Robert and Bertram (Robert Und Bertram)
Hans Zerlett, 1939 DVD
The First and Rarest of the Nazi Anti-Semitic Pictures! In A Deluxe Remastered Version
The road to the Holocaust proceeded in fits and starts, from exclusion to expulsion to elimination. Anti-Semitism in Nazi cinema also developed gradually, becoming fully vituperative only during the Second World War. Robert and Bertram, the first of the four major Nazi anti-Semitic films, is an otherwise delightful musical comedy set in 1839, directed with skill and panache by Hans H. Zerlett, a Goebbels favorite who specialized in musicals and action pictures. It relates the misadventures of two vagabonds who escape from prison and become fugitives on the run. Rudi Godden’s Robert and Kurt Seifert’s Bertram are suggestive of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, even performing a dance routine reminiscent of Stan and Ollie’s in Way Out West.
The rascals foil the plans of a swindling creditor who is foreclosing on the local innkeeper. Posing as the Count of Monte Cristo and friend, they attend a soirée given by Counselor of Commerce Nathan Ipelmeyer (Herbert Hübner). The masked ball is populated by heavy-handed, exaggerated Jewish caricatures, all obsessed by money and young Aryan maidens. Bertram steals Frau Ipelmeyer’s jewelry, allowing the innkeeper to pay off his mortgage. This soirée forms a suggestive, conscious link to the Jewish drive for world disruption and domination. Nazi anti-Semitism was total, implacable, uncompromising; the Jewish caricatures here are shown to be as dangerously destructive as they are unappealing and corrupt.
Robert und Bertram is a preview of coming attractions—mild in its use of anti-Semitic stereotypes when compared with Erich Waschneck’s smirking Die Rothschilds, Veit Harlan’s magisterial Jud Süss, and Fritz Hippler’s astonishingly toxic Der ewige Jude.
Germany, 1939, B&W, 87 mins. Directed by Hans H. Zerlett. Starring Rudi Godden, Kurt Seifert, Carla Rust, Fritz Kampers. German dialogue, Switchable English subtitles.
DVD Special Features:
• Historical Background Slideshow "Third Reich Cinema: Hans H. Zerlett's Robert und Bertram and
Anti-Semitic Tradition" by film author R. Dixon Smith
• Original Promotional Materials Slideshows: Illustrierte Film Kurier and Original Tobis Press book (Presse Heft) (Both Include Interactive English Translations of Original German text and song lyrics)
NTSC Region 0 encoding (Entire World)
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