Klaus Kinski Film Bühnen and other stuff

Well, I’m just back from my holiday in Berlin and needless to say I found a few Klaus Kinski bits and pieces over there.  I visited some more Kinski-related places and took photographs, which will be posted on here when I’ve had the films processed but in the meantime here’s a little update on my new Kinski stuff:

Hanussen, Dir O W Fischer and Georg Marischka (1955).  I’ve not yet got or seen this film but Klaus looks quite lovely in the pictures in this film programme so it’s on my list of wants.

Der Rächer, dir Karl Anton (1960).   No pictures of Klaus here, I’m afraid, but plenty of stills from the film and lots of information.  Again, this is a film I don’t yet have.  I had hoped to find loads of these Film Bühne movie programmes in Berlin and although I saw quite a lot they were mostly for classical Hollywood cinema, which was both a surprise and a disappointment really.  Never mind, there is always next time.

By the way, apologies for the fold marks and hole punch marks in the Hanussen programme – not my fault – but hopefully I’ve made up for it by doing high res scans.

Next up – a postcard I found at the Wasmuth museum shop at the Kinemathek.  The scan is grainy due to the quality of the print, but the picture is so good it is worth including here anyway:

I’m not sure what this photo is from – Jack the Ripper? Lifespan? I dunno.  Hopefully one of the Kinski superfans will tell me!

Again I have to complain that the Deutsche Kinemathek Museum für Film und Fernsehen does not love KK enough – they have very little about him and the shop only has 3 books (Christian David’s and two from Peter Geyer) and 2 postcards (the one above and the one with Romy Schneider in Nachtblende, which I posted here last time I went to Berlin).  It’s just not good enough, is it?  We should campaign for the Kinemathek to love KK more!

On my first evening in Berlin I made my way over to Dussmann on Friedrichstrasse and spent loads of money buying a big bunch of films and a German copy of the autobiography:

I also managed to find a copy of the Ich, Kinski book at an art book shop as well – this is possibly my favourite find of the trip.  I might have to do a post on Kinski books at some point so I can say more about that.

I already had Five for Hell on DVD but as it was a Greek issue of poor quality I figured I should shell out for the remastered version shown here – especially as it has so many extras on it and features our new friend Margaret Lee.  Time to celebrate as well as I now have more than 100 Klaus Kinski films in my collection!

Unfortunately upon opening the DVDs when I got back to the UK I found that some idiot at the film distribution company has put the wrong DVD in the Das indische Tuch box and they have tried to palm me off with a copy of some s***ty Harry Potter film instead of the Edgar Wallace film I wanted.  I am trying to get that sorted out with Tobis and Rialto now; I shall be moaning about it if they don’t sort it out for me as I wouldn’t watch a Harry Potter film, even if I was paid.  Unless Klaus was in it, of course, and he isn’t so what’s the point in that?!

I found this great (but no doubt unofficial) Klaus Kinski t-shirt on one of the flea markets as well.  Looks very much like a Beat Presser Paris photo to me but I doubt very much Beat will be seeing any money from this purchase somehow!

I also found a German copy of Killer Truck (Dir Dominique Goult, 1980) for just €3 – I’ll need to see if it’s any different to the issue I already had as that seemed to have been edited quite extensively – and a copy of Vengeance Trail (Dir Pasquale Squitieri, 1971), which I had already seen but didn’t own.

All in all quite a haul but I was again disappointed not to find any film stills anywhere – I can’t seem to find any film memorabilia shops in Berlin so if anybody knows of any please let me know ready for my next trip (whenever that might be!).

That’s all for now but hopefully there will be the Klaus Kinski in Berlin photos update some time soon and, no, I’ve not forgotten that I said about 2 months ago that I would review Commando Leopard.  I will do it, just psyching myself up now – deep breaths!

