Master of the House ★★★½

Viktor Frandsen is a tyrant in his home, cranky, unsympathetic, demanding of his hardworking wife, and harsh to his children. As a result of her hard work, Viktor’s wife becomes ill and has to rest. Viktor’s childhood nanny and his mother-in-law decide to teach Viktor that he must value his wife and extend more kindness to both his wife and children. His mother-in-law takes her daughter away to recover her health, and the nanny moves into their apartment to look after Viktor and the children. The nanny refuses to be treated as a servant and demands that Viktor help with the household chores and do more things for himself. He falls into his childhood ways and obeys her. Viktor learns how hard his wife had been working to take care of him and the children and realizes how poorly he had treated her. He repents, and her return brings them renewed happiness.

Carl Theodor Dreyer directed this undramatic, warm, human comedy. The film sustains audience engagement despite the constrained setting of a two room apartment and a protagonist who is an old woman. The strong personality of the nanny takes over the household, and the picture, as she schools both the young man on screen and the audience in proper behavior. The Parson’s Widow (1920) is another, first-rate Dreyer film about the lessons an old woman teaches to a foolish young man.

Read our reviews of Dreyer’s The Parson’s Widow (1920) and The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928).