This novel, published in 1946, is short, but not skimpy. Impressionistic, but not shallow. "Satirical," if you like, but none of the absurdities seem exaggerated.
Take the openning bit of comedy- the phone call from Imperial Bulldog telling Mr. Isherwood (for the author has put himself in the novel) that he's to go to work on a movie about Vienna.. Vienna, Berlin, pretty much the same thing. Isherwood can act disdainful of the highhandedness and philistinism, but before he knows it, he's chasing Friedrich Bergman, the mercurial Viennese director from hotel to tobacconist to.. lunch with Chatsworth, the head of Imperial Bulldog.
And there the artists, writer and director, form a bond (or is it Bund?) against the phillistines, management, the capitalist Chatsworth and his lackey, Ashmeade- which is never stated, by the way. Isherwood is the opposite of heavy-handed. Bergman merely says, "You know, already, I feel absolutely no shame before you. We are like two married men who meet in a whorehouse."
Bergman is wonderful- ridiculous and sad. He is prone to fits of despair about the course of events in Germany and Austria, the irony being that although no one else in England, in 1934, can see it, he is all too right. And somehow, he makes the silly movie about a prince and a flower girl ABOUT the class struggle, although Bergman's Marxo-Freudianism, while fascinating, is not really the final word.
Nor is the irascible celtic engineer's, Herr Cut-Master Lawrence, although he gets some of the best lines, and, again, is completely true to life.
"The movies aren't drama. They aren't literature. They're pure mathematics ...Still, it's no use talking. You'll never have the guts (to make abstract films) You'd much rather whine about prostitution, and keep on making Prater Violets. And that's why the public despises you, in its heart."
In short, an absolute gem.