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Interview with Margaret Lee

This is a real Du dumme Sau! exclusive.  When I first started the Klaus Kinski website I thought I would just try and track down all of Klaus’ films and review them, but as regular readers will know somewhere along the way I have branched out and started to do interviews with people who worked with or alongside Klaus; just to add that extra dimension to it all (and to enable me to ask questions about other things I am interested in too!).  And now, after a couple of years of trying I have finally managed to track down Margaret Lee, the British actress who appeared alongside Klaus Kinski in 11 films between 1966 and 1971.

A little while ago I started to think of my wish list of those I would like to interview and quite honestly I can say that Margaret Lee was at the top of that list.  Some of you may wonder why not Werner Herzog, well, I will tell you – yes, I would love to interview him but he speaks regularly about working with Klaus and I doubt he would manage to find something new to say on the matter; there’s a lot of information out there already.  But despite the fact that Margaret Lee played such an important role in Klaus’ filmography, there is very little information available about their collaborations – I thought I could find out some more by getting this interview.  I also wanted to know more about Margaret Lee in her own right; I am film crazy and like a wide range of films, occasionally I would see Margaret in other films I watched and she always looked fabulous.  No wonder Klaus liked working with her!

So, two years later I have been given this opportunity to finally interview the wonderful Margaret Lee.  I wanted to ask her what it’s like to be so beautiful and what it’s like to kiss Marcello Mastroianni (in Casanova 70) but I had to restrain myself and ask more sensible questions.   Margaret was kind enough to answer them all and I can’t thank her enough for taking the time and trouble to do so – here’s the interview:

Du dumme Sau! (DDS):  I read that you attended the Italia Conti Theatre School in London until 1960 and I understand that you were only 19 years old when you took your first role in a film in Italy (Totò di notte n. 1, dir Mario Amendola, 1962).  But how did a very young girl from Wolverhampton end up over in Italy making films?

Margaret Lee (ML):  Just to correct, I am really a London girl – not from the Midlands. In 1943, when I was born, in war time, pregnant women in London (which was being bombed) were evacuated. My mother was evacuated to a family in the West Midlands, Wolverhampton, whom she had never met (although she formed a bond with them and stayed in contact with them for many years afterwards and even went once to visit them). But after the bombing ended we returned to London, and I grew up there.

Also, just for the sake of accuracy, I was 18 years old when I made my first movie in the spring of 1961 Maciste Against The Monsters. And I left Italia Conti Drama School in 1959.

So, to answer your question: I wanted to act in the Theatre (never thought of films) and was willing to take any path that might lead me there. I read in The Stage of auditions for showgirls at the famous Moulin Rouge in Paris. I was 17. I wanted to get away from home, and so I auditioned and was taken on. Then almost a year later, a friend told me they were interviewing for small parts in Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor in Rome. I auditioned and was accepted. Within two weeks I was in Rome and going to Cinecitta Film Studios each day.  In the end, however, many hours of the film were cut, including my appearances.

In the meantime I had begun a relationship with the person who was to become my first husband and father of my first son, Gino Malerba. He was working on Cleopatra also as assistant to Hermes Pan, the choreographer. Later he became a film producer in Rome. When the filming of Cleopatra ended he introduced me to an agent for actors, Fillipo Fortini. We both hoped in this way I could get work as an actress in Rome and not have to return to London. And it worked!  A note of interest is that at the same time the even younger (by two years I believe) Stefania Sandrelli was trying to start out also, and with this same agent. I still have a photo of the two of us sitting chatting at the country home of Fillipo, both still unknown as yet.  It was not the career in theatre I had dreamed of…. but it was acting.

DDS:  You were pretty much in constant employment in Italian films, making 12 films in 1965 alone – it must have been tiring, but was it an exciting time for you?  Did you enjoy making so many films?

ML:  I adored it. I felt so at home on the movie set that I often would stay behind to watch filming even when I had finished for the day. We often worked very long hours but it seemed to actually give me energy rather than tire me.

DDS:  You were in a lot of comedies in the 60s and 70s and also in a lot of Eurospy films, were these genres you felt you were suited to or would you have preferred to work in other film genres?

ML:  I imagined myself in more dramatic roles, but I guess that is not how others saw me.

