Kohlhiesel's Daughters
(Kohlhiesels Töchter)

Live Musical Accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis
Screening on Film
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch.
With Henny Porten, Emil Jannings, Gustav von Wangenheim.
Germany, 1920, 35mm, black & white, silent, 64 min.
German intertitles with English subtitles.
Print source: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung

Lubitsch’s successes in 1919 with The Oyster Princess, Madame DuBarry and The Doll earned him carte blanche with the studio, so he made two comedies in a row—his so-called “winter films”—supposedly in order to combine skiing with work. Both based on Shakespearean plays, the first relocates The Taming of the Shrew from Italy to Southern Germany. Mathias Kohlhiesel must marry off his cloddish daughter Liesel before he can allow his beautiful and popular daughter Gretel to wed. Peter and Paul, Gretel’s admirers, are equally interested in a speedy marriage for Liesel, and therefore attempt to convince each other of her charms. While Lubitsch’s iconic finesse is missing, this slapstick film was nevertheless an audience favorite. One of Germany’s superstars at the time, Henny Porten, playing the dual role of Liesel and Gretel, may help explain that.

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