Wednesday, June 01, 2011

PEOPLE ON SUNDAY (Curt Siodmak, Robert Siodmak, Edgar G. Ulmer, Fred Zinnemann, 1930)

*****
Germany
This obscure silent docudrama is slightly less obscure than other similarly vital films of the era for several reasons:
- it provides a bracing, uncluttered glimpse at a society at a pertinent historical junture (post-Weimar, pre-Hitler);
- it continually meanders away from its very loose narrative and into disarming tangents;
- it was co-written-directed by a group of people that included Billy Wilder (fourteen years before Double Indemnity), Robert Siodmak (sixteen years before The Killers), Edgar G. Ulmer (fifteen years before Detour) and Fred Zinnemann (twenty-three years before From Here to Eternity).

A crisp, breezy, singularly beautiful film, it finds poetry in close-ups of even inanimate objects just as regularly as it does in the delicate shapes sunlight forms on faces. And such vibrant, absorbing faces, too (none of them were actors). Not an inch of the frame is ever wasted.

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