Dirk Förstner (Bundesarchiv) and Elif Rongen–Kaynakçi (EYE Filmuseum)
The German Empire was about to collapse when Der Fall Rosentopf was shot. Watching the rediscovered fragment of this long-lost film, one thing immediately comes to mind: the loss of the Great War and the associated German trauma never seem to have existed, so easygoing and laid-back is this crime comedy. Ernst Lubitsch once again assumes the role of the jewish berlinese named Sally, whom he has already played in Schuhpalast Pinkus (Shoe Palace Pinkus, 1916) and Meyer aus Berlin (Meyer in Berlin, 1918). This time, Sally is the assistant to detective Ceeps. Sally’s mission is to crack the Rosentopf case. Lubitsch embodies his part with a highly contagious joy for acting. Watching Lubitsch one really wants the rest of the film to be found one day. The intertitles are enriched with a wide array of overtones and give a foretaste of Lubitsch’s readily identifiable style that later will become known as ‘The Lubitsch Touch’. In 1987 the nitrate print of the fragment of Der Fall Rosentopf, with scenes from the first and second acts, was given to the former State Film Archive of the GDR (SFA) by a private collector and was later acquired by the Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv. Because the lead titles were missing, the film was not identified until many years later.
Cast and Credits
Scen.: Ernst Lubitsch, Hanns Kräly. F.: Alfred Hansen. Scgf.: Kurt Richter. Int.: Ferry Sikla (Rentier Klingelmann), Margarete Kupfer (Rosa), Ernst Lubitsch (Sally), Trude Hesterberg (Bella Spaketti). Prod.: Paul Davidson per Projektions-AG “Union” (PAGU). DCP. D.: 19’. Col.
Henny Porten plays the dual role of a rather indecorous Countess and her kitchen maid Karoline Blum, an amateur actress. While the Count is abroad, the Countess is left behind in the company of her three suitors. She is supposed to receive a courtly visitor, who is coming to inspect her manners. The promotion of the Count depends on this. Instead the Countess also leaves the house. The entire staff decide to give themselves a holiday, except Karoline who seizes the opportunity to dress up and act like the Countess to rehearse her role in the theatre. The courtly visitor finds her alone at home, mistakes her for the countess and suggests that she organize a big party in her house the next day. Karoline recruits the members of the staff to pretend they are aristocratic guests and manages to get the Count his promotion. In the meantime, the real Countess has been arrested for public drunkenness and summoned to court. However she gives her name as Karoline to avoid a scandal and sends her to plead guilty.
The dual role enables Porten to display her comic talent, particularly in the scenes where she is Karoline, imitating her other self, the Countess. This allows for a double layer of exaggeration; the kitchen maid has a lot of fun imitating the hysterical mannerisms of her mistress. And Porten seems to be endlessly enjoying playing these different characters. The double role playing, mixed with the mistaken identity plot and fast, witty dialogue, provide for a quick and entertaining comedy, similar in style to the films written and acted by Henny’s sister Rosa.
Cast and Credits
Scen.: Robert Wiene. F.: Karl Freund. Scgf.: Ludwig Kainer. Int.: Henny Porten (contessa Gyllenhand/Karoline Blume), Heinrich Schroth (conte Gyllenhand), Paul Biensfeldt (il principe), Ernst Hofmann, Reinhold Schünzel, Martin Lübbert. Prod.: Oskar Messter per Messter-Film GmbH. 35mm. L.: 950 m. D.: 46’ a 18 f/s. Col.
Fritzi works in an elegant fashion house. One day she accidentally breaks an expensive mannequin and solves the problem by taking its place. This means that she has to stand still for hours, until Mr. Sattler, one of the wealthy customers, discovers her secret. Taking pity on Fritzi, he brings her to his home to rescue her from her uncomfortable situation. However, others in the fashion house now notice that Fritzi is missing, and when they find the clothes she left behind they believe she must have been the victim of a terrible murder.
German actress, writer and producer Hedda Vernon (1886-?) appeared in more than sixty films from 1912 to 1925. At the height of her popularity during the 1910s, she was making an average of seven or eight films per year, often directed by her husband, Hubert Moest. As early as 1914, she set up her own production company, Vernon Produktion. She starred in very different films, collaborating with noteworthy directors and actors such as Richard Oswald and Conrad Veidt, but her star faded in the early 1920s.
This comedy is a showcase for Vernon’s charming talent and comic timing. It also curiously foreshadows Ossi Oswalda’s part in Lubitsch’s Die Puppe (1919), but transporting the awkward situation to a more recognizable contemporary setting that contains some references to German society during World War I.
Cast and Credits
Scen.: Artur Landsberger. Int.: Hedda Vernon (Fritzi), Ferry Sikla, Emmy Wyda, Hans Salten. Prod.: Franz Vogel per Eiko-Film 35mm. L.: 719 m. D.: 35′ a 18 f/s. Tinted. Color copy printed in 1992 by EYE at Haghefilm laboratory from a tinted nitrate print
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