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For a picture whose unobtrusively adulterous plot is saved from complete unoriginality only by an unhappy ending, the German film "Liebelie" is surprisingly work seeing. With no attempt at novelty or sensation, it is the completely natural sort of thing that seems to be a monopoly with the German producers.
It is the unusually fine casting, even in the smallest parts, and a leisurely yet precise pace that never drags, which give the picture its charm. There is a sort of civilized restraint throughout, even in the sense of inevitability that drives the picture on. Mizzi doesn't need to rouge garishly and wiggle her hips to show that she's free and easy. The men in uniform don't feel called upon to swagger and shout orders and twist their mustaches in order to demonstrate their army spirit and discipline. There's no order of onions in the tears, and no emotional laryngitis. In short, its just good plain honest acting.
And these virtues are supported by competent photography and direction. They harmonize with the general simplicity and form a background for it, never intruding. There is a really beautiful scene of a sleigh ride among snow-covered firs. Infact, the only fault the reviewer could find with the picture was that the film is badly scratched.
In unhappy contrast is "The Iron Duke", of which the only thing that can be said is that Arliss is Arliss, and a poorer one than usual. His usually quizzical expression is frozen into a leering grimace and glassy stare by the awful grandeur of Waterloo. Platitudes fall more thickly than the cannon-balls, and the attempts at humour miss their mark as widely as do the French gunners. Not even the Tsar of Russia, the King of Prussia and the King of France can save this bit of historical mummery from utter deadliness. But even this shouldn't keep anyone away from "Liebelei".
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