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  • Writer's pictureHenry K. Miller

Monday 12 June

Walter Wanger stages ‘the first undisguised public exhibition of a German film’ at the Rivoli.

This, at any rate, is what was claimed by Kinematograph Weekly. In reality, Wanger seems to have fudged the issue. The ad he placed in the preceding Saturday’s East London Observer promised only a ‘Sensation Direct from the Continent’, and the paper itself said that ‘what it is remains a secret for the moment’. A week later it could be named: The Jewish Heart, which Wanger had acquired on a recent visit to Paris.

Its German title was Die Gezeichneten. Kinematograph Weekly reported that the audience ‘showed no disposition to resent the innovation – though the test of public opinion would have been more conclusive if the subject had been described on the screen as well as in the Rivoli house organ as German’. The on-screen credits gave Copenhagen as the film’s place of origin, presumably covered by the fact that it was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer.

The film is set in a Jewish ghetto in the Russian Empire about 1905 and culminates in a pogrom fomented by the Tsarist government. ‘That it was well received by Mr. Wanger’s patrons need not be said,’ said the Film Renter. ‘Many of them had known pogrom experiences at first hand’. Whitechapel was then home to a large part of London’s Jewish community. Kinematograph Weekly was of the view that ‘its special appeal is likely to be limited to Jewish communities’, and there was no national distribution arrangement for the film.


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