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Cast overview, first billed only:
Heinz Rennhack ...
Otto Vegesack
Werner Senftleben ...
Molly Seibt
Willi Schrade ...
Don Lachmann
Brigitte Krause ...
Frau Hielscher
Viola Schweizer ...
Fräulein Hill
Michael Narloch ...
Günter Schubert ...
Jürgen Trott ...
Jürgen Polzin ...
Thomas Gumpert ...
Wolfgang Greese ...
Alfred Struwe ...
Jürgen Reuter ...
Mario Turra ...
Willi Neuenhahn ...


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Release Date:

27 November 1983 (East Germany)  »

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Should the state support altruism?
12 July 2013 | by (Netherlands, Utrecht) – See all my reviews

Comedies are not really my thing, so why spend time on "Unser bester Mann"? Well, it is produced in 1983, only six years before the collapse of the Leninist state. I wondered if the film would contain early signs of the dawning failure, after decades of Leninist rule. To make a long story short, it doesn't. Here's the plot. The main character Otto, the "best man", is a copy of the illustrious Mister Bean. He takes on an apprenticeship as a building-worker, which makes him a member of a building brigade. You don't understand? Let me explain. The Leninist economy tried to foster cooperation between the workers by dividing the work-force into collectives or brigades. The salary premiums and bonuses were attributed to the collective, and not to the individual worker. The underlying idea is that this will stimulate the workers to support and encourage each other. Thus the competition and the envy are transposed from individuals to groups, which is less painful. It is a people's wisdom: a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved. Anyway, at first the brigade mistakenly believes that Otto is highly talented. They soon experience his clumsiness, which of course gives rise to many funny situations. At the same time Otto tries to start a love affair, which he handles even clumsier. Never the less Otto makes progress with the lady in question, a single mother, who apparently doesn't mind. Actually he wanted her sister, but a retired Leninist party member changes his mind. This gives him the courage to persevere in his work, albeit with the helping hand of the obligatory retired party member. And behold, in the end Otto invents a new method of building, which saves the brigade many hours of work. It is the typical Leninist mantra: believe in your fellow-man (if he is proletarian), and with some guidance eventually it will pay back. It is a thought which unfortunately is not completely true, but still succeeds in moving me. It is the American dream in reverse: you can succeed, even after you have given up trying. The political problem is whether the state should give POSITIVE incentives to its citizens. On the psychological level it is all about acceptance. There may be more, but I have not seen it. The recordings were made in Berlin, and it is nice to see the famous places. There is even a glimpse of the enormous Republican Palace, which after the fall of the regime was demolished without reason. Can buildings be subversive? By the way, you should know that in a final effort to gain the approval of the East-German people, the government had started an enormous housing program. In Berlin the shortage was done away with, so that the film is actually enacted in a scenery of success. Anyway, perhaps the film delayed the collapse of the system, but it did not prevent it. For the time being, I qualify "Unser bester Mann" as a nice try, but requiring improvements.

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