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One Of the Most Outstanding Titles Of Lang's First Period.
The merchant Yquem buys his dear wife a beautiful jewel with matching earnings in a place where the city's underworld trades in fake and stolen jewelry. By chance, Yquem spots a man with whom his wife had an affair in the past. Yquem follows him to a hotel where he will write him a letter imitating his wife's hand writing. The letter invites the man to a public place where Yquem can spy on them and try to discover whether there is still something between them.
This early Fritz Lang film, "Vier Um Die Frau" (Four Around a Woman) was found by chance some years ago at the "Cinemateca De Sâo Paulo", a great present for the German aristocracy and even for the longhaired moviegoers, because it prefigures much of "Dr. Mabuse", (corruption in the upper class-a very habitual practice-unscrupulous upstarts, blackmail, low class criminals, social tension.) and in the opinion of this German aristocrat, provides one of the most outstanding titles of Lang's first period. This film has excellent editing that gives vigour, speed and emotion to a story of an underworld rife with treachery and betrayal as well as a complex tale of unrequited love. The film builds to a crescendo of narrative strength that reminds one of episodes of "Die Spinnen" made by Herr Lang a year before.
The acting is exceptional and the performers resist the temptation to overacting that might be expected in such melodrama. As the heroine, Carola Toelle is especially good and admirably conveys the doubts, secret desires and frustration that her character suffers. An excellent counterpoint is provided the character of her friend and confidant, a perfect vamp, who provides bad advice and is without scruples, quick to use flirting to build up her social position... Rudolf Klein-Rogge has to be mentioned, as his performance makes one recall the exceptional character Dr Mabuse, that he will immortalise two years later. The excellent main actors are given equally good support in the minor roles.
It is worth mentioning as well the great photography of Otto Kanturek and the film production by Ernst Meiwers and Hans Jacoby. The importance of "Decla-Bioscop"'can be seen in the first rate production values that are so abundant in the film (great manors, hotel lobbies, the stock exchange, etc) and on the other hand the realistic depiction of less auspicious surroundings: ragged and wretched slums streets filled with the kind of characters you might expect in such places. A minor point but also a real curiosity is the inclusion of a poster for another "Decla Bioscop" production that can be glimpsed in a theater lobby.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count is realizing how in tonight's soirée's there are four aristocrats around a fat German heiress with almost the same perverse intentions of those of this Herr Graf towards her.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/
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