Joe May's sensual drama of life in the Berlin underworld is in many ways the perfect summation of German filmmaking in the silent era: a dazzling visual style, a psychological approach to ... See full summary »
Joe May's sensual drama of life in the Berlin underworld is in many ways the perfect summation of German filmmaking in the silent era: a dazzling visual style, a psychological approach to its characters, and the ability to take a simple and essentially melodramatic story and turn it into something more complex and inherently cinematic. Written by
It's a good film all around, but it's most notable for finding yet another remarkable silent beauty queen, Betty Amann, who could perhaps have been a huge star if the era had continued. With her jet-black bob-cut, she'll remind many of Louise Brooks, but, aside from a similar hairdo, she's not much like Brooks. The story concerns a cop (Metropolis' Gustav Froehlich) who picks up Amann for stealing a diamond from a jewelry store. She tries to seduce him so he'll let her go, but he's so morally upright she basically has to jump on top of him to get what she wants. Froehlich walks away from the situation bewildered, but also kind of in love with her. She, too, develops feelings for the poor little innocent, but odds are against them. Especially when her gangster boyfriend shows back up. I wouldn't quite group this among the silent masterpieces, but it's a fine film. And Amann really is wonderful (she would go on to co-star in Hitchcock's The Rich and the Strange, and she also pops up in Nancy Drew... Reporter). I think it might be a bit better known if not for the lousy title. "Asphalt" only really refers to Froehlich's job as a traffic cop, but I don't see what else it has to do with the film.
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