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The High Life (1960)

Das kunstseidene Mädchen (original title)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Doris Putzke
Gustav Knuth ...
Arthur Grönland
...
Docteur Kölling
Agnes Fink ...
Thérèse
Alfred Balthoff ...
Fred Wieland
Axel Monjé ...
Klingfeld
Ralf Wolter ...
Schlotter
Harry Meyen ...
Heinrich
Christiane König ...
Milena von Trapp
Robert Dietl ...
Albert Scherer
Christiane Maybach ...
Tilly Scherer
Friedrich Schoenfelder ...
Ranowsky
Ingrid van Bergen ...
Ulla
Wolfgang Borchert ...
Monsieur Brenner
Hilde Volk ...
Madame Brenner
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based on novel | See All (1) »

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Drama

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Release Date:

20 July 1960 (France)  »

Also Known As:

I storstadens virvel  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
THE HIGH LIFE (Julien Duvivier, 1960) **1/2
8 May 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This international production (made by a noted French director with a largely German crew and an Italian leading lady in Giulietta Masina!) is basically a reworking of the latter’s signature film – NIGHTS OF CABIRIA (1957; which was helmed by her real-life spouse, Federico Fellini). Here, she’s a working-class girl trying her fortune in Berlin: during the course of the film, in fact, the heroine assumes the duties of a secretary (with Gert Frobe as her boss), stage actress (though her contribution extends to just one line of dialogue!) and maid (becoming involved with both the elderly owner of an upper-class household and his son).

Besides, she receives a gift for spending a platonic evening with a stranger, pinches a fur coat from an establishment, fights with her best friend over the attentions the latter’s fiancé gives to Masina(!), casually bumps into her own (now disheveled) former lover, etc. Again, as in CABIRIA, the heroine manages to find a compatible i.e. meek partner at long last (in this case, Hannes Messemer) – but the relationship is similarly short-lived (here, due to the lover’s continuing attachment to his previous girlfriend).

Once one has recovered from the fact that Masina is the unlikeliest of gold-diggers and irresistible women, the film – which, as can be deduced from the above (and like CABIRIA itself), adopts an episodic structure – is an O.K. comedy-drama with the occasional sharp observation to make about the lifestyle prevalent in big cities at the time (and, therefore, can be deemed valuable as a time-capsule) and a smattering of wit throughout…but also several instances of melancholia (shattered dreams of glory, pimping, wife-beating, suicide, mistreatment of an invalid, etc).

At the end of the day, however, the film emerges as a very minor effort in the director’s canon – and, truth be told, one I’d never heard of myself prior to its appearance early one morning on Italian TV!


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