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Man of Straw (1951)
"Der Untertan" (original title)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 578 users  
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Diederich Heßling is scared of everything and everyone. But as he grows up, he comes to realize that he has to offer his services to the powers-that-be if he wants to wield power himself. ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Werner Peters ...
Paul Esser ...
Regierungspräsident von Wulckow
Renate Fischer ...
Ernst Legal ...
Pastor Zillich
Raimund Schelcher ...
Dr. Wolfgang Buck
Eduard von Winterstein ...
Buck sen.
Friedrich Maurer ...
Fabrikant Göpel
Sabine Thalbach ...
Agnes Göpel
Hannsgeorg Laubenthal ...
Mahlmann
Friedrich Gnaß ...
Napoleon Fischer
Wolfgang Kühne ...
Dr. Mennicke
Fritz Staudte ...
Amtsgerichtsrat Kühlemann
Wolfgang Heise ...
Leutnant von Brietzen
Axel Triebel ...
Major Kunze
Arthur Schröder ...
Landgerichtsdirektor
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Storyline

Diederich Heßling is scared of everything and everyone. But as he grows up, he comes to realize that he has to offer his services to the powers-that-be if he wants to wield power himself. His life motto now runs: bow to those at the top and tread on those below. In this way, he always succeeds: as a student in a duel-fighting student fraternity and as a businessman in a paper factory. He cajoles the obese district administrative president Von Wulkow and wins his favor. He slanders his financial rivals and hatches a plot with the social democrats in the town council. On his honeymoon with his rich wife Guste, he finally finds a chance to do his beloved Kaiser a favor. And when a memorial to the Kaiser is unveiled in the town where Diederich lives and works, he delivers the address. He stands behind the lectern in the pouring rain, saluting his Kaiser. The crowd is dispersed. Everything is laid in ruins... Written by Anonymous

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Comedy | Drama

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Release Date:

31 August 1951 (East Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Underdog  »

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User Reviews

 
The GDR has survived - in Amherst, Massachusetts
27 October 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Der Untertan" (1951), directed by star-director Wolfgang Staudte, is based on a novel by Heinrich Mann (1871-1950) as "Der Blaue Engel" (1930), directed by Josef Von Sternberg, is. While in "Der Blaue Engel", the protagonist is a person who cannot adapt to the world around him, and when he tries, shamefully stumbles and at the end pays his attempts with his life, the main figure in "Der Untertan" is so-to-say the complimentary character: Although born in an aristocratic, high-class family, surrounded by the world-literature and regular house-concerts and thus widely detached from bourgeoisie, he finds out that he may make carrier by breaking out of this status-group isolation in trying to meddle with politics. He also finds out that for him, the best way is to put hand over hand along the rope that leads upwards while kicking the ones who are coming below him. The result is, however, that he blunders not only in public but often also in his private life. The film has an interesting, yet totalitarian and typical GDR-end which kind of disturbs the otherwise excellently crafted master-piece for which Werner Peters in the role of Dr. Hessling and the director of the film got the Great GDR-State Price.

This movie and an extremely impressive list of some hundreds of titles more, meanwhile practically the collected works of the DEFA, the state film company of the former GDR or DDR, we owe to the Department of German Studies of the University of Massachusets at Amherst that has obviously taken over the legacy to maintain and foster the gigantic film work of the "other" Germany which has ceased to exist in 1990.


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