Original Title: Es gibt eine Frau, die Dich niemals vergißt. Backstage melodrama 1930; 91 min.; Director: Léo Mittler; Cast: Lil Dagover, Iván Petrovich, Helene Fehdmer, Gaston Jacquet, Hans Peppler, Otto Wallburg, Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur; Greenbaum-Tobis-Film.
A provincial tenor promptly leaves his fiancée when a Berlin actress shows an interest in him. However, when she soon tires of his jealousy, he allows her to shoot him in full view of the public by swapping the bullets in his revolver. It is only at the last minute of the trial that his mother reveals this detail, having previously falsely incriminated the accused actress.
Tilly Ferrantes, the famous operetta actress, stands pale and agitated as the indictment against her is read. She is tormented by the hateful glances of Mrs. Moeller, the mother of the murdered man. When asked by the chairman, “Do you plead guilty?” she answers firmly and surely, “No!” She then begins to tell her story, haltingly at first, but with increasing fluency and passion. The courtroom witnesses the story unfold in vivid pictures.
At the large Berlin operetta theater, the final show before the summer holidays is about to begin. Tilly Ferrantes, the star, had planned a road trip with her friend, the Count. However, a fierce argument ruins their friendship, and Tilly returns alone to her villa. There, she is greeted by the elderly Mrs. Moeller, a small actress, who pleads with Tilly to lend her some money so she can visit her son Georg, who is employed at the Josephstadt city theater.
Tilly gives her the money with tears in her eyes, and whispers, “At least you know who you belong to, but me…” Mrs. Moeller then has an idea: “Why don’t you come with me to Georg? He’ll be happy to see you!” The next morning, the two women are on the train to Josephstadt.
The beautiful artist has no difficulty igniting Georg’s passion, and soon she too falls in love with the fresh, primitive boy. For a few happy weeks, they enjoy each other’s company – until the holidays are over and Tilly returns to the bustle of the big city. New experiences make her memories of Georg fade, and so when he suddenly appears, unannounced, she is taken aback. What she once loved about him now seems clumsy and provincial, and she almost feels embarrassed by him. But, out of her kindness, she chooses not to hurt his feelings and instead arranges a good engagement for him, sending money by roundabout ways. Georg is blissful and eagerly studies his new role, becoming the partner of the Ferrantes.
One day, the Count re-enters Tilly’s life. She has since learned the importance of being respectful and dignified rather than daring and in love. Silently, she asks him for forgiveness for her past actions and takes up their old friendship again, having learned from her daily companionship with Georg that it is more important to be respectful and dignified than daring and in love.
Soon, Georg finds out, and when he discovers a precious piece of jewelry, a gift from the Count, at Tilly’s, an ugly scene ensues. Accusing her of selling herself to the Count, Tilly’s long-suppressed rage erupts: “I’m selling myself? And where does the money come from that you use to pay for your clothes, your whole expenditure?” These words hit Georg like a club, and he quickly rushes home to get certainty from his mother, who knows everything.
The next day is Opening Night and the final scene of the play calls for a fight between Tilly and Georg. In a shocking display of truthfulness, Tilly pulls out a revolver and shoots Georg down. His collapse, with hand on his heart, is a testament to the realism of the scene – the revolver was actually loaded. Never has a scene been played so naturally. Here ends Tilly Ferrante’s statement
Witness interrogation. When asked, “Do you consider the accused guilty?”, Mrs. Moeller responds: “Yes, she is the murderer of George!” After providing elaborate explanations, the prosecutor requests the death sentence.
Silence fills the room, until a shrill scream breaks through. “I have something to say!” Mrs. Moeller is recalled to the witness stand. “I have spoken the truth – Tilly Ferrantes is the killer of my son, but not in a legal sense. Before Georg died, he confided to me that he had loaded the revolver himself, with the intent to take his own life. I concealed this information to seek vengeance – but now I want no vengeance anymore…”
-ner’s review in Film Kurier No. 76 (March 28, 1930)
Two popular factors have been employed in this Lil Dagover film to create an impact: the use of a theatrical milieu and jury trial scenes.
The authors, Ladislao Vajda and André Zsoldos, calculate that one world can elevate the other. Following a famous pattern, they make the tribunal a stage and the trial a frame for the movie process. However, they have forgotten that the frame is set up as a spoken film, while the main film, apart from some song parts and sound moments, remains a silent movie with synchronized music.
But the trial by jury is split into distinct moments, abruptly opened; on the other hand, the main story follows its lengthy processes along familiar paths.
In theater matters, the authors often demonstrate their lack of stage experience. The accusation that a tenor would try to initiate a conversation during the premiere, or that a revue would conclude with a gun shot, is highly improbable.
As an experienced theater practitioner, Leo Mittler employs his theatrical routine to disconcertingly emphasize allegedly erotic moments. Mutz Greenbaum’s camera carefully supports him, while Sohnle and Erdmann work within conventional forms.
In the role of a revue star, Lil Dagover is most beautiful when she is allowed to move around in long, flowing garments, or when the velvet of a box provides a dark foil for her bright charm.
With her ladylike charm and great style, she embodies the figure of an ambitious person who is used to prioritizing success over personal feelings, bringing her character close to understanding.
As the suffering mother, Helene Fehdmer Kayssler, she has a powerful effect. In a role which could easily drift into sentimentality, she plays with full honesty and simplicity.
Ivan Petrovich embodies the type of experienced character he has to play, rather than that of a young, jealous one. Despite this, there is still something unsympathetic about his role as the (unwitting) cuckold that remains within the theme.
In episodes featuring renowned actors such as Hans Peppler and Hermann Speelmanns in minor roles, their style is revealed through Rolf Gert, Bressart, Wallburg, and the somewhat lackluster Sima.
The debut of the sound film is also an occasion to hear one who has largely been kept away from acting due to his effectiveness: Ernst Legal, the director of the Republic Opera House and the State Theater. His interest in the sound film problem must have led him to the studio, where he vividly and concisely portrays his presiding judge, both in his facial expressions and gestures.
The film with the song title has been provided with music by Milde Meissner that is rather unemotional.