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An altruistic department-store owner hires ex-convicts in order to give them a second chance at life. Unfortunately, one of the convicts he hires recruits two of his fellow ex-convicts in a plan to rob the store.
This 1920 German film is one of Fritz Lang's earliest and for decades it was considered lost before a print turned up in Brazil in 1986. As with FOUR AROUND A WOMAN, another Lang film, this one here is missing at least two or three reels. I've read four different reviews for this film and each one gave a different description of the plot. What is certain the film is about a woman (Mia May) who runs away from her abusive husband. She ends up in some mountain era where she hides out only to run into what appears to be her husband's twin brother. Soon the husband is back on her trail as she runs into a former boyfriend who had taken a vow of celibacy. There are other plot twists with more people coming and going but it's pretty hard to tell exactly what's going on for a couple reasons. Of course there's the fact that so much of the film is missing but another negative thing is that the film has Portuguese inter-titles and the English translation is extremely poor at times. With that said, there's enough interesting aspects to make this film worth watching. There's no question that it's quite unlike anything else that Lang was doing around this time unless his other lost films turn out to be like this. The film really seems like it could have influenced Luis Bunuel due to all the religious stuff here. There are some striking images including one of the Virgin Mary coming down a mountain as well as other scenes that take a look at religion. I've heard one person call this film something that Dreyer would make instead of Lang and I think that's a fair statement. Another thing that makes this worth viewing is the performance by May who is downright breath taking at times. I thought she did a marvelous job showing how tortured and frightened this woman was. The actress never has to overact and makes for a very interesting character and one that you really care for. The rest of the performances were decent at best so there's no question this belongs to May all the way. Also known as THE MOVING IMAGE, you can't help but hope that a complete print turns up at some point because it would undoubtedly make the film all the more interesting. There appear to be all sorts of subplots that have been cut out so I'm sure a complete print would help when it comes to figuring out the story.
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