Multiple-Language Version Film Collectors’ Guide, Part 2

  • Get your teeth into multiple-language version films on Blu-ray and DVD!
  • Feast your eyes on our rundown of the best MLVs of the early sound era

Continuing a series on the peak years of multiple-language version films: here I focus on those released from 1931–1935. During the silent era, a single film could be released right around the world, with a simple switch of its intertitles to locally-translated ones. When the talkies arrived, suddenly they were restricted to being released only in territories speaking each film’s language. Dubbing was in its infancy and very crude; what’s more, many audiences rejected it outright anyway – as they still do.

Another solution was the international sound version, whereby all dialogue sequences were replaced with intertitles; the rest of the soundtrack, including any songs, was usually left intact. These were often clunky, difficult to watch and obviously negated many of the benefits of the new medium.

Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi, US 1947 re-release poster

Dracula (1931) US 1947 re-release poster

Multiple-language version (MLV) films were the preferred answer of many studios: to make several different-language versions of a film, often at the same time, using the same sets, costumes, etc. but usually with different casts and crew. This expensive and ultimately less profitable practice was only popular for a few years, but in its time it led to hundreds of films being made using the process – some in up to 13 different languages! The MLV format is still invoked occasionally even now, for Eastern Asian blockbusters and the odd international release, but these are fairly isolated exceptions.

Here I’m listing the best early MLVs easily available to watch or buy in at least two of their different versions. There are lots more available on disc in only one version – usually the domestic – but in the absence of their siblings to compare them with, they’re basically just… films.


The Congress Dances (1931)

This light, frothy confection is a musical comedy of mistaken identity set during the 1814–1815 Congress of Vienna. The unlikely-sounding setting was a historic conference which sought to establish sustained peace in a Europe recently stricken by decades of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. The plot centres around Russia’s Tsar Alexander having a dalliance with a charming commoner, with the collusion of his official lookalike and stand-in for boring social occasions.

UFA spared no expense on this one: it’s a sumptuous, big budget feast for the eyes, produced in German, French and English versions. The German version in particular, featured just about every big name star UFA had at their disposal. In perhaps her most famous screen outing, the fluently trilingual Lilian Harvey starred in all three versions. She was accompanied in this feat by Lil Dagover, while Conrad Veidt starred in the German and English MLVs. All in all, this is unfettered German filmmaking at its finest, shortly before the Nazis assumed power and changed the lives of all involved and their audiences forever.

Later there was an Austrian remake, Der Kongreß tanzt (1955), shot in full colour and CinemaScope.

Willy Fritsch and Lilian Harvey in Der Kongreß tanzt (The Congress Dances, 1931), German lobby card, cropped

Willy Fritsch and Lilian Harvey in Der Kongreß tanzt (The Congress Dances, 1931), German lobby card

There’s a great-looking restored DVD of the German MLV, Der Kongreß tanzt, which includes German subtitles and a making-of featurette with excerpts of the English MLV. The same transfer was also issued on a long-deleted vanilla DVD. Here’s a goodly-sized chunk of the English MLV.

Dracula (1931)

This iconic film, the first official screen adaptation of Bram Stoker’s eponymous vampire novel, though far from the last, is known chiefly today for Bela Lugosi’s career-defining performance as the bloodthirsty count. It’s hard to believe, but after nearly four decades of cinema and nearly a decade after the Germans did it with Nosferatu (1922), Dracula was the first true horror film that Hollywood produced. While there had been ‘horror’ or ghost-type films before 1931, in the end the creepy goings-on were always explained by a human or at least earthly cause. This was the first in which right from the start the audience were made to accept that the protagonist was actually a supernatural being – not just some Scooby Doo-style villain with a sheet over his head.

Likely the best known MLV of all, it was shot in English and Spanish and viewing both versions makes for a fascinating comparison. There was also a third, silent, version prepared for cinemas not yet converted for sound. This would likely have consisted of outtakes and footage shot from alternative angles. Notably Dracula, as was common with many early talkies, is almost entirely bereft of a musical score. Although this was due to the technical limitations of the time, in many ways it actually helps the film to be even more atmospheric and foreboding. An interesting thought: the silent version of this sound film that doesn’t have a music score would undoubtedly have had… continuous musical accompaniment! Should it ever turn up, that would be interesting to see performed live.

