Current Issue Sample

Art-House Video

Berlin—Schonhauser Corner (1957)

Rating: 3 stars

D: Gerhard Klein. Ekkehard Schall, Ilse Page, Ernst-Georg Schwill, Harry Engel, Raimund Scheicher, Helga Goring. 90 mins. (First Run Features) 6/08

The Wild One, when shown in Berlin, generated riots, prompting both East and West to want to control rebellious youth. In the East, state-censored cinema expression worked at pretending to accept change within the prescribed social order; the result is this magnificently conflicted time capsule. Good-looking semi-hunk Dieter (Schall), groomed to be the East German Brando, is as tortured as they come. He's a good-guy bad boy in with a bad crowd, in love with Angela (Page), the girl upstairs who looks down longingly from her window on the street- corner toughs, and, in law-and-order East Germany, his father is a cop. Contemporary Stateside juvenile delinquent flicks influence the sets and the narrative. Dieter's pal Kohle (Schwill) is bullied into breaking a street lamp; before you can snap your fingers, he's dead. Angela is in revolt against her mother, who is sleeping with her forever soon-to-be divorced boss. Next minute, Angela's pregnant. Another pal is forever running away to the French section of Berlin where he, too, runs afoul of the law. The top-down message: You can't fit in East or West, you might as well love the East. A film with lots of undercurrents, this is a must for JD completists.

~ Nancy Naglin