The Robber Symphony (1936)

Article 3178 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-25-2010
Posting Date: 4-27-2010
Directed by Fredrich Feher
Featuring Hans Feher, Magda Sonja, George Graves
Country: UK
What it is: Surreal crime musical?

A bag of loot is stashed in a piano that belongs to a family of traveling entertainers. A gang of robbers tries to get the loot back, and though they kidnap two members of the troop, the third, a young boy, has run off with the piano.

“The Motion Picture Guide” classifies this movie as a fantasy, but whether this movie actually belongs to that classification is a difficult thing to settle. A straightforward discussion of the plot yields little to qualify that classification, but the style in which the movie is shot is determinedly non-realistic, what with its surreal images (an orchestra made up of mustachioed men in bowlers is one touch) and it’s various cinematic techniques (lots of fast motion photography and the occasional moments in which the film is run backwards) tend to give us the feeling that this takes place in another world entirely. Apparently, English and French versions of the movie were made, but the movie tries as much as possible to rely on visuals and music to tell the story (in fact, the credits do not speak of the movie of having been directed but of having been “composed”) that the language is almost secondary; in fact there are moments where the talking is more for the sound of what’s being said rather than for the substance of it. All around, this is one strange and unique movie, sometimes confusing, but made with energy and wit. Director Friedrich Feher appears as an actor in THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, and uncredited co-producer Robert Wiene directed that silent classic, so this should give you a bit of an idea of what you’re getting into here.


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