Since the clerico-authoritarian regime, often referred to as ‘Austrofascism’ (1933–38), which arose through Chancellor Dollfuss and his Fatherland Front movement to suppress real and anticipated threats to Austria’s sovereignty from Nazism and Socialism was not totalitarian as was Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy, there was no nationalization of the media.1 The mainstream film industry was a relatively private enterprise, manipulated modestly by Church criticism and more by German trade agreements and investments made prior to Hitler’s assumption of power in 1933. The mainstream or traditional studios were only able to distribute productions in Germany, Austria’s largest film market, provided their projects had undergone script-level censorship by Germany and supplied proof that the cast and crew followed Nazi racial laws and were “Aryan.”2

A secondary independent or Emigrantenfilm [emigrant film] industry emerged, which was made up of German emigres, Central European Jewish talent and anti-Nazi Austrians, often in collaboration with studios in Budapest and Prague, which were free to collaborate with any co-production venue and talent they desired. This allowed for projects that actually tested the repression of the state, particularly with what might be considered material that flew in the face of Nazi cinema, and often the standards of Church reception. It also managed to veer from the norm of conservative dominant film into more liberal, even lightly experimental narratives that were not marginalized in exhibition and distribution because they ultimately did not subvert the Austrian nationalist cause.

The affinity of Austrian independent/Emigrantenfilm internationalist film style with American cinema was also supported by the significant amount of Austrians and (former) Austro-Hungarians that would ultimately influence Hollywood in their exile, and the English language remakes and inspirations of the Austrian ”Viennese Film” genre would be produced there into the 1940s. 3

I

Among the successful Germans in Austria’s 1930s film industry was Werner Hochbaum, whose strong leftist tendencies as a “pioneer of proletarian cinema” 4 caused him difficulty at UFA following the Nazi assumption of power in 1933, and he moved to Vienna to create his iconoclastic work. There his work had also fallen prey to some government censorship cuts and reshooting, but he had nevertheless created an Austrian cinematic landmark in dealing with Viennese social and cultural history in VorstadtvarietĂ©/Suburban Cabaret (Austria 1935). He also created two unique “contemporary” Austrian films in 1935 and 1936, which could not have been made in Germany. Of these, Hochbaum’s medical/psychological drama, Die ewige Maske/The Eternal Mask (Austria/Switzerland 1935) is a true forgotten masterpiece in European cinema. It is the only film presented in American film critic Parker Tyler’s 1962 Classics of the Foreign Film: A Pictorial Treasury, an influential compendium of important non-English language films from the silent era to the early 1960s (including works by Wiene, Lang, Pabst, Renoir, Rossellini, Bergman, DeSica, Fellini, etc.) that would not be recognized by the most cineastes today, and which has since received no significant mention.

Tyler unfortunately mislabels The Eternal Mask as a German production (possibly because of Hochbaum’s nationality), where it could never have been made under Nazi censorship. Hochbaum’s script was indeed based on a novel by Swiss author Leo Lapaire and the film was co-produced by a Swiss company Progress-Film. However, Tyler does not record the Austrian lead in co-production and the film’s creation at Vienna’s largest studio, Tobis-Sascha, with a few exteriors shot in Bern. Certainly with the roster of notable Vienna-based and Austrian themed productions Hochbaum created between 1934 and 1938, he might well be considered an German-born “Austrian filmmaker” in the manner that Pabst and Lang, both Austrian/Austro-Hungarian-born directors, are considered “Weimar German” filmmakers.”

