The difference between European and American musicals
Bibi Johns is Daisy Hellman, a writer for a women's magazine out to expose male chauvinist Peter Kruger (Erik Shuman) by writing an article called "Der dompteur im manne". Her cunning plan is to pose as a poor mistreated maid (Agatha) who swiftly becomes one of the stars in his famous revue. As if this was not enough for just one article, she also frames herself as a jewelery thief, forcing all her family and friends to take up role playing. When the concerned and loving Peter finds out the truth, he decides to give her a taste of her own medicine.
Still, this silly framework story takes second place to the many musical acts appearing in Kruger's show. European musicals often differ from their American influences in that people only sing on stage or when there happen to be other musicians about. Most of these numbers do not further the plot but are there simply for show. This movie takes it all one step further, with all the performances appearing in front of an audience (even 'Agatha''s impromptu audition for Peter), and in the few romantic scenes where background music is needed, some members of the horn section appear out of nowhere to play the love theme. In fact there is hardly any traditional score at all, since most of it is played as source music.
We often get the impression of watching an actual variety show instead of a movie, being treated to several acts in a row. Since the performances take place on different nights, several songs appear in different guises and nearly all of them are repeated in one big final medley. It does become a bit tiresome having to switch back and forth between the increasingly complicated love story and those totally unrelated variety numbers. The art directors made good use of the black and white photography and came up with some very clever sets, but with so many elaborate production numbers you do wonder why the film was not simply shot in colour.
4 out of 10
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