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Jacob the Liar (1974)

Jakob, der Lügner (original title)
A Jewish ghetto in central Europe, 1944. By coincidence, Jakob Heym eavesdrops on a German radio broadcast announcing the Soviet Army is making slow by steady progress towards central ... See full summary »


Frank Beyer


Jurek Becker (novel), Jurek Becker (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Vlastimil Brodský ... Jakob Heym
Erwin Geschonneck ... Kowalski
Henry Hübchen ... Mischa
Blanche Kommerell ... Rosa Frankfurter
Manuela Simon Manuela Simon ... Lina
Dezsö Garas Dezsö Garas ... Frankfurter
Zsuzsa Gordon Zsuzsa Gordon ... Mrs. Frankfurter
Friedrich Richter Friedrich Richter ... Dr. Kirschbaum
Margit Bara ... Josefa
Reimar J. Baur Reimar J. Baur ... Herschel Schtamm
Armin Mueller-Stahl ... Roman Schtamm
Hermann Beyer Hermann Beyer ... Wachhabender
Klaus Brasch Klaus Brasch ... Najdorf
Jürgen Hilbrecht Jürgen Hilbrecht ... Schwocj
Paul Lewitt Paul Lewitt ... Horowitz


A Jewish ghetto in central Europe, 1944. By coincidence, Jakob Heym eavesdrops on a German radio broadcast announcing the Soviet Army is making slow by steady progress towards central Europe. In order to keep his companion in misfortune, Mischa, from risking his life for a few potatoes, he tells him what he heard and announces that he is in possession of a radio - in the ghetto a crime punishable by death. It doesn't take long for word of Jakob's secret to spread - suddenly, there is new hope and something to live for - and so Jakob finds himself in the uncomforting position of having to come up with more and more stories. Written by c.winter

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Comedy | Crime | Drama | War


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Did You Know?


The original screenplay was rejected by the East German production company DEFA. Author Jurek Becker published it as a novel, which became a huge success, prompting DEFA to reconsider. See more »


Dr. Kirschbaum: Dear God. Protect us from this great disaster. Don't let anything happen at this stage. You have protected us for so long. Stop the Germans from finding the radio. Make the spies blind. Only you know how many spies are here. Fool them. Let the Russians get here real soon. Destroy the radio before it destroys us. You know how cruel our tormentors can be.
[the light starts flickering and then goes off]
Josefa: Don't give up. All radios need power. Congratulations.
Dr. Kirschbaum: Thank you, dear God. A wise decision.
Josefa: You ...
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User Reviews

The Real McCoy
17 March 2001 | by diacadSee all my reviews

One of the legacies of the late GDR (East Germany) is a treasure-trove of cultural productions, much of which has been inaccessible to us. An exception is the 1974 DEFA (GDR successor to pre-1945 Ufa Film Studio) production "Jacob the Liar", which enjoyed a brief exposure in the US in the late '70s, even being nominated for an Academy Award. If you missed it, this is your chance to have it, beautifully transferred to DVD (also another justification for splurging on a DVD player, if you haven't already). Although it can be viewed without, the subtitles (your choice of language)are well-worded and legible.

"Jacob" centers on a man inadvertently finding himself a focus of hope among the doomed in a Polish ghetto. Circumstances have him reluctantly pretending to possess a forbidden radio, which leads to dramatic (and comedic) situations, and even raises moral questions and insights about truth and responsibility in such an adverse context. Billed as a tragic comedy, the acting and pacing of the story are equal to the serious nature of the subject.

Director Frank Beyer's "Jacob" should not be confused with the 1999 Hollywood remake starring the talented (but often glib and facetious) Robin Williams. This Columbia distribution is a sort of roadrunner-cartoon version trying to be profound. It has the frantic pacing and excessive gratuitous violence evidently presumed necessary to put it over. If you must have a Holocaust-era drama that can bear watching more than once, get the real McCoy.

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Release Date:

17 April 1975 (East Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Jacob the Liar See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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