Whether or not you’ve experienced the wonder of Vienna for yourself, enchanting city has been portrayed by myriad filmmakers throughout time. And as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Austrian Film Museum, Vienna, New York’s Museum of Modern Art has collaborated with the institution to celebrate the cinematic history of Vienna—”both real and mythic.” Highlighting the work of such iconoclast filmmakers as Max Ophuls, Eric von Stroheim, and Billy Wilder, the exhibition also features the work of more contemporary auteurs and artists—from Stanley Kubrick to VALIE EXPORT. Explained further by MoMA:
Spanning the late 19th to the early 21st centuries, from historical and romanticized images of the Austro-Hungarian empire to noir-tinged Cold War narratives, and from a breeding ground of Anti-Semitism and European Fascism to a present-day center of artistic experimentation and socioeconomic stability, the exhibition features masterworks and rediscoveries of fiction and nonfiction, and a rich selection of newsreels andactualités, avant-garde films, and home movies.
And with the first day of their VIENNA UNVEILED: A CITY IN CINEMA exhibition, here’s a closer look at the film’s we’re excited to discover and enjoy. So peruse our list, mark your calendars, and get your tickets now.
WALTZES FROM VIENNA
1934. Great Britain. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay by Guy Bolton, Alma Reville. With Jessie Matthews, Edmund Gwenn, Esmond Knight, Fay Compton. Waltzes from Vienna is not only a delightful, effervescent riff on the so-called Wiener Film—the Viennese period musical comedy genre exemplified by Maskerade, Episode, and Liebelei (all presented in this series)—but also a riveting experiment in the rhythmic and dramatic uses of sound, word, and image. Hitchcock shows a Lubitschian touch in relating the comic misunderstandings and rivalries between Johann Strauss the Elder and Johann the Younger, and between a countess and a confectioner’s daughter vying for the affection of young Johann as he toils away on The Blue Danube waltz. Courtesy Austrian Film Museum, BFI and Park Circus. 81 min.
THE CITY WITHOUT JEWS
1924. Austria. Directed by Hans Karl Breslauer. With Johannes Riemann, Hans Moser. Hugo Bettauer’s disturbingly prophetic 1922 novel about the systematic deportation of Viennese Jews, intended by the author as a satire of anti-Semitism, was transformed into this controversial Expressionist film two years later. With Austria’s turn to fascism in 1934 and its increasing acceptance of the political-economic demands made by Nazi Germany (even before the actual “takeover”), Bettauer’s dystopic vision would soon come to pass: Jews were scapegoated and, from 1938, sent into exile or to their deaths, leaving Vienna to become a cultural backwater. Bettauer was murdered by a former Nazi Party member in 1925. 80 min.
1934. Austria. Directed by Willi Forst. Screenplay by Forst, Walter Reisch. With Paula Wessely, Anton Walbrook, Peter Petersen, Hans Moser. Vienna, 1905. A painter and his model. Complacent aristocracy, subtle class distinctions, and off-screen nudity. The most sweeping camera movements, the smartest mise-en-scène, and the most beloved movie couple in Austrian film history. Music, romance, and life as a never-ending costume ball (for those who know to dance). Is there anything that Maskerade does not give to those who seek sweet oblivion in their moviegoing? Truth be told, the film’s strange fate makes it a prime candidate for rediscovery and re-evaluation by new audiences. A critical favorite and worldwide box-office hit when it premiered, Maskerade was mostly kept from American screens when MGM remade it in 1935 as Escapade (with Luise Rainer and William Powell in the original Wessely/Walbrook roles). In Europe, the light comic genre of Wiener Film blossomed after Maskerade’s success, but a few years later its major creators split into two camps: lead actor Adolf Wohlbrück (renamed Anton Walbrook when he arrived in England), writer Reisch, and genius cinematographer Franz Planer went into exile; director Forst and lead actress Wessely, a legend of German-language theater, remained behind to become leading lights in Joseph Goebbels’ entertainment-and-propaganda machine. A decade or so after the war, Maskeradereturned to great fanfare on German and Austrian television, oozing its considerable charms on a nostalgic mass public. Today, however, the film occupies a precarious position between all-time classic, worthy of comparison to Clair, Ophuls, and Lubitsch (if only for the few who have actually seen it); a national cult object of disturbing dimensions (if only for those with a honest view of how the Austro-fascist era began by creating certain potent myths); and, for most of us, a completely unknown object of poisonous beauty, overripe for further research. Courtesy Filmarchiv Austria. In German; English subtitles. 100 min.
