To live things up, here's a guide for German films of the decade. Obviously this time the major historical date 1945 is very much a cutoff point because German film production - which ran at a steady and only slightly lower rate than in the 30s throughout the war - collapsed and only slowly rose with 50 films made in 1946-48 before surpassing in 1949 the war output level. I somehow doubt that anyone will seriously vote for Third Reich propaganda films, no matter if antisemitic, antidemocratic, anti-British or whatever else. From a filmic point of view they rarely are among the more inspired films, some made with a lack of interest by the directors, some with bizarre gusto, but they aren't that interesting and certainly not for our purposes, so I drop them from the discussion.
So what to watch from 1940-45? Unfortunately by 1940 most of the major artists of the 30s were silenced and driven into exile (Schünzel, Wysbar, Hochbaum). However some new talents stepped in of which the greatest surely is Helmut Käutner. Käutner made a nice Keller adaptation, Kleider machen Leute
and an equally nice musical comedy, Wir machen Musik
(both without subs) as well as a fluid comedy drama Auf Wiedersehn Franziska
(for which subs exist), but he's most famous for his last three films which often are considered the best three films of the Third Reich which is just a slight exaggeration. But obviously each of these three should be seen by the participants of this list, Romanze in Moll
is a elegant literary drama after Maupassant in Ophüls style, Große Freiheit Nr. 7
takes place in the Hamburgian red light distric St. Pauli and gives Hans Albers a colorful role as an aging seaman falling in love with a young woman all filmed in beautiful Agfacolor. Finally Unter den Brücken
filmed during the end of the war is the story of two men on a barge shipping the rural river canals, meeting a young girl and falling in love with her, a very intimate, poetic film by general consensus considered the best of the Third Reich. There's an English subbed DVD for the latter film, for the other two English subs exist on the internet, maybe we'll upload the films to a file hoster for a short time since Romanze perversely was only released by the German postal service (!) together with a Käutner memorial stamp. Those who consider buying Unter den Brücken
should consider the German sound classics box mentioned here viewtopic.php?f=5&t=11774
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; For this decade you get the technically impressive Titanic
as well as THE superproduction of the Third Reich, Münchhausen
. This one is a bonanza of colorful sets, nostalgic special effects as well as a parade of stars with a very fine script written by Erich Kästner whose writing ban was lifted for the occasion, there are some obvious satirical stabs at the Third Reich which were apparently tolerated for this prestige production. Both films are also out from Kino.
Then we have the dark genius Veit Harlan who is obviously most famous for Jud Süß
, but his artistic legacy is his Agfacolor melodrama trilogy, Die goldene Stadt
. Subs exist for all three, but only the first was released on DVD. Especially the last film reaches delirious heights of gloom and doom, permeated with death and decay filmed in expressive color. The third great director is Willi Forst who carved a niche for himself as illustrator of the Viennese culture, he delivers the third trilogy in this post, Operette
, Wiener Blut
and Wiener Mädeln
, unfortunately no heroic subtitler has tackled them yet which will limit their chances, but they are graceful, stylish, sentimental fantasies about the good old Vienna as it never was. Another great director who just now was honored with a DVD release http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/movie/detail/-/ ... um/7759411
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; collecting two of his only three features is Peter Pewas. His film Der verzauberte Tag
is an absolute knockout masterpiece at the level of the others, telling a story of two young women, one a practical street wise girl, the other an idealistic dreamer who plunges into a romantic affair. Very expressive visually and unusually sensitive, it found no favour with Goebbels, english subs were written, the DVD has none. And last but not least there's also a German animation genius, Hans Fischerkoesen, who made Verwitterte Melodie
, Der Schneemann
and the slightly lesser Das dumme Gänslein
, his films are collected here in a DVD compilation of Third Reich animation http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/movie/detail/-/ ... um/9732489
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; , no english subs, but these films have no dialogue.
Beyond those we have a few unique films where good directors rose to the occasion. Gustav Ucicky directed Der Postmeister
, a Pushkin adaptation giving great roles to Heinrich George and Hilde Krahl, the film almost holds a candle to Käutner's Romanze, english subs exist. Josef von Baky directed after Münchhausen
the insanely dark Via Mala
which was forbidden right away, the first 20 minutes are a very strange mixture of melodrama and Ingmar Bergman where the family father, a looming drunkard terrorizes his family who freezes in oppressively shot framings. The rest of the film can't hold the level but it's still a very impressive affair, no subs yet. Hans Steinhoff a dedicated Nazi made nevertheless the intensely dramatic heimat film Die Geierwally
with Heidemarie Hatheyer as an impressive lead in a very energetic film. He also directed a not too shabby Rembrandt
which is a match for Korda's version with Laughton. Finally one has to mention that some films were made which centered on Berlin (before it was bombed to rubble), Zwei in einer großen Stadt
tells about a romance between a young woman a soldier on leave, Wolfgang Liebeneiner's Großstadtmelodie
about a young woman who wants to become a photographer and battles her way to the top. Pretty unusual stuff for the era with a great role for Hilde Krahl and both films extensively use locations, the latter consciously connecting with Ruttmann's famous silent Berlin - Symphonie einer Großstadt
. There's even a stylish Agfacolor musical with Marika Rökk, Die Frau meiner Träume
, featuring two fine musical numbers, but for all of these films the lack of English subs will prevent a greater success, hopefully one or two films will get them within the next months. Oh yes, there's also the most popular film of the Third Reich, Die Feuerzangenbowle
, with Heinz Rühmann who goes back to school as an adult and plays jokes on his teachers. Cute, little film but nothing which would impress international viewers.
