Der Gelbe Schein

Last updated
Der Gelbe Schein
Pola Negri Devils Pawn 6.jpg
Theatrical release poster for the
1922 US release, titled The Devil's Pawn
Directed by Victor Janson
Eugen Illés
Written byHans Brennert
Hans Kräly
Produced by Paul Davidson
Starring Pola Negri
CinematographyEugen Illés
Distributed by UFA
Paramount Pictures
Release date
22 November 1918
Running time
58 minutes
Country Germany
Language Silent film

Der Gelbe Schein (English titles The Yellow Ticket and The Devil's Pawn) is a 1918 German silent film starring Pola Negri in a double role as Lea and her mother Lydia, Victor Janson as Ossip Storki, and Harry Liedtke as Dimitri. It was directed by Victor Janson and Eugen Illés.



Pola Negri plays Lea, a bright adolescent girl who lives in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw with her ill father. She loves to read, and intends to study medicine at a university in St. Petersburg in the hopes of making her father well again. Her father dies suddenly and her tutor, Ossip Storki, is called away to work for the governor. When she goes to Russia, she learns that Jewish women are only allowed to work as sex workers with the benefit of a "yellow passport", otherwise they will be taken to prison. She applies for a yellow passport and takes up residency at a brothel. Upon finding the identification papers of her tutor's deceased sister Sophie in a book her tutor gave her, Lea applies to the University with the deceased sister's identification papers and is accepted. So begins an unhappy life of studying by day and receiving scholastic honors, while reluctantly working as a party girl at night. Her fellow students, including a boy named Dimitri who is in love with her, then find her out. Dimitri in particular is crushed to learn of Lea's double life. Lea realizes that this will be the end of her scholastic career, and attempts suicide.

Dimitri goes to their professor, Peter Zukowski, to tell him of Lea's double life. Prof. Zukowski then ruminates over his own double life, having fathered an illegitimate child 19 years prior with a fellow student named Lydia. He does not know what became of either Lydia or the child. Meanwhile, Lea's former tutor Storki learns that his deceased sister has allegedly received a gold medal for her studies at the University in St. Petersburg. Storki is suspicious and asks for a leave of absence from his work to investigate the matter. A meeting between Stroki and Prof. Zukowski reveals that Lea is actually the professor's long lost daughter. The next day, Lea is brought to the University for an emergency operation. The professor learns on the spot this it is Lea, his daughter, that he has to save from death. The surgery is successful, and Lea recovers, with both her father and her admirer Dimitri at her side.


It was made at the Tempelhof Studios in Berlin. According to the restored version of the film's intertitles, "The Yellow Ticket takes place in Warsaw in 1918, during the First World War before the German army had left. In the film, Warsaw was used to portray the city of St. Petersburg. Many scenes were filmed in the Jewish 'ghetto' of Warsaw." [1] It was a full-length remake of Czarna Ksiazeczka, a 1915 Polish film directed by Alexander Hertz that also starred Negri. [2]


Der Gelbe Schein was released in Germany on November 22, 1918. It was released in the US by Paramount Pictures in 1922 under the title The Devil's Pawn. [3]

During World War II, the National Socialist regime in Germany allegedly attempted to destroy all existing copies of the film, but it managed to survive. The film was restored by Kevin Brownlow and is held by The Israeli Film Archive and The Nederlands Filmmuseum. [2]

Der Gelbe Schein was digitally restored and released on DVD as The Yellow Ticket in 2011 by Bright Shining City Productions as part of the 3-DVD set Pola Negri: Iconic Collection-Early Films. [4]

In 2013, the klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals composed a new score for the film for violin and piano. With the jazz pianist Marilyn Lerner, she toured the United States accompanying the Brownlow version of the film (with newly translated intertitles by Svigals). Svigals' score was commissioned by the New Jewish Culture Network of the Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Reception claims The Yellow Ticket is "an enjoyable movie with a great dramatic storyline that involves heartbreak, melodrama with surprise connections amongst the main players, and a positive message about embracing humanity over race." [5]

The Foundation for Jewish Culture calls the film "Remarkably progressive for its time." [6]

Related Research Articles

<i>Music Box</i> (film) 1989 film by Costa-Gavras

Music Box is a 1989 American crime drama film that tells the story of a Hungarian-American immigrant who is accused of having been a war criminal. The plot revolves around his daughter, an attorney, who defends him, and her struggle to uncover the truth.

Pola Negri Polish actress and singer

Pola Negri was a Polish stage and film actress and singer. She achieved worldwide fame during the silent and golden eras of Hollywood and European film for her tragedienne and femme fatale roles and was acknowledged as a sex symbol.

<i>Nowhere in Africa</i> 2001 German film by Caroline Link

Nowhere in Africa is a 2001 German drama film that was written and directed by Caroline Link. The screenplay is based on the 1995 autobiographical novel of the same name by Stefanie Zweig. It tells the story of the life in Kenya of a German-Jewish family that emigrated there in 1938 to escape persecution in Nazi Germany. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film as well as the 2001 German Film Award (Deutscher Filmpreis) in five categories, including Best Fiction Film.

Anna Sten Ukrainian-born American actress

Anna Sten was a Ukrainian-born American actress. She began her career in stage plays and films in the Soviet Union before traveling to Germany, where she starred in several films. Her performances were noticed by film producer Samuel Goldwyn, who brought her to the United States with the aim of creating a new screen personality to rival Greta Garbo. After a few unsuccessful films, Goldwyn released her from her contract. She continued to act occasionally until her final film appearance in 1962.

Alicia Svigals is an American violinist and composer. A co-founder of the Grammy-winning band The Klezmatics, she is considered by many to be the world's foremost living klezmer fiddler.

