I’ll be reviewing Commando Leopard (dir Antonio Margheriti, 1985) shortly but first of all I wanted to review the Making of Commando Leopard, which is available on the Anchor Bay version of the DVD.
The Making of Commando Leopard film reminds me very much of Joseph Cornell’s experimental collage film Rose Hobart (1936), which was just a re-edited version of the movie East of Borneo with 2 pieces of music played over the top of it repeatedly. When I saw Rose Hobart I laughed so hard that I had tears streaming down my face because the repetition of the music tracks and the re-editing made it all seem so ridiculous. Similarly when I saw the Making of Commando Leopard I ended up crying from laughing so much; this film is really something and I would definitely recommend it over the main feature.
You may well ask, “What’s so good about Making of Commando Leopard?” Well, I’ll tell you. It runs at just under 50 minutes, which is a pretty good length for a making of film but in reality I’d guess it has about 20 to 25 minutes’ worth of usable footage, and that’s tops. The rest of the film just consists of repeated footage or even re-recorded versions of interviews with essentially the same questions but maybe slightly different answers from the interviewees. Some bits of footage are repeated 3 times. Eventually you start thinking you’re going mad. It’s brilliant!
The people being interviewed are Erwin C Dietrich (producer); Klaus Kinski; Lewis Collins; our old friend Hans Leutenegger (remember how he stole KK’s dessert during the Wer bin ich? interview? If not, see my review of Kinski Talks 1 to refresh your memory); and Peter Baumgartner (cinematographer). And overall it is a fairly informative film but aside from all the repetition there are also a lot of stupid questions – or “superfluous questions” as Klaus Kinski refers to them; I think it’s fair to say that the interviewer has a lot to learn.
Anyway, let me summarise what I’ve learnt (or not learnt) from this film:
- Who was responsible for the Making of Commando Leopard film? I don’t know. Maybe no one wanted to take credit for it – the editing is REALLY BAD
- The interviewer is obsessed with the concept of “Swiss films” vs “international films” – he asks both the producer Erwin C Dietrich and Hans Leutenegger: What are “Swiss films”? Why was Commando Leopard so expensive to make? What does “international film” mean?
- Apparently Code Name: Wild Geese and Commando Leopard each cost about 15 million Swiss francs to make, which makes them, according to the interviewer, “the most expensive and costly films in the Swiss history of cinema”
- According to Erwin C Dietrich “international films” need to have special effects; in case you can’t imagine what kind of special effects might be used in “international films”, you might like to choose from “airplanes explod[ing]… helicopters flying… bridges cav[ing] in… dam walls cut…”, that kind of thing
- Klaus Kinski is very particular about his hair and is seen tidying it up several times during this film
- The interviewer asked Erwin C Dietrich if producers can calculate the costs of a film in advance – to be honest with you, I just can’t remember what the answer to that question was; all I remember is having a KK moment and thinking what a “superfluous question” it was
- The interviewer also asked the producer how they get ideas for the themes of the films – I now understand why Klaus got so angry with interviewers…
- Hans Leutenegger (aw!) wanted to “do something new” and that’s why he got into acting; he felt he was “lucky” that he got along very well with Klaus; he could just as easily play in a love film as an action film (I’d like to see that!); he doesn’t think that playing bad characters would ruin his image in Switzerland; he needs self-affirmation so it’s not enough for him if people say, “Hausi, you are the greatest”; he was 45 years old when he was making Commando Leopard; he is very punctual and disciplined and you can rely on him
- Lewis Collins wasn’t really lined up to be “the next James Bond”
- Peter Baumgartner (the cinematographer) didn’t really have any ambition to become a cameraman but he got the opportunity to work as a trainee on Kurt Früh’s Drei schräge Vögel (1960) and he took it from there
- The film soundtrack composer Walter Baumgartner is Peter Baumgartner’s uncle
- Klaus Kinski does not have to “try things”: “I want them to be shot. And I get impatient when there is too much trying or things are retaken too often.”
- Klaus Kinski sometimes needs the question repeating because he is “always so distracted by my beautiful girlfriend”
- Who is Klaus Kinski’s beautiful girlfriend? I don’t know, but she’s very cute
- Klaus Kinski once said he would “never make a film with Kubrick” or he would “give him a kick in the pants as Kubrick shoots the same scene 80-120 times”
- For Klaus Kinski discontent is “when it takes too long, okay?”
- Klaus Kinski had a contract with Alfredo Bini (“one of the best producers”) to direct Paganini
- Klaus Kinski mostly didn’t watch his own films because he wasn’t interested and “I know what I did when I have done shooting”
- Klaus Kinski said if he ever directed a film himself he “would check the rushes, permanently. In the desert, everywhere, I would get the presenting of rushes done…”
- According to Erwin C Dietrich, “With Kinski, I think, every actor gets out of his way, or he gets out of each actors way too.”
