The Beautiful Adventure

Original Title: Das schöne Abenteuer. Comedy 1932; 82 min.; Director: Reinhold Schünzel; Cast: Käthe von Nagy, Wolf Albach-Retty, Alfred Abel, Adele Sandrock, Otto Wallburg, Hilde Hildebrand, Julius Falkenstein; Ufa-Klangfilm.

A countess sabotaged her nephew’s relationship with her niece for the sake of her son’s career. However, on their wedding day, the couple perseveres, finds understanding with their grandmother, and overcomes the countess’s resistance.

Countess d’Eguzon is having her big day today, the culmination of her desires. The wedding of her charming niece, Hélène de Trévillac, to the not very alluring and slightly overweight Valentin Le Barroyer is set to take place today. Everything seems to be falling into place. The delightful bride’s wedding dress is already prepared, and the first guests, friends of the family, are arriving. The countess is triumphant.

In just an hour, Hélène will become the wife of portly Valentin and leave the house where the orphaned girl was once welcomed and tolerated until André, the son of the house, fell deeply in love with her. The countess had played the role of providence. André was sent to Vienna as a young diplomat to broaden his horizons. He wrote to his secret bride every day, but the countess intercepted the letters, leaving the disappointed little Hélène quiet and even quieter. In this state of mind, she was presented with the wealthy Valentin as a suitor by her aunt.

Tired and desperate, Hélène did not refuse, especially since André had seemingly forgotten her and showed no signs of love. They even told her that he couldn’t attend the wedding because he was indispensable in Vienna. The wedding march begins to play, the children are ready to scatter flowers, and Valentin, the fat, good-natured pedant, fidgets with excitement. Today, too much is weighing on him—the wedding, the journey to Hélène’s grandmother in the countryside, the numerous suitcases, and the possible transfer in Limoges. The poor man must think about everything except the fact that a young, longing, disappointed human being stands helplessly before him.

Emotions naturally disappear with a reasonable daily schedule, Valentin thinks, and begins to design timetables and notes for the future. The countess, filled with inner tension, gives the signal for the wedding procession to form, and the music begins to blare the wedding march. Suddenly, a car races into the courtyard. A young man in travel attire leaps up the stairs and witnesses the wedding preparations. The door to Hélène’s room is flung open. Anxiously, the friend who was supposed to pick up Hélène flees. André stands before the trembling bride and demands an explanation. Why hadn’t she answered any of his letters, not a single one? Why was she too cowardly to admit her faithlessness? Hélène hears about the letters, letters she never received. They quickly realize what has been done to them, but it’s not too late yet!

As the portly Valentin goes to collect the bride amidst the sounds of the wedding march, he finds only a veil. And while the music resounds solemnly, Valentin desperately embraces the empty veil, the countess faints, and the guests run around like startled chickens, a car with two young, happy people swiftly leaves the palace courtyard. The old, combative Lady Trévillac awaits the young couple with grandmotherly longing—Hélène, her favorite, and Valentin, the young husband. All the preparations in the simple country house have been made—food, drink, and a welcoming, enormous bridal bed that Grandmama Trévillac gazes upon with nostalgia. Yes, time passes!

“They’re coming!” calls the loyal Jeantine, and soon Hélène is in her grandmother’s arms. The young husband also finds favor in her critical eyes—he’s a handsome, fresh lad. Grandmama doesn’t even notice that the young couple arrives without any luggage. Proudly smiling, she shows the newlyweds the bridal chamber and leaves them to their happiness. But Jeantine insists on playing the role of providence. If you place three sprigs of rosemary in front of the door of the bridal chamber and the young wife steps on them in the morning, then—then it will surely be a boy! “Superstition,” says Grandmama, but trying it out can’t hurt!

As she quietly enters the anteroom of the bridal chamber with the sprigs, she finds the young husband alone, asleep in a chair. “This is the last straw,” the old lady gasps angrily. “Such weakness! Go inside to your wife!” And so, the couple is reunited. The next morning, the rosemary sprigs remain untouched. Sweating and agitated, Valentin arrives and informs the old Lady Trévillac about Hélène’s escape. When André finally appears, he confirms that he has abducted Hélène and is not yet her husband. The old lady is outraged. Just then, the door opens, and Hélène appears, fresh and graceful, and her foot steps on the rosemary. “This too!” the furious Grandmama gasps. But who is ultimately to blame for everything? Herself, when she forcibly pushed André into Hélène’s room!