1955. Great Britain. Written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. With Anthony Quayle, Anton Walbrook, Michael Redgrave, Ludmilla Tchérina, Mel Ferrer. Michael Powell made a number of sophisticated and sumptuous opera adaptations, including Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann with Emeric Pressburger in 1951 and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle on his own in 1964. While Powell and Pressburger’s rarely screened Oh…Rosalinda! may not have the cherished following of The Red Shoes, A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven), or Black Narcissus, this eye-popping widescreen Technicolor adaptation of Die Fledermaus,with an all-star cast led by Walbrook, Redgrave, and Tchérina, is nonetheless a truly cinematic effort at transposing Strauss’ comic opera of marital infidelity and masked and mixed identity to postwar Vienna during the Great Powers partition. Courtesy the BFI. 101 min.
THE EMPEROR WALTZ
1948. USA. Directed by Billy Wilder. Screenplay by Wilder, Charles Brackett. With Bing Crosby, Joan Fontaine, Roland Culver, Sig Ruman. A delightful confection, Wilder’s riff on Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Courtstars Bing Crosby as a traveling phonograph salesman from Newark, New Jersey, who, with his “RCA” fox terrier as a sidekick, attempts to carve out a new market in Emperor Franz Joseph I.’s Vienna. Shot immediately after the war and the dark desperation of Double Indemnity and The Lost Weekend, The Emperor Waltz sends up every cliché of Wilder’s Austrian childhood: “waltzes, Tyrolean hats, cream puffs,” he would later note, as well as quack Freudian analysis. Wilder always dismissed the film as a musical trifle, but Bing Crosby gives a wonderful comic turn, yodeling “Friendly Mountains” (against a backdrop of the Canadian Rockies, standing in for the Alps), and performs a fine rendition of his soon-to-be major hit “The Kiss in Your Eyes.” Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum and NBC Universal Distribution. 106 min.
1950. France. Directed by Max Ophuls. Screenplay by Ophuls, Jacques Natanson, based on the Arthur Schnitzler play Reigen. With Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani, Simone Simon, Danielle Darrieux, Jean-Louis Barrault. Shot entirely on a sound stage in postwar France, Ophuls’s transcendent adaptation of Reigen, the Schnitzler play that scandalized fin-de-siècle bourgeois audiences, is a caprice viennoise of love affairs that are, by turns, deliriously romantic, tenderly comical, and hopelessly disappointing. As each tryst begets the next until the story comes full circle, lovers are victim to their own fickle desires and illusions, realizing only too late that enchantment and ecstasy are but a fleeting ride on the carousel of life. “Ophuls’s is the cinema of movement because time and the heart die when they stand still,” David Thomson writes. “His films are not decorated by movement, they consist of it.” Ophuls’s signature style—ornately choreographed tracking and crane shots; rococo décor, music, and mise-en-scène; an intoxicating blend of fantasy and psychological naturalism; and a Brechtian use of narrators and flashbacks for distancing effects—had a profound influence on such contemporaries as Luchino Visconti, Jean Renoir, and Vincente Minnelli as well as more recent masters like Martin Scorsese, Aleksandr Sokurov, Paul Thomas Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, and Richard Linklater. Courtesy Janus Films. In French; English subtitles. 110 min.
