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Tonka of the Gallows

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Tonka of the Gallows
Tonka of the Gallows poster.jpg
Directed byKarel Anton
Screenplay by
Based onDie Himmelfahrt der Galgentoni
by Egon Erwin Kisch
Produced byKarel Anton
CinematographyEduard Hoesch
Edited byKarel Anton
Music byErno Košťál
Distributed byElektafilm
Release date
27 February 1930 (Prague)
Running time
82 minutes

Tonka of the Gallows (Czech: Tonka Šibenice, French: Tonischka, German: Die Galgentoni) is a 1930 Czech drama film directed by Karl Anton and starring Ita Rina, Vera Baranovskaya and Josef Rovenský.

It is an adaptation of the novella Die Himmelfahrt der Galgentoni by Egon Erwin Kisch.

The movie was shot as a silent movie, but later Czech, German and French post-synchronized sound versions were made.[1]


The movie follows story of a country girl Tonka who lives in Prague and works as a prostitute unbeknownst to her family. One day a convicted murderer Prokůpek requests to spend a night with a girl before his execution. Policemen ask many prostitutes if they're willing to do this job, but all of them refuse except Tonka. As a result, none of her customers wants to visit her again and other prostitutes shun her.



Writer Egon Erwin Kisch allegedly met a prostitute Antonie Havlová who told him her life story shortly before her death in 1911. He wrote a novella Die Himmelfahrt der Galgentoni based on her life in 1921. In the same year a theatre play based on the book was produced at Revoluční scéna with Xena Longenová playing the main role.[2] Karel Anton decided to make a silent movie based on the book. The shooting started in autumn 1929 at Kavalírka studio in Košíře. Unfortunatelly the stages burned down on 25 October together with some reels of the film. The movie was finished at AB studios in Vinohrady and it was decided to release the movie as a sound film. Czech, French and German post-synchrons were recorded at Gaumont Joinville studio in Paris.[3]


Tonka of the Gallows premiered at Alfa cinema in Prague on 27 February 1930. The movie was advertised as the "first Czech sound film". Contemporary critics mostly praised the movie with Filmový přehled writing "The impression with which I left the theatre was unforgettable and rivetting." In France Hebdo-Film wrote "Karl Anton has used all the means of expression offered by modern cinematographic techniques, but his personality has always allowed him to avoid the traps set by convention and sentimentality."[4]


Only the French version survived to this day. From the Czech version only the beginning with Karel Hašler singing Hradčany krásné survived. The French version was digitally restored and released on DVD in 2016 by Národní filmový archiv. It was screened at MoMA in 2017 and San Francisco Silent Film Festival and Phoenix Cinema, London in 2019.


  1. ^ "Tonka of the Gallows". Filmový přehled. Národní filmový ústav. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Prostitutky v české literatuře". Dvojka (in Czech). 23 August 2017. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  3. ^ Voráč, Jiří (1997). "Tonka Šibenice". Iluminace 9 (in Czech). Prague: Národní filmový ústav. pp. 187–190.
  4. ^ Weissberg, Jay. "Tonka of the Gallows". San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Retrieved 6 February 2020.


  • Brož, Jaroslav & Frída, Myrtil. Historie československého filmu v obrazech 1930 – 1945, Orbis, Prague, 1966.
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Tonka of the Gallows
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