This film is so well restored/preserved with a crispness that gives an impression that the performers have only just left the room and so it is a surprise to find that the last reel is missing. Even though we find out what happens from a closing intertitle it is sad that what remains is in good enough quality to make the whole enterprise appear so vibrantly extant.
CAFÉ ELEKTRIC is one of those many silent films Marlene Dietrich said she couldn’t remember making – she claimed just three at one point but it’s at least 19 – and whilst she’s not the main star she stands out not just for all tomorrow’s parts but for the visceral beauty that would lead to those future opportunities. Here she’s a spoilt rich girl who wants awalk on the wild side only to find she leads others into a world they can’t simply buy their way out of. We see her now through the afterglow of her unique star power and here, all foresight aside, is one special energy being displayed.
She’s far from alone in this film with Willi Forst displaying presence of his own as the petty criminal, Fredl. At the start of the film his character is shown stealing a woman’s purse and then makes light of the police chase through the streets of Vienna as he’s no doubt done many times before. Forst and Dietrich were appearing in the musical Broadway at the time which was her entre to this film and, apparently, she was almost dropped from the role until Forst insisted she stay*.
CAFÉ ELEKTRIC (1927) is thoroughly entertaining drama with Gustav Ucicky directing what could be an over-loaded narrative with clarity of purpose. He certainly gets the best out of his cast and the performances are of a high level, whilst we get some choice location shots and a real feel for the night life. The dance sequences are energetic and Erni and Fredl’s Black Bottom is Tik-Tok ready if you want to slow down the steps at the start. [...]
Paul Joyce,http://ithankyouarthur.blogspot.com/, 12.4.2022