Vienna Unveiled: A City in Cinema
February 27–April 20, 2014
Organized by Alexander Horwath, Director, Austrian Film Museum, Vienna, and Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art. Special thanks to the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.
The exhibition is supported by Austrian Cultural Forum New York.
Related Film Screenings
Unsichtbare Gegner (Invisible Adversaries)
1977. Austria. Directed by VALIE EXPORT. Screenplay by EXPORT, Peter Weibel. With Susanne Widl, Weibel, Josef Plavec. EXPORT’s eerily uncanny, almost schizoid vision of a Vienna populated by body snatchers and consumer fetishists combines sci-fi city symphony, feminist political tract, and erotic-comic performance art into a satirical condemnation of the repressive historical amnesia and will to violence afflicting postwar Austrian bourgeois society. Imagine Godard at his most surreal and you’ll have only the vaguest sense of the strange sounds and visions that pervade EXPORT’s landmark experimental film. Courtesy Sixpack Film. In German; English subtitles. 108 min.
5/62 Fenstergucker, Abfall, etc. (5/62 Window Watchers, Rubbish, etc.)
1962. Austria. Directed by Kurt Kren. A grandmaster of postwar European avant-garde cinema, Kren (1929–1998) didn’t have a lot of love to spare for his hometown. His rapidly edited 5/62 is a compelling expression of that stance: Vienna circa 1960, a wasteland of apathy and aimlessness. Absent any utopian moment in the world portrayed, the chosen form becomes that missing utopia. Courtesy Austrian Film Museum. 5 min.
1967. Austria. Directed by Hans Scheugl. A deconstruction and reassembly of (summer) time and (public) space in the titular working-class district of Vienna, Hernals meshes everyday observations with a jazzy little battle of the sexes. The combatants are VALIE EXPORT (in a yellow dress worthy of Contempt) and Peter Weibel (nudging a blue NIVEA balloon in proud allusion to his career-establishing Expanded Cinema Action from 1966). Filmmaker-photographer-cultural historian Scheugl was their (and Kren’s) most active collaborator in the short-lived but influential Austria Filmmakers Cooperative. Restored in 2013 by the Austrian Film Museum. 11 min.
1978. Austria. Directed by John Cook. With Hermann Juranek, Christa Schubert, Franz Schuh. Although he spent a relatively short period of his life in Austria, Canadian-born John Cook (1935–2001) remained, in his own words, "Viennese by choice.” Having worked as a commercial photographer in Paris, Cook came to Vienna in the late 1960s, producing his first quasi-documentary film in 1972. He largely self-financed his first feature, Slow Summer, which was shot on Super-8 with a cast and crew of close friends. But his first “regular” production was Schwitzkasten, based on a novel by the leftist writer Helmut Zenker. Today, the film is considered one of the few undisputed masterpieces of the New Austrian Cinema: a freewheeling, tender, and strangely humorous portrait of working-class (and out-of-work) lives. At the time, however, Cook’s genial and unpretentious approach was remarked upon only by the most ardent critics, who compared it with that of Eric Rohmer and Jean Eustache. An independent filmmaker par excellence, Cook constantly struggled for his art. By the early 1980s—when the local film subsidy system became more rigid—he had grown tired of the struggle and left both Austria and the filmmaking profession behind. A champion of Cook's work from the start, the Austrian Film Museum instigated his “rediscovery” in 2006 with the restoration of his films and a celebrated set of book and DVD publications. Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum. In German; English subtitles. 97 min.
1931. USA. Directed by Jacques Feyder. With Ramon Novarro, Helen Chandler, Jean Hersholt. Matinee idol Ramon Novarro stars in this MGM-produced Arthur Schnitzler adaptation as Willi Kasda, a charming playboy and a loyal lieutenant in Imperial Guard. He falls for a woman beneath his station—the beautiful young music teacher Laura Taub (Helen Chandler)—but a gambling debt to a scornful rival (Jean Hersholt) may compel him to accede to the wishes of his uncle, General von Hartz (C. Aubrey Smith), by marrying the daughter of a wealthy family. Director Jacques Feyder, who was previously known for two classics of silent cinema, Visages d’enfants and the Greta Garbo melodrama The Kiss, shows a light touch with his actors and his camerawork, anticipating Max Ophuls’s far more successful efforts at adapting Schnitzler in Liebelei, Letter from an Unknown Woman, and La Ronde. Courtesy La Cinémathèque française. 85 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.