She forgives and protects the young couple when the deeply offended Countess d’Eguzon appears. Even Valentin calms down and accepts the fait accompli. André promises to marry in the shortest possible time. And the rosemary? Did Hélène step on it once or twice? The result is healthy twins! Truly a beautiful adventure!

Walter Jerven’s review in Film Kurier No. 195 (August 19, 1932)
Not really an adventure, but beautiful! Simply the story of a young girl who backs out three minutes before the pompously arranged wedding (the unsuspecting groom counts it on his pocket watch) leaving behind her bridal veil and without any explanation.

Once a stage success in the realm: Die Fahrt ins Blaue [La belle aventure by Gaston Arman de Caillavet, Robert de Flers and Etienne Rey]. Schünzel and Preßburger (the authors) have taken over from the stage: the cheerfulness and the structure and the joy of indulgence. There is delightful indulgence at the two weddings, both of which are not weddings at all. Because while one fails due to the absence of the bride, the other fails due to the presence of the groom, who is not yet one.

The decisive difference is only this: at the first (forced) wedding, it falls apart, despite the intrigues of the countess aunt (played by Ida Wüst; superior to every situation with refined unrefinement). At the other (heartfelt) wedding the next day, it all comes together, under the command of a grandmother whose life oozes out of her pores, embodied by our timeless Adele Sandrock.

Symphonies of applause surge and rise higher and higher, the more visible Sandrock becomes; the great mother of humanity, understanding, and nature. No, her blood “is not linden flower tea”! Only in the film, it has been directed so often and exclusively into the characters of poisonous, commanding house and salon dragons, that we hardly expected this kind, wise, young, old lady from her.

How objectivity is handled romantically in this film—how fruitful it would be to handle new objectivity in the future! This means not seeing actors based on the “decorations” given to them, but based on their resources, which in many cases are extensive enough to supply many decorations.

Käthe von Nagy is the “runaway bride” who escapes from compulsion, following her heart. She brings to the role what Nagy is. And that is a lot! She brings more than any other of her age, her nature, her field in German film. Also in this film (not just in this one), she is one who does not succumb to compulsion: gentle enough to be yielding, yet remaining herself (because only the gentle overcome the harsh).

Käthe, Käthe on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? To name her would mean not having established anything special (besides, taste is relative). But among all of her kind, she is the most natural, the most discreet, the quietest. Wonderful is her silent shock, the fleeting sound of her heart in her face when the (heartfelt) groom appears (By the way, she moves, understands how to move. A resounding person!)

Wallburg—the calculating groom of the first wedding—shines in escapades, without overshooting the mark despite his lack of restraint. A head full of blood but without wounds. A full-blooded head that doesn’t go through walls, instead, in the final situation, though slicked-up, politely and unobtrusively renounces.

Wolf Albach-Retty is, approximately one hundred percent, what the spelling of women calls a sweet boy.

Schünzel, as the director, clearly enjoyed this contrasting portrayal of two wedding events. While he forgoes a script that develops plot and characters, he compensates with relaxed scene management in his depictions. Fritz Arno Wagner and Robert Baberske, so to speak, characterize and write with the camera, a sharp and equally clever pen, capturing the essence of individuals, not isolating people from the spaces they inhabit, which Werner Schlichting characterizes the people who live in them.

The sound (Hermann Fritzsching) is clear in the piano. Sometimes overshadowed by the musical, from Ralph Erwin’s song “Ins blaue Leben” to the colorful life of a hit career. However, it is not understandable why the beautiful reaping and harvest scenes need to be accompanied by revelrous singing! Aren’t there enough simple, beautiful folk tunes?

Many magnificent supporting performances: Alfred Abel, Falkenstein, Vespermann, Sima, and everyone listed in the extensive cast list.

An extraordinary applause, which was bestowed upon the curtain puller, marked this UFA film from the Stapenhorst production. It was justified that the audience demanded him with enthusiasm, alongside the performers.