(director/writer: Max Ophuls; screenwriters: Curt Alexander/based on the Bedrich Smetana opera The Bartered Bride; cinematographers: Franz Koch/Reimar Kuntze; editor: Paul May; cast: Willy Domgraf-Fassbaender(Hans), Karl Valentin (Rudolph Brummer), Jarmila Novotna (Marie), Paul Kemp (Wenzel), Otto Wernicke (Marriage Broker), Max Schreck (Apache circus performer), Liesl Karlstadt (Katinka Brummer), Annemarie Sorensen (Esmeralda Brummer, their daughter), Richard Révy (Finanzrat); Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Ludwig Scheer/Hermann Rosenfeld; Triad DVD; 1932-Germany-in German with English subtitles)

“Lighthearted and enjoyable adaptation of the opera by Czech composer Bedrich Smetana.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Future master filmmaker Max Ophuls (“Le Plaisir”/”Caught”/”The Reckless Moment”), in his second film, stylistically directs this lighthearted and enjoyable adaptation of the opera by Czech composer Bedrich Smetana.

It takes place in 1855, in a country village in Germany-Bohemia. We witness an arranged marriage by a cartoonish-like marriage broker (Otto Wernicke). He fixes up a match between the mayor’s pretty daughter Marie (Jarmila Novotna) and Wenzel (Paul Kemp), the dopey son of a rich landowner. Moments before the wedding, Marie meets in the town’s fairgrounds a coachman named Hans (Willy Domgraf-Fassbaender), who is passing through town but stops to fix a wheel on his carriage. They both fall in love on first sight, and Marie rejects Wenzel and vows to marry the poor coachman. Meanwhile Wenzel runs off to the grounds where the traveling circus has just arrived and meets the dancer Esmeralda (Annemarie Sorensen), who is the daughter of the circus owner-clown-ringmaster Rudolph Brummer (Karl Valentin). Wenzel and Esmeralda fall in love on first sight, but the circus is not allowed to perform because they owe a tax of 300 Guldens from last year. Wenzel promises he will get the money, and her parents accept him as an artist with money.

Wenzel and Hans meet by accident on the road, after Wenzel’s parents refuse to give him the money. When it’s learned that Wenzel wishes to marry Esmeralda and not Marie, Hans tricks the marriage broker into giving him the money needed for the circus to settle its debt by promising he will not marry Marie. The marriage broker then announces to everyone in town that Marie is a brokered bride, and the shamed Marie refuses to see Hans.

A comedy of errors ensues until the ones who love each other get matched up. The opera music goes on–with celebrated Czech opera diva Jarmila Novotna making one of her rare appearances on film.