After 1945 with film production rebuilding out of chaos a series of interesting film were made which stylistically often reach back to Weimar connecting with its realistic and expressionistic legacy while tackling the Third Reich. One doesn't read about it very often or at all and the films are critizised for being half-hearted, but they are often quite frank, far more so than e.g. Italian Neorealism who completely bypasses Fascism except for Rossellini who throws homphobic slurs at evil Nazis in Rome Open City
and Deutschland im Jahre Null
, the latter being the worst of the German rubble films (as they are known) I've seen.
The great director of the years 1946-49 is Wolfgang Staudte making Die Mörder sind unter uns
as well as Rotation
both released as English subbed DVDs, the first film is already quite frank about German war crimes, all filmed amongst expressively lit ruins, the second one is a clinical analysis of the normal German who watched as a bystander crimes happen. Helmut Käutner also made some fine films, In jenen Tagen
is a very sensitive episode film telling the story of a car and the people who owned it between 1933 and 1945, he continued with the outlandishly stylish Der Apfel ist ab
a satiric fantasy with wild sets, both films could use subtitles, that's unfortunately the problem for all following films.
The knockout film of the era is arguably the completely unknown Wozzeck
a stylistic bonanza of tilted shots, lighting effects, expressionistic acting and so on. Director George C. Klaren declared in 1947 conscious return to Weimar expressionism and being at a major position in the just created East German DEFA he certainly fulfilled his intention making the probably most stylized film of the decade. If no subs appear until February, get yourself an english translation of Büchner's play and you know what it's all about. Its West German counterpart was Liebe 47
, the adaptation of the great success of the rubble literature, the drama Draußen vor der Tür
by Wolfgang Borchert. Wolfgang Liebeneiner expanded the experiences of a war veteran plagued by the demons of his war experiences with the story of a woman who has gone through equally hard times and unleashes a similar visual bravado that he already demonstrated in the 1939 comedy Der Florentiner Hut
. Eugen York made Morituri
, a film about concentration camp refugees hiding from the Nazis in occupied Poland, again very stylish and dramatically convincing though the women are a tad too gorgeous. Kurt Meisel directed a Russian drama in the style of Der Postmeister
and his Tragödie einer Leidenschaft
, the one film in this paragraph where there's a German DVD with English subs, is a very fine moody drama told in a flashback within a flashback. Even better is the brilliant crime film Mordprozeß Dr. Jordan
by crime film specialist Erich Engels who took a real case and formed a story which starts as a crime drama develops into a court thriller then into a prison drama, a social drama ending as a melodram. Sounds wild but works very well. Two other notable West German films were Berliner Ballade
a satiric portrait of the times with the extensive use of a voice over and the more successful Film ohne Titel
made by Käutner's assistant Rudolf Jugert where a director, a scriptwriter and a star (Willy Fritsch) meet and discuss which kind of film they should make. A couple comes along their story is told, but they don't know the ending which is presented in multiple versions (a gloomy rubble film, a grotesque happy ending) before they ask the couple, but at the end they still don't have a title for the film and well that's the translation of Film ohne Titel.
Beyond Staudte's and Klaren's films the East German DEFA produced other fine filme, there's Kurt Maetzig's Ehe im Schatten
, a tragic story of an actor who committs suicide with his Jewish wife when the pressure grows too intense (modeled after a real case) and Erich Engel's (no this is not the same guy as the one with the crime film, that one was Erich Engels with an s at the end) Affaire Blum
which also takes a real case from the Weimar Republic to show how a blindly antisemitic police investigation runs amok. The realistic early sound films of Weimar were also revived, Gerhard Lamprecht who more or less hibernated throughout the Third Reich rose to the occasion with the fine, children oriented Irgendwo in Berlin
showing a far more incisive portrait of children in the rubble than Rosselini's bull**** about pedophiliac Nazi's seducing children into exterminating their parents as not worthy to live. Maetzig made Die Buntkarierten
a family saga spanning the last decades with a fine eye for detail, he's still alive at 100 years.
I hope for the German viewers that they search out a few of the lesser known films and maybe provide even subs for a handful of them, while the international viewers shouldn't miss the dozen of subtitled films.