Produced by UFA
Directed by Reinhold Schunzel
Released in 1921
Cast included Emil Jannings, Dagney Servaes, and Reinhold Schunzel.
The film was not distributed in the United States until 1928 when Janning's popularity was at its peak. It was eventually distributed in the United States by Sam Saxe and was shown at the Cameo Theater in New York City the week of August 11, 1928.
One of Emil Jannings nondescript, seldom seen films, it is a comic tragedy, which begins by burlesquing a block-headed profiteer during Germany's runaway inflation in WWI. The remainder of the film is not unlike those of the ancient race-track melodramas except that automobiles take the place of horses. The suspense is arranged in a fashion which gives even the very young an opportunity to predict what's going to follow.
The German film industry was founded upon a group of highly disciplined professionals who adjusted to all changes of fashion and style. Emil Jannings gained practice by making primitive films. He wrote about his film debut, "When I watched myself for the first time on the screen, the impression was crushing. Did I really look as stupid as that? "
A stage actor since 1900, Janning worked with the Max Reinhardt stage company in 1915-16. His first film role was in a war propaganda film in 1914, and by 1916 he started obtaining better roles. After starring in Ernst Lubitsch's "Madame Dubarry" in 1919, he became world famous. He was a success as the figure of Harun-al-Rashid in "Waxworks" (1924), and he had the lead in "The Last Laugh" (1924). In 1925 he was a greater success in E.A. Dupont's big hit, "Variety." By the late 20's, he had joined the exodus of some of Germany's best known directors and actors as the German film industry began its decline. His international fame led to a contract with Paramount, and he won Oscars for his first two American films, "The Last Command" and "The Way Of All Flesh." He was unable to master the English language, and the coming of sound put an end to his Hollywood career.
Upon his return to Germany he played the pompous professor in the sound film "The Blue Angel" that made his leading lady, Marlene Dietrich, an international star. Unfortunately he was very vain to the point of amiable childishness, and he enjoyed the good things in life with his wife, Gussy Holl, a charming former cabaret performer. His collaboration with the Nazi party put a permanent blot on his reputation.
As expected "Fortune's Fool" received favorable reviews.
The New York Times, August 14, 1928: "Wearing old clothes that gave him the appearance of being almost as broad as he is long, the redoubtable Emil Jannings is to be seen this week at the Cameo in an old UFA picture, reveling in the title of 'Fortune's Fool.' In it Mr. Jannings gives an extravagant portrayal of a gross post-war beef king who is known as E. J. Rupp."
Variety, August 22 1928: "A most ordinary full-length German-made feature with nothing or anybody in it excepting Emil Jannings. . . "
copyright 2001 by John DeBartolo. All rights reserved.
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