DDS:  People talk about your filmic partnership with Klaus Kinski, but in fact you worked in more films with the comedians Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia (14 films with each of them) – their films weren’t famous over here in England but I’ve read about them, was it good fun working with them?

ML:  It was very much fun. Franco Franchi and I became chums and had a lot of fun on set. He was pretty much the same off set as he was on. We often sat together and he made me laugh a lot. Ciccio was very serious and didn’t talk much to anyone.

DDS:  I have to ask you about the musical comedies – you were in several of them – as I have heard you singing (is it you?) in Five Golden Dragons (1967, dir Jeremy Summers) and Dorellik (1967, dir Steno), and also singing a duet with Johnny Dorelli (Col chicco d’uva passa).  If it is you singing, you have a very pretty voice – did you consider a career as a singer and did you ever record any songs at all?

ML:  It is me. I love singing but didn’t seriously train – just a few sporadic lessons. No, I never did record anything.

DDS:  You worked with some pretty impressive actors and actresses – amongst many others, Jean Gabin, George Raft, Christopher Lee, Fernando Rey, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Rita Hayworth… but who did you enjoy working with most of all?

ML:  I enjoyed enormously working with Johnny Dorelli. We had a lot of laughs together. I also enjoyed very much working with Robert Stack who was in the Jean Gabin film [Du dumme Sau! note: Le soleil des voyous, 1967, directed by Jean Delannoy who directed Klaus Kinski in Pill of Death, 1970, and was also one of the directors on Le lit à deux places, 1965, which was another one of Margaret Lee’s films].

It was a very good experience working with everyone you mention above, with the exception of George Raft who seemed to look upon all women as just “broads”. I was quite shocked at the time.

DDS:  Do you remember working on Casanova 70 with Marcello Mastroianni?  If so, what was that like?!!

ML:  This was one of my earliest films and I was quite in awe to be with Marcello and Mario Monicelli the director. Marcello was sweet and I remember feeling quite relaxed with them.

DDS:  You were in a Claude Chabrol film (Le Tigre se parfume à la dynamite, 1965) but it was not one of his typical New Wave films, would you have liked to have worked with him on a more serious project?

ML:  I would have indeed… but I guess I was not really a Chabrolian type.

DDS:  As you mentioned before, you were married to Gino Malerba – he was Klaus Kinski’s agent – is this how you first met Klaus and did their association mean that you knew him particularly well?

ML:  I think I first met Klaus in London on the set of Circus of Fear. Gino became his agent much later. And later the four of us were good friends; Klaus and Genevieve and Gino and myself. We would have evenings at each other’s homes in Rome. I liked Genevieve very much. She was very refined.

DDS:  As somebody who knew Klaus Kinski, I have to ask you what was he like both to work with and as a man?

ML:  I knew Klaus well. Not only did we work together on several films, but for many years we were friends also. As I am sure you know he was thought of as being a very difficult person, volatile, who was easily enraged. I suppose this is true, but what I saw was the extremely sensitive person, to whom early life had dealt cruel blows, that lay behind the difficult behaviour. It is perhaps because he sensed I understood this that he never became enraged with me, and sometimes he even allowed me to smooth things over for him after he had threatened to walk off the set (which happened more than once).

He was very dedicated and serious about his acting. It was a pleasure to prepare a scene with him, and often we would sit somewhere quiet and go over and over a scene we were soon to shoot.

He was quite bohemian, in an aristocratic way. Once while shooting a film together he invited me to see his new home during a lunch break. We got into his new Rolls Royce, him with bare feet, and drove to the Castle he was renting in Rome. He showed me around and then we had lunch off gold plates.

He also had extraordinary will and determination. If he wanted something he would get it. I remember around 1974 when I was renting a little house in the Lake District in England in order to bring up my youngest son, Damian, without having to work and have a nanny; I got a call from Genevieve (Minhoi) his wife. She begged to come and visit as she needed to get away from Klaus for a while. I think they were in London and it seems they had argued. She came and we talked but after about an hour Klaus called and said he was coming. I told him he could not, but he came anyway in a rented car that had a blown out tire. It seems the tire had blown and he had gone on driving it for the last 20 miles or so!

