Ich kenn' dich nicht und liebe dich (1934) Poster

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3/10
This Bavarian cream is mostly froth.
F Gwynplaine MacIntyre25 March 2005
This movie's title translates literally as 'I Know You Not and Love You', but should be rendered as 'I Don't Know You, and Yet I Love You'. Either way, it's froth, German-style: not quite on the level of operetta, but set in that same artificial and twee realm.

This movie is a semi-musical: it likely would have been more enjoyable if it had been done as a full-scale musical. It feels like an operetta, even though there isn't nearly enough singing here to qualify as one. Typically in operettas, the hero is either a struggling composer in his twenties or a successful composer in his thirties. Here we have the latter: Willi Forst portrays a composer who has attained commercial and artistic success, but who is just lately undergoing the musical equivalent of writer's block ... until he sees a magazine photo of the daughter of a wealthy Bavarian family (Magda Schneider).

Her beauty inspires him to compose new melodies. But there's only so much inspiration in a magazine photo. To get to the source of his inspiration, Forst applies for a job as the butler in her parents' mansion. (What's the German for 'Hoo boy'?) Conveniently, her parents are looking to hire a butler. Implausibly, Forst gets the job without any sort of references or screening. I suspect that wealthy Germans in 1934 were very careful about whom they brought into their households as servants, but what do I know? Anyway, the movie tries to get some dramatic and comedic tension out of this contrived situation: Forst is romantically and sexually attracted to Schneider, but she thinks he's a mere lowly servant. Ach du lieber, if only he could tell her that he is a wealthy composer! I was more interested in another conflict here, which the movie barely acknowledges: how will Forst find time to write his melodies whilst employed as a butler?

I'm intrigued that German audiences were watching this sort of thing in 1934, when Hitler was riding a wave of optimism for Germany's economic recovery ... and at a time when his more extreme policies had not yet manifested. I'll rate this froth 3 points out of 10. Do I hear goose-stepping in the distance?
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