William Dieterle was the youngest of nine children of parents Jacob and Berthe Dieterle. They lived in poverty, and when he was old enough, William earned money as a carpenter and a scrap dealer. But he dreamed of better things. Theater caught his eye as a teen, and by the age of sixteen, he had joined a traveling theater company. He was ambitious and handsome, both of which opened the door to leading romantic roles in theater productions. Though he had acted in his first movie by 1913, not until 1919 did he move back into film. In that year, he was noticed by producer/director/designer/impresario Max Reinhardt, the most influential proponent of expressionism in theater; while in Berlin, Reinhardt hired him as an actor for his productions. Dieterle resumed German film acting in 1920, becoming a popular and successful romantic lead and featured character actor in the mix of German expressionist/Gothic and nature/romanticism genres that imbued much of the German cinema in the silent era… read more
Interesting in how it tries to recreate the atmosphere of the era, but as I remember reading in a review somewhere (can't remember where exactly) it does "creak with age" at times.
There is little real story, with the characters revealing (or not revealing) themselves through conversation. It's very similar to those two great 90s indies about Americans in Europe, Before Sunrise and Barcelona. It's so similar to those and so unlike other 1931 films, it seems utterly out of time. A superb film about alcoholism, life after war, the expat life, the death wish, and the Lost Generation.