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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Am Galgen hängt die Liebe!

The career of Marisa Mell stretched from the early 60's, over the 70's and 80's, untill the early 90's. A lot of movies from her career, especially the ones from the late 60's upwards are mostly available on DVD but the ones from her early career are not. They are still waiting to see the light of day again. One of those movies is the black and white West-German WO II themed movie called "Am Galgen hängt die Liebe" (known in English as "Love hangs from the gibbet")from 1960. It got its world opening on October 21st, 1960. The Austrian director of this movie "Edwin Zbonek" won in 1961 at the Valladolid International Film Festival the "Golden Spike" for his first movie. The above picture is a staged studio photo of Marisa Mell for the press book in her role and dress as Alka, the daughter of an eldery Greek couple! On this picture you can see beautifully her emerald green eyes for which she later would be notorious.The plot: An odd, incompatible analogy to an ancient legend is the basis for this conventional wartime drama. In the legend, an elderly Greek couple were the only people on earth to provide hospitality to the god Jupiter, and he was so appreciative that he granted them one wish -- which was that they be allowed to die together. The god then turns them into two trees whose branches symbolically intertwine. In this drama set in 1944 on a Greek mountainside, Greek partisans are fighting German troops when an elderly couple agrees to give a desperate partisan refuge. They go so far as to protect him from German troops who search their home but come up empty-handed. When the shoe is on the other foot and two German soldiers seek asylum with the same couple, they also shelter them. The results turn out to parallel the "letter" but not the spirit of the legend.
After it's opening, the movie caused a little turbulance in the German cultural and film world as mentioned in this article published in the 1961 issue of the German quality magazine "Der Spiegel" for week 19 starting on page 81. (Sorry a better scan was not available!) It all started with the critics from the "Film Bewertungsstelle Wiesbaden" (FBW), some sort of German Film Board with seat in the German town called Wiesbaden. After screening of the movie they were unable to give some kind of quality label for this film because the quality of the movie in their eyes on artistic level was not in accordance with the hard subject of the movie and it's story. In november 1960, they called the movie "trash". A few weeks later at the German Movie Week in Madrid, Spain, the movie was outed by the Spanish critics as the best movie of the whole week. Oooops!!! But the German critics are not that easily beaten! They stayed with their opinion. Due to the bad German critic, most of the cinema owners did not book this movie as they normally would have done with this kind of movie. Only 360 cinema owners took the risk in stead of the normally 1300. Another result of the decision of the German Film Board for not labelling this movie was the fact that the cinema owners were not getting any discounts on their entertainment taxes which they normally would have gotten when they were showing a movie labeled "valuable" or "extremely valuable" by the board. (In the 60's, cinema owners got a reduction on their entertainment taxes to be payed to the German state when they were showing movies which got a label from the FBW. This was a way of the state to educate the German population by inciting cinema owners to show this movie to the population, not only in the major cities, but also in the rural towns, who would otherwise not see this movie at all because they were living to far away from major cities. Keep in mind that in the 60's the infrastructure in Germany, like railway and highway, was not as it is now!) The article then mentions other movies that got no label or which got questionable labels like Chaplin's "The Kid" as only "valuable" while the western "Alamo" got the label "extremely valuable".
The second part of the articles gives more examples of movies that had questionable labels by the FBW!

Although the producer had the opportunity to get some kind of appeal against the decision of the FBW, they only voiced a protest and for the rest kept quite. As mentioned before the director got a price and also the German critic of that moment Marten Beheim-Schwarzbach called the movie a "fascinating movie in every detail as a work of art". To conclude, a week after the decision of the FBW not to label this movie, the Austrian Film Board called the movie "extremely valuable". Case closed!

4 comments:

marisamell said...

Wow! Thank you so much for this article!! I knew very little about this film...

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Hi André, glad that I could help! As you know this is one of the lost gems of MM movies! I hope to see it once in my life time! LOL

Keith said...

I really need to see which of her movies Netflix has to rent. I've seen so few of her movies. Your blog really entices me to try to see more.

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Hello Keith, happy viewing! I hope that you'll discover some gems as I did on first viewing!