Vienne en Tramway
1906. France/Austria. Produced by Pathé Frérès. Travelling without moving: This early “phantom ride,” shot from a moving tram as it journeys throughout the streets of turn-of-the-century Vienna, was produced by the pioneering French company Pathé Frérès, and is a prime example of the pre-narrative “Cinema of Attractions.” Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum. 4 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 musical One 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.
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 Court stars 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.
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.
1963–66. Austria. Directed by Ernst Schmidt, Jr. One of the platoon leaders in Vienna’s avant-garde army of the 1960s, Schmidt, Jr. began making P.R.A.T.E.R. as a student in 1963. By 1964, however, he dropped out of the industry-oriented Vienna Film Academy and began to treat the medium of film in ways that would quickly draw him into Actionist, Destructionist, and Expanded Cinema circles. His transition is revealed in this portrait of Prater folk, moving from a relatively documentary approach to a more fragmented and self-reflexive interest in cinema as contemporary art. A film critic and historian on the side, Schmidt was also acutely aware that the Prater amusement park had served as one of the birthplaces of cinema in Austria, and had a prominent role in the works and fantasies of such cherished predecessors as Erich von Stroheim and Josef von Sternberg. Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum. 19 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.
Abenteuer in Wien (Stolen Identity)
1952. Austria/USA. Directed by Emil E. Reinhart. Screenplay by Michael Kehlmann, Franz Tassié. With Gustav Fröhlich, Francis Lederer, Cornell Borchers, Adrienne Gessner. Fröhlich (who played Freder in Fritz Lang's Metropolis) is the star of this little-known thriller, a rare example of Austrian film noir set in the seedy underbelly of postwar Vienna. Largely—and unjustly—forgotten today, the film has all the tension and atmosphere of its more famous counterpart, Carol Reed's immortal classic, The Third Man. Abenteuer in Wien was notably the first U.S.-Austrian co-production since the silent era, and a rare example of a 1950s film shot simultaneously in alternate language versions (German and English). While this had been common practice in the early years of “talkies,” the shooting of multiple-language versions was soon abandoned when dubbing and subtitling proved more convenient and economically viable. The English-language version of Abenteuer in Wien had its American release in 1953 under the title Stolen Identity, directed by Gunther von Fritsch with American actor Donald Buka replacing Fröhlich and with Francis Lederer reprising his earlier performance. In German; English subtitles. 89 min.
1945. USSR. Directed by Jakov Posel’skij. On April 13, 1945, in the dramatic final months of the Second World War, the Red Army liberated Vienna from German occupation following a two-week offensive. This film by renowned Soviet documentarian Posel'skij deftly captures the emotional impact of one of history’s defining moments. Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum. In German; English subtitles. 30 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.
1995. Austria. Directed by Kurt Kren. The secret cinematic link between Vienna and the Lone Star State doesn’t stop with Richard Linklater and cinematographer Lee Daniel’s deeply romantic take on the city. During the Vienna production of Before Sunrise in the summer of 1994, the two Texans often met with an old friend, Kurt Kren, an Austrian avant-garde filmmaker whom they revered and whose “Vienna of the mind” was a world apart from the Ophulsian dreamscape they were trying to create. Kren had left Austria for good following an infamous 1968 court case against the Viennese Actionists; at his darkest moment on the road, he was saved by curator Ralph McKay, who found him a job as a museum guard in Houston. When Austria came calling again in the late 1980s, Kren had spent almost a decade as a fixture of the indie film-and-music scene in Texas. His bit part in Before Sunrise ended up on the cutting-room floor (soon to be recovered, we hope, by a dogged archivist at Warner Bros.). But during that same summer, Kren also began to shoot Tausendjahrekino, film number 49 and one of the last in his own oeuvre. Made for cinema’s centenary, this is a film about facing the world with a camera glued to your eyes: flickering flocks of tourists in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, accompanied by the words and sounds of a 1945 air raid as heard in Peter Lorre’s postwar classic The Lost One. Short in stature but giants of their craft, Kren and Lorre still walk among us—spectral presences who continue to remind us that the glorious century of cinema will always be marked by the “Thousand Year Empire” that passed in its midst. Courtesy sixpackfilm. 3 min.
