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Archive for June 24th, 2011

by Allan Fish

(Germany 1929 100m) not on DVD

Aka. The Wonderful Lie; Die Wunderbare Lüge der Nina Petrowna

The fourth ten

p  Erich Pommer  d  Hanns Schwarz  w  Fritz Rotter, Hans Székely  ph  Carl Hoffmann  m  Maurice Jaubert  art  Robert Herlth, Walter Röhrig  cos  Renée Hubert

Brigitte Helm (Nina Petrowna), Francis Lederer (Lt.Michael Rostof), Warwick Ward (Col.Beranoff), Lya Jan, Ekkehard Arendt, Michael von Newlinsky, Harry Hardt,

How many people have heard of Hanns Schwarz?  Not too many, I’d wager, as he’s hardly the first name to roll off the tongue when mentioning the masters of German silent cinema.  Not when one can roll off Lang, Murnau, Lubitsch, Pabst, Ruttmann, Wiene and Dupont.  I’d venture to say the likes of May, Wegener, Galeen and perhaps even Reinert would get a mention before Schwarz.  It’s a travesty, as, if only for this one film, Schwarz deserves a mention in any list of German masters. 

            The Nina Petrowna of the title is the young mistress to a womanising colonel in pre-revolutionarySt Petersburg.  One evening at a nightclub she catches the eye of a young lieutenant, Michael, much to the chagrin of the colonel.  When the colonel insists that, if she leaves him for the lieutenant, she’ll go without the trappings – no jewellery, no furs, she does just that and sets up with her handsome lover in a cheap boarding house but, after a while, they cannot afford the rent.  He’s not yet got his full lieutenant’s pay through so, when they have their electricity cut off, the lieutenant sets out to find cash by means of a card game involving the colonel.  Through his weakness, he’s caught cheating and is on the verge of being shamed and dishonoured, but the colonel makes a proposition to Nina.  If she agrees to come back to him and leave Michael, he’ll destroy the evidence that could ruin Michael’s career.  She accepts, Michael goes away distraught, but when the colonel arrives to consummate his agreement, he finds Nina has taken poison and lies down in their boudoir.  (more…)

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