Sog., Scen.: Fritz Kortner. F.: Werner Krien. M.: Wolfgang Becker. Scgf.: Fritz Lück, Fritz Maurischat, Hans Sohnle. Mus.: Georg Haentzschel. Int.: Fritz Kortner (professor Mauthner), Rosemarie Murphy (Mary), Johanna Hofer (Lina), Lina Carstens (Emma), William Sinningen (Elliot), Michael Murphy (Spencer), Ernst Schröder (Walter), Paul Hoffmann (dottor Fechner), Arno Assmann (Kurt), Charles Regnier (Bertram). Prod.: Josef von Báky per Objectiv-Film GmbH. 35mm. D.: 105’. Bn.
It is difficult not to see Der Ruf’s professor Mauthner as a self-portrait of Fritz Kortner, who writes and stars here: both left Germany when the Nazis ascended to power, lived in exile in California, and came back after the war to Western Allies-occupied German territory. What the actor/director Kortner experienced on his return he probably relates here through the vicissitudes of Mauthner, an academic. Little had changed. Although Mauthner is invited back to continue in his former position as the head of department, he’s not exactly welcomed. Those who ran the place during the Nazi years and have now been demoted don’t feel the need to hide their hostile feelings towards him. Anti-semitism is still rampant. When Mauthner, in a show of defiance, confronts students and co-workers alike by giving a lecture in English, people go berserk. Kortner stayed despite all the disdain and hate he faced, whereas Mauthner… Der Ruf remains one of the most unsparing and brutal films about postwar Germany on the brink of (semi-)independent statehood: in this film, shot in the last months of occupation-rule but released in the newly founded FRG, Kortner talks about historical continuities of the vilest kind. It is a four-handed labour of political devotion and dedication, for Der Ruf is certainly as much producer-director Josef von Báky’s work as it is Kortner’s. Both, one has to add, would never fare as well again, if in completely different ways. Von Báky would make many more films, even if none of them were remotely as good as the two he released in 1949 (the other being Die seltsame Geschichte des Brandner Kasper, a fascinating companion piece to Der Ruf), while Kortner would give directing a film in the FRG a try once with Die Stadt ist voller Geheimnisse (1955), but when this minor masterpiece failed to perform at the box office, he didn’t persist.