We did lose touch in later years mostly because I moved to California and stopped working in films. I was very shocked when one day I read of his death in the newspaper. What shocked me most about it is that I was living in the Bay Area just 20 miles from where he lived and died. I had no idea he was living in California. If we had both known we would have seen each other I am sure.

One last thing to mention is that I was very sorry to learn that in his autobiography Klaus had written that he and I had sex once in a Madrid Hotel (I think this is where it said). This is totally untrue and I am sorry he abased himself this way, and our friendship. Klaus and I were chums and he was a close friend of my husband Gino too; there was never any sexual side to our friendship…. ever. I was angry for a while, but now I forgive him.

DDS:  You made 11 films with Klaus Kinski between 1966 and 1971 – my favourite of those is Double Face (1969, dir Robert Hampton).   When you were making Double Face, did you have a sense that it was a cut above the other films you had made together?

ML:  […] regarding Double Face I regret I do not have much memory of making it. The film I have most memory of making with Klaus is I Bastardi now called The Cats.

DDS:  Two years later, you and Klaus were both in Fernando Di Leo’s La bestia uccide a sangue freddo, which was pretty grisly.  I read somewhere that a year after that Fernando Di Leo wanted you and Barbara Bouchet to appear in a film called Il pederasta but that the producers finally backed out and he only managed to film a brief scene.  Is there any truth in any of this?

ML:  I have no recollection of this at all and suspect there is no truth to it.

DDS:  How did you like working with Jess Franco?

ML:  Jess was a nice person to work with but I do not feel the films I made with him were at all my best ones. The best part of working with Jess was that Maria Rohm was in the films. She was my close friend and the sweetest woman I have ever known.

DDS:  And Lucio Fulci?  It’s a shame you weren’t in some of his giallo films because I think you would have been fabulous in that genre.

ML:  Yes, I would have liked that. Lucio was a good and kind man but I always used to wish he would not swear so much – it was a constant!

DDS:  You did very little TV work, but after your appearance in The Protectors (The Numbers Game, 1972, dir Don Chaffey) were you not tempted to pursue more UK TV work at all?

ML:  Actually, I did a lot of Italian TV work. The two prime spot series with Johnny Dorelli. The series with Rick and Gian. The musical La Cenerentola.  I would have loved to do UK TV but I was kind of “dropping out” by then. But that’s another story.

DDS:  You mentioned Maria Rohm, I read some very nice things about your friendship with Maria Rohm in an interview with her; she said that you two were very close and that she even visited you when you moved back to the UK in the mid 70s.  This move back to the UK coincided with a break in your career, were you not tempted to pursue an acting career in England at all during that period?  I think you would have done fabulously well in films by British directors from that period, such as Pete Walker who was part of the New Wave of British Horror – were you ever approached by any British directors at all?

ML:  I guess because I was known in Italy and to some extent France, but not in England, I did not think seriously of trying to work there.

DDS:  I understand (again from the Maria Rohm interview) that you moved back to Italy in the early 1980s – and then it seems you picked up your career again, briefly.  Your career seems to be tied to Italy to a great extent, and you must have achieved fame there for your work, but did you not consider working further afield – for example, in England or in the US – at all?  Or had you just decided to put your film career behind you by that stage?

ML:  Again, I think I felt it would be difficult to get work in countries where I was not known. I mostly thought of myself as an Italian movie actress and had never aspired to be known internationally. I guess in retrospect this might have been a limitation and a mistake.

DDS:  You were in 75 films according to IMDB, I’ve got 14 of those (Casanova 70; Le Tigre se parfume à la dynamite; Circus of Fear; Our Man in Marrakesh; On a volé la joconde; Dick Smart 2.007; Five Golden Dragons; The Bastard; 5 per l’inferno; Double Face; Paroxismus; Dorian Gray; Rendezvous with Dishonour; La bestia uccide a sangue freddo) – which of your other films would you recommend that I should see? Obviously I will get the other 2 films you made with Klaus Kinski at some point anyway, but which of the others did you find particularly enjoyable?

