T. it.: Razzia. T. int.: Raid in St. Pauli. Scen: Werner Hochbaum. F.: Adolf Otto Weitzenberg. M.: Carl Behr. Scgf.: Willy Schiller. Mus.: Kurt Levaal. Int.: Gina Falkenberg (Else), Friedrich Gnaß (Karl), Wolfgang Zilzer (Leo), Charly Wittong (Charly), Max Zilzer (l’oste), Ernst Busch (cantante). Prod.: Orbis-Film GmbH, Berlin. 35mm. L.: 1712 m. D.: 62′. Bn.
The cinema as a laboratory for the physical. Impressionist intensification is Hochbaum’s modus operandi. Again, he is roaming Hamburg, fixing his gaze on the skin of things brought to life by the camera. Details tell stories, little things become eloquent. “The cinema is true, a story is a lie”, writes French Film enthusiast Jean Epstein in 1921, a poetic maxim which for Hochbaum also holds true in the early 1930s. At the same time, he insists that the cinema must capture reality and give expression to, if not negotiate, class conflict.
A day like any other in the port of Hamburg. Dock workers spill out of big ships. Back on shore after a good day’s labor, legs are walking inland with an adequately heavy gait. In the streets, their movement gains momentum. The big city requires speed. The pace quickens, perspectives intermingle, a kaleidoscope of neon signs allures. Exhaustion turns into dance, and the nightlife industry awakens. Some are out for customers, others for amusement. And everybody complains about how bad the times are, economically. Ballroom-Else, a disenchanted streetwalker in the Weimar Republic, has one weakness: she falls for the mawkish stories of the movies. The swashbuckling Sailor-Karl has snatched a couple of watches and is on the run. He somehow ends up in the attic where Else lives. She hides him from the police. He cajoles her, putting silly ideas in her head and promising her a life together far away from St. Pauli. Finally, she agrees. So all that’s left to do is say farewell to Leo, a demoralized musician beaten by life with whom Else shares her attic. Their way leads them to a sinister quayside bar where she and Leo both work night after night. Here, time falters, plots unravel, dreams change. Perception becomes blurry while police keep clear heads. Hochbaum unfolds a tired utopia that cannot stem the tide of time. A new morning breaks over the gray city “where dust, not dew, falls from the sky”.