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A monumental waste of talent
12 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Like 'Immer wenn der Tag beginnt' this strange mix of drama and coming-of-age story deals with the tribulations of school teachers and stars a top box-office draw in the lead (Lilli Palmer vs. Ruth Leuwerik), but otherwise they differ widely. While 'Immer wenn der Tag beginnt' is sensitive, delicate and poignant this horrible remake of a classic masterpiece misses all the way.

Miss Palmer, who just wowed critics and public alike with her wonderful 'Anstasia - Die letzte Zarentochter', is much too young and much to elegant for the requirements of the part. Her scenes with Romy Schneider, desperate to escape the saccharine and schmaltzy 'Sissi' trilogy, miss sparkle and their heavily hyped 'kiss' is as shocking as a milk-shake. The chilling social comment, that made the original version in 1932 an all time classic is now completely passé and all that's left is just a beautifully photographed ante-bellum frou-frou about a gaggle of glamour girls. They laugh, they cry and after 90 minutes of tame misunderstandings the nonplussed viewer is left with a 'So what?' feeling.
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The Nun (1966)
Liselotte Pulver is STUNNING, nothing but STUNNING
13 August 2004
Playing a role that few people thought would ever fit her and shadowed by vultures predicting disaster, Liselotte Pulver delivered the surprise coup of many a cinematic season in the icily directed 'La Religieuse'.

Ms. Pulver, the beloved eternal comedienne of the German cinema, has taken on that most daunting role: the lesbian Mother Superior, the ultimate debauched nun in the ultimate 'Why was the Revolution necessary?' tale, Denis Diderot's grand tale 'La Religieuse'. Working against type and expectation under the direction of Jaques Rivette, Ms. Pulver has created the most complex and compelling portrait of her long career, and she has done this in ways that deviate radically from her former screen roles.

Ms. Pulver's Mother Superior, emerges in this adaptation with her monumental weakness intact. But something new and affecting is simmering within the character, a damning glimpse of self-awareness. You get the sense that if her frantic movement stops for a second, she'll deflate into a small and bitter creature.

In films like 'Die Züricher Verlobung' and 'Das Wirtshaus I'm Spessart' Ms. Pulver's persona has always been that of a delectable waif, a vulnerable creature with a heart of gold. Here she was cast against type and rumors went that she did not get along with Mr. Rivette. And then, halfway through the film, there she was, and for the first time in her long career she didn't look remotely like an ingénue.

Ms. Pulver's portrait is so intimate and persuasive that you aren't allowed to step back and think, 'What a monster she is.' That's because, thanks to this actress's willingness to turn herself and her character inside out, you've been inside her mind. What a sad and fascinating place it is.
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Ravishing to the eye or as Suzy Amis put it: Menschen malen Illusionen
10 August 2004
This film brought out the barracuda in most of the major critics. And did the public take one bit of notion? It did and flocked elsewhere.

But I still remember the overall impact this forgotten little gem had on me when I watched it some 14 odd years ago in one of these little arthouse cinemas that had all but vanished as multiplexes became the latest rage. 'Breathtaking' was the word for it. This reaction was caused by the picture's extraordinary visual beauty: cinematography as an art form has never been more ravishingly demonstrated as in the composition of light, shade and colour. I remember a series of scenes so beautiful I wanted to stop the moving pictures occasionally and just be a picture.

But like other visual masterpieces, its triumph did not extend to the screenplay and dialogues that were often boring, sometimes even downright foolish.
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27 July 2004
The star system of postwar German cinema was faltering badly but vehicles were still being manufactured for it. Heinz Rühmann and Ruth Leuwerik seemed a nice combination as yet untried, so both stars were rushed through this sluggish remake of a minor classic. Both weren't the fan raves they've been in the Fifties, but 'Das Haus in Montevideo' turned a nice profit and pleased all but the most critics. They savaged the movie for its tediousness, banality and overall humdrum.

In all fairness, the picture did have its antic moments and ingratiating characters. Miss Leuwerik took her required pratfalls with the grace and spirits of a seasoned pro, but Mister Rühmann played her comic foil in a smug, balmy fashion that robbed numerous scenes of their laughs. Likewise, director Helmut Käutner was not in top form; his over-emphatic handling soured several potentially charming situations.
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Charming, heart-warming, highly enjoyable
26 July 2004
Ruth Leuwerik's star was already on the wane when this charmingly episodic saga, produced on the lavish side, gave her the chance for an honest and tender portrayal of the indomitable matriarch of a German household.

