Thursday, May 22, 2014


Thymian lives with her father above his drug store. On the day that she is being confirmed, the housekeeper is sacked for being pregnant and later kills herself, even as Dad hires a new one named Meta who quickly becomes his mistress. That night, Thymian is raped by her father's sales partner and becomes pregnant; her child is given away and she is sent to a home for wayward girls (when a few of those girls flirt with her) run by a sadistic lesbian disciplinarian. She escapes and meets up with the dissolute and penniless Count Osdorff who installs her in a brothel (as a dance instructor, in theory). Eventually, Osdorff marries Thymian, not out of love but convenience, and when her father dies, she gives her inheritance to Meta who, with her kids, has been left in bad straits. Osdorff, who was counting on that money, jumps out their window to his death. And et cetera until Thymian winds up more or less on an even keel thanks to the Count's uncle becoming her sugar daddy.

This German silent movie crams in enough plot for an entire season of a nighttime soap opera, and not always very skillfully, but there are at least two reasons to see it: the stylish direction of G.W. Pabst (PANDORA'S BOX, THE WHITE HELL OF PITZ PALU) and the lead performance of Louise Brooks as Thymian. She is riveting, even if she doesn't quite get to shine as she did as Lulu in PANDORA'S BOX. Her character here, like Lulu, is knocked around by life but Thymian doesn't have the same tragic ending as Lulu; she may wind up unfulfilled and relatively unhappy but she's respectable. At one point, she is referred to as "lost, as we all are" and the last message of the film, delivered by the sugar daddy, is "With a little more love, no one on this earth would ever be lost." Maybe, but the moral hypocrisy of the middle class is seen as the primary source of the "lost girl's" misery. At any rate, this is enjoyable on three levels: as a sensationalistic tract, as a exercise in visual style, and for a rare chance to see Brooks before her too-short career ended. [DVD]

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