Alfred Abel German actor

Alfred Peter Abel was a German film actor, director, and producer. He appeared in more than 140 silent and sound films between 1913 and 1938. His best-known performance was as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis.

<i>Confession</i> (1937 film) 1937 film

Confession is a 1937 drama film starring Kay Francis, Ian Hunter, Basil Rathbone and Jane Bryan. It was directed by Joe May and is a scene-for-scene remake of the 1935 German film Mazurka starring Pola Negri, which Warner Brothers Studios acquired the U.S. distribution rights for and then shelved in favour of the remake.

Michael Morton was an English dramatist in the early 20th century.

Polish culture in the interwar period witnessed the rebirth of Polish sovereignty. The nationhood along with its cultural heritage was no longer suppressed by the three foreign partitioners. The cultural development saw the retreat of the 19th century elite cultures of nobility as well as the traditional folk culture, and the rise of a new mass culture integrating Polish society closer to the new intelligentsia educated in the practice of democracy.

<i>The Yellow Ticket</i> 1931 film

The Yellow Ticket is a 1931 pre-Code American drama film based on the 1914 play of the same name by Michael Morton, produced by the Fox Film Corporation, directed by Raoul Walsh, and starring Elissa Landi, Lionel Barrymore and Laurence Olivier. Boris Karloff appears briefly in a small supporting role. The picture is also a noteworthy example of productions from the pre-Code era in that it includes brief nudity.

<i>Green Fields</i> (film) 1937 film by Edgar George Ulmer

Green Fields is a 1937 American comedy-drama Yiddish film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and Jacob Ben-Ami. The film features child actor Herschel Bernardi, later to be an adult star on Broadway, in films and on television.

Mariusz Kotowski Polish-born writer and director

Mariusz Kotowski is a Polish-born writer and director. As a director, he has gained a reputation for cinematic portrayals that are atypical of both Hollywood and independent film styles and that cleverly mix different film approaches into a cohesive whole.

Elizabeth Schwartz is an American vocalist, concentrating on klezmer music and the Romanian Yiddish dialect. She primarily records with her husband Yale Strom and Hot Pstromi but has collaborated in performance and recordings with notable musicians from the jazz and folk music worlds, notably Muzsikas, Damian Draghici, Alicia Svigals, Salman Ahmad, Marta Sebestyen and others. The subject of Romanian filmmaker Radu Gabrea's documentary film, Searching for Schwartz (2007), she was also featured in his previous documentaries "Goldfadn's Legacy" and "Romania, Romania". She also recorded music for the soundtrack of L'Chayim, Comrade Stalin!, a documentary film directed by her husband and frequent collaborator Strom.

<i>The Yellow Passport</i> 1916 film by Edwin August

The Yellow Passport is a lost 1916 silent film drama produced and distributed by the World Film Company. Based on Michael Morton's 1914 Broadway play of the same title, it was directed by Edwin August and starred Clara Kimball Young. On the stage the lead characters were played by Florence Reed and John Barrymore. Morton's story was filmed several times in the silent era and made as The Yellow Ticket in 1931 with Lionel Barrymore and Elissa Landi.

Bestia is a 1917 Polish silent film starring Pola Negri. It was directed by Aleksander Hertz and released by Warsaw-based film studio Sphinx Company. It was released in the U.S. under the title The Polish Dancer in 1921.

<i>Die Augen der Mumie Ma</i> 1918 film

Die Augen der Mumie Ma is a 1918 German silent film directed by Ernst Lubitsch. The film stars Pola Negri as Ma, Emil Jannings as Radu, and Harry Liedtke as Wendland. It was the first collaboration between Lubitsch and Negri, a pairing that would go on to make worldwide successes such as Carmen (1918), Madame DuBarry (1919), and Sumurun (1920).

Yellow ticket Identity document of a prostitute in the Russian Empire

Yellow ticket, yellow passport or yellow card was an informal name of a personal identification document of a prostitute in the Russian Empire. The document combined an ID card, a residence permit, a license to practice prostitution, and prostitute's medical check-up card. The official title of the document varied: medical card, replacement card, etc. The title "replacement card" refers to the fact that upon registration, the prostitute left her original passport or residence permit in the local police office and was issued the "yellow card" as a replacement personal ID. The carriers of the card were subject to periodic medical check-ups. This requirement was dropped in 1909.

The Yellow Ticket is a 1914 Broadway play by dramatist Michael Morton, which premiered at the Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre in Manhattan on January 20, 1914.

<i>The Yellow Ticket</i> (1918 film) 1918 American film

The Yellow Ticket is a 1918 American silent drama film directed by William Parke and starring Fannie Ward. It is based on Michael Morton's 1914 play The Yellow Ticket. This screen adaptation of the play is currently classified as a lost film.

Yiddish cinema Genre of film

Yiddish cinema refers to the Yiddish language film industry which produced some 130 full-length motion pictures and 30 short during its heyday from 1911 and 1940. Yiddish film almost disappeared after World War II, due to the Holocaust and the linguistic acculturation of Jewish immigrants, though new pictures are still made sporadically.


  1. Kotowski, Mariusz (producer). Pola Negri, The Iconic Collection: The Early Years. Bright Shining City Productions, 2011. DVD. The Yellow Ticket, :35-:49.
  2. 1 2 "The German Silent Period (1917-1922)". Pola Negri Filmography. The Pola Negri Appreciation Site. nd. Archived from the original on November 2, 2013. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  3. "Release Dates for The Devil's Pawn". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  4. "News Page". The Pola Negri Appreciation Site. October 22, 2011. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  5. Gasten, David (October 22, 2011). "Pola Negri, The Iconic Collection: The Early Films review". The Pola Negri Appreciation Site. Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  6. "Music / New Jewish Culture Network". Foundation for Jewish Culture. Retrieved November 28, 2012.