Tonka Šibenice (Tonka of the Gallows). 1930. Czechoslovakia. Directed by Karl Anton. Screenplay by Benno Vigny and Willy Haas, from a novel by Egon Erwin Kisch. With Ita Rina, Vera Baranovskaja, Josef Rovenský. In Czech; English subtitles. 81 min.
This major rediscovery creates a bridge between the social realism of G. W. Pabst’s The Joyless Street and the dark lyricism of F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise. The extraordinary Ita Rina (Erotikon) is the title character, a prostitute whose act of pity—keeping chaste company with a condemned man through the night before he is to be hung—returns to threaten her unexpected chance of happiness, as the bride of a young farmer from her native village. The director, Karl Anton, went on to a long career in France and Germany largely as a maker of light comedies; nothing else known in his filmography approaches the emotional power and bravura filmmaking of *Tonka*’s final sequence, in which the dying heroine imagines the life that might have been hers. HD video.