Cast & Crew
Edwin H. Knopf
In 1809, in the Tyrolean Alps of Austria, Napoleon's army advances into Oberberg, in St. Vigil County, and burns the city. Medical student Severin Anderlan returns home to find his house burned and his mother and sister missing. When a French soldier refuses to tell Severin what has happened to his family, he shoots two soldiers and flees into the mountains. Meanwhile, Magistrate Riederer, a Bavarian, arrives with his daughter Erika as Oberberg's new magistrate. Severin is now a wanted man and builds the Tyrolean resistance from his hiding place in the mountains. One hundred men desert Napoleon's army and join forces with Severin. Captain Leroy, who is devoted to the army, asks Erika to a ball to be given for the general in Innsbruck, but she is already in love with Severin, whom she secretly meets in a church where the rebels have their meetings. Erika then learns that the French are sending a second army in to crush the resistance. While she and Severin read the magistrate's official correspondence, they are caught by Leroy, but not before learning that the date of the attack will be announced at the ball. Severin gets Leroy to give him a three-minute headstart and escapes to his hideout. Leroy, however, receives a tip from a deaf man and drives Severin from his hideout. After a long chase, Severin becomes engaged in hand-to-hand fighting with one soldier, and after both of them cascade down snow-covered hills, Severin is assumed dead. While Erika grieves, her father buys her a dress for the ball, asking her to accept Leroy's invitation in order to help her father politically. Erika then gets a message that Severin is alive and will be at the ball. In disguise, Severin sits in on the meeting with the General, which outlines the attack on the rebels the next day. When he and Erika dance together, he promises to take her with him after the battle. Leroy is suspicious, but when Severin pretends to know the general and escorts his wife to her carriage, Leroy cannot make a scene. That night, the rebels plan their retaliation, and when the troops march, they trigger avalanches up and down the hillsides near their fortress, bombarding the soldiers below. The rebels are defeated, however, and Severin falls on the flag he is carrying and is taken prisoner. After he is shot execution style with two of his accomplices, Severin's ghost rises from his body to carry the flag, leading a troop of ghosts into the hills.
This film was the first Universal picture made in Germany. Variety reports that Universal planned to make a series of sixteen films in Germany, but was temporarily stopped because of the "political situation over there." The Variety review also predicts that the film would not be received well in America because of the "silent film technique" used throughout, and states that the original German film would not be shown in many European cities because of the "anti-Hitler feeling." Variety adds that "France is pretty sure not to like the story unless considerably changed." Luis Trenker is introduced in the credits as "Hero of The Doomed Battalion" (a film produced by Universal in 1932); Vilma Banky's credit notes that she "returns to the American screen as Erika Riederer"; and Victor Varconi is introduced as "Dashing Leading Man of The Divine Lady" (a 1929 First National film directed by Frank Lloyd). Banky, an American silent film star known as "The Hungarian Rhapsody," had last appeared in the 1930 German M-G-M film A Lady to Love (Die Sehnsucht Jeder Frau) (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.1358 and F2.4897). At the time The Rebel was made, Trenker was famous in Germany for his appearance in Dr. Arnold Fanck's "mountain films." The viewed print of The Rebel included German character names, although American release prints May have used English versions of the German names. American reviews list the following character names: Arthur Grosse (General Elliott), Reinhold Bernt (George Bird), Emmerich Albert (John Haskell), Luis Gerold (Samuel Fields) and Hans Jamnig (Louis Klein). This film was shot entirely in the Tyrolean region of Austria.
Information on the German version of this film was found in modern sources: Der Rebell was released in Stuttgart on December 22, 1932 at a length of 2,542 meters. Production credits differ slightly from the American production: Trenker and Kurt Bernhardt directed, from a screenplay by Robert A. Stemmle and Walter Schmidt-Kunz (based on Trenker's manuscript), and Reimar Kuntze contributed to the cinematography. German cast credits add Luise Ullrich (Erika Reiderer), Fritz Kampers, Ludwig Stossel, Albert Schultes, Amanda Lindner, Otto Kronburger, Hugo Lehner, Inge Konradi and Panzi. The modern source lists as additional locations Malojapass near St. Moritz and Zuoz, and Finstermünz between the Tirolean villages of Pfunds and Nauders. Final scenes were reportedly shot in Schloss Kufstein, while interiors were done in the studio at Tempelhof. Der Rebell had its premiere at the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin on January 17, 1933, fourteen days before Adolf Hitler's assumption to power. According to a modern source, future Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels and Hitler saw the film on January 18, 1933. In the summer of 1933, Hitler reportedly told Trenker in person that he had seen the film four times, and Goebbels, in his celebrated Kaiserhof speech to the German Filmwelt in May 1933, also praised the film.