Bevor Sundown:

Director Gottfried Reinhardt’s film Before Sundown, available on the B-Spree Classics film label, is an atmospheric drama starring Hans Albers and Annemarie Düringer. The film is based on a play by Gerhardt Hauptmann and describes the bittersweet romance between the aging Mathias Clausen and the young, beautiful Inken Peters.

Summary

It is the 70th birthday of Matthias Clausen. He celebrates it with his family, whom he hates. He knows that everyone wants him to die soon and hopes that this birthday will mark the last stage in his life.

Everyone is eagerly awaiting the great inheritance. Clausen, head of an automotive company and honorable citizen of his hometown, is showered with honors. In the evening, he is glad that the day is over. Clausen deeply resents his relatives, his daughter Ottilie and son-in-law Erich Klamroth, who heads the company, and his son Wolfgang Clausen. He distrusts them and reckons with all conceivable meanness. Only Egbert, the youngest in the family, meets him openly and without falsehood. Then Matthias meets a young woman, Inken Peters. She is fresh, sympathetic and accepts the old man as he is. He hires the young lady as his private secretary. This shakes the rest of the family badly. The fact that the old man might once again walk on his own two feet is out of the question. That would endanger the great inheritance for everyone. Now the hatred for the old man comes to the surface. So the family council has to meet, apart from Egbert, who does not take part in these intrigues. It is decided to have the old man incapacitated. Inken Peters is openly insulted as a legacy hunter. Matthias Clausen is outraged. His excitement leads to a heart attack, as his health is already failing. Inken begs him to leave this house full of envy, greed and hate as soon as possible. Before the two can put their plan into action, Matthias Clausen dies of another fainting spell. Inken is now faced with a shambles.

Production notes

The material by Gerhart Hauptmann was already filmed in 1936 by Veit Harlan, starring Emil Jannings. This film, entitled “The Ruler,” had strong National Socialist tendencies. Today it is the property of the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation and is considered a reserved film. It may not be shown to a wide audience.

This remake was shot in 1956 in Berlin, St. Moritz and Vienna. It was directed by Gottfried Reinhardt, son of Max Reinhardt, the great theater entrepreneur, who had just returned from the USA. This also tipped the scales in favor of casting Annemarie Düringer, a high-profile theater actress, for the role of Inken Peters, although film stars such as Marianne Koch, Gertrud Kückelmann, Ulla Jacobsen or Maria Schell would have been available.

About Gottfried Reinhardt

The son of theater entrepreneur Max Reinhardt and actress Else Heims, Gottfried Reinhardt was born in Berlin on March 20, 1913. After graduating from high school, he became an actor and director at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, which was directed by his father. In 1932 Gottfried Reinhardt went to the USA for study purposes. After the Nazis seized power in early 1933, he did not return to Germany. Reinhardt looked for a job in order to have a livelihood in the USA. Director Ernst Lubitsch, who had also emigrated to the U.S., employed him as an assistant director. Later, he signed a contract with MGM as a production assistant. From 1940 he worked as a producer. In 1941 Gottfried Reinhardt, who had become a US citizen in the meantime, was drafted for military service. He remained in the US Army until the end of the war. In 1952 he made his directorial debut in the USA with the film “Geborgtes Glück“. He then made two more films in the U.S. and did not return to Germany until 1956.

Filmography (excerpt)

1953 Invitation | Geborgtes Glück
The Story of Three Loves | War es die große Liebe
1954 Betrayed | Verraten
1956 Before Sundown | Vor Sonnenuntergang
1959 Grand Hotel) | Menschen im Hotel
Farewell to the Clouds | Abschied in den Wolken
1960 Sweetheart of the Gods | Liebling der Götter
1961 Town Without Pity | Stadt ohne Mitleid
Everyman | Jedermann
1963 Eleven Years and One Day | Elf Jahre und ein Tag
1965 Situation Hopeless… But Not Serious | Lage hoffnungslos, aber nicht ernst
1973 Der große Zauberer | (lit.) The Great Magician

With his first directorial effort in Germany, the film adaptation of the drama “Vor Sonnenuntergang” (“Before Sunset“) based on a play by Gerhart Hauptmann, Reinhardt immediately succeeded in creating a real blockbuster. Today, the film is one of the best films produced in Germany in the post-war period. His other films shot in Germany were also highly acclaimed top productions. His 1961 courtroom film “Stadt ohne Mitleid” was particularly outstanding. After his last feature film “Situation hopeless, but not serious” with Sir Alec Guinness in 1965, he worked only for television. There he realized a documentary about his father Max Reinhardt under the title “The Great Magician“. This was a long cherished wish of his. Gottfried Reinhardt died on July 18, 1994 in Los Angeles.

