The Doll

Germany | 1919 | 70 min | PG

Yes, German Expressionist films can be comedies, as master director Ernst Lubitsch proved with his raucous, frenetic, sci-fi farce THE DOLL. Based on the 1896 operetta Le poupée THE DOLL stars the diminutive Ossi Oswalda—the Weimar Mary Pickford—as a mechanical doll purchased by a rich Ne’er-do-well intent on staving off marriage.


When his rich uncle refuses his inheritance unless he settles down with a nice bride, young Lancelot (Hermann Thimig) enlists the help of a dollmaker to create a lifelike robotic surrogate to pose as his wife and appease his uncle’s demand. When the doll is destroyed prior to the transfer, the dollmaker’s daughter (whose likeness the doll was modelled on) must stand-in and pretend to be the doll, as well as Lancelot’s wife. Grifting, chicanery, and not insubstantial amounts of zany hijinks ensue, as Lancelot’s supposed subservient android bride turns out to be a lot more than he can handle.

Oswalda is positively charming as the firebrand agitator and the presence of the patented and famous “Lubitsch touch” makes this one of the silent era’s most beloved of romantic comedies. Lighthearted and hilarious, but instilled with very Expressionist visuals (including an animated sequence with the director himself), THE DOLL is a must-see for the whole family! – ALICIA FLETCHER


Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Cast: Ossi Oswalda, Hermann Thimig


Established as Silent Sundays by founding programmer Eric Veillette in 2009, Silent Revue is Toronto’s only year-round film series dedicated to silent cinema. Monthly screenings (more…)


Presentation format: Digital
Silent Revue is curated by Alicia Fletcher
Live accompaniment by William O’Meara
Sponsored by Hollywood Suite. In partnership with Goethe Institut Toronto


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