I was holed up in a hotel room in Austria on a rainy day between rehearsals for an opera I was in, and turned on the TV, which was usually hopeless; bad MTV and dubbed American Sitcoms. But this movie had just started, and I was hooked for the duration. Though I understood maybe one in five words at the most, sometimes far less, I was able to follow this delightful Cinderella story from beginning to end. Franciska Gaal is really hilariously funny and over-the-top as the kitchen maid Katharina, who is so poor she has to wear chunks of wood for shoes, and who is taken out on dates by a rich and handsome man-about-town dressed up as his own chauffeur in order to get into the house Kathariana works in, and where his fiancée lives, guarded by her overprotective father. Naturally Hans slowly grows to love Katharina in spite of himself, and soon she is no longer just a means to an end. Gaal exudes charm in bucketloads, even with her high voice and pigtails that seem to be held out by wires. She sings beautifully too. There are many touching moments in this, and much more subtlety than the plot may suggest. Speaking of singing, the Comedian Harmonists are featured in a nightclub scene, a good bit of priceless footage of this inimitable group. Both they, and Gaal, had their careers ruined by the Nazis, and this is yet another record of a lost world. Invaluable. I hope it becomes widely available soon, along with Gaal's other films, perhaps with some subtitles for those like me!
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