Mr Bennett Goes to Town

Mr Bennett Goes to Town (German "Herr Bennett geht zur Stadt") is a 1937 film that has the dubious distinction of being the only Nazi-era film that was made partly on location in the United Kingdom.[1]

The film follows the story of George Bennett, the owner of a lingerie shop in Manchester, who attempts to overcome plots and schemes by the local Jewish-dominated Chamber of Commerce to put him out of business.

The basic story pits George Bennett against the brothers Roni and Ezra Feigenbaum, the latter being the leader of the Whitefield Chamber of Commerce. George owns a shop on a prestigious high street and the Feigenbaum brothers covet his premises as a new location for their jewellery business. The Feigenbaums and their cabal at the Chamber of Commerce contrive various schemes designed to dissuade women from patronising Bennett’s shop. Their rouses range from contaminating sets of ladies’ underwear with itching powder to spreading rumours that Bennett indecently assaults the women who visit his shop.

Bennett is portrayed as an honest, hardworking but ultimately guileless man who is unable to match the machinations of the ambitious Feigenbaum brothers and their friends. The Feigenbaums eventually force Bennett out of business and they take over his shop.

The film is an un-subtle swipe at the supposed domination of business in England by Jews. The misfortune and bad luck suffered by Bennett is supposed to portray in equal terms the mendacity of the Jews and the decadence and decay that had latterly befallen England. The implicit message being that the Nazis have saved Germany from a similar fate.

The film suffered from a visual error that prevented it from going on general release in Germany. During the ‘I love money’ monologue by Ezra, the (German) actor’s prosthetic “Jewish” hook-nose became noticeably displaced. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels was furious with this mistake and demanded to know why the scene had not been re-shot. The director Frank Borchardt explained that he did not discover the error until the crew had returned to Germany and that the actor Gustav Kallenbach had subsequently suffered a near fatal stroke. Borchardt produced an edited version of Ezra’s monologue, however Goebbels maintained his refusal to release the film because Ezra’s nose still appeared misaligned and therefore undermined the credibility of the whole movie.


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