EYES WIDE SHUT
1999. USA. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Screenplay by Kubrick, Frederic Raphael. With Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack. Adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s Dream Story,one of the essential texts in modern literature, Kubrick’s swan song transplants the Vienna bourgeoisie of the early twentieth century into an impossibly posh, artificial, and fully studio-built New York at the turn of the millennium. Schnitzler (1862–1931) was an avid cinemagoer and also deeply in tune with the radical theories of Sigmund Freud, who regarded him as some sort of doppelganger. But neither man had any hope that the “plot-obsessed” film industry of their era could find a language worthy of their own, or could approximate their understanding of fantasy, sexuality, and the unconscious. Notwithstanding the triumphs of Max Ophuls’s later Schnitzler adaptations (La Ronde, Liebelei), it would be nearly eight decades before a mainstream filmmaker found a way of honoring the author’s fragmented, destabilizing notions of truth and reality. Eyes Wide Shut began with a casting coup (the real-world Cruise-Kidman marriage and its media repercussions added immeasurably to this dark story of a couple’s fantasy life), and it ended with the brouhaha over a masked ball/orgy—censored in the United States a few months after the director had died. By 2014, however, Kubrick’s narcotic, disturbing series of role-playing games and waking dreams seems to have arrived at its intended destination: an audience for whom Sin City has become SimCity, a place where acts of transgression (or simply “going out”) are no longer exclusively tied to the realist mode of bodies in motion. As if sensing the world that was about to unfold, Eyes Wide Shut can today be viewed as a narrative structured by clicks, hyperlinks, and avatars. And then you wake up, with the last words of Schnitzler’s novel: “’No dream,’ he sighed quietly, ‘is altogether a dream.’” Courtesy Warner Bros. 159 min.
THE WEDDING MARCH
1926-28. USA. Directed by Erich von Stroheim. Screenplay by Stroheim, Harry Carr. With Stroheim, Fay Wray, Zasu Pitts. With echoes of Stroheim’s Merry-Go-Round, The Wedding March is set in a decadent and nostalgic Habsburg Vienna during the eve and outbreak of World War I. Though exorbitant cost overruns led Paramount to make major cuts (by editor Josef von Sternberg, among others)—and only the first half of the film survives today—The Wedding March remains astonishing for its bold and dramatic use of close-ups, showing the influence of D. W. Griffith, and its bitter humor, rich symbolism, and sumptuously ornate sets. Stroheim stars as the dissolute Prince Nicki, a ladies’ man who begrudgingly marries the club-footed heiress of an industrial fortune (Zasu Pitts) while secretly carrying a torch for the lovely and innocent daughter of an innkeeper (Fay Wray). Only her brutish fiancé (Matthew Betz) and the cynicism, greed, and hypocrisy of imperial Vienna stand in the way of their love. Courtesy Photoplay Productions and Paramount Pictures. Silent with piano accompaniment. 113 min.
THE MARRIAGE CIRCLE
1924. USA. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Screenplay by Paul Bern, based on the Lothar Schmidt (Goldschmidt) play Only a Dream. With Florence Vidor, Adolphe Menjou, Monte Blue, Marie Prevost. A Viennese comedy of sexual manners inspired by Charles Chaplin’s A Woman in Paris (1923), The Marriage Circle is one of Ernst Lubitsch’s most cherished films, said by biographer Herman Weinberg to be a favorite of Preston Sturges, Akira Kurosawa, Alfred Hitchcock, and even Lubitsch himself, who remade it eight years later as the 1932 musicalOne Hour with You, starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeannette MacDonald. The Berlin-born filmmaker made The Marriage Circle, his second Hollywood feature, for the fledgling Warner Bros. studio, bringing a sophisticated and insouciant Continental wit to American cinema. In this story of the sexual misadventures of two married couples, one blissful (Vidor and Blue) and the other sour (Prevost and Menjou), Lubitsch hones his mastery of the simple but revealing detail, and gestures and décor unencumbered by fussy excess—that legendary gossamer touch perfected in films like Lady Windermere’s Fan, Trouble in Paradise, The Smiling Lieutenant, The Shop around the Corner, and Ninotchka. Lubitsch’s Vienna is a forbidden paradise, a dream “as light as moondust, [shedding] a radiance of capricious moods and shadings,” as one contemporary critic rapturously wrote. Restored by The Museum of Modern Art with funds from The Film Foundation. Silent with piano accompaniment. 103 min.
