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Steve De Jarnatt
Men cannot help themselves before Nadja Tiller as Lulu
"Lulu" (1962) is a fascinating movie. It flaunts the innocent and natural sex appeal of its title character, Lulu, portrayed wonderfully by Nadja Tiller. It looks at a a facet of female-male relations that is impossible to ignore. Men around her cannot help but be attracted and fall for her. She then cannot help but toy with their affections. Without any explicit sex scenes of the sort that now permeate movies, without showing anything more than what is revealed by an old-fashioned bathing suit, or a dress cut down the back or a leotard, this movie conveys Lulu's attractions with immense facility. The men cannot help themselves before her, even when they try to resist. I'd guess that most male viewers will feel this attraction quite strongly and understand the evident weakness and behavior of the men shown around her in the story. Lulu also attracts a dignified countess (Hildegard Neff) whose love for her is never returned.
The music in the movie, often carnival-like, moves it in the direction of a krimi, or an Edgar Wallace krimi, or a burlesque. But the story is quite serious in showing the tragedies around Lulu and her own personal tragedy. Because the music's effect is intentional, the movie is making at times an ironic statement in which the serious is treated incongruously. It is as if to say to an audience that we are stuck with our sexual natures, we are stuck with the foolishness that results from this, and we are stuck with the tragedies that may ensue.
A retinue of men are involved with Lulu. The respectable O.E. Hasse took her off the streets at age 14. He's so much in her thrall that he pushes her away to be married to rotund and rich Leon Askin who dies leaving her well off. Hasse then suggests that she marry the portrait artist who is painting her, a man hopelessly in love with her that she has played around with while married to Askin. Hasse's son (Klaus Höring) is in love with her too. Hasse plans to get Tiller out of his system by marrying another woman, but Tiller, who has become an entertainer in Höring's theater shows, foils that and Hasse who cannot resist her marries her.
The plot moves along from there in very unexpected directions, bringing in Mario Adorf, an entertainer who does a simulated tiger act with beauties dressed as tigers. He's attracted to Tiller, of course, and also to the royalty of Neff. All the while, the center of gravity is Tiller as Lulu.
The dialog is sharp. The plot is novel, for those who do not know the plot from the first movie version of this story, which was the 1929 "Pandora's Box". Nadja Tiller is striking as Lulu. Definitely recommended.
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