The Robber Symphony
Lobster Films

The Robber Symphony

Friedrich Feher

  • 1936
  • Great-Britain
  • Musical
  • 1h36mn
  • French dubbed version
  • Black and white
World premiere
New restoration
In a little central European town, some bandits have hidden their loot in a humble traveling minstrel trio's barrel organ, unbeknownst to them. A prime suspect, the youngest of the trio flees on a donkey with the organ. The bandit chief, "The Black Devil" chases him across the Alps.
An actor and man of the theater (he managed the Renaissance Theater in Vienna until the nazis' arrival), Friedrich Feher shot this Robber Symphony in four months and made two vesions, one in English and one in French. A flop upon release, it marked the end of the filmmaker's career. Feher was literally the film's one man orchestra: before acting and directing the film, he had composed and directed the score of this hybrid fantasy where Viennese operetta meets the aesthetics of the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (in which Feher acted), the wackiness of the Marx Brothers and the delirious proto-dada poetry of Alfred Jarry. Michael Powell loved this film so much that with his collaborator Thomas Beecham, he used it as the inspiration for The Tales of Hoffmann (1951), borrowing its pantomime magic. This tale for children, suffused by burlesque, shines by its permanent musicality, an atmospheric elsewhere reminiscent of René Clair's poetry of imagination. As André Magnan wrote in 1952, this is a "jewel of ice, sun and snow, through which we see the joy of life's seven colors, dancing." Feher perfectly assimilated his experience with expressionism. He picks up its codes, sonically: the ear is solicited by strange noises, the howling wind, the organ and barkings amplify the silent choreography to stretch it into the arcanes of a dream. This is not a film. This is witchcraft.


18/09 • 17h00 • Screen 300
Screening in partnership with Lobster Films
Screening presented by Serge Bromberg
Movie restoration by Lobster Fims in 2022, with the support of the CNC, the Fimarchiv Austria and of Alain Gedovius



  • With : Françoise Rosay, Magda Sonja, Hans Feher, George Graves...
  • Screenplay : Friedrich Feher, Jack Trendall
  • Photography : Ernö Metzner, Eugen Schüfftan
  • Music by : Friedrich Feher, Alfred Tokayer
  • Production : Friedrich Feher, Robert Wiene, Jack Trendall