The Harmonists (1999)

The Harmonists (1999)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Harmonists Photos

Movie Info

This fact-based German musical drama chronicles the lives of a popular barbershop sextet in Nazi Germany during the '30s. As their fame increases, authorities objected to the Jews in the group. Traveling to New York they eventually must decide whether to remain in the U.S. or return to Germany.
Rating:
R (for some nudity)
Genre:
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Miramax Films

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Cast

Otto Sander
as Bruno Levy
Katja Riemann
as Mary Cycowski
Rolf Hoppe
as Streicher
Ben Becker
as Robert Biberti
Heino Ferch
as Roman Cycowski
Ulrich Noethen
as Harry Frommermann
Heinrich Schafmeister
as Erich A. Collin
Max Tidof
as Ari Leschnikoff
Kai Wiesinger
as Erwin Bootz
Meret Becker
as Erna Eggstein
Dana Vávrová
as Ursula Bootz
Günter Lamprecht
as Eric Charell
Susi Nicoletti
as Frau Grunbaum
Jürgen Schornagel
as Reich Music Director
Rudolf Wessely
as Herr Grunbaum
Giora Feidman
as Solo Clarinet
Noemi Fischer
as Chantal
Gerard Samaan
as Roman's Father
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Critic Reviews for The Harmonists

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (11)

The movie is history as kitsch, not quite on the Life is Beautiful level of manipulation, but clumsy.

March 19, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

A glorious surprise.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Performances aside, the movie is dull and perfunctory.

December 31, 1999
Village Voice
Top Critic

The story of the Comedian Harmonists, who brought to the waning days of Weimar a bubbly frivolity, is a rich one. Rich enough to keep you watching and wanting to know more.

December 31, 1999
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Only when we delve deeper into the material does it become apparent that the director has a more ambitious agenda, and that agenda makes The Harmonists a satisfying experience.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
ReelViews
Top Critic

As director, Vilsmaier again has a firm grip on tone and pace.

December 31, 1999
The New Republic
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Harmonists

Comedian Harmonists tells the story of a famous, German male sextet, five vocals & piano, the "Comedian Harmonists", from the day they meet first in 1927 to the day in 1934, when they become banned by the upcoming Nazis, because three of them are Jewish. Harry Frommermann is a poor, but talented musician writing his own pieces & dreaming of the big success. When he goes to the store nearby & listens to new records he is so deeply fascinated by the tunes that he doesn't even realize that Erna, the young employee, adores him. When the day comes where he can barely afford the food for his parrot, it is time to do something about his situation. He launches a newspaper ad looking for company to found a singing group. He gets to know Robert Biberti & both seem to be on the same level. Soon four other fellows are found. A concept evolves & rehearsal begins. Yes another Hitler movie. But this one is different it's a musical in the great musical art deco age of the 1920 & this movie ends with the persecuted Jews escaping to other countries. The film is big, enjoyable musical biopic of the kind Hollywood used to produce in the '50s. The plot is conventional but high with its production values. The basic story has all the ingredients of a good commercial story: Berlin in its wild, decadent heyday; marital & sexual tensions within the group; a trip Stateside at a crucial point in their career. Add to this a top-drawer cast & you have a very fine enjoyable movie. Some critics panned this movie. I don't know why. It almost seems we saw different films. Six main actors, who bear more than a passing resemblance to the real characters, blend excellently & look comfortable in period costumes & mannerisms: Noethen is very good as Frommermann, torn between love of his homeland & the compromises that keep him there; Becker excellent as the brash, blond Biberti, who sticks by Frommermann to the end (this is probably Becker's defining film role; he is fantastic) ; Wiesinger smooth in a tailor-made role as the arranger; & Heinrich Schafmeister quietly impressive Collin, in many ways the rock of the group. Musical staging, which use digitally re-mastered recordings by the actual group, range from the intimate to large-scale, & are briskly staged & cut. The results are excellent. An epilogue reveals what happened to all the Harmonists. One moved to California & eventually became the oldest active cantor in America. Others had a good life also. 5 stars. (addendum I watched this first half of this film with French language. Be sure and switch to German the language it was filmed in. The french dubs were not well syncopated)

ld pierce
ld pierce

Comedian Harmonists tells the story of a famous, German male sextet, five vocals & piano, the "Comedian Harmonists", from the day they meet first in 1927 to the day in 1934, when they become banned by the upcoming Nazis, because three of them are Jewish. Harry Frommermann is a poor, but talented musician writing his own pieces & dreaming of the big success. When he goes to the store nearby & listens to new records he is so deeply fascinated by the tunes that he doesn't even realize that Erna, the young employee, adores him. When the day comes where he can barely afford the food for his parrot, it is time to do something about his situation. He launches a newspaper ad looking for company to found a singing group. He gets to know Robert Biberti & both seem to be on the same level. Soon four other fellows are found. A concept evolves & rehearsal begins. Yes another Hitler movie. But this one is different it’s a musical in the great musical art deco age of the 1920 & this movie ends with the persecuted Jews escaping to other countries. The film is big, enjoyable musical biopic of the kind Hollywood used to produce in the '50s. The plot is conventional but high with its production values. The basic story has all the ingredients of a good commercial story: Berlin in its wild, decadent heyday; marital & sexual tensions within the group; a trip Stateside at a crucial point in their career. Add to this a top-drawer cast & you have a very fine enjoyable movie. Some critics panned this movie. I don’t know why. It almost seems we saw different films. Six main actors, who bear more than a passing resemblance to the real characters, blend excellently & look comfortable in period costumes & mannerisms: Noethen is very good as Frommermann, torn between love of his homeland & the compromises that keep him there; Becker excellent as the brash, blond Biberti, who sticks by Frommermann to the end (this is probably Becker's defining film role; he is fantastic) ; Wiesinger smooth in a tailor-made role as the arranger; & Heinrich Schafmeister quietly impressive Collin, in many ways the rock of the group. Musical staging, which use digitally re-mastered recordings by the actual group, range from the intimate to large-scale, & are briskly staged & cut. The results are excellent. An epilogue reveals what happened to all the Harmonists. One moved to California & eventually became the oldest active cantor in America. Others had a good life also. 5 stars. (addendum I watched this first half of this film with French language. Be sure and switch to German the language it was filmed in. The french dubs were not well syncopated)

dfw foreignbuff
dfw foreignbuff

This is a great foreign film about a German group know as The Comedian Harmonists and their rise to fame and fall due to the Nazi Party. I enjoyed the acting and enoyed the music even more. If you are not particularly happy about the acting in this movie just enjoy the great music. Heino Ferch and Ulrich Noethen give great performances. At some parts the acting isnt really convincing but just enjoy the terrific music.

Jeremy Holstad
Jeremy Holstad

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