Bright with human interest, congeniality and the quaint appeal of a bygone era, 'Eine Frau fürs ganze Leben' came close to duplicate the magic of her biggest hit 'Die Trapp Familie'. First rate support helped to create a nostalgic saga, photographed in the style of finely-etched ferrotypes. It was a triumph of the sweet and sentimental, a visual poem to the honest virtues of maternal life.

Despite glowing critical plaudits, it failed to turn a profit because of the excessive negative cost.
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Forgotten gem
26 July 2004
Like 'Mädchen in Uniform' this strange mix of drama and comedy dealt with the tribulations of school teachers, and starred a top box-office draw in the lead (Ruth Leuwerik vs. Lilli Palmer), but otherwise they differed widely. Both the star and the film were sensitive, delicate and poignant.

Miss Leuwerik gives perhaps the most subtle performance of her career. She is wise, womanly, compassionate, consummately eloquent in scene after scene. The picture is beautifully photographed, catching the overall atmosphere of the rigid school system and the small changes made by Miss Leuwerik as a modern and open-minded teacher in an enchanting bland of colors and shading. Among other things, this cinematic treasure is a mature study of the refusal to surrender the heart's deepest hopes to conformist, muddled life-patterns.

A perfect bland of fine, sympathetic acting and able craftsmanship, this film has the strange knack of looking fresh and new with each viewing.
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Almost as bad as the legendary "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's hung you in the Closet and I'm feeling so sad"
23 July 2004
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this resounding flop that finally brought the curtain down on Miss Leuwerik's amazing reign as post-war Germany's top-rated movie star.

It's a mishmash of half a dozen other scripts, exacerbated by amateurishly staged comic sequences and one of the worst performances ever given by the star. Usually a gifted comedienne, Miss Leuwerik's wide variety of grimaces, mugs, smirks and other expressions she used, killed any effort to create a character of any depth oder credibility. Judging from this disaster, you would have never guessed how wonderful Miss Leuwerik was in 'Die ideale Frau'.

The final product contained an occasional funny line, and even a gag or two that not been used before, but mostly it was déjà vu and bad déjà vu at that. All in all it represented a new all-time low in postwar Germany's cinema treatment of gifted and talented actresses.

Deservedly so the finished product was dismissed as gruel, crude and tasteless by critics, while theatre patrons avoided it like the plague. The picture was not so much released as allowed to escape.
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Franziska (1957)
Lilli Palmer wisely turned it down
23 July 2004
Ruth Leuwerik brought something to the strait-laced 50's that was unique: a touch of class and independence. Usually cast in soap-operas, often disguised as historical romances, she never played helpless heroines (like Maria Schell, whose tearducts must have near her bladder) or girls, who just wanted a husband, no matter what the cost (Sonja Ziemann was a prime example and fared well at the box-office).

Here's she is seen a prim and proper artist, whose marriage with rugged Carlos Thompson is already on the rocks. After some tame misunderstandings she was in his strong arms. Carlos Thompson added some extra box-office to the already costly show. Mister Thompson was brought to the country a few years earlier in the wake of Lilli Palmer's triumphant return as Germany's Notorious Lady With a Dubious Past. His ruggedly handsome good looks threw lady customers for a loop and he went on to give so-so performances as romantic foil and Ersatz-O.W. Fischer.
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Nothing but tears
23 July 2004
Even in 1956, much of the storyline of 'Die Goldene Brücke' was considered outmoded lavender and old lace, with its contrived teary formula to propagate the virtues of TRUE LOVE.

Ruth Leuwerik, just voted Most Popular Star for the third year in a row managed to overcome much that was lachrymose in this account of trials and tribulations, not the least problem being immobile Paul Hubschmid's artificial characterization.

The glossy movie did benefit from a graceful direction, which geared the deluxe production qualities to the taste of female moviegoers, who helped to make 'Die Goldene Brücke' a huge moneymaker.
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Sad ending for a glorious career
22 July 2004
After a decade of success as Germany's most popular female star, elegant Ruth Leuwerik retired shortly after this out-and-out disaster, that ruined her remaining box-office lure.

Why she choose to film this knife-in-the-back story is known only to Miss Leuwerik, because the film is surely the most abysmal effort in what was a really lean year by any standards.

Once the star of lushly produced romantic extravaganzas opposite stalwart male co-stars of first magnitude like O.W. Fischer, she is relegated to B-film standards in this run-of-the-mill cheapie. The story is hackneyed, everybody is acting at fever's pitch and even the usually cool Miss Leuwerik is over-the-top, giving the only bad performance of her short but memorable career.

