Actually the "Contains spoiler" line should say, in this case, "Contains possible spoiler". Because the fact is I do not speak German, and I have never seen this film anywhere with subtitles. In fact, until I happened to do some internet surfing I never knew this film existed.
I don't know how many people know, today, of the mystery of the disappearance (about 1890) of the Hapsburg Prince, Archduke Johann Salvador Von Osterreich - Toskana. Johann was of the Italian side of the Hapsburg clan, the youngest son of Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany. He was born in 1852. He was last heard from in 1890, on board a rickety old boat he bought with his servants and morganatic wife, the actress Milly Stubel. The boat, the Ste. Marguerite, was last seen heading around Cape Horn. It was a stormy season and the ship was never officially seen or heard from again. For years, just like in the post 1930s and 1940s sightings of Judge Joseph Crater were frequently reported, in the 1890s and 1900s sightings of Archduke Johann (who took the name "Johann Orth") were reported. But in 1911 after 21 years had passed, the Archduke was declared legally dead. His actual fate was never determined.
Now when a wealthy person disappears people show interest (i.e., the fate of Michael Rockefeller, back in the 1960s). When a socially prominent person disappears they show equal interest (in 1854 Roger Tichborne, the heir to a great English Catholic estate, vanished, and for thirty years there were questions and court battles to determine if Roger was still alive as one Thomas Castro, the "Tichborne Claimant"). Yet today hardly anyone recalls the missing Hapsburg prince Johann Salvador. Why?
It seems he was close to a cousin: Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary, the heir to the dual monarchy thrones and all other titles in that empire. At least one book hinted that Johann and Rudolf were hoping to modernize the empire's government and army, and ran afoul of the various powers that be from the Emperor Franz Josef to the Prime Minister Taffe to the military leadership. Rudolf slowly got involved in the sad affair with Marie Vetsara, that led to their joint deaths (whatever the circumstances) at the hunting lodge at Mayerling in January 1889. That has been the subject of at least two movies and a television show. But aside from discovering this film I have found nothing regarding Johann and his private abdication a year after his friend and cousin died.
He renounced his titles, married Miss Stubel (who besides being an actress was Jewish, a real slap at Hapsburg bigotry), and they sailed off to a new life in South America. And actually oblivion. I hope they made it.
The actors in this film, made in 1932 (a year before the Nazis did take over) are unknown to me, except for Paul Wegener. Karl (or Carl) Ludwig Diehl is Archduke Johann, and Gretl Theimer is Milly Stubel, so the romance is in the film's plot. So is the relationship with Rudolf (Paul Richter), and his father the Emperor (Paul Otto). But why is Tsar Alexander III of Russia brought in (played by Fritz Alberti)? Are they suggesting that the renunciation and the leaving of Austria were connected to Russian Imperial schemes? Is Rudolf's death also linked to such schemes (in the film)?
I cannot rate this movie, as obviously I have never seen it. I hope somebody who has seen it will be good enough to inform me, so that I can learn what the plot was. I'm glad it was made in 1932. Had it been made two or three years later, Milly Stubel would have been a diabolically evil temptress and plotter against the state and Germans and her lover. She really did not deserve that kind on treatment by Goebbel's UFA, but she would have gotten it.
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