Phantom (1922, FW Murnau)

Trouble: this would be a nice movie to watch again sometime, since I was falling asleep and not paying close attention, but it’d be a nice movie to not watch again since I didn’t enjoy it much. What to do, what to do?

Lorenz Lobuta is a regular doof, a failed poet with a rich aunt, until one day he is run over by a carriage carrying a gorgeous rich woman. After that, he’s fixated on the rich woman, vows to find and marry her, but he never does, never even speaks to her again. During this time he becomes a huge asshole and a naive nutbag and we’re expected to sympathize with his obsession, I think, but after he gets in league with a scummy dude, rips off his own aunt, then gets caught breaking into her house and sent to jail, all I could think was “good” and “finally!” Oh also he meets a girl who looks just like the rich woman (same actress) but that part confused me – I must have nodded off when they explained she was two different people. Whole thing sits inside a framing device, but not one as worthwhile as in Tartuffe. Lorenz eventually (after prison) marries the bookstore girl who always pined for him and stuck with him through his stupidity, and the main story represents the journal he writes to ease his past-haunted mind.

German star Lil Dagover (Tartuffe) plays the wife. Lorenz is Alfred Abel, who appeared in Murnau’s comedy The Grand Duke’s Finances and Lang’s Dr. Mabuse The Gambler. Rich aunt Schwabe, Grete Berger was in some Lang movies as well, and the phantom double-role girl was in Murnau’s Burning Soil.

Watched the DVD bonus that explained how Murnau and his crew pulled off the weird visual effects (ghostly carriage knocks our man down, buildings’ shadows seem to follow him, one crazy dream sequence). Not a lot of trickery in this movie, but what trickery it had was very finely done. Just checked to see what wonderful things D. Cairns said about this, but I forgot he doesn’t have a copy, damn.