— Bibliographic Items

The Comedian Harmonists - Documentary

Material Type: 
Place of Publication: 
Germany (West)
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Documentary. 191 min.
Dir./ Prod.: Eberhard Fechner
The Comedian Harmonists was a men's vocal group started in Germany at the end of the 1920s by Harry Frommerman, who dreamed of creating a German version of the American Revelers. His sextet, consisting of a bass, a baritone, two tenors, a piano player and one who imitated musical instruments, was a huge success. They appeared in hundreds of performances and were one of the most popular groups in Germany. In 1935, under Hitler's orders, the group was forced to break up. Three of the singers, of "Jewish origin", were exiled from Germany. They went to Vienna, appeared in Russia and even made a recording with Josephine Baker before finding temporary refuge in Australia. The three remaining "Aryan" singers left their Jewish wives, recruited three new singers and tried to continue performing under the Nazi regime until being banned for "Marxist tendencies." Eberhard Fechner's film traces the history of these six performers, but this is not a musical, but a documentary, utilizing archival footage and interviews conducted with those members of the group still alive - he intermediates between them and deals with questions concerning their life under a totalitarian regime and the manner in which human beings are smitten by historical events. Few of the members of the ensemble ever returned to a singing career, and their bitter, "uninteresting" lives after the Comedian Harmonists paled in comparison to the dramas, the deceits and the conflicts of their years together.