Hannelore Elsner in one of her earliest roles is in it, too, but when you glimpse, you miss her. Shot to fame later in the decade, the talented Miss Elsner enjoyed an even bigger vogue in the late 90's as the mature First Lady of German TV.
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Syrupy, sentimental stuff
20 July 2004
This one is strictly for the ladies to catch between hair-dresser and lunch. Covering the emotional spectrum from maudlin to mawkish, this sudsy, cloying picture was aimed to bring Ruth Leuwerik back at the national box-office after an endless string of financial melt-downs. The beautiful and talented star returned to the formula that made her a household name a decade earlier as the long-suffering, elegantly coiffed First Lady of Weepies, hiding a broken heart under several yards of mink.

Telling the May-to-September affair of two doomed lovers (he's dying of one of those movie diseases that do not show) Miss Leuwerik is trying her very best, to breath life into the turgid, ponderous, completely unbelievable going-ons. Alas, all is in vain. From the beginning she is defeated by the inferior material.

Once a star of first magnitude, beating Maria Schell in all popularity polls, Ruth Leuwerik found herself trapped in second-rate features when the 60's dawned. Though her reign was short and did not contain any classic, Miss Leuwerik is still adored and dearly loved by her loyal fans. The prestigious National Film Museum in Berlin honored her with a great, splashy, magnificently staged and costly special in May 2004, which turned out to be a rousing hit with high-brow critics and mass audience alike.
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Great romance
20 July 2004
Warm and cosy, 'Bildnis einer Unbekannten' wrapped its audiences in an eiderdown of romantic fiction while keeping them awake with a tremor of suspense. And even if the viewers were aware of being manipulated by scenario contrivances, they sat goggled-eyed, wondering what would happen next to the heroine, beautiful Ruth Leuwerik. The whole production looked luscious and Helmut Kaeutner's clever handling avoided any over-sentimental pitfall. He kept a tight control over the maudlin material, and sended the flamboyant doing in constant motion.

Miss Leuwerik, who seemed to have fully understood the character of the lonely woman, wears gorgeous gowns, and brings some calm into the often lurid going-ons. The film's main weakness is a highly mannered, almost grotesquely attitudinizing O.W. Fischer, tearing his scenes to tatters.

The film recouped every Mark of its high cost, and then some.
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Creaky old-fashioned sudser
20 July 2004
Virtually rushed through her next production 'Ein Herz spielt falsch' while the excitement over her runaway success 'Die grosse Versuchung' was still hot, Ruth Leuwerik emerged as an absolute box-office sensation. Within a few month the elegant, regal beauty topped all popularity polls and went on to even bigger fame the next year.

A truly affecting performance by Ruth Leuwerik distinguished this old sudser of a rich father secretly bribing a young man to marry his daughter who had only one year to live. Love dawned after the hasty marriage, then she found out THE TRUTH, and - oh heavens, the agony of it all....They could have sold tissues by the boxful at every performance of this 40-carat weepie that kept Germany's womanhood in tears for month.
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All's well that ends well
20 July 2004
'Die Grosse Versuchung' became a box-office howitzer because of the immediate popularity of Dieter Borsche and Ruth Leuwerik had triggered of in the surprise hit 'Vater braucht eine Frau' some month earlier. Topping all popularity polls as 1953 dawned, they matched the box-office magnetism of Germany's established Dream Lovers Maria Schell and O.W. Fischer.

The film itself was far from a classic. You either resisted the romantic melodrama of the not-too-exciting story, in which case you wasted your time and money, or you sat back and let it lush extravagance wash over you. The whole production was filmed with comparable style and magnificence and even if you were aware of being manipulated by scenario contrivances, you sat goggled-eyed, wondering what would happen next to lovely Ruth Leuwerik, who looked a treat in tailor-made costumes.
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Deine besten Jahre (1999 TV Movie)
19 July 2004
This most unusual story, which, in lesser hand, might have flopped all the way, is brought to live by the luminous Martina Gedeck, surely Germany's most accomplished modern actress.

The highly literate script tells the grim tale of a pampered woman, who not only looses her husband and son in an accident but nearly also her mind. Step by step she tries to rebuild her shattered life and finally finds new happiness in the arms of handsome Tim Bergmann (though I must admit that Mister Bergmann is almost too pretty for the part).

What on paper sounds like a Peg's Papers novel to catch between hair dryer and beauty parlor is made into an absorbing saga of love, despair, faith, strength and, above all, hope.
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Charming bit of fluff, still highly enjoyable
19 July 2004
Originally produced for German TV this charming little comedy was released nationwide instead and turned out to be a surprise hit at the box-office.

Though by no means a classic, it's nevertheless a silly bit of fluff, often foolish, sometimes downright dull but overall entertaining stuff.