Title: Before Sunset

Original title: Vor Sonnenuntergang

Director: Gottfried Reinhardt

Book: Gerhart Hauptmann (play)

Screenplay: Jochen Huth

Actors: Hans Albers, Annemarie Düringer, Martin Held, Hannelore Schroth, Claus Biederstaedt, Maria Becker, Erich Schellow, Inge Langen, Wolfgang Preiss, Hans Nielsen, Johanna Hofer, Kurt Vespermann, Reinhold Pasch, Franz Weber

Producer: Artur Brauner

Executive producer: Wilhelm Sperber

Camera: Kurt Hasse

Technique: Arthur Grimm, Bob Klebig, Henry Rupé

Sound: Erwin Schänzle

Editing: Olivier Mauffroy

Makeup: Sabine Brodt, Hans Dublies, Willi Nixdorf

Costumes: Maria Brauner

Music: Werner Eisbrenner

 

Production Company: Central Cinema Company Film (CCC)

Production year: 1956

Locations: CCC studio (Berlin-Spandau, Germany), St. Moritz (Canton Grisons, Switzerland), Vienna (Austria)

Genre: Drama

Country: Germany

Language: German

 

Length: 103 min

FSK: 12

Aspect ratio: 1.33 : 1

Color: black and white

Sound: mono

Resolution: Full-HD

Other titles:

English: Before Sundown

Finnish: Ennen auringonlaskua

Norwegian: Før solnedgang

Hungarian: Naplemente előtt

Russian: Перед заходом солнца

Serbian: Pred zalazak sunca

Awards:

1956 Berlinale: Audience Award “Golden Bear” -> Gottfried Reinhardt; also nominations for Claus Biederstaedt, Hans Albers and Annemarie Düringer each as Best Actor:in for the Silver Bear.

1957 Golden Globe: Best Non-English Film -> Before Sunset

Filmlabel: B-Spree Classics

 

Theatrical start: July 06, 1956

VHS release: November 12, 1988

Mediabook release: November 11, 2022

About Hans Albers

Hans Philipp August Albers was born on September 22, 1891, the son of a butcher in Hamburg St. Georg. He attended a secondary school in the Uhlenhorst district of Hamburg. When a teacher beat him up, he retaliated and sent him to the boards with a well-aimed hook to the chin. The consequence: expulsion from school. He also had similar problems at his new school in St. Georg. Beating teachers was something normal at the time, but for Hans Albers it was anathema. Albers fought back. His father sent Hans Albers to Frankfurt am Main, where he completed an apprenticeship as a merchant. He began his theater career at the local New Theater. At the same time he took acting lessons, which were secretly financed by his mother. His father was not allowed to know. In 1915 Albers was drafted into the military and had to fight in World War I on the Western Front. He was seriously wounded and was sent to a hospital in Wiesbaden. The loss of a leg was imminent. But the doctors were able to save it. After his recovery he appeared in Wiesbaden at the local theater in comedy plays and operettas.

In 1917 he moved to Berlin, where he came into contact with the new medium of film. He appeared in over 100 silent films before getting his first sound film role in 1929 in the film “Die Nacht gehört uns“. The very next film made him finally known worldwide. “The Blue Angel” became a worldwide success and also a great success for Hans Albers. In the following years Albers took part in several top-class film productions. Films such as “The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes,” “Munchausen,” “Water for Canitoga” and “Great Freedom No. 7” all became worldwide successes. Hans Albers, who had a very distanced relationship with the Nazi regime, stayed away from Nazi celebrities as much as he could. He never appeared in public with any of these people, even canceling the public acceptance of an acting award from the hand of Joseph Goebbels. Because of these cancellations and the fact that he was involved with the Jewish actress Hansi Burg, he suffered from reprisals. When it became dangerous for Hansi Burg in Germany in 1939, Hans Albers took her to England. Only after the war was she able to return to Albers’ domicile, Garatshausen on Lake Starnberg.

