Mother Holly (aka FRAU HOLLY)
(c1968), Color, 79 minutes
Presented by K. Gordon Murray
Adaptation from the Fairy Tale by The Brothers Grimm
English Adaptation by Reuben Guberman (as “Rubin Guberman”)
Edited by J.R. Remy
Associate Producer: Sheldon M. Schermer
Assistant Director: Thomas Finucane
Script Clerk: Diana McAtee
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Reuben Guberman (as “Rubin Guberman”)
From a very odd fable comes a very strange and wonderful fairy tale movie, a fanciful and somewhat spooky tale of opposites, the rewards of industry and the lure of sloth.
We start off with some nice artwork of a Bavarian village, and segway into a typical fairy tale village, full of both happiness and intrigue.
The fairy tales directed by Fritz Genschow all feature breathtaking real-world locations, including marketplaces, street scenes and castles, which add a certain neo-realist flavor to these winning fables.
Mother Holly is a strange fairy tale heroine, half-mother, half-witch, and somewhat spooky in her supernatural omnipotence.
By far the most interesting character in the film is Black-Peter, the devil. His tireless misanthropic antics give the film much of its humor and joy. (In fact, a demon tempting children to be evil in a retail environment revisits one of the major themes in Murray’s great SANTA CLAUS.)
The Kohlhase sisters are funny as well. Rose-Marie is pretty and good-hearted, i.e. boring, but nutty sis Else-Marie is a selfish twit of legendary stature.
The f/x work in MOTHER HOLLY is spare and minimal: super-imposition, lap dissolves, and a few prop antics like dancing bread suffice to create Mother Holly’s “Wonder World”. The gold shower and coal shower, for example, are simple yet effective. There is, in addition, a preoccupation with shadows and silhouettes, two simple and underused methods of conveying the soul or the “spirit” of character, and it is nice to see a film that doesn’t shy away from this economical but winning techinque.
The obsession on children in this film suggests a post-war, pro-breeder agenda right in keeping with a country trying to rebuild after the scandal of Hitler. MOTHER HOLLY is simply bursting with attractive children.
There are several cheery songs, which are left in their native German, suggesting that Murray intended this film for a limited or TV-only release. This may be a blessing or a curse, depending on your point of view, considering the demented dubbed tunes in TABLE, DONKEY AND STICK!
MOTHER HOLLY is certainly an affable live-action fable, and one we are grateful to locate after all these years.
* Many thanks to German film historian Mike Schneider for helping us uncover “the Murray version” of this oft-filmed German fairy tale classic. We had it all wrong! We had the credits for a 1961 version, and pix from a 1963 DEFA version! It is exciting to know that Murray purchased several films from the renowned German director Fritz Genschow, who is undoubtedly “King of the German Fairy Tales.” In addition to this, Murray released Genschow’s TABLE, DONKEY AND STICK, and the extremely rare HANSEL AND GRETEL.
* Obscure German producer F. W. Schluter also produced the folliwng Fritz Genschow fairy tales: DER STRUWWELPETER (1954), TISCHLEIN DECK DICH (1956), (aka TABLE, DONKEY AND STICK).
* Pretty actress Rita-Maria Nowotny, who plays Rose-Marie in this film, as well as Kathy in Murray’s release of TABLE, DONKEY AND STICK, was married to director Genschow.
* Erika Petrick, the wonderful actress who plays super-vain Else-Marie, also played the mother in Genschow’s super-rare version of HANSEL AND GRETEL (1954), which received limited U.S. theatrical release by Murray somewhere between 1972 and 1974.
color, fullscreen, mono, 79 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!