Combustible Celluloid
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With: Lien Deyers, Heinz Rühmann, Ida Wüst, Max Adalbert, Lizzi Waldmüller, Julius Falkenstein, Walter Janssen, Friedrich Ettel, Elfriede Jera
Written by: Felix Jackson (a.k.a. Felix Joachimson), Max Ophüls, based on a story by Trude Herka
Directed by: Max Ophüls
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: German, with English subtitles
Running Time: 75
Date: 11/17/1933

Laughing Heirs (1933)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Wine Chaste

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A slight, amusing comedy, Laughing Heirs (Lachende Erben) has little of the elegance that director Max Ophüls would exhibit later in his career, especially in his five final masterpieces, released between 1948 and 1955. But it's a sturdy little film, worth a look, telling the story of Peter Frank (Heinz Rühmann), who sells sparkling wine for his uncle. He learns that he stands to inherit the uncle's large estate if he can go one month without consuming a drop of alcohol. Interestingly, this doesn't exactly lead to hand-wringing or cold sweats; instead, he finds it hurts his business because clients keep asking him to drink with them (they get suspicious when he refuses). Of course, there's a romance, with Gina (Lien Deyers), whose father owns a rival wine company. It all passes by in a pleasant 75 minutes. This was Ophüls's final film before escaping Germany during the rise of Hitler, and it was banned shortly thereafter. Kino Lorber's 2022 Blu-ray release comes with a commentary track by historian Anthony Slide.

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