After the success of collective, Vertov-influenced street urban drama Menschen am Sonntag [People on Sunday] (Siodmaksulmerwilderzinnemann, 1929), which became the calling card for its legendary team, the main creative force behind the film, Robert Siodmak, was given the chance to direct his solo debut feature for UFA, Abschied [Farewell]. Made in 1930, this romantic comedy was an unlikely start for a filmmaker who is mostly known for his pessimistic takes on modern life in the metropolis jungles. Some scholars have argued that Siodmak’s interest in expressionist lighting and major themes of the Weimar cinema didn’t divulge until anther comedy of sorts, Der Mann, der seinen Mörder Sucht [Looking for His Murderer] (1931). It was Siodmak’s third feature which proved to be his first major work and fully explore the themes he later became associated with.
Voruntersuchung [Inquest] (1931) is the story of Fritz Bernt, a doomed young student (a central figure of expressionist films since The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), played by Gustav Fröhlich, who after a bitter quarrel with his girlfriend finds her murdered. Consequently, Fritz, as the primary suspect, is arrested and interrogated by a judge who relentlessly trys to prove Fritz’s guilt. But the tension arises as judge’s son is Fritz’s best friend and his daughter in love with the accused.