibana, Africa, and good friends with Asina, an African schoolgirl with 21 braids, and promises her to bring a very special gift, which nobody in Africa has ever had. Only on the sailing day in Rostock he remembers the promise and searches for a suitable present, finally finding a snowman that some kids were just building. They agree to give it to him after he tells his story, and so the snowman is smuggled aboard, and into the refrigeration chamber. After various adventures, they manage to bring the gift to Asina, who enjoys it and takes it home.
Of course, with African weather unsuitable for snowmen, no refrigeration available, and even the last bottle of Freon empty, he soon melts violently, preparing to die (to be reincarnated as a cloud). Asina tries to save him, and finds a Soviet ship leaving for "Snowland" (Siberia?) which takes him aboard and thus saves him.
Many good shots of African locations and aboard the ship, including a Christmas party, a "snowman over board" situation, and an equator baptism. Nice animation, especially the snowman's dream scene.
Very memorable. The film was reissued on DVD with the Jan 5, 2012 SuperIllu magazine. I'm thankful that they did.
This seven-episode series (each lasting an hour) must have been one of the last that were produced in the German Democratic Republic before the Wall fell in November 1989. The East Berlin street scenes are so incredibly different from how they looked just a year later.
Johanna is a tram driver, married to a bus driver, and mother of three children: a (rarely seen) son who works in the Navy, a rebellious teenage daughter, and a little son who goes to elementary school. Also in their apartment lives her childhood friend Heidi, who is "Meister" (team leader) at the tram company.
If you like scenes with trams in street traffic, like me, you get an abundance of them, mostly Tatra KT4D in orange-white livery. Most of the episodes deal with the tribulations of the tram drivers, in majority female, with minor accidents, trouble with boss, adultery, divorce, new love... and ultimately, a historical double-decker bus.
I found this series on YouTube, watched the first episode, and then decided to watch all seven of them, which took me until 5:00AM on Sunday :^) From this, I think you can guess my fascination. I lived in West Berlin when the Wall was opened, so I could refresh memories, but also follow the well-wrought plots with increasing fascination. Loved it. 9/10.
Firstly: yes, this of course is a propaganda movie.
With this out of the way, it was an interesting watch. In a mix of air force pseudo-documentary and private life scenes, you get impressions worth some thoughts from back then and there.
In kind of a nutshell, many contents are compressed. You have the American bomb (left over from WW2) that kills one protagonist, a visiting Soviet general (who was also in the Spanish civil war), a brief sketch of relations with Poland, detailed discussion of pilot's illusions, and much more. There are flight fitness tests which remind me of Space Cowboys, multiple jet planes (somehow Starfighter F-104 lookalikes) in the air, one crash with pilot ejection, alas, to too shallow waters.
All in all, an interesting viewing. You can watch this on YouTube, stitched together from seven parts. I found it worth the while.
Wow. I've watched a dozen or so Soviet fairy tale movies, but this one beats most, if not all.
Of course it's old. 45 years, to be precise. But it has a magic that defies age. The adventures of the young tsarevich and his apparently teenage mother start when they are sealed into a barrel, to travel to a magic tsardom in the sea.
There he meets many wondrous things, including a humanoid swan, a squirrel producing gold and emeralds, 33 giant soldiers from the deep blue sea, the young tsar turning into a mosquito...
The story is very weird, but ends well in a grand family reunion - I suppose, they are reported to live happily ever after.
Thanks to SuperIllu for bringing this DVD to German news-stands today. A very very worthy experience. 9/10.
A short cartoon about real estate development, poverty, Christmas, suicide, and boxing. Black and white, silent (though with music and some sound effects). Could almost have been directed by Ivan Ivanov-Vano (the "patriarch of Soviet animation") in the 1930s.
But it's from 2004. And it assimilates itself so much into the visuals of the 1930s that technically I might call it almost perfect (and gave it 9/10, which is about the maximum I hand out for the best films I know, because nobody is perfect...).
If you can deal with the topics mentioned above, watch or get this little film (for instance from archive.org). It will take 5 minutes, 37 seconds of your time. For me, it was very well worth them. Thinking about it takes longer.
Luckily, for all who are curious, this film is easily reached at YouTube. I had downloaded it a while ago, and tonight, after watching two GDR TV episodes with Günter Naumann, I decided to finally watch it.
In brief, it was a very strong experience. (Not because of Naumann, nor even Armin Müller-Stahl. Manfred Krug could easily be spotted by his forehead scar, though irritated with his fake blond hair.) For me, the strongest, and immediately recognizable actor was "Kommissar" Erwin Geschonnek.
Nominally, this is a war film, and there are some small-to-mid-size artillery firings to that claim. But in my opinion it's somehow, weird as it may sound, an amalgam between Western and Bergfilm. The life-endangering struggle of the 7.. 6.. 5.. 4 men to bring a message through to headquarters, split over 5 cartridge shells. The extremely vivid characterization of thirst. The dangers of mountain slopes covered with loose pebbles.