The much shorter English MLV has a runtime of 74 minutes; the Spanish 103 minutes. Dracula originally ran for 85 minutes but suffered various censorship cuts for its 1936 reissue, following the 1934 enforcement of the Production Code. Sadly, only the cut version survives and therefore Drácula, the Spanish MLV, contains many scenes no longer present in Dracula. Additionally, it is oftentimes more risqué and suggestive than its English counterpart, as it is both uncut and produced for a market not concerned with pandering to that era’s more sensitive American tastes.

Drácula was thought lost for many years but ever since its rediscovery in the 1970s, debate has raged about which is the superior version. The simple truth is that each is often better in different regards and they’re best taken together as two sides of the same film. Personally though, I reckon if you could transplant Bela into the Spanish version you’d pretty much have the best of both worlds. Incidentally, the beautiful heroine of Drácula gave the Count a run for his money in the immortality stakes by making it to the grand old age of 106! A recent interview with Lupita Tovar (27 July 1910 – 12 November 2016) showed her to be in fine form right until the end.

Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi, Blu-ray reissue

Dracula (1931) Blu-ray

Both talkie versions have been issued on disc numerous times, owing to the former’s enduring popularity. Most highly recommended is the fantastic Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray box set. It contains the horror studio’s eight most famous creations in meticulously restored HD. The restored Spanish Drácula also features in HD, as well as copious extras for all the films and a 48-page book – indispensable stuff for classic fright fans.

Note that for some reason the US and Canadian editions are more expensive than those in Europe. As all Universal’s Blu-rays are region free it’s much cheaper for US and Canadian buyers to pick up the UK set instead. The UK, Germany and France additionally had a coffin-shaped box version but it’s simply the standard set inside a cardboard box, with no additional extras whatsoever. Dracula: The Legacy Collection is also also available, a set collating all the classic era Universal films in which the Count makes an appearance. Dracula has been restored several times over the past couple of decades, each time improving on the previous effort, and most recently just ahead of its 2012 Blu-ray release. I’ve linked to all of the 2012-restored DVDs; any not listed very likely have earlier, somewhat inferior restorations and many will only contain the English version.

Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection 8-disc/9-film box set

Dracula: The Legacy Collection 4-disc/7-film box set


Emil and the Detectives (1931)

The first of five screen adaptations to date of Erich Kästner’s classic 1929 children’s novel, this equally classic German film is not, strictly speaking, an MLV, but it is a special case which I feel merits inclusion on this list. It was the third talkie by seminal director Gerhard Lamprecht, who is famed for having a particular affinity with children. Time and again he elicted the most moving and naturalistic performances from his young stars. His reputation is enjoying a renaissance of late as some of his landmark silent films are finally being restored and made available again. Four of them, including his renowned Berlin Trilogy (the term was applied to Lamprecht years before Bowie),  are on a couple of 2-DVD sets that are trilingual (English, German, French) and region free PAL format. Trust me on this: he really is one of the finest, most unjustly forgotten directors ever and you won’t regret seeking them out.

Young Emil’s story is a simple one but very well told: he takes the train to Berlin to visit his granny but has some money stolen en route. On arrival, he enlists a gang of local children – the “detectives” of the title – to help him track down the thief. Will justice be done?

Emil und die Detektive (Emil and the Detectives, 1931) German film poster

Emil und die Detektive (1931) German film poster

Emil also featured a screenplay by Kästner himself, alongside the young Billy Wilder and Emeric Pressburger, who of course, after fleeing Germany from the Nazis, would both go on to make some of cinema’s most acclaimed and enduring works. The second film adaptation was made three years after the first, by an English studio. However, having obtained the original script and shot-list from the earlier film, they were utilised to recreate it faithfully. Wait – I know what you’re thinking, but the less said about that the better, ok? Emil 1935 is actually a really good film. It was thought lost for many years but turned up recently in the hands of a US collector. A tragic coda: the young cast were aged between 9 and 15 during the making of the 1931 film. Within a few short years many of them were to die during WWII, with several meeting their demise in active combat, including ‘Emil’ himself, Rolf Wenkhaus. The end of innocence.

