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Kaiser's Lackey (1951)

Werner Peters , Paul Esser , Wolfgang Staudte  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Werner Peters, Paul Esser, Carola Braunbock
  • Directors: Wolfgang Staudte
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B001KW90L2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,932 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Kaiser's Lackey" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on Heinrich Manns influential novel 'Der Untertan', which casts Germany's penchant for ultra-nationalism and authoritarianism in a satirical light, this scathingly funny, once-banned classic by the director of 'The Murderers Are Among Us' is now ranked by film critics as one of the most significant German films of all time.

It tells the story of Diedrich Hesserling, who as a young boy is afraid of everything. But as Diedrich grows older he learns that by groveling before his superiors and manipulating or stepping on everyone else, he is capable of advancing his position in life. As he progresses from a beer swilling cadet to a ruthless factory owner and finally to a lackey for the Kaiser, Diedrich's ambition for power and prestige comes to fruition.


A historical satire of biting sharpness and grand comedy. Staudte's wonderfully successful adaptation of Heinrich Mann's world-famous novel has become a film classic. --Goethe Institut, Washington

A masterpiece of post-war cinema. Intelligent, sophisticated and aesthetically accomplished. --Oliver Baumgarten,

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
It's not all that often that toadies get what's coming to them. Too often, when their political toadying days wind down, they join important New York law firms or become Washington "consultants," toadying in only a slightly different milieu, and able now to directly afford their bespoke suits and strip steak dinners at The Capital Grille.

But then we have Diederich Hessling. The place is Germany and the time is before the turn of the century. Diederich (Werner Peters) is a superior toady in this superior East German satire from 1951. Hessling is an unlikable, pudgy little man, with a small, soft mouth. He is a perfect bourgeois, inwardly anxious and outwardly pompous. He was a fearful child, frightened of his father's cane and his mother's stories. Tattling on others at school was his satisfaction. He was attracted, while at university, to the shy Agnes, but when warned off by her family's boarder one evening, he hurriedly left her home. He joined with pride the Neo Teutons to drink beer with careful rituals and fearfully gained a dueling scar. As a cadet in the Kaiser's army he realized, we are told, that "the whole military set-up was aimed to reduce one's dignity to a minimum. This impressed him. Despite his misery he was filled with respect." Alas, his flat foot hurt, he said, and soon he was released with dramatic tales to tell. Then he must manage his family's factory when his father dies, lording it over the workers and nuzzling the town's leaders. He also manages to seduce the loving Agnes, who, having acquiesced is now of course unworthy of a man of his stature. His self-importance is as prominent as his newly up-turned moustache, identical to the Kaiser's.
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