ML:  I think you have my favourites there: I Bastardi and Le Tigre Se Parfume à la Dynamite. My other favourite is the one with Jean Gabin and Robert Stack, initially entitled Le Soleil des Voyous and later Action Man. I quite like Five For Hell with Klaus too. They have that for sale on Amazon.com now.

DDS:  Do you ever see any of your own films at all? Which film did you personally find most satisfying to have worked on?

ML:  Recently they re-mastered the film I did with Klaus Kinski, Guiliano Gemma, Claudine Auger and Rita Hayworth. You can buy it on Amazon.com. I was surprised at how good the re-mastering is – really first class. Originally the film was called I Bastardi; then Sons of Satan; it is now called The Cats. I quite like it and it is well worth watching as a film of its time and place. It is one of the last films Rita Hayworth made.

DDS:  Have you kept any mementoes or scripts from any of your films at all?

ML:  I’m afraid not. Wish I had done.

DDS:  Is there any actor or director you would have liked to have worked with but didn’t get the chance?

ML:  I would love to work with Robert Redford as a director; I think he is a great director. Did you see The Conspirator? Such a beautiful and personal directorial style. I think he is one of the great American directors.

DDS:  I will check out The Conspirator.  Do you keep up to date with films much these days yourself?  And do you have any favourites?

ML:  Yes, I do. I adore movies. I am really sorry we will have nothing more from Merchant/Ivory. I think The Remains of the Day is one of the most beautiful movies ever made; Howard’s End too. I also love the movies of Zhang Yimou: movies like Hero and his latest The Flowers of War have such emotional depth and great visual beauty.

DDS:  What are you doing with yourself these days? And would you consider writing an autobiography?

ML:  I have sometimes thought of writing an autobiography but not particularly focused on being a movie actress: my life has had so many other intense angles. However, it is very unlikely this will occur. I do not think I have the stamina to sit down and write a whole lifetime.

I did get my early dream of working in the theatre, but much later in life.   In 1988 I studded Stanislavsi “Method” Acting techniques for a year with Jean Shelton in San Francisco. It was a truly wonderful experience and I could not have done the stage acting without it. I only regret I did not have this experience earlier in my career.

After moving to Northern California in 1987 I have periodically worked in a small theatre here that produces the classics – mostly Shakespeare and the Greeks. I have been cast in many of Shakespeare’s wonderful roles, such as Gertrude, the Shrew, and wonderful roles from the Greeks such as Jocasta, and Antigone in Oedipus at Colonus. We also put on a production adapted from the 12th century Persian poem The Conference of the Birds in 2005.    But having done all that I realize I prefer movie-making.

DDS:  It would be great if you could start making movies again, Margaret!

****** ****

Many thanks to Margaret Lee and her family for enabling this interview to take place.  I have found it really interesting and I am sure Du dumme Sau! readers will too.

Thanks also to Dave Tinkham for all his help and to Jari Tapainen for providing the screen grabs from The Cats.

I now need to find Le soleil des voyous and to get the remastered version of The Cats as my version is washed-out and is interspersed with Taco Bell adverts!   I would definitely encourage Du dumme Sau! readers to get hold of some of the Kinski-Lee collaborations if you haven’t already, and to check out Margaret Lee’s wider filmography.  I am sure the photos illustrating this article will have whetted your appetite already.

Also, check out the following links on YouTube: Margaret Lee singing in Arriva Dorrelik and Margaret Lee and Johnny Dorelli in a spoof of Arriva Dorellik, Margaretlik and Margaret Lee and Johnny Dorelli singing Col chicco d’uva passa.

This interview is not to be reproduced without permission.

Click the image to purchase from Amazon

Click the image to purchase from Amazon

Click the image to purchase from Amazon

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Klaus Kinski gets his kit off

I recently found a French magazine which said on the cover Klaus Kinski tout nu (Klaus Kinski naked), so of course I bought it.  Who wouldn’t?!  The magazine is called Privé and in case you want to find a copy for yourself, it’s issue no 22, and although it’s not dated I guess it’s from 1976 as Minhoï is pregnant in the photographs.

