Hans Tasiemka on Siegfried Arno

Siegfried Arno

Hans Tasiemka on Siegfried Arno

Critical Essay

Hans Tasiemka, Der Film no. 19, Oct. 15, 1928

Comic talents are few and far between in German film. There are no doubt ladies and gentlemen who have been drilled in certain comic situations! Soldiers of whipping-cream bombardments and precisely measured puffings of cheeks, so to say! And this is also why all those who have ventured to create the German burlesque have failed.

American film comedians, and I am not even talking here of the big Three, certainly have their peculiarities, but they are not caricatured, not made tasteless through onesidedness and through executing the same half dozen gestures over and over (and I mean tasteless in the truest sense of the word, without any nasty innuendo).

But let us not lose ourselves in a thicket of theoretical formulations! Let us speak rather of an actor who resists being pinned down, who despite numerous opportunities has resisted becoming a caricature actor, who is simply named Siegfried Arno, and who has weathered the storm and held his own through even the most inane of film operettas.

Arno like his great American colleague Buster Keaton is always serious. Arno never laughs, and when he does, then inadvertently. Arno is the schlemihl, the man of a thousand missed opportunities, or the decadent gentleman who has lost even his connection to real life.

In a recent film, one whose script cannot have come to anyone’s attention because of its novelty, this man, this Arno, a count from his monocle to his patent leather shoes, was dragged to Werder, to the banks of the Neckar of the Fruit Wine drinkers, and there something awful happened to him.
He, who is so delicate as to shudder at a speck of lint on the snow-white collar of his fellow man, besotted himself, if you will allow, like a pig! Inadvertently, of course, altogether inadvertently. But he performed the semblance of his intoxication with a startling and rare realism. The way he passed through stages of swilling, from light befuddlement to brute exhilaration, was unmatched. Here was no cabarettist spoiling the popular-demand performance with his antics, but a poor schmuck, drunk to the gills, demonstrating his experience.
Arno, he could be the pathetic Peter Schlemihl of our time, a Peter Schlemihl with an elegantly tied cravat and a bleeding heart.

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