Hans Albers was the big movie star of the 1930s and 1940s. Even after the war, that did not change. In films such as “Vor Sonnenuntergang” and “Der Mann im Strom,” he still showed his great art as a character actor. Albers also had cult status as a pop singer. He promoted his songs through his films very early on. His very big hits were “La Paloma“, “Flieger grüß mir die Sonne” , “Goodbye Johnny” and “Jawohl meine Herrn“. After the end of the shooting of his last film in 1960 “Kein Engel ist so rein“, he played theater in Vienna. During a performance of the operetta “Katharina Knie” in February 1960, Albers fell heavily on stage. The consequences of the fall were severe internal injuries. He was taken to a hospital in Berg am Starnberger See. He died there as a result of his accident on July 24, 1960, and was buried in the cemetery in Hamburg Ohlsdorf. Hans Albers was one of the greats of German cinema. He was a superstar and a heartthrob. However, he remained unmarried and was faithful to his great love Hansi Burg until his death.

Filmography (excerpt)

1929 Asphalt
The Night Belongs to Us | Die Nacht gehört uns
1930 The Blue Angel | Der blaue Engel
1931 Bombs on Monte Carlo | Bomben auf Monte Carlo
1932 F.P.1 Doesn’t Respond | F. P. 1 antwortet nicht
1934 Peer Gynt
1937 The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes | Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war
1939 Water for Canitoga | Wasser für Canitoga
1940 Trenck, the Pandur
1943 Münchhausen
1944 Great Freedom No. 7 | Große Freiheit Nr. 7
1947 And the Heavens Above Us | … und über uns der Himmel
1950 The White Hell of Pitz Palu | Föhn
Chased by the Devil | Vom Teufel gejagt
1954 On the Reeperbahn at Half Past Midnight | Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb eins
1956 Before Sundown | Vor Sonnenuntergang
1957 The Mad Bomberg | Der tolle Bomberg
The Copper | Der Greifer
1958 Man in the River | Der Mann im Strom
1960 Kein Engel ist so rein | (lit.) No angel is so pure

About Annemarie Düringer

Annemarie Düringer was born on November 26, 1925 in Arlesheim in the canton of Basel (Switzerland). She grew up in Bern. After a commercial apprenticeship, she attended several acting schools in Paris and Vienna. In 1949 she was appointed to the Vienna Burgtheater, where she acted until shortly before her death. She repeatedly made guest appearances at theaters in Berlin, Munich and Salzburg. Annemarie Düringer was one of the very great theater actresses of the 20th century in the German-speaking world. Occasionally she also appeared in feature films, but she chose her roles carefully.

In her native country, Switzerland, she often stood in front of the film camera, but these films are not very well known in Germany. In Germany, Annemarie Düringer appeared in very important films, such as “Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam“, “Vor Sonnenuntergang“, “Der 20. Juli” or “Der Lügner“. From the 1960s she also worked occasionally for television. Annemarie Düringer was highly decorated as a theater actress. She was the holder of the Alma Seidler Ring, the Hans Reinhart Ring and the Grand Decoration of Honor of the Republic of Austria, among a number of other awards. She received the Federal Film Award for her film role in “Nachts wenn der Teufel kam“. Annemarie Düringer died on November 26, 2014, her 89th birthday, in Baden near Vienna.

