Menschen am Sonntag (1930)

StarStarEmpty StarEmpty Star

Director: Robert Siodmak, Edgar G. Ulmer
Cast: non-professionals

Synopsis

Taking place over a single weekend, the action concerns five characters - a salesman/gigolo, taxi driver, film extra, salesgirl and model (who stays home in bed) - who spend Sunday by the lake outside Berlin, flirt, fight and return ready to face another week of daily grind.

The Review

For many years not seen because made by Jews and therefore suppressed, the film resurfaced in the 1960s and is famous for starting off the careers of the directors, together with Billy Wilder, Robert Siodmak (script), Eugen Schüfftan and Fred Zinnemann (camera). Taken on its own it is a refreshing semi-documentary affording a privileged view of life in a large city at a key moment in European history; were one to quibble one might say that its clearly fictional episode in the lives of these five characters, all of whom play themselves, sits uneasily alongside the more formal flourishes of reportage in which the filmmakers observe the public at large and where the avant-garde influence of the work of Walter Ruttmann can be discerned.