Episode

Episode ★★★½

Walter Reisch's directing debut starts like every serious komedie om geld should: with a banker's suicide at a party. It's Vienna between the wars, money's tight and the only stable currency is £ØV€ – which is why a smart girl like Friedl Czepa (the Mitzi to end all Mitzis) always carries a conversion chart in her bra. Her dormmate and actual protagonist Paula Wessely unfortunately doesn't know you only exchange romance for cold hard cash, so she gullibly accepts a cheque from a rich old "benefactor" – creating a comedic paper trail that dictates all further moves of the plot.

Well, all except one: To get away from sugar daddy's nosy sons, Wessely and Karl Ludwig Diehl (an unsmiling Maurice Chevalier if you can imagine) escape into a nearby Kino. A marvellous scene that reminded me of a recent Petzold interview where he talks about how gangsters on the lam always hide out at the movies, the most private of public spaces – only here it's lovers. The camera gently floats across an audience of couples young and old, some necking, some whispering, some sleeping; Diehl points over their heads and tells Wessely, "That's what true love looks like." On the screen, Rudolph Valentino, in full maharajah gear, embraces the girl of his and our dreams.

(Sidenote: The poster on here is an atrocity.)