Many a liberal arts college student has a tale of suffering through a French classics class. This usually required reading a series of boring plays by various French playwrights. If the student was half clever, he or she searched high and low for Cliff's Notes versions of the plays.
One play usually found in the Cliff's Notes was Moliere's Tartuffe. Tartuffe, is about a hypocrite pretending to be a pious individual. He manages to ingrate himself with a French aristocrat, converting the aristocrat to a type of austere fundamental Christianity. The play is about the attempts by the family of the aristocrat to expose Tartuffe to the aristocrat by revealing Tartuffe's true nature.
In 1926 a noted German silent film director F. W. Murnau did a short adaptation of the play. Murnau was a giant in the German film industry at the time. It appears he knocked this film out in between his classics, The Last Laugh and Faust. This is a good quick film comedy which has a genuine cleverness to it. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Tartuffe, trying to seduce the wife of the aristocrat, taps on
her breasts with his prayer book.
The film simplifies the play to it's main theme. Murnau was an actual film artist in the true definition of the word. Only 60 minutes long, the photography, composition and acting are staged by a man who knew what he was doing behind the camera.