Friday, January 31, 2014

Jason goes to Noir City--Day 4

Gotta catch up. Last Monday was Noir City's take on post-war Germany.

THE MURDERERS ARE AMONG US (1946): One of the many, many bad things that the Nazis did was kinda decimate the German film industry (ummm...other than propaganda.) Writer-director Wolfgang Staudte actually wrote this script during the war, while reluctantly working with the Nazis. Had his script been discovered, he would have been put to death. But he survived, it survived, and after the war--with the backing of the Soviets, he made this film. Dr. Hans Mertens (Wilhelm Borchert) is an alcoholic (foreshadowing DRUNKEN ANGEL? Or just catching the same vibe?) Susanne (Hildegard Knef) is the most beautiful concentration camp survivor ever (although the word "Jew" is never spoken.) Turns out Mertens is living in what used to be her apartment. She insists on moving in, he refuses to leave, so...they live together. And it's actually a chance for some healing to happen. So enter Ferdinand Br├╝ckner (Arnno Paulsen) a successful businessman who just happens to be Dr. Mertens former commanding officer. He also happens to be (or at least, to have been) a sadistic murdering bastard, so Dr. Mertens sets out on a plan to get revenge for his victims. A powerful film, dealing with the uncomfortable subject of how to live when the entire world--including you--knows that you are the most villainous villains in the history of humanity. The ending is, unfortunately, kind of mangled due to censorship. But still a fantastic piece of film, and an important look into a very important moment of history.

BERLIN EXPRESS (1948): Then a Hollywood movie that explores the same time and space, but from an international (okay, really American) perspective. Directed by Jacques Tourneur, it's a thriller about post-war reconstruction. An international team is travelling to Berlin for a peace conference headed by esteemed German expatriate Dr. Bernhardt (Paul Lukas.) Only, his travel is shrouded in secrecy and misdirection. In fact, the whole thing is chock-full of misdirection and surprising (some might say arbitrary) reveals. In any case, an assassination attempt fails, but a later kidnapping succeeds, and the international team--American, French, Russian, British have to follow what few clues there are to rescue him. A fun movie, excellently photographed, and particularly interesting for its particular time in place--a post-war period before Berlin (and all of Germany) was split in two, when peace between all nations really seemed possible, if only we could all trust each other.

Total Running Time: 172 minutes
My Total Minutes: 348,537

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