The Oyster Princess – The ABCD Annual Silent Classic (Die Austern Prinzessin)

7/03/2019 19:45.
Cert PG

Mister Quaker is a US oyster magnate (the film does not feel or look American, but it really doesn’t matter) and has all the wealth in the world. His only desire is for his daughter Ossi (Ossi Oswalda) to find a suitable match. Is Prince Nucki the man for a very strong-willed young woman? A flippant satire and at times a slightly risqué film.
Lubitsch garnered 73 director credits, shooting some of the most famous films ever made, mostly comedies such as To Be or Not to Be (1942) and Ninotchka (‘Garbo laughs’, said the poster).

The Oyster Princess is a comedy of manners, starring a quartet of characters who possess precisely none.” (Michael Ewins,

Dir: Ernst Lubitsch   58mins   Germany   1919

Accompanied on piano by Andrew Youdell of the National Film Theatre. Plus supporting programme.

7.30pm start at St Nicolas’ Church, Market Place, Abingdon.

Programme Notes

We welcome Andrew Youdell, NFT silent film accompanist for over forty years and long-standing friend of ABCD Film Society, who will give us his musical interpretation of tonight’s film.

Ernst Lubitsch’s The Oyster Princess (Die Austernprinzessin) introduces itself as ‘a grotesque comedy’ which you might be forgiven for thinking of as an oxymoron, as it’s a movie originating from Germany – a country not generally associated with comedy. Lubitsch, however, went on to later become one of Hollywood’s most assured directors of light comedies, such as The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) and Trouble in Paradise (1932), and while tonight’s film shows limited evidence of the famed ‘Lubitsch touch’, there’s no doubt that he and co-writer Hans Kraly were gripped by some kind of creative fever when they made it. The movie is a mix of semi-surreal humour and social satire which is just as likely to have its audience marvelling at its creativity as restlessly tapping its fingers in agitation. The humour derives from details coincidental to the farcical plot – which really serves as a device upon which Lubitsch can display his often wildly inventive ideas. He exploits the idea of the co-dependence of the Nouveau Riche and impoverished Old World aristocracy, ridiculing both with impeccable fairness.
Acknowledgements: Richard Cross, 20/20 Movie Reviews

“A comic high point in the master’s oeuvre […] it’s ten-fingered dexterity resulting in a film that is simultaneously clever, concise and risqué” Gregory Mesham,

Victor Janson – Mr Quaker, the Oyster king
Ossi Oswalda – Oss, his daughter
Harry Liedtke – Prince Nucki
Julius Falkenstein – Josef, Nucki’s friend
Max Kronert -The Matchmaker

Director – Ernst Lubitsch
Production Design – Rochus Gliese, Kurt Richter
Writers – Ernst Lubitsch, Hans Kraly
Cinematography -Theodor Sparkuhl


  • I loved the piano music!
  • Another brilliant evening – many thanks to Andrew
  • Most enjoyable – excellent piano accompaniment
  • A treat, as always!
  • Now that was real treat for us silent cinema fans. OP was an extra-ordinary feat of art direction and  grotesque comedy that still held up a century after its first release
  • Little has changed over the last 100 years. The pianist was amazing!
  • Something of a surprise – quite risqué and a bit of a mystery. Andrew did a great job, as usual
  • So Nucki got his nookie after all. Who would have thought a 100 year old German film would have an  English seaside (postcard) joke in it?
  • Most unusual – beautifully choreographed
  • Great fun – but the foxtrot went on a bit
  • No difficulties with dialogue tonight!


A:15, B:8, C:4, D:1, E:0 to give 83% from 85% of those present.