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Young Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, an unsuccessful playwright, is forced, in order to support himself, to take a position as tutor in the household of Herr Quandt. His first attempt to force himself upon women comes when he becomes interested in a young actress, Maria Brandt, daughter of Colonel Brandt at whose home he is lodging. He is driven from the house by Colonel Brandt. That night, acting as an usher for a meeting of the new German Socialist Party, Goebbels hears Hitler speak, and becomes an ardent follower. He is made propaganda head, becomes known as the "Scoundrel of Berlin", and his machinations strike terror into the hearts of innocent girls. Maria Brandt, who is working as a bit player in a theatre in Hannover, again meets Goebbels. Through his efforts, although unknown to her, Maria is made an overnight star. He then procures a contract for her at the famous UFA studios of Berlin. Maria, who has become interested in a young doctor, Hans Traeger, shuns Goebbels' attentions. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Considering its lowly Gower Gulch origins, and compared with the overblown hysterics and buffoonish characterizations of most Hollywood propaganda films, this is a remarkably heartfelt and even-handed treatment of lurid and melodramatic material. Goebbels is delineated as a tragically flawed human being rather than a cartoonish ogre, and his final scene amidst the rubble is strangely ambivalent. Much credit must go to director Zeisler (best known for his minimal-budget adaptation of "Crime and Punishment", entitled "Fear") who has taken measures to add a psychological and emotional background to the principals, despite the cardboard situations and some risible theatrical devices (particularly Goebbels' incidental invention of the "Heil Hitler" salute). Equally praiseworthy is the noirish cinematography of the incomparable John Alton, whose precise lighting of eyes, faces and profiles adds so much depth to the characterizations.
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