Sight and Sound - 08/01/2011
"[An] entrancing, quietly radical artefact of European silent cinema's last hours..."
Film Comment - 09/01/2011
"[T]his quintessential Weimar weekend idyll was a historical, stylistic, and personal crossroads."
Description by OLDIES.com:
Years before they became major players in Hollywood, a group of young German filmmakers -- including eventual noir masters Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer and future Oscar winners Billy Wilder and Fred Zinnemann -- worked together on the once-in-a-lifetime collaboration People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag). This effervescent, sunlit silent, about a handful of city dwellers (a charming cast of nonprofessionals) enjoying a weekend outing, offers a rare glimpse of Weimar-era Berlin. A unique hybrid of documentary and fictional storytelling, People on Sunday was both an experiment and a mainstream hit that would influence generations of film artists around the world.
An early experiment in neo-realist filmmaking, MENSCHEN AM SONNTAG is a low-budget drama about two men, a cab driver and a salesman, who find themselves with nothing to do on a Sunday in Berlin. The friends pick up a couple of young women, and the four spend the day wandering the city streets before heading to a beach in Wannsee, where they go swimming and enjoy an idyllic afternoon by the lake. After a genial but determined attempt at seduction by the two men, the foursome returns to Berlin, with the depressing prospect of another working week looming before them. MENSCHEN AM SONNTAG is most notable today for the behind-the-camera contributions of several young German filmmakers who would later win greater fame after expatriating to the United States following the rise of the Third Reich, among them Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann, Robert Siodmak, Edgar G. Ulmer, and Curt Siodmak.