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 ...
See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
We are informed at the outset that "The following story unfolds the private life of the greatest scoundrel of our time". One would have thought that would have more aptly described Hitler himself, rather than Goebbels; but the Doctor would have been as flattered to be considered important enough to get an entire film to himself depicting him (as 'Inglorious Basterds' later put it) as "The number two man in Hitler's Third Reich", as he would have been disdainful of the result. At a time when far less was then known about him than has been documented since his death, as the most visible and vocal member of the Nazi hierarchy after Hitler it was widely assumed during their lifetime that Goebbels was the real brains behind the Führer. This was certainly how he was portrayed (superbly played by Henry Daniell) in Chaplin's 'The Great Dictator' (1940). Only after the war did it emerge that Goebbels had far less influence over Hitler than had generally been supposed. But that is the least of this film's many inaccuracies; and it shares with Stuart Heisler's 'Hitler' (1962) a similarly tedious fixation with it's subject's love life rather than his political activities.
Originally titled 'The Private Life of Paul Joseph Goebbels', but at some point saddled with the absurd 'Enemy of Women', the film's writer-director Alfred Zeisler was one of Hollywood's many exiles from Nazi Germany and was thus in some instances drawing upon his own memories of the period when Goebbels was consolidating Nazi control over the German film industry; while at other times embellishing with the benefit of hindsight. The result is a bizarre but lamentably dull mishmash of surprisingly recherché historical information and total fabrication. On the one hand the film surprisingly includes the Austrian clairvoyant Erik Jan Hanussen (later portrayed by Klaus Maria Brandauer in István Szabó's 'Hanussen' in 1988) accurately predicting the Reichstag fire and the rise of Rommel; and Goebbels' secretary was indeed named Hanke, as he is called here. But the character of Maria Brandt, an Austrian actress with whom the Doctor becomes chronically obsessed - not to mention the time frame involved - bears no relation at all to the affair Goebbels actually had with the Czech actress Lída Baarová during the thirties. Stranger still, in 1931 Goebbels married Magda Quandt, by whom he had six children; but in this version of events Joseph seemingly remains a bachelor, and Magda, as played by Sigrid Gurie, appears simply as the mother of a boy young Joseph is teaching history, and has just one word of dialogue: "Harald!"
The Führer himself is seen only fleetingly in longshot, Himmler is shown briefly from behind sounding like a Hollywood gangster; and that's all you see of the other Nazi leaders. Goebbels himself disappears from the film for long stretches, including much of the final third (Claudia Drake, who plays Maria Brandt, is ominously billed above supposed lead Paul Andor); and we are instead forced to watch Maria's extremely uninteresting romance with handsome and equally fictitious Dr. Hans Traeger. None of this is made any more involving by Zeisler's sluggish direction; and the end result is, alas, much duller than it sounds.
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?