Emil und die Detektive (Emil and the Detectives, 1931)

Emil und die Detektive (1931)

While the various German versions of Emil and the Detectives have been issued often on DVD, only the UK’s BFI have so far included both 1930s versions together. It’s a great package that includes a substantial booklet with press materials and several essays, including one by our very own Bryony Dixon. Both films are by turns both dark and foreboding one minute, then truly charming the next, and make for interesting and entertaining viewing.

M (1931)

Speaking of the end of innocence… The seminal thriller M, or to give it its full German title: M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (M – A City Looks for a Murderer), was writer/director Fritz Lang’s favourite of his own films. A masterpiece of expressionism, it featured a star-making turn from Peter Lorre as the titular subject from whom no child is safe. M was also made in English and French versions, though neither of these featured any input from Lang.

Inge Landgut as Elsie Beckmann in M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (1931) with Peter Lorre

Inge Landgut as Elsie Beckmann in M (1931)

M has had a chequered history on film and home video. It was banned by the Nazis in 1934 just before Lang’s pre-war defection to the US. Lang, a Jew, refused Josef Goebbels‘ personal invitation to head the UFA film studio. Lorre, also Jewish, had already fled to the US two years earlier. Lang’s stance against Nazism also cost him his marriage: Thea von Harbou, his wife and collaborator on all his 1920–1933 films, was an early sign-up to the Nazi Party.

M also suffered many censorship cuts and reissue re-edits over the years and at one point even had extra music and sound effects added, to ‘compensate’ for Lang’s sparing use of them on the original soundtrack! Thankfully, M has undergone several restorations over the past few decades, with each one coming ever closer to the original version. It is now in excellent shape and virtually complete. M‘s English version was thought lost for many years and only found, lurking in the BFI‘s vaults, in 2005. At present it is included in the following releases:

Avoid the Italian “Studio 4K” Blu-ray: it is pirated from the Eureka/MoC disc, as are the French “Films sans Frontières” Blu-ray and DVD.

M‘s French version isn’t available in its entirety on disc, but extensive clips are featured in the 25-minute Physical History of M featurette, produced just before the rediscovery of the English version. It’s included as an extra on the Criterion Blu-ray and their 2004 R0/NTSC 2-DVD set.

Of note is the fact that M received its most recent restoration in 2011, when minute additional fragments of missing film, totalling around 30 seconds, were reinserted. Also, an alternate version of the soundtrack was created, whereby the ‘silent’ passages are now truly silent. While the advances are relatively slight compared to the previous, generally available 2004/2010 restoration, it can be obtained via a book-bound, extras-laden German 2-disc R0 Blu-ray/DVD and R0, PAL 2-DVD set. Both are also included in the 5-BD and 6-DVD Deutsche Filmklassiker Weimarer Kino 1920–1931 box sets.

The Threepenny Opera (1931)

The very epitome of German Weimar era filmmaking, The Threepenny Opera was based on Bertolt Brecht‘s still-hugely successful play, Die Dreigroschenoper, which was in turn based on John Gay‘s The Beggar’s Opera (1728). Shot in German and French by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and US-financed, an English version was also planned but never materialised. Two years after its première it was banned by the Nazi Party who, though it was set in Victorian England, objected to the obvious allegory to then-contemporary German society. The Nazis also attempted to destroy all known prints but thankfully, as with so many other things, they failed.

Carola Neher, the talented star of the German MLV, had an early life of boundless promise that devolved into a tragic end under the brutal regimes of both Hitler and Stalin. Primarily a stage actor – often featuring in Brecht’s plays – she appeared in only three films, with Opera being her last. Her first, a supporting role in a comedy short titled Mysterien eines Frisiersalons (The Mysteries of a Hairdresser’s Shop, 1923), was written and directed by Brecht. So far it has only been released on a few German VHS videos and a 3-DVD set, but can be viewed on YouTube. Carola was elevated to star billing in her second film, Tenderness (1930), the German iteration of another French/German MLV.

Carola Neher and Rudolf Forster in Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) (1931) film, sepia

Carola Neher and Rudolf Forster in Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) (1931)

Both versions have been released in several 2-DVD sets:

The now-deleted UK and Spanish editions are increasingly difficult and expensive to obtain, but thankfully the English-friendly German set can be had cheaply anywhere so is the recommended option for European buyers. There is also a single German DVD containing the domestic version only.

