DIE KOFFER DES HERRN O.F.
Sog.: Hans Hömberg. Scen.: Léo Lania, Alexis Granowsky. F.: Reimar Kuntze, Heinrich Balasch. M.: Paul Falkenberg, Curt von Molo. Scgf.: Erich Czerwonski. Mus.: Karol Rathaus. Int.: Alfred Abel (il sindaco), Peter Lorre (Stix), Harald Paulsen (Stark), Ludwig Stössel (Brunn), Hedy Lamarr (Helene), Margo Lion (Viola Volant), Ilse Korseck (la segretaria), Liska March (Eve Lune), Gaby Karpeles (l’assistente di Eve Lune), Hadrian Maria Netto (Jean). Prod.: Ernst Nölle per Tonbild-Syndikat AG – DCP. D.: 78’. Bn.
Moscow-born Abram Azarh, better known by his stage name Alexis Granowsky, was one of the most exciting figures of early sound cinema, mostly but not exclusively in the German-speaking realm – a shooting star of singular genius whose œuvre was doomed to remain small. After studying theatre in Germ ny just before the First World War (as an intern with Max Reinhardt), Granovskij rose to prominence in the early USSR as a pioneering figure of Yiddish theatre. That is where we find the roots of his debut feature, Jidische Glickn (1925), starring Solomon Mikhoels. Despite his fame, Granowsky felt ever more at odds with the developments in the Soviet Union; and so, towards the end of the 1920s, he left the country to settle down in Berlin, where he could again work with Reinhardt. In 1931 he was able to shoot the two films on which his fame as a cinematic maverick mainly rests: Das Lied vom Leben (The Song of Life) and Die Koffer des Herrn O.F., both sui generis experiments in purely cinematic narrative filmmaking.
The somewhat Brechtian latter film also features two future international stars of very different charismata in early leading roles: luminous Hedwig Kiesler (better known in her Hollywood days as Hedy Lamarr), and opaquely creepy Peter Lorre, whose editor with the ominous name Stix is at the core of the film’s intrigue. A collections of suitcases appears in an especially drowsy backwater without a single trace of their owner – except for the initials O.F. The sheer amount of luggage suggests wealth. And so, Stix and contractor Stark start to float the rumour that these are the suitcases of a billionaire called Oscar Flott who wants to invest heavily into this two-horse-town – which becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy as not even the Great Depression could stop that boom from happening…