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Broken Lullaby (1932)

French soldier travels to Germany to find a family of a man he killed during World War I.

Director:

Ernst Lubitsch

Writers:

Maurice Rostand (play), Reginald Berkeley (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Lionel Barrymore ... Dr. H. Holderlin
Nancy Carroll ... Fraulein Elsa, Walter's Fiancée
Phillips Holmes ... Paul Renard
Louise Carter ... Frau Holderlin
Lucien Littlefield ... Herr Walter Schultz
Tom Douglas ... Walter Holderlin, German soldier killed by Paul
Zasu Pitts ... Anna, Holderlin's Maid
Frank Sheridan ... Priest
George Bickel George Bickel ... Herr Bresslauer, Dress Shop Owner
Emma Dunn ... Frau Miller
Reinhold Pasch Reinhold Pasch ... Fritz's Father
Rodney McLennan Rodney McLennan ... War Veteran (as Rodney McLennon)
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Storyline

A young French soldier in World War I is overcome with guilt when he kills a German soldier who, like himself, is a musically gifted conscript, each having attended the same musical conservatory in France. The fact that the incident occurred in war does not assuage his guilt. He travels to Germany to meet the man's family. Written by Steve Owen <owensmi@juno.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Dramatic Triumph of a Hate That Turns to Glamorous, Vibrant Love! (Print Ad- Pittsburgh Press, (( Pittsburgh, Penna.)) 5 April 1932)

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 January 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man I Killed See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$889,154 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its earliest documented telecast took place in Minneapolis Thursday 21 May 1959 on WTCN (Channel 11) as their "Morning Spectacular". It was released on DVD 24 November 2015 as part of the Universal Vault Series. See more »

Connections

Remade as Frantz (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Der frohe Wandersmann
(uncredited)
Music by Theodor Frohlich
Lyrics by Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
See more »

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User Reviews

Extraordinarily moving plea for pacifism and forgiveness
22 July 2009 | by troubleclefmusicSee all my reviews

Sandwiched as it is between his more usual fair (i.e. saucy operetta), Lubitsch's "Broken Lullaby" has not only been eclipsed, it has been forgotten. This is a crime.

While the subject matter is entirely serious, there are several "Lubitsch touches" that reveal the scope of the message behind "Broken Lullaby," particularly the sequence wherein the wives of the town open their windows to call to the neighbors, passing along a chain of gossip that follows the hero and heroine on their way home. Another brilliant community sequence involves the town elders gathered together to drink beer and pass judgment, which stops cold once Barrymore (who has made the Ftrench soldier a sort of surrogate son) joins them.

The plot of "Broken Lullaby" is doubly suspenseful: for the first half of the film, you wonder how Paul will reveal his secret to the Holderlin family; when he opts to follow a non-confrontational line of masquerade, the new suspense sets in as you wonder when he'll tell them the truth (or will they find out on their own?).

Phillips Holmes is strikingly handsome, and while his performance may seem too old school for modern eyes, he is completely honest as the soldier who is near-to-bursting with guilt (although remorse is a better way to put it). Lionel Barrymore should have received his Oscar nod for this film, and his speech to his peers at the inn is delivered with all the fire of a later Capra idealist. Only Nancy Carroll (so good in the same year's "Hot Saturday) seems out of place as Elsa: she is too American for this tale.

Brilliant details such as a glimpse of a military parade as seen from behind a soldier who has lost one leg, Barrymore adjusting the clock in his dead son's immaculately kept room (shrine?), and the many battle montages overlapping the opening church service culminate in the most understated, moving, and beautiful final moments of any film, one in which dialog is jettisoned in favor of two instruments joining to play one gorgeous song.

"Broken Lullaby" deserves restoration and a release on DVD immediately, not only for Lubitsch fans interested in seeing another side of the master's art, but also for those who embrace the ethos of acceptance and love.


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