The original critical reactions towards The Eternal Mask, unquestionably one of the most innovative European films of the 1930s, has also contributed to the confusion regarding its origin and importance. The film was first condemned with the lowest Category III rating by the Austrian regime’s semi-official film publication, Der gute Film [The Good Film] upon its release in August 1935. 5 This seemed to stem from an expected rejection by Nazi German critics more and a desire not to create problems with the tenuous film agreements with Germany, rather than from a serious examination of the film. Propaganda Minister Goebbels predictably banned its importation to Germany on the basis of its medical theme, as psychiatry was considered a Jewish science by National Socialism, and the films “degenerate” neo-expressionist style. Unable to enter the work in any festivals as an Austrian film, given its poor quasi-official reception, the co-production promoted the film as Swiss, and as such, it was accepted for competition at the third Venice Film Festival in 1935 in the category of Best Foreign Film along with Hochbaum’s previous controversial but successful imperial period costume drama (after censorship cuts dealing with suicide), Suburban Cabaret. The Eternal Mask ultimately went on to garner the Venice award for Best Psychological Film. 6 Belatedly realizing the significant value of and response to the work, Austria’s Der gute Film did an unexpected turnabout and revised its criticism with a high Category I (b) Rating. This sudden approval and the film’s successful runs in Paris, London, and New York also made Goebbels reconsider his rejection. The German ban was lifted, and the film opened in Berlin in January 1936 to exploit the international fame of Hochbaum as a “German” filmmaker and the film as a rare German film drawing international acclaim, although the film was labelled an Austrian/Swiss production in distribution. The Eternal Mask went on to further recognition as a Best Foreign Film at the 1937 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures film festival in New York in 1937. 7

The Eternal Mask concerns the young Dr. Dumartin (Mathias Wieman) who is developing a serum against meningitis in a Basel clinic. Against the express orders of his superior, Dr. Tscherko (Peter Petersen), Dumartin tests the new serum on Negar (Franz Schafheitlin) a critically ill patient who otherwise would have little chance of survival. At first Negar improves, but he suddenly dies. The widow of the patient, Madame Negar (Olga Tschechowa), who supported the trial, accuses Dumartin of incompetence and murder. Tscherko suspends him and, considering himself responsible for Negar’s death, Dumartin destroys the formula and attempts to commit suicide by jumping from a bridge into a river. The attempt fails, but it leaves him in a deep schizophrenic state, suffering from identity loss and severe hallucinations. Dr. Wendt (Tom Kraa), however believes the serum was not at fault, and when it is proven that the patient had died of an unrelated embolism, he endeavors to reconstruct the now essential serum to quell the epidemic. He and a clinic nurse Sister Anna (Thekla Ahrens) also attempt to help Dumartin regain his sense of reality.

Curiously, given the international cinematic stereotype of the Viennese psychiatrist (after Freud) and Austrian doctors in American and British film, where serious medical drama was an active genre as well, medical narratives are rare throughout Austrian film history. Beyond this landmark film, the only other medical drama of the 1930s is the solidly mainstream and German market bound Spiegel des Lebens/Mirror of Life (Austria 1938), a vehicle for the star couple Paula Wessely and Attila Hörbiger, released just after the Anschluss. Although it supports the case of the female physician in a male-dominated field, it propagandizes against Vienna (and by association, a supposedly moribund Austria ripe for annexation to Germany), as a parochial and corrupt urban environment that is no place for a “modern” woman attempting to make a career of medicine.

Hochbaum’s style in The Eternal Mask vacillates effectively between the sterile halls and shiny laboratories of the clinic and the dark distortions of Dumartin’s mania. The innovative moving camera tracks nurses attending to their duties and doctors on their rounds with patients in calm and often shadowy lighting. This affords an atmosphere of solemnity that makes the later visual presentation of inner trauma all the more extreme and challenging to the audience. As Dr. Dumartin, Mathias Weimann’s famous clenched-jaw rage that was so dominant in Hochbaum’s previous film, Suburban Cabaret, is here softened into a visage of frustrated humanism, as his empathy for suffering moves him to action beyond scientific process. The Nazi euthanasia program in which physicians were to judge patients as incurably ill and administer a “mercy death,” known as Action T4, was formulated during this period and launched in 1939, four years after this film. Hochbaum translates his strong sense of social justice and his protest against totalitarianism into a progressive and moving study on the role of the physician in the humanization of medicine. Olga Tschechowa’s subtle and underplayed dramatic performance as the patient’s wife demolishes the stereotypical femme fatale or vamp image she was so well known for.

