I Am a Camera

1955

Henry Cornelius
Director
Romulus Films
Studio

Fictionalized account of novelist Christopher Isherwood's time living in 1930s Berlin as a language tutor, especially concentrating on his sprightly nightclub singer friend Sally Bowles.

This is a film based on a stage play famously dismissed by critic Walter Kerr with the single sentence review "Me no Leica." The same could quite easily apply to the film. The leads are badly miscast: Harvey is out of his element, reciting his lines with a dry lack of feeling, which I guess is meant to imply sardonic disdain, but instead comes across as apathy. Harris is awful, belting out her lines like a third-rate music hall actor projecting to the back rows, unbalancing and overpowering every scene she is in (i.e. the whole film). And her attempt at a British accent is 'rather' appaling. Only Diffring makes much of an impression, but then his is the only character that's not a poorly sketched caricature. Given that no less than John Collier wrote the screenplay, one can only imagine this was was a troubled production; certainly it was a troubled release, as self-apointed censorship groups gathered to ban the film on moral grounds. Those grounds are barely discernible today, but the furor did doom the film to failure.

The movie takes a turn into horror about the hour mark, when Isherwood's 'friends' submit him to a series of medical quacks (including a very young Patrick McGoohan as a Swedish hydrotherapist!) when he becomes ill with rheumatic fever. I imagine it was intended to be blackly comedic, but it's instead squirmingly unpleasant. Probably the earliest cinematic joke about a rectal thermometer is the most noteworthy thing about this sequence, and perhaps the entire film. One would be much, much wiser watching Cabaret, the film based on the musical that is based on the original play.

Note: The uncredited cast for this film on IMDb for some reason duplicates entries from The Hustler. Ben Casey does not make an appearance, but a minor actor named Vincent (not Vince) Edward does. The IMDb also seems confused on that latter point. [This was all fixed by summer 2016, and now their credits bear a strange resemblance to this site's. Hmmmmm. . .

-Dave W.


I Am a Camera
21st July 1955
Cinema



98 mins


I Am a Camera
21st July 1955
Cinema



98 mins




HyperLink
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Julie Harris
Sally Bowles
Laurence Harvey
Christopher Isherwood
Shelley Winters
Natalia Landauer
Ron Randell
Clive Mortimer
Lea Seidl
Fräulein Schneider
Anton Diffring
Fritz Wendel
Frederick Valk
Doctor
Tutte Lemkow
Electrotherapist
Patrick McGoohan
Hydrotherapist
Stanley Maxted
Curtis B. Ryland, Editor
Philip Morant
Editor at Party
Harold Siddons
Editor at Party
Jean Gargoet
Pierre
Unknown
Street Pianist
(uncredited)
Richard Wattis
Editor at Party
(uncredited)
Unknown
Prostitute
(uncredited)
Barry Shawzin
Nightclub Chef with Pig
(uncredited)
Stan Tracey
Nightclub Pianist (uncredited)
Unknown
Nightclub Patron
(uncredited)
Victor Fairley
Nightclub Patron
(uncredited)
Unknown
Nightclub Patron Who Breaks Her Beer Mug
(uncredited)
Unknown
Nightclub Patron
(uncredited)
Unknown
Nightclub Waiter (uncredited)
Gareth Tandy
Boy Finding Sally's Shoe
(unconfirmed)
Emil Stemmler
Cafe Waiter (uncredited)
Unknown
Man in Street Shaking Hands with Chris
(uncredited)
Unknown
Landauer's Chauffeur (uncredited)
David Kossoff
Herr Landauer
(uncredited)
Ina De La Haye
Frau Landauer
(uncredited)
Unknown
Sausage Vendor (uncredited)
Arthur Mullard
Nazi Handing Out Der Angriff
(uncredited)
Jack Arrow
Troika Doorman (uncredited)
Andre Mikhelson
Troika Head Waiter
(uncredited)
Alexis Bobrinskoy
Troika Proprietor (uncredited)
Paddy Smith
Troika Waiter (uncredited)
Bill Brandon
Troika Caviar Server (uncredited)
Zoe Newton
Troika Cigarette Girl
(uncredited)
Keith Smith
El Dorado Patron (uncredited)
Unknown
El Dorado Barmaid (uncredited)
Jan Holden
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
George Ricarde
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Frank Singuineau
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
George Eugeniou
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Unknown
Clive's Party Guest
(uncredited)
Henry Purvis
Masseur (uncredited)
Peter Prowse
Hydrotherapist's Assistant
(uncredited)
Julia Arnall
Salon Model (uncredited)
Unknown
Jewish Shopkeeper
(uncredited)
Vincent Edward
Nazi Orator (uncredited)
Unknown
Nazi Who Gets Punched
(uncredited)
Charles Saynor
Nazi in Brawl (uncredited)
Ian Ainsley
Minor Role (uncredited)
Bill Billington
Minor Role (uncredited)
Michael Bird
Minor Role (uncredited)
Gina Bower
Minor Role (uncredited)
Anita Douglas
Minor Role (uncredited)
Geoffrey Dunn
Minor Role (uncredited)
Ann Elsden
Minor Role (uncredited)
Ann Greenland
Minor Role (uncredited)
Aidan Harrington
Minor Role (uncredited)
Ian Hendry
Minor Role (uncredited)
Janet May
Tart (uncredited)
Stanley Morrell
Minor Role (uncredited)
Pat Walsh
Tailor (uncredited)
Amanda Coxell
Little Girl (uncredited)
Marilyn Farries
Little Girl (uncredited)
Angela White
Little Girl (uncredited)
Anthony Bryant
Young Boy (uncredited)
Rodney Goodall
Young Boy (uncredited)
Janet Coats
Young Girl (uncredited)
Lynn Courtney
Young Girl (uncredited)
Jacqueline Cox
Young Girl (uncredited)
Janice Field
Young Girl (uncredited)
Carole Olver
Young Girl (uncredited)
Penelope Rogers
Young Girl (uncredited)

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