Warning Shadows (1923)


The movie Warning Shadows (1923) is a German silent film directed and co-written by Arthur Robison, and starring Fritz Kortner and Ruth Weyher. The plot revolves around a dinner given by a wealthy count (Fritz Kortner), his beautiful wife (Ruth Weyher) and four of her suitors who come together at a 19th-century German manor.

A magician (Alexander Granach), referred to as “Shadowplayer” in the cast list, rescues the count’s marriage by giving all the guests a vision of what might happen if the count cannot restrain his jealousy and the suitors continue to make advances towards his wife. The count challenges the man he perceives as his rival (Gustav von Wangenheim) to a duel. The movie Warning Shadows (1923) has a happy ending as violence is averted and the count and his wife save their marriage. However, it is left unclear whether events at the party actually occurred, or whether it was all an illusion conjured up by the magician¹.


  • Alexander Granach as Shadowplayer
  • Fritz Kortner as The count
  • Ruth Weyher as His wife
  • Gustav von Wangenheim as Her lover
  • Eugen Rex as A servant
  • Lilli Herder as Dienstmaedchen
  • Fritz Rasp as Diener
  • Karl Platen as 2. Diener
  • Max Gülstorff as 2. Kavalier
  • Ferdinand von Alten as 3. Kavalier


Director Arthur Robison was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1883, but grew up in Germany where he became an established writer-director in the German silent film industry. His first film was the 1916 German horror film A Night of Horror, and his last film was the 1935 sound remake of The Student of Prague. Actors Von Wagenheim and Granach were reunited again here after both costarred in Nosferatu (1923)¹.


“What makes this such a remarkable film is the way that the staging and cinematography reinforces the shadow motif and builds a link between the actors and the audience. The Entertainer’s show is the same as the film itself, shadows projected on a screen. Robison reminds us frequently of how light reveals and deceives. ” [5]

“Warning Shadows is a very under-appreciated German Expressionist film and, in my opinion, very close to being a masterpiece.” [4]

“There is nothing grandiose or gratuitous about this: the collective ‘hallucination’ experienced by the characters is not just a commentary on – or a distraction from – the main narrative; it is the very form and substance of the narrative itself. Nothing that actually happens in the film is of real or lasting importance. Yet the fantasies that assault them in their artificially created dream world are brutal, decisive and life-changing.” [3]


[1] Wikipedia

[2] Letterboxd

[3] sensesofcinema.com

[4] cosmiccatacombs.blogspot.com

[5] bigdamnspider.com

Last updated byCody Meirick on November 27, 2023