Filmography (excerpt)

1953 Du bist die Welt für mich | (lit.) You are the world for me
1955 The Plot to Assassinate Hitler | Der 20. Juli
1956 Before Sundown | Vor Sonnenuntergang
1957 The Devil Strikes at Night | Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam
1961 The Liar | Der Lügner
1977 The Lacemaker | Die Spitzenklöpplerin
1982 Veronika Voss | Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss
2009 Vision | Vision, aus dem Leben von Hildegard von Bingen
2013 Lovely Louise

About Martin Held

Martin Erich Fritz Held was born in Berlin on November 11, 1908. After an apprenticeship as a precision mechanic with the Siemens company, Held studied performing arts at the Berlin University of the Arts. After graduating in 1931, Held acted in several theaters in northern and eastern Germany. In 1951 he returned to Berlin and became a permanent member of the ensemble of the Staatliche Schauspielbühne. Held remained a member of the ensemble there until his death. However, he had to largely cease his active stage work in 1985 due to his diabetes. He only appeared in small roles. He now worked increasingly as a narrator in radio play productions or gave poetry readings. Until his death, he took part in more than 120 radio play productions, making him one of the busiest radio play actors to this day. Martin Held was also a sought-after dubbing artist.

As a film actor, Martin Held appeared in front of the camera in some of the most important German films after World War 2. Martin Held played major roles in films critical of the times, especially in the 1950s. Well known are his portrayals of Reinhard Heydrich in “Canaris“, Erich Gimpel in “Spy for Germany“, the senior public prosecutor Wilhelm Schramm in “Roses for the Public Prosecutor“, as well as the mischievous retired senior court judge Herbert Zänker in “The Gentlemen with the White Vest“. From 1955 Held also appeared in a large number of television productions. Martin Held received many honors and awards for his acting. Among many others, these were the “German Critics Award“, “Filmband in Gold“, “Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse“, as well as a “Golden Camera“. Martin Held died on January 31, 1992 in Berlin.

Filmography (excerpt)

1951 Dark Eyes | Schwarze Augen
1954 Canaris Master Spy | Canaris
1955 Alibi
1956 Before Sundwon |Vor Sonnenuntergang
Der Hauptmann aus Köpenick  | Der Hauptmann von Köpenick
Spy for Germany | Spion für Deutschland
1959 Roses for the Prosecutor | Rosen für den Staatsanwalt
1960 The Last Witness | Der letzte Zeuge
1970 Gentlemen in White Vests | Die Herren mit der weißen Weste
1973 Night Flight from Moscow | Die Schlange

About Hannelore Schroth

Hanne Lore Emilie Käte Grete Schroth was born in Berlin on January 10, 1922, the daughter of the acting couple Heinrich Schroth and Käthe Haack. Her mother, already a top German star at the time, took her to the stage as a child. There she played small children’s roles. She completed an acting training in Lausanne. From 1938, at the age of 16, she starred in motion pictures and was cast in a number of top films. In between, Hannelore Schroth played the theater again and again. She appeared on all the major German stages.

She became known to a wide audience through her television appearances from the early 1960s. She appeared in several episodes of the series “Derrick“, “Das Kriminalmuseum“, “Tatort“, as well as in various TV movies. Hannelore Schroth was in great demand as a dubbing artist. She gave her voice to big Hollywood screen stars such as Shirley MacLaine, Elizabeth Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida and Paulette Goddard. Hannelore Schroth died of heart failure in her Munich apartment on July 7, 1987, one year after her mother Käthe Haack, at the age of 65.

Filmography (excerpt)

1939 Kitty and the World Conference | Kitty und die Weltkonferenz
1940 Friedrich Schiller – The Triumph of a Genius | Friedrich Schiller, Triumph eines Genies
1945 Under the Bridges | Unter den Brücken
1956 Before Sundown | Vor Sonnenuntergang
The Captain from Köpenick | Der Hauptmann von Köpenick
1960 Sweetheart of the Gods | Liebling der Götter

About Claus Biederstaedt

Claus Biederstaedt, born on June 28, 1928 in Stargard (Pomerania), grew up in a family of artists. His father was a teacher of music at the high school in Stargard, and his mother was a singer. The happy family life was destroyed by the turmoil of the 2nd World War. The father, being a reserve officer, had to go to war. Claus was also drafted into the Wehrmacht at the age of 15 and served as a flak helper. Afterwards he had to go to the Eastern Front. On the retreat, he was just able to escape the advancing Russian troops. His mother took her own life while fleeing from Pomerania, believing that her son Claus had been killed in action. After the war, Claus Biederstaedt met his father again and moved with him to Hamburg. There he caught up on his A-levels and began to study medicine, but dropped out after four semesters.

