Original Title: Kiki. (Der Lebensweg einer kleinen Choristin.) Comedy 1932; 88 min.; Director: Karel Lamač; Cast: Anny Ondra, Hermann Thimig, Berthe Ostyn, Paul Otto, Josef Eichheim; Vandor-Ondra-Lamač-Tobis-Klangfilm.

Kiki aspires to the stage and achieves it by taking a detour through the theater dressing room and the director’s private residence. After a tough battle with the star, she becomes the director’s wife.

Kiki, a spirited Parisian girl, brims with joy for life and possesses the wit that characterizes her city by the Seine. Like all Parisian girls, she yearns for the theater, dreams of stardom, riches, elegant dresses, and glamorous cars—the epitome of the Montmartre nightlife she witnesses outside the revue theaters and dance halls.

One day, Kiki spots an enticing newspaper advertisement seeking girls for the new revue, directed by Leroy. Determined and undeterred by the long line of aspiring actresses outside the theater gate, she pushes forward, jostling her “colleagues” until she reaches the formidable Director Leroy. Unfortunately, all the positions have been filled, leaving Kiki seemingly unlucky. However, her pleading eyes captivate Leroy, and he hires the cheeky girl after all, albeit as a wardrobe attendant instead of a performer. Nevertheless, Kiki is content, confident that she will make her mark once inside the theater.

On the evening of the premiere, Kiki embraces her role with boundless enthusiasm. With wit and charm, she attends to people efficiently, avoiding the typical complaints and overcrowding. After the show, she embarks on explorations, carefully sneaking through the theater, crossing the stage, until she stumbles upon the director’s office—the holy of holies.

Inside, a heated conversation ensues as Leroy and Gervinette, the renowned revue star and Leroy’s unfaithful girlfriend, discuss the new revue. Leroy’s suspicions lead to reproaches, igniting a fiery argument. In the heat of the moment, Leroy cancels their dinner plans, prompting Gervinette to throw her ermine coat at Leroy’s feet. In an unexpected twist, the coat smacks Kiki in the face as she innocently peeks through the door. Startled, Kiki hastily shuts the door, clutching the beautiful coat she finds. Intrigued, she tries it on, discovering a perfect fit. Shedding her own dress, Kiki replaces it with the coat and sneaks out of the theater. Just as she reaches the exit, Leroy’s car arrives, and he finds the sight of Kiki wrapped in the ermine coat amusing. Spontaneously, he invites her to dinner, and Kiki rejoices—she now possesses a luxurious fur coat, rides in a fabulous car, and believes she has captured the heart of her director.

Leroy takes Kiki to a restaurant, where Gervinette, accompanied by Baron Péron, is also present. Leroy introduces the two women, igniting a hostile confrontation filled with biting remarks. Unwilling to hold her tongue, Kiki engages in a heated exchange with Gervinette. The argument escalates until, consumed by anger, Kiki hurls the ermine coat back at Gervinette’s feet. However, Kiki forgets that she left her shabby dress behind in the theater and now stands before the gathering wearing only a short silk camisole. To prevent a scandal, Leroy swiftly escorts the scolding Kiki back to the car and takes her to his apartment.

In the director’s home, Kiki unleashes chaos, rearranging everything, reassigning rooms, and berating the servants, convinced she has become the director’s lady. The glory, however, swiftly fades the next morning when Gervinette arrives to reconcile with Leroy. Kiki, refusing to let her in, reignites the conflict, resulting in a heated altercation. Leroy intervenes just in time to prevent the destruction of his apartment, pacifying Gervinette and promptly ejecting Kiki.

Deeply unhappy, Kiki harbors a burning desire for revenge against Gervinette. After pondering her options, a devilish thought takes hold. On the evening of the revue’s premiere, Kiki sneaks unnoticed into the dressing room, disguises herself in a costume, and blends in with the other dancers. Amidst the grand finale, as Gervinette performs her hit song, Kiki thrusts herself to the forefront, disrupting the ballet and interrupting Gervinette’s performance with ironic remarks. Chaos ensues, captivating the audience, who mistakenly perceive the unfolding drama as part of the show. The curtain falls, and thunderous applause repeatedly calls the performers back to the stage, securing the success of the revue.