Die Vier im Jeep (Four in a Jeep)
1950. Switzerland. Directed by Leopold Lindtberg, Elizabeth Montagu. Screenplay by William Harding, Hans Sahl, Richard Schweizer, William Michael Treichlinger. With Ralph Meeker, Viveca Lindfors, Yossi Yadin. Between the liberation in April 1945 and Austria’s independence in 1955, Vienna was a partitioned city: the wartime allies—Soviet Russia, the United States, Great Britain and France—each took control of one sector of Vienna (and of Austria as a whole). While the local population quickly became the subject of Cold War propaganda, the Allies also attempted to create a harmonious picture of their shared duty to rebuild the city and the nation. The most popular embodiment of this was the international patrol: four sergeants, representing each occupying nation, driving around the city in a jeep. With an international cast and directed by Austrian exile Leopold Lindtberg—a major figure in world cinema between the early 1940s and mid-50s, before returning to his first love, the theater—the Swiss-produced film Die Vier im Jeep is a lasting document of this historical juncture: winner of the first Golden Bear in Berlin, it gave a much less depressing and more humanist view of postwar Vienna than The Third Man. (As it happens, Elizabeth Montagu, Jeep’s co-director, guided Graham Greene around Vienna during the fateful visit in 1948 that would lead to The Third Man, for which she also served as an advisor). Cold War tensions pervade this drama about a POW and former concentration-camp inmate on the run from the Russians. What lingers in the mind, however, is the film’s stark portrayal of life in the ragged, multilingual city of lost souls, and a sterling cast headed by Viveca Lindfors; Ralph Meeker in his screen debut (soon to be immortalized as Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly); and Paulette Dubost, the legendary maid Lisette in The Rules of the Game, as the romance-starved wife of a French MP. Courtesy Swiss Films and Praesens Film, AG. In German; English subtitles. 95 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.
Elskovsleg ((Liebelei) [Fragment])
1914. Denmark. Directed by August Blom, Holger-Madsen. Screenplay by Arthur Schnitzler. With Valdemar Psilander, Christel Holch, Augusta Blad. A rare and tantalizing fragment of the first Schnitzler film adaptation. As scholar Jan-Christopher Horak observes, “Schnitzler’s play Liebelei was first performed in 1895 at Vienna’s prestigious Burgtheater. As early as 1912, Schnitzler’s keen interest in cinema led him to begin negotiations with the Nordisk Film Company. At the time he hoped to have his own script produced without recourse to written titles, ‘since only by experimenting with the cinema in its purest form can a standard equal to that of literature be achieved.’ However, [Blom] and Holger-Madsen’s Liebelei, with the famous Danish actor Vlademar Psilander, was released with titles, and a Danish setting. Schnitzler was disappointed but not angry.” Courtesy the Danish Film Institute and Nordisk Film. 15 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 in The 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.
Die Ausgesperrten (The Excluded)
1982. Austria. Directed by Franz Novotny. Screenplay by Elfriede Jelinek, Novotny. With Rudolf Wessely, Emmy Werner, Paulus Manker. Co-scripted by Vienna’s literary genius and Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek from her eponymous novel, Die Ausgesperrten is the closest that Austrian cinema has ever come to the Fassbinderian confluence of historical re-imagination and violent melodrama. Taking unrestrained pleasure in all things sexual and “actionist,” this story of late 1950s Viennese teenagers on a rampage is one of the defining moments in the development of a critical discourse on Austria’s postwar fate. Austrian parents who were criminally complicit in furthering Nazi aspirations during the war attempt to preserve the tidiness of family life, while their children enact as many games of rebellion—at Schönbrunn Castle, in an “Existentialist” jazz club, on the shores of the Wienfluss—that their dreary and repressive postwar/Cold War town can muster. “You must not beat people up out of hate,” young Rainer admonishes. “You must do it gratuitously, as an end in itself.“ Ripe for rediscovery, this colorful film is made of the stuff of bad dreams. Courtesy Filmarchiv Austria, Sascha Film, and Novotny & Novotny Filmproduktion. In German; English subtitles. 97 min.
Heldenplatz, 12. März 1988
1991. Austria. Directed by Johannes Rosenberger. Screenplay by Michael Palm, Rosenberger. Expressing vomitous disgust over the presidency of former Nazi Kurt Waldheim, this “Wehrmacht performance“ takes place on Vienna’s vast Heroes’ Square, the historical site of Hitler’s legendary Anschluss speech as well as subsequent, more democratic mass gatherings. Courtesy sixpack film. 3 min.
