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Because the Baron of Chanterelle wants to preserve his family line, he forces his timid nephew Lancelot to choose one of the village maidens to wed. Lancelot flees to a monastery to escape the forty eager maidens. When the gluttonous monks discover that the Baron is offering a large sum for the marriage, they suggest Lancelot marry a mechanical doll instead. The doll maker has just finished making a replica of his daughter Ossi, but his assistant accidentally breaks it and convinces the real girl to mimic the doll. Lancelot buys her, thinking she is a doll, and takes her back to the monastery, where they are wed. Written by
"Die Puppe" aka "The Doll" ranks with "The Oyster Princess" as perhaps Lubitsch's most sublime film made during his German period. Both films are superior in many respects to the well-known but pallid historical drama, "Madame duBarry" aka "Passion" (also made in 1919). Lubitsch himself felt that way. In a letter he once submitted to his biographer Herman G. Weinberg, Lubitsch considered "Die Puppe" and "Oyster Princess" as his most outstanding comedies produced in Germany before he departed for Hollywood to make "Rosita".
An early, entrancing example of what Lubitsch would become years later, "Die Puppe" is a supremely funny and delightful silent burlesque, filled with the master's light, witty, and graceful touch. The setting is frothy and artificial and it anticipates Lubitsch's enchanting fairy tale musicals of the sound era.
"Die Puppe" is introduced by Lubitsch himself with an artificial cardboard. It is a fairy tale about of a young prince named Lancelot(Hermann Thimig) who flees from his uncle Baron von Chanterelle(Max Kronert) to avoid a marriage. He settles in a monastery. There, he meets several monks who persuade him to marry a human-like mechanical doll and give them his uncle's dowry. The doll-maker Hilarius (Victor Janson) agrees to Lancelot's interest in his newest doll, an exact replica of Hilarius' daughter Ossi (played by Ossi Oswalda herself). But there is a problem: The doll-maker's young apprentice (Gerhard Ritterband) accidentally breaks the arm of the doll and now it is up to Hilarius' daughter Ossi to impersonate the doll in order to cover it up. Lancelot takes the doll/Ossi to his uncle's castle, where some of Lubitsch's most inventive gags occur as Lancelot mistakes real Ossi for the doll. He actually falls in love with the doll/Ossi. And the wedding scenes alone are some of the funniest moments ever filmed.
If you are a fan of Lubitsch, "Die Puppe" is an essential viewing.
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