Harbor Drift

In doing research on this film, I came across an odd observation by Lotte Eisner who wrote: “The films standing at the crossroads between the fantastic and the real, such as ‘M,’ were always to have an intensity and power which films such as . . . Leo Mittler’s ‘Jenseits der Strasse,’ shot on the Hamburg docks, vainly tried to equal.” Since the Mittler film was released two years before the Lang film that seems to be an unfair and incorrect comparison.

Really excellent example of a Weimar film overlooked for various reasons that is worth finding and seeing.

Directed by Leo Mittler (after Albrecht Viktor Blum took ill) from a screenplay by Willy Döll and Jan Fethke. Cinematography by Friedl Behn-Grund. Starring Lissy Arna, Paul Rehkopf, Fritz Genschow, and Sig Arno, among others. 

© 2014 William Ahearn

Harbor Drift (Germany) 1929

A beggar, a dropped pearl necklace, an unemployed man (who lives with the beggar), a prostitute, fences, pimps, dives and the docks of Hamburg form the environment and drama of this “street” film. Produced by Prometheus-Film that had offices in Moscow and Berlin and whose leftist bent was readily apparent, this film – as the critics of the time noted – was different from other Weimar era films. Part of the difference may be the Soviet filmmaking influence and the other may be how the pearl necklace functions as the answer to the dreams of the underclass.

Hans G Lustig in Tempo noted the “famous ‘short cutting’ of the Russians” and that “The end of the film is marvelous; there is nothing like it in recent German film production.” Also known as “Beyond the Street” and “Jenseits der Strasse,” this and other Prometheus-Film productions have been ignored over more commercial fare from the era.