After a vorspiel in the present tense, the story begins precisely on December 8th, 1943, when it dawned on Dr. Rothe that he was a research scientist in immunology for the regime. His lab assistant has the authority of the Spionabwehr, a colonel pays him a visit. Dr. Rothe’s fiancée has blabbed to her father in Stockholm, now London has a full report. Dr. Rothe is bemused. Is there proof? Oh yes, it comes out that the lab assistant has, in the course of an investigation, conducted an affair with the fiancée and knows everything.
The film is so little known that this decisive point is frequently misunderstood.
The spike through his brain stays there as the situation is repeated, flighty girl, accusing interloper, and there is more than one murder, until at last Dr. Rothe turns his mind definitively against his tormentors.
The colonel is implicated in a plot against the leader, the lab assistant is on the conspirators’ trail. But the rooming house on Magdalenenstraβe is bombed out of existence, Dr. Rothe disappears, he is Dr. Neumeister vaccinating new arrivals at a refugee camp after the war, as at the beginning of the film. The lab assistant under a new name has been assigned to him as a subordinate. Dr. Neumeister has the man’s revolver.
The great study is of the malformation induced by such a fantastic irruption of the State into personal affairs, and on such a basis.
A prefatory note indicates a certain relationship to recent events.
The great film noir score is of a class with Hawks or Huston. A rare German film masterpiece in the Postwar period, with an extremely fine script full of insights, and extremely fine acting.