Der Untertan (1951)

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Heinrich Mann's influential novel Der Untertan serves as the inspiration for this once-banned satirical comedy about a fearful young boy who uses the power of groveling to become of the Kaiser's most trusted lackeys. As a young boy, Diedrich Hesserling was afraid of everything. But the older Diedrich grew, the more he realized how quickly he could advance in life by licking the boots of his superiors and using everyone else as a stepping stone to success. And the technique serves Diedrich well, too, as he quickly advances from beer-guzzling cadet to tyrannical factory owner and, ultimately, right hand man to the Kaiser himself. The Murderers Are Among Us director Wolfgang Staudte helms a biting comedy that, while banned in Germany at the time of its original release, is now considered an important film classic.

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