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The wonderful supporting actors of early German sound comedy (1930-1933)

In April, the Zeughauskino will focus on those who are otherwise marginalized: the actors and actresses of the early German sound film era.

For Berlin film critic Rudolf Arnheim, they were the first to bring individuality and reality to stories that were often knitted to a similar pattern. "The charge player shows the person as he is, the hero player shows him as one would like him to be." The headline of Arnheim's article, which appeared in the trade journal Filmtechnik in October 1931, is then programmatically titled: In Praise of the Charge.

In the best cases, the batches act virtuously, obstinately, surprisingly. And the early sound film era offers them opportunities for this. The actors and actresses, many of whom had been socialized at stages, cabarets and revue theaters in the turbulent Berlin of the 1920s, and who now appear in the film in batch roles, become audience favorites.

Siegfried Arno and Felix Bressart even get leading roles in which they take their foibles and antics to extremes. They are always unmistakable - and never as silly as they might look: whether the thundering despot Adele Sandrock or the bubbling Otto Wallburg, the ever-contradictory linguistic artist Szöke Szakall or the chansonnière Lotte Werkmeister, whether Julius Falkenstein, whom nothing shakes, or Kurt Gerron, who floats like a ballerina despite a giant belly. Or the authoritarian Senta Söneland in a duel with the rotundly witty Karl Huszár-Puffy.

Many of these actors were Jews. Their careers in German film came to an abrupt end with the onset of the National Socialist dictatorship and the state-imposed ban on working. Like the critic Rudolf Arnheim, they were expelled and persecuted. The public favorites Kurt Gerron, Otto Wallburg and Kurt Lilien died in German extermination camps. They all contributed to the fact that in the sound film comedies for a time the hierarchies begin to dance.
Additional information
Information about each performance can be found on the website.