Nosferatu History and Home Video Guide: Die zwölfte Stunde (1930)

  • First ever vampire film was reshot, recut and reissued in sound
  • Methodology also practised by the world’s most famous quack doctor
  • The same ignominious fate befell many contemporary silent films
  • Another victim was fellow silent horror The Phantom of the Opera
  • Both films now survive in a confusing number of different versions
  • Many other silents are now only extant in their later hybrid variants

This is one of a series of articles covering everything Graf Orlok and best read sequentially. They detail the film’s history, many different versions and home video releases, and I suggest you start reading from Part 1, unless you want to skip straight to the restored DVD and Blu-ray reviews. Note that this article, like most on this site, is in a constant state of flux, with new info and screening dates being added regularly.

To this day, various methods, sometimes controversial, are used to “update” films made using older technology. These include cropping those shot in Academy ratio to widescreen, remixing mono audio to surround sound, colorization and converting 2D to 3D. But they weren’t the first. As sound films rapidly took over and silents became passé, they were often converted to part-talkies halfway through shooting or even after the fact. With such a shot in the arm, the resulting hybrids benefited from a newfound longevity and were often referred to as “goat gland” films. This was owing to the then current fame of medical charlatan John R. Brinkley, who grew wealthy transplanting goat testicles into ailing men – and women! – claiming the practise cured dozens of ailments including impotence and infertility. As his fraudulent advertising put it, any patient of his would become “the ram that am with every lamb.” Brinkley’s very expensive quackery made him a multi-millionaire but there was an even greater cost: that of huge suffering and death, making him one of the worst uncrowned serial killers in American history. And they call Count Orlok a monster.

Goat-gland doctor, John R. Brinkley newspaper article

You couldn’t make it up. Fortunately Brinkley, like his spiritual kin Count Orlok, came to a premature and sticky end.

Brinkley’s incredible life (and death) story continues to generate much interest. Among countless other works, it’s the subject of several books and an award winning animated film, Nuts! (2016). Additionally, there’s an upcoming short featuring his son and a biopic starring Robert Downey Jr.

NUTS! Official Trailer (June 22)

“A ridiculously enjoyable ode to old, weird America.” – The GuardianOur new trailer for NUTS – the film! is here, and it’s of course pretty ballsy. Catch the Sundance Film Festival award winner in theaters June 22!

Posted by NUTS The Film on Thursday, 5 May 2016


Getting back to Nosferatu’s first sound reissue, fully silent films that were completed and sometimes even already released were re-edited and had newly shot scenes inserted. These new dialogue, music and sound effects scenes were often completely unrelated to the original production, as is the case here. Audio was provided using a number of competing technologies. Those less fortunate had optical soundtracks, which came to be the dominant technology, applied to the left edge of the film frame, which meant them permanently losing a large chunk of the image to accommodate it. The lucky ones were provided with sound on disc accompaniment, though unfortunately, in many cases these discs were later lost, as happened with Die zwölfte Stunde. So you see, the idea of giving Count Orlok a voice really is nothing new.

Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (1930) revision of Nosferatu (1922), German 8-page programme. Copy in Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek Archiv.

Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (1930) revision of Nosferatu. German 8-page programme; copy in Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek Archiv.

Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (The Twelfth Hour: A Night of Horror) was a drastically revised version of Nosferatu, to the extent that the film now had a happy ending! Its sound-on-disc accompaniment comprised music and sound effects only; no dialogue. The characters were all renamed (yet again), with Orlok becoming Wolkoff, Knock – KarstenHutter – Kundberg and Ellen – Margitta. It also contained some entirely new footage.[2] shot by cameraman Günther Krampf under the direction of Dr. Waldemar Roger. This included a scene at a wake, and a variety of pastoral sequences depicting rural life. Actor Eduard von Winterstein, coincidentally the real-life father of Gustav von Wangenheim, who played Hutter, also joined the cast as an innkeeper in some new scenes. Also appearing was Hans Behal as a priest.

Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (1930) German programme, pages 4 and 5

Die zwölfte Stunde programme, pages 4 and 5

Despite false information to the contrary, there are only two known early prints of Die zwölfte Stunde. But sadly the only one in good, complete condition has been locked away in the archives of the Cinémathèque Française for years and they have no intention of releasing it. It’s just sheer bloody-mindedness and not a first for them; in fact it’s often virtually their modus operandi. I have no idea why this is, but you can ask them here. It’s a real shame, as even just a compilation of the newly shot scenes would make a fascinating extra on any future home video version of its parent film. The Münchner Stadtmuseum recently screened a copy of the Cinémathèque Française print with live piano accompaniment, as its sound discs are now lost. Apparently it’s not much more than a curiosity, concomitant with poor contemporary reviews. For all that, it still deserves to be seen more widely.

 Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (1930) German programme, pages 6 and 7


Die zwölfte Stunde programme, pages 6 and 7. Both stills of Wolkoff (Orlok) are different from the original film and this appears to be is an uncredited non-Schreck actor or stand-in, with distinctly campy make-up. Also see comments section here.

35mm, eight acts, 1893m, after cut-outs: 1799m (1:05:30)

Censorship: 14.11.1930, B27446, Jv. Censorship card not in Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv nor Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek. Reproduced in Lotte H. Eisner: F.W. Murnau (1964, US 1973) p. 233; more editions.

Produced by Deutsch-Film-Production (D.F.P) Berlin SW 48, Friedrichstraße 233, 1930 / Artistic editing: Dr. Waldemar Roger / Music: Georg Fiebiger / Sound system: Organon GmbH, Polyphon-Grammophon-Group / World distribution: German Sound Film Distribution GmbH, Berlin

D.F.P was also registered as “Deutsche Film-Produktion (D.F.P.)”. Until 1932, the company released only two features: the American Wild West films In höchster Gefahr (In Highest Danger) and Bill… Augen auf! (Bill… Eyes Open!), which were both censored on 26.2.1930.

Count Wolkoff (Orlok) in Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (1930), revision of Nosferatu (1922)

Count Wolkoff (Orlok) in Die zwölfte Stunde. This appears to be the original version of the seemingly retouched photo in the programme above and the basis for the Spanish poster below.

Known screenings

Austria

  • Première: 16.5.1930, as Nosferatu (The Vampyr), Vienna – Paimann’s Film Listen no. 737, 23.5.1930, p. 79 states the Viennese première is with six acts and about 2,300m in length; Klaus[2] says 2,297m. Paimann’s name the German “Prana-Organon-Film” as the company of origin.

Germany

  • 17–22.3.1931, Berlin Kamera – Film-Kurier, no. 61, 13.3.1931: “Have You Heard?” memorial for Murnau in the Camera; Lichtbild-Bühne, No. 64, 16.3.1931: “The film appears mute and tinted under the title The Twelfth Hour (A Night of Horror).” The reviewers of these events, however, always speak of Nosferatu. See: The Murnau Memorial Presentation: Nosferatu in the Camera. In Lichtbild-Bühne, No. 66, 18.3.1931.

Spain

Die zwölfte Stunde (1930) aka Nosferatu, el vampiro, sound version reissue of Nosferatu (1922) Spanish poster

Spanish poster of Die zwölfte Stunde aka Nosferatu, el vampiro. Note its close resemblance to the photo on page 6 of the programme above. The window is arched, not square and partly boarded-up, as in the original film.

Grateful thanks to Aitam Bar-SagiDavid Shepard, Lokke Heiss, Martin H. Larsen and Patrick Stanbury for help with this series of articles.


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