Synopsis for
Merry-Go-Round (1973) More at IMDbPro »Reigen (original title)

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1. Late evening. Leocadia (Gertraud Jesserer), a young prostitute, picks up Franz (Hans Brenner), a soldier on his way back to barracks. Though she offers him sex for free, he doesn't have time to go home with her, so they have sex on the embankment of the river Danube. He won't give her his name and laughs off her request for a tip. She yells abuse as he heads off.

2. Franz has led Maria (Sydne Rome), a housemaid on her day off, out of a dance hall on a Sunday evening. They have just met, but soon go and have sex in the park. Afterwards, he quickly loses interest in her and wants to get back to the dance. His reluctant promise to walk her home is soon forgotten as he finds a new partner.

3. A hot summer afternoon. Alfred (Helmut Berger), the grown-up son of the household, is home alone with the flirtatious Maria. He is expecting a caller, but seduces Maria. Just as they are having sex on the salon table, the doorbell rings; but there is no-one there by the time she gets to the door. She begs him to stay, but he leaves for the caf. She helps herself to a cigar.

4. Alfred has borrowed an apartment for an assignation with Emma (Senta Berger), a young married woman. She arrives veiled and nervous, determined not to stay; but after some brandy and candied fruit, allows herself to be seduced. He suffers a bout of impotence and makes grandiose excuses. She teases and pets him; a second go at sex is more successful. Horrified at how late it has become and the lies she is going to have to tell when she gets home, Emma declares that she will never see Alfred again; but they realise that they will be at the same party the following evening.

5. Late evening. Emma is reading in bed. Her somewhat older husband Charles (Peter Weck) comes in; one of the periodic Platonic phases of their marriage is about to end. These periods of sexual abstinence, he explains, mean that they can keep having 'honeymoons'. She asks him about the women he slept with before they were married and wonders if married women ever prostitute themselves; he chides her for her curiosity. They make love, recalling the first night of their honeymoon in Venice five years before.

6. The Girl (Maria Schneider) has allowed Charles to pick her up in the street and to treat her to dinner in the private room of a restaurant. She is nineteen, at once flirtatious and innocent; he questions her closely, trying to work out just how promiscuous she is. Tipsy with wine and claiming that he reminds her of a former sweetheart, she has sex with him. Afterwards, they fall out; she disbelieves his claims that he is single and from out of town. But they make up, and she agrees to become his mistress.

7. The Girl has been for a walk with Robert (Michael Heltau); they return to his apartment. Though it is getting dark, he refuses to light the lamps. He claims that he loves her and asks if she loves him in return. His talk is all literary and self-obsessed; first he says that he is 'Biebitz', a famous playwright, then he insists that he is only a shop assistant. They have sex on the divan. He then says that he knows Biebitz and promises to send her a ticket to his play.

8. Robert (who really is Biebitz) and The Actress (Erika Pluhar), who is starring in his latest play, have gone off to a country inn together. Every inch the diva, she teases him mercilessly, claiming still to be devoted to an ex by the name of Fritz. Eventually she invites him to join her in bed, and they have sex. Afterwards, though continuing to wrong-foot him at every turn, she tells him that he is a genius and that she has been sick with love for him.

9. The Count (Helmut Lohner), a cavalry officer, is paying a visit to The Actress. Though it is midday, she is still in bed. She is flattered by his compliments on her performance on stage the night before and flirts with him. Though exasperated by his formal manner, she is fascinated by his 'live-for-the-moment' philosophy of life and his aristocratic fastidiousness. When she offers herself to him, he at first declines, saying that he dislikes having sex in the mornings. But he can't resist her for long. Afterwards, they arrange to meet again when she returns from the theatre that evening.

10. Early morning. The Count is in Leocadia's room. She is asleep in the bed; he has woken up, still dressed, on the couch, nursing a hangover and trying to remember how he got there. He is about to leave, when she wakes. He is struck by her beauty and asks her about her life. She reminds him of someone from his past and he kisses her eyes, thinking that has been their only intimacy; but the fantasy is shattered when she tells him that they had drunken sex the night before. He walks out into the deserted street as day dawns over Vienna.

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