Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Madchen in Uniform," Lilli Palmer

My latest admiration is for the multi-talented Lilli Palmer (b.1914 - d. 1986), particularly her work in films with homoerotic undertones. I am thrilled to have discovered "Madchen in Uniform." Clips of the film are available on You Tube. It's worth checking out. It's now one of my all time favorite films. I haven't even seen it in its entirety. I am not sure how to evaluate or analyze the film at this point; I'm just enjoying it aesthetically. It's a bit torturous in its subtlety. But I definitely get the  sense that Lilli Palmer's character, Elisabeth von Bernburg, is not only lonely but also feels some degree of homoerotic (and not just compassionate, motherly) love for her student, Manuela. You can see a tortured desire hidden in her subtle body movements as well as in the movements of her eyes when she encounters closely Manuela and Manuela's affections. Beautiful, beautiful.

I would have loved Lilli Palmer and the character she played had I seen this when I was five years old (just as I loved Angela Lansbury as the clumsy and untalented witch, Egglentine Price, in "Bedknobs and Broomsticks"), but I wasn't watching a movie like this when I was five years old. Maybe if I had seen this, I would have figured myself out faster. See, I innately love headmistresses (not ALL of them, just some of them...). My love of headmistresses was here long before I evolved enough to discover my women-centered sexuality and eroticism.

I would LOVE to have been able to interview Palmer myself to find out what SHE thought of the performance - alas, that is not possible. I think much more attention should be given to this remake, as well as to the original 1931 film, "Maedchen in Uniform," and the book by Christa Winsloe (The Child Manuela) on which the film was based. This is the type of film that could really inspire an intellectual conversation. Let's get this on the play lists of controversial films to be shown in academia. Or else, let's just get this on the play lists at lesbian film festivals once in a while. Let's get this shown on cable television. Now who is the us in let's who has the power to make THAT happen? Thank GODDESS for You Tube and its ability to bring obscure, illegal things to life. Now if only I could find copies of the London Cast Productions of Lansbury's "Mame" and "Gypsy" and "Dear World", my life would be complete. All hail the exquisite von Bernburg in her high collared glory.

Some interesting websites:

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