IMDb > Man of Straw (1951)

Man of Straw (1951) More at IMDbPro »Der Untertan (original title)

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Release Date:
31 August 1951 (East Germany) See more »
Diederich Heßling is scared of everything and everyone. But as he grows up, he comes to realize that... See more » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
German Wonders See more (8 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
Werner Peters ... Diederich Heßling
Paul Esser ... Regierungspräsident von Wulckow
Renate Fischer ... Guste Daimchen
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
Paul Mederow ... Dr. Heuteufel
Friedrich Richter ... Fabrikbesitzer Lauer
Heinz Keuneke ... Gottlieb Hornung
Richard Landeck ... Warenhausbesitzer Neumann
Ernst Wehlau ... Sötbier
Kurt-Otto Fritsch ... Junger Arbeiter
Blandine Ebinger ... Frau von Wulkow
Carola Braunbock ... Emmi Heßling
Emmy Burg ... Magda Heßling
Gertrud Bergmann ... Mutter Heßling
Erich Nadler ... Vater Heßling
Antje Ruge ... Jungfrau von Orleans
Friedel Nowack ... Frau Göpel
Viola Recklies ... Junge Arbeiterin
Oskar Höcker ... Landgerichtsrat Fritzsche
Georg August Koch ... Geheimer Medizinalrat
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Günther Ballier ... Mann (uncredited)
Fredy Barten ... Mann (uncredited)
Maria Besendahl ... Frau (uncredited)
Egon Brosig ... Mann (uncredited)
Elka Haedrich ... Frau (uncredited)
Hannjo Hasse ... Mann (uncredited)
Georg Helge ... Mann (uncredited)
Johannes Maus ... Mann (uncredited)
Hans Olaf Moser ... (uncredited)
Edgar Pauly ... (uncredited)
Peter Peterz ... Wiebel (uncredited)
Günther Polensen ... Mann (uncredited)
Martin Rickelt ... (uncredited)
Harry Riebauer ... (uncredited)
Hans Rose ... Mann (uncredited)
Käthe Scharf ... Frau (uncredited)
Hilma Schluter ... Frau (uncredited)
Horst Schönemann ... Mann (uncredited)
Steffie Spira ... (uncredited)
Friedrich Teitge ... Mann (uncredited)
Albert Venohr ... Mann (uncredited)
Egon Vogel ... (uncredited)
Charles Hans Vogt ... Mann (uncredited)
Bella Waldritter ... Frau (uncredited)
Gerd Wolfrum ... Mann (uncredited)

Directed by
Wolfgang Staudte 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Heinrich Mann  novel "Der Untertan"
Fritz Staudte 
Wolfgang Staudte 

Original Music by
Horst Hans Sieber 
Cinematography by
Robert Baberske 
Film Editing by
Johanna Rosinski 
Production Design by
Karl Schneider 
Erich Zander 
Costume Design by
Walter Schulze-Mittendorff 
Makeup Department
Willy Roloff .... makeup artist
Alois Strasser .... makeup artist
Production Management
Fritz Brix .... unit manager
William Neugebauer .... unit manager
Willi Teichmann .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Hanna Bark .... assistant director
Werner Reinhold .... assistant director
Sound Department
Erich Schmidt .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Günter Marczinkowsky .... assistant camera
Eduard Neufeld .... still photographer
Other crew
Hans Robert Bortfeld .... script editor

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Der Untertan" - East Germany (original title)
"The Kaiser's Lackey" - International (English title)
"The Subject" - International (English title)
"The Underdog" - USA (informal English title)
See more »
109 min | West Germany:97 min (cut version)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Finland:K-16 | Germany:12 (video rating) | Sweden:15 | West Germany:16 (f) (original rating) | West Germany:12 (f) (re-rating) | West Germany:(Banned) (1951-1956)


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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
German Wonders, 6 October 2007
Author: zolaaar from Berlin, GER

Like Der blaue Engel from 1930, Der Untertan is made after a famous novel by Heinrich Mann, the elder and politically more interested of the two German writer brothers. Here as there, the film is about the criticism for a social characteristic which is regarded as typical for the German background: the Philistine who is fixated on authority and blindly tumbles into war and downfall.

The film tells in episodes about the life story of Diederich Heßling (Werner Peters), youth and university days of the son of a factory owner and his gradual rise into better circles of the Prussian small town Netzig in the 80s of the 19th century; Germany is already an empire with Wilhelm II. being in power. During his studies and his time in the military service, Heßling learns how to be subject to superiors, to endure humiliation, to denounce and to enjoy the power over inferiors to the full. He takes over the father's factory, joins the conservative-nationalist party and a war club and marries a rich heiress. The height of his career is the opening of a warrior monument in Netzig; he appears as the official speaker and baths in the patriotic phrases of national authorities when a thunderstorm interrupts the ceremony and clears the whole place.

The alarming final shot of the monumental emperor, Wilhelm II., is a direct reference to the nation's dark future, WWI and WWII which both - from the perspective of the film - arose from the Prussian way of ruling and the servile attitude of the subjects, the German people. The incidental music to this last take is a repulsive potpourri of "Die Wacht am Rhein", an anti-French national song, the "Horst-Wessel-Song", a martyr anthem of the Nazis and the fanfares which introduced "Die Wochenschau", a weekly propagandistic newsreel that was shown in the cinemas of the Third Reich.

Without reservation, this film can be accepted as a work of art about a weighty epoch in German history, the Wilhelminian era. The characters precisely personify the important and guiding institutions like school, university, military and government. The film succeeds in picturing the fatal relation between philistinism and war enthusiasm, whereas the camera excellently describes the subject's point of view and position: Heßling looks bottom-up to the authority. Next to the acting brilliance of Werner Peters, it's those camera looks which outfits the film with an outstandingly analytical and aesthetic quality.

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