F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer (1932)

F.P.1 antwortet nicht, its German title, was produced in an age when tales of aviation pioneers and their exploits in international air travel were regularly capturing the headlines and the public’s imagination. F.P.1 refers to Floating Platform 1, a huge mid-Atlantic aircraft refuelling station, which is sabotaged and threatens to sink into the sea. In its attempt to capture the technological zeitgeist, F.P.1 succesfully foreshadowed the critical importance of naval aircraft carriers in an impending WWII.

F.P.1 antwortet nicht (F.P.1 doesn't answer, 1932) with Hans Albers; German film poster

F.P.1 antwortet nicht (1932) German film poster

F.P.1’s three German, French and English MLVs were shot simultaneously in Germany. Sadly, as with so many films of this era, the only currently circulating English version is an edited reissue print, which at 74 minutes is a full 40 minutes shorter than the German one. The French version is presumed lost. Conrad Veidt and Charles Boyer toplined the English and French efforts respectively, while Hans Albers and Peter Lorre, both by now veterans of several MLVs apiece, headed up the German version.

The latter MLV also featured a song by Albers, Flieger, grüß mir die Sonne (Fliegerlied) (Pilot, Say Hello to the Sun – Pilot Song). It became one of his most popular and was a hit all over again more than half a century later when it was covered by German new wave band Extrabreit. Conrad Veidt also got in on the gramophone action, by intoning When the Lighthouse Shines Across the Bay, which is unfortunately no longer present in the cut version of the film. Nonetheless, it was very successful and still being played regularly on British radio well into the 1980s. Boyer, in the French MLV, took a turn behind the mike too: his number, He ! Charl´s ! Salu´la lune ! is a translated version of Fliegerlied.

Hans Albers, Conrad Veidt and Charles Boyer, stars of the German, English and French multiple language versions of F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer (1932)

Hans Albers, Conrad Veidt and Charles Boyer, stars of the German, English and French multiple-language versions of F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer (1932)

In the US, the English and German MLVs have been released together on one DVD. The German version has also been released domestically (and reissued) on DVD and included in three Hans Albers sets: the 4-DVD Edition, 4-DVD Größte Abenteuerfilme and 2-DVD Die besten Abenteuerfilme. Neither the US nor German DVDs have any subtitles.

The Mistress of Atlantis (1932)

Making his second of three appearances in this series, G.W. Pabst directed this talkie remake of Jaques Feyder’s fantasy L’Atlantide (1921). It treads very similar territory, though perhaps not quite as successfully, as the later She (1935). As well as English, Mistress was filmed in French (also called L’Atlantide) and German (Die Herrin von Atlantis) versions. All three had different leading men but shared most of the rest of the cast, including titular star Brigitte Helm, most famous for her dual role as the two Marias in Metropolis (1927). This perennial tale of lost civilisation, based on Pierre Benoit’s classic 1919 novel, has been remade on numerous occasions. Notable adaptations include the campy, renamed Siren of Atlantis (US, 1949); the Italian/French co-production Antinea, l’amante della città sepolta (Antinea, the lover of the buried city) aka Journey Beneath the Desert (1961); and an eponymous 1972 French téléfilm.

The 1932 German version survives and is even occasionally screened. Unfortunately it hasn’t yet been released on home video, but the English and French versions can be had on DVD. Sadly however, the English Mistress appears occasionally choppy and disjointed. At 78 minutes it runs much shorter than its German and French counterparts, which are 87 and 90 minutes respectively. It’s probable that the only copy in circulation is taken from an edited US reissue print. That being the case, such cuts would likely have occurred because of post-1934 re-release censorship under the Production Code or because it was relegated to B-movie status on the bottom half of a double bill.

Brigitte Helm in L'Atalantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) (1932), sepia

Brigitte Helm in L’Atalantide (1932)

Mistress has appeared in two collections by US label Mill Creek, who excel in releasing huge multi-DVD box sets of films and TV programmes that are ostensibly in the public domain. They’re the biggest, cheapest collections of such films you’ll ever find anywhere and while the quality of prints used can be variable, they’re often the only way to pick up otherwise commercially unviable titles like this one. What’s more, they’re always R0/NTSC, so will play anywhere in the world. You’ll find the English Mistress in the and the . Additionally, Alpha in the US have released her on a solo disc, also R0/NTSC.

