(director: Robert Siodmak; screenwriters: based on the play “Die Ratten” by Gerhart Hauptmann/Jochen Huth; cinematographer: Göran Strindberg; editors: Klaus Eckstein /Ira Oberberg ; music: Werner Eisbrenner; cast: Maria Schell (Pauline Karka), Heidemarie Hatheyer (Anna John), Curd Jürgens (Bruno Mechelke), Gustav Knuth (Karl John), Ilse Steppat (Frau Knobbe); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Artur Brauner; Central Cinema Company Film; 1955-West Germany/USA-in b/w- in English)

“Bleak drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The bleak drama, shot in long flashbacks, is based on the tragicomic play “Die Ratten” by Gerhart Hauptmann, and adapted to the screen by Jochen Huth. The German-American director Robert Siodmak (“Cobra Woman”/”The Crimson Pirate”/”Criss Cross”) shot a German version entitled “Die Ratten” and an English version, with the same cast and called it “The Rats.”

In the early 1950s, in post-war West Berlin, Pauline (Maria Schell) is an impoverished abandoned pregnant refugee from East Berlin. At birth, she sells her baby to a calculating laundry owner, Anna John (Heidemarie Hatheyer), longing for a child but unable to become pregnant she thinks is necessary to help her failing marriage. Eventually the ladies get into a squabble.

Curd Jürgens plays the petty crook who impregnated Schell and then abandoned her.

The pic, though clumsily handled on screen, nevertheless successfully illustrates the strife and uncertainty of the times during the Berlin Wall era.

The German version won the Golden Bear award.

Die Ratten Poster