The terribly tragic years of the Second World War held a few minor comforts. One of the few positive (unintended) results of the Third Reich was the flood of European character actors who spent the war years in Hollywood, in some cases continuing their careers there after V-E Day. These include Victor Francen, Marcel Dalio, S.Z. Sakall, and Sig Arno.
Although Arno was a starring comedian in pre-war German films, in Hollywood his thick accent limited him to supporting roles. Still, he carved out a respectable career (usually playing comic waiters with funny accents), and many Hollywood films of the 1940s would be less enjoyable without Arno's expert comic timing.
'Keine Feier ohne Meyer' (the title is funnier than the movie) is one of Arno's starring roles. The title literally means 'No Fire without Meyer', but in this case 'Fire' is meant in the figurative sense of 'excitement'. It's a comedy, but the humour falls uneasily between slapstick and farce.
Arno plays Meyer, a Jewish marriage broker in Saxony who is secretly saving for himself his best client: the beautiful daughter of the local burgomeister. The daughter is played by Dina Gralla, whose Polish accent is quite thick ... and at variance with the German character she's portraying. Her father is played by the Anglo-German actor Ralph Arthur Roberts, whose accent varies uncertainly between British and German. Vocally (but not physically), Roberts reminds me of another Anglo-German actor: Henry Victor, best known as the strong man in 'Freaks'. Victor could have had a fine career in Hollywood or Britain, if only he'd been able to keep his accent on the English side of the Channel ... instead of wavering back and forth between his two homelands. Ralph Arthur Roberts (what a name!) has the same problem in this film. The sound recording is very bad, so the mishmash of accents makes things even worse.
The pacing of the film is very slow, which is especially disastrous due to the lowbrow nature of much of the (unfunny) comedy here. The director Carl Boese shows no flair for comedy. There are a few very nice exterior shots of a seashore and a lake, with some interesting sunlight effects, and Dina Gralla backlit against the splendid German scenery. Boese should have kept away from comedy films, and devoted his talents to the 'mountain' film genre (with its emphasis on nature and the German landscape) which was so popular in German cinemas at this time.
I'll rate 'No Fire without Meyer' 3 points out of 10, and 2 of those points are for Sig Arno's performance.
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