Friday, October 09, 2009

Der Fürst von Pappenheim

Naisia kaikkialla / Kaikkialla naisia. (GB: The Masked Mannequin) DE 1927. PC: Eichberg-Film GmbH, An Ufa Eichberg Production. D: Richard Eichberg; SC: Robert Liebmann, based on the libretto by Franz Robert Arnold and Ernst Bach (1923); DP: Heinrich Gärtner, Bruno Mondi; AD: Jacques Rotmil; COST: Modehaus Hermann Gerson, Berlin (women’s fashions); CAST: Curt Bois (Egon Fürst von Pappenheim / Egon Duke of Pappenheim), Mona Maris (Princess Antoinette / Elizabeth), Dina Gralla (Diana / Diddi), Lydia Potechina (Camilla Pappenheim), Hans Junkermann (Prince Ottokar / Otto), Werner Fuetterer (Prince Sascha), Julius von Szöreghy (Count Katschkoff / Whiskerados), Albert Paulig (Count Ganitscheff); orig: 2306 m; 2062 m /24 fps/ [99 min announced] actual duration 102 min; from: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Restored in 2007. English intertitles. E-subtitles in Italian, grand piano: Donald Sosin. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, 8 Oct 2009.

(When there are two character names, the first is that of the original German version, the second that of the English version.)

From the GCM Catalogue: "Boys are girls, and girls are boys in this sparkling and happily hedonist Konfektionskomödie (fashion farce) made by one of Weimar cinema’s foremost experts in popular cinema, the Berlin producer and director Richard Eichberg. It features Curt Bois in the role of Egon Duke, the male shop assistant in the exclusive Berlin fashion house Pappenheim. Egon is surrounded by ten beautiful mannequins, and literally acts as the cock of the hen roost – earning him the nickname “Duke of Pappenheim”. (In the original German the character’s last name is Fürst, so the play on words has been carried over into English, “Fürst von [Duke of] Pappenheim”.) When a runaway princess asks for shelter, she too is engaged as a mannequin. However, she only performs with a mask on her face. The action culminates in what was probably the longest and most lavish fashion show seen on German screens during the 1920s. Here, in a wonderful cross-dressing scene, Egon turns into the ultimate object of male desire.
Though critical attention to the “fashion farce” has only recently resurfaced, at the time of this production it was considered an established sub-genre of German cinema. Among its early exponents was Ernst Lubitsch, whose films made the fashion farce a playground for Jewish humour, slapstick, and travesty. But it was Curt Bois who developed it to perfection. Cast as the German Harold Lloyd in 1924, here the sad-eyed Bois brings a combination of elegance, hyperactivity, and acrobatic qualities to a picture that exudes sheer happiness and delight.
Der Fürst von Pappenheim was originally a hit Berlin stage musical, with a score by Hugo Hirsch (a celebrity in his time) and a libretto by the highly successful comedy writing team of Franz Robert Arnold and Ernst Bach. However, the screen version’s tremendous energy and musical quality may also be traced back to the enthusiastic director Richard Eichberg, who since the 1910s had made a name for himself as the creator of adventure movies, costume dramas, crime films, melodramas, and subsequently light comedies, operettas, and musical films. Though critics tended to prefer “art films”, audiences loved Eichberg’s films, in which they recognized a new, modern style of cinema, characterized by constant motion and excessive emotions. – Philipp Stiasny". - A brilliant print, the most brilliant during the Festival. - The cross-dressing sequence is very funny, with Mona Maris as a man and Curt Bois as a woman. - It is a comedy of switched identities, not very profound, but with a consistent light touch. - The definitive Curt Bois film.

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