2.2018 update: the restored French version is due on Blu-ray from Arrow in the US and UK.

All the French DVDs are sans sous-titres. Beware the French DVDs from Aventi and Bach Films: they’re definitely both pirated copies.

Don Quixote (1933)

Another G.W. Pabst-directed MLV, Don Quixote starred legendary operatic bass Feodor Chaliapin as the deluded windmill botherer. He got to sing four songs in all three versions, in French, English and German. It was the first sound version of Miguel de Cervantes‘ classic novel and Chaliapin’s only sound film.

Don Quixote (1933) starring Feodor Chaliapin, US film poster

Don Quixote (1933) US poster

The English and French versions have been released on a US R0/NTSC DVD as the Adventures of Don Quixote, the English version’s original UK title. It has English, French, German, and Italian subtitles.

S.O.S. Iceberg (1933)

The snow and stunning scenery are the real stars of this Artic-bound life or death drama. It was based on true events and is perhaps best known today for featuring future Nazi cinematic darling, Leni Riefenstahl. A German-US co-production, it was shot separately in both languages though such co-productions would imminently be curtailed by the Nazis. Although most cast members changed, Riefenstahl remained in both versions.

S.O.S. Iceberg (1933) Swedish film poster

S.O.S. Iceberg (1933) Swedish poster

Kino in the US have released both MLVs, in pristine condition, on an excellent region 1 DVD with English subtitles, while Germany’s Universum Film have released a DVD containing the German version only.

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)

This was the second of three films director Fritz Lang made about the titular character, the others being Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (1922) and The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960). This one finds Mabuse locked up for the past decade in a high security insane asylum. He’s been incarcerated there since his failed attempt at world domination in the first film. However, this minor inconvenience doesn’t appear to be stopping him from having another go. Testament became part of a long running series of films starring the evil super villain that continue to be made to this day, almost a century since the first.

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) French film poster

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) French poster

Lang shot Testament simultaneously with a much shorter French version, which has so far only appeared on US Criterion’s R0/NTSC 2-DVD set. Avoid the Italian “Sinister Cinema” DVD set: it is pirated from the Criterion. All other releases contain the superior German version only, albeit usually with a generous helping of extras. The UK’s Eureka/Masters of Cinema have issued the film a total of four times on disc:

The Tunnel (1933)

Der Tunnel, a bestselling 1913 German novel by Bernhard Kellermann about a subterranean Atlantic crossing, was a treatise on societal and technological progress, with a hugely ironic ending. It had spawned its first eponymous film adaptation by 1915, which was followed by a 1933 German-French co-production, shot separately in both languages.

The German version is unavailable on disc but you can see an extract here. The French MLV, Le Tunnel, starring disagreeable film icon Jean Gabin, has been released there on DVD. Following closely on their heels was a similarly-titled 1935 UK version, renamed Transatlantic Tunnel in the US; also released there on DVD. Directed by the prolific Maurice Elvey, though making extensive use of effects footage from the German MLV it is none the less noteworthy for its Art Deco-inspired futuristic production design and is something of a precursor to H.G. Wells’ Things to Come (1936).

Der Tunnel (1933) Vienna Apollo Cinema première poster, 1934

Der Tunnel (1933) Vienna Apollo Cinema première poster

The Merry Widow (1934)

Ernst Lubitsch’s sumptuous take on Franz Lehar’s oft-filmed operetta was simultaneously shot in English and French versions, both starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald with different supporting casts. Although the latter version, La Veuve joyeuse, isn’t available on disc, there is a small extract on YouTube, as well as a recording of Jeanette MacDonald singing The Merry Widow Waltz in French.

The Merry Widow (1934), starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald, directed by Ernst Lubitsch; Australian daybill poster

The Merry Widow (1934) Australian daybill poster

The English version has been released on a US R0/NTSC DVD, as well as a Spanish region 2 DVD. Watch out for several different poor quality knock-offs from China, Japan, Brazil and other countries. These are sourced from VHS tape and obviously to be avoided.

Amphitryon (1935)

Amphitryon, or to give it its full name: Amphitryon – Aus den Wolken kommt das Gluck (Amphitryon – Happiness from the Clouds), is a German musical version of Molière’s slyly satirical 1668 play, after Plautus. Plautus’ original play was itself based on the incident-filled life of the Amphitryon of Greek mythology.

