Immediate background: After "the crimson pirate" and a -failed-remake of Feyder's "Le Grand Jeu" in France,Robert Siodmak was back in Germany.He did not direct in his native land for more than twenty years,since "Brennendes Geheimnis" .In between,he made brilliant movies ,some of them are among the classics of film noir.
Siodmak finds back a humiliated country .He came in blaring in 1929 with "Menschen am Sonntag" and with "die Ratten" came back the same way.He was helped by two of the most talented German thespians of the era: Maria Schell and Cürd Jurgens plus a fine supporting cast including Gustav Knuth people outside Germany know essentially as Sissi's father in the famous Marischka saga.
The prologue sets the tone: a distraught frenzied Schell tries to get to Berlin West.When the soldiers stop her,they discover she's holding a rag doll.The film is a long flashback.
Siodmak depicts a murky atmosphere ,with mean characters ,the rats.The subject is that of the great melodramas of the forties ,but the director displays a gutsy realism which is more European.
Memorable scenes: The bric a brac in M.John's house where his brother-in-law is doing bad things behind his back and where Pauline gives birth to her child.
The baptism and the funeral of two children,two scenes which recall Abel Gance's "Venus Aveugle"(1942) The walk through the Christmas market(Siodmak often uses the pom-pom of the fairground music ,notably during the cast and credits) where Pauline buys a teddy bear.
The ball of the new year's eve when a Singerin is bawling out a horrible ditty about having fun.
Siodmak seems to remember his earlier films such as "Voruntersuchung" ( a contrast between the tragedy and the fair and the fireworks where people rejoice) and "Stürme der Leidenschaft" aka" Tumultes" (the knife).
Like this? try These....
"The old maid" Edmund Goulding 1939
"The great lie" EDmund Goulding 1941
"To each his own" Mitchell Leisen 1946
"La voleuse" Jean Chapot 1966 (starring Romy Schneider)
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