Scriptwriter: Ernst Marischka
Director: Willi Forst
Cast: Willy Fritsch, Fred Liewehr, Maria Holst, Hedwig Bleibtreu, Hans Moser, Theo Lingen, Dorit Kreysler
Willi Forst began his film career in the silent era, playing charming lovers, and starring along with the still little-known Marlene Dietrich in the film "Cafe Electric" by Gustav Ucicky. After the coming of sound, he tried his hand at directing. His debut, the musical film “Lover Divine” ("My Songs Silently Beg" (1933), tells about the life of Franz Schubert and about Vienna, in which his music sounds everywhere. Thus a new genre is born - “Viennese film” (Wiener film), which becomes a key one for the golden age of Austrian cinema (1933–38). The “Wiener film”, contrasting the image of a lost empire to modernity, combines elements of operetta, melodrama, and situational comedy. The action takes place in the imperial surroundings of Vienna at the turn of the century among the aristocracy or the wealthy bourgeoisie. The plot is based on relationships within a love “polygon”, and the comic effect is created due to confusion and mutual misunderstanding. The films feature music and songs of the great Viennese classic composers.
After the Anschluss, the Austrian film industry was nationalized. The country’s largest film studio, Tobis-Sascha, reorganized into Wien-Film, was ordered to produce films "celebrating the welfare of Vienna as part of Greater Germany". Forst almost never deviated from this rule - Vienna in his films was still great, but it was the property of the Viennese, not Germany. Before the Anschluss, he directed such successful operettas and “Viennese films” as “Masquerade in Vienna”, “Mazurka”, “Hokum” (“Allotria”), and “Burg Theatre”. The German leadership offered him to head the studio, but the director declined, occupying a modest position on the supervisory board. It was easier to remain a Viennese this way.
"Vienna Blood" comes out at the height of the Second World War, in 1942. The world is on fire but the cinema is dancing. After the premiere, Goebbels wrote in his diary: “The sight of this film can turn one green with envy, especially considering how little of such things is done for the capital of the Reich. The best propaganda forces work for the worldwide fame of the Viennese". (Quoted in: Trost K. Die "Wiener Filme" der Wien-Film während der NS-Zeit. Unterhaltung, Antihaltung oder doch Propaganda? Wien, 2008, S. 106.)
The film is set at the Congress of Vienna, which is attended by a married couple: a German diplomat from the Principality of Reuss-Greiz-Schleiz, as prim and principled as the name of the principality he is supposed to represent, and his wife, who is a restless Viennese, hidden in a dress a la Biedermeier, so that at least outwardly she did not give herself out as a Viennese. But Vienna cannot be hidden: the film exposes a conflict that is much more significant than a love affair, a geopolitical one.
The prim and boring Germans, it turns out, are also not averse to dancing and falling in love, setting aside their diplomatic victories. The role of the German diplomat is played by the German Willy Fritsch. Vienna itself in the film also consists of stereotypes driven to the point of banality. Here “music sounds from every mouse hole”, and political decisions are made in between dances. Here live the Viennese, whose blood recipe was created by the alchemist Forst, who appeared in a cameo in the first scene of the film. It consists of humor and recklessness, heart, a drop of history and music, and unfortunately, highly interests the Germans.
This is a "quintessentially Austrian comedy". In the supporting roles one can see the duo of Hans Moser and Theo Lingen, the main Austrian film comedians, who played the roles of servants, butlers, and chaplains. Verbal skirmishes occur between them at every turn. The German language stumbles over “Austricisms”, which exacerbate mutual misunderstandings and the general nonsense. Avoiding meaning is Forst's main means of resolving conflicts.
In his memoirs, he would write: "...my work turned into a silent protest <...> I made my most Austrian films at a time when Austria ceased to exist". (Steiner G. Film Book Austria. Vienna: Federal Press Service. 1977. P. 35.)As critic Francesco Bono mentions, the “Stanzl” newspaper noted at the time: “Even if the film does not want to take itself seriously, it is the first comedy in years that we have taken seriously". In the "Wiener films", political decisions are assigned a place between the waltzes and the entrance to the bedroom. These decisions are drowned out by the orchestra and "disarmed by flirting". (Bono F. Playing with the Camera. Critical Notes on Two Films by Austrian Director Willi Forst // European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies. Università degli Studi di Perugia, Perugia. 2020. P. 17.)
Both in Germany and in Austria, musicals and operettas distract from the news from the front. "Vienna Blood", regarded at home as nothing less than a gesture of anti-fascist resistance, breaks box-office records in the Third Reich, because they share the same spectator: Europe, yearning for pre-war lightness.
The film is based on the eponymous 1899 operetta. With a box office of seven million Reichsmarks, it became one of the most financially successful films of the Nazi era.
The 1815 Congress of Vienna, where the fate of Europe is decided. A married couple comes from Germany to Vienna as the meeting’s participants and at balls they start romantic, but not too serious relationships outside their union. The jealousy that inevitably arises between the husband and the wife, soon, however, fades away; they reconcile and decide to stay in Vienna forever.