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Broken Lullaby (1932)

French soldier travels to Germany to find a family of a man he killed during World War I.

Director:

Ernst Lubitsch

Writers:

Maurice Rostand (play), Reginald Berkeley (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Lionel Barrymore ... Dr. H. Holderlin
Nancy Carroll ... Fraulein Elsa, Walter's Fiancée
Phillips Holmes ... Paul Renard
Louise Carter ... Frau Holderlin
Lucien Littlefield ... Herr Walter Schultz
Tom Douglas ... Walter Holderlin, German soldier killed by Paul
Zasu Pitts ... Anna, Holderlin's Maid
Frank Sheridan ... Priest
George Bickel George Bickel ... Herr Bresslauer, Dress Shop Owner
Emma Dunn ... Frau Miller
Reinhold Pasch Reinhold Pasch ... Fritz's Father
Rodney McLennan Rodney McLennan ... War Veteran (as Rodney McLennon)
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Storyline

A young French soldier in World War I is overcome with guilt when he kills a German soldier who, like himself, is a musically gifted conscript, each having attended the same musical conservatory in France. The fact that the incident occurred in war does not assuage his guilt. He travels to Germany to meet the man's family. Written by Steve Owen <owensmi@juno.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Dramatic Triumph of a Hate That Turns to Glamorous, Vibrant Love! (Print Ad- Pittsburgh Press, (( Pittsburgh, Penna.)) 5 April 1932)

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 January 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man I Killed See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$889,154 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its earliest documented telecast took place in Minneapolis Thursday 21 May 1959 on WTCN (Channel 11) as their "Morning Spectacular". It was released on DVD 24 November 2015 as part of the Universal Vault Series. See more »

Connections

Remade as Frantz (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Quand Madelon
(1914) (uncredited)
Music by Camille Robert
Lyrics by Louis Bousquet
See more »

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User Reviews

A WONDERFUL FILM
17 November 2001 | by bensonjSee all my reviews

In the sense that this film's post-WW I pacifist yearnings are naive and unsupported by philosophic or practical consideration, this film is dated, there's no denying that. In that sense it's tied to its time in a way that many other films of the early thirties are not. But still, it's a wonderful film! A simple story: A Frenchman is overcome with guilt for killing a single German in battle in WW I. The church gives him no solace, so he decides to seek the forgiveness of the German soldier's family. The family jumps to the conclusion that he was a friend of their son, and he hasn't the courage to tell them the truth.

The performances are straightforward, and Lionel Barrymore is superb, as he nearly always was in his early years. When appropriate, Lubitsch uses all the showy techniques of his personal style. The opening scenes are a bravura series of brilliant visual bits, particularly the tracking shot down the church aisle at an armistice service, showing a belted sword extended from each pew. At other points, too, his special touch is evident, especially with the use of sound. When the German girl strolls with the Frenchman, the scandalous news travels from shop to shop to shop, and their walk is punctuated by the sound of the tingling bells on the shop doors. And the ticking of the clock, which the old man faithfully winds in his dead son's room, is adroitly used in the final scenes. One of the most telling uses of sound is when Barrymore hears the sound of marching feet. He looks toward an archway and the militaristic sound grows louder, but the sequence ends before the soldiers appear in the arch. It's a chilling moment that reminds the audience that Hitler is just off-screen, that perhaps the film's ideas are already out-of-date.

But Lubitsch also shows his greatness by the ABSENCE of obvious Lubitsch technique throughout much of the film. He's aware that his characters are the essence of the film, and for long stretches he lets his players act their story in plain, unbroken two-shots, without cinematic embellishment. It's a film by a master, and it's shameful that the failure of this film prevented Lubitsch from ever undertaking another drama.


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