1999. Austria. Written and directed by Barbara Albert. With Nina Proll, Edita Malovcic, Astrit Alihajdaraj. This critically acclaimed and widely seen debut feature by 29-year-old Barbara Albert was the first and most comprehensive in a series of films renewing Austrian cinema’s penchant for depicting self-destructive characters who teeter between desire and desperation. Uncool, uncalm, and very uncollected, Albert’s protagonists also suggest some buried, misdirected utopian energy. The story of Jasmin (Nina Proll), a white-trash queen from the projects who gives herself freely to the men around her, and her long-forgotten classmate Tamara (Edita Malovcic), the Viennese-born-and-raised daughter of Serbian immigrants, is woven into a tapestry of contemporary Vienna that certifies the city as a genuine melting pot for the first time since the 1930s. Jasmin’s and Tamara’s lovers include a young smartass from Romania who dreams about making it big in America, a soldier who has to guard the Austrian border from “illegal“ foreigners, and a Bosnian refugee who has managed to slip into the country at night. The fragile forms of solidarity among these characters convey their shared social/political marginalization—precisely at the moment when the right-wing coalition led by Jörg Haider’s racist Freedom Party had taken office. Austria’s politics have brightened since then, but Albert’s film still stands as a major achievement in cinema history, with its incisive look at life on Vienna’s wintry and unglamorous north side; its use of music and visual movement to portray a generation on the run; and the radiating intensity of its two lead actresses, with Proll winning the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the Venice Film Festival for her performance. Courtesy Lotus-Film. In German; English subtitles. 103 min.
Die freudlose Gasse (The Joyless Street)
1925. Germany. Directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst. Screenplay by Willy Haas. With Greta Garbo, Asta Nielsen, Agnes Esterhazy. Pabst’s third film, a bleak depiction of Vienna during the years of hyper-inflation, ranks among the most celebrated—and controversial—achievements in Weimar cinema. Adapted by legendary film critic Willy Haas from Hugo Bettauer’s novel (which was originally serialized in the Austrian daily newspaper Der Tag), the film follows four female characters from different walks of life. The abject poverty of the lower classes is contrasted with the consuming decadence of the upper classes—both unflinchingly depicted by Viennese native Pabst. Heavily censored upon its release, The Joyless Street now stands as a masterpiece of cinematic “New Objectivity.” Pabst’s cold, critical eye would serve him well throughout the rest of the 1920s, reaching majestic heights with classics like Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box) and Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (Diary of a Lost Girl), both made in 1929 and starring Louise Brooks. Among the film’s indelible cast are Asta Nielsen, Werner Krauss of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari fame, and a young Greta Garbo. Courtesy BFI. With German and English intertitles. 125 min.
Wohin und zurück: Welcome in Vienna
1986. Austria. Directed by Axel Corti. Screenplay by Georg Stefan Troller, Corti. With Gabriel Barylli, Nicolas Brieger, Claudia Messner. Welcome in Vienna, which had a successful theatrical release in 1986, is the brilliant concluding episode of the award-winning, three-part television mini-series Wohin und zurück (1982–1985). Adapted by Paris-based Austrian writer and journalist Georg Stefan Troller from his own autobiography, the series follows a young Jewish boy who flees Austria after his father is murdered during Kristallnacht. The boy’s journey takes him across France to the United States, where he struggles to integrate. Welcome in Vienna chronicles his return to Vienna as a soldier in the U.S. Army. Director Axel Corti (1933–1993) was a true media “renaissance man” whose many talents included writing and directing for radio, television, film, and the theater. In the 1960s, he produced some of Austria’s most innovative advertising films. For Corti, the entire trilogy struck close to home: as a boy, he was forced to flee German-occupied Paris, while his father, a resistance fighter, remained behind and was murdered. Digital projection. Courtesy National Center for Jewish Film, Brandeis. In German; English subtitles. 127 min.
Den Tüchtigen gehört die Welt (The Uppercrust)
1981. Austria. Directed by Peter Patzak. Screenplay by Helmut Zenker, Patzak. With Bibiane Zeller, Ernst Konarek, Fred Schaffer. By 1980, the great cycle of European political thrillers about high-level, all-too-real corruption had almost run its course. It received a shot in the arm, though, with this richly textured film, set in Vienna at a time when the city was roiling with a political corruption scandal of its own. The Uppercrust is fueled by a deep love of American “B” movies—much more so than French and Italian variations on the genre. Frank Gorshin, a wonderful American actor whose career unfortunately never took off—brief fame as The Riddler on the 1960s Batman series notwithstanding—has the role of a lifetime as an American hit man lured to Vienna for his latest job. Though the film opens with him bumping off a legend in San Francisco (Broderick Crawford, in one of his last roles), the shores of the gray Danube hold a much more unnerving set of challenges for him, including a nearly wordless intimacy with a fellow loner, a single woman whose apartment he commandeers. Screenwriter/novelist Helmut Zenker, author of the great Schwitzkasten, and director Peter Patzak (to whom Martin Scorsese pays passing tribute by name in After Hours) were central figures during the brief “first wave” of New Austrian Cinema in the late 1970s and early 80s. Their most famous creation was the gruff Viennese police detective Adolf Kottan in a series of cult movies for television (1976–83). Kottan also finds his way into The Uppercrust, but even he is no match for the larger and more sinister forces of corruption at work. Courtesy Filmarchiv Austria and Peter Patzak. In German; English subtitles. 113 min.
