Günter Neumann, Erik Ode

Sog.: Günter Neumann. Scen.: Günter Neumann, Fritz Aeckerle, Hans Vietzke. F.: Fritz Arno Wagner. M.: Walter Wischniewsky. Mus.: Werner Eisbrenner. Int.: Willy Fritsch (August Schulze), Bruno Fritz (the host), Edith Schollwer (the singer), Erik Ode (the singer), Tatjana Sais (the singer), Ewald Wenck (the singer). Prod.: Alf Teichs, Heinz Rühmann per Comedia-Filmgesellschaft mbH. 35mm. D.: 95’. 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

One of the oddest works attempted in 1949 is this mix of found-footage col­lage and cabaret. Some might wonder while watching Herrliche Zeiten, ha­ven’t I seen something like this before? Well, there is Kurt Hoffmann’s Wir Wunderkinder (1958), one of the few 50s FRG films celebrated and garlanded internationally back in the day, which was co-written by Herrliche Zeiten’s original genius, cabaret artist Günter Neumann. Structurally, the films are similar: both follow an everyman char­acter called here August Schulze (played by Willy Fritsch, also seen in Film ohne Titel), and there Hans Boeckel, through roughly half a century of German histo­ry, from the days of the Reich’s last Em­peror, Wilhelm II, to the end of WWII. There are some major differences: first, Ode presents history through compila­tions of already existing films (provided by Albert Fidelius, a private collector) whereas Hoffmann made everything of one fictional piece, including some key ‘newsreel’ footage. Second, Schulze has no unpleasant foil that would make him look less guilty, while Boeckel fre­quently encounters Janus-faced infla­tion-profiteer turned Nazi turned eco­nomic miracle-mover-and-shaker Bru­no Tiches. Third, Ode and Neumann certainly have fewer hopes for Schulze then Hoffmann allows for Boeckel – the first FRG elections proved the former’s scepticism right, while Hoffmann’s rosy-eyed view was carried by developments since. Herrliche Zeiten is a strange in-between film: a prime piece of occu­pation-era spirit dropped into a young FRG that didn’t care for it (maybe be­cause people guiltily sensed that they should?). Thus, it did so badly at the box office that the production company Comedia (owned by superstar Heinz Rühmann) was forced to close down.

Olaf Möller

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by courtesy of Nachlass Agentur – Ms. Annette Thewes