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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Vater Braucht Eine Frau ( 1952 ) aka Father Needs a Wife


Who wants to get a new housekeeper when you can have a new mother? 

Widower Hans Neumeister and his four children have just lost their most recent housekeeper who, like the other women before her, stormed out in aggravation over the children's playful antics. So Papa Neumeister is once again on the hunt for a housekeeper...but his children have other plans. They would rather have a permanent live-in housekeeper - a new mother! 

On behalf of their father, they place an ad in the marriage column of a local newspaper and within a day receive over 30 written responses from a variety of women, many of whom included a photograph of themselves. One photo, in particular, catches their eye, that of Susanne Meissner who happens to be standing in front of a chateau next to a Mercedes 300. The children do not realize that Susanne is not a well-to-do society woman, but simply a fashion model. However, once their father has a chance to meet her, her lack of high-society status becomes very unimportant. 

Vater Braucht Eine Frau is a charming film that combines all the elements of great family entertainment: humor, romance, and parallel plots that both children and adults could enjoy. The dialogue is timeless, the cinematography ideal, and the music ( by Franz Grothe ) is lovely....but what really makes the film work is the spot-on casting. Each of the principal actors is wonderful in their parts. 
This was the first film to feature the pairing of Ruth Leuwerik with Dieter Borsche and it established them as one of the most popular onscreen duos of the 1950s. They would go on to make five films together. 

Dieter Borsche brought warmth and a surprising comedic flair to the role of Hans. This unusual casting, at the time, echoed Walt Disney's unorthodox casting of Western hero Brian Keith as Hayley Mill's father in the family comedy The Parent Trap ( 1961 ). Who would have guessed that these men were so good at comedy? In one scene, Hans returns home to his apartment after a date with Susanne and, being on cloud nine, releases his joy by swinging on his children's indoor swing. Without a word, Dieter manages to express the elation of a widower who didn't believe he could ever fall in love again. 

Ruth Leuwerik is lovely as Susanne. Although she made one film before Vater Braucht Eine Frau, it was this comedy that launched her to stardom. Her role as Maria von Trapp in Die Trapp Familie and Die Trapp Familie in Amerika later established her as "The First Lady of German Cinema". Ruth had a way of projecting so much emotion with the slightest of gestures and she brings a hint of a maternal nature to Susanne which helps draw her to the children. 
Angelika Meissner leads the children's cast as Hans' eldest daughter Ulla. Like Ruth, Angelika had very expressive eyes and often conveyed more than what the script may have called for. She was excellent in parts like this. She later went on to play Dick in Die Mädels vom Immenhof ( 1955 ) one of the most popular family films of all-time ( in Germany ). Portraying the younger Neumeister boys are curly-haired brothers Urs and Migg Hess and little runny-nose Oliver Grimm. 

Also in the cast is Günther Lüders, a well-beloved German comedian, and Bruni Löbel as "Cuckoo".

3 comments:

  1. This looks really sweet! Do you speak German, or do you watch these movies with subtitles?

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    1. It is a sweet film, and it's available on Youtube if you would like to watch it. My sister and I have German abstammung so - depending on the dialect - we can understand most Heimatfilms, and this one was fairly easy to pick up on. Unfortunately, I don't think subtitles are available on the Youtube version but it's such a fun film, you don't even need to know what they are saying to enjoy it!

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  2. The story of the film ‘Nanny McPhee’ is very similar to this one. This reminds me that I downloaded the film the other day and that I have yet to watch it… I paid with this: http://www.digitalgp.co.uk/ . I remember that the payment process was quite easy, since the charges were directly transferred to my monthly bill. Well anyways, I need to find time to catch up with my film watching activities, or else I’ll end up with an endless list of titles.

    PS: ‘Father Needs a Wife’ is definitely going into my list <3

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