T. it.: Gli scherzi del denaro. T. int.: The Trouble With Money. Sog.: Walter Schlee. Scen.: Walter Schlee, Max Ophuls, Alex de Haas. F.: Eugen Schüfftan. Mo.: Gérard Bensdorp. Scgf: Heinz Fenschel, Theo Van der Lugt , Jan Wiegers. Mu.: Max Tak. Su.: I.J. Citroen. Int.: Herman Bouber (Brand), Matthieu van Eysden (Ferdinand), Rini Otte (Willy), Cor Ruys (Moorman), Edwin Gubbins Doorenbos (Verteller). Prod.: Will Tuschinski-Cinetone. Pri. pro.: 30 ottobre 1936 35mm. D.: 81’. Bn.
During his vagrant career in the 1930s Max Ophuls directed films not only in Germany and France but also in Italy and Holland (one film in each country).Komedie om Geld is the Dutch rarity, a film that hardly got any distribution but that has a place among a captivating little group of movies that seemed to challenge the Hollywood mode of narrative: Friedrich Feher’s The Robber Symphony, the Czech films of Voskovec and Werich, certain Soviet films, You and Me by Fritz Lang and Kurt Weill. Ophuls’ film was the greatest of this harvest, being clearly an outgrowth of Three Penny Opera tradition, and showing the director’s personal touch by including a ‘master of ceremonies’, like the memorable figures he created later for La Ronde and Lola Montès. The film has a poignant sense of locale (Amsterdam’s canals were filmed as only Eugen Schüfftan could) and at the same time a rare sense of universality, being all about the common denominator of money, although ironically. The story as such is a trifle: a modest man loses a briefcase and 50,000 florins and seems doomed socially. Yet the dramaturgical web born out of almost nothing – one of Ophuls’ beloved habits – grows into a complex vision of social roles, always deceptive, and the only certainty is money, that turns everybody into a thief. Ophuls gives that theme a creative angle as well: “It is never about money – it is about believing that there is money”. It was the golden decade of fakes and gigantic financial swindles, all that grotesque overkill born from the depths of social structures. Property is either (or both) illusion and theft, the social network is all a delusion. It’s a vision of capitalism with feet of clay, wisely witnessed from the point of view of a small decent people and a small country.