Gruber geht [Gruber Is Leaving] (2015)

Gruber geht
Director: Marie Kreutzer
Writer: Marie Kreutzer
Based on: Doris Knecht’s novel
Cast: Manuel Rubey, Bernadette Heerwagen, Doris Schretzmayer, Ulrike Beimpold, Fabian Krüger, Pia Hierzegger
Seen on: 16.3.2021

Content Note: homomisia

Plot:
John Gruber (Manuel Rubey) loves the expensive things in life, and little else. His sister Kathi (Doris Schretzmayer) who moved to the country with her family certainly doesn’t get much more from him than contempt. Just as Gruber has trouble with a big account in his firm and fears that he might have cancer, he meets DJ Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen). Sarah happens to be there when Gruber gets the confirmation of his cancer diagnosis, turning their fling into something more. Both Sarah and his illness make him reconsider the priorities in his life – but that is not an easy process.

Writing this review feels a bit like saying goodbye after a lackluster first date. There just was no spark between the film and me. Sometimes these things just don’t work out. We had a nice time, but there won’t be a second date. In short, Gruber geht is a good film that I just didn’t find very interesting.

The film poster showing Gruber (Manuel Rubey) in bed with Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen). She is handing him a cigarette.
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Die Deutschmeister [A March for the Emperor] (1955)

Die Deutschmeister
Director: Ernst Marischka
Writer: Ernst Marischka
Remake of: Frühjahrsparade (to which Marischka also wrote the script)
Cast: Romy Schneider, Magda Schneider, Siegfried Breuer Jr., Josef Meinrad, Gretl Schörg, Susi Nicoletti, Adrienne Gessner, Hans Moser, Paul Hörbiger, Gunther Philipp, Wolfgang Lukschy, Fritz Imhoff
Seen on: 14.3.2021

Plot:
After having her fortune told by a parrot, Stanzi (Romy Schneider) knows that she has to come to Vienna to visit her aunt Therese (Magda Schneider) who runs a bakery there. Right when she arrives, Stanzi gets caught up in a ball where she utterly confuses Baron Zorndorf (Gunther Philipp) who thinks her a countess. But the Baron is quickly forgotten when Stanzi meets the young drummer Willy (Siegfried Breuer Jr.) whose head is filled with music. When Stanzi sees an opportunity to help Willy by contacting the Kaiser (Paul Hörbiger) on his behalf, she takes it, even if that spells embarrassment for her aunt and the court counselor Hofwirth (Josef Meinrad) who is trying to court Therese.

Die Deutschmeister is a film that basically consists entirely of kitsch and is seasoned with a couple of charming characters. If you’re looking for Monarchy nostalgia and an intense dose of sugar, this is the film to turn to.

The film poster showing Stanzi (Romy Schneider) in the Prater with her date Willy (Siegfried Breuer Jr.).
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Wiener Blut [Vienna Blood] (1942)

Wiener Blut
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Axel Eggebrecht, Willi Forst, Ernst Marischka, Hubert Marischka
Based on: Victor Léon and Leo Stein‘s operetta
Cast: Willy Fritsch, Maria Holst, Hans Moser, Theo Lingen, Dorit Kreysler, Fred Liewehr, Hedwig Bleibtreu, Klaramaria Skala, Paul Henckels, Ernst Fritz Fürbringer, Egon von Jordan, Fritz Imhoff
Seen on: 28.2.2021

Plot:
Countess Melanie (Maria Holst) and Count Georg von Wolkersheim (Willy Fritsch) have not been married very long, but are very happy with each other. Melanie is excited because they are about to arrive in her hometown Vienna for the first time since they got married. Georg has to attend the Congress of Vienna and Melanie can’t wait to dance again at Vienna’s lavish balls. But they quickly realize that Georg just wants to work and expects Melanie to have no fun either. This causes a rift in their marriage that they may not be able to repair.

Wiener Blut concluded the Willi Forst retrospective at the Filmarchiv and it’s probably the distillation of the films he is known for. But I thought that compared to some of his other films, Wiener Blut is just okay and not the best thing he ever made.