Never mind the political message about Communists/Republicans vs. Fascists/Authoritarians. This works like white hats/black hats in westerns. (After all, the Franquists won that war, and their regime lasted for another 40 years.) I found it more an existentialist story, which is mostly concerned with survival in direst straits. Somehow comparable to Treasure of the Sierra Madre, or Les salaires de la peur. Strong visuals, strong music. I recommend this film very much.
My, how the world has changed in the last 50 years. This romantic comedy (with more emphasis on comedy, though it's not cry-out-loud funny) is difficult to understand. Let me try.
The plot is about an elderly office clerk, Mr Sänger, working in a magazine publishing house in Hamburg, who uses his vacations for a train trip to Baden-Baden, and hiking from there across the Black Forest to Konstanz (the city where I happen to live :).
On the train he sits next to Kiki, an adventurous teenage girl, whose grandmother entrusts her to him. In Baden-Baden, she gets off the train with him, instead of changing for the train to Geneva and her boarding school. Instead, they visit the casino and lose about all their money at the roulette table. So she joins him on the hiking trip to Freudenstadt, then Hausach. They travel part of the way with two students in an old Dixi car (I think it was), and Kiki even gets to ride with an Indian maharajah. Sänger is an avid photographer and documents much of the journey, and sends the pictures to his office.
The Zeit-Blick magazine has low sales in the vacation season, so Sänger's pictures and report are pushed to title story status, and many readers get aware of the story, including Kiki's grandmother. Is there a great scandal in the making? Of course not. All ends well and in merriness, as saccharine comedies go. The perennial generation conflict of the young vs. the old gets some exposure, but there is no plausible confrontation, nowhere. This is partly a travelogue, partly a music film, and nothing spectacular. Still, I wasn't bored. Just sometimes bewildered, trying to understand the motives.
The most shocking moment for me was when Sänger walks down the Treppenstraße in Kassel (like I did for years), arrives at his office, looks out of his window and sees busy streetcar traffic - evidently in Hamburg. Talk about filmographical licence...
This East German movie was co-produced with studios in Hungary and Yugoslavia, with many interesting location shots (border checkpoint to West Berlin, the Gellert bath in Budapest, and more). The plot is about French drug dealers, who obtain heroin somewhere in the Middle East, and smuggle it in several steps to East Berlin, and from there to France (or so it appears), killing when necessary. The hero is an officer of East German customs, who with detective work, some masquerade, and occasional violent action ultimately unravels the whole network, of course with the support of the local customs departments.
The film is produced in wide-screen, but black and white only, which is a pity, and might have become darker over time. The soundtrack is acceptable, with music typical of thrillers in the 1960s. Eva-Maria Hagen is one actress whose name I am aware of, and she played the Hungarian air hostess decently. I found the Yugoslav girl more intense though, but don't see her listed in the credits.
All in all, an interesting viewing experience. I wasn't on the edge of my seat, but not disappointed either :)
This is a superb film about the trials and tribulations of a teenage girl in East Germany (GDR, gone under by joining West Germany in 1990), with very many facets of daily life back then.
Elisabeth is the daughter of President of the County Council, Martin Haug. (The county appears to be Potsdam.) She enjoys life in a comparatively luxurious flat, and "taxi service" to school by her father's driver. Or have a negative record about her deleted from the school book. "In the name of the father", as the cynical Russian teacher (Peter Sodann) remarks as he does it. An unruly pupil answers: "Amen." (This is later echoed when she requests the deletion to be undone.) But seconds later, the school secretary calls Elisabeth out on emergency. She rushes to the hospital and meets her broken mother. We get many strong scenes of the ordering of a tombstone, funeral procession (where her long-lost brother Peter suddenly appears and joins in) and the funeral dinner.
Not much after that, Elisabeth goes to East Berlin to participate in a demonstration against NATO nuclear weapons, where "presence is mandatory" (the title, translated). Her potential boyfriend hands her the FDJ (Freie Deutsche Jugend, state youth organisation) flag because "his arm hurts". She guards it and, as the demo is over, takes it to visit her brother. There she meets his girlfriend Barbara as well, and interesting discussions ensue.
On the way back to Berlin-Lichtenberg train station, she is seriously attacked by a bully in the S-Bahn train, gets a black eye but defends the flag. Her schoolmates find her on the wrong platform and just in time get her on the train back to Potsdam (which at that time went semicircularly around West Berlin, dubbed "Sputnik").
This is a very strong, atmospheric, albeit sometimes slow, film. Erich and Margot Honecker didn't like it very much, so it wasn't promoted, but still quite popular in "Jugendweihe" events. I watched it twice before writing this review, and will watch it again. I'd rate it very high in the Top Ten GDR Movies. It tells a touching story from a "parallel universe" which vanished just 21 years ago. Thanks to SuperIllu magazine for making this available on DVD last Wednesday!
