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Edwin E. Reed
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High-spirited young Ossi Oswalda is the bane of her uncle and governess' existence. She insists on playing poker and smoking and talks with strange men on the street. When her uncle leaves to take up a new job, she looks forward to enjoying new freedom. Her hopes are dashed when her new guardian Dr. Kersten proves to be strict and unyielding. Frustrated with her cloistered life, Ossi sneaks out on the town dressed as a young man. She finds that being a man has its own disadvantages when she discovers she is not given the same gentle treatment when she is masquerading as a male.
The film was released in the US by Kino Lorber as part of the box set "Lubitsch in Berlin" in 2007 with English intertitles. It was also released in the UK by Eureka's Masters of Cinema series as part of the box set "Lubitsch in Berlin: Fairy-Tales, Melodramas, and Sex Comedies" in 2010 with German intertitles and English subtitles. See more »
Frau Ossi ( Frau Ossi Oswalda ) is a good example of how modern were the Teutonic frauleins at the beginning of the last century; youngsters ahead of their time who influenced future generations of women to forget old habits and behaviours. The girlies of today should be being thankful to those old but modern German frauleins, certainly.
For example, Frau Ossi, a bourgeois fraulein, likes very much to play cards and drink with the servants, not to mention smoking cigarettes. She wants to be on equal terms with her male partners, something her father and governess think is very indecorous behaviour for a serious Teutonic girl. However, Frau Ossi is a very modern and unconventional fraulein who doesn't respect old social Teutonic ways. She doesn't hesitate to break the rules and behave like a man but pretty soon Frau Ossi discovers that it's not easy being a man (especially a genuine German aristocrat) going to balls day after day and trying to look good in a tuxedo.
"Ich Möchte Kein Mann Sein" ( I Don't Want To Be A Man ) (1918) is one of those three reel early Herr Lubitch comedies, deliciously funny and very characteristic of Herr Lubitsch's German first period. Typical of these medium-lengths Herr Lubitsch films is a quick rhythm, hilarious situations, many misunderstandings and of course a crowded bourgeoisie ball. The latter features a most peculiar orchestra led by a frantic conductor. It's the usual war between the sexes and the upending of gender stereotypes, full of "joie de vivre" and performances that suit light comedy.
"Ich Möchte Kein Mann Sein" stars Herr Lubitsch's first muse, Frau Ossi Oswalda, a charming but Germanic actress who collaborated with the Teutonic director in this early German period before the appearance of Frau Pola Negri in his artistic life. His subsequent films were more ironic, sophisticated and sexual but the early presence of such themes can be appreciated in films like "Ich Möchte Kein Mann Sein" with the help of madcap Frau Oswalda. The film seems light, even deliciously superficial but this Herr Graf would say that the simplicity is deceptive and underlying it is an elaborate and difficult cinematic technique of which Herr Lubitsch was a master.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must behave not as a man, but as an aristocrat.
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