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The False Step (1939)

Der Schritt vom Wege (original title)
A very young girl is married to a older Baron, the commissioner of the county. With the duty clashing with love, he can't give her the attention she needs. A retired Major, as old as her ... See full summary »


Gustaf Gründgens


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marianne Hoppe ... Effi Briest
Karl Ludwig Diehl ... Baron von Instetten
Paul Hartmann ... Major a.D. von Crampas
Max Gülstorff Max Gülstorff ... Dr. Alonzo Gieshübler
Paul Bildt Paul Bildt ... Herr von Briest
Käthe Haack ... Luise von Briest
Hans Leibelt ... Ministerialrat Wüllersdorf
Elisabeth Flickenschildt ... Marietta Tripelli
Gisela von Collande Gisela von Collande ... Afra
Renée Stobrawa Renée Stobrawa ... Roswitha
Erich Dunskus Erich Dunskus ... Kruse
Flora Berthold Flora Berthold ... Hulda
Ursula Voß Ursula Voß ... Herta
Ursula Friese Ursula Friese ... Berta
Margarete Schön ... Frau von Padden


A very young girl is married to a older Baron, the commissioner of the county. With the duty clashing with love, he can't give her the attention she needs. A retired Major, as old as her husband, is ready to give company. When the husband comes to know, the call of honor demands a duel, with tragic consequences. Written by S Basu

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Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »




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Release Date:

28 April 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The False Step See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Terra-Filmkunst See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Version of Effi Briest (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Love Honour and Baby and Duty.
18 August 2018 | by sbasu-47-608737See all my reviews

A poignant story where a child woman's dreams clashes with bot her and her husband's love, honour and duty.

Though it is based on the celebrated Novel Effie Briest (based on real life Baroness Elisabeth von Ardenne), I find a bit difference in portrayal of characters and relationships, and the difference always need not be for worse, or better, it could be just different.

The main protagonist, Effie is a 17 year old child-girl (Marianne Hoppe at 30, despite her acting prowess, didn't look that age). As the social customs dictated, she is married to a wealthy and quite older Baron, her mother's childhood friend.

Despite the age difference, she is devoted, may be because of her romantic age, and craves the time and attention from him. Unfortunately despite he in love with her (and remaining so, even after marriage) he can't give what she craves for. In addition, the husband is not only close to Power (friend of Bismarck) but also the commissioner of the county, and that puts severe drain on the time and attention he can give to his young wife.

Bored, Effie wanders around in the wilderness, with her Dog, and on one of the occasions she comes across a retired Major, who despite being almost her husband's age, is ready to devote his time on her, and in fact pursues her (a few dialogues indicate that). Naturally in her ennui, she doesn't mind his adventure.

How much she allowed the adventure to proceed is not made clear, in fact from several hints, it seems that she withdrew, and even avoided his company, when it, or rather he, tried to cross the line. At a later stage, in fact she mentioned that the duel was for a 'senseless reason'. But one definitely doesn't ask his wife whether she had a relationship or not (and believe the answer) and secondly the wife was far away then, recuperating from some feigned illness (in fact boredom).

But she had preserved his love and entreaty letters. When these accidentally came in notice of her husband, there was only one way out, challenging the usurper into a duel.

In a poignant scene here, the clash of honor and duty clashes with the sense. When the husband invites his best friend to act as his second in duel, and explains the circumstances, the discussions make it clear where it would lead to, for her, whatever may be the result of the duel. But naturally, and with reasons, the husband puts the duty and honor over love and sense (he professed his love, despite her suspected infidelity, and was quite aware of her fate post-duel). This angle I haven't seen in many (or any) movie, and on reflection, it is quite realistic.

The Lover Major, unlike the husband, seemed to be devoid of the finer senses. Anyway he was expected to be, as one, who pursued a friend's wife, a mother of a child, well aware that the relationship could never come to a 'Forever' end. She too knew that, and had expressed it clearly to her maid, in allusion, probably just before cutting him off.

The end became quite predictable, the moment the husband discussed the matter with his friend, and only question was the result of duel, not what would happen to the three after that.

Not very unpredictable end, if one thinks with clear mind, but quite unpredictable, as usual stories and movies go.

Despite the age of the 17 year old heroine (well after some time, she had been in mid twenties, the child looked lo be about five or six), her acting, the story and presentation- despite having all the elements of a tear-jerking soap, avoiding it, without losing the plot, deserves a place of merit.

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