He met the actor Will Quadflieg and took acting lessons with him. After graduating, Biederstaedt went to the theater, first in Hamburg, and later at theaters in various German cities. He also worked as a theater director. His career in German cinema was very varied. Many films in which he participated were light and simple entertainment and music films for the general public. They were mainly films without any pretensions. However, a few films belong to the cream of post-war German cinema.

Filmography (excerpt)

1952 The Great Temptation | Die große Versuchung
1954 The Life of Surgeon Sauerbruch | Sauerbruch, das war mein Leben
1955 Children, Mother, and the General | Kinder, Mütter und ein General
Three Men in the Snow | Drei Männer im Schnee
1956 Charley’s Aunt | Charleys Tante
Before Sundown | Vor Sonnenuntergang
1965 Hotel der toten Gäste | (lit.) Hotel of dead guests 
1974 Schwarzwaldfahrt aus Liebeskummer | (lit.) Black forest trip for love sorrow

For his film debut “Die große Versuchung” (The Great Temptation), he immediately received the Federal Film Award as best young actor. From the early 1960s to the mid-1990s, Biederstaedt worked a great deal for German television. He appeared in around 60 television productions during these years. His last television appearance was in 2011 in the documentary about the revue dancer Germaine Damar. Claus Biederstaedt fell seriously ill with cancer and had to stop all his activities. On June 18, 2020, he died as a result of his cancer in Eichenau (Upper Bavaria), just 10 days before his 92nd birthday.

About Wolfgang Preiss

Wolfgang Preiss was born in Nuremberg on February 27, 1910. Among other things, he studied theater and took acting lessons on the side. From 1932 to the war year 1941 Preiss played at different German stages, among other things in Berlin, Munich, Königsberg and Stuttgart. Then he too had to go to war. He first served as a flak helper, which enabled him to remain in Berlin. This also allowed him to make his film debut, specially exempted by the Wehrmacht, in the film “Die große Liebe” alongside Zarah Leander. Already in his first film he impersonated a German officer. This role was to become his trademark in many of his films and television productions. After the end of the war, Preiss initially worked at the theater again.

Alfred Weidenmann brought Preiss back to film in 1954 and cast him again in an officer’s role in “Canaris.” The following year, Wolfgang Preiss made his final breakthrough in film in the role of Hitler assassin Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg. This role in Falk Harnack’s film “Der 20. Juli” brought Wolfgang Preiss great popularity with cinema audiences and also the Federal Film Award as a silver film ribbon. Now Preiss was also cast in international productions and Hollywood films. He played alongside Jean-Paul Belmondo in “The Cardinal“, with Burt Lancaster in “The Train“, and alongside Trevor Howard and Frank Sinatra in “Colonel von Ryan’s Express“. Preiss also played significant roles in other major productions such as “The Longest Day,” “The Bridge of Arnhem” and “Burning Paris.”

Filmography (excerpt)

1942 The Great Love | Die große Liebe
1954 Canaris
1955 The Plot to Assassinate Hitler | Der 20. Juli
Doctor Solm | Oberarzt Dr. Solm
1956 Before Sundown | Vor Sonnenuntergang
Stresemann
1958 The Green Devils of Monte Cassino | Die grünen Teufel von Monte Cassino
1959 Stalingrad: Dogs, Do You Want to Live Forever? | Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben
Roses for the Prosecutor | Rosen für den Staatsanwalt
1960 Darkness Fell on Gotenhafen | Nacht fiel über Gotenhafen
The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse | Die tausend Augen des Dr. Mabuse
1962 The Longest Day | Der längste Tag
1963 The Cardinal | Der Kardinal
1964 The Train
1965 Von Ryan’s Express | Colonel von Ryans Express
1966 Is Paris Burning? | Brennt Paris?
1977 A Bridge Too Far | Die Brücke von Arnheim
1978 The Boys from Brazil | The Boys from Brazil

From the 1960s onward, Wolfgang Preiss worked more for television than for the cinema. In 1983, he received the highest praise for his performance in the German/American television series “The Firestorm,” in which he portrayed German Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch. For his many years of outstanding work in German film, he was again awarded the Federal Film Prize in 1987, this time as the Filmband in Gold. Wolfgang Preiss was married three times. With his third wife Ruth, it was 47 years until her death in 2002. Only a few months later, on November 27, 2002, Wolfgang Preiss also died in a clinic in Baden-Baden at the age of 92.

