The Eccentric | Chicago Reader

The Eccentric

Karl Valentin, one of the most popular comedians in Germany during the Weimar era, made his feature debut in this 1929 silent, as a misfit tailor who strikes up a platonic romance with the boss's wife (Liesl Karlstadt, his perennial costar). Valentin's reputation as “the German Chaplin” is misleading given his grotesque appearance and passive-aggressive style—he's about as cuddly as W.C. Fields—but writer-director Walter Jerven makes a concerted effort here to humanize him. It's an uphill battle: there are moments of genuine sweetness and pathos in his unconsummated relationship with Karlstadt, yet the last scene, in which she rescues him from suicide, ends with a cartoonish fast-motion gag. 88 min.

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