I've been very curious about musical film star Willy Fritsch. I had heard recording of his singing and seen all kinds of charming souvenir photos of him and of his partner Lillian Harvey. I became obsessed with seeing his films after seeing the amazing and illusive post war German comedy, Film ohne Titel (Film Without a Title) (1948)d. Rudolf Jugert. Probably the most fascinating film about filmmaking or story(re)telling I've seen (certainly it was so compelling that I traveled to Boston just to see a screening of it at Harvard), the film tempts with a slightly weathered but still charming Fritsch playing an egotistical, slightly weathered but still charmingly boyish, Willy Fritsch!
Three Good Friends (which I would have gone to see twice!) did not disappoint. Completely crazy in a way very different from American musical comedies of the same period it does share the theme of making a living in difficult times. But instead of putting on a show, the boys open a filling station. After all, they did run out of gas fleeing their dispossessed home being emptied by the bailiff and some burley musical movers. As in A Blonde Dream there is clever use of models to further the surreal/expressionistic moments. The workers pickup a deco clad couch and throw is through the air (with whirring Mickey Mousing) straight through the house into the van! Made think of my own housing and moving issues but that's another issue...
The finale is total operetta with a double end and the characters looking and talking to the cinema audience with much less winking than from Lubitsch and Chevalier. A terrific lame curtain intervenes and the big ending features a crowded mise en scene all taking place in a gasoline corporate office, all very modern and jazzy. It reminded me more of The Penny Opera than an Astaire/Rogers musical, and I am looking forward to the screening at MOMA upcoming.
I'm listing these Weimar musicals under bitter-n-sweet. More on that after a few more films.
(oh yes and sorry but no clip--check Willy out in the previous Blonde Dream post)