A Bizarre Silent Mixture Of Many Different Film Genres
The art of making a cocktail is a very complicated process (as aristocrats well know); the delicate use and mixture of various liquors and ingredients in a cocktail shaker in order to create a balanced and tasteful potion (of course in case of failure, aristocrats don't waste such ethylic preparations ). This is certainly a procedure that requires a lot of skill and knowledge and for this reason aristocrats don't make cocktails, they only drink them.
And "Die Villa im Tiergarten" (1927) may indeed be described as a cocktail, a bizarre silent mixture of many different film genres, a kind of "totum revolutum" picture. Alas it is mostly unsuccessful though there is the occasional effective moment.
The film was directed by Herr Franz Osten, a German film director who is well known and respected by silent connoisseurs for his Indian oeuvres, colourful pictures about the traditions of that country.
"Die Villa im Tiergarten is meant to be a satire of the carefree and insubstantial life styles of the idle bourgeois. Herr Peter Lenz ( Herr Charles Willy Kayser ) owner of a splendid Villa in the Berlin urban park of Tiergarten is providing the lodgings for four of his friends who are experiencing hard times because of conditions in the Weimar Republic. The charming maid Frieda waits on all five men. These early scenes are played for comedy though with only a slight Teutonic sense of humour in the air.
The parallel to this tale is a social drama that depicts the story of Herr Willy Blech ( Herr Joe Stöckel ), an ex-boxer who was recently released from jail. With the help of his old love Frau Grete, ( Frau Aud Egede Nissen) – who tells him she is a masseuse- he will try to make a living in those times of economic troubles. Last but not least the story turns into a police film and a romantic drama but with an unhappy ending.
In spite of such disparate elements, the film occasionally works: the light comedy at the beginning is mildly amusing but it is the social realism of the struggles of Herr Willy and Frau Greta in their harsh lives that gives the movie its best scenes. The great difference between the idle lodgers at Tiergarten and the desperate couple make for a striking contrast.
The film stars the famous actress Frau Aud Egede Nissen, born in Norway but doing much of her work on the German silent screen. Herr Hans Albers is in the picture too as Herr Baron Etville, a cynical and elegant drunkard who doesn't mix his cocktails in the right proportion (and the same may be said of the film)
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count has a hangover.
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