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Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Vienna in the biggest depression, directly after WW1. In a slum, Lila Leid, the wife of lawyer Leid is murdered, Egon, secretary of one of Leid's clients is arrested. He was with her, and had her necklace, because he needed some money for his own stock exchange deals. The same deal brings poverty to ex-government official Rumfort, his daughter Greta, who also has lost her job, tries to get some money to get food. She rents a room of the flat she, her young sister and her father are living in to an American Red Cross official, who pays $60 rent, but the money is taken by some of her father's creditors. But their neighbour, shop owner Mrs Greifer knows how to "help", she and Mrs. Merkel are running a nightclub with a brothel...Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
'Joyless' is right; this brooding, silent melodrama, set in the economic shambles of post-World War I Austria, looks as if it were filmed entirely at night. Working on the same principle as a soap opera, it's an exaggerated dramatic recreation of life in hard times, when housewives were forced to sell themselves to pay for their family's next meal, while the last remnants of the aristocracy blithely danced the evenings away and worked their spurious financial schemes, ignorant of the poverty surrounding them. The complicated plot involves jealousy, murder, seduction, and Greta Garbo, looking older and wiser than any twenty year old has a right to. The film was almost a warm-up for Pabst's equally debauched 'Pandora's Box', and was also known (for good reason) as 'Street of Sorrow'.
Note: I saw what was probably the truncated version, on Super-8 (!!) The fully restored film would likely rate even higher...
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