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by Hans Thimig

grade: 7.5

Die kluge Marianne is an elegant and funny comedy of errors, a story that might seem anachronistic today, but, at the same time, a true declaration of love to women. A film that, even many years after it was made, is perfectly capable of filling viewers’ hearts with joy and optimism.

Discovering a new world

“How I’d love to have a woman like that!” said the great Attila Hörbiger when talking about the actress Paula Wessely. But he already had such a woman, since the two have been married for over fifty years and had already been married for eight years when he uttered this sentence. Yet, on this particular occasion, Wessely was, in fact, the wife of a friend of his. How is this possible? Simple: she was the protagonist of the feature film Die kluge Marianne, directed in 1943 by Hans Thimig, as well as the film adaptation of the play Gefällt Euch meine Frau? by Guglielmo Zorzi.

On this occasion, therefore, Paula Wessely played the young Marianne, recently married to Peter (played by Hermann Thimig), much older than her, who had never wanted to get married all his life, preferring to have fun in his spare time with his three best friends: Karli (Attila Hörbiger), Stani (Hans Holt) and Baldi (Axel von Ambessen). When Peter introduces his wife to his friends, the three are surprised that he has suddenly married and, at the same time, seem to consider young Marianne too naive and simple-minded to live in the city. Determined to get her husband to finally give her the attention she deserves, Marianne decides to change her look and hairstyle, behaving like an aristocratic and seductive woman. Her husband’s friends will immediately fall in love with her, to the point that they will find any excuse to come to their house.

Die kluge Marianne was made in 1943. This was a particularly difficult time for Austrian cinema. In this period, due to the National Socialist dictatorship, there was little freedom of expression and many directors, artists and writers decided to emigrate to the United States. Those who stayed in their homeland had to follow certain rules. During this period, there were numerous propaganda films in which troubled female characters looked after the house and children while they waited for their men to return from the war. At the same time, numerous sentimental dramas or romantic comedies (such as this Die kluge Marianne), set in an upper-class context in which rich sets and elegant costumes provided the perfect background for the stories being staged, were also being made. Of course, most of the time, the war was not mentioned at all, since many of the stories were set in the early 20th century.

This is the case, therefore, also with Die kluge Marianne, in which, alongside a linear and simple screenplay, there is also an excellent cast, including the most popular film and stage performers of the time, who were also very successful in the years to come. This cheerful and sparkling feature film by Hans Thimig is distinguished, therefore, by its accurate and elegant mise-en-scene, but also by the way in which Paula Wessely herself (who after an already important theatrical career had made her film debut only nine years earlier in Maskerade by Willi Forst) is enhanced with all her talent and her characteristic sweet face. An unconventional face, which, at first, was not considered particularly suitable for film, but which, already since Forst’s feature film, has entered the hearts of viewers of all ages.

All this made Die kluge Marianne an elegant and funny comedy of errors, a story that might seem anachronistic today, but, at the same time, a true declaration of love to women. And even many years after it was made, it is perfectly capable of filling viewers’ hearts with joy and optimism.

Original title: Die kluge Marianne
Directed by: Hans Thimig
Country/year: Germany, Austria / 1943
Running time: 93’
Genre: comedy, romance
Cast: Hermann Thimig, Paula Wessely, Attila Hörbiger, Hans Holt, Axel von Ambesser, Alfred Neugebauer, Dagny Servaes, Jane Tilden, Rosl Dorena, Willi Dohm, Richard Eybner, Karl Skraup, Karl Bachmann, Theodor Danegger, Helli Servi
Screenplay: Hans Thimig, Guglielmo Zorzi
Cinematography: Hans Schneeberger
Produced by: Wien-Film

Info: the page of Die kluge Marianne on iMDb; the page of Die kluge Marianne on the website of the Filmarchiv Austria