The Punch Bowl (1959 film)

Maibowle (May Wine; English-language title: The Punch Bowl[1]) is an East German musical comedy film, released in 1959. It was directed by Günter Reisch.

Directed byGünter Reisch
Written byMarianne Libera, Gerhard Weise
StarringErich Franz
Music byHelmut Nier
CinematographyOtto Merz
Edited byHildegard Conrad
Distributed byProgress Film
Release date
  • December 4, 1959 (1959-12-04)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryEast Germany


Wilhelm Lehmann is informed that he will receive the Order of the Banner of Labor on his sixty-fifth birthday, for being the best worker in the most successful chemical plant in the country. However, it is soon made clear that all his grown up children have other plans for the day, and none of them can arrive to honor their father and their mother Auguste. But, after a series of comical mistakes that lead to utter pandemonium, all the sons and daughters eventually appear to greet Wilhelm as he is awarded the Order. The whole family drinks the traditional May wine, as they have done in every year.



The film was commissioned for the tenth anniversary of East Germany's independence,[2] and the decision to begin the project was taken on the 5th Congress of the Socialist Unity Party, at July 1958.[3] It was a musical comedy, one of the pictures which authors Antonin and Mira Liehm considered as an attempt by DEFA to balance the effects its heavily ideological works had on the public.[4] Although it was light-hearted, director Günter Reisch emphasized the happiness experienced by the citizens in the socialist system and the importance of the chemical plants' development - one of them served as the setting for the plot. The director's decision was influenced by the response to his last film, the 1957 Trail in the Night, which was negatively received by the State Film Board due to a scene featuring rock-and-roll music.[5]


Maibowle had its premiere in East Berlin's Cinema Babylon on 5 October 1959, and its commercial release followed in December 4.[6] The film was well received, and attracted a "fairly large audience".[7] West Germany's Catholic Film Service noted that the picture "had a weak script, but its momentum and cabaret scenes compensate for it." In the same time, the comical character of the eccentric politician Frisch was criticized by the East German Film Board.[3] The Liehms considered it as one of "the two smoothest" among the "poorly crafted, simple minded" East German comedies of the late 1950s, along its 1960 sequel New Year's Eve Punch.[4] Ralf Schenk wrote that the film was an attempt to create comedy combined with "slogans praising the Socialist society and the qualities of chemical ingredients."[8]


  1. Maibowle on the DEFA Foundation website.
  2. Maibowle on PROGRESS' website.
  3. Frank Burkhard Habel. Das große Lexikon der DEFA-Spielfilme. ISBN 3-89602-349-7. Page 384.
  4. Miera Liehm, Antonin J. Liehm . The Most Important Art: Soviet and Eastern European Film After 1945. ISBN 0-520-04128-3. Page 265.
  5. Dagmar Schittly. Zwischen Regie und Regime. Die Filmpolitik der SED im Spiegel der DEFA-Produktionen. ISBN 978-3-86153-262-0. Page 95.
  6. Maibowle on DEFA Sternstunden.
  7. Joshua Feinstein. The Triumph of the Ordinary: Depictions of Daily Life in the East German Cinema, 1949-1989. ISBN 978-0-8078-5385-6. Page 101.
  8. Ralf Schenk. Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg. DEFA- Spielfilme 1946 - 1992. ISBN 978-3-89487-175-8. Page 114.
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