Scriptwriter: Max Wallner
Director: Géza von Bolváry
Director of photography: Franz Planer
Cast: Zarah Leander, Karl Martell, Attila Hörbiger, Johanna Terwin, Theo Lingen, Maria Bard, Karl Günther
Géza von Bolváry, a career military man from Budapest, after the First World War, devotes himself to cinema, first as an actor, later as a director. He participated in over one hundred musicals and operettas. He is one of the most prolific directors working in these genres (two to six films a year - first at home in Hungary, then in France, Great Britain, Germany, and Austria). Remakes of Bolváry’s films were shot in various languages and sometimes overshadowed the success of the originals. “Top Hat” (1935) with Fred Astaire, for example, is a version of his German-Hungarian film “Romance in Budapest” (1933).
The surname prefix proudly changes in the credits from "von" to "de" depending on the country of the film’s production. Bolváry is international and apolitical. He is interested not in ideological, but in aesthetic issues, and he always strives to entertain. And this is what a defeated Europe needs. Love and songs are for then women who have accepted the fact that because of the losses of the First World War, many of them will never marry - there is no one to marry. Adventures are for the men who do not want to take up arms again.
Austrian cinema before the Anschluss was primarily a multinational phenomenon. Historically, people from the former Austro-Hungarian lands worked in Vienna. And if European cinema struggled with the screen dominance of Hollywood, Austrian directors dreamed of their own "dream factory" (but one more complex and more intelligent - entertaining Europeans is not an easy task). On-screen Vienna of the 1930s is far from the real capital of the Habsburgs. It appears in films in the role of not a city, but an event: a ball or a carnival. To become a “Wiener film”, it is enough to be “made in Vienna”, it is enough to carry the holiday mood and the supranational spirit of the city.
"Premiere" is the director’s second Austrian film, which became an embodiment of Vienna’s dream of Hollywood. It is the revue with choreographic "fountains" and "kaleidoscopes" in the spirit of Busby Berkeley. It is the set design by Emil Hasler, the art director for “The Blue Angel”, “Diary of a Lost Girl”, “M”, and “Pygmalion”, as well as many operettas. Finally, it is the songs that gave the world Zarah Leander, beloved and rejected by the Third Reich.
Bolváry is not famous for his style. His films are partly glamorous, partly rough, and he also loves to mix dissimilar genres, while simultaneously using the spectacle of the musical and the narrative sophistication of the detective. A musical is an extravaganza without end or beginning, and it does not matter why everyone sings and dances: it is a pure spectacle. In a detective story, everything requires explanations and proofs, and, most importantly, an answer to the question: "Who is the killer?" "Premiere" is a detective musical.
The director starts from the Hollywood “plot scheme”. The premiere might flop because of the moods of the prima. An unknown person shoots the financier Reinhold. And the lanky Theo Lingen as the director, throwing up his hands, shouts: "The police are in charge of the revue!" (incidentally, the credits indicate that "the film was made with the support of the Vienna police"). The dazzling concert is repeatedly interrupted by the ubiquitous detectives with their interrogations and searches, but the show will go on anyway.
Géza von Bolváry deliberately refrains from analyzing contemporary problems; he is not interested in psychology. He sees only the rectangle of the screen and thinks in genre constructions. He is even accused of this on the pages of “Sight and Sound”: “This is as evident an example as one may get of the film worked out strictly according to a skeleton-formula. Moreover, the skeleton’s bones wear at times only the meagrest covering of flesh, so that they are apt to become visible to the eye almost in their pristine nakedness” (Vesselo A. Sacha Guitry and the Rest // Sight and Sound. 1937. 6:3, P. 143). One thing is for sure: Bolváry revels in the beauty of the "skeleton" itself, that is why he does not consider it necessary to cover its nakedness.
Making films in Vienna for only a couple of years, he “fits” into the Austrian cinema, which strives to become a Hollywood one. World War I still casts a shadow. Many admit: "This is not peace, this is a ceasefire for 20 years." But Bolváry, despite everyone, makes films not about the pre-war world, or the world between the two wars, but about a world where war cannot be imagined. It is a different genre.