The film poster showing Melanie (Maria Holst) with Crown-Prince Ludwig von Bayern (Fred Liewehr).
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Katharina, die Letzte [Catherine the Last] (1936)


Katharina, die Letzte
Director: Henry Koster
Writer: Felix Jackson, Károly Nóti
Based on: Sándor Hunyady‘s novel
Cast: Franciska Gaal, Hans Holt, Hans Olden, Otto Wallburg, Dorothy Poole, Eduard Linkers, Ernö Verebes, Adrienne Gessner, Fritz Imhoff
Seen on: 23.2.2021

Plot:
Hans (Hans Holt) is in love with Sybill (Dorothy Poole) and would like to marry her. But Sybill’s father Sixtus Braun (Otto Wallburg) believes Hans to be an unsteady lothario and he wants nothing to do with him, much less see him marry his daughter. After Braun kicks out Hans and forbids his staff from ever letting him into the house again, Hans concocts a different plan. He realizes that the most menial of maids, Katharina (Franciska Gaal) was not present at the staff instruction, so he poses as a chauffeur and asks her out on a date, hoping to gain access to the house through her. What he doesn’t factor into his plans is that Katharina actually takes his advances seriously.

Katharina, die Letzte is such an infuriating film with such a wonderful Franciska Gaal that it left me a bit of a mess. The story sucks, but she is so perfect that I almost didn’t care.

The film poster showing Katharina (Franciska Gaal) wearing a headscarf.
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Tagebuch der Geliebten [Affairs of Maupassant] (1935)

Tagebuch der Geliebten
Director: Henry Koster
Writer: Henry Koster, Corrado Alvaro
Based on: Marie Bashkirtseff‘s journal
Cast: Lili Darvas, Hans Jaray, S.Z. Sakall, Attila Hörbiger, Anna Kallina, Etha von Storm
Seen on: 16.2.2021

Plot:
Marie Bashkirtseff (Lili Darvas) is a promising and ambitious painter. Under the tutelage of her friend and mentor Bassieux (Attila Hörbiger) she has grown better still, but when Bassieux asks her to marry him, she declines – she’d rather focus on her career. Taking Bassieux’s advice to visit the poorer quarters of the city to make her paintings more naturalistic, Marie ditches her companion Doctor Walitzky (S.Z. Sakall) and is off for an adventure. But adventure also spells a little bit of trouble for her – fortunately a charming young gentleman (Hans Jaray) comes to her aid. Marie doesn’t realize it’s the famous Guy de Maupassant (who also happens to be Bassieux’s nemesis), but it doesn’t keep either of them from falling for each other hard.

Tagebuch der Geliebten is fun enough to watch as long as it doesn’t try to be romantic. Unfortunately, it tries to be romantic a lot.

The film poster showing Marie (Lili Darvas) talking to Guy (Hans Jaray).
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Allotria [Hokum] (1936)

Allotria
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

Plot:
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.
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Helden in Tirol [Heroes in Tyrol] (1998)

Helden in Tirol
Director: Niki List
Writer: Niki List, Walter Kordesch
Cast: Christian Schmidt, Elke Winkens, Christian Pogats, Wolfgang S. Zechmayer, I. Stangl, Gregor Seberg, Werner Brix, Adrian Zwicker, Andreas Vitásek, Rüdiger Hentzschel, Walter Kordesch, Ludger Pistor, Adele Neuhauser, Silvia Fenz, Rudolf Strobl, Patrizia Moresco
Seen on: 14.2.2021

Content Note: rape, sexism, misogyny, transmisia/homomisia

Plot:
Helden is a sleepy village in Tyrol, but the mayor (I Stangl) has big plans for it. It has been 25 years that Lorenz Luftsprung, who owns most of the village, disappeared and since no heir could be found, the mayor is about to gain control over it. And when he does, he will make Helden in a tourist paradise. But not everybody is okay with his plans. Foremost Max Adler (Christian Schmidt) fears the ecological consequences of the mayor’s plans. A fight for Helden starts.

Helden in Tirol is a catastrophe of a film that mistakes sexism for humor. It’s the kind of film that will appeal to people who cry “it’s satire” whenever a sexist, racist or otherwise offensive joke is made, but if you are not one of those people, you best stay away.

