Tuesday, 22 January 2008

F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer (1932)

F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer (F.P.1 antwortet nicht) is an odd little film, a 1932 co-production between Gaumont British Pictures and the famous German UFA studios. The cast is a mix of British and German talent, including Jill Esmond, Conrad Veidt and Peter Lorre. It’s a spy thriller with a dash of science fiction. A brilliant naval officer designs a floating airfield, a kind of gigantic stationary aircraft carrier, that is to be moored in mid-Atlantic. Various unspecified powers are determined to sabotage this project. Jill Esmond plays Claire Lennartz, the owner of the shipyard responsible for building the F.P. 1 (Floating Platform 1), a woman who is involved in a romantic triangle. Her would-be lovers are Droste, the designer of the F.P.1, and Major Ellissen, an adventurer and pioneering aviator. When saboteurs strike she realises which of the men she loves, but she has to call on the other man to carry out a daring rescue operation. The print I saw seems to be a drastically shortened version of the original release, making the plot rather obscure. The early 1930s aircraft are fun, and the special effects are reasonably impressive for a 1932 movie. This was a big-budget production filmed simultaneously in English and German. The idea is more exciting than the execution, and even the shortened version drags in places, but it’s worth seeing if you’re a fan of off-beat movies and strange genre hybrids.


tom jones said...

I've not seen this one, but I think that this is actually two films, one German and one instant British remake with some of the German cast, rather than a co-production. In the very early Thirties, before they realized it would be cheaper to simply dub foreign films in the local language, studios sometimes remade the whole film.

The Hollywood Spanish language version of Dracula for Latino audiences is the most famous example, but there's also The Tunnel, which is three separate German, French and British films all with the same plot but different casts, made in the 3 countries more or less at the same time.

dfordoom said...

Tom, the Germans in the very early talkie era seemed to make it a practice to shoot a German and an English version simultaneously.