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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Bel Ami (1939)

Bel Ami
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Hans Fritz Beckmann, Axel Eggebrecht, Willi Forst
Based on: Guy de Maupassant‘s novel
Cast: Willi Forst, Olga Tschechowa, Johannes Riemann, Ilse Werner, Hilde Hildebrand, Will Dohm, Lizzi Waldmüller, Marianne Stanior, Aribert Wäscher, Hubert von Meyerinck, Hans Stiebner
Seen on: 25.2.2021
[Here’s my review of the 2012 film.]

Content Note: colonialism, racism

Plot:
Georges (Willi Forst) just returned to France after serving as a soldier in Algeria. Pretty much penniless, he tries to get by on his looks when he runs into an old colleague, Forestier (Will Dohm). Forestier invites Georges into his home, introduces him to his wife Madeleine (Olga Tschechowa) and several other influential people. Soon Georges’s luck is looking up, as he sleeps his way up the ladder: he starts an affair with Clotilde (Hilde Hildebrand) and works at the newspaper La Vie Française, though his articles are written by Madeleine who has her own goals.

Bel Ami wasn’t my cup of tea and probably the weakest of the Forst films I saw so far. Part of that reason was that Forst didn’t work for me as Georges. Another part was that I was a little (very) weirded out by the political angle here.

The film poster showing drawings of the main characters, above all Georges (Willi Forst) and the women around him.
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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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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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Burgtheater [Burg Theater] (1936)

Burgtheater
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Jochen Huth
Cast: Werner Krauss, Hans Moser, Hortense Raky, Olga Tschechowa, Karl Günther, Willy Eichberger (aka Carl Esmond)

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 really enjoyed Burgtheater. It’s funny, charming and entertaining. And the cast is absolutely excellent .

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