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The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin
The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin (1918) - 1.jpg
Still of the Kaiser in the "scrap of paper" scene
Directed byRupert Julian
Written byRupert Julian
Elliott J. Clawson
Produced byRupert Julian
StarringRupert Julian
Elmo Lincoln
Nigel De Brulier
Lon Chaney
Harry von Meter
CinematographyEdward A. Kull
Production
company
Renowned Pictures Corporation
Distributed byUniversal Jewel
Release date
  • March 19, 1918 (1918-03-19)
Running time
7 reels (70 minutes)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin (also known as The Beast of Berlin and The Kaiser) was a 1918 American silent war propaganda melodrama film produced and directed by, and starring, Rupert Julian. The screenplay was co-written by Rupert Julian and Elliott J. Clawson. The film's supporting cast included Elmo Lincoln, Nigel De Brulier, Harry Von Meter and Lon Chaney.[1]

No known prints of the film survive. The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin is one of the films included on the American Film Institute's list of the "Ten Most Wanted" lost films.[2] A still exists showing Lon Chaney as "Herr Bethmann-Hollweg" standing directly behind the Kaiser (Rupert Julian).[3] The film's program cover also exists.[4]

The germanophobic film contains a propagandist view of the First World War, showing the political greed of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, the resistance of some of his own soldiers, and fanciful prediction of the nature of the war's end.[5] The film is now considered lost.[6][7]

Synopsis

Half-page newspaper ad for the film. Tells viewers to call police if people around them are doing things out of the ordinary.
Half-page newspaper ad for the film. Tells viewers to call police if people around them are doing things out of the ordinary.

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Hohenzollern (Rupert Julian) is a vain and arrogant tyrant eager for conquest. The Kaiser is slapped by one of his captains in anger, who then commits suicide to atone for his disgrace. Despite having signed a peace treaty with his neighbors, the Kaiser decides to declare war on Belgium. When Belgium is invaded by the German army during World War I, Marcas, a mighty-muscled blacksmith (Elmo Lincoln), although wounded, is able to save his daughter from the clutches of a German soldier, whom he kills and disposes of in a burning building. Soon after this, the RMS Lusitania is sunk by Captain von Neigle (Nigel De Brulier), and the Kaiser gives him a medal for his action, but the captain is later driven mad with remorse at the thought of the innocent women and children he killed. After the United States declares war, the Allied generals turn the Kaiser over to Albert I of Belgium. Incarcerated, the Kaiser faces his jailer, Marcas the blacksmith.

Cast

Production notes

Although frequently listed as a Universal Studios production, the film was actually an independent production produced by Rupert Julian for Renowned Pictures. Julian licensed the distribution rights to Renowned, who in turn sold the rights to Universal Jewel for worldwide distribution right after the film's New York premiere.

Rupert Julian would later direct Lon Chaney in the 1925 blockbuster The Phantom of the Opera.[8] Writer Elliott J. Clawson later went on to write the screenplays for several other Chaney films, including The Phantom of the Opera, The Road to Mandalay and West of Zanzibar.[9] Some reviews at the time oddly mentioned Erich von Stroheim's involvement in the film as both a co-writer as well as an uncredited extra, but this is unproven.[10]

Reception

The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin was an enormous hit for Universal when it was released,[11] and they spared no expense in advertising the film. Universal studio head Carl Laemmle pushed the film to the theater owners as hard as he sold it to the viewing public. "A whirlwind of Applause - A Landslide of Money," "Unparalleled Receipts," and "The Picture That Blocked Traffic on Broadway" were some of the headlines for ads that ran in trade publications in an attempt to get theater owners to book the picture. At one point, the film was playing simultaneously in two Broadway theaters owned by Marcus Loew and William Fox.