- With Code Name: Wild Geese Klaus Kinski had problems with Ernest Borgnine; with Commando Leopard he had problems with Lewis Collins
- Lewis Collins didn’t have to work in close proximity to Klaus Kinski but he found him “a very interesting if not unusual actor to observe”; he thought a lot of the stories about Klaus were “self-generated”
- Lewis Collins had no idea if Klaus Kinski liked him or not – “he hasn’t kissed me yet”
- Who is this lady with the big glasses? I love her
- Lewis Collins used to be in a band before he was an actor [The Mojos]
- Lewis Collins seems to think everyone is his girlfriend – he says the lady in the big glasses is his girlfriend and then seconds later he says the actress Cristina Donadio is his girlfriend
- Lewis Collins asked “Would you like to come with me to the toiletten?” but I’m not sure who he was asking and whether or not they went
- Lewis Collins does something funny with his tongue/mouth during a conversation with Antonio Margheriti
- It doesn’t make any difference to Klaus Kinski whether or not he is filming an action scene or a dramatic scene in a love film: “There is no difference. What should be more difficult? What easier? I don’t understand!”
- I don’t know how many times Klaus Kinski has played a priest in his life, but apparently it is something he “once just thought about, and I don’t know for what reason”
- When asked about playing a terrorist in Entebbe and then playing a chief in the Israeli Secret Service, Klaus Kinski just says “So what?”
- Klaus Kinski is not permanently in L.A. He’s not in L.A. at all. He is in America. He lives there. But he’s not going to tell you where!
- The main thing for Klaus Kinski is that films pay enough
- If Klaus Kinski stopped someone in the street and asked them to carry his case, they would say “You must be crazy!”
- Erwin C Dietrich, according to Klaus Kinski, knows that Klaus Kinski will not do anything without money
- Erwin C Dietrich likes Klaus Kinski; he runs after Klaus Kinski, he does not get out of his way; he thinks Klaus Kinski is “a quite special actor and a very special character”
- Who is the actor that is annoying Klaus Kinski when he gets so agitated in the “behind the scenes” shots? It’s not Louis – “it’s not his fault, but the fault of the other one” – but who is it?
- According to Klaus Kinski in the movies you cannot cheat – “I’ll show you what he does wrong. In the front you see all the shit; you see that shit. I saw that shit. You cannot cheat in the movie; it’s impossible. You cannot do that; this you can see is not true.” Erm… what is “that shit”?
- What is Klaus joking about with his beautiful girlfriend? My guess is he was just laughing at the “superfluous questions” again
- This is my favourite bit of the Making of Commando Leopard: Klaus Kinski tries to tell us what he thinks about sci-fi films and who they are made for – “Most of the sci-fi films are absolutely idiotic. Made for illiterates. That means, except you enjoy it, okay? I mean, actually made for adult illiterates. But they aren’t really made for adults. They were produced for children and this is okay, isn’t it?”
What I haven’t yet learnt is: who was Commando Leopard made for? Well, let’s see what I can come up with when I finally finish my review, eh?
A few more pictures to close the review:
I just have to slide in a photograph of Klaus with his hands in his pockets yet again:
And a sequence of pictures of Klaus with the lady with the big glasses – first off she is holding the mirror whilst he sprays his hair with water and tidies himself up; then he makes her raise her hand so the mirror is held higher for him; then he sprays her in the face with his water spray and she has to dry herself off. She is so good natured she just laughs it all off:
Hans Leutenegger, lovely guy that he is, he just tweaks her chin after she has mopped his brow for him:
And, finally, here is a nice shot of Klaus looking like he’s having fun:
Pingback: Klaus Kinski hangs out with a Professional | Du dumme Sau – a Kinski Blog
I was in the Phillippines for 9 weeks with Lew and his brother in law John Cutts for the making of Commando Leopard. The lady with the big glasses was the assistant to the makeup artist (a German girl) ant the young girl was the big glasses woman’s grandaughter.
The film was shot Wild Camera … A cost effective method where all sound is dubbed on afterwards. That is why the actors lips are out of sync at times.
Lewis wears a beret for part of the film then it disappears. A young European extra on the cast ‘lent’ the beret for them to use. Once filming had started, the extra demanded a payment for the use of his ‘prop’. I don’t know how much he asked for, but it was enough for them to kick him and his beret off the set and run without it. Also on the film was a Mexican stunt man, who we called Big Willie (he was tall, and so were his stories). When we first got to Loag, we met him in a bar, where he bragged that back in Mexico, he had a chicken farm with 20,000 chickens. Part way through filming we were at a party on the beach and I overheard him chatting up Margheriti’s daughter, he now had 30,000 chickens! Must be a big man at KFC by now!
Anyway, it was an experience and I have many more stories from that sereil experience, one that I will never forget.
Hi Chris! This site is not active anymore because of the Klaus Kinski scandal – but I couldn’t ignore your comment because it was so amusing. Thanks for sharing your stories, I really enjoyed them.
Hi tiny noggin
Once I realised your site was no longer active, I thought that was that. So pleased that you read my ‘bit’.
Bad news about Klaus, he was in his way unique but it appears with a sinister side, possibly more extreme than the characters he portrayed.
I hope you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in another project with similar ‘legs’ but finding one? Well good luck with that!
Let me know if and when you do!
Hi Chris! Thanks so much. I actually decided to do a more general site so I could just “drop” someone if any of my other heroes have similar skeletons in their closets, but let’s hope not! The new site allows me to write about anything I like and all my various heroes: https://heroculte.wordpress.com/ You might find something of interest on there, or maybe not! Thanks for your story and comments. All the best Raechel