Sog.: from the homonymous novel (1914) by Egon Erwin Kisch. Scen.: Karl Grune, Beate Schach. F.: Felix Xaver. Scgf.: Karl Grune. Int.: Magnus Stifter (il commissario di polizia), Fritz Richard (Chrapot), Lotte Stein (sua moglie), Henri Peters-Arnolds (Jaroslav), Lo Bergner (Betka Dvorak), Roma Bahn (Luise Heil), Rose Liechtenstein (Illonka Serenity), Paul Rehkopf (Albert Wessely), Franz Kneisel (Anton Novotny). Prod.: Künstlerfilm GmbH. 35mm. L.: 1430 m. D.: 70’ a 18 f/s. Tinted and toned
In 1919, the term ‘Mädchenhirt’ (something like ‘the shepherd of girls’) was a common name for a pimp in Germany. The feature-length Der Mädchenhirt was Karl Grune’s first film as a director, which he shot in several locations in Prague. The film achieves an impressive portrayal of youth culture, one that can feel surprisingly anachronistic, because we are not used to seeing young people like this in films from the 1910s. The youths wander around in a beautifully photographed Prague in such a manner that they could easily turn a corner into I vitelloni by Fellini. The only big difference is that Der Mädchenhirt deals with taboos such as prostitution and venereal disease. As a result, young audiences were banned from seeing the film – it was designated ‘adults only’. The melodramatic story, which takes a very pessimistic view of the rehabilitation of criminals, was written by Egon Erwin Kisch. He was known as The Racing Reporter, who uncovered the notorious spy scandal involving Colonel Redl. The screenplay, which adheres very closely to Kisch’s reportage, was written by Karl Grune and the woman who would later become his wife, Beate Schach. Grune evoked the atmosphere of the seedy underbelly of an early 20th century metropolis by filming in sordid bars and shady businesses. Because almost all of the film was shot on location, Der Mädchenhirt has a very realistic tone and can give modern spectators some impressions of the old city of Prague, in the times long before these days of ‘overtourism’.