Edwin, a taxi driver, lives with Annie, a neurasthenic model. They plan to spend Sunday at the Nikolassee beach with Wolfgang, an officer, gentleman, antiquarian, gigolo, at the moment a wine salesman. After an argument, Annie stays at home while Edwin joins Wolf. Wolf has brought along a new girlfriend, Christl. Brigitte, Christl's best friend, joins the group. Brigitte is the manager of a record shop. At the beach Wolf tries to kiss Christl but she rejects him and he turns his attentions toward Brigitte, who is more receptive. Wolf and Brigitte go off together and he seduces her. Back on the beach, Wolf and Erwin, now tired of their dates, flirt with two other women as Brigitte and Christl look on, appalled. They have small satisfaction when the men have to borrow money from them to pay for the paddle-boat they were renting. As they part at the end of the day, Brigitte hopes Wolf will see her next Sunday, but he and Erwin have other plans. The bond between the two men is the one ...Written by
This silent semi-documentary boasts quite a remarkable roster of young talent behind the camera: Billy Wilder, writing his first screenplay; Curt and Robert Siodmak at the helm, aided by contributions from Edgar G. Ulmer and Fred Zinnemann – all of them still in their twenties, all at the beginning of notable careers. The most interesting aspect in front of the camera is the shots of everyday life in Berlin immediately before Adolf Hitler's meteoric rise to power. Many of the people you see going about their ordinary, everyday lives – including possibly the young leads – will have participated in the war into which Hitler would plunge their country in nine short years – or been consigned to concentration camps from which they'd never emerge.
The plot is virtually non-existent: a couple of young men take a couple of young girls to the park for a little frolicking in the lake (and something a little more intense for one couple). The characters are curiously remote, making it difficult for the audience to get to know – or like – them. They are no heroes or villains as such – although there is an air of callousness about the men – so perhaps in a way, this apparent decision to keep at the audience at arm's length can be seen as one of the film's strengths – a reflection of people the way they are (the leads were all non-actors, plucked from obscurity for their brief moment of film stardom before returning back to lives of anonymity). This sense of emotional detachment persists even when the film reaches its most sensuous moments, possibly because Wilder et al fail to decide whether they are telling us a story about people as a group or people as individuals and thus devote inadequate time and attention to both.
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