Hochbaum’s usual blend of his symbolist and realist camera is here distilled into a poetic quality in the “realist” scenes (Tschechowa’s Madame Negar calms her dying husband with softly worded reassurances at his hospital bed, while petals fall from the flowers standing on the bedside table) and into a completely fresh and disturbing experimentalism in Dumartin’s symbolist hallucinations. These visual aspects raise the sensitive narrative to a level of artistic accomplishment that makes the lack of The Eternal Mask in the canon of extraordinary films of the 1930s unaccountable.

II

Parker Tyler’s appreciation for the supposed kinship of the film’s stylized depiction of mental derangement and the hospital setting with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Germany 1919) and with Lang’s M (Germany 1931) also needs to be considered: “The Germans intellectually, desperately mull over crime, investigating its causes, meanwhile defending or indulging them, but always making of guilt a great psychological issue, fraught with the struggle of reason and reason. This is why that film about guilt as a submerged mental struggle, The Eternal Mask, made in Switzerland, is as German as the language spoken in it” 8  He continues by linking German Expressionism with the artistic depictions of the “psychic realities of crime and guilt” and the “psychopatholigical force” 9 that is the basis for Siegfried Kracauer’s seminal early study of the cinematic-fascist connection in From Caligari to Hitler. In addition to the expected folding of Austrian (or even Swiss) film into German cinema without articulating the cultural and artistic differences quite apparent in the cultural and ideological battles between Austria and Germany in the 1930s, Tyler’s evaluation of the “typical” psychological reaction to guilt in German art and society, has little to do with Hochbaum’s fractured dream visions, which conjure instead Freud, surrealism and symbolism in its maze.

Moreover, understanding Hocbaum’s experimental landscape of the disturbed mind as solidly tied to the bizarre artifice of Expressionism is contradictory of his own evaluation that finds the Dumartin’s mental landscape made up of “geometric patterns of shimmering light replacing the painted decors of Cubism.” 10 The hallucinations the tortured Dumartin experiences in his guilt for supposedly killing his patient in The Eternal Mask (and who “is not violent, but he treads the hospital corridors like a zombie” 11 ) move solidly beyond Expressionism. The film uses the effects to reflect psychotic guilt and to offer maze of symbolic structures and figures, seemingly afloat in the unusual light-play, visually extending beyond Buñuel’s early surrealist films through abstraction, and attempting to capture the irrational symbolic visions of Giorgio de Chirico’s Pittura metafisica and the later surrealist landscapes of Salvador Dali.

In his discussion of Hitchcock’s theme of illusion and reality, particularly in Spellbound (USA 1945), which directly utilizes the Freudian based surrealist symbolism of Dali’s paintings for its famous dream sequence, cineaste Ken Mogg links Hitchcock’s influence firmly with Hochbaum. While accepting Tyler’s analysis of The Eternal Mask as “son of Caligari” without much question, possibly because Tyler’s is the only significant mention of the film in English-language cinema study, Mogg nevertheless sees the strong confluence between Hitchcock’s surrealist terrors and those of Hochbaum, possibly by way of Pabst’s dream sequences in his psychoanalytic drama, Geheimnisse der Seele/Secrets of a Soul (Germany 1927) and pointedly asks, “surely the makers of Spellbound (Hitchcock, Ben Hecht, Agnus MacPhail, and Salvador Dali) knew of Werner Hochbaum’s film?” 12

