Variet�
by Diana Savage

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AKA: Variety
AKA: Vaudeville
Date: 1925
Country: German
Director: E.A. Dupont
Starring: Lya de Putti, Emil Jannings, Warwick Ward

Review based on Grapevine Video (1995) version.

I watched this film last night and was very impressed. I would rank it among the best silent films I�ve watched, which is a substantial number. While I would not rank it with my favorites: �Pandora�s Box,� �Beggars of Life,� and �Piccadilly,� it belongs on the second tier with works like �The Garden of Eden.�

            Emil Jannings Image Copyright 2005 Diana SavageJannings, shown below on the left, as �Boss� Huller was in top form. This was the finest performance I have ever seen him give. He was a little melodramatic but that was the style at the time. Lya de Putte, shown to the right laughing in an early scene,Lya De Putte Image Copyright 2005 by Diana Savage playing his wife, also put in a fine performance, one of her best. It was much more subdued than her usual style and was highly realistic. One can easily picture her as the young wife led astray by the charming and conniving Artinelli, shown to the left Warwick Ward as Artinelli Image Copyright 2005 by Diana Savagedelivering the first adulteress kiss. I�ve also never seen her as lovely. She almost ranked with Louise Brooks for beauty. Warwick Ward plays the charming but worldly Artinelli. His performance shows the standard marks of the silent star with an overplayed character. Still his character is portrayed more through his actions than in his melodramatic overplaying. All three stars do excellent jobs portraying people who have had too much to drink. It has been my observation that this is very difficult to portray accurately while not interfering with the cohesiveness of a film. I actually wondered if they were drunk as they stumbled and wove their way down the hotel�s corridors.

            The film work, by E. A. Dupont, was excellent. The film was artistically framed and included some of the most elaborate special effects of the period. These were not overplayed and certainly are not central to the movie.

            The plot, the tale of fatal love triangle, could easily have been turned into melodrama but instead comes off as dramatic. There are excellent scenes of revelry, trapeze scenes, and clips of vaudeville acts. All are included without overwhelming the movie. This is not a movie of show scenes. With the exception the prologue and epilogue which were weak, corny and melodramatic the film was well plotted and flowed smoothly. You�re even left with a question to ponder, does she wait?

            The version I reviewed has been cut from the original version, in which Boss' �wife,� Lya De Putte, first appears as a stowaway waif, Bertha. Grapevine�s version is missing this introductory scene, as well as a scene where Boss Huller leaves his wife, played by Maly Delschaft, and runs off with Bertha. In the Grapevine version Bertha appears to be married to Huller. This divergence in plot could make a significant difference to how the Lya De Putti character is interpreted. In the original she steals Huller from his wife and then cheats on him with Artinelli. This casts her in her usual vamp role. In the Grapevine version she appears to be faithful to the doting Huller until Artinelli seduces her. In this light she is a wife lead astray and one can�t help hoping she is waiting for Huller amid the trees at the end of the film.

            Grapevine indicates their version is the most complete one available. I still found it a top flight film and would highly recommend it. The missing scenes did not detract from the movie and may have actually added pathos to a plot which would otherwise be full of characters that get their just desserts rather than naive innocents caught up in the circumstances of sudden fame and Artinelli's snaky charms.

� 2003 Diana Savage

The Stars
Lya de Putti: Lya De Putti was born on January 10th 1899 in what is now Hungary. She is chiefly remembered for her vamp roles, which include her as Mirrjah in Joe May�s epic �The Indian Tomb� (1921) and Buchowetzki�s �Othello� (1922). De Putti got her start in Hungarian vaudeville but soon moved to Berlin where she joined theLya de Putti Postcard from the collection of Diana Savage ballet. Her success in live theater was limited and in 1918 she appeared in her first film, �A Cs�sz�r katon�i�. She made her break through to leading roles with Marnau�s �Der brennende Acker/Burning Soil� (1922). Her role in the German film �Variet� (1925) made her a star in the US.  Many people believe this was the peak of her career. In 1926 she moved to California and continued to star in films. Her first film in the states was in D. W. Griffith�s �Sorrows of Satan� as Princess Olga Godovsky. Olga is a woman who gives her soul to Satan for the earthy vanities of a flapper. Lya De Putti went on to star in several Universal films including �Buck Privates� (1928), �Midnight Rose� (1928), �The Scarlet Lady� (1928) and �The Informer� (1929). In 1931 she died from complications to surgery. In all Lya de Putti is credited will appearing in 34 films.

Emil Jannings: Born as Theodor Emil Janenz in 1884, Jannings is credited with appearing in 76 films. Emil ran away from his middle-class home to be a sailor when he was young. Disappointed in his career he entered the theater at the age of 18. In 1906, he was invited to join one of the most prestigious theater companies in Germany, Berlin�s1931 Jasmatzi Emil Jannings Card from things-and-other-stuff.com stock Max Reinhardt's theater. Having distinguished himself on stage Jannings made his movie debut in 1914 in the film �Passionels Tagebuch.� Despite the fact that he was considered an outstanding actor at the time and even won the first Best Actor Academy Award for his films �The Last Command� (1928) and �The Way of All Flesh� (1927), Jannings is now generally considered to have been a solid but uninspired actor. The switch to sound soon ended his career in the USA and he returned to Germany. In his first movie back in Europe, �Der Blaue Engel/The Blue Angel� (1930), his waning star briefly passed the rising star of Marlene Dietrich. With the rise of the Nazis in 1933, Jannings became an enthusiastic supporter of their cause. He appeared in Nazi propaganda pieces such as �Alte und der junge K�nig/The Old and the Young King� (1935) and �Der Herrscher/The Ruler� (1937).    In 1938, Minister of Propaganda Goebbels rewarded Jannings for his work by appointing him chair of Germany's Tobis Film Company and awarding the company the �eagle sign,� one of the highest cultural honors of the Third Reich. Finally, in 1941, Goebbels named Jannings "Artist of the State" for his work in the anti-English film �Ohm Kr�ger� (1941). With the fall of the Third Reich Jannings was banned from film making in Germany and was persona non-gratis in the Allied countries. Jannings retired to Austria where he died in 1950 of cancer.

Warwick Ward: Of all the stars of �Variet� Ward is the least well known. Ward wasWarwick Ward Image Copyright 2005 by Diana Savage born in 1891 in the UK. During his life he is credited with appearing in 63 films. Among them he also appeared with Lya de Putti in �The Informer� (1929). Of the 63 films he appears in are examples from the UK, USA, Germany, and France. Arguably the two greatest films he appeared in were "Variet�" (1925) and "Die wunderbare L�ge der Nina Petrowna/The Wonderful Lies of Nina Petrovna" (1929). In 1933, Ward made his last films and turned to full time producing. As a producer he produced a total of 19 films. He died in 1967.

� 2005 Diana Savage
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Diana Savage is a silent film buff and collector of early film collectibles.  Variet� is her first submission to The Movie Profiles & Premiums Newsletter.

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