1977. Austria. Directed by Ernst Schmidt, Jr. With Arnulf Rainer, Otto Muehl, VALIE EXPORT, and many others. Schmidt, Jr. described this major work in typically modest terms: “A kind of anthology about Vienna, from the discovery of film up to the present time.” Actually, Wienfilm 1896–1976 is one the great collage works and collaborative acts of historical re-imagination in post-1968 cinema. For his—often very funny—treasure trove of both new and regained images counter to the clichéd ones still prevalent during the 1960s and 1970s, Schmidt invited many great poets and artists to contribute their words, faces, images, and performances, including Ernst Jandl, Arnulf Rainer, H. C. Artmann, Dieter Roth, Otto Muehl, Friedrike Mayröcker, VALIE EXPORT, Friedrich Achleitner, and Peter Weibel. But the full “cast” also includes historical figures who enter the film via found footage, texts, and rediscovered music from the early twentieth century: Charles Chaplin, Adolf Hitler, Sigmund Freud, the Jewish cabaret singer-songwriter Armin Berg, the Austro-fascist dictator Engelbert Dollfuss, Emperor Franz Joseph I, and Vienna’s most beloved stage actor of 1900, Alexander Girardi. As much as its creator, this rich serving of Viennese wit should be destined for a second life in cinema’s pleasure dome. Courtesy sixpackfilm. In German; English subtitles. 117 min.
1923. USA. Directed by Erich von Stroheim, Rupert Julian.. Screenplay by Finis Fox, Harvey Gates, Stroheim. With Norman Kerry, Mary Philbin, Cesare Gravina. A Viennese Jew of lower-middle-class origins, Stroheim reinvented himself upon arriving in America as “the son of a German noblewoman and an Austrian count,” adding the fictitious “von” to his name much as a striving character in one of his melodramas might. The production of Merry-Go-Round was notoriously ill fated, a clash of outsized egos that led Universal Pictures producer Irving Thalberg, in a virtually unprecedented move by a major studio at the time, to fire Stroheim after six weeks of shooting and replace him with Rupert Julian. Though Stroheim disowned the film, what survives of his contributions is a tantalizing glimpse of imperial Vienna on the verge of collapse shortly before World War I. In this story of a love affair that transcends rigid social hierarchies, Count Franz Maximilian von Hohenegg (Norman Kerry) poses as a necktie salesman to woo Agnes Urban (Mary Philbin), the lovely but poor daughter of a circus puppeteer at the Prater amusement park. As revealed in this exhibition, the Prater was a favorite location for many filmmakers, from Stroheim and Josef von Sternberg to Richard Linklater, Carol Reed, and Ulrike Ottinger. Courtesy Kino Lorber. Silent with piano accompaniment 110 min.
LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN
1948. USA. Directed by Max Ophuls. Screenplay by Howard Koch. With Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Mady Christians. Based on a novella by the celebrated writer Stefan Zweig,Letter from an Unknown Woman is a perfect cinematic crystallization of fin-de-siècle Vienna as one of modernity’s mythic birthplaces. A German Jew who had escaped Hitler’s tyranny and settled in America in 1942, director Ophuls benefitted from being able to draw on first-hand experience, having worked as an actor and theater director in Vienna in the mid-1920s, not long after Zweig’s novella was first published. Joan Fontaine plays Lisa Berndle, the “unknown woman” of the title, whose affections for the charismatic concert pianist Stefan Brand (Louis Jourdan) are fated to go unnoticed. A personal favorite of writer Howard Koch (who also contributed to the screenplay for Casablanca), Letter from an Unknown Woman represents the highpoint of Ophuls’s career in America. It may also be classic Hollywood’s richest example of how “systemic” and individual genius could truly nurture each other. Restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive; courtesy Paramount Pictures. 86 min.