Der Räuber (The Robber)
2010. Austria/Germany. Written and directed by Benjamin Heisenberg. With Andreas Lust, Franziska Weisz, Florian Wotruba. A highlight of MoMA’s recent exhibition The Berlin School, Heisenberg’s The Robber makes cunning use of contemporary Vienna—including an actual marathon—for its intense study of Johann Kastenberger, a long-distance runner who found an altogether different kind of adrenaline rush by robbing banks throughout the city. Andreas Lust (Revanche) plays Kastenberger as if he were one of Robert Bresson’s or Jean-Pierre Melville’s obsessive, laconic outcasts, his motives as unnervingly blank as the mask on his face. Courtesy Kino Lorber, Inc. In German; English subtitles. 101 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 fantasy Death 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.
Monson Collection: Vienna 1938
1938. USA/Austria. Directed by Lafayette P. Monson. 1 min.
Amateuraufnahmen Wien Frühjahr 1938
1928. Austria. 10 min.
Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!
1938. Germany. 13 min.
Bei Achmed Beh
1944. Germany. The first three of these short films center on Anschluss, the Nazi takeover of Austria in the spring of 1938, when a significant percentage of the population welcomed the German “invaders” with open arms. The first two were made by amateurs—an American visitor, Lafayette P. Monson, and an anonymous local—while the third, Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!, is an official Nazi propaganda film. The final short in the program is the most mysterious of all: an anonymous film, made towards the end of the war, about an inner-city burlesque nightclub where Wehrmacht soldiers mingle with the Vienna bourgeoisie. All short films courtesy the Austrian Film Museum 9 min.
Schicksal am Lenkrad (Fate at the Wheel)
1954. Austria. Directed by Aldo Vergano. Screenplay by Ruth Wieden, Wolf-Dietrich Friese. With Winfried Schatz, Traute Wassler, Harry Fuss. The least known of the first-generation Neorealists, Aldo Vergano made an iconic film in 1946 (Il sole sorge ancora [The Sun Always Rises]), but soon lost his footing in Italian cinema when the industry began excluding communists. At Vienna’s Rosenhügel Studios, situated in the Soviet zone until 1955, Vergano was able to direct his last film: a rare Austrian example of a part-neorealist, part-socialist Heimatfilm. Fate at the Wheel is the story of a young life that spirals downward, then upward. As critic Olaf Möller correctly describes, “the cylinders are whispering Franzl’s name“: our protagonist is so obsessed with cars that he turns to stealing one, and things only get worse from there. During the early 1950s, several left-wing internationalists, including Alberto Cavalcanti and Louis Daquin, found a brief respite at Rosenhügel Studios. Among the most celebrated was composer Hanns Eisler, a Viennese modernist with film music credits in more than 10 countries. His score for Schicksal is among his most subdued, but it literally explodes when the car engine is turned on. Courtesy Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv. In German; English subtitles. 103 min.
71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls (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.
Good News: Von Kolporteuren, toten Hunden und anderen Wienern (Good News: Newspaper Salesman, Dead Dogs and Other People from Vienna)
1990. Austria. Written and directed by Ulrich Seidl. With Salah Abdel, Mustafa Muhammed, Kumar Saha Probil. With Dog Days (2001), Import Export (2007) and the Paradise trilogy (2012/13), Ulrich Seidl has become one of Europe’s most renowned and controversial fiction filmmakers. He started out as a documentarian—though in his case, the distinction between the two is rather fluid—and Good News was his first long-form work. The film received immediate praise—by Werner Herzog, among others—as a bold and groundbreaking expression of “dark nonfiction.” Seidl’s morally complex portrait of Vienna centers on the city’s most exploited workers: the largely foreign, and largely Muslim, news vendors who (before the internet) walked the city’s motorways day in, day out, selling the Kronenzeitung, Austria’s most popular tabloid. Countering this quasi-Direct Cinema approach is a second line of inquiry focusing on the (mostly Austrian) customers of the newspaper, a type of documentary mise-en-scène that would become key to Seidl’s aesthetic. Courtesy Hans Selikovsky Filmproduction. In German; English subtitles. 130 min.
