The Captain From Koepenick
At the Brattle
The Captain from Koepenick heartily tweaks the nose of the German military. In fact, the film pinches so sharply that Hitler banned it.
The Chaplinesque plot begins very slowly with an ex-convict deprived of employment and his passport. Desperate, the little man buys a Captain's uniform, storms into Koepenick, and seizes the Town Hall. Always jibing at stuffy authoritarian, the ersatz Captain imprisons even Mayor Obermculler, a stout buffoon played by Max Guelstorff. The mayor knows nothing of his offense, but there can be no injustice under Germany's martial law and order. He salutes and plods to jail.
The film is more than one comic situation. Hans Adalbert as the wispy, gray-haired fraud, is a universal citizen exhausted by military unreason. Although in later scenes he dons a guttural arrogance with his uniform, it is Adalbert's portrayal of a foot mat which distinguishes the film.
Photographic techniques often underscore the picture's irony, as when the drill diagrams in an army manual form regiments and march off the page. The English sub-titles are adequate, although German students seem to laugh more than anyone else.