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Production Company: Tobis-Melofilm/Ufa.
Director: Eugen Thiele.
Susanne Braun is a 17-year-old orphan attending a Swiss boarding school, where she’s been living since she was little. She meets Robert (Franz Lederer), a young man on holiday from Berlin, and they fall in love. His questions about her family embarrass her - she believes that her mysterious father is still alive. Helped by another girl, she scrapes together enough money to set off to Berlin to look for him. As the film progresses she finds several possible Fathers, and greets each one with “Hello, Daddy!”, causing huge confusion and breaking up his marriage.
The film, a musical comedy, was released in America too, and not just in New York – Wisconsin’s Sheboygan Press felt that “Susanne…” was “…a fine German film which will please everyone”. The New York Times in October 1931 said, “With the arrival at the Belmont of Truus von Aalten, as the stellar performer in "Susanne Macht Ordnung," those understanding German will have an opportunity of enjoying the work of an excellent young screen actress," the reviewer wrote, adding that Truus was “alert and interesting” in her role.
The title translates as "Susanne Tidies Up", and she does exactly that by tricking all the couples she'd accidentally split up into meeting at a nightclub, and reuniting them.
Truus was very proud that this was her first above-the-title starring role, and was delighted when the picture was released in the Netherlands (where it was called "Suze zookt haar Vader" ("Susie Seeks Her Dad").
Production Company: Aafa-Film AG.
Directors: Carl Boese, Rudolf Walther-Fein.
The title translates as "Oh, Girlie, My Girlie, How I Love You!".
Production Company: Sascha Filmverleih.
Director: Rudolph Bernaur.
Hirsekorn (played by comedy legend Felix Bressart) is a mild-mannered performer in a struggling travelling show, while Thea van Dieman (Charlotte Susa) is a scatterbrained novelist pretending to be a factory girl to gather material for a book. She finds herself in love with an electrical works foreman (Rolf von Goth), and Hirsekorn somehow ends up as her chauffeur, though when he meets a cute typist, Alma (Truus), he tells her that he’s rich and actually owns the car himself. When the truth about them both comes out, Hirsekorn and Thea are in disgrace, but all is sorted out in time for the inevitable happy ending.
Critics found the film original but a bit laboured at 90 minutes. The New York Times praised its direction, photography and acting, and described Truus as “vivacious”.
The title translates as "Excursion Into Life", but the film was also known as "Hirsekorn greift ein" (“Hirsekorn Butts In”) and "Madame und ihr Chauffeur".
Production Company: Aafa-Film AG.
Director: Victor Janson.
The New York Times for October 14th 1933 reviewed "The Beggar Student", then showing at the 79th St Theatre. The movie, it said, had “a certain amount of charm”, but didn’t measure up to other operetta films of its type. Truus, the reviewer noticed, was “excellent in her leading comedy rôle”.
Production Company: Marcel Hellmann Film.
Director: Ragnar Hans Steinhoff.
One of the stars of “Head Over Heels Into Fortune” was the well-known Szöeke Szakall. He and Truus had worked together on “Susanne macht Ordnung” the previous year, and now found themselves supporting musical-comedy star Jenny Jugo. Jugo was an experienced scene-stealer, showing no mercy to other performers on the set, but Szakall (quite the old ham himself) had other things to worry about: he was Jewish, and the atmosphere in Germany was becoming very bleak. Despite great public popularity as a comedian (he'd been acting since 1918), soon after shooting "Kopfüber...", he uprooted his family and moved back to his native Hungary. When the Germans invaded in 1940, the Szakalls realised that they had to leave Europe completely. Reaching Los Angeles, Szakall established a new acting career with great success, known as "Cuddles" Sakall and usually appearing as slightly-potty German grandpa types. He died in 1955, and today his best-known work is in Hollywood films like "Ball Of Fire" with Gary Cooper, and "Casablanca".
The story was also filmed in French at the same time, starring Jean Gabin and Gaby Basset, and released as "Chacun Sa Chance". In one sequence a group of salesgirls is being told off by their boss. One of them laughs at the wrong moment, earning a furious glare - but she won't be put in her place, pulling a face which shows that she thinks the boss is a complete idiot. It's Truus, of course, popping up in just one scene.
Production Company: Hegewald Film.
Director: Carl Boese.
“Magic At The Barracks” was a comedy, but its poster was banned by the Film Inspection Office in Berlin: the word "Schweinebraten" (roast pork) appeared near the picture of a young woman, possibly having "a crude effect on the viewer"!
Production Company: Marcel Hellmann Film.
Directors: Rudolf Katscher, Marc Sorkin.
