Film Review: Glückskinder


Little known outside Germany, Paul Martin’s Glückskinder gets a restoration. The 1936 film, loosely based on Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, owes much to Hollywood’s studio era productions.

Tricked into covering the courthouse coverage for newspaper he hopes to write poetry for, Gil Taylor hopes to net a decent story. When Ann Garden is brought before the judge, Gil steps in to help, little realising the outcome of his act of kindness…

Glückskinder, or its English title Lucky Kids, very much emulates Hollywood films of the same period. It is screwball comedy cum musical, with its style dialogue exchanges borrowed from American films. Glückskinder is not quite as amusing as the films that it apes, although it has a certain charm to it.

The characters in Glückskinder function appropriately. There are some slapstick supporting characters, but the film works best in its exchanges between Gil and Ann. The musical number is fun, although a little out of place with the lack of other songs.

The fact that the film is set in America is a little strange. There is no need for the New York setting, other than that Glückskinder is emulating American films. It is interesting that the film has an almost pro-American stance given the time it was produced and the pressure to adhere to propaganda. However, it is understandable as a product of escapism. There is also one swipe at American culture late on in the film.

The restoration of Glückskinder is good; any flaws in the filming and editing seem to be part of the original. The film offers an entertaining glance into the escapist cinema of Nazi Germany.

Glückskinder was screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.