Directed by Joe Stöckel (1938)
Rudi Godden (Meier III)
Hermann Speelmans (Anton, the Cook)
Günther Lüders (Nottelmann)
Beppo Brem (Sepp Bäumler)
Gustl Stark-Gstettenbaur (Kriegswilliger Staden)
Aribert Mog (Leutnant Roeder)
Carl de Vogt (Unteroffizier Macke)
Hildegard Barko (Grete, Anton's Sister)
Ernst Rotmund (Der Viehhändler Weiß)
It is December, 1917, and an infantry company is temporarily bivouacked in a town in Flanders. Musketier Orje Meier III, a simple infantryman, steals a large box of meat and sausages from the quartermaster's warehouse and gives it to Anton the cook. They become friends, and when Anton asks Orje if he has any loved ones, Orje tells him that he is all alone in the world with no home or family.
Anton talks about his upcoming Christmas plans, and all the men talk wistfully about what their Christmases used to be like. Anton tries to take a nap, and when Unteroffizier Macke attempts to strike him for dereliction of duty, Orje stops him. The Unteroffizier is looking for a broom, and he mentions that "Mamzelle" in town has one. Orje goes to town to get one and through an open door sees Mamzelle wearing very little and putting on makeup. She screams when she sees him in a mirror and doesn't understand the word for "broom". She pushes him from her room, and in the hall he sees a broomstick. Just as he takes it, he hears the sound of someone coming up from the cellar. He hides, and an elderly drunken Frenchman goes by. Orje goes down to the cellar and finds a well-stocked wine cellar. He takes a bottle back to Anton who tells Orje to keep it for himself.
Three men are chosen to get home leave in Berlin , and Orje is one of the winners. Everyone else is envious, but Orje tells them he is an orphan with no place to go, and he would rather stay with the company during Christmas. One of the men is afraid to open his mail because he fears it is bad news. Orje persuades him to open his letter, and it turns out the man is a new father. Orje wants to give up his pass home, but his commanding offer insists that he go.
For Christmas dinner, Orje decides to steal a pig for the company. He gets the watchman at Mamzell's apartment building drunk, and then the watchman shows him a pig that is bigger than Orje. Orje and some friends take it back to Anton.
The company has a wonderful feast, and all the men receive Christmas packages from home. Anton has conspired with his sister Grete to send Orje a package signed with the name of an elderly neighbor in the next village: Lottchen Müller. Orje is brought to tears at the generosity from someone who's never met him. He thinks he is in love with her and resolves to find the woman.
While the company is entertained by a Christmas skit put on by some of the men, Anton admits to Orje that he sent the package. Orje is furious and stomps off. A shell lands through the roof, and the war is back again. We see the British and German soldiers in their trenches. Unteroffizier Macke leads a charge across no man's land and is killed. Orje is left for dead in a crater between both sides. When Anton hears about it, he finds his friend and captures a British soldier and makes the soldier carry Orje back to camp.
Anton tells the recovered Orje that the package was from Lottchen Müller but it was sent along with Anton's package by his wife and sister. He tells Orje that Orje was mistaken in thinking that Anton had sent the package.
We see Anton's sister Grete reading Orje's letter addressed to Frau Müller. With much laughing she writes back to Orje as Frau Müller. Then Viehhändler Weiß, the meatbroker, comes into their restaurant and harasses the women. He is an oily, lecherous parasite. They accuse him of cheating them on the prices he pays them for their livestock. He tells them that if they don't like it to go elsewhere. There is nowhere else to go. The three women are desperately trying to keep their restaurant going.
Anton and Orje get a joint leave and they go back to Anton's home. On the train, Anton asks Orje why he didn't go to Berlin? Orje tells him that he is in love with Frau Müller for having sent him the package, and he wants to see her. There is a touching family reunion at home with Anton's wife, sister and mother. Orje wants to find Frau Müller immediately, but the family (all of whom are in on the joke) insist that he stay with them.
The next morning Orje walks to Frau Müller's house, and Orje thanks her for the package. She has no idea of what he is talking about, and Orje is quite crestfallen to discover that she's old enough to be his grandmother. Meanwhile, Grete has bicycled over to Lottchen Müller's house, and tiptoeing in the back way, she tells Frau Müller about the joke when Orje leaves.
Orje turns back and decides to properly thank the old lady. While he's talking, she opens the kitchen door, and Orje sees Grete has been listening in on the conversation. Everyone forgives everyone, and Orje pedals Grete home on her bicycle.
A few days later, Orje and Grete get engaged. The family throws a big party, and Orje and Grete sneak out to the arbor in the back of the house. While there, they see that Viehhändler Weiß has put a ladder against the house at Grete's window. While he climbs up the ladder, Orje goes into the house and greets him when he gets inside Grete's room. Orje proceeds to throw him out of the window, and Viehhändler Weiß winds up in a rain barrel. The rest of the guests are all delighted as they hate him.
Orje and Anton are serenaded as they take the train back to their company. They swear eternal friendship and the movie ends.
After the war, an Allied Commission on Denazification ruled that this film was not allowed to be shown anywhere in Germany. It is a subtle piece of propaganda for the war instead of the usual heavyhanded Nazi bombast of that time. The war is presented as a lark, with few problems other than homesickness. The men seemed to be in summer camp, with happy excursions stealing food and drink from the friendly French (who didn't mind the Germans being there at all!) and lots of men reminiscing about home life. The one short scene of battle had a happy ending with only Unteroffizier Macke getting killed. No one seemed to mourn his passing. Not only did Orje get to travel, but he also found a lovely young woman to be his wife. The implicit message was "Join the war and have a wonderful time." The Viehhändler Weiß caricature was meant to convey either a Jew or a Bolshevik or both. He was portrayed as an obnoxious lecher who was a "parasite" and lived off honest Aryans' work. Having been made in 1938, the worst that happened to him was getting a dunking, leaving out the ominous shadow of concentration camps and death.
Carl previously appeared with Aribert Mog and Gerhard Bienert in Fahrmann Maria.This is the only film that Carl de Vogt made with any of the cast including Joe Stöckel and Rudi Godden. Herr Godden died at the age of 33 in Berlin of blood poisoning (according to the IMDb).
Copies of this film are available on eBay.com from empirefilm.