Next on screen is one of the early German sound films, a comedy with Heinz Rühmann and the last film director Max Ophüls could make in Germany

(1933, 89 min, dir. Max Ophüls, starring Heinz Rühmann, Lien Deyers, Lizzi Waldmüller, English subtitles)

DATE: 27 MAY 2013

TIME: 5.00 p.m.

VENUE: Howard College, MTB West Wing 1st Floor, German Programme, Media Room F251

About the film:

Peter (Heinz Rühmann) and Gina (Lien Deyers) are in rivalling camps, representatives of competing wine merchants. Peter is an advertising man, but enough of a dreamer to brave the occupational hazard of falling in love with the competition. Gina has her own thoughts on the subject; impressed by Peter’s cockiness, she very nearly engages him as an adman; but when he loses his edge to please her, she gives him the brush-off.

Still more difficult is it for Peter to refrain from drinking the wine he is expected to peddle. Yet that is just what his uncle’s will stipulates. Reading, as it were, from the beyond and heard through a gramophone, the departed informs his unsmiling heirs that Peter is to inherit the Bockelmann fortune if he can manage to remain sober for an entire month. This becomes as much a test of Peter’s stamina as it is an opportunity for greedy relatives to deprive him of his inheritance. Resigned to throw away his fortune by reaching for his uncle’s wine, it is Peter who has the last laugh.

Lachende Erben nicely balances wit and humor, sentiment and satire. It is a comedy rooted in the belief that unity can be achieved through a respect for difference, that, while the world is getting smaller, there is room enough at the table for all—and wine, women and song besides. Perhaps it all looked a little more spacious since the women in this comedy were unencumbered by children, an independence at odds with Nazi dictum.

Max Ophüls (along with Ernst Lubitsch and Douglas Sirk) was one of the creative minds who chose to desert Nazi-Germany, taking with them the hope of comedy that might have prevented Germany from failing the test of civilization. The heirs who took his place had little to laugh at and gave the world less. (adapted from:


For further details please contact: 

Dr Marion Pape
Head of German Studies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
School of Arts
Tel: 0027-31-260 1086 / 2380

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