THE THIRD MAN
1949. Great Britain. Directed by Carol Reed. Screenplay by Graham Greene. With Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard. Featuring Orson Welles as the shady and elusive Harry Lime, trafficker of watered-down penicillin and Faustian corrupter of souls, The Third Man is the Cold War thriller at its most deliciously sinister: More than any other film in history, it has shaped our vision of Vienna as a treacherous shadowland of warring human instincts. Benefiting in great measure from Robert Krasker’s expressionist cinematography and Anton Karas’ jauntily unnerving zither theme, director Carol Reed, screenwriter Graham Greene, and producer Alexander Korda mapped the city’s postwar partition among the Four Powers (Great Britain, the Soviet Union, France, and the United States), from Vienna’s infernal sewer system as it traversed and transgressed the Allied zones, to a devil’s eye view, high atop the Prater Ferris Wheel, of the city’s expendable, thronging multitudes. Courtesy Rialto Pictures. 104 min.
BAD TIMING: A SENSUAL OBSESSION
1980. Great Britain. Directed by Nicolas Roeg. Screenplay by Yale Udoff. With Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel, Denholm Elliott. Roeg was the middle-aged enfant terrible of “post-New Wave” British cinema, having emerged in the 1960s as a uniquely talented cinematographer (The Masque of the Red Death, Fahrenheit 451, Petulia) before metamorphosing into a highly innovative director in the 1970s (Performance, Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth). Bad Timing,Roeg’s first film with Theresa Russell—they fell in love during the shoot and got married soon after—is an erotic psycho-thriller set in a city seemingly besotted with the sexualized imagery of its Jugendstil and Expressionist painters. The actual Vienna of 1979, when the film was shot, was much more drab than Roeg would have liked us to believe: the paintings of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele had yet to become tourist magnets, and no Viennese police detective of that era (or any era since) would have mustered the intensity of Harvey Keitel’s Inspektor Netuschil. In another tour-de-force performance, the angelic-voiced singer-turned-actor Art Garfunkel reveals his dark side as a man consumed by his obsession for a young woman (Russell). The film’s complex narrative unfolds mostly in flashback, only gradually revealing the full, devastating consequences of the couple’s highly sexual relationship. The film’s title would turn out to be prophetic: Bad Timing was released to a wave of controversy, its British distributor famously condemning it as “a sick film made by sick people for sick people.” Today it is hailed as one of Roeg’s grandest achievements of bravado baroque. Courtesy the BFI and Park Circus. 123 min.
1995. USA. Directed by Richard Linklater. Screenplay by Linklater, Kim Krisan. With Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy. See how it all began, 18 years ago: that fateful encounter between Celine (Delpy) and Jesse (Hawke) on a train bound for Vienna, leading in Ophulsian fashion to a tender night of soul-searching conversation throughout the winding streets of the city—comic, tentative, resigned, fractious, uncertain—and a first kiss that recalls the illusory romance of Lisa (Joan Fontaine) and Stefan (Louis Jourdan) in Letter from an Unknown Woman. Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke reunited in 2004 for the film’s sequel,Before Sunset, and in 2013 brought their trilogy of love (and other difficulties) to an immensely satisfying and poignant conclusion in Before Midnight. Courtesy Warner Bros. 101 min.