Director Leroy invites his actors and guests to his villa for a celebration following the triumphant premiere. Suddenly, Kiki bursts into the party, defusing any potential confrontations by feigning a fit of tetanus and fainting. Delighting everyone with her charm and beauty, Kiki becomes the center of attention. Leroy dismisses the other guests, suggesting they continue the festivities elsewhere. Alone with her director, Kiki miraculously recovers from her feigned condition and blissfully embraces Leroy, confident that she has finally conquered him forever.

Lotte H. Eisner’s review in Film Kurier No. 229 (September 28, 1932)
A delightful Ondra film awaits the audience, providing an hour and a half of pure joy and laughter. It is filled with the pleasurable experience of Anny’s cheeky charm and the effortless naturalness that unfolds on the screen. This film stands as the most beautiful Ondra film to date, showcasing the exuberance of her body and the enchanting grace of her limbs like never before.

Anny Ondra possesses a truly unique quality, resembling a Colombine as Polichinelle. Her secret lies in the fact that her comedy emanates from her innate gracefulness. While many attempt to bring forth grotesque humor, only Anny has been chosen, as she refrains from distorting her infectious merriment into slapstick. She never settles for being merely cute or overly sweet. Instead, she becomes a playful sprite, effortlessly frolicking through her films, making it all seem like the most natural thing in the world.

Despite her playful nature, Anny possesses discipline, which allows her petite figure to carry an entire film, with everything revolving around her. She doesn’t put on an act; she simply exists as the swirling center of her world, meticulously crafted by Heinz Fenchel. In her world, chairs serve as platforms for daring leaps, and beds transform into ready-made slides. The interaction with objects becomes an enjoyable struggle, skillfully led by Anny. She stumbles about with a massive sun umbrella and a tiny little hat, barging through doors she had previously struggled to open. Her mischievous legs often become entangled, causing her to trip over her own feet. However, she gracefully recovers, striking a bold pirouette and assuming a triumphant pose, playfully mocking herself. This captivating drollery is uncontrived, with props becoming playthings of her whimsy, while other people essentially have no other purpose but to orbit around her.

Anny, with her nimble body, outshines any sporty type. It is delightful to witness her mimicking a stiff spasm, transforming into a wooden doll with her arm and leg dangling in the air, as if forgotten and unclaimed. Her disciplined performance makes us forget about Talmadge.

Writing a screenplay for Anny is a pleasure. Hans H. Zerlett has masterfully captured the essence she requires, including the necessary lightness, cheeky asides, and rapid-fire phrases that only Anny can deliver. He skillfully avoids overwhelming the film with situational comedy, allowing it to naturally exist as a springboard for Anny’s escapades. The well-timed gags provide small lifts for her funny antics. This film provides a splendid opportunity to witness contrast, as the seemingly delicate and tiny figure of Anny collides with the forces of life. She skillfully outwits obstacles, refusing to be defeated, and gracefully hops over everything in her path. Anny stands as the eternal little trouper, with her unwavering will for a happy ending that is so refreshing.

Karel Lamač, the director, possesses the ability to create the perfect stage for Anny. With a loosened hand and precise lighting placements, he brings a sense of certainty and joy to the filmmaking process. The result is a seamless Ondra film, characterized by the flowing lightness of the visual sequences and Otto Heller’s masterful camera work. The sharpness of the dialogue, thanks to Dr. Neumann’s sound design, ensures that every line finds its rightful place, resonating immediately with the audience. Karel Lamač skillfully brings all the elements together, including the appropriate use of music composed by Rolf Marbot and Bert Reisfeld, conducted by Kurt Levinnek. The music serves as a witty paraphrase of Anny’s whirlwind performance, elegantly becoming an integral part of the whole.

The supporting cast complements Anny’s brilliance with their own exceptional performances. Hermann Thimig captivates with his unassuming yet wonderful comedy, while Josef Eichheim delivers an amusing and never intrusive portrayal. He excels in providing episodes with precision, skillfully avoiding excessive exaggeration. Paul Otto’s acting is marked by restraint and sophistication, and Berthe Ostyn fearlessly caricatures the diva’s moods. Willi Schäffers’ smiling face appears fleetingly, adding another layer of charm to the film.

Under the skillful direction of Arthur Hohenberg, the Vandor-Ondra-Lamač film reaches the pinnacle of Ondra films in the sound film era. This enchanting film received thunderous applause, providing undeniable proof of the audience’s delight in experiencing these hours of carefree cheerfulness. It is a film that everyone should watch, as it reminds us all to keep laughter alive.