Typen und Szenen aus dem Wiener Volksleben (Ordinary Folk Life in Vienna)
1911. Austria. With Guschelbauer, Luise Montag, Theo Werner. Wiener Kunstfilm, the first major Austrian film production company, was founded in 1910 by the photographer Anton (Gustav) Kolm, his wife Luise Kolm-Veltée, and the cameraman Jacob Fleck to counter France’s domination of the Austro-Hungarian cinema market. This emblematic short film is an August Sander-like portrait of “ordinary folk life in Vienna”—radically different from the one depicted nearly a century later in Ulrich Seidl’s Good News. Courtesy Filmarchiv Austria. 5 min.
2006. Austria. Directed by Michael Glawogger. Screenplay by Glawogger, Barbara Albert. With Paulus Manker, August Diehl, Michael Ostrowski. Courtesy Global Screen. How far we’ve come from the days of champagne waltzes in prewar Vienna: Slumming boldly ushers Austrian cinema into the new millennium, a skewering of upper-class cruelty and entitlement. Sebastian is a rich slacker who gets his kicks seducing women on the internet with (tall) tales of his prowess. He seems to meet his match in Pia, an elementary school teacher. Disgusted to discover his other cheap thrill—slumming in seedy bars to play callous pranks on drunks and other unwitting fools—she goes in search of Kallmann, the down-and-out alcoholic poet he picked up off the street and dumped across the border in the Czech Republic. Glawogger, a veteran of documentaries including the brilliantly observed Workingman’s Death and Megacities, recalls Balzac and Zola as he prowls Vienna’s lower depths, registering with sharp irony and gallows humor the jarring, unkind encounters between society’s privileged few and its destitute many. Cowritten by Barbara Albert, Slumming features a first-rate cast drawn from stage, screen and television, led by Paulus Manker as Kallmann, an actor known for his work with Michael Haneke, Alexander Kluge, and Oliver Hitschbigel as well as his own directorial efforts. In German; English subtitles. 100 min.
Ein Walzertraum (The Waltz Dream)
1925. Germany. Directed by Ludwig Berger. With Willy Fritsch, Mady Christians, Xenia Desni. A major hit upon its release, Berger’s The Waltz Dream is a forerunner to the popular Viennese operetta films of the 1930s. Austrian actress Mady Christians stars alongside German matinee idol Willy Fritsch in this adaptation of the Oscar Straus operetta about a Prince who, after falling for a Viennese girl, becomes obsessed with the city and its customs. Fritsch later starred in the last two silent films of Viennese-born director Fritz Lang—Spione (Spies, 1928) and Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon, 1929)—and then became a mainstay of operetta films, forming an enduring on-screen partnership with the English actress Lillian Harvey. Together Christians and Berger formed the short-lived company “Länder-Film” before fleeing Germany in the early 1930s. Christians settled in the United States, where she continued to act—including a part in Max Ophuls’s Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)—while Berger directed films in Hollywood, France, the Netherlands, and Great Britain for Austro-Hungarian émigré Alexander Korda’s London Films before returning to Germany after the end of World War II. In German; English subtitles. 80 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.
Welt Spiegel Kino [Part 1]
2005. Austria. Written and directed by Gustav Deutsch. Courtesy sixpackfilm. 30 min.
2007. Austria. Directed by Michaela Grill, Martin Siewart. Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum. 16 min.
Worst Case Scenario
2001–03. Great Britain. Directed by John Smith. Courtesy John Smith and Lux. 18 min.
Phantom fremdes Wien
2005. Austria. Directed by Lisl Ponger. In manifold ways, these four short films reshape our ideas of Vienna by making the city “strange”—to use a term made famous by the 1920s Russian formalists. Part 1 of Gustav Deutsch’s found-footage triptych Welt Spiegel Kino takes place in the Vienna of 1912. Deutsch uses (and slows-down) an archival film document—a long pan across a street in front of a suburban movie theater—and with the use of additional footage from the era, speculates about the private lives and imminent future of various passers-by. Blending historical fact with cinematic imagination, Deutsch evokes the precipitous moment when Habsburg Belle Époque life would give way to cataclysmic world war. Cityscapes is a semi-abstract work of visual and musical impressionism, haunted by the ghosts of pre-1938 images of Vienna. In Worst Case Scenario, John Smith’s camera looks down onto a busy Viennese intersection and a corner bakery, the filmmaker observing that “as Sigmund Freud casts his long shadow across the city, an increasingly improbable chain of events and relationships starts to emerge.” And in her film of “phantoms,” visual artist and filmmaker Lisl Ponger creates an essay about the order of cultures: The Super-8 images and sound recordings that she took in the early 1990s of several non-Austrian communities in Vienna (the “foreign” city of the title) are shaped by an anti-essentialist, anti-“Family of Man” sensibility. Courtesy sixpackfilm. 28 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.