1933. Germany. Directed by Max Ophuls. Screenplay by Curt Alexander, Hans Wilhelm, Max Ophuls. With Magda Schneider, Wolfgang Liebeneiner. A favorite Schnitzler theme—an illicit affair founded on illusory love and doomed to betrayal—assumes an even darker cast in the last film that Ophuls would make in his native Germany before fleeing the Nazis and emigrating to Paris. Often regarded as a breakthrough in his privileging of camera movement, music, and sound over dialogue, Liebelei was for Ophuls the most “simple, calm, tranquil” of all his films. “Liebelei embodies what Edmund Wilson defined as Schnitzler’s gift for ‘lightly handled tragedy,’ and Ophuls’s own lightness of style is as beguiling here as it later was in Schnitzler’s La Ronde. Amid the waltzes, the cafes, the elaborate staircases and winding back streets, the moments of emotional consequences are marvelously detailed” (Nora Sayre, The New York Times). Schnitzler, who died a year before the film’s release, would never see his dream of a brilliant, non-verbal cinematic adaptation realized. Courtesy the Academy Film Archive and Rialto Pictures. In German; English subtitles. 88 min.
2012. USA/Austria. Written and directed by Jem Cohen. With Mary Margaret O’Hara, Bobby Sommer, Ela Piplits. Jem Cohen’s most recent feature is a critically acclaimed chamber piece set among the Brueghels and Titians of the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna. Nic Rapold writes inThe New York Times, “Arriving in Vienna to visit a distant relative who’s in the hospital, an American woman strikes up a friendship with a guard at a venerable art museum. Getting directions leads to conversation, which leads to a drink or two, and discussions about life and the finer details of Breughel the Elder and other artists. It’s the sort of unexpected bond and solace found through art and communion that can happen every day but isn’t often depicted.” Inspired by the freedom and iconoclasm of such spiritual mentors as Jean Vigo, Chris Marker, Humphrey Jennings, Dziga Vertov, and Robert Frank—artists who, like Cohen, are represented in depth in MoMA’s permanent collection—Cohen has created a distinct style during his more than 30 years of filmmaking. Playfully calling his films “documentary crossbreeds and narrative mutts,” Cohen aspires to “being open to the world as it unfolds, and being open to the film as it makes itself from that world.” Courtesy The Cinema Guild. 107 min.
1931. USA. Directed by Josef von Sternberg. Screenplay by Daniel Nathan Rubin, Sternberg. With Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen, Gustav von Seyffertitz. Dishonored has largely gotten short shrift in recent decades—certainly in comparison with more well-known Sternberg-Dietrich collaborations like The Blue Angel, Morocco, and Blonde Venus—but once you’ve had the sublime pleasure of seeing it on the big screen, you’ll appreciate why Jean-Luc Godard in 1963 considered it one of the greatest American sound films ever made. Sternberg’s tale of sexual sacrifice, disguised as an espionage melodrama, opens in 1915, when “strange figures emerge from the dust of the falling Austrian empire.” Marlene Dietrich is the prostitute who reinvents herself as the glamorous, Mata Hari-like spy X27, using her intoxicating yet elusive charms and a few well-chosen props—lipstick, a pair of stockings, a piano, and a pussycat—to steal hearts and state secrets for her country, only to be done in by her infatuation with an agent (McLaglen) from Austria’s most hated rival, Mother Russia. The film’s famed Viennese masked ball sequence, a triumph of cinematic space and light and shadow, has been frequently quoted but never surpassed. Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive; courtesy NBC Universal Distribution. 91 min.
1973. USA. Directed by Michael Winner. Screenplay by David W. Rintels, Gerald Wilson. With Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Paul Scofield. Made two years before his vigilante fantasyDeath Wish, Michael Winner’s Iron Curtain thriller not only thrives on intricate plot twists involving assassinations and cat-and-mouse double cross—both beyond, and within, the CIA—but also makes wonderfully entertaining use of Vienna’s labyrinthine streets for a breathless foot chase. Lancaster and Delon seem to enjoy finding variations on the spy/assassin roles they perfected in the 1960s, and Scofield offers an added pleasure as the world-weary KGB counterpart who reminisces with Lancaster about the chivalrous days of espionage. 114 min.
