Cinema Europa / 14th May / 15.30

Die goldene Pest (John Brahm, 1954)


Whatever happened to his village? Richard Hartwig wonders when he returns to Dossental: The village had turned into something like a pleasure quarter for the soldiers of a nearby US barracks and maneuver grounds – lots of bars and pubs, many a hotel with hourly rates, not to mention the drugs which are sold not too secretly. The Dossentalers certainly learned quickly how to turn a buck on the gullible foreigners who, again, enjoy taking advantage of their splendid overseas posting and the privileges that come with it. Dossental had turned Sodom, and thus… Just like Hartwig, John Brahm was a German turned US-American who came back to the old world and a new country – aghast. Getting Brahm as a director was one of the smartest moves by Gerhard T. Buchholz, writer-producer of Die goldene Pest as well as several other major works of the period. Buchholz was an outsider, an independent who had to make do with small budgets which is why he only worked with off-beat talents. Few other producers in 50s FRG showed such a penchant for political subjects, tackled usually with an anarchic spirit; and while Buchholz seems to have had a particularly big bone to pick with the GDR (most of his productions deal in one way or another with the alternative Germany), he also lashed out against the Economic Miracle’s sinister fallout: corruption and excess; Buchholz’s dislike of Communism was met by his disdain for Consumerism… Consequently, Buchholz’s productions invariably end on a clerico-conservative note so typical of the Bonn Republic’s early years – but till then, they sport a combative attitude whose spunk and free-spirit are unlike anything else in the cinema of this period.