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Vienna, at the height of the Great Depression. Like so many others, Hans has no work, no money, nowhere to live. Having lost his livelihood as a taxi driver, he decides that the only solution is to kill himself. But just as he is about to drown himself, he sees a young woman dive into the river, obviously with the same intention. Without a thought, Hans pulls the woman out of the water and does his best to comfort her. Her name is Anna and she is only 18, but like Hans she no longer has the strength to go on living.
A man who has lost his job trudges to the Danube to kill himself. When a young woman throws herself in, he rescues her and they begin their long and erratic journey to love.
Writer-Director-Epidemiologist-Archaeologist Paul Fejos -- I'm pretty sure he didn't wear all his hats on this shoot -- offers us a charming view of Vienna from the underside, with leads Annabella and Gustav Fröhlich most charming. The ups and downs go on a little too often. I would have cut it one iteration short, but he directs it as a silent with enough sound sequences to let you know this is the sound era. The leads mime their sequences very nicely. Annabella is almost mute (perhaps her German was not so good) in her shy, mousy role and Fröhlich's performance suggests Bill Haines in one of his more down-to-earth roles.
Anyone who has seen Fejos' LONESOME will recognize this as another film in the same vein, a corrective to King Vidor's THE CROWD. Between the players and the city of Vienna, this is a good one to see.
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