Doris (the very popular actress Dorothea Wieck) is "secretary" to Nikolai (Gustav Gründgens), a resourceful Berlin safe-cracker who concentrates on robbing one particular man, while cleverly outwitting the local police Inspector. In a tangled and suspenseful plot, including a thrilling car-and-motorbike chase through Berlin, Doris ends up in love with Konrad, son of the man Nikolai has been robbing. Nokolai himself ends the film arrested, tracked down by the not-so-dense Inspector.
The New York Times, reviewing "Teilnehmer…" a year later, mentioned that the picture's comedy was mainly "furnished by Truus van Alten, a gamine type already seen here in several German films".
(Click on filmstrips to enlarge.)
Production Company: ?.
Director: Alwin Elling.
This was a short film -Truus co-starred with Robert Eckert and Theo Lingen. The title translates as “Just A Quick Fifteen Minutes”.
Production Company: ?.
Director: Joe May.
The title translates as "A Night Of Love", and the film ran at New York's 79th St Theatre in May 1933. The New York Times said it was “a fairly entertaining German mystery comedy - a mixture of gaiety at a masquerade ball, complicated by polished crooks and semi-serious love affairs”, while Truus was described as “one of the attractive gamin types of the German screen”. She was “as full of life as ever and leads Harry Liedtke, the middle-aged husband of a charming wife (Franscini Albertini), a merry chase. In the meantime the temporarily neglected wife amuses herself rather half-heartedly with several dance partners until she falls in with a handsome young swindler (Harry Halm) posing as a prince”.
Production Company: ?.
Director: Stefan Székely.
Not much information exists about this film. It was a short, and the title means "Peter And Billy - A Companionate Marriage". Truus (who played Billy) co-starred with Jenny Kiefe (Marion) and Robert Thören (Peter). Thören, years later, was to write the story for the movie "Some Like It Hot".
It's not surprising that some of these old films and their documentation have gone missing - wartime bombing and the Russians' seizing of the Ufa complex in 1945 have meant that many of these movies will never be seen again.
Film Historian Daniel van Waalwijk has discovered a film which claims to have Truus in it, but somehow hasn't. Joe May's 1931 feature "Und das ist die Hauptsache" starred Harry Liedtke, Robert Thoeren, Nora Gregor and Truus van Aalten... but close examination shows that the girl with the bobbed hair is actually Ursula Grabley. To add to the confusion, Ms Gregor is credited as "Francisca Albertini". What happened there is anyone's guess...
Production Company: Ufa.
Director: Georg Jacoby.
This was a short film - the title translates as "An Ideal Apartment". Truus starred with well-known German actor Harald Paulsen (that's him in the pyjamas).
Production Company: Boller-Films/Mondial-Film.
Director: Georg Jacoby.
Impoverished young car-salesman Count Rudi Waldheim (Wolf Albach-Retty) inherits a castle. Unfortunately the place is falling to bits, and an old goat named Schopf (Leo Slezak) owns the mortgage on it. Schopf, worried that he won't get his money back, hears that Mary Limford (Truus), daughter of an American millionaire, is travelling to Vienna - could she, he wonders, be fooled into buying the castle? On the train Mary meets Millie (Magda Schneider), a journalist. Arriving in Vienna, Millie is mistaken for Mary - and she's amazed when Mary (bored with the pressures of being a millionaire) suggests they swap places during her stay. Millie agrees, and finds herself wined and dined around town and staying in a luxury hotel. Schopf manages to reach “Mary” on the phone, but can’t sell her Rudi’s castle - but he does learn that she’d be interested in marrying a Count. Luckily he has one available - Rudi. Mary needs a job, and finds herself employed by Rudi’s boss selling cars. He recognizes her, and woos her in the hopes of marrying into money. Schopf maneuvers "Mary" into meeting Rudi, and they fall in love. Mary’s cousin Bobby turns up and wins her heart, while Millie discovers that Schopf is actually her uncle, and (the mortgage on the castle dissolved) marries Rudi.
Truus is third lead in what is really Magda Schneider and Leo Slezak's film. Her character, Mary the millionairess (we can tell she's American because she says "OK!" a lot), isn't particularly well-written, but Truus makes her interesting, giving her energy and charm. Slezak was a larger-than-life man with a great sense of humour. His character, Schopf, likes to burst into song every so often - a reference to Slezak's previous career as an internationally-rated Opera star. He'd been acting in films since 1932. Magda Schneider was a singer and actress who had started in movies in 1930. She had met handsome leading man Wolf Albach-Retty three years later, and would marry him in 1937.
Truus had realised that one reason she was still being offered "mischievous teenager"-type roles was that she was wearing her hair in the bob she'd worn when she'd first arrived in Berlin. That sharp little bob had been her trademark, but it had to go. "G'schichten..." was the first film in which she wore her new style, and she hoped that it would show casting directors that her Backfisch days were behind her.