The director, Reinhold Schünzel, was Jewish but his work was deemed important to German culture and after being granted the status of Ehrenarier (honorary Aryan), he was allowed to continue making films under the Nazi yoke. Eventually though, his position became untenable and in 1937 he left for Hollywood. There, he continued directing and acting, eventually appearing in the surprisingly entertaining and effective US propaganda effort, The Hitler Gang (1944) as General Ludendorff. The film portrayed der Führer and his henchmen (rather accurately) as a bunch of jumped-up gangsters.

Amphitryon – Aus den Wolken kommt das Glück (1935) mit Willy Fritsch, Filmplakat (German film poster)

Amphitryon – Aus den Wolken kommt das Glück (1935) German poster

Amphitryon has been released on a German DVD with German subtitles only, though downloadable English and Spanish subs can be found via several links. It also appeared earlier as part of the fantastic Deutsche Tonfilmklassiker 10-DVD box set, with German and English subtitles. Unfortunately that’s now long deleted and very rare. Hearty congratulations if you manage to find a copy. The French version, Les dieux s’amusent (The gods are having fun), is unavailable in its entirety, but the current Amphitryon DVD also contains a 25-minute featurette on its making which features some clips in a comparison between both versions.

The Mountain Calls (1938)

The Mountain Calls (Der Berg ruft) was a late entry in the cycle of German mountain films, or Bergfilme, that saw its, ahem, peak during the 1920s and 1930s. It was a remake of an earlier silent, Der Kampf ums Matterhorn (The Fight for the Matterhorn, 1928). That film was based on Carl Haensel’s eponymous 1928 historical novel, itself based on the diary entries of Englishman Edward Whymper, who was part of the successful but disastrous first expedition to reach the Matterhorn’s summit in 1865. Luis Trenker, the star of the 1928 film, also co-wrote, directed and starred in the 1938 remake and its simultaneously shot English MLV, The Challenge. He was dissatisfied with the earlier film’s version of events and with increased clout later in his career, was determined to make another version that hewed more closely to the historical facts.

This marked the film début of prolific Austrian stage and screen actress Heidemarie Hatheyer, while The Challenge was co-directed by Milton Rosmer and an uncredited Vincent Korda, with Emeric Pressburger contributing the script. At the age of 79 Trenker went climbing on the Matterhorn again and made a documentary, Ich filmte am Matterhorn (I filmed the Matterhorn, 1971), charting both his latterday experiences and those of making the three films.

Der Berg Ruft (1938) Filmplakat (The Mountain Calls, film poster)

Der Berg Ruft (1938) poster

The Mountain Calls has been released in Germany as a 2-DVD set including several extras, such as the 1971 documentary and a second, providing a life and career overview of Trenker. It has also been re-released in a film-only edition. The Challenge has only been released on a long deleted UK VHS video but has been uploaded to YouTube in its entirety.

Trenker, nicknamed “Der König der Berge” after a 1940 short he made, was an avid mountaineer his whole life and was involved in numerous related film and TV productions, as well as authoring many books on the subject. Between The Fight for the Matterhorn and its remakes he also co-wrote, co-directed and starred in another of the most notable Bergfilme, Mountains on Fire (Berge in Flammen, 1931). It was based on his own novel which recounted his experiences as a soldier fighting on the Dolomite Front during the Great War. French and English MLVs, Les monts en flammes (1931) and Doomed Battalion (1932) were also produced though neither is available at present. The German MLV is on an excellent 2-DVD set which includes a feature length documentary, again made by Trenker, giving the historical and production background of the film. It has also been re-released as a single DVD, containing the film only.

Note that none of the DVDs mentioned above contain either German or English subtitles.

German cinemagoers loved their musicals as much as US audiences during the early sound era and UFA, as mentioned before by far the biggest producer of MLVs, cranked them out on a regular basis. Some of the top film stars of the day had entire second careers releasing songs that were often associated with the musicals they starred in. Indeed, many of them actually earned more from their huge record sales than even their stellar film careers. Today there are hundreds of extremely cheap but very high quality CDs available full of fine examples of Weimar era jazz and cabaret music. A quick search on Amazon, especially the German site, will turn up a multitude of albums featuring any of UFA’s top stars such as Lilian Harvey, Hans Albers, Willy Fritsch or Zarah Leander. Additionally, try searching for “Tonfilmschlager” (sound film hits) or individual film soundtrack albums. If you liked the music in The Blue Angel or The Threepenny Opera, there’s plenty more where that came from!