Reunion in Vienna
1933. USA. Directed by Sidney Franklin. Screenplay by Ernest Vajda, Claudine West. With John Barrymore, Diana Wynyard, Frank Morgan. Based on Robert E. Sherwood’s reworking of a Hungarian play by Ernest Vadja (co-screenwriter of The Smiling Lieutenant), Reunion in Vienna is a romantic comedy starring John Barrymore and Diana Wynyard in the roles made famous by Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine in a successful Theatre Guild production on Broadway. The film centers on the seductive reunion between the rakish former Archduke Ferdinand von Hapsburg, now deposed and working as a taxi driver, and his old flame Elena, now married to a psychiatrist. Incensed by Barrymore’s buffoonish depiction of the fictional archduke, Austrian diplomats called for the film’s censure. Courtesy George Eastman House. 98 min.
Charly Chaplin in Wien
1931. USA. Produced by Selenophon. With Charles Chaplin. Charlie talks! In 1931, while on tour in Europe to support his recently completed film City Lights, Chaplin visited Vienna, and it was here that he spoke on camera for the very first time. Pioneer Austrian newsreel producer Gustav Mayer recorded this historic event. Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum. 4 min.
2007. Austria. Written and directed by Ulrike Ottinger. With Elfriede Jelinek, Elfriede Gerstl, Ursula Storch. Ottinger, a leading figure in German cinema since the 1970s, has always been drawn to the mechanics and “machines” of desire. The Prater, Vienna’s world-famous amusement park, is one such machine, an inspiration to many generations and types of artists. Transforming this mythical place into a beguiling cinematic experience—with “tour guides” such as Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek—Ottinger meshes the Prater’s history and lore with her present-day observations. In the blink of an eye, Vienna becomes a miniature Venice with canals, the Rialto Bridge, and the Ducal Palace. We meet the descendants of the "man without a torso," who established several amusement venues with his wife and children in 1900. Contemporary teens defy gravity with their acrobatic hip-hop moves to Eastern European rap. The tea dance turns into a wild disco for lonelyhearts. Ejection seats, carousels and scooters vie in spectacular fashion with the starry night sky. And towering over all is the Riesenrad, the giant Ferris wheel that looks out over the rooftops of Vienna, and where, in The Third Man, Orson Welles delivered his famous bit of Nietzschean cynicism to Joseph Cotten. Courtesy Kurt Mayer. In German; English subtitles. 107 min.
The Case of Lena Smith [fragment]
1929. USA. Directed by Josef von Sternberg. Screenplay by Jules Furthman. With Esther Ralston, James Hall, Gustav von Seyffertitz. Surviving only as a four-minute fragment, Sternberg’s most autobiographical film was already considered a masterpiece at the time of its release by progressive critics in France, Germany, and the United States. The existing footage—a beautiful and masterful expression of Sternberg’s visual techniques—is from the extended “Midsummer Night” sequence at the Prater where our heroine, a Schnitzlerian Wiener Mädel, loses herself (and finds love) among the pleasure-seeking crowds. Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum. 4 min.
Sonnenstrahl (Ray of Sunshine)
1933. Austria. Directed by Paul Fejös. Screenplay by Paul Fejös and Adolf Lantz. With Annabella, Gustav Fröhlich, Paul Otto. Five years after his silent masterpiece Lonesome, a tender, lyrical portrait of young lovers adrift in the big city, the Hungarian-born Paul Fejös returned with great, if underappreciated, success to this theme in Ray of Sunshine, a proletarian romance set in Red Vienna. The delicate French star Annabella and popular German actor Gustav Frölich play a young Viennese couple facing the crushing anxiety of unemployment and poverty in the Depression-wracked city. They first meet on a Danube bridge in a shared moment of suicidal desperation, and while disappointment seems to follow them at every turn, they manage to eke out moments of joy and companionship among fellow striving families in a gleaming housing complex on Friedrich Engels Square, recently built by the Viennese socialist government. Fejös deserves to be better known, his fluid camera movements and working-class sympathies recalling the work of Murnau, Capra, Borzage, and Mamoulian. Courtesy Deutsche Kinemathek. 87 min.