Wow, this is a weird claymation film chock-full of ideas and gags. One would have to watch it many times, and still discover something new in the next viewing. I try to imagine how the Soviet censor might have scratched his head...
Wikipedia reports that there was a scandal involving the main voice actor: "Sadalsky did not appear in the credits. Shortly before the final cut, the actor was arrested inside the Cosmos Hotel with a foreign citizen. The information against Sadalsky was reported to Gosteleradio director S. Lapin who ordered the removal of Sadalsky's name from the credits as a penalty for forbidden relations with foreigners." In the copy of the film available at archive.org, this wrong is somewhat righted by an extra credit after the end: "The camera crew thanks actor Stanislaw Sadalsky for providing the voice for the recording".
For the record: this film was made widely available in Germany, as it came as DVD gimmick with SuperIllu magazine yesterday. The DEFA version with synchronized German sound only, except for the original Russian songs. (Still, I have great praise for them - who else would supply a Soviet movie of 1946 at a today's newsstand?) I sometimes felt bored, and at other times very excited when watching this film. Presumably a fairy tale for children.. but never condescending, so an adult can well watch it.
Some exciting visuals, but the (Agfacolor?) colors seem to have bleached over time. Other reviews suggest the colors used to be much stronger. And there was more black than it should, in my opinion. Still, excellent camera-work was evident many times.
And for the story itself, it was quite exciting for this 54yo adult. The artist's dilemma, whether to consume marriage with Katinka, or to follow the Queen of Copper Mountain into the earth's depths for ultimate stone art. I was most thrilled when he smashed his flower bowl.
In the end, all goes well, and they might live happily ever after. That's more in fairy-tale style, and less exciting. But the trials and tribulations before were definitely impressive, well-acted, and all. I had to wipe the dried teardrops from my glasses afterwards :)
Swinging sixties, international thrills and fun from East Germany
This East German production is surprising in many ways, one of the most obvious is its shifting between color and black & white film stock (which is about 1/3 of the film). Unlike American History X, where such shifting indicates different periods in the life of the main person, I could not find out what the cause was here. Maybe night scenes.. but a number of indoor scenes were also in b/w, where lighting couldn't have been a problem. In some scenes, like the English agents trying to break into the taverna, there is even rapid cross-cutting between color and b/w.
The story in brief: a team of East Germans travels to a fashion presentation in some unspecified Mediterranean country (several hints point to Yugoslavia, which in those days and times may have been a feasible location for DEFA).
Confusion starts on the plane trip, where a French padre has a suitcase identical to the hero, journalist Thomas (the suitcases being indeed a classic McGuffin, always sought by almost everybody, though its "important" contents are never revealed until the end). After arrival, confusion quickly builds up with two rivalling "agent" groups - the Italians and the British, commanded by Mabel Patrick (Annekathrin Bürger) - try to steal Thomas's suitcase, or kidnap him, or his newfound girlfriend Eva, or the padre ...
Still, it is mostly played for comedy, even with some suspense built-in, mostly car chases on winding coast roads, and it makes more than a nod to Italian giallo films and French productions of the era, even briefly addressing JC Belmondo.
Fun exercise: try to spot Manfred Krug in the no less than eight roles he plays. Maybe after Peter Sellers, this must have been a kind of record. All in all, a strange movie.. I'll have to watch it some more times for deeper thoughts :)
This film, though 48 years old, was delivered on DVD to SuperIllu readers in Germany yesterday. And for me at least, it was a very strong experience.
The story, very briefly told, is about a love triangle of Magdalena (Annekathrin Bürger), Michael (Armin Müller-Stahl), and Jürgen, before and in WW2. It starts in childhood days, with a fountain, stairs, and an amusement park getting repeated attention. Michael is an outspoken communist, soon to be on WANTED posters. Jürgen joins the SA (Nazi police, so to speak). Both are trysting with Magdalena, and both end up in the well-known "Penitentiary Batallion 999", in war action in the Soviet Union. Both are made Soviet POWs, and in an airport ending even more open than Casablanca, Magdalena leaves for Königsberg (East Prussia, now Kaliningrad) for an undescribed assignment.
Michael chases the plane without success (like Magdalena chased the truck carrying him away earlier). The End.
Of course there's much deeper content to this film, in my impression mostly the interactions between the German soldiers, and soon later with Soviet soldiers, up to funny dialogs about which newspaper is better to roll cigarettes, Pravda or Isvestiya.
All in all, a very interesting East German movie. Manfred Krug also has a role as bad-guy colonel (or whatever his rank was). But the true star is Müller-Stahl, and he does an intense job. Well worth watching.