Julius Falkenstein

The Oyster Princess (1919)

The Oyster Princess 1919

Ossi (Ossi Oswalda) is the spoiled daughter of Quaker (Victor Janson), a wealthy man who has made his fortune in oysters. When she finds out the daughter of a shoe polish magnate has just married a count, she’s absolutely furious that she isn’t married yet. To calm her down, Quaker promises to buy her a prince and gets in touch with a matchmaker to find someone with a suitable family tree.

The matchmaker knows just the man for Ossi — Prince Nucki (Harry Liedtke). Only Prince Nucki isn’t actually a prince, he’s poor and lives in a very run down apartment with his friend Josef (Julius Falkenstein). When the matchmaker shows up to tell Nucki he’s found a match for him, Nucki and Josef are stunned that their scheme actually worked. To keep up the illusion that Nucki is a prince, Nucki has Josef pose as his representative to go see what Ossi is like.

When Josef arrives at Ossi’s home, everyone assumes he’s the price. Ossi doesn’t make a very good first impression of him and she isn’t too fond of him either, but she’s so eager to get married, she marries Josef that very night. Since their marriage was a spur of the moment thing, their reception is strictly for close family, which still ends up being a big soiree. Everyone has a wonderful time, especially Josef, who hasn’t had a good meal or a drink in a long time. Ossi dances the night away while Josef drinks the night away. Meanwhile, Nucki is back at his apartment having a terrible dinner before he gets invited to get drunk with some friends.

The next morning, Ossi goes to a meeting for a women’s group dedicated to fighting dispomania and  Nucki happens to be one of the drunks brought in for them to cure. Since he’s the only young, handsome drunk in the bunch, all the women fight over who gets to cure Nucki and Ossi wins. She flirts with him and insists on bringing him home with her as part of his treatment. When Josef finds Nucki passed out at Ossi’s home, he can’t help but laugh because they don’t realize he got married under Nucki’s name so he and Ossi are the ones who are married.

Ernst Lubitsch has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the best directors to ever work in Hollywood. His very distinctive knack for witty, sophisticated dialogue and characters remains unsurpassed. But before coming to Hollywood, Lubitsch was making equally sophisticated and witty silent films in Germany that tend to be overlooked. Since The Oyster Princess is a silent film, obviously it doesn’t have as much sharp dialogue as something like Ninotchka or To Be or Not to Be, but it’s still a very witty movie with an incredible amount of style. It’s still very uniquely Lubitsch’s style.

Ossi Oswalda is very charming actress and was considered to be Germany’s answer to Mary Pickford. It’s too bad she didn’t become a more widely known store because I really like her a lot.