Ups and Downs

Original Title: Hasenklein kann nichts dafür. (Exzellenz nimmt Maß.) Satirical comedy 1932; 84 min.; Cast: Max Neufeld; Darsteller: Jakob Tiedtke, Lien Deyers, Johannes Riemann, Ilka Grüning, Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur, Hans Brausewetter, Julius Falkenstein, Paul Otto, Albert Paulig, Senta Söneland, Hermine Sterler, Paul Westermeier, Leo Peuker, Viktor Franz, Sigi Hofer; Ben Fett-Tobis-Klangfilm.

A tailor unexpectedly becomes an MP, thanks to the scheming of a party secretary who wants to clear the way for his friend’s marriage to the tailor’s daughter. When the newly-risen politician refuses to give his approval to the marriage, the secretary makes a mockery of him and forces him to resign. Then comes the happy ending.

Titus Hasenklein, a tailor for both ladies and gentlemen in Krebsbüttel in the Waldenthal district, comes to visit the capital, where his daughter is a secretary in the famous Waldenthal Auto Works. Little does he know, however, the serious consequences this visit will have…

As Hasenklein arrives in the evening, intending to have a peaceful glass of beer, he accidentally stumbles into a political election rally, resulting in a misunderstanding that grows like an avalanche and carries away the kindly old gentleman as if caught in a whirlpool. A harmless fly swimming in the stale beer he was served sparks his great career in this moment. It prompts his usually composed father, Hasenklein, to utter a rather undiplomatic but emphatic exclamation: “Damned shoddy business! Remedies must be created!” In the heat of the assembly, the outburst is interpreted as an endorsement of a Member’s speech. As it seems to have expressed the sentiments of everyone in the room, Hasenklein is suddenly lifted onto the shoulders of strong men and carried through the hall in a triumphant manner before he can react.

Titus Hasenklein’s first “political act” leads to quick, but hard to bear, consequences; his registration in the party, his inclusion on the list of delegates, his election to member of the state parliament, and finally even to president of the state parliament. On this ladder that Hasenklein climbs in short time, he develops from the passed master tailor of Krebsbüttel to President Hasenklein. To give credit where it’s due, however, this career is not solely owed to Hasenklein’s political genius. Greif, press secretary of the Waldenthaler Autowerke and secretary of Hasenklein’s party, and best friend of the famous racecar driver Alex von Schendell, has had to lend a helping hand. After all, Alex von Schendell loves Hasenklein’s daughter Trude, and she loves him back.

Frau Geheimrat von Schendell does not want an ordinary tailoress as a daughter-in-law, so it is very convenient for Greif, who wants to bring the two lovers together, that he can make Hasenklein President. However, this is not so simple. Greif can only achieve Hasenklein’s election to President by applying the most difficult diplomatic techniques, especially by uniting the two original fiercest enemies of the Parliament, the leader of the radical women’s party, Dr. Anita Murr, and the leader of the conservative Progressive party, Baron Benno von Mackesprang, in both political and “purely private” terms.

Hansenklein’s presidency is teetering on unsteady ground. As long as Greif is in the shadows running the state’s business, everything is going smoothly. But even the party secretary can lose patience, especially when he believes his own plans are being disregarded and the president insists on marrying his own daughter to the wealthy General Director of the Car Company Jänicke against her will. It’s bound to come to a head. Instead of the carefully crafted Landtag speech Greif prepared for Hansenklein, he is presented with a false one, thus humiliating himself in front of the assembled house and fleeing with the jeers of the deputies ringing in his ears.

He is back to himself again in Krebsbüttel, at the sewing table, in his mother’s house. What has he gone through in the short time of his absence! And all this fuss – for nothing! Now he is sitting again as before, in front of his “glorious career”, in haste, feeling comfortable, much more comfortable than in the splendid president’s room. But Hasenklein’s excursion into the public has had a lasting result. Alex is getting his Trude after all. Not because she has become the daughter of a president, but because she courageously stood up for him in front of the assembled parliament and with her appeal to humanity has proven to the deputies that she has her heart in the right place, Geheimrat von Schendell is now in agreement with Trude as a daughter-in-law.

-e-’s review in Film Kurier No. 109 (May 10, 1932)
A friendly success at the premiere.

People who love a gentle humor and enjoy watching “the powers that be” – government and parliament – get what they deserve can surely hope for an increase in the laughter effect in movie theaters. The topic of the film is not what one would usually expect.

It still talks to fairly current things, even though the big and small countries of the German Parliament are much more turbulent and anxious today than in the film world, where Senta Söneland represents women’s rights.

One has not yet experienced such gentle sidestepping of time as with this film, which the censorship has granted such a friendly free advertising subsidy, and one cannot shake the suspicion that the censors were as far outside the meeting hall during its review as Titus Hasenklein during his presidential election.

In Germany, small-town conventions are often laughed at. Märkische’s play has been reproduced with clean means and a very good ensemble, attracting record-breaking audiences. Mrs. Schneidermeister as president with false etiquette – the highly refined part of the private secretary (with real nobility!) – still triggers many laughs over this grand-fatherly foolishness.

A real comedian, not watered down by a single percent: that is a real advantage of the film, for it does not put worn out comedians in the spotlight, but instead focuses on Jakob Tiedtke’s fresh roundness. He marches his way to fame in an disarmingly pleasant manner, cheerfully reads out mischievously inserted ministerial speeches, and always remains the jolly master of measuring and cutting, so that the audience grows fond of the old friendly man. As he repairs the waistcoat of a former customer instead of handling heavy government affairs, he receives applause from the audience in the middle of the play. (For a figure that is essentially silly and sympathetic.)

A good ensemble helps to keep the useful and creative adaptation of the parliamentary career, garnished with all kinds of film-friendly details by authors Jane Beß and R. Arvay (based on Mahner-Mons), alive. Riemann again makes the most captivating impression with his exuberance. His enthusiasm is contagious. Deyers and the vocally talented Brausewetter form a sympathetic pair, creating a Karl May-style hit song.

Max Neufeld, the director, brings out Stahl-Nachbaur with captivating elegance, Falkenstein, Söneland, Sigi Hofer, Peukert, Paul Otto, and Hermine Sterler with pleasant naturalness. Ilka Grüning spreads the sphere of humanity in an amusing role. An artist still proves himself best through his good heart. She turns the clowning into a human process.

We give this comedy high marks: instead of low quality entertainment, they have created a decent folk piece. The cinema is happy to include it in their repertoire. The sound, orchestra, sets, and camera are all quite satisfactory.