Relatively unknown Werner Hochbaum was one of the most important German directors of the 1930's, but when this would be your first film of his to watch, you should be aware that this is one of his a weaker ones. It is one of those films you are sure of that it could have been much better. Is it a mediocre film then? No, it is good, but failing.
It is a highly stylized film with beautiful cinematography (including a couple of traveling shots - to and fro- of two people in conversation while walking), ditto lightning and - may be a bit overdone - extraordinary sets. I especially like the one of the street with all those stairs up and down.
But there are problems. After the first part, that is concentrated on romantic comedy and that is very sophisticated and well-paced, the film more or less gets stuck never to get fully going again. Also the film's atmosphere quite abruptly changes from comedy into drama. though the drama is unvoidable and one of the main aspects of the story, the building up to it is less than satisfactory.
There is also a very nasty cut from one scene to another (Jacqueline's visit to the hospital), and then you know they were probably in trouble; why was this not corrected? Things get awkward when near the end we have a totally superfluous scene on a racetrack (including falling and wounded racing cyclists): do we need these boys? It is just there to fill time; the viewer can easily guess where Jacqueline has gone, because this place already played a major role throughout the film.
But then, oh what brilliance again: those two last shots of the film with Sabine Peters, medium close-up looking a bit up at the camera and saying the last lines ("Und vergiss nicht die Klingel ab zu stellen" etc.) and then walking away in the street while the camera slowly lifts up, passing artificial fog and showing the street from above. We sit there with a lump in the troat and the sad knowledge that this kind of poetic atmosphere is what we have been missing the last half hour despite the already mentioned technical brilliance.
The script has a very nice aspect (I do not know the novel used as basis). Here it is the woman Jacqueline who actively conquers the man who at first is not interested at all. She is constantly called Jack and talked of as "Ein feiner Kerl" (a fine chap). Some critics interpret this as introducing a homosexual element. This sounds nice and very modern, but could it not be that Hochbaum on purpose made his women strong and independent; his male characters (like the ex-boyfriend, the pilot) seem in general of a not so strong character.
Hochbaum directs his actors splendid and gets the most out of them, with Wera Engels standing out.
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