Allotria [Hokum] (1936)

Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Jochen Huth
Cast: Renate Müller, Jenny Jugo, Anton Walbrook, Heinz Rühmann, Hilde Hildebrand, Heinz Salfner, Will Dohm
Seen on: 14.2.2021

Content Note: racism

Philip (Anton Walbrook) met Viola (Renate Müller) on a cruise ship and he fell for her hard. Just not quite enough to overcome his joy at and freedom of many years as a bachelor and actually propose to her. Maybe also because he knows that Aimée (Hilde Hildebrand) is waiting for him at home, however uncommitted their relationship actually is. Meanwhile Aimée has found herself a new lover in racecar driver David (Heinz Rühmann), not knowing that Philip and David are best friends – not that she would care very much. But David is trying to find a way to break things off with Aimée because he is about to get officially engaged to Gaby (Jenny Jugo). When Philip and David catch up with each other, their women also collide.

Allotria is a comedy of errors, basically, and definitely falls on the very silly side. It does have rather interesting characters, but the rest of it didn’t really work for me.

The film poster showing a pencil portrait of the four main characters.

What I did enjoy about Allotria was the fact that it is the women here who are playing the kind of tricks on the men that usually men play on women in these films. What I didn’t enjoy about it, is that in the end, Philip is the one very much in control and a step ahead of the women. They could have kept up the dynamic of the beginning until the last. Especially since Philip behaves like an ass towards Viola, at least at first.

What I did like that we get some very unusual relationships here – Aimée especially is allowed to have her affairs on her own terms. I really enjoyed her relationship with Philip – they each know where they are at with each other and what they are to each other in a surprisingly modern way. What I didn’t like about that is that she is a little villified for that. Fortunately the film gets over that once David is married to Gaby. By the way, David, too, is an ass towards Gaby before they are married.

Philip (Anton Walbrook) and Viola (Renate Müller) at dinner on the cruise ship.

Giving all these conflicting things, watching the movie was a little bit like watching a tennis match between the good stuff and the bad stuff, and to be honest, I just don’t care that much for tennis. Watching it wasn’t a chore, but it just prompted a very mixed bag of reactions on my part, making it a little exhausting.

I’d say, it’s definitely not Forst’s best (that, I think, remains Maskerade of those I’ve seen so far), but it’s watchable and entertaining enough.

David (Heinz Rühmann) talking to Viola (Renate Müller) and his wife Gaby (Jenny Jugo).

Summarizing: it’s fine.

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