See DVDCompare for more in-depth details of the discs mentioned.

If you’ve any questions or suggestions, post a comment.

I started Brenton Film because I love film – quelle surprise! The silent era, 1930s and 1940s especially get my literary juices flowing though. So you’ll see a lot about those. For more, see this site’s About page.


  1. Jean-Claude MICHEL
    September 08, 00:41 Reply
    Dear Sir, As you know the multi-language versions continued sporadically well after WW2 - so it could be interesting to add such titles like SINGOALLA (1949, Christian-Jaque, made in French, Swedish & English). I have the Swedish version on DVD, it includes the last reel of the English-speaking version, with a happy end !) I also have the French version but in VHS. In the 1950s, Jean Boyer made "Garou Garou, le passe-muraille" and "Mr. Peek-a-Boo", French & English versions, both with Bourvil and Joan Greenwood but with partially different casts. The French DVD only contains the French version. Julien Duvivier's MARIANNE DE MA JEUNESSE was shown on French TV in its German and French version, the French version exists on DVD of course but I don't know for the German one. For pre-war movies you can add Max Ophüls's LIBELEI, as the old VHS released by Montparnasse Editions contained both the German and French versions - a really rare threat for a VHS I think... I'm interested in alternate language versions since decades and collect them on DVD. But several of my alternates versions were recorded from TV (on DVD), like the German & French versions of AMPHITRYON, the English and French of CARAVAN(E), the English and French HANDS OF ORLAC (with Mel Ferrer and Christopher Lee), etc. Just as a notice, I also saw the French versions of GOLD and FP1 ANTWORTET NICHT (respectively called L'OR and IF1 NE REPOND PLUS many years ago (in 1963) as a friend of mine found both movies on 9.5mm at the Flea Market in Saint-Ouen, near Paris. Unfortunately these movies were sold when this friend, Jean Boullet, died in 1970... Congratulations for your remarkable work about the available DVDs of these rare movies.
    • Joan
      December 12, 21:26 Reply
      Jean Claude I wonder if we could do a trade. I have the French version (no subtitles) and the first reel of the American-English version. I have wanted to purchase the Swedish DVD but cannot get it sent to the USA. Any chance we could trade videos? My email is jxrich at aol dot com. Thanks!
    • Brent Reid
      December 12, 22:51 Reply
      Hi Jean-Claude, Thank you for your interesting and detailed post. The articles focus on early MLVs that bridged the gap from the silents to sound; they're not a complete history and listing of MLVs right up to the present day – there have been literally thousands of them! In the intro above I do mention that the practice continues and provide a modern example. Lastly, again as I've said clearly in the intros to both parts, I've only included films that are easy to buy or view in at least two different versions, so that fans and scholars may compare them. Not everyone has access to your videotapes or the keys to the world's film archives!
  2. Anders Hansson
    June 12, 13:53 Reply
    Rex Ingram made two versions if his last film, the French-British co-production "Baroud". The French language was released in 1932 and the English language version, a k a "Love in Morocco" in 1933. It was his only talkie, and his and his partner Alice Terry´s last film. Ingram also plays the lead in the English version, and Alice Terry is credited as co-director. The French lead was done by Philippe Moretti. Rostia Garcia and Pierre Batcheff did both together with African-American Arabella Fields as Mabrouka, the heroine’s servant. Reviews vary, and I´m not sure if both versions are considered, but they seem to be worth looking at. ´What´s really interesting is that the films were made on actual locations in Morocco.
    • Brent Reid
      July 19, 23:41 Reply
      Interesting stuff alright Anders, but as only <em>Baroud</em>'s French MLV is <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">available to buy</a>, the film itself isn't relevant to this article!
      • Anders Hansson
        July 30, 15:25 Reply
        Let´s just say I was born an optimist, and they´re not listed as lost films. For ex, MGM made French-language versions with Buster Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

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