The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin

The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin (also known as The Beast of Berlin and The Kaiser) was a 1918 American silent war propaganda melodrama film written by, directed by, and starring Rupert Julian. The film's supporting cast included Elmo Lincoln, Nigel De Brulier, and Lon Chaney.[1]

The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin
Still of the Kaiser in the "scrap of paper" scene
Directed byRupert Julian
Produced byRupert Julian
Written byRupert Julian
Elliott J. Clawson
StarringRupert Julian
Elmo Lincoln
Nigel De Brulier
Lon Chaney
Harry von Meter
CinematographyEdward A. Kull
Renowned Pictures Corporation
Distributed byUniversal Jewel
Release date
  • March 19, 1918 (1918-03-19)
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

The germanophobic film contains a propagandist view of the First World War, showing the political greed of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, the resistance of some of his own soldiers, and fanciful prediction of the nature of the war's end.[2] The film is now considered lost.[3] [4]


Kaiser Wilhelm II of Hohenzollern (Rupert Julian) is a vain and arrogant tyrant eager for conquest. When Belgium is invaded by the German army during World War I, Marcas, the blacksmith (Elmo Lincoln), although wounded, is able to save his daughter from the clutches of a German soldier. Soon after this, the RMS Lusitania is sunk by Captain von Neigle (Nigel De Brulier), who ultimately is driven mad with remorse. After the United States declares war, the Allied generals turn the Kaiser over to Albert I of Belgium. Incarcerated, the Kaiser faces his jailer, Marcas the blacksmith.


Production notes

Although frequently listed as a Universal Studios production, the film was an independent production produced by Rupert Julian for Renowned Pictures. Julian licensed the distribution rights to Renowned, who in turn sold the rights to Universal Jewel for worldwide distribution.


The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin was an enormous hit when it was released,[5] and Universal spared no expense in advertising the film. Universal studio head Carl Laemmle pushed the film to the theater owners as hard as he sold it to the viewing public. "A whirlwind of Applause - A Landslide of Money," "Unparalleled Receipts," and "The Picture That Blocked Traffic on Broadway" were some of the headlines for ads that ran in trade publications in an attempt to get theater owners to book the picture.

According to a report in Exhibitor's Trade Review on the film's success in Omaha, 14,000 saw the film there in a single week, a record for that city. "Wild cheering marked every show when the young captain socked the Kaiser on the jaw. Patriotic societies boosted the picture because of its aid in stirring up the country to war. Street car signs were used; huge street banners swung over the crowds in the downtown district, and a truck paraded the streets with the Kaiser hanging in effigy and a big sign 'All pro-Germans will be admitted free.' None availed himself of the invitation."[6]

Rupert Julian received rave reviews for his portrayal of the Kaiser and later reprised the role in many subsequent films.[7][8]

Preservation status

No known prints of the film survive. The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin is one of the films included on the American Film Institute's list of the "Ten Most Wanted" lost films.[9]

In 1919, a short (two-reel) parody of the film was released titled The Geezer of Berlin.[6]

See also


  1. Bodeen, DeWitt (1976). From Hollywood: The Careers of 15 Great American Stars. A. S. Barnes. p. 228. ISBN 0-498-01346-4.
  2. Neale, Stephen (2000). Genre and Hollywood. Psychology Press. p. 119. ISBN 0-415-02606-7.
  3. Waldman, Harry (2000). Missing Reels: Lost Films of American and European Cinema. McFarland. p. 254. ISBN 0-786-40724-7.
  4. Magill's Survey of Silent Films, Vol2. FLE-POT p.616 edited by Frank N. Magill c.1982 ISBN 0-89356-241-6 (3 book set ISBN 0-89356-239-4) Retrieved June 27, 2018
  5. Blake, Michael F. (2001). The Films of Lon Chaney. Madison Books. p. 83. ISBN 1-568-33237-8.
  6. Mock and Larson, 152
  7. Keil, Charlie; Singer, Ben, eds. (2009). American Cinema of the 1910s: Themes and Variations. Rutgers University Press. p. 215. ISBN 0-813-54445-9.
  8. Quinlan, David (1983). The Illustrated Guide to Film Directors. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 157. ISBN 0-389-20408-0.
  9. American Film, Volume 5, Issues 1-10. American Film Institute. 1979. p. 71.
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