The Wildcat
THE WILDCAT
(DIE BERGKATZE) 1921

Director: Ernst Lubitsch

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



The Wildcat I do like cartoons & there's nothing wrong with a live-action cartoon, but I just didn't care for The Wildcat (Die Bergkatze, 1921).

I got the film because I was interested in seeing Pola Negri as Rischka the bandit's barbaric daughter, which sounded like a great role. And indeed she is tough & thrilling because she is far less cartoonish than the rest of the cast.

Plus I'm fond of "Graustarkian" literature & film, i.e., romances set in modern imaginary nations, so it seemed right up my alley.

But for me, Lubitsch made his slapstick tale unbearably dull, void as it is of a central personality such as can be found with Chaplin, Keaton, Harold Lloyd or Laurel & Hardy who made American silent slapstick great.

The WildcatThat's not to say that The Wildcat is relentless in its dullness, as it has its moments. But for me they were moments that didn't last long.

Rischka's crazy dream sequence with special FX was something I'm glad to have seen. And anyone who has liked other works by Lubitsch will surely find a great deal to like about this one, too, as it adds much in the direction of the fantastical atop his more familiar silliness.

He uses weird screen-frame devices like odd-shaped cut-outs which to me were annoyances more suited to an amateur trying to make mediocrity look clever, but others will find it charming or at worst excusably experimental.

It's set in the borderland of a graustarkian or ruritanian country "not far from Piffkaneiro." The sets & costumes are great at achieving that sense of being the fort of the army of an imaginary kingdom. But the nonstop goofball silliness rarely made me so much as smile.

The WildcatI can see that it may well have had a daring satiric significance in its day, as a couched criticism of the German military establishment. The fort, though a place of comedy, is sufficiently expressionist that it could've been used for horror.

Lubitsch may also have hoped to spoof the sorts of desert romances that were popular at the time, with a romance between the bandit's daughter & the exiled lieutenant (Paul Heidemann).

The love story is neither romantic enough, nor whimsical enough, to be of any interest, & thus the loony antics of the fortress commander (Victor Janson) become more memorable, chiefly for the awfulness of such schtick.

The restoration done in 2000 is definitely praiseworthy & the best part of the film, its visual design, is presented at its ideal best.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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