Das neue Wien (The New Vienna)
1926. Austria. This (almost complete) fragment of an election propaganda film sponsored by “Red Vienna” Socialists portrays an all-too-brief Austrian tradition of Soviet-inspired filmmaking, which came to an abrupt end with the demise of the Social Democrat Party during the 1933–34 establishment of the Austro-Fascist Ständestaat. The film contrasts pre-1918 Vienna (the misery of the suburbs, the power of the church, the decadent lives of the bourgeoisie) with the arrival of “the New”: the construction of large housing complexes, with communal living among more than 60,000 workers’ apartments, of the sort so evocatively depicted in Ray of Sunshine (presented in this same program). Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum 12 min.
1977. Austria. Directed by Ruth Beckermann, Josef Aichholzer. Screenplay by Franz West. A portrait of one man, Franz West (1909–1985), told in his own inimitable words and gestures, and his world, the second district of Vienna, at a time when the future still seemed bright for a young Jew and a committed member of the workers’ movement. In her first feature-length work (co-directed with Josef Aichholzer who, a quarter-century later, would produce the Academy-Award-winning The Counterfeiters), Ruth Beckermann combines archival imagery with West’s on- and off-camera narration to impressive effect, creating a vivid image of a true “melting-pot” Vienna between the two world wars. “There were two main reasons for me to make this film,” she noted in 1983. “I wanted to give voice to a type of person who is considered highly suspect by most Austrians. He is a ‘lefty‘ and an ex-communist, and, for the communists, a renegade. He is also a Jew. Second, I wanted to establish a direct connection between the dismantling of the labor movement in Austria and the fate of the Jews—a link between minorities and progressive activities.” Courtesy sixpackfilm. In German; English subtitles. 95 min.
Waltzes from Vienna
1934. Great Britain. Alfred Hitchcock. 81 min.
The City without Jews: A Special Film Concert
Setting the tone for this entire exhibition, these two astonishing rediscoveries of prewar Austrian Jewish cinema are presented with new original scores written and performed live with theremin, voice, and Taurus bass pedals by the award-winning, Austrian-born composer Dorit Chrysler, cofounder of the New York Theremin Society. Both films silent with German intertitles and English translation. Preserved by Filmarchiv Austria.
Die Stadt ohne Juden (The City without Jews)
1924. Austria. Hans Karl Breslauer. 80 min.
Sami Kratzt Sich (Sammy Scratches Himself)
1919. Austria. Leo Stoll. Approx. 28 min min.
An Evening with VALIE EXPORT
VALIE EXPORT, one of Austria’s leading contemporary artists, presents a trio of films, including her own Invisible Adversaries.
Unsichtbare Gegner (Invisible Adversaries)
1977. Austria. VALIE EXPORT. 108 min.
5/62 Fenstergucker, Abfall, etc. (5/62 Window Watchers, Rubbish, etc.)
1962. Austria. Kurt Kren. 5 min.
1967. Austria. Hans Scheugl. 11 min.
1934. Austria. Willi Forst. 100 min.
1955. Great Britain. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. 101 min.
The Emperor Waltz
1948. USA. Billy Wilder. 106 min.
Vienne en Tramway
1906. France/Austria. Pathé Frérès. 4 min.
1950. France. Max Ophuls. 110 min.
Eyes Wide Shut
1999. USA. Stanley Kubrick. 159 min.
1896. France. Cinématographe Lumière. 1 min.
Entrée de cinématographe à Vienne
1896. France. Cinématographe Lumière. 1 min.
1931. USA. Jacques Feyder. 85 min.
1936. Austria. Walter Reisch. 105 min.
DER MANDARIN: A SPECIAL FILM CONCERT
Long believed lost, Der Mandarin is an important rediscovery of Austrian silent cinema. Two of contemporary Vienna’s most innovative musicians, Martin Siewert and Burkhard Stangl, have composed an original score for the film—commissioned especially for this exhibition—that they will perform live on March 6 in an exclusive world premiere. Siewert and Stangl’s music for the cinema has included award-winning collaborations with Gustav Deutsch, Billy Roisz, and Michaela Grill.
1918. Austria. Fritz Freisler. 60 min.
Die Proklamierung der Republik Deutsch-Ö (The Proclamation of the German-Austrian Republic)
1918. Austria. Approx. 5 min.
1920. Austria. Approx. 24 min.