The Robber Symphony (1936)

5
(2)

A bag of loot is stashed in a piano that belongs to a family of traveling entertainers. A gang of robbers tries to get the loot back, and though they kddnap two members of the troop, the third, a young boy, has run off with the piano.

Director: Friedrich Feher.
Stars: Françoise Rosay, Magda Sonja, George Graves, Jim Gérald, Henri Valbel, Alexandre Rignault, Michael Martin Harvey, Webster Booth, Jack Tracy, Al Marshall, Oscar Asche, Hans Feher.

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5 Comments

  1. Tiff
    July 25, 2018
    Reply

    Awesome! Thanks, Jon!!

  2. Ed Smith
    July 25, 2018
    Reply

    I am so grateful to Jon for amassing such a rich and varied selection of rare movies and for making them so readily available for one and all.

  3. Vlad
    July 25, 2018
    Reply

    Nice find, Jon!

  4. December 26, 2018
    Reply

    one of the damnedest things ever seen! authentic naïf art……..

  5. September 14, 2021
    Reply

    Public service announcement for completists that this copy is missing the first eight minutes of the film. It originates from an Art-S/Nederlands Filmmuseum DVD (which is incidentally region-free and still in print from Mokum Filmdistributie: https://mokumfilm.nl/dvd/de-roverssymfonie/ ) which runs 2:18:43 in total – but whoever made this version skipped past chapter 1 and decided to go straight in at chapter 2. Hence, amongst other things, the complete lack of opening credits!

    The first eight minutes consist of the film’s overture, beginning with the ubiquitous BBFC card of the period, followed by another identifying The Robber Symphony as ‘the first “composed” film’. Then follow credits depicting the entire cast – including ‘The Dog’, ‘The Donkey’ and ‘The Piano’, as well as each and every one of the various robbers. But the real joy is then seeing the entire orchestra of the film playing the main section of the overture in full. In quite an Archersesque touch, they are all dressed in identical costumes to the two musical robbers from the film, each complete with bowler hat and tiny moustache. This includes the conductor, seen with his back to camera throughout, but who is believed to be Friedrich Fehér himself. This orchestra can be seen briefly in the closing ten seconds of the film – which likely feels a bit incongruous to anyone who hasn’t seen the overture!

    The aforementioned DVD also contains a fascinating 99-minute documentary about the background of the film, the (largely tragic) fates of its various creators, and its quasi-legendary reptutation in the Netherlands. (It remains one of the country’s longest-running films, screening continuously in the same cinema in Amsterdam from 1940 until sometime well into the 1960s, when the 35mm print literally fell apart.) Sadly, the documentary is in Dutch with no English subtitles (unlike the feature, which is of course in English, with optional Dutch subtitles) – although there are extensive interviews conducted in English, including with the legendary production designer Ernő Metzner, who reveals amongst other things that the premiere of the film was held with such figures as John Grierson, Benjamin Britten, WH Auden, Harry Watt, Basil Wright (ie, most of the crew of Night Mail!), Alberto Cavalcanti and Len Lye in attendance. According to Metzner, their collective verdict of the film was: ‘rather shabby’.

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