Synopsis

In 1846 the actress Gloria Vane is performing at the Adelphi Theatre, London. She is in love with the destitute nobleman Albert Finsbury, who is shortly departing to Australia to become an officer in the Queen's regiment. He is supposed to pay his debts before leaving and uses an altered cheque to do so. After Finsbury has left, the forgery is discovered. To protect him, Gloria claims responsibility and is sentenced to 7 years in the notorious Paramatta prison, Sydney. From prison she sends a note to him asking for help, but he does not reply. An Aussie seller falls in love with her and asks her to marry him - she agrees, but only so she can get out of prison. When she finds out Finsbury is planning to marry the Governor's daughter, she is heartbroken. Finsbury finally finds her, but she no longer loves him.

Director

Douglas Sirk

Cast

Zarah Leander
as Gloria Vane
Willy Birgel
as Sir Albert Finsburry
Edwin Jürgensen
as Gouveneur Jones
Carola Höhn
as Mary Jones
Viktor Staal
as Henry Hoyer
Erich Ziegel
as Dr. Magnus Hoyer
Hilde von Stolz
as Fanny Hoyer

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Wolfi-10 9 /10

Moving, and almost a timeless piece of art.

This film was a sensation when it appeared in 1937; and 65 years later, one can still see why, and one is still moved by it. Despite some technical imperfections of picture and sound of those times, and despite the - initially unsettling - fact that it plays in London and Sydney while its characters and language are clearly German, it comes as close to a real work of art as a movie can. Both the tragic core of the story and its upbeat ending are entirely believable; the major characters appear human and differentiated; the sceneries and lighting are convincing; and Ralph Benatzky's songs have become treasured German folk music. Their presentation by Zarah Leander are the high points of the movie, when time stops and the here and now are forgotten. It is just a little sad that Leander's Gloria Vane was prevented from wearing a really shoulder-free evening gown, as those loud-mouthed boors accused her of. What some claimed to be immoral in England of 1846 was decreed immoral in Germany of 1937. One wonders if the '37 viewers caught on to it.

Reviewed by wlkrrch N/A

Zarah Leander at her heart-rending best

Nobody in German cinema ever did melodramatic suffering quite like Zarah Leander, and this - her debut film for UFA in 1937 - shows her at the peak of her allure. She plays a glamorous stage diva, and we first see her on stage in London singing her flirtatious number 'Yes, Sir'. She then takes the wrap for a fraud committed by her British officer lover (played by Willy Birgel) who is on the verge of sailing for Australia, and for her pains she is transported to Australia herself, as a convict.

In prison, accompanied by her fellow female inmates, she sings a beautiful, sad song directed to her rascally lover: 'I have such a deep longing for you'. She is released from Paramatta prison in order to marry a handsome farmer (played by Viktor Staal) - but she runs away from him, only to discover that the Birgel character is on the verge of marrying the governor's daughter.

Heartbroken, she tries to return to prison, then to the stage, but is booed by the Australian audience for her gloomy act - a real irony this, since the song she's singing, 'I'm standing in the Rain' is a real beauty, haunting and melancholy, making full use of Leander's lovely contralto voice. Zu Neuen Ufern is a very emotionally involving film, a pointer to the films Detlev Sierck would later make in the US under his anglicised name, Douglas Sirk. Perfect for a rainy Sunday, and proof of the star power of Zarah Leander.

Reviewed by marcin_kukuczka 8 /10

At New Shores

The 1930s was an altogether interesting yet stormy period. Cinema saw that contradiction, too. With 1933, not only did the Hays Code strongly influence the American film industry but so did the Nazi regime in Germany, the country where Expressionism was actually born. With Ufa studios as the center, one had to be correct with the regime's demands and, at the same time, by using some skills and clever methods, one could deliver something powerful enough to absorb a variety of audiences. This movie, the meaningful title of which can be translated as "At New Shores" is a clear manifestation of such an attempt. Made by Detlef Sierck (better known to Americans as Douglas Sirk, a master of Hollywood Melodrama just to name IMITATION OF LIFE), AT NEW SHORES is not only a wonderful mixture of comedy, drama and musical but, foremost, a vehicle for an eminent actress, the name that aroused certain 'discomforts' even for monstrous Goebbels himself, Zarah Leander.

