If you have Kino Video’s “Official Authorized Edition” of the 1920 German Expressionist masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, then you are probably familiar with the included bonus feature called Genuine (also from 1920).
The print included on the DVD is a rather poorly put together condensed version of the film. (The full version is housed at a film archive in Munich, Germany.) But even if one was to watch the full version, they’d declare that it is not in the same class by other films made by brilliant director Robert Wiene (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Hands of Orlac),
The story in the condensation starts off with this bloke called Percy sitting in his library reading his favorite story. He falls asleep almost instantly and suddenly the painting of a woman behind him springs to life.
The woman, we find out, is Genuine (Fern Andra), a priestess of a defeated tribe who was captured and sent to a slave market. She is bought at the slave market by a creepy old man called Lord Melo, who locks her in one of the the lower rooms of his house and dresses her in catsuits with busy designs on them.
The townspeople are suspicious of the goings-on inside the house and decide to report it to the authorities. Lord Melo’s barber, Guyard, gets a summons to appear at the inquiry, and after a little begging, he gets Melo to agree to let his nephew take his place that one time.
Guyard’s nephew is a wild haired bloke called Florian (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski) who steals the whole dang show.
Florian looks like a sweet little rentboy dressed up in short pants and a big bow tie. I don’t think “rentboy” was the look that Wiene was going for with this character—an inexperienced adolescent is probably closer to the truth. However, rentboy is the first thing that springs to my mind when I see this character.
If Florian isn’t an antique inspiration for flamboyant hair stylists everywhere, then I don’t know who/what is.
Poor, naïve Florian is beguiled by the catsuit-wearing Genuine, who has escaped from her little prison and is now upstairs wandering about. She sees Florian standing there shaving her captor and convinces him to slit the old man’s throat.
Florian does as he is told and then is temporarily horrified at his deed before he and Genuine run off for a little hanky panky.
After they wake up from their blissful, post-hanky panky nap, Genuine convinces the lovesick Florian to prove his love for her by killing himself.
He looks at her like, “Chick, you crazy, I’m getting the heck out of here…” and runs off to have a nervous breakdown.
With Florian gone and writhing in a feverish state at his uncle’s house, Genuine moves onto her next victim, Lord Melo’s grandson Percy, whom we meet at the beginning of the film. But that doesn’t last long and when the townsfolk break into the house with fire and pitchforks, they find Genuine dead as a doornail on the floor with Florian standing above her.
Poor Florian. We can only assume the only interesting character in this whole film is probably going to be put to death for his crime. They had no mercy back in the day.
If you are interested, you can click on the video below and watch the 44 minute condensation of the film. Let me know what you think. Do you agree that it is pretty crap except for the precious character, Florian, played by German actor Hans Heinrich von Twardowski (who is probably best known for playing Cesare’s first victim, Alan, in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and a year later as Lord Nelson’s [Conrad Veidt] stepson in Lady Hamilton)?