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Little Man, What Now?

(1934 b 98')

En: 6 Ed: 7

Based on the novel by Hans Fallada, a young couple struggles to survive economically during the Depression in Germany.

Hans Pinneberg (Douglass Montgomery) takes Lammchen (Margaret Sullavan) to a doctor. She is pregnant, but the doctor says they can make it on the 180 marks a month Hans makes; so they get married. Emil Kleinholz (DeWitt Jennings) wants to marry his daughter Marie (Muriel Kirkland) to one of his single employees, and she likes Pinneberg. After trying to hide her, Hans tells Lammchen that his boss wants him to marry his daughter. The Kleinholz family sees Hans kissing Lammchen. Pinneberg tells Marie that Lammchen is his wife. Kleinholz gives him notice, and Pinneberg quits. Hans looks for a job. One night he finds Lammchen on the merry-go-round after she ate all the salmon.

Hans and Lammchen go to his step-mother (Catherine Doucet) in Berlin, where she is living in the house of Holger Jachman (Alan Hale). Jachman is stopped by a policeman, but he says he is Kranz. Jachman did not know of Hans and flirts with Lammchen. Hans breaks dishes and walks out. Hans applies for a job and gets paid 150 marks. As he was expecting 250, he bought Lammchen a dressing table for 130 and does not have the rent. Lammchen and he are in bed together when Jachman comes in drunk and offers them money. Hans declines, but his stepmother finds 200 marks for two months' rent.

Salesmen are given a quota and will be paid by percentage. The top salesman Heilbutt resigns. A man shows Hans an ad offering women for lonely men, and he realizes it is his stepmother's business. Hans tells Lammchen they are leaving and dumps a tray on the guests' table. An old man driving a horse cart offers Lammchen the room above his furniture shop for 15 marks a month. Hans doesn't like it and hates the world. He shows suits to the movie actor Franz Schluter (Alan Mowbray) and begs him to buy a suit; but Schluter refuses. Pinneberg is dismissed. Jachman gives Lammchen a beautiful dress and takes them out to a night club; but he is arrested and will get five years. Hans gets the bill for 90 marks, but Jachman sends them 150. The furniture shop owner takes soup up to Lammchen and buys her dressing table for 80 marks so that she can go to the hospital. A poor man tells Hans his wife is dead, and police break up a meeting, knocking Hans into the gutter. Lammchen has a baby boy, and Hans asks him, "What now?" Hans tells her he is a failure but that he will take care of his son. Heilbutt visits and offers Hans a job in Amsterdam.

This poignant story portrays how even the middle class struggled desperately during the Depression, while some of the unemployed "marched" for their rights and were put down by police.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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