Although Klaus is naked in the photographs, you don’t really get to see anything folks (sorry about that if you were expecting something more!) but Minhoï is shown naked throughout.  I’d like to share the photographs with you here although I do realise that some people may be offended by such images.  There is nothing terribly graphic here – bare breasts at most – but as the images could be construed to be of a sexual nature, I have to insert a warning so that those who do not wish to see such photographs are not offended.  I shall remove the photographs if anyone submits any complaints; I hope that they don’t, but I really don’t want all my good work on Du dumme Sau! to be at risk for the sake of publishing some slightly risqué photographs.


Privé, no 22, Klaus Kinski tout nu – Klaus Kinski: la quête charnelle

Photos by Jean-François Bauret, text Michèle Motte

So, this is Klaus Kinski’s carnal quest… Privé introduced Klaus to the photographer Jean-François Bauret, famous for his 1975 book, Portraits d’hommes nus connus et inconnus (Portraits of Naked Men Known and Unknown), published by Éditions Balland, Paris.  For me, Bauret is known because of his portraits of my hero Serge Gainsbourg, but that’s another story…

Bauret photographed Klaus and his wife Minhoï, then 8 months pregnant, “reinventing love”.  I say “reinventing love”, or the people at Privé said it at least, but I’m not so sure that toe kissing, face grabbing and nipple licking is exactly “reinventing love” myself!   That said, the images are very beautiful – especially the one of Klaus pursing his lips ready to kiss Minhoï’s body; he looks so gentle – for once.

At the time of the article, France was falling in love with Kinski because of Herzog’s Aguirre, Wrath of God and Zulawski’s L’Important c’est d’aimer.  Éditions Belfond had also published the French translation, Crever pour Vivre (Dying to Live), of Kinski’s autobiography in 1976, and another French language film (Serge Moati’s Nuit d’or), was released, so Kinski was fairly high profile in France back then.

The article is very complimentary of Kinski but contains no new information – the majority of it coming from the autobiography – so there is little point in me translating it for inclusion here.  But if anyone wants a copy of the article in French, you can let me know via the comments section.

Jean-François Bauret also took the lovely portrait of Klaus (again naked) holding the young Nikolai Kinski; that portrait I did know, but I had never seen the photographs of Klaus and Minhoï before.

These scanned images (excuse the quality) have been reproduced with the very kind permission of the photographer Jean-François Bauret.  Copyright applies.  For more information on these photographs and Jean-François Bauret’s other works, please see:  http://jfbauret.free.fr/jf.html

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Klaus Kinski cuddles a camel

Just a quick update today to share the new French movie cards I recently purchased.

These ones are from the Images et Loisirs series:

 Now I just need to find Période 1969 – 1991…

The photographs are from Ludwig II (dir Helmut Käutner, 1955); Der Zinker (dir Alfred Vohrer, 1963); The Great Silence (dir Sergio Corbucci, 1968); Estambul ’65 (dir Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi, 1965); For a Few Dollars More (dir Sergio Leone, 1965).

Here also are the posters I bought a little while back and forgot to post on here:

This poster is for Das Geheimnis der gelben Narzissen (aka The Devil’s Daffodil) (dir  Ákos Ráthonyi, 1961).  Klaus is not mentioned on the poster and I know there were both German and English language versions of the film, but I’m not quite sure whether this Belgian poster is for the German or English version.  In any case, it’s of interest as it’s Klaus related and the artwork is excellent.

