Movie: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Writer: Hans Janowitz and Carl Meyer
German silent film director Robert Weine’s supremely influential The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is universally hailed as a genre classic, partly for its general excellence and partly for its many innovations. For instance, it’s one of the first-ever horror flicks to employ a narrative framing device; in this case, the story is presented as a flashback voiced by the hero, Francis (Friedrich Feher), in which he recounts his experiences combating a crazed doctor (Werner Krauss) who killed people by manipulating his somnambulist lackey, Cesare (the disturbingly convincing Conrad Veidt).
In the film’s reality, however, Francis’ entire tale is a crock of imaginative poppycock—he, Cesare, and the flashback’s love interest, Jane (Lil Dagover), are all inmates at the same mental institution, and Caligari is their loony bin doctor.