Synopsis by Nathan Southern
The once "lost" German feature Carbide and Sorrel, co-written by Hans Oliva and Frank Beyer and directed by Beyer, eventually surfaced in American repertory cinemas through the restoration efforts of First Run Features and the DEFA film library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A road comedy set in the summer of 1945 during the post-WWII Axis reconstruction, Carbide is a kind of a revisionist comic variation on Henri-Georges Clouzot's Wages of Fear. Cigarette plant employee Karl "Kalle" Bluecher (Erwin Geschonneck) totes several barrels of carbide -- without a truck -- over hundreds of miles of obstacle-packed roads, from Wittenberg to the barely-surviving cigarette factory in Dresden. He ultimately hopes to deliver the carbide to the plant, enabling it to resume operations. Along the way, Kalle falls in love with a young woman named Karla, gets arrested by Soviet Communist officers, survives a forest filled with land-mines, dodges a sex-crazed widow, and surmounts dozens of other hilarious complications. This classic of German cinema combines subversive, often wild humor with poignant sociocultural insights.