When grocers's son Daantje Pieters is drafted, he falls for a girl in a blue hat he spots aboard the train to the garrison. At the barracks in The Hague, crafty conman Toontje takes Daantje...
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When grocers's son Daantje Pieters is drafted, he falls for a girl in a blue hat he spots aboard the train to the garrison. At the barracks in The Hague, crafty conman Toontje takes Daantje under his wing (not to mention his grocery supplies). Toontje decides to help Daan look for his dream girl, Betsy, but draws the line at them planning an engagement, for such things are not for soldiers. Written by
Army life between wars was pretty pleasant, apparently
This 1934 production of Johan Fabricius 1927 novel 'Het Meisje met den Blauwen Hoed' follows the book quite well, except for the addition of a few musical numbers (this was after all a time of blooming for talkies). It is in a way faster paced than the 1973 television version. Of course this is only natural, as the TV version had a couple of hours more to divulge on the plot. In this semi-autobiographical tale, grocers's son Daantje Pieters is drafted during the 1920's and falls in love at first sight with the titular girl with the blue hat the moment he sets eyes on her aboard the train. Once in the barracks in The Hague, Daantje meets the sly Toontje, who takes full advantage of the gullible Daan (and especially his supplies from the grocery). Toontje is also willing to help Daan get closer to Betsy (she of the blue headgear). However, when Daan and Betsy start getting too serious and plan to get engaged, Toontje is adamant to change their minds, living as he does by the motto 'no soldier should have a steady girlfriend'
As a piece of Dutch cinema history this film is a clear standout. Although the copy released on DVD by the Film Museum is not exactly pristine and has a tendency to 'skip over' parts during scenes on account of many missing frames, it is obvious that a lot of money was spend on this production. Almost 10.000 guilders according to the book 'Geschiedenis Van De Nederlandse Film en Bisocoop Tot 1940'. And that for a film that was only released in the Netherlands and Vlamish speaking Belgium. Luckily, the film did have a big star to offer: comedian/singer Lou Bandy, who was immensely popular in the low countries at the time. As the smart and sneaky Toontje Bulthuis, Bandy gets to sing most of the songs and to say all the best lines. At one point even duets with himself (thanks to a little bit of split screen) when Toontje takes Daan to the theater to see who else but the famous Lou Bandy. Critics at the time accused Bandy of speaking rather too posh for the unlettered character he was portraying. On the other hand, he got the untrustworthy look in his eyes down pat to portray Toon. For Bandy, who was known for his difficult personality and course humor, this part was right up his alley. The producers must have banked on the fact that the audience loved Lou a lot, for his portrayal can not exactly be called sympathetic.
For the two main characters, Daan and Betsy, Austrian director Rudolf Meinert cast two Dutch actors who were more successful abroad then in their motherland: Roland Varno (who would move to the states before the end of the thirties) and Truus van Aalten (who had her greatest fame in Germany). They play their parts well, but it is Bandy who dominates the picture. His contribution, as well as the musical numbers managed to bring in a large enough audience to break even. However, writer Fabricius apparently wasn't very pleased when he found out they turned his book into a musical. Unfortunately for him, the television version made in 1972 featured even more songs (as well as most of the numbers from the earlier version), not to mention a lot of pansy dance sequences. This remake (starring Jenny Arean, Huib Rooymans & André van Duin) was also released on DVD for the first time in 2007, hot on the heals of it's 1934 predecessor. This means that for the first time ever, viewers can compare both versions and soak up all the details of Dutch army life between wars as it was almost a century ago.
8 out of 10
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