Most aspects appear to be authentic here and delivered in a fragile manner by the cast but there are actually, to this day, two people who make their portrayals worth deeper analysis: Willi Birgel as Sir Albert and Zarah Leander as Gloria Vane. Let me make some points about them before I move to the artistic aspect of the movie.

As a matter of fact, this is a movie which made the Swedish actress a star at Ufa Studios after her first German film PREMIERE (which was not at Ufa). A debut at the studio and a true ZARAH LEANDER film at first sight. As a newcomer at the time (1937), she makes her entrance as an artistic personality, a character capable of loving and waiting, a suffering 'product to identify with' for female audiences bringing to light certain mechanisms of social hypocrites (mind you that the story is not set in Germany in order not to evoke some controversial interpretations or misunderstanding but... in England and, foremost, in Australia – the safest choice of locale seen as a 'new land'). She is a character of a typical woman of her films, echoes certain features widespread at the time bringing everything to pinnacle of melancholy. The Paramatta sequence as well as the trial accurately address the social conventions and question their morality. It is, however, foremost afflicted and influenced by women's emancipation, women's rights - a handkerchief for sensitive female viewers necessary. Here, Zarah's Gloria Vane draws parallels to many femme fatales of the time, including ROMANZE IN MOLL or DER WEG INS FREIE (Way To Freedom) which clearly draws parallels to this film along with its title. More to say, the camera seems to celebrate her face (as it was in case of Garbo at Hollywood). And yet...Zarah is twice an artist: with her deep voice, she does not play so memorably as she sings memorably (I will develop this aspect with music of the film).

It is, however, not the woman who suffers most and jerks our tears to the very end. It is Sir Albert, a seemingly noble man of prospects in life, of promising marriage with beautiful Mary and, despite everything, a character of strong personal conflicts, destructive torments. Willi Birgel, being Zarah's favorite co-star, delivers a unique portrayal of shadowed character never remaining in the shadow of our attention. Although we mostly see him from her pretentious perspective, the actor manages to draw a vibrant personality. Now let me move to general artistic merits of the film.

Great cinematography supplies a viewer with exceptional visual experience. Wolfgang Paul in Der Tagesspiegel (1974) and Thomas Kramer in Reclams Lexikon Des Deutschen Films (1995) observe certain details on that point. The cinematography, strongly influenced by German Expressionism, makes a lot of scenes memorably echo haunting whispers within the screen art introduced by Murnau or Pabst. Mind you the shadows at Alfred's tragic night or his leave for Australia and Zarah's image at the harbor, practically the iconic image of the movie's content. Two more aspects, actually, serve undeniable aid in evoking the film's mood: MUSIC and RAIN.

Music is in the hands of Zarah Leander, she delivers her lines in singing, her songs aid the melancholy of the whole atmosphere as well as provoke contradictions. Additionally, the costumes deliver visual taste. Mind you two songs end with an almost religious reference to Alleluia and Amen. The song the film is probably most famous for, "Yes Sir" clearly delivers the sentiments of the time (the 1930s) rather than the 19th century when the action of the film is set. But...no need for historical accuracy in a movie like this. And rain...something typical for romantic sorrows, tear-jerking sentimentality, soap opera-like impressions. In one of her songs, she sings about standing in the rain drawing a clear metaphor to tormented states of mind and heart. That bears resemblance with the storytelling of many of her films, not only this one.

All in all, an interesting film to see, an important work of art from the historical and dramatic standpoint. The hidden meaning within the name 'Gloria' along with the surprising and jubilant conclusion at the finale still lead the viewer towards the new shores of classical movie viewing and its interpretation.

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