7.4/10
709
9 user 10 critic

Man of Straw (1951)

Der Untertan (original title)
Diederich Heßling is scared of everything and everyone. But as he grows up, he comes to realize that he has to offer his services to the powers-that-be if he wants to wield power himself. ... See full summary »

Director:

Wolfgang Staudte

Writers:

Heinrich Mann (novel), Fritz Staudte | 1 more credit »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

April 1945: Gregor Hecker, 19 years of age, reaches the outskirts of Berlin as part of the Red Army's scouting team. Having fled Germany with his family when he was eight, he is confronted ... See full summary »

Director: Konrad Wolf
Stars: Jaecki Schwarz, Vasiliy Livanov, Aleksey Eybozhenko
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

April 1945. Because he stole two boxes of chocolate, the soldier Rudi is sentenced to death by the court-martial judge Dr. Schramm. Rudi manages to escape from the firing squad at the last ... See full summary »

Director: Wolfgang Staudte
Stars: Martin Held, Walter Giller, Ingrid van Bergen
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In a strict Prussian boarding school for girls, sensitive student Manuela von Meinhardis develops a forbidden love to one of her teachers, the compassionate Elisabeth von Bernburg.

Director: Géza von Radványi
Stars: Lilli Palmer, Romy Schneider, Therese Giehse
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.

Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The Rabbit Is Me was made in 1965 to encourage discussion of the democratization of East German society. In it, a young student has an affair with a judge who once sentenced her brother for... See full summary »

Director: Kurt Maetzig
Stars: Angelika Waller, Alfred Müller, Ilse Voigt
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A noted professor and his dim-witted apprentice fall prey to their inquiring vampires, while on the trail of the ominous damsel in distress.

Director: Roman Polanski
Stars: Jack MacGowran, Roman Polanski, Alfie Bass
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The young Dagmar Brink commits suicide. Her belongings are inherited by the resident caretaker in the house she lived in. The caretaker, who never knew her, wonders why and make contact ... See full summary »

Director: Hasse Ekman
Stars: Eva Henning, Ulf Palme, Birgit Tengroth
Lake Tahoe (2008)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A story of a teenager and the strange events that take place in his small town.

Director: Fernando Eimbcke
Stars: Diego Cataño, Hector Herrera, Daniela Valentine
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

After returning from a concentration camp, Susanne finds an ex-soldier living in her apartment. Together the two try to move past their experiences during WWII.

Director: Wolfgang Staudte
Stars: Hildegard Knef, Elly Burgmer, Erna Sellmer
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Werner Peters ... Diederich Heßling
Paul Esser ... Regierungspräsident von Wulckow
Renate Fischer Renate Fischer ... Guste Daimchen
Ernst Legal Ernst Legal ... Pastor Zillich
Raimund Schelcher Raimund Schelcher ... Dr. Wolfgang Buck
Eduard von Winterstein Eduard von Winterstein ... Buck sen.
Friedrich Maurer Friedrich Maurer ... Fabrikant Göpel
Sabine Thalbach ... Agnes Göpel
Hannsgeorg Laubenthal Hannsgeorg Laubenthal ... Mahlmann
Friedrich Gnaß Friedrich Gnaß ... Napoleon Fischer
Wolfgang Kühne Wolfgang Kühne ... Dr. Mennicke
Fritz Staudte Fritz Staudte ... Amtsgerichtsrat Kühlemann
Wolfgang Heise Wolfgang Heise ... Leutnant von Brietzen
Axel Triebel Axel Triebel ... Major Kunze
Arthur Schröder ... Landgerichtsdirektor
Edit

Storyline

Diederich Heßling is scared of everything and everyone. But as he grows up, he comes to realize that he has to offer his services to the powers-that-be if he wants to wield power himself. His life motto now runs: bow to those at the top and tread on those below. In this way, he always succeeds: as a student in a duel-fighting student fraternity and as a businessman in a paper factory. He cajoles the obese district administrative president Von Wulkow and wins his favor. He slanders his financial rivals and hatches a plot with the social democrats in the town council. On his honeymoon with his rich wife Guste, he finally finds a chance to do his beloved Kaiser a favor. And when a memorial to the Kaiser is unveiled in the town where Diederich lives and works, he delivers the address. He stands behind the lectern in the pouring rain, saluting his Kaiser. The crowd is dispersed. Everything is laid in ruins... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

East Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

31 August 1951 (East Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Underdog See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Deutsche Film (DEFA) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Alternate Versions

The film was banned in West Germany from 1951-1956. In 1956 a censored version was released. The film was shown uncut for the first time in 1971 on TV. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
German Wonders
6 October 2007 | by zolaaarSee all my reviews

Like Der blaue Engel from 1930, Der Untertan is made after a famous novel by Heinrich Mann, the elder and politically more interested of the two German writer brothers. Here as there, the film is about the criticism for a social characteristic which is regarded as typical for the German background: the Philistine who is fixated on authority and blindly tumbles into war and downfall.

The film tells in episodes about the life story of Diederich Heßling (Werner Peters), youth and university days of the son of a factory owner and his gradual rise into better circles of the Prussian small town Netzig in the 80s of the 19th century; Germany is already an empire with Wilhelm II. being in power. During his studies and his time in the military service, Heßling learns how to be subject to superiors, to endure humiliation, to denounce and to enjoy the power over inferiors to the full. He takes over the father's factory, joins the conservative-nationalist party and a war club and marries a rich heiress. The height of his career is the opening of a warrior monument in Netzig; he appears as the official speaker and baths in the patriotic phrases of national authorities when a thunderstorm interrupts the ceremony and clears the whole place.

The alarming final shot of the monumental emperor, Wilhelm II., is a direct reference to the nation's dark future, WWI and WWII which both - from the perspective of the film - arose from the Prussian way of ruling and the servile attitude of the subjects, the German people. The incidental music to this last take is a repulsive potpourri of "Die Wacht am Rhein", an anti-French national song, the "Horst-Wessel-Song", a martyr anthem of the Nazis and the fanfares which introduced "Die Wochenschau", a weekly propagandistic newsreel that was shown in the cinemas of the Third Reich.

Without reservation, this film can be accepted as a work of art about a weighty epoch in German history, the Wilhelminian era. The characters precisely personify the important and guiding institutions like school, university, military and government. The film succeeds in picturing the fatal relation between philistinism and war enthusiasm, whereas the camera excellently describes the subject's point of view and position: Heßling looks bottom-up to the authority. Next to the acting brilliance of Werner Peters, it's those camera looks which outfits the film with an outstandingly analytical and aesthetic quality.


5 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 9 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed