Stefan Székely

T. alt.: Bál a Savoyban. Sog.: dall’operetta omonima di Paul Abraham (libretto di Alfred Grünwald e Fritz Löhner-Beda). Scen.: Hermann Kosterlitz, Géza von Cziffra. F.: Stefan Eiben. M.: Ladislao Vajda. Scgf.: Márton Vincze. Mus.: Paul Abraham. Int.: Gitta Alpár (Anita Henning), Hans Járay (barone André von Wollheim), Rosy Barsony (Mary von Wollheim), Willy Stettner (Jean), Felix Bressart (Birowitsch), Otto Wallburg (Haller). Prod.: Hunnia-Film RTF, City-Film GmbH. DCP. 76′.Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

In December 1932, Ball im Savoy, the latest operetta by Paul Abraham, starring Gitta Alpár, one of the most glamorous female stars of the time, had its premiere in Berlin and was enthusiastically received by German audiences. Soon after, both the German-Jewish star composer and the Hungarian-Jewish soprano were driven out of the country by the Nazi government. The first (and best) film version of the same play – which was successfully reintroduced to Germany after the war and has since proven  an evergreen – was an exile production. Filming took place in Budapest, and the main role was once again handed over to Alpár, whose natural charms and stylish attire contribute to the film’s success.
Adapted for the screen by Hermann Kosterlitz and directed by Stefan Székely, later known as Hollywood Poverty Row director Steve Sekely, Ball im Savoy is an easygoing film that lives and breathes relaxed decadence. Alpár plays Anita Henning, a famous singer preparing for the evening’s great show. What sets the film’s mistaken identity plot in motion is her Chinchilla fur coat falling off her balcony. It is picked up by Baron André von Wollheim (Hans Járay) who instantly develops a  romantic  interest in the owner. A colourful supporting cast, including the Baron’s erratic secretary Birowitsch (Felix Bressart) and his cousin Mary (Rosy Barsony), a composer prone to breaking out into wild dances while conducting her own work, enthusiastically take part in the ensuing joyful confusion. The film’s supreme attraction is the titular Ball at the Savoy itself, though: a number of lavishly produced, Busby Berkeley-influenced stage acts provide the adequately luxurious surroundings for Alpár’s dazzling voice.

Lukas Foerster

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