SO ENDS OUR NIGHT
1941. USA. Directed by John Cromwell. Screenplay by Talbot Jennings. With Fredric March, Margaret Sullavan, Glenn Ford, Erich von Stroheim. Based on Flotsam, a novel by antiwar author Erich Maria Remarque (All Quiet on the Western Front),So Ends Our Night is the quietly moving and passionately acted story of three refugees who escape Nazi Germany and take flight across Europe. Fredric March plays a political dissident who manages to break out of Dachau; longing to see his wife (Frances Dee) back home, he is pursued across borders by a Nazi agent (Erich Von Stroheim) who offers him the promise of a coveted passport if he rats out his fellow underground operatives. Margaret Sullavan is a young Jewish chemist whose life becomes even more imperiled after the Nazis annex Austria and after she falls in love with a young man (Glenn Ford) whose own family background—the son of an Aryan father and a Jewish mother—also sets him on a dangerous path. Independently produced by Albert Lewin and David L. Loew and released by United Artists some ten months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into war, So Ends Our Night was ahead of its time in its bleak portrait of life in Europe for the uprooted and dispossessed. Key aspects of the film take place in a claustrophobic and noirish Vienna where no one is to be trusted. Preserved by George Eastman House with funds from The Film Foundation 117 min.
71 FRAGMENTS OF A CHRONOLOGY OF CHANCE
1994. Austria/Germany. Written and directed by Michael Haneke. With Gabriel Cosmin Urdes, Lucas Miko, Otto Grünmandl. On Christmas Eve, 1993, a nineteen-year-old university student entered a Viennese bank and killed three people before turning the gun on himself. But why should we care? We rationalize away the presence of evil and the pain of others, paraded daily on the evening news, with trite psychological or sociological explanations. Haneke describes this condition in hypnotic and foreboding detail in 71 Fragments, which depicts the random, or fateful, convergence of strangers that day at the bank as a puzzle that will remain unresolved, mysterious, and deeply disturbing. Courtesy Kino Lorber. In German, Romanian; English subtitles. 96 min.
THE SMILING LIEUTENANT
1931. USA. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. With Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins. Adapted by the great Samson Raphaelson and Ernest Vadja from the same 1907 Strauss operetta as Ludwig Berger’s Ein Walzertraum, Lubitsch’s sublimely executed pre-Code marriage comedy helped pioneer the development of the Hollywood sound musical. Against the backdrop of Paramount’s Astoria Studios in Queens—standing in for imperial Vienna—the dashing Austrian Lieutenant Nikolaus “Niki” von Preyn (Chevalier) tries to elude the amorous advances of the prim Princess Anna of neighboring Flausenthurm while secretly, hopelessly smitten with Franzi, a fun-loving beer garden violinist who stands to lose the most in this reluctant love triangle. Though Lubitsch’s own marriage was in tatters and Miriam Hopkins and Claudette Colbert famously sparred on set—the director used their rivalry to devilish effect on screen—the film was a popular and critical smash hit, paving the way for Lubitsch’s other successful collaborations with Hopkins, Trouble in Paradise and Design for Living. Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive; courtesy NBC Universal Distribution 88 min
1932. USA. Directed by William Dieterle. Screenplay by Erwin S. Gelsey. With William Powell, Kay Francis, Helen Vinson. Though unfortunately eclipsed by Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise, a true masterpiece made in the same year and also starring Kay Francis, Jewel Robbery is a wonderfully urbane and risqué pre-Code comedy about a suave jewel thief (Powell) who, having learned the refinements of his trade in Paris, flaunts them in Vienna by stealing an Austrian baroness’s 28-carat diamond—and her heart—right under the noses of her dullard husband and her most recent love conquest. The film is a delight from beginning (a sexily suggestive bubble-bath sequence) to end (an expertly concocted gag involving “reefer madness”). Preserved by The Library of Congress; courtesy Warner Bros. 68 min.