'Ferien vom Ich' ('Holiday from Myself') is a weak film, although there are some pleasant exterior shots of the Bavarian countryside. The most interesting thing about this film is that it was made in Germany during the very early days of Hitler's premiership -- before the Third Reich caused most of its unpleasantries -- and, as such, it provides an interesting example of the German perception of Americans before WW2 compelled all loyal Nazis to see Americans as the enemy. It also provides some interesting depictions of mental illness, a few years before Hitler's propaganda machine encouraged the euthanasia of all mentally-ill German citizens for the 'greater good' of the Herrenvolk.
Hermann Braun plays a workaholic American industrialist whose physician (Georg H Schnell) orders him to go away for a rest cure to someplace where nobody knows him. Naturally, he chooses Bavaria. Rather than check into an existing spa, Braun buys the estate of an impoverished nobleman (Friedrich Stampe). He then proceeds to tear most of it down and rebuild it from scratch as a sanitarium. After all this is done, and the sanitarium has been freshly stocked with patients, Braun shows up and checks himself in for a rest cure without revealing his true identity (of course).
SPOILERS COMING. At the sanitarium, he meets the beautiful young daughter (Carola Höhn) of the nobleman whose estate he's gutted. Naturally, she depises the millionaire. Naturally, she also falls in love with the sanitarium's new American patient ... not realising that they're both the same man. Boring and unfunny complications ensue.
Sadly, the other patients in the sanitarium are rather broad caricatures of mental patients: they act like the inmates in the old burlesque sketch 'Crazy House'. They're clearly meant to be funny, yet I couldn't help recalling that -- soon after this film was made -- Hitler and Goering would urge the 'mercy killing' of all mentally-disturbed or feeble-minded German citizens.
As Germany and the United States were not yet at war in 1934 -- and, indeed, many American citizens (especially German-Americans) openly sympathised with Hitler's plans for Germany -- it's intriguing to see that this film's depiction of its American protagonist is entirely favourable and even admiring. It's clear that, at this date, Germans still admired Americans for their drive and optimism. When did things change? I'll rate this mildly amusing movie 4 out of 10, mostly for its historic aspects.
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