The two worlds of Dumartin stylistically reject the specific look of German cinematic Expressionism. The real world sports a clean geometry of horizontal and vertical lines mimicked by the movement of the camera. The clinic suggests sparse Bauhaus-like design, and the large windowpanes and laboratory partitions emphasize crossed lines in their frames, which extend to the exteriors. Had Hitchcock borrowed from this film for concepts in Spellbound, he then certainly remembered its artistic direction for the overriding vertical/horizontal and crisscross patterns of North by Northwest (USA 1959). Having fled the hospital and finding himself drinking at a varietĂ©, where Hochbaum’s adaptation of Stroheim’s moving “inventory” camera glides past the sparse dĂ©cor and similar cross-hatched windows as in the clinic. When the dancing girls finish their regimented number, they extend the geometrical pattern by exiting the stage in a line that crosses the disinterested Dumartin in a left to right front-frame angle. Neon lighting casts a dream-like shimmer over this set piece. As Dumartin wanders the minimalistic darkened streets and sits, he hears fragments of earlier hospital dialogue. He rises and makes his way to a bridge. A wide shot shifts to a close-up in which Dumartin sees the reflection of his face in the still water below. A voice tells him that he did not kill death but killed a patient. The voice calls for Dr. Dumartin, and he quietly replies that he is not Dumartin. He jumps into the water. A woman screams. Suddenly, the dark, empty location is crowded with people. The police drag him from the water, identify him, and carry him away.

The second half of the film varies between geometric patterns in blocking and placing the actors and the minimalist setting of the artificial calmness of the clinic’s cinematic reality, and the darkened sets with projections of lighting effects, odd camera angles and abrupt, disjointed editing, representing Dumartin’s nightmares and hallucinations. The camera work by Oskar Schnirch, the cutting by the editor of his Hochbaum’s Austrian films, Else Baum, and his usual composer, Anton Profes, contribute significantly to a film that is quite ahead of its time in the depiction of mental illness.

III

It is important to the close reading of this film to trace the imagery of Dumartin’s psychosis. Following his rescue from the river, we find him in a bed in the clinic. A suggestion of reflected rippling water is projected over his sleeping face. He wakes, calls for water, gets out of the bed, puts on a robe, and makes his way mechanically, like a sleepwalker, across the large, shadowy room to the hallway, where he tells a nurse he is looking for Dr. Dumartin, so that he can bring him the file on the serum in order to “kill more people.” Dr. Tscherko attempts to convince Dumartin that he did not kill his patient and that he must produce more serum, which had indeed succeeded and is now the only hope against the outbreak. Dumartin ignores Tscherko and rejects all identification with himself. Tscherko believes Dumartin has slipped into schizophrenia to deal with the unresolved false guilt of killing his patient by ignoring professional process.

Dumartin claims that he is being summoned by a Dr. Dumartin, who is still trapped under the water. The film cuts to Dumartin’s hallucination. He takes an elevator down many levels of the now darkened, transfigured clinic, until he finds his bed and sees himself rising and wandering through distorted hallways. Part of the hallucination is shot as audience point of view and are effective in unexpectedly destabilizing the traditional authority of the narrative and creating both sympathy for Dumartin and his plight. Rather than the expected melodramatic orchestral music of the era, the nightmarish visual is punctuated by Anton Profes’ minimalist musical “effects,” which are highlighted with harp sounds, anticipating the type of non-traditional orchestrations Bernard Herrmann would score for Alfred Hitchcock in the 1950s and early 1960s.

As Dumartin wanders through the darkness, flashing light and reflections of rippling water are montaged over the shots. The dark halls give way to an open space, which blends the images of the clinic and the varietĂ© with double exposures of female dancers moving in a hypnotic pattern. Dumatrin is suddenly speaking to Madame Negar insisting he must give Dr. Dumartin his file, but he is led back into the dark by a figure and Dumartin ends up in a large, only partially lit operating room with a staircase leading upward out of the space. Close-up shots of Dumartin are transformed by swirling lights projected directly onto his face. He attempts to open a large door, but failing to do so, he climbs up the stairs to a walkway which leads him down again. As he continues to traverse the stairways and walkways, it should become clear to the spectator that the space is the labyrinth of his tortured mind. Electrical sparks and bursts around him serve to startle the viewer and suggest Dumaritn’s feeling of threat in his own psychosis, but also symbolize the synaptic action of his nervous system. Dumartin is now lost inside his own brain.

