Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Pola Negri, Victor Janson, Paul Heidemann, Wilhelm Diegelmann, Hermann Thimig
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Comedy, Drama
Similarly Requested DVDs
Best of the Lubitsch slapstick farces released by Kino
Michael Gebert | Chicago, IL USA | 12/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For all the exotic places depicted in his later films-- Monte Carlo, Venice, the mittel-European settings of The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg or The Shop Around the Corner, Stalin's Russia, Hitler-occupied Poland-- Lubitsch never returned to the wildly cartoonish style on evidence in these early comedies released by Kino, which are quite eye-opening, full of wild curlicues of plaster, fortresses that look like birthday cakes, staircases that descend a quarter-mile amid running water. They're undeniable visual treats, unlike anything you've seen before, even when the knockabout comedy is not up to the visual imagination on display-- or the abilities of star Pola Negri, for whom "wildcat" is the perfect role.
The Wildcat is a sort of burlesque on a genre of military romances buried so deeply in the mists of memory that they still seem familiar even when it's hard to think of an actual example of what's being parodied (The Desert Song?). There's a fortress on the edge of mountainous wilds, and there's a handsome young officer who's been exiled there because of his love life. And then there's a tribe of wild mountain people including a tempestuous daughter, played by Pola Negri, with whom the officer will fall in love.
As with the mistaken identity plot in The Oyster Princess, you can imagine the smart 30s comedy this would be the setup for, and it's nothing like this-- which mainly consists of running around and clowning broadly. Only occasional bits here and there-- a hilariously exaggerated depiction of the results of the officer's Casanova-like behavior, a delightful bit of comedy on the quarter-mile staircase that plays out with the purity and visual grace of Buster Keaton's single-take descent down six flights of stairs in The Cameraman-- are actually especially funny. But at least in Negri you have a recognizable comic human being, full of life and randiness-- and the ending, though still half-cartoon, has an emotional effect well beyond anything in The Oyster Princess just three years earlier."
And now for something completely different...
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 03/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of the four DVDs in the `Lubitsch in Berlin' series, "The Wildcat" surely stands out as the most bizarre and uniquely different, especially when compared to all the other well-known German silent films with their seriousness and gloomy Expressionist styles. In total contrast to the work of his contemporaries, namely other legendary directors like Fritz Lang, FW Murnau and GW Pabst, Ernst Lubitsch had a style of his own, and "The Wildcat" is a prime example. Today this comedy can be compared to Monty Python, but "The Wildcat" in its introduction simply calls itself "A Grotesque", and this is exactly what comes to mind when seeing the very odd and even indescribable sets and interiors. The military fortress where much of the action takes place looks like something between a fairytale and a nightmare, and not satisfied with the effort to create such bizarre sets and props, Lubitsch takes the visual uniqueness even further with many scenes filmed through differently shaped frames. Not even round, oval or square were enough; many frames are zigzags, tear-outs and other weird cut-out forms, so that the viewer is constantly surprised and enthralled by the visual spectacle, while still being able to follow a logical plot. Pola Negri shows off her talent in `grotesque comedy' as the Wildcat, a member of a gang of thieves in the snowy mountains not far from the fort. It is, in fact, a love story between a Lieutenant and the Wildcat, but both are meant to marry someone else. Such a simple and true-to-life story is presented in this skilfully contorted style which should impress even those like me who are not such big fans of comedy or Monty Python-style humour. Putting "The Wildcat" into context in its time of the early 1920s in Germany where audiences had sophisticated exotic and artistic tastes, Lubitsch's expertise in creating bizarre comedies stands out even more. Two other outstanding examples of his comedies are also in the `Lubitsch in Berlin' series, namely "The Oyster Princess" and "I Don't Want to be a Man" both starring a very competent comedienne, Ossi Oswalda, and together they present a more complete picture of German silent cinema. Besides all these special features, this DVD has an exceptionally good orchestral musical accompaniment, and the picture quality is perfectly clear, making it fully deserving of all 5 stars.
Samantha Kelley | USA | 01/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Alexis, a notorious soldier (Paul Heidemann), is sent away to get away from all the women that can't resist his charms. There he is handed the daughter of his commander, but he finds himself enchanted by a ruffian who stole his pants on his journey to his new home. Rischka (Pola Negri) has been brought up to give orders and to take what she wants. Her father and a band of theives target Alexis's new home, but little do they know that Rischka plans to start a romance with him.
This movie is very silly and is not meant to be taken seriously at all, though most people who seek out foreign films will expect something profound. It is artistic, however, due to the use of oddly shaped lenses for the entire film. This does not detract from the humor, though.
What makes this movie interesting to most silent movie fans is Pola Negri. Negri is notorious in film history as a vamp, but she is completely different in this film. One would never guess her reputation by her role as Rischka. She is a tomboy, carefree, rough, and lowbrow."