Love triumphs in Court Theatre. But will it be so for everyone? And, above all, is love or career more important? How much can people’s opinions influence a person’s life? Willi Forst has staged it all with a strong lyricism, but also with the right cynicism, especially when it comes to dealing with certain dynamics within the show business and the upper middle class.
There are approximately one hundred and forty films in which Hans Moser took part during his career. And the characters that most succeeded in touching audiences were those of tender father figures, sometimes clumsy and awkward, who often went through important changes or, in any case, served to introduce small comic elements into often dramatic feature films. And so, his unmistakable mumbling voice, his reassuring appearance, as well as his innate comic verve soon became symbols of the glorious Wiener Films.
Presented in competition at the Venice Film Festival 1934, Maskerade won the Best Screenplay Award. While following the canons of the Wiener Films, with a story set in the world of the upper middle class, its splendour, sumptuous costumes and music, both Willi Forst and screenwriter Walter Reisch wanted to give the whole thing a different touch, pointing the finger at a hypocritical and decadent society reminiscent of Arthur Schnitzler’s works.
The scene in which actors Hans Moser and Paul Hörbiger, dressed as bellhops, are struggling with the transport of some heavy luggage, including a big wooden box, is, to this day, considered one of the most famous sketches in the history of Austrian cinema. This is one of the highlight scenes of the comedy Hallo Dienstmann, directed by Franz Antel in 1951.
It is not surprising that a feature film like 1. April 2000 (a fine fantapolitical satire directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner) was made precisely in 1952, seven years after the end of the world war and only three years before the Austrian State Treaty by which, among other things, the nation’s neutrality was officially proclaimed.
1924, the year in which The City without Jews was filmed and for the first time screened to the audience, is a crucial year. Only a few months later, in fact, Adolf Hitler will publish Mein Kampf, giving rise to feelings that had remained, until then, (not too) dormant. The author of the novel – Hugo Bettauer, who, here, also collaborated with Breslauer and Ida Jenbach on the screenplay – had already portrayed two years earlier one of the many possible consequences of this latent resentment. And he had done so in perhaps the most disturbing of all ways: satire.
Leaving aside any controversial issue of purely historical and productive nature, the beauty of a film like Werner Hochbaum’s Suburban Cabaret must be acknowledged, since it bears precious witness to a key era for film and beyond.