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22 August 2015

Die Geyer-Wally (1921)

Henny Porten was one of the three brightest female stars of the silent Weimar cinema - the others were Asta Nielsen and Fern Andra. One of her success films was Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921), an atmospheric Alpine melodrama in which she played the free-spirited mountain girl Wally.

Henny Porten in Die Geier-Wally
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 646/10. Photo: HPF (Henny Porten Film). Henny Porten as Wally in Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921).

Henny Porten in Die Geier-Wally
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 440/3. Photo: HPF (Henny Porten-Film). Henny Porten in Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921).

A difficult situation in a nest of vultures


Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally is a 'bergfilm' (mountain film), a melodrama set in the Alps. It is based on a popular novel by Wilhelmine von Hillern.

When farmer daughter Wally (Henny Porten) saves Bären-Joseph from a difficult situation in a nest of vultures (Geier in German), she earns the nickname of Geier-Wally.

She falls in love with Bären-Joseph (Bear-Joseph - played by Wilhelm Dieterle a.k.a. Hollywood director William Dieterle) , but her father (Albert Steinrück) wants her to marry Der Gellner-Vincenz (Eugen Klöpfer).

Moreover, Joseph seems to have a secret lover. Wally is outraged when she learns about this and Vincenz even wants to kill him. But in the end it turns out that the 'lover' is Joseph's daughter, born out of wedlock. Wally and Joseph can still marry...

Henny Porten in Die Geier-Wally
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 646/1. Photo: HPF (Henny Porten Film). Henny Porten as Wally in Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921). The second woman may be Maria Grimm-Einödshofer (Obermagd).

Henny Porten in Die Geier-Wally
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 646/2. Photo: HPF (Henny Porten Film). Henny Porten as Wally in Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921). Albert Steinrück played her father, Stromminger. The second woman may be Maria Grimm-Einödshofer (Obermagd).

Henny Porten in Die Geier-Wally
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 646/3. Photo: HPF (Henny Porten Film). Henny Porten as Wally in Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921). The man could be Julius Brandt (Klettenmeyer).

A huge box-office hit


Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally is a typical 'bergfilm' (mountain film), an atmospheric mountain melodrama set in the Alps. In fact it was filmed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria.

Henny Porten was such a popular star at the time that she could produce the film herself. In 1919, Porten had founded her own film company, HPF (Henny Porten Film), which worked for Gloria-Film. The Ufa distributed the film.

Her production company had attracted an accomplished and talented cast and crew. Die Geier-Wally was directed by Ewald André Dupont, who would go on to direct the classic Variété/Variety (1925) and the sets were designed by Paul Leni, who would later become a horrorfilm director for Universal. In 1921, Leni co-directed her also in Hintertreppe/Backstairs (Paul Leni, Leopold Jessner, 1921).

Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally was a huge box-office hit and one of Porten's most successful films of the early 1920s. The story was also the basis of Alfredo Catalani's opera La Wally. In 1930 followed a silent Italian film version, La leggenda di Wally (Gian Orlando Vassallo, 1930) featuring Linda Pini.

Sound versions included the Italian production La Wally (Guido Brignone, 1932) with Germana Paolieri, a second German version Die Geierwally (Hans Steinhoff, 1940) with Heidemarie Hatheyer, and a post-war version, riding the Heimatfilm wave Die Geierwally (Frantisek Cáp, 1956) with Barbara Rütting. Finally, Bavarian director Walter Bockmayer also made a spoof of the classic, Geierwally (1988).

Henny Porten in Die Geier-Wally
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 646/6. Photo: HPF (Henny Porten Film). Henny Porten as Wally in Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921). Despite the fact that drama and romance dominate, the film has some witty scenes, sich as the one in which Wally rejects the marriage proposal by farmer Rosenbauer senior (Wilhelm Diegelmann) and his son Rosenbauer junior (Gerd Fricke).

Henny Porten in Die Geier-Wally
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 646/7. Photo: HPF (Henny Porten Film). Henny Porten as Wally and Eugen Klöpfer as Vincenz in Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921).

Henny Porten in Die Geier-Wally
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 646/8. Photo: HPF (Henny Porten Film). Henny Porten as Wally and Eugen Klöpfer as Vincenz in Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921).

Henny Porten in Die Geier-Wally
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 646/9. Photo: HPF (Henny Porten Film). Henny Porten as Wally in Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (E.A. Dupont, 1921).


Die Geyer-Wally/Vulture Wally (1921). Source: Paul Greif (YouTube).

Sources: Filmportal.de (German), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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