Mrs. Lehmann’s Daughters

Original Title: Frau Lehmanns Töchter. Folk play with songs 1932; 92 min.; Director: Carl Heinz Wolff; Cast: Hansi Niese, Hertha Thiele, Else Elster, Carla Carlsen, Fritz Kampers, Anton Pointer, Heinz Klingenberg; Kowo-Terra-Tobis-Klangfilm.

Three daughters of a porter’s wife. The youngest one marries a chauffeur. Their marriage almost falls apart, while the sisters – one marries a wealthy man who didn’t know her background, the other one abandons her boyfriend – also suffer setbacks. But the mother sets everything right.

The porter’s wife, Mrs. Lehmann, wants to provide her daughters Lissy, Gerda, and Emma with a special life. To her delight, Lissy finds a job as a mannequin in an upscale fashion salon. Gerda works as a saleswoman in a toy store. Only Emma has no aspirations for anything higher; she is engaged to the chauffeur Köster. When Köster drives the three girls to their workplaces and only Gerda is left in the car, he is seen by his boss, the young banker Stegerwald. Köster is questioned about a possible fare evasion and uses a traffic accident as an excuse.

However, Stegerwald has taken a liking to Gerda and seeks her acquaintance, eventually falling in love with her. When he proposes to her at Mrs. Lehmann’s house, Gerda still hasn’t revealed her true background to him. Mrs. Lehmann, pretending to be a wealthy lady, receives him in a well-furnished apartment whose owners are currently away. Shortly after, Gerda and Stegerwald get married.
The falsehoods weigh on Gerda’s marriage. The marriage between Köster and Emma is also kept secret from Stegerwald out of fear. One day, Stegerwald misinterprets a private conversation between Gerda and her brother-in-law Köster. Unaware that he is related to his chauffeur, he fires him.

Meanwhile, Lissy has become involved with her boss, Sanden. One evening, when they visit an upscale dance hall, Lissy invites her sister Emma to join them. Coincidentally, Stegerwald also happens to be at the venue and, since he knows Sanden, they spend the evening together. Still unaware of the family relations, he doesn’t realize that Emma and Lissy are his wife’s sisters. While Emma is dancing with him, Köster unexpectedly appears, causing a shock. Misinterpreting the situation, Stegerwald becomes outraged.

A major conflict erupts at Mrs. Lehmann’s apartment, during which Köster decides to leave Emma. However, when he learns that she is expecting his child, he stays with her. Gerda blames her mother for causing their unhappiness through lies. Overwhelmed by guilt, Mrs. Lehmann visits Stegerwald and finally confesses the truth. This leads to a positive turn of events. Gerda can now have a truly good and harmonious marriage with Stegerwald. Köster can start his own taxi business, and Lissy breaks up with Sanden to marry the pastry chef Holler.

-g.’s review in Film Kurier No. 136 (June 11, 1932)
Outside the cinema entrance, you encounter an experienced and successful theater owner. He is extremely excited. “You’ll see a good film here once…” He senses a good business opportunity with joyful optimism.

After the screening, there is applause, actors on stage, flowers, and many curtains.

For the producer, distributor, and theater owner, it is hoped that a major box office success has been born here. A film that can match the success of its predecessor, Three Waiting Maids [Die drei Portiermädel, 1925, directed by Carl Boese].

The main asset of the film is its old basic material, which depicts a mother bringing her three daughters to their husbands and fighting for their happiness. The old Terra film was a folk play, in a good sense, permeated with Berliner audacity. The new film lacks local color; it is set in the city of Nowhere, with a few actors coincidentally adopting a Berlin accent.

Franz Rauch wrote the screenplay for the sound film. He developed the story inconsistently and was overly generous with banal singing interludes.

Carl Heinz Wolff, the director, also failed to capture the good spirit of silent films. He constructed his work with coarse gestures, even when there were opportunities for delicate touches. He fails to create a quiet scene; everything is played, danced, and sung fortissimo.

The owner of a fashion salon, not shown in fine proportions, dresses up his girlfriend as if she were the mistress of a CEO.

Jealousy scenes are staged in the style of a traveling theater.

Two people meet, sing a love duet two minutes later, and by the evening they already agree on everything—that’s what they call pace.

A wedding celebration is almost as noisy as the parallel in Kuhle Wampe; alcohol flows abundantly, and its effects are celebrated. The blonde Hertha Thiele, who packed her things after the bourgeois orgy in the Brecht film, is a happy bride in white silk here and finds the festivities wonderful.
She also shines in this film, elevating the scenes with her presence. She has “something of Garbo’s mystery about her, not needing to act yet still making an impact, giving color to the scene by simply being there.

Hansi Niese achieves a stormy success. Although she is not a porter’s wife but rather a postal official’s wife, she is always the magnificent Hansi Niese, who has warmth not only on her tongue but also in her heart, who triumphs over trivialities and cannot be swayed by any director’s whims.

Else Elster is the second daughter, pretty and likeable. Carla Carlsen, spirited and funny, plays the third daughter in the porter’s apartment. Fritz Kampers leads the parade of sons-in-law, portraying a rough chauffeur with the innate naturalness of his character. Heinz Klingenberg portrays the wealthy man with a maximum of insipidity. Anton Pointner exudes a good-natured playboy attitude. The music was composed by Franz Dölle, with lyrics by Willy Rosen and Marcel Lion.

The camera work was done by Georg Muschner, and Willi Neumann served as the architect. Sound by Emil Specht.

The film would have been successful even with less coarseness, which may bother some people. But it should be taken as it was made, and in this version, it will be a welcome addition to the programs for theater owners who play it during these weeks of film scarcity.