Artikelnummer 1039

CAPRICCIO (1938) * with switchable English subtitles *

Lilian Harvey, Anton Imkamp and Paul Dahlke, Karl Ritter

Damit sie sich nach seinem Tod gegen Mitgiftjäger zur Wehr setzen kann, ließ der alte General d'Estroux seine Enkelin Madelone im Fechten, Reiten, Fluchen und Trinken ausbilden. Es war eine weise Vorausplanung, denn kaum hat der General das Zeitliche gesegnet, versucht ihr Vormund Cesaire, sie gegen eine Provision mit dem unsympathischen Präfekten Barberousse zu verkuppeln. Damit Madelone sich zur Ehe bereit erklärt, zeigt Cesaire ihr ein Foto von Barberousses attraktivem Vetter Fernand de Villeneuve. Der Trick funktioniert, Madelone willigt ein. Kurz vor der Trauung durchschaut sie den Schwindel, schwingt sich auf ein Pferd und flieht. Als Mann verkleidet, kehrt sie in einer Waldschänke ein und lernt dort den "echten" Fernand kennen. Doch Madelone gibt sich nicht zu erkennen, sondern verbringt eine feuchtfröhliche Nacht "unter Männern" mit Fernand und seinen Freunden. Als Madelone tags darauf durch einen dummen Zufall enttarnt und verhaftet wird, könnte nur Barberousse für ihre Freilassung sorgen. Der stellt jedoch die Bedingung, dass Madelone für einen Abend bei einem Fest seine Frau spielt. Sie erklärt sich einverstanden, doch als Barberousse sie mit Fernand bei einem innigen Kuss überrascht, kommt es erneut zu Turbulenzen, bevor die Liebenden sich endgültig in die Arme schließen können.

This film is a lost musical parody treasure that could bear to be rediscovered. Operetta meets swing, and the conventions of cross-dressing and sexual gender confusion gets the Comedia della arte treatment. Lilian Harvey plays a young heiress in long-ago France (the costumes are Empire and Regency) named Madelon, whose grandfather brings her up as one would a young man, so that she can make it alone and rebuff all who would chase her for fortune. Upon the grandfather's death, she is fooled by her guardian into a betrothal with a fat prefect when she is deceptively shown a picture of his young and good-looking rogue cousin. Before the wedding can take place, Madelon discovers the ruse and escapes in the disguise of a page boy. On the road, she coincidentally meets the attractive young cousin and his best friend, who have just left the wedding celebration. The three become comrades after a scuffle with some ruffians and then set off on many adventures, including a visit to a brothel, during all of which the two men are under the impression that Madelon is a young man. After some problem with the law, they are all brought into court where all must be resolved.

This film is as light and fun as a soufflé--a terrific riff on operettas and the gender-switching gimmick. Lilian Harvey is in top form-and the film is whimsical, beautifully decorated and somewhat weird-at one point Harvey sings an entire song about her love affairs with women, dressed in male drag to a group of enrapt ladies of the night in a salon. The musical numbers are both wonderful and weird -- There's a very strange number in which a mother sings a song about the supposed rape of her daughter in order to compromise Harvey's character (whom she thinks is a young duke) into marriage. She sings the song pleasantly and jauntily trills the word "vergewaltigt" ("rape") over and over. The pacing is great and Viktor Staal is the perfect rogue leading man for Harvey. It's a pity they were not paired again. The film was hated by Hitler and Goebbels, but the director was powerful and it was released to glowing reviews and an enthusiastic public. After a very short time in theatres, it was pulled out of circulation.

DVD-R is in German with switchable English subtitles.  Approx. 105 mins. + an 18 min. newsreel.  See film sample for audio and video quality.


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Simply the best!, 16.05.2015 16:49
Von: John C
If you want to see a delightful musical and with Lilian Harvey at her best, look no further than 1938's 'Capriccio.' Imagine a French costume picture reminiscent of a Mozart comic opera about a woman (Harvey) posing as a man, creating amusing situations a la 'Viktor und Viktoria' and this comes close to describing the movie's plot. Besides the operetta-like score there's some jazz music that should be anachronistic but works well to add more laughs. Everything about this film including the humorous songs & dance numbers rival the best of any Hollywood musical of that era. We watched this yesterday and were swept away by its inventiveness. Paul Kemp who almost stole 'Amphitryon' from his co-stars is almost as good here. The film is comparable to 'Amphitryon' with its fantasy element of a dead relative relating the plot and giving advice.  What's most interesting is that the director, Karl Ritter, was known for making mostly military-propaganda films like 'Stukas' so how he made a musical comedy this entertaining is a mystery. I can't find Hitler and Goebbels's reasons for disliking this film because it makes fun of the French but maybe not enough to suit their propaganda needs.  Maybe they disliked the satirical jabs at the institutions of marriage and courts, nuns, and almost everything else in society.  I suspect the main reason 'Capriccio'  had a short run was due to punish Harvey for her activities a year earlier. According to Wiki:  "As she was still in touch with her Jewish colleagues, Harvey was placed under close observation by the Gestapo. Nevertheless she pushed the career of her protégé, director Paul Martin, performing in his screwball comedy Glückskinder (1936)... In June 1937 Harvey had helped the choreographer Jens Keith, prosecuted under Paragraph 175 for his homosexuality by posting bail for him. Released from custody, Keith escaped to Paris; this led to her stern interrogation by the Nazi authorities. In 1939, Harvey was forced to leave Germany herself, leaving her real-estate fortune, which was confiscated." Anyway this film is one to watch over & over because you'll miss some of the verbal and visual jokes the first time and maybe second . Ignore the description here of "Some softness and pixellization." It's hardly noticeable and overall video & audio is very good.
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Bizarre, 13.04.2021 18:30
Von: Wolfie
This may well be the strangest musical comedy I've seen since The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Then again, according to imdb,  Lilian Harvey did hook up with her (female) secretary after her short marriage and divorce, so maybe this was a hint in that direction.
It's sort of an opera - or rather a parody of an opera - and seems a lot more Weimar era or Hollywood than 1938 Ufa.
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