"G'schichten..." is a good example of a great failing in German films of the 1930s and 40s. While Hollywood product could be frothy and pointless, the bigger studios also offered more realistic films which drew attention to social problems of the day (a storytelling tradition later perfected by directors like Frank Capra in such features as "It's A Wonderful Life" and "State Of The Union"). German movies simply avoided issues like politics, poverty and injustice, preferring to show pretty people having romantic adventures in old-fashioned locations. "G'schichten..."'s cast wander Vienna in horse-drawn carriages, wear long dresses and top hats, attend country festivals and warble love-songs to the tunes of Strauss. Everyone is clean, everyone is essentially happy in a cosy, traditional world. "G'schichten..." is a typical "confusion-of-identity" comedy, and serves that genre well, but as their political system came under the Nazis' grip, German audiences may well have wondered why such meringues were the only dish on the menu.
Production Company: Filma Filmproduktie NV.
Director: Rudolf Meinert.
Daan Pieters (Roland Varno), a gentle, well-meaning young shop-assistant in a small town, receives his National Service callup papers. His mother is horrified, but Daan eventually sets off for the big city, lugging a box of groceries his Mum has prepared for his new Captain. On the train Daan notices a pretty girl wearing a blue hat - she's surrounded by soldiers, and Daan's too shy to approach her.
At the barracks he meets his room-mate - a sharp, cynical man called Toontje (Lou Bandy), who knows a country bumpkin when he sees one, and treats him accordingly. He plays various tricks on him, but goes too far when he replaces the food Daan's mother sent for the Captain with rotting fish-bones. To his amazement, Daan doesn't rat on him, and he starts to respect the country boy.
They go to a show, and Daan spots the girl in the blue hat in the audience - and is delighted when she smiles at him. Her name's Betsy, and Toontje helps get rid of her date so Daan can walk her home (unaware that Toontje has told her that he's rich). Daan forgets to notice Betsy's address, so Toontje helps him find her. Daan's in love, but can't help noticing that Betsy loses interest in him when his wallet is empty. He meets her parents to get permission for their engagement, but Toontje doesn't trust Betsy and tries to break them up. When he accuses Betsy of being a gold-digger, Daan punches him.
The couple visit Daan's parents, who take an immediate dislike to Betsy - to them she seems vain and shallow - she doesn't even make her own dresses! They'd be happier if Daan were to marry Truus, a local girl who likes him a lot.
Back in town Betsy flirts with another man, and Daan attacks him. Toontje takes Betsy aside and tells her that what she's doing to Daan isn't fair - he loves her, but she's too busy being young and fancy-free to be involved with him. She knows he's right, and breaks up with Daan. Later, as the soldiers march through the town, Betsy watches. She knows what she's lost - Daan will certainly marry Truus from back home - but their lives are too different for it to work.
By 1934, Holland's cities were modern, dynamic places, but country areas were very old-fashioned in comparison. Daan's moral certainty is a joke in the city, but even Toontje starts to respect it after a while. Betsy's wise-cracking, flirty personality is just what she needs to survive on the streets, but to Daan's parents she's a complete waste of oxygen - and she knows it. "I did love you," she tells Daan at the end, "but I can't change the way I am".
At one point during the exterior shooting at Soest in Utrecht, the police turned up, alarmed that “strangers were performing fake fights without a permit”. The actors and crew were hauled off to the station and filming was halted until the mayor felt reassured enough to let them out.
Roland (Daan) Varno left Europe for Hollywood, where his knowledge of languages made him useful in the Office of Strategic Services, an American espionage and intelligence organization. He also appeared in movies, often playing Nazis. After the war he built up a successful career in radio, and worked in movies and TV until the late 1950s. He died in 1996.
"Het Meisje..." had a gala premiere in Amsterdam just before Christmas 1934 at the very glamourous Tuschinski Theatre, but the film was banned in Holland in April 1940 - the Germans had taken over, and some scenes were subversive. At one point Toontje is asked what he'd do if the Netherlands were invaded. “I'd put a white flag on the end of my rifle," he answers, "and when they got close I'd remove it and shoot them all!” When he's told that that wouldn't be allowed, he retorts, "If they get their greedy hands on Holland, anything’s allowed!”
The Tuschinski Theatre still stands in Amsterdam, recently restored to its Art Deco glory. Its owner, Abraham Tuschinski, along with most of his family, disappeared into a concentration camp and was never seen again.
Lou (Toontje) Bandy was an interesting man, though notoriously difficult to work with. One of the most popular entertainers in Holland at the time, Bandy was a singer, musician and Music Hall comedian, well known for funny songs like “Louise zit niet op je nagels te bijten” (“Louise, don't bite your nails”).
Nostalgia buff Parlophonman has put a rare recording of Lou Bandy singing the film's theme song on Youtube - click here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQeObtSJD3U to hear it.
Production Company: Tobis.
Director: Fritz Peter Buch.
The title translates as "One Of The Guys".
This is the booklet given to guests at the film's premiere.