About Erich Schellow

Erich Schellow was born in Berlin on February 27, 1915. He graduated from drama school and joined the stage in 1937. From 1948 he was a permanent member of the Städtische Schauspielbühnen Berlin until its closure in 1993. Erich Schellow was a pure theater actor who appeared in only a few motion pictures. Occasionally he also took on dubbing assignments. He also appeared only very rarely in television productions. His best-known television role was that of Sherlock Holmes in the 1967 WDR television series of the same name. He received the Berlin Culture Prize, the German CriticsPrize, and the Federal Cross of Merit several times for his services to the theater. Erich Schellow died in Berlin on November 25, 1995, as a result of a severe stroke suffered in 1993.

Filmography (excerpt)

1947 In Those Days | In jenen Tagen
1955 The Plot to Assassinate Hitler | Der 20. Juli
Hotel Adlon
1956 Before Sundwon | Vor Sonnenuntergang
The Captain from Köpenick | Der Hauptmann von Köpenick
1979 Ein Mord den jeder begeht | (lit. ) A murder that everyone commits

About Hans Nielsen

Hans Albert Nielsen was born in Hamburg on November 30, 1911. After drama school, he made his theater debut in 1932 at the Hamburg Kammerspiele. In 1937, Nielsen joined the film industry, which was to be his main activity from then on. From 1948, dubbing became his second mainstay. He gave his voice to the really big stars. Orson Welles, Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, James Stewart, Spencer Tracy and many others. Nielsen played theater only rarely. Until shortly before his death, Nielsen appeared in over 130 motion pictures. On October 13, 1965, Hans Nielsen died of leukemia in Berlin at the age of only 53.

Filmography (excerpt)

1938 Home | Heimat
1940 Friedrich Schiller – The Triumph of a Genius | Friedrich Schiller – Der Triumph eines Genies
1942 The Great King | Der große König
1943 Titanic
1949 Keepers of the Night | Nachtwache
1950 Five Suspects | Stadt im Nebel
1953 Hocuspocus
1956 Before Sundown | Vor Sonnenuntergang
Wedding at Immenhof | Hochzeit auf Immenhof
1957 Made in Germany
1958 Confess, Doctor Corda | Gestehen sie, Dr. Corda
Man in the River | Der Mann im Strom
1959 The Forests Sing Forever | Und ewig singen die Wälder
1960 The Inheritance of Bjorndal | Das Erbe von Björndal
The Juvenile Judge | Der Jugendrichter
Gustav Adolf’s Page
1961 Town Without Pity | Stadt ohne Mitleid
1962 The Door with Seven Locks | Die Tür mit den 7 Schlössern
1964 The Seventh Victim | Das siebente Opfer
1965 Hotel der toten Gäste | (lit.) Hotel of dead guests

Press

“This time freed from worldly tendency, with Hans Albers playing more forceful in character roles than as a lover, surrounded by choice antagonists. Dignifiedly made up under moderate use of the poet’s word.” (Paimann’s Film Lists)

“Annemarie Düringer as Inken Peters has the delicately cranky quality that explains even the oddest liaison. Hans Albers, who plays Clausen, is as stately and winning as ever, even as an aged death row inmate.” (Der Spiegel)

“In this film, Hans Albers plays a great character role in the old age department.” (Heinrich Fraenkel: Immortal Film).

Behind the Scenes –  Material

Features and technical data

Limited Mediabook | Picture format Blu-Ray: 4:3 Pillarbox (techn. 16:9); Picture format DVD: 4:3 Pillarbox (techn. 16:9) | Running time Blu-Ray: 103 min; Running time DVD: 103 min | Sound format Blu-Ray: German DD 2.0 (mono); Sound format DVD: German DD 2.0 (mono) | Extras: Mediabook with 16-page book part with pictures, trailer, removable FSK sticker | FSK 12

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