Die Goddelose Stad

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Screening Details

Running Time: 65 min. (Black and White) / Copyright Date: unknown / Release Date: 24 February 1958 / Language: Afrikaans / Genre: Drama / Alternative Title: none.


When Andre Burger is dishonourably discharged from the navy, he returns to his parents’ home in Johannesburg. There he finds that there is little to welcome him. His mother is an alcoholic and his once ambitious father has a dead-end job as a taxi driver. He seeks solace with Sakkie and Tokolos, two layabout friends who spend most of their time drinking and playing pool and, when they can get it, smoking dagga. Through them he meets Gina, a young social worker, and starts taking her out. Attempts to find a job prove pointless, largely because of his unrealistic demands and his obnoxious behaviour. The three friends assault a passing couple and when Sakkie and Tokolos rob a woman taking a shop’s takings to the bank, Andre retrieves the money they have hidden and buys a car. When it turns out that Gina is now pregnant, Andre callously abandons her and is then visited by her Dominee. Initially he rejects the clergyman’s arguments, but after the death of his mother he changes his mind. However, Sakkie and Tokolos now suspect that Andre has taken the money they stole….


Shot on 16mm without synchronised sound, Die Goddelose Stad (The Godless City) was Pierre Dauvergne Botha’s first film as director. Set in the then prevailing “ducktail” milieu that alarmed the good citizens of Johannesburg, it focuses on some nihilistic youths who have very few redeeming features. Though there is an attempt to sketch the main character’s background and thus explain his behaviour and outlook on life, it is an alarmist picture that did not meet with unanimous approval. The steadying influence is still shown to be the church in the person of the Dominee, who attempts to get Andre to do the right thing. The cast consisted of non-professional actors, though George Canes went on to carve out a successful career as production designer and occasional director. The musical score is by Les Keenan, whose band also provides the music for a scene set in a rock ‘n’ roll club. The lively dancing prompted The Star’s Oliver Walker to write: “But if I ever saw vulgar frenzies which confirm all the rude things said about the perniciousness of this primitive form of dancing, these are it.” Yet, despite its technical deficiencies, he liked the film’s gritty reality. It played at the Technical College Theatre in Johannesburg from 24/02/58 and at the Baker Memorial Theatre in Pretoria from 10/03/1958


Andre Duwahl (Andre Burger), Ria Durant (Gina du Plessis), Maurice Brett (Sakkie Nel), George Canes (Tokolos), Karl Visser (Dominee), Ester Kriel (Lulu), Florence Hawkens (Ma Burger), P. Wademan (Pa Burger).


Production Company: P.D.B. Rolprente / Director & Producer: Pierre D. Botha / Screenplay: Pierre D. Botha / Photography: Pierre D. Botha / Editor: Jos. Gereke / Music: Les Keenan / Sound: NRS Films.


The Star, 25 February 1958

Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm


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