Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Man I Killed

Särkynyt sävel / Mannen jag dödade. US (c) 1932 Paramount. P+D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Samson Raphaelson, Ernest Vajda - based on the play L'Homme qui j'ai tué (1930) by Maurice Rostand and the English-language adaptation The Man I Killed by Reginald Berkeley (1931). DP: Victor Milner. AD: Hans Dreier. Starring Phillips Holmes (Paul Renard), Nancy Carroll (Elsa), Lionel Barrymore (Dr. Hölderlin), Louise Carter (Mrs. Hölderlin), Lucien Littlefield (Schultz), ZaSu Pitts (Anna), Tully Marshall (gravedigger). 78 min. Restored UCLA print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 30 September, 2008. - The restoration seems to be based on challenging source material, maybe even 16mm. I seem to remember that the NFTVA print was better. - The odd film out in Lubitsch's 1930's oeuvre: a serious Pacifist tract. - The young Frenchman cannot overcome his horror of having shot a German at point blank range (both young soldiers are violinists), and although a slick clergyman is quick with absolution, he travels to Germany, visits the man's grave, gets acquainted with his family, and becomes the surrogate to the man he killed. - The best sequence is the ironic church service for the military in the beginning, juxtaposing gleaming sabres and boots with Christian imagery. - Then it gets heavy, often declamatory, and melodramatic. The saving scenes are the ones with the small merchants. - The dull Phillips Holmes, having ruined Sternberg's An American Tragedy, now spoils the film of Lubitsch.

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