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45 4 Lights, Camera, Action It is surprising that Harlan did not enter a film studio until December 1926, considering how many of his colleagues had already appeared before the camera by that point—even Dora Gerson had participated in a twopart Oriental adventure in 1920 (Auf den Trümmern des Paradieses [In the ruins of paradise] and Die Todeskarawane [The death caravan]), in a cast that included Bela Lugosi. Ludwig Berger, who had guided Harlan through The Taming of the Shrew and Prinz Friedrich von Homburg on the State Theater stage, gave him a secondary role in his handsomely mounted period drama Der Meister von Nürnberg (The master of Nuremberg), about an old poet who falls hopelessly in love with a goldsmith’s daughter. For that era of filmmaking, it took an unusually long time to shoot, until April 1927, and at the request of Pola Negri and Emil Jannings, Berger then went to Hollywood. Harlan’s second silent film was shot from May to June 1927: Die Hose (The pants), directed by Hans Behrendt, was based on Carl Sternheim’s biting satire on bourgeois hypocrisy and centered on civil servant Theobald Maske, whose wife loses her panties in public. (The same happens to Gloria Swanson’s character in Queen Kelly [1929]; it is likely that Erich von Stroheim had been inspired by Sternheim.) In support of Werner Krauss, Jenny Jugo, and Rudolf Forster, Harlan was cast as the Jewish hairdresser apprentice Mandelstam, who falls in love with Frau Maske, moving in with the married couple to be near his beloved. Like Der Meister von Nürnberg, Die Hose was produced by Phoebus and released before Der Meister.1 “The author Franz Schulz,” the LichtBild -Bühne remarked, “has really found visual solutions in order to recreate Sternheim’s bloody satire on the petty bourgeois’ emotional and intellectual world for the screen in a supremely impressive way.”2 Siegfried Kracauer considered Die Hose one of the era’s best films, and the proletarian distributing company Weltfilm included it in a list of recommendable veit harlan 46 films with a social agenda.3 Harlan’s character, though introduced with a close-up, remains secondary, but Die Hose certainly gave inspiration to the future director. A farewell scene at a railway station would reappear more elaborately in Harlan films Maria, die Magd and Immensee; people in different places are joined by montage, and there are imaginative superimpositions and extreme close-ups of objects. Der Meister von Nürnberg was well received, too, but did not recoup its cost. Harlan, who appears ten minutes into the film, is his lively self, but it is impossible to recount the plot and mention his character. Twelve years later he himself would direct an expensive period picture set in Nuremberg. By the end of 1927, the rising young actor had appeared in two more films. Das Mädchen mit den fünf Nullen (The girl with five zeros) was directed by Kurt Bernhardt, who later, in his Hollywood exile and now called Curtis Bernhardt, would guide Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Eleanor Parker through such melodramas as A Stolen Life (1946), Possessed (1947), and Interrupted Melody (1955), respectively. Film theoretician Béla Balász wrote the screenplay of Das Mädchen “with a merry plot and a deeper meaning.”4 Four people win a lottery but then lose it all. Only one of them, a cabaret singer (Viola Garden), is wise enough to invest the money. She falls in love with the painter Ernst Waldt (Harlan), enjoys his favors, and seems to exploit him, but when he is flat broke, she helps him. Also based on a Balász story that year was the delightful film 1+1=3, alternately titled Ehe man Ehemann wird (Before one becomes a husband), a comedy produced by the Communist activist Willi Münzenberg for Prometheus pictures, cowritten by Hermann Kosterlitz (better known as Henry Koster) and directed by Felix Basch. Although never declared missing, 1+1=3 has never been searched for either. With its celebration of an amicable threesome , it has elements of Noel Coward’s Design for Living. A January 2014 screening at Berlin’s Zeughauskino was met with some spontaneous scene applause, including one unmistakably meant for Harlan in his only topbilled film appearance. As in Das Mädchen mit den fünf Nullen, he plays a man down on his luck. Musician Paul cannot pay his rent anymore and finds himself on a...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813167022
Related ISBN
9780813167008
MARC Record
OCLC
940502002
Pages
464
Launched on MUSE
2016-02-26
Language
English
Open Access
No
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