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A Call Girl Named Rosemarie

A Call Girl Named Rosemarie

Prostitution and economic miracles

by Liz Brent

From the February, 2003 issue

A Call Girl Named Rosemarie (Rolf Thiele, 1958) is a bitter commentary on the evils of capitalism attendant on West Germany's Wirtschaftswunder ("economic miracle") that followed World War II. Thiele portrays the economic miracle as the province of ruthless businessmen, in this instance ten members of an industrial insulation cartel centered in Frankfurt. Through persistence and perseverance, Rosemarie (Nadja Tiller) works her way into the inner circle of the cartel and quickly establishes herself as a kept woman among their ranks. Her former associates, a pair of hoodlums who make their living as street musicians and petty burglars, function as a Greek chorus to the events of the film, making up songs about Rosemarie's career path and accompanying themselves on squeezebox and banjo. They also milk Rosemarie for as much cash as they can get out of her. The only character in the film who refuses to be corrupted by the temptations of the economic miracle is a young man, a university student and Christian street-corner proselytizer, who takes a personal interest in Rosemarie's soul.

Rosemarie is soon discovered by a scheming French businessman who sets her up in an even nicer apartment, where he employs her in industrial espionage. He provides her with a tape recorder and miniature camera for documenting the business secrets and sexual encounters of her clientele. This information is used both for personal blackmail and for acquiring inside information on the cartel's machinations.

Rosemarie's fatal flaw, however, is that she is not, at heart, a ruthless entrepreneur. She forms a personal attachment to one of her clients, and she hopes to be married and accepted into legitimate bourgeois society. She goes so far as to show up at a cocktail party — to which she has been explicitly not invited — where all of her clients are in attendance with their wives. Rosemarie proceeds to take each man aside and threaten him with exposure if he does not dance with her. Her failure to understand her place in the capitalist system — or, as one man describes it, the link between her bed and Germany's economic miracle — proves to be her undoing.

A Call Girl Named Rosemarie, based on an actual scandal that took place in Germany in 1957, is at the Michigan Theater Monday and Tuesday, February 3 and 4.     (end of article)

[Originally published in February, 2003.]

 



 
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