‘Die Austerprinzessin’ by Ernst Lubitsch

The Oyster Princess, 1919


Year of Première 1919
Format 35mm/1.33:1 original aspect ratio

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Written by Ernst Lubitsch
Hanns Kräly
Cinematography by Theodor Sparkhul
Production design by Kurt Richter
Rochus Gilese


Victor Janson Mister Quaker
Ossi Oswalda Ossi – His Daughter
Harry Liedtke Prince Nucki
Julius Falkenstein Josef
MaxKronert Seligsohn
Curt Bois Conductor

Die Austernprinzessin by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, 2010

Ernst Lubitsch made Die Austernprinzessin in 1919. It was one of the most popular films in a string of comedies he directed starring Ossi Oswalda, always playing a character named Ossi, and invariably featuring some deception, confusion, or disguise. Which is not to say that these films are formulaic or identical; every one of them is something very distinct, a little wild, and every Ossi is a different creature. This particular Ossi is the oyster princess of the title, the daughter of a seafood tycoon who decides that if the daughter of a shoe-polish magnate can marry a prince, then she deserves one, too. Soon it’s off to the goat-faced Seligsohn, who recommends a charming but debt-ridden prince who holds court in a cramped and dingy apartment. The prince sends his only servant, Josef, his shaved head looking a bit like a knuckle, to pay the tycoon and his daughter a visit, and, before anyone’s quite sure what’s happened, the girl is married to the servant, thinking that he’s a real live aristocrat, and the prince is out on the town getting drunk with his friends. So is Die Austernprinzess in a matchmaker joke? A farce with a bawdy punchline? A political cartoon? Does its essence lie in the foxtrot scene, with the dance an epidemic that turns the participants into jittering zombies, or in the comic tenderness of the girl and the prince, Oswalda and handsome Harry Liedtke at their best, in the bedroom, unaware that they’re married to each other? Really, it’s all of those things. That’s the essence of every Ernst Lubitsch film, and Lubitsch himself: a sum total of all possible elements. Comedy helps feed some part of us. A Lubitsch comedy, however, isn’t just a meal — it’s the table, the cook, the menu, the friends invited for dinner, the waiters, and even the competing restaurant across the street.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky is a film critic. He lives and works in Chicago.

  • File created on 19th March 2021 with Handbrake free open source software for archive of theoryreader.org
  • Silent film with German intertitles, music encoded in 320bit AAC
  • Subtitles in English
  • Video is 57min 57sec in length, H.264 10-bit (x264) encoded, with cropped black edges
  • The file is 12,7 GB in size, contained in Matroska .mkv, uploaded and hosted on mega.nz encrypted cloud storage
  • Video Lan Client (VLC) video playback software recommended for .mkv on Linux, Windows, Mac and Android.

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