According to a report in Exhibitor's Trade Review on the film's success in Omaha, 14,000 saw the film there in a single week, a record for that city. "Wild cheering marked every show when the young captain socked the Kaiser on the jaw. Patriotic societies boosted the picture because of its aid in stirring up the country to war. Street car signs were used; huge street banners swung over the crowds in the downtown district, and a truck paraded the streets with the Kaiser hanging in effigy and a big sign 'All pro-Germans will be admitted free.' None availed himself of the invitation."[12]

Rupert Julian received rave reviews for his portrayal of the Kaiser and later reprised the role in many subsequent films.[13][14]

Reviews

"(The film) dramatizes patriotism more intensely than any other picture this writer has seen. It combines a wonderful characterization of the Kaiser rendered by Rupert Julian and an intimate drama of one family who suffered when the German hordes swept through Belgium." --- Motion Picture News [15]

"The main intent of the producers, and they have adhered to it admirably, was to give the observer a look at the private and public life of this human monster...Mr. Julian's personal dilineation of the Kaiser is a splendid bit of acting all told...There are any number of bold and vigorous characterizations in the piece (including) Lon Chaney as Admiral von Tirpitz." --- Moving Picture World (Note this review strangely refers to Lon Chaney playing Admiral Von Terpitz, while all other sources list Chaney in the role of "Bethmann-Holweg").[16]

"THE KAISER is less a photoplay than a dramatic presentation of the crimes of Germany dominated by the Satanic sneer of her leader. It shows the invasion of Belgium, the wreck of the Lusitania and the attempted drive toward Paris all guided by a fiend in a royal helmet and spiked moustache who does everything but snort fire. Rupert Julian impersonates this master villain so successfully that his entrance is greeted with spontaneous hisses." --- Photoplay[17]

In popular culture

In 1919, a short (two-reel) parody of the film was released titled The Geezer of Berlin.[12]

See also

References

  1. ^ Bodeen, DeWitt (1976). From Hollywood: The Careers of 15 Great American Stars. A. S. Barnes. p. 228. ISBN 0-498-01346-4.
  2. ^ American Film, Volume 5, Issues 1-10. American Film Institute. 1979. p. 71.
  3. ^ Mirsalis, Jon C. "The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin". Lonchaney.org. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  4. ^ http://lonchaney.org/photos/a_kaiser_the_beast_of_berlin.jpg
  5. ^ Neale, Stephen (2000). Genre and Hollywood. Psychology Press. p. 119. ISBN 0-415-02606-7.
  6. ^ Waldman, Harry (2000). Missing Reels: Lost Films of American and European Cinema. McFarland. p. 254. ISBN 0-786-40724-7.
  7. ^ Magill's Survey of Silent Films, Vol2. FLE-POT p.616 edited by Frank N. Magill c.1982 ISBN 0-89356-241-6 (3 book set ISBN 0-89356-239-4) Retrieved June 27, 2018
  8. ^ Blake, Michael F. (1998). "The Films of Lon Chaney". Vestal Press Inc. Page 83. ISBN 1-879511-26-6.
  9. ^ Blake, Michael F. (1998). "The Films of Lon Chaney". Vestal Press Inc. Page 83. ISBN 1-879511-26-6.
  10. ^ Mirsalis, Jon C. "The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin". Lonchaney.org. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  11. ^ Blake, Michael F. (2001). The Films of Lon Chaney. Madison Books. p. 83. ISBN 1-568-33237-8.
  12. ^ a b Mock and Larson, 152
  13. ^ Keil, Charlie; Singer, Ben, eds. (2009). American Cinema of the 1910s: Themes and Variations. Rutgers University Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-813-54445-8.
  14. ^ Quinlan, David (1983). The Illustrated Guide to Film Directors. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 157. ISBN 0-389-20408-0.
  15. ^ Blake, Michael F. (1998). "The Films of Lon Chaney". Vestal Press Inc. Page 83. ISBN 1-879511-26-6.
  16. ^ Mirsalis, Jon C. "The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin". Lonchaney.org. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  17. ^ Mirsalis, Jon C. "The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin". Lonchaney.org. Retrieved March 11, 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 22 April 2021, at 19:32
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