Now, this one is special and I paid good money for this one even though I’m trying not to accumulate any more posters which I just can’t display:

Two for the price of one here – Klaus Kinski and Jean-Louis Trintignant; two of my favourites together, sigh! The Great Silence (dir Sergio Corbucci, 1968) is an amazing film and it deserves a serious review when I can get around to working on it. When…

Not so high on my list of Kinski films is James Glickenhaus’ 1982 action movie The Soldier – or as I know it, The Soldier Ken Wahl:

See, no mention of Klaus even though he deserves it for wearing those tight white ski-pants and that headband…

I’ve lost count of how many The Little Drummer Girl (dir George Roy Hill, 1984) posters and lobby cards I have and yet I’ve not even got around to watching the film yet. One of these days…

All the classics here, uh? Yet another action movie, Code Name: Wild Geese (dir Antonio Margheriti, 1984), and I guess I should review it but I’m part way through reviewing Commando Leopard right now and I can’t face doing two action movies in a row so this one will wait.

Nothing need be said about this one really:

Except… Who can believe the Klaus Kinski-Werner Herzog classic Fitzcarraldo was made in the same year as The Soldier Ken Wahl and Love and Money?!

Finally, another poster I shelled out good money for because it’s so special.  Remember I mentioned the film posters exhibition at The Riverside in Hammersmith some time ago because you could buy special reprint copies of the La peau de torpedo film poster? Well, I got me an original one:

Jean Delannoy’s stylish crime film from 1970, also known as Pill of Death.  Amazing artwork.  Special.

That’s all for now but the Commando Leopard review follows soon…

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Klaus Kinski thinks sci-fi films are actually made for adult illiterates

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:

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More Klaus Kinski photos

I have to confess, I’ve been unfaithful to Klaus Kinski lately… I started up a new blog Hero Culte where I could write about other favourites of mine like Serge Gainsbourg and Michel Polnareff.  So to make up for it I am posting some of my new KK acquisitions:

I’m not sure which film this is from and I’m hoping that someone like Konrad of Genius & Disorder will be able to help with this.  In any case, KK looks fabulous here; great teeth, eh?

Another photograph from Piers Haggard’s Venom (1981) – see my review Klaus Kinski Beats Off Oliver Reed’s Trouser Snake for some light-hearted nonsense about this film.  This photo sums up the relationship between KK and Ollie – showdown!

Another great photo, this one from La morte ha sorriso all’assassino aka Death Smiles on a Murderer or  Die Mörderbestien (dir Joe D’Amato, 1973).  I’ll have to review this one soon as I really enjoyed it.

Another photograph from Aaron Lipstadt’s Android (1982), a seriously good sci-fi film which I just have to review soon.  It looks like Klaus has lipstick on in this picture; either that or he has been drinking too much Ribena.

And finally another one I’m not 100% sure on – is it from Five Golden Dragons aka Die Pagode zum fünften Schrecken (dir Jeremy Summers, 1967)? I’m not sure but I know I’ve seen the film.

That’s all for now.  I’m just deciding which film to review next but I hope to be able to post something more substantial shortly.

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Smells like Klaus Kinski

Here’s a few things I thought I should include in an update:

I recently saw a film by Luigi Cozzi called Il tunnel sotto il mondo (Tunnel Under the World) from 1969.  It’s an unusual film, which appears to play with different temporal and spatial schemes by relating a series of events from the various points of view of characters.  Or maybe it doesn’t, it’s difficult to tell!  But it was an interesting early film from Kinski’s co-director on Nosferatu a Venezia (Nosferatu in Venice; Vampire in Venice, 1988) and you should see it if you can track a copy down.  The reason I mention it here is because as I watched it I felt convinced I’d seen Klaus on the screen and had to re-wind the film to check it – no, I wasn’t seeing things, there was a huge poster for 5 per l’inferno (Five for Hell, Gianfranco Parolini, 1969) in one scene:

I realised recently that I had totally forgotten to upload the photos I took of the Hotel Doelen when I went to Amsterdam last year.  Nothing too exciting, except that this was the hotel Klaus used in the film Lifespan (see my review of the film here:  https://dudummesau.com/2011/02/09/klaus-kinski-makes-the-bed/) and where he trampled all over the bed!

