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THE FAIRY DOLL

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by E. W. Emo

grade: 5.5

Undoubtedly, the story staged by E. W. Emo in The Fairy Doll is nothing particularly original. It could even be stated that the feature film has acquired particular historical importance today precisely because it is one of the films in which Romy Schneider’s parents took part when they were young. Yet, despite everything, we must recognise a certain grace and elegance in the staging of the tender love story between the two young protagonists.

Love & Music

A girl from a noble family falls in love with a boy in financial difficulties. How many times have we witnessed such a story in films? Love stories contrasted due to different social backgrounds (almost) always work on the big screen, especially when it comes to the glorious Wiener Films, which were produced copiously in Austria from the 1930s to around the 1960s. One of these films, for example, is The Fairy Doll, directed in 1936 by E. W. Emo and starring two very young Magda Schneider and Wolf Albach-Retty, two true Austrian film stars of the time who only two years later would become parents of the unforgettable Romy Schneider.

This young couple is in love, therefore, also on the big screen. Young Felizitas (Schneider) is the niece of a rich countess (Adele Sandrock), who dreams of a marriage for her with a man of equal social standing. Felizitas, however, is in love with Alexander (Albach-Retty), who lives together with his brother Anton (Paul Hörbiger), a penniless, indebted inventor, who always hopes that one day one of his inventions will be successful. During a New Year’s Eve party, first at the Vienna State Opera (where Josef Bayer’s famous ballet The Fairy Doll takes place), then at the Hotel Sacher, there will be a series of amusing misunderstandings that threaten to separate the couple forever. How will it end?

Undoubtedly, the story staged by E. W. Emo in The Fairy Doll is nothing particularly original. It could even be stated that the feature film has acquired particular historical importance today precisely because it is one of the films in which Schneider’s parents took part when they were young. Yet, despite everything, we must recognise a certain grace and elegance in the staging of the tender love story between the two young protagonists.

Following the Wiener Film tradition, it is above all elegant locations and luxurious costumes (especially with regard to the scenes filmed at Felizitas’ home, inside the theatre or at the Hotel Sacher) that play the leading role in The Fairy Doll. Similarly, Joseph Haßreiter’s choreography and Josef Bayer’s music during the stage show – as well as the marching band playing in front of Felizitas’ house for no apparent reason – make the whole thing even more harmonious and spectacular, almost, on the other hand, as if it were a necessary addition to a story that does not stand out for any particular narrative turns or the presence of relevant subplots.

Yes, because, in fact, even the story of Anton, Alexander’s brother, who with his bizarre inventions and tormented love affair with the charming dancer Fanny (Lizzi Holzschuh) contributes to giving humour and lightness to this sparkling The Fairy Doll, does not particularly influence the final outcome of the film, except, of course, for the excellent performance of the great Paul Hörbiger, always an added value to any feature film of the time. But that, of course, is another story.

Original title: Die Puppenfee
Directed by: E. W. Emo
Country/year: Austria / 1936
Running time: 85’
Genre: comedy, romance, musical
Cast: Magda Schneider, Wolf Albach-Retty, Paul Hörbiger, Adele Sandrock, Dagny Servaes, Lizzi Holzschuh, Fritz Imhoff, Hilde Krahl, Olly Gebauer, Ferdinand Mayerhofer, Rudolf Carl, Kurt von Lessen, Franz Schafheitlin, Toni Birkmayer
Screenplay: Ralph Benatzky, W. Jürgens, Leon Laroche, Carl Lorens, Hanns Saßmann, H. von Körber
Cinematography: Eduard Hoesch, Hans Theyer
Produced by: Hade-Film

Info: the page of The Fairy Doll on iMDb