All actors show admirable flair, even Miss Riemann underplays admirably. Best of the crop: Moritz Bleibtreu as dull but attractive gay lover of Riemann's brother and Martina Gedeck as the wronged wife, who finally got her revenge.

The great soundtrack features Della Reese's all-time classic rendition of 'It's so nice to have a man around the house'.
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Not a really high note to leave the screen
19 July 2004
Ruth Leuwerik stars as a woman married to a well-meaning but stuffy attorney, who has an adulterous affair with a flamboyant author. The novelist is a friend of the family, but the secret affair becomes public when she is involved in an auto accident where she leaves the scene of the crime. The wronged husband gives the police false information to protect his unfaithful wife from being charged with the crime. Consumed with guilt, she finally goes to the police, confesses her sins, and vows to stay with her loving husband. The title refers to the amount of time the couple has been married. The film persuaded Leuwerik to call it a day and she retired for good.

An actress with a lot more talent than credited for by critics Ruth Leuwerik was born to play 'Jane Eyre', 'Wuthering Heights' or even 'Far From the Madding Crowd'. She would been wonderful in 'Nora', 'The Woman from the Sea' or 'The Three Sisters'. But all she got during her last few years as a movie actress was cheap trash like this one.

Just when everybody thought of her as a has-been she bounced back on German TV with a triumphant 'Hedda Gabler'.
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Die Rote (1962)
Below par Leuwerik offering
19 July 2004
'Die Rote', is adapted from a novel by Alfred Andersch. Ruth Leuwerik is the carrot-topped protagonist, at wit's end over her disappointing marriage and disillusioning secondary romance. She drops both husband and lover to head to Venice, hoping there to land a job and to enjoy a more fulfilling life. Each person with whom Leuwerik comes in contact is also running away from himself or herself; so much for Venice. After being victimized by deceivers and exploited by self-absorbed martyrs, Leuwerik wearily returns home.

Well-intended but somewhat muddled picture that sealed Ruth Leuwerik's fate as box-office cyanide after a string of monumental flops. Her performance is very subtle, giving the over-complicated story its little coherence.

Kaeutner, who just vowed critics and public alike with the superb adaption of 'Ein Glass Wasser' with Gustav Gruendgrens, Hilde Krahl and an overwhelming Liselotte (Lilo) Pulver in the leads, is ill-at-ease with this very talky weltschmerz material.
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Leuwerik's best
19 July 2004
Much underrated German superstar Ruth Leuwerik, who gained enormous popularity as the noble, long suffering heroine of kitschy melodramas was already on the downward slide when she gave her best performance ever.

Cast against type as UFA star Renate Mueller (best remembered for her joyful 'Viktor und Viktoria' and the jolly 'Die Privatsekretaerin', singing 'Ich bin ja heut so gluecklich'), Miss Leuwerik gives the most subtle und quiet impression of the much maligned star. Alas, the only low point in this admirable film comes when Miss Leuwerik tries to sing the catchy tunes of Miss Mueller's trademark song.

Altogether the tricky subject is handled with admirable taste, the script is devoid of lurid details or shrill melodramatics. Instead it's a heart wrenching tale of suffering, loneliness and despair.

Miss Leuwerik had only one good role left to play - the arty and uneven adaptation of 'Die Rote' - when she finally called it a day and retired, with fame and beauty still intact.
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Turgid story - splendid actors
19 July 2004
This uninspired romance of an Irish widow (stretching credibility to the breaking point: Ruth Leuwerik, all prim and proper German hausfrau) and a German submarine commander (gentlemanly Hans-Joerg Felmy, much too suave, even when not shaved) during World War II misses all the way down the line, although the idea is good. The war is artificially depicted, the sets are synthetic and story and screenplay so bland and vague that nobody knows which side it is supposed to be on.

The undistinguished direction places picturesque faces in patriotic poses when not concentrating on the banal love story. Ruth Leuwerik does what she can, and which a lot, to breathe some life into the lame going-ons, while Mister Felmy is offering granite-like support. Both deserve better material. The picture flopped miserably at the box-office and for good reason is not shown often on German TV.
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Why, why, why did they do it?
19 July 2004
Remakes, they say, are seldom better than the original.

After years of prosperity German cinema went into sharp decline during the end of the 50's. The audience finally was fed up with the low calories diet of mindless Heimatfilmen, shrill, exploitive melodramas, teary Maria Schell weepies and ultra-brutal World War II sagas. The number of TV sets nearly doubled each year and as they did in the USA some years earlier bedazzled German producers tried their luck with costly remakes to lure the paying costumers back.