The film cuts back to reality as Dr. Wendt attempts to convince the Madame Negar that if she would try to communicate with Dr. Dumartin and convince him he is not responsible for her husband’s death it might break his mania. The cut is to a tight close-up of her face as she sympathetically says “Er tut mir so leid” [I am so sorry for him], which is dissolved by the shadows, lighting effects and staccato music of Dumartin’s visions–confusing him and again forcing the audience to experience the symbolist codes of his nightmare. Madame Negar’s attempts to speak to him are translated into the language of his own visions. She thus appears in them as a mysterious figure emerging from the darkness and beckoning him to follow her. He passes through more darkened corridors distorted by the projection of swirling lights, reflections from water and flames, shot with canted camera angles. Profes’ music score now has become even more abstract, with loud and echoing gongs punctuating the visual. However, Madame Negar has been transformed again. She is now in a seductive dress that makes her appear the femme fatale, which gives a mocking quality to her request for more serum from Tscherko. She repeats her line, “Er tut mir so leid,” and what was sympathy in the real world has become mocking insincerity in Dumartin’s fantasies.

Dumartin and Tscherko find themselves in a dark laboratory. Dumartin says he is searching for Dr. Dumartin, and Tscherko informs him that Dr. Dumartin will require a transfusion or he will die. The shot cuts to a close-up of Dumartin’s face with a projection of moving lights and a striking geometric lattice pattern. The film cuts to reality again. A group of men in laboratory coats watch Tscherko attempting to communicate with the delusional Dumartin in a room through a large lattice-patterned window. We hear them discussing how Dumartin has destroyed the serum and his notes regarding the formula, and that the serum is only recoverable if one can save Dumartin. Dr. Wendt, however, disagrees with Tscherko’s process, stating that one must “lead Dumartin to Dumartin” to free him. It cannot be done in rational communication “outside” of his world. The scene cuts to Dumartin listening to Tscherko in a now half-darkened lab, who is telling him that dying people have a power that is similar to radio waves, and the shot cuts to a Metropolis-like electrical power unit, which generates a giant mask of a human face and dominates the entire frame. Undulating lights and waves of reflected water circle around it. The cut focuses on Dumartin transfixed by the mask and surrounded by projected and montaged vibrating lights, and then to Dumartin standing in the real laboratory. The close-up on the mask mimics the close-up on all the actors throughout the film, which implies that all people are unfathomable if one relies on their psychological “masks” to understand them. The truth lies below, just as Dumartin himself travels below his own façade of reality.

Tscherko wants to use Madame Negar to force Dumartin out of his state, by indicating that she will also die if the serum is not recreated. She agrees, and the film cuts to the following performance: Madame Negar has been dressed and placed in a bed as a patient and loudly insists that she demands the serum. She calls for Dr. Dumartin to help her. Dumartin approaches her, and she begs him for the serum. Still in his delusional state, he stares at her but suddenly calls a nurse to bring him the serum injection. A nurse responds and he takes an empty syringe from her, but sensing the unreality of the situation, he suddenly changes his focus and shouts accusations at Tscherko who had dismissed the serum as unperfected–“murder serum you called it!” He suddenly orders the operation on Madame Negar, and as if fighting himself for saying it, becomes physically violent. The doctors hold him, but he struggles to get free. Wendt asks him if he has forgotten about Dr. Dumartin and tells him that is he waiting to be freed behind the door to another room.

The shot cuts to Dumartin’s hallucination.  He is now walking through a dark space, illuminated by light flashes and projections of giant lattice-patterned shadows. He notices a sleeping body in a bed with a mask on its face. He removes the mask to discover himself. Dumartin sits up and speaks to his startled alter ego, telling him he must act and accept guilt. That it is “better to act and have guilt than not to act to avoid it.” A chorus of voices repeats the dialogue, and the shot cuts to Dumartin in real space, standing at the bed in which Negar died. There is silence. He looks around the room and then out the window. The film cuts to a wide shot of the room and then to Dumartin and the room from above, a high angle shot that would become associated with the “realization” moment in Hitchcock films, as we hear a short climactic melody orchestrated by Profes in a traditional/cinematic-symphonic style, to differentiate the mood from the orchestrated “noise” of the hallucinations.

