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Street Acquaintances (1948)

Straßenbekanntschaft (original title)
Erika is 20 lives with her strict parents in a post-war apartment, works as a tiller in a laundry and is always hungry. In her friend Else, she sees how she should do it: Else has caught an older man who provides her with new stockings

Director:

Peter Pewas

Writer:

Arthur Pohl
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gisela Trowe ... Erika
Alice Treff ... Annemie
Ursula Voß Ursula Voß ... Marion
Siegmar Schneider Siegmar Schneider ... Walter Helbig
Harry Hindemith ... Herbert Petzoldt
Hans Klering ... Peter
Ursula Friese Ursula Friese ... Else
Arno Paulsen Arno Paulsen ... Elses Freund
Gertrud Boll Gertrud Boll ... Olly Gebauer (as Trude Boll)
Eduard Wandrey Eduard Wandrey ... Spitz
Ursula Krieg Ursula Krieg ... Frau Möbius
Herwart Grosse Herwart Grosse ... Arzt im Gesundheitsamt
Agnes Windeck ... Krankenschwester
Marlise Ludwig Marlise Ludwig ... Erikas Mutter
Eduard Wenck Eduard Wenck ... Nachbar im Treppenhaus
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Storyline

Erika is 20 lives with her strict parents in a post-war apartment, works as a tiller in a laundry and is always hungry. In her friend Else, she sees how she should do it: Else has caught an older man who provides her with new stockings

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Genres:

Drama

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The aftermath in Berlin, no details spared
19 November 2019 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

This film, STEET ACQUAINTANCES, is powerful and deeply harrowing. Its German title is STRASSENBEKANNTSCHAFT, which literally means something like 'the friendship of the streets'. (IMDb does not list the German title of this film in its index, only its English title.) The film was shot, largely on location in Berlin, during 1947. Many of the leading actors and actresses such as Gisela Trowe, Alice Treff. Siegmar Schneider and Harry Hindemith who give such brilliant performances in this film went on to have lengthy and successful careers in German postwar cinema, and have now died. The film is a highly realistic and upsetting portrayal of what life was like in Berlin in the aftermath of the War. It is so disturbing that it is understandable that IMDb has no review or even plot information about this film, as contemporary Germans would prefer not to know about such things, or to be forced to think of what their parents and grandparents were up to during those hard times. The writer Arthur Pohl and director Peter Pewas spare no details of the grim tale, and the direction and dialogue are so good that we feel that we are really observing people struggling to survive and facing all the daily hardships. They speak of how they are all living in 'holes' because their homes were all bombed, they have no possessions left, they have cardboard in their windows because they can find no glass, the walls have huge gaping cracks, there is very little light, and they live their lives mostly on the streets. Berlin is full of women driven to prostitution just for a loaf of bread. Everyone is starving except for the usual criminal profiteers, who sneer and take whatever woman they want, in return for one good meal or a single cigarette. Shots of the characters walking along the streets show rows and rows of women offering themselves for a pittance, women who had once been wives with homes and husbands. Part of the drama concerns a soldier who has finally returned home after three years in a prisoner of war camp. There is a dramatic scene where his wife, who is working as a tram conductor, spots him walking home in the street with his suitcase and stops the tram, jumps off and they have a passionate and joyous reunion in the street in front of everyone. All the people in the stopped tram watch this rare sight, of one who really came back, with all their mixed feelings. But things do not go well for this couple because it turns out that the wife had turned to prostitution as well during those years. She had not received her husband's many letters from the POW camp because they had been sent to their old address of a house bombed out of existence. Later we discover that she has syphilis, and she infects her husband before he knows of her infidelities, and then he passes it on to a young girl. In the latter part of the film, the full horror of the prostitution situation is revealed, as hospital doctors and nurses reveal that ten percent of the women of Berlin now have venereal diseases, and many of those are cases of syphilis. The character played by Alice Treff has had much of her back eaten away by the disease. The police are raiding restaurants and bars and rounding up all the women they can find, to try to contain this plague of syphilis. There are no jobs, there is no money, and despite this the characters try desperately to get some fun out of life, and even show flickers of humour. In one instance, a man says dryly and in an offhand manner to a lady friend visiting his flat, as he takes her to look out of the window: 'This is where the balcony was. It's on the ground now.' Many of the supporting cast deliver excellent performances and make something of characters seen only fleetingly, such as Agnes Windeck as the 'Krankenschwester' (senior hospital nurse). The total collapse of moral values, the bankruptcy of all decency, and the grinding hopelessness of a defeated nation are shown here in relentless detail, entirely convincingly. Kindness has largely disappeared, and Berlin has become a jungle where only the cunning and unscrupulous can survive. This is the aftermath of German Nazism. It is here for all to see. But does anyone have the courage to look? This rare film is available with English subtitles from Movie Detective.


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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

13 April 1948 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Street Acquaintances See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany

Company Credits

Production Co:

Deutsche Film (DEFA) See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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