The film poster showing a drawing of the main characters, front and center shirtless Max Adler (Christian Schmidt), playing an electric guitar.
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Re-Watch: Burgtheater [Burg Theatre] (1936)

Burgtheater
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Jochen Huth
Cast: Werner Krauss, Hortense Raky, Olga Tschechowa, Hans Moser, Carl Esmond, Karl Günther
Seen on: 11.2.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: attempted suicide

Plot:
Friedrich Mitterer (Werner Krauss) is the star of the Viennese Burg Theater. The eccentric and basically socio-phobic star. He has the prompter Sedlmayer (Hans Moser) take care of most of his social interactions. Even when he meets the young Leni (Hortense Raky) who finds really charming, he relies on Sedlmayer to establish contact. With these social skills, it’s no wonder that he doesn’t notice that Leni is head over heels for the aspiring actor Josef (Willy Eichberger). When Leni finds an invitation for the Baroness Seebach’s (Olga Tschechowa) weekly party for the rich and famous at Mitterer’s place, she steals it without thinking and gives it to Josef, setting quite a few things in motion.

I had forgotten that I’d seen Burgtheater before. Seeing it again, I started to remember, but only vaguely. This time, I didn’t love it as much as the first time – and it generally struck me very differently. It does have a pretty great and very memorable character in Mitterer, though.

The film poster showing the audience at the Viennese Burgtheater and headshots of the three protagonists of the film - Friedrich Mitterer (Werner Krauss), Josef Rainer (Carl Esmond) and Leni Schindler (Hortense Raky).
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Maskerade [Masquerade in Vienna] (1934)

Maskerade
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Walter Reisch
Cast: Paula Wessely, Anton Walbrook, Olga Tschechowa, Hans Moser, Walter Janssen, Peter Petersen, Hilde von Stolz, Julia Serda, Fritz Imhoff
Seen on: 9.2.2021

Plot:
The painter Heideneck (Anton Walbrook) tends to draw the attention of women. His latest flame is the married Anita (Olga Tschechowa), but Heideneck isn’t all that interested in her anymore. Anita’s sister-in-law Gerda (Hilde von Stolz) thinks that Heideneck could be a wonderful distraction from her rather boring marriage. After they meet at a grand masquerade, she simply comes to his studio and he paints her – in the nude. When nothing more happens, Gerda leaves disappointed. Unbeknownst to Heideneck, the drawing is delivered to the newspaper to be printed as his illustration of the masquerade. The drawing causes quite a stir in Viennese society and Heideneck has to make sure that the identity of his model is neither revealed nor falsely assumed. So he simply makes up a name – not knowing that there actually exists a Leopoldine Dur (Paula Wessely) who gets drawn into the scandal without even realizing.

Maskerade is absolutely fantastic. I already liked Leise flehen meine Lieder, but Maskerade is even better – funny and charming and very stylish.

The film poster showing Heideneck (Anton Walbrook) dipping Leopoldine (Paula Wessely) was they dance.
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Leise flehen meine Lieder [Lover Divine] (1933)

Leise flehen meine Lieder
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Walter Reisch
Cast: Mártha Eggerth, Luise Ullrich, Hans Jaray, Hans Moser, Otto Treßler, Hans Olden, Anna Kallina
Seen on: 08.02.2021

Plot:
Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) makes his living as a school teacher, but he is barely scraping by and always dreams of making music. When he has to pawn one of his instruments just to get by, pawn shop worker Emmi (Luise Ullrich) takes a shine to him. And Franz seems to like her, too. But right when his career seems to take a turn and he gets the chance to play at an important soiree, he crushes all hopes when he is unable to keep his temper in check when somebody in the audience laughs during his piece. Franz has to accept a teaching position in the country to make his living, a position with none other but the young woman in the audience who laughed at him – Duchess Eszterhazy (Mártha Eggerth).

Leise flehen meine Lieder is a very romantic take on a story that probably wasn’t as romantic. It works with music beautifully and I liked it.

The film poster showing a woman, could be either Emmi (Luise Ulrich) or Duchess Eszterhazy (Mártha Eggerth), leaning against a pillar as Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) plays the piano.
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