Underrated German crime drama about a naive traffic cop (Gustav Fröhlich) who falls for a chic jewel thief (Betty Amann). It’s all terribly stylish, with Amann dragging Fröhlich down into the criminal underworld while he tries to drag her back to the side of law and order.
He’s a naïve Berlin cop. She’s a streetwise thief. Yup. Romance. But we’re in this for the Weimar gutter glamor and this film delivers in spades. One of the last great silent films to come out of the German industry, Asphalt is also a revelation for anyone who has not seen the work of director Joe May.
Continue reading “Asphalt (1929) A Silent Film Review”
Joe May catches a lot of flak for this one. A lot of Fritz Lang fans have 20/20 hindsight and curse May for taking Lang off directing duties for this picture. First of all, I actually like May as a director. He’s very underrated, in my opinion. Second, Lang had been directing since 1919, less than two years of experience, and this film had quite a big budget. I can’t really blame May. After all, it was his money.
In any case, what other movie lets you ogle Conrad Veidt painted gold?
This film has the distinction of never quite succeeding. It was filmed three times, the last time by Lang himself, but the story never really seemed to catch on with audiences. Lang’s 1959 remake is mostly remembered today for Debra Paget dancing in extremely revealing costumes.
Maharajah Conrad Veidt hires a German architect to design a beautiful tomb for his wife. She isn’t actually dead yet. The Maharajah only has one tiger pit, you see, and they need time to digest her boyfriend. Do you think a maharajah is made of tiger pits? The pace is stately but the scenery is first rate. Veidt electrifies.