Short films with Karl Valentin | Chicago Reader

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German comedian Karl Valentin made the transition to sound more easily than to fascism, and his best-known short, The Orchestra Rehearsal (1933, 22 min.)—in which he plays a trumpeter at odds with the conductor, the players, and the world in general—exemplifies the subversive qualities that marginalized him in an increasingly rigid society. But I was more impressed by the other three entries on this program, which highlight his long and fruitful partnership with comedienne Liesl Karlstadt. A warmhearted dummkopf along the lines of Gracie Allen, she provides the perfect foil for the mordant Valentin; The Maledict Spotlight (1934, 20 min.), in which they play janitors sent onstage at a cabaret to repair a spotlight, recalls the classic two-reelers of Laurel and Hardy with its fluid interplay of slapstick and character humor. Total running time for the program is 90 minutes.

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