Dumartin emerges from the room and recognizes Wendt. He inquires if Madame Negar is ill. Wendt informs him that the clinic must have the serum and leads him to the laboratory. The audience is now distanced from the action by voyeuristic shots that counter the close and disturbing point of view shots of the hallucinations. Clearly, Hochbaum infers that our minds and the worlds they create are always closer to us than the understanding of physical reality. Dumartin converses normally with the nurses, but we cannot hear the dialog. A baby is heard crying (one born at Negar’s death), suggesting rebirth. Dumartin appears to want to test the medication he has concocted on himself. A nurse attempts to stop him, but he continues. He sees Tscherko observing him and insists he “must work” as he delves back into his experiment. Tscherko appears in a corridor of the clinic, and the nurses ask him where and how Dumartin is, and he replies with satisfaction, “er arbeitet–prachtvoll.” [he is working—beautifully].

IV

The final shot of the film is a close-up on a medical cross (caduceus), embellished with emanating rays more familiar from images of the Holy Spirit, which appears on a glass cabinet in the operating room. It acts as an emblem in uniting the contradicting irrationality of Duamrtin’s schizophrenia with the rational world of the clinic into a symbol that is itself contradictory. Medical science is represented as a mystical power with coding that also represents Christian redemption. Perhaps not an intentional aspect of the film’s production under Austrofascism, the symbol nevertheless provides a message by which the film can be understood in terms of Catholic thought. The supposed Catholic reviewers writing for Der gute Film could not envision this, and even the journal’s re-evaluation is not based on a fresh understanding of the film, or a Catholic reading of it, only on accepting and promoting the international acclaim it was suddenly receiving.

Dumartin’s egocentric and self-deifying personality leads to his near destruction and the punishment for attempting the forbidden suicide is his overwhelming and transforming guilt manifested as a loss of his sanity. The distorted, dark world is a form of purgatory, his return to reality a rebirth signaled by the God-like omnipotent camera position looking down on the now comprehending Dumaritn as we hear the cry of the newborn baby, denoting the cycle of life. Dumartin could only regain the life he was willing to lose through realization of his purpose and a conscious and selfless sacrifice for those that might benefit from his genius.

Hochbaum’s Suburban Cabaret and The Eternal Mask both deal with lost and problematically reclaimed identity, each in a search that results in the shifting of original values and comprehensions. These may well serve as the director’s metaphors for the Austrian identity crisis since the end of the First World War and the attempt to reconnect with the lost imperial world and a renewed Catholicism under Austrofascism. His two other Austrian films of the era, Hannerl und Ihre Liebhaber aka Saison in Grinzing/Hannerl and Her Lovers (1936) and Schatten der Vergangenheit/Shadows of the Past (1936) are consistent with the earlier films in their use of masking as central symbols. Water, too, is a symbol throughout Hochbaum’s oeuvre, and such watery death imagery can be understood as a longing for cleansing or purification. Its appearance in urban settings, usually as a river flowing under a bridge, often suggesting that the Danube and its role in the mythology of Vienna may have been an influence. However, contrary to the numerous romantic associations of the Danube, Hochbaum, like Hungarian director Paul Fejos in Sonnenstrahl/Ray of Sun (Austria 1933) haunts the iconic waterway with broken illusions and death. Hochbaum’s talent for revitalizing staid genres–the nostalgic (and near tragic) Viennese “sĂŒĂŸes MĂ€del” [sweet girl] romantic adventure in, Suburban Cabaret, the medical drama in The Eternal Mask, the romantic comedy and class conflict in Hannerl and Her Lovers, and the mix of the variety musical and the Noir crime mystery in Shadows of the Past—provide Austrian cinema of the 1930s with some of its most progressively conceived cross-genre films that take on the search for true identity and freedom in a society that is heavily class coded and ideologically restrictive.

