Archive for July 4th, 2011

by Allan Fish

(Germany 1931 88m) not on DVD

Aka. Die Mörder Dimitri Karamazov; Karamazov

Behind the icons or under the pillow

p  Eugene Frenke  d  Fedor Ozep  w  Erich Engels, Leonhard Frank, Victor Trivas, Fedor Ozep  novel  “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky  ph  Friedl Behn-Grund  ed  Hans von Passavant, Fedor Ozep  m  Karol Rathaus, Kurt Schröder  art  Victor Trivas, Heinrich Richter 

Fritz Kortner (Dimitri Karamazov), Anna Sten (Gruschenka), Fritz Rasp (Smerdjakoff), Bernhard Minetti (Ivan Karamazov), Max Pohl (Fyodor Karamazov), Hanna Waag (Katja), Fritz Alberti (judge), Elisabeth Neumann-Viertel (Kenja),

Name the best adaptation of Dostoyevsky on film?  Take out Bresson’s Pickpocket which was a looser than loose adaptation of Crime and Punishment.  Take out both French and Hollywood takes of the same novel in 1935, notable for performances (Peter Lorre and Edward Arnold in one, Pierre Blanchar and Harry Baur in the other) more than for the films themselves.  There was a Soviet version of the same, but aside from Smoktunovsky, again there was little to really cherish.  Kurosawa did his version of The Idiot, but only half of it survives.  That brings us dolefully to The Brothers Karamazov, and to the awful Hollywood version of 1958.  Aside from Lee J.Cobb as the old father, there was nothing worth saving (Marilyn Monroe was apparently wanted for Gruschenka, they took the safer option of Maria Schell – I’d have gone for Françoise Arnoul).  There was again a Soviet version a decade later, very long, very worthy, and ultimately a bit dull. 

            That leaves us with this 1931 film, made by a Soviet in Germany in 1931.  Ozep had made Tolstoy’s The Living Corpse a couple of years earlier, but in the interim many of the Soviet film-makers then congregated in Berlin had migrated back east.  Ozep stayed behind for a few years to make this last important work, before heading off to France, later Hollywood and, ultimately, anonymity. (more…)

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