Prologue: The murderer "Boss" Huller - after having spent ten years in prison - breaks his silence to tell the warden his story. "Boss", a former trapeze artist, and his wife own a cheap ... See full summary »
Prologue: The murderer "Boss" Huller - after having spent ten years in prison - breaks his silence to tell the warden his story. "Boss", a former trapeze artist, and his wife own a cheap side-show that displays ''erotic sensations''. But he longs for his former glamorous life in the circus. When he meets the orphan Berta-Marie, he falls under her spell and leaves his wife and young son behind. He makes Berta-Marie his partner in a new trapeze number. One day, the famous trapeze artist Artinelli takes note of them and engages them for his trapeze show in Berlin. Their salto mortale becomes an immediate sensation. Calculatedly and cold, Artinelli seduces Berta-Marie and destroys "Boss'" happiness. Written by
Christian Taube <email@example.com>
In 1915 Germany, burly trapeze artist Emil Jannings (as Stephan "Boss" Huller) leaves his wife and partner for sultry young Lya de Putti (as Berta-Marie). Soon, the carnival performing pair are hired by famed trapezist Warwick Ward (as Artinelli), after his flying brother is derailed by a fall. The high swinging threesome is an immediate success. But, after his trimmer partners begin to take care of their mutual attraction, Mr. Jannings must commit the crime for which he serves ten years in prison - as revealed in the present-day prologue. No doubt, it's going to get nasty
Appearing decidedly middle-aged, and with his overweight figure impossible to disguise, Jannings is miscast to the point of ridiculous. But, he was so popular most viewers accepted Jannings as the trim athletic "catcher" flying high. For American consumption, Paramount left out Jannings' adulterous first act (and trimmed the remainder of the film). This softens Jannings' character, of course. The film cutters did leave in some flashes of female nipple. That, Jannings, and some great camera-work from Karl Freud made "Varieté" a critical and commercial success in the US.
****** Varieté (11/16/25) E.A. Dupont ~ Emil Jannings, Lya de Putti, Warwick Ward, Maly Delschaft
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