Endnotes:

  1. As with Spanish Falangist-authoritarianism, Austrian authoritarianism maintained a strong alignment with the Catholic Church. It was also termed corporate or corporatist in reference to the socio-economic structure of major interest groups functioning as representative estates. This was a central aspect of Fascist Italy, but remained incomplete in Austria.
  2. The Nuremberg Racial Laws were enacted on September 15, 1935 by the Nazi controlled German Reichstag.
  3. The Viennese Film genre of the 1930s brought Austrian cinema back to international attention following the end of the Sandor (Alexander) Korda and Mihaly Kertesz (Michael Curtiz) silent biblical epics of the 1920s. Developed by director/actor Willi Forst and writer Walter Reisch with such films as Leise flehen meine Lieder/The Unfinished Symphony (1933), Maskerade/Masquerade in Vienna (1934), and Episode (1935), this genre, based in French poetic realism, were mostly period films that created a “topos Vienna” and originally dealt with love versus art. Hollywood attempted to remake the films or borrow from their formula throughout the decade and beyond. In German annexed Austria, they were produced by the Nazi film industry from 1938-45. The genre influenced the popular Heimatfilm (provincial melodrama) and Kaiserfilm (imperial film) genres of the 1950s. Robert Dassanowsky, Austrian Cinema: A History (Jefferson: McFarland: 2005), pp. 49-62.
  4. Klaus Kreimeier, The UFA Story. A History of Germany’s Greatest Film Company 1918-1945. Trans. Robert and Rita Kimber (New York Hill and Wang, 1996), p. 287.
  5. Der gute Film. Mitteilung des Institutes fĂŒr Filmkultur Wien, 142/1935, p. 4.
  6. The nominations for Best Foreign Film at the Festival were quite diverse and presented a very unexpected list. Along with Hochbaum’s two films and the other Austrian entries – Walter Reisch’s Episode, Erich Engel’s 
.nur ein Komödiant/Only a Comedian, and Hermann Kosterlitz’s (Henry Koster) Kleine Mutti/Little Mother — there were films by Austro-Hungarian expat Hollywood directors Michael Curtiz, Paul Czinner and Zoltan Korda; French directors Abel Gance, Julien Duvivier; German directors Carl Froelich and Fritz Wendhausen; Polish director Jozef Lejtes; Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens/Triumph of the Will running against Judah Lehmen’s entry from Palestine, L’Chayim Hadashim/The Land of Promise; as well as von Sternberg’s The Devil is a Woman, DeMille’s The Crusades, Mamoulian’s Becky Sharp, and Jacques Deval/Germain Fried’s Tovaritch, among others. The winner was Clarence Brown’s Garbo film, Anna Karenina. IMDB, “Venice Film Festival 1935.”
  7. Hervé Dumont. Geschichte des schweizerischen Films: Spielfilme 1896-1965 (Lausanne: Schweizer Filmarchiv, 1987), p. 182.
  8. Parker Tyler. Classics of the Foreign Film (New York: Citadel, 1962), p. 79.
  9. Tyler, p. 79.
  10. Tyler, p. 102.
  11. Tyler, p. 103.
  12. Ken Mogg. “The MacGuffin: News and Comment (18/Jul/2009).” https://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/The _MacGuffin:_News_and_Comment.

About The Author

Robert Dassanowsky is professor of German/Austrian Studies and Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. His books include Austrian Cinema: A History (2005), New Austrian Film (co-ed. with O. Speck) (2011), World Film Locations: Vienna (ed.) (2012), Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds: A Manipulation of Metafilm (ed.) (2012) and Screening Transcendence: Film under Austrofascism and the Hollywood Hope 1933-38 (2018), After Vienna: Postimperial Salzburg as Austria’s Future ‘Kulturstadt’ 1919-1938. (co-ed with M. Burri) (2021). Dassanowsky is board member of the Independent Film Society of Colorado (IFSOC), a sponsor of the Vienna Shorts Film Festival, and member of the European Film Academy (EFA). He is also active as an independent film producer.

Related Posts