Thanks to Leigh Ann for sending information through about the Kinski perfume, which was produced under licence to Kinski Productions last year to mark the 20th anniversary of Klaus’ death.  I must admit it was a bit difficult to find out about the perfume as it’s not very widely available and I purchased mine from Luckyscent in America, who kindly sent through a few sample bottles for me too so I would be able to keep my bottle intact, here it is:

Since purchasing it I have found out that it is now available through Harvey Nichols in the UK, and not a bad price at £86.  I used all my samples up fairly quickly so unless I break into my bottle I won’t be wearing again!  It’s a unisex fragrance which I think smells rather mossy – a bit like Klaus would have smelled after he’d been behind the bushes with some conquest, no doubt.  The perfume was developed by Escentric Molecules who are well-known for their fragrances which mix with your natural pheromones to create an individual scent for you.  The Kinski fragrance is described as “animalic… woody… feral… oceanic…”  I was expecting it to be something like Grenouille’s perfume in Patrick Süskind’s novel Perfume, or at least that it would make me as appealing as Kinski and men would throw themselves at me as both men and women threw themselves at Klaus – but that wasn’t the case!  It’s a very pleasant smell but I must admit that not one person commented on the perfume when I was wearing it, so it’s obviously quite subtle.  If you want to smell like Kinski, though, you need to try it and buy it for yourself.  The packaging is lovely and I am sure the perfume is too but I just can’t bring myself to open my bottle.

Finally, here’s an item about Christian David’s Kinski die biographie (Aufbau, 2008).  Jari wrote in to ask why one sentence in the book had been censored in black pen.  My copy doesn’t have such censoring in it, so I asked Jari to send a photograph of it:

The sentence that was censored reads: “…sie teilten die Erfahrung von Einsamkeit und Selbstzweifel sowie eine geringschätzung des eigenen Körpers, eine Neigung dazu, sich andere zu verkaufen.”  I asked Christian David if he was able to tell me anything about this and he kindly sent the following information:

“Regarding the censored sentence: It is about Minhoi Loanic/Kinski. And it says: “… they (Klaus and Minhoi) shared the experience of loneliness and self-doubt, as well as a contempt of the body, an inclination to sell themselves to others.” After the book came out, someone thought I had been referring only to Minhoi, thus suggesting she had literally sold herself (or her body) to others. So the sentence was “eliminated” by Aufbau in order to avoid any potentially libellous interpretation by a third party. It later became clear that the sentence was in no way incriminating, and it was “restored”. Which makes the censored copies sort of a rare breed.”

Which means that Jari’s copy is fairly unusual!

Thanks to everyone who contributed information for these items.  That’s all for now – I hope to write another review shortly.  Not sure what I’ll tackle yet…

Posted in Other Kinski Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Klaus Kinski is on the phone

Love and Money (Dir James Toback, 1982)

Basic plot:  Frederic Stockheinz, the owner of Trans Allied Silver, hires a banker, Byron Levin, to work for him to convince the President of Costa Salva (Byron’s former room-mate at Harvard) not to nationalise his country’s silver. But instead Byron embarks on an affair with Catherine Stockheinz, Frederic’s wife, and he doesn’t want to get involved in his old friend Lorenzo’s running of his country – what will happen to Byron when Frederic Stockheinz finds out?

Cast: Frederic Stockheinz – Klaus Kinski; Byron Levin – Ray Sharkey; Catherine Stockheinz – Ornella Muti; Lorenzo Prado – Armand Assante; Walter Klein – King Vidor; Vicky – Susan Heldfond; Blair – Tom McFadden

Filming location: Marina del Rey Hotel, California?

Release date: 12 February 1982

Availability:   This film is available on a Warner Bros Archive Collection DVD although it’s an NTSC region 1 only issue.  There are no extras but it’s not too pricey (you can get a copy for about £10 including postage); it’s not that good either, sorry to say. Buy it for Klaus – because Klaus is worth both your love and money.

The film – *SPOILER ALERT*:

In my previous item about Love and Money I already said that I found the DVD cover misleading.  On the front cover it says: “Only one will win” – I’m not even sure what that means in the context of the film and its conclusion.  But it was the text on the back cover that made me buy the film in the first place and