by Willard Manus
This is one Austrian film that isnt afraid to show how the country opened its arms to embrace Naziism in 1938.
THE TOBACCONIST, directed by Nikolaus Leytner, focuses on a tobacco shop in Vienna which is targeted by the Nazis when they take control of the city. Otto (Johannes Krisch), the owner of the shop, is a well-known anti-Fascist, an urbane, warm-hearted gent who isnt afraid to raise his voice when the Nazis begin to harass the Jewish shop-owners on his street.
Otto has also hired an assistant, a 17-year-old country boy named Franz (Simon Morze). Franz may be uneducated but he is also sensitive and intelligent, qualities that attract the attention of the shops most illustrious customer, Sigmund Freud (Bruno Ganz).
meets (at a carnival) a sexy, free-spirited gal named Anezka (Emma Progunova).
She is a Czech immigrant, living in Vienna without papers, getting by
on her wits. Shes attracted to Franz and eventually goes to bed
with him, but makes it clear he will never possess her. She is too cunning
and ambitious to become the girlfriend of an impoverished clerk. She also
knows that her beauty and sexuality will always attract the attention
of rich and powerful men. She couldnt care less if some of them
happen to wear Nazi uniforms.