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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Menschen Am Sonntag (aka People On Sunday) (1930)

Four young people in pre-Hitler Berlin spend an aimless, leisurely Sunday together before returning to work on Monday. A taxi driver (Erwin Splettstober), a wine salesman (Wolfgang von Waltershausen), a background actress (Christl Ehlers) and a shop girl (Brigitte Borchert). The four players (as well as a fifth, Annie Schreyer as Splettstober's model girlfriend) are all non-professionals essentially playing themselves. Their professions, for example, are actually their real life jobs before and after the film was made. Nothing much happens in the film as the cameras follow them around having a picnic on the river's bank, dallying in the woods, listening to a gramophone, floating down the river (the film's highlight), etc. As cinema, it doesn't offer up much but the real interest are twofold. The images of life in pre-Nazi Berlin and the creative personnel which was made up of some artists that would later come to America. The film's directors were Robert Siodmak (THE KILLERS) and Edgar G. Ulmer (DETOUR), the writers were Billy Wilder (SOME LIKE IT HOT) and Curt Siodmak (THE WOLF MAN), the cinematography by Eugene Schufftan (THE HUSTLER) and his camera assistant, Fred Zinnemann (HIGH NOON). The print I saw had a nice score (the film is a silent) by Elena Kats-Chernin.

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