Someone finally got the suicidal idea to produce an updated version of the all-time classic 'Grand Hotel' (aka 'Menschen I'm Hotel'). They crammed together some of Germany's top stars: O.W. Fischer, though on the decline after some huge flops in a row, Heinz Ruehmann and Sonja Ziemann, whose last few films bombed at the box-office, after she tried a more mature image.

The casting ranged from bizarre (O.W. Fischer is AWFUL and over the top, he makes John Barrymore look like a stiff zombie) to downright foolish (sweet and homegrown Sonja Ziemann as a slightly amoral secretary - never mind about miscasting, boys).

The overall result was so bad and wretched, it ended the career of most people involved.
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Surprisingly witty and as fresh as was in 1959
19 July 2004
During her short reign as Germany's First Lady of the Screen Ruth Leuwerik seldom got the roles she deserved. Mostly seen in sugary historic romances (ranging from the delightful 'Koenigliche Hoheit' to the bizarre 'Ludwig II' and reaching the nadir with the dull 'Koenigin Luise') she was at her subtle best when cast in peppy modern comedies. For every dull and dowdy costume piece and shrill melodrama (the awful 'Bildnis eine Unbekannten' opposite heartthrob O.W. Fischer - was Maria Schell on vacation ?-) she grabbed a worthy part.

'Die ideale Frau' cast her as the major (!!!) in a small town and details the domestic trouble caused by her unwillingness to give up her career (horror of horrors in the strait-laced 50's). The film is fast-paced, witty, subtle and beautifully staged. Cast to perfection to last extra the overall result is one of the most endearing comedies of German cinema, second only to Lilo Pulver's delightful 'Die Zuericher Verlobung'.
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Taiga (1958)
Dr. Quinn of Siberia
19 July 2004
Ruth Leuwerik, after a string of well-bred ladies and long suffering wives, plays a courageous female doctor in this German POW drama. Interred in a Siberan prison camp during WWII, Leuwerik lifts the spirits of her fellow prisoners with her dedication to her job and her indomitable spirit. The doctor's humanitarianism even extends to an oaf, who tries to rape her; he wins his undying respect when she protects him from retaliation by the other prisoners. The film's romantic angle is handled by Hanns Messmer as an inmate who vows to marry Leuwerik if and when they are released. Hardly a slice of life-the POW camp is nowhere near as brutal as the real thing -- Taiga nonetheless scores on the strength of its leading players.
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Poor Ruth Leuwerik - poor viewer
19 July 2004
A creaky old melodrama of a young woman accused of accidental killing, 'Dorothea Angermann' was DOA. Based on an ancient and trite stage-shocker, that was old, when Bismarck was a young lad, the story is told in such an uninspired way that even Miss Leuwerik's most ardent fans will have a rough time to watch it to the end. The pic seems to last forever and has virtually no saving grace. Even Ruth Leuwerik, normally a talented actress of great warmth and natural beauty is defeated by the shrill and illogical plot.

The pic turned out to be a horrible box-office dud and hastened Miss Leuwerik's demise as a star.

If you want to see good entertainment, watch out for the similar story in 'The Kiss', Garbo's last silent and far superior to this trashy and shoddy melodrama. Or rent yourself 'The Accused', with lovely Loretta Young giving one of her best performances ever.
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Lush entertainment
19 July 2004
'Back in the crinoline', so to say, reliable and much underrated German film star Ruth Leuwerik plays Germany's most popular royal. Do not be fooled: Empress Elisabeth von Österreich (better known as Sissi) was indeed a Bavarian princess but married to the Archduke of Austria and later Emperor Franz Joseph. Queen Luise of Prussia was born to the house of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, married very young, had some children, was not noted for her mental abilities but nevertheless achieved some kind of fame after Prussia's horrible defeat at Jena and Auerstedt in 1806 when she personally begged Napoleon to have mercy with her country. He denied. Queen Luise, already gravely ill, died soon after. So much for the bare facts.

Do not expect anything of it to appear in this beautiful mounted, handsomely staged but altogether dull production. Ruth Leuwerik, at the height of her fame and beauty, is fundamentally miscast but almost pulls it of. She hides her broken heart under several yards of mink and has to carry the whole burden of this not-too exciting picture. Good supporting players infuse the tedious show with it few highlights.

The pic did not too well at the box-office and started Miss Leuwerik's demise as a top star. With her best roles yet to come ('Die ideale Frau', a delightful und surprisingly witty comedy and, above all, 'Liebling der Götter' as doomed UFA actress Renate Mueller) Miss Leuwerik's work is worth to be rediscovered.
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