October 22, 2012

95. Algol (1920)

To be honest, I never dared to imagine there would come a day when I would get to see Sebastian Droste in actual motion... Let alone dance!
He captured my heart several years ago, back when I first laid my little peepers on him. It was some photograph of Anita Berber posing together with this enigmatic young buck, a true dancer with wildly painted eyes and painted on curls. His limbs and poise and nose and uhhh just about every other thing made my soul quiver.

I've had Algol on my "wanted" film list since the very beginning of this blog and now I'm super glad to announce that the film is available to you and me, on YouTube.

I am not very fluent at German, so I've stolen the synopsis from Wikipedia :
The film was directed by Hans Werckmeister and stars Emil Jannings and John Gottowt. The story centers on a human who is given a machine by an alien spirit which, if used, would allow him to rule the world. The sets for the movie were constructed by Walter Reimann, one of the set designers of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (released February 1920)."

 this specific copy of the film is excellent quality in many ways, but seems to be a bit off balance cos it cuts off the top of the screen. Above you can see creatures who I believe are representatives of the planet Algol

 Down on earth, on the left, Robert Herne (Emil Jannings, 36)

 he works at the mines

 love this industrial set!

 and here we meet the creature from planet Algol, portrayed by one foxy master by the name of John Gottowt (39)

 for some reason he takes the form of a human being and gets to know Robert Herne

 the alien seems to fancy Robert's girlfriend (?), Maria Obal a lot

 one evening the alien shows Robert a secret map and gives him a bizarre machine that allows him to have superhuman powers

 from what I gathered, these are notes made by some researcher, who drew up the map. But I have no idea how the alien got a hold of it

 the alien points out the planet Algol

 then assumes a more intergalactic form and leaves Robert alone again

 okay, I'll admit it, I kinda fell in love with John Gottowt. It broke my heart to learn that he was murdered back in 1942.

 then, fast forward - Robert Herne pretty much rules the industrial world, thanks to his secret machine

 Maria Obal (Hanna Ralph) was his friend when he was poor, but now they live far apart

 look at that set! I wish I could live in it

 Robert inspecting the machine

 the alien takes another human form and talks to Obal

 I think this is Yella Ward, but I'm not 100% sure. I kept confusing Maria Obal and Yella Ward throughout the movie. 
Whoever this babe is, apparently she owns some company and the workers are not happy about it and stage an uprising

 nasty alien dude is at it again, igniting the protest

 the workers storm the lady's headquarters

 Robert arrives to her rescue

 I loved this tiny scale model of the earth. I believe it represents how Robert's powers spread throughout the world

 people celebrate Mr. Herne

 the cat on the right played Robert's manservant.
 I don't know the name of the actor but he was hot as Hell

oh, as was this kitty, Robert's son Reginald (Ernst Hoffman, 20)

 Robert has told his son that he will rule the world some day

 the high + the mighty are gathered up for dinner, but someone is missing

 oooh, mister, if you only knew...

 Master Reginald is busy being the poster boy for decadence. And oh, is he fab or what? 
I had to watch this scene over and over. 
I imagine Bosie Douglas was like this while spending Oscar Wilde's money back in the day.

 meanwhile Robert refuses to show the mystical machine to his wife

 meanwhile Reggie baby has set his peepers on an exotic beauty

 the temptress seems to be in league with the alien

 on the other side of the world we meet Maria Obal, who tries to stop the peasants from joining Robert's industrial revolution

 but they won't listen

 I know how she feels

 the alien rejoices

 Maria's son goes to work at a factory but gets hurt. She is angry and there is another uprising, but I'm not sure what's going on. I got tired of using google translate for the intertitles.

 her son breaks into Robert Herne's mansion

 there he sees Herne's daughter (Käthe Haack, 23)

 they kind of fall for each other

 this was a beautiful scene, the dogs looked awesome when they raced up the stairs

 Obal's son gets taken into the mansion, meanwhile the court greets Robert, his wife and daughter

 a manservant tries to offer the rebellious youth some clean clothes, but he refuses

 the boy meets Robert face to face and accuses him of something, probably of being a tyrant. I think he was also going to ask him for financial help, on behalf of his mother. Again, I'm not entirely sure because of the language barrier.

 He takes Herne's daughter along and leaves. It's real love, I guess. 
Wish that would happen to me too.

 Robert is upset, as is his wife

 finally he decides to show her the machine

 it's all too much for the lady

Robert loses it after his wife's death. Reggie comes up to see his dad. 
Not that he's sorry or anything.

 he's more like "Dad, why can't you be dead already?"

 cos by now he has accommodated the exotic vamp

 "so, your dad dead yet?"

"No? Well screw you, no sex before you're the king of the world, Reggie baby"

 man, is he frustrated or what?

 meanwhile Robert receives a letter from Obal

 vamp thinks the old man is no good, she tries to make Reginald take over 

 Obal begs for Robert's help, for old times' sake.

 Reggie's minions are telling him to act up

 he does as he's told

 the son steals his father's necklace, the key to the magic machine

 foxy is full of joy, he shall now rule the world

 this calls for a celebration

 meanwhile Robert comes to grips with the loss and betrayal


He dances for Reginald, the man who was to be the new lord of the world.  At the same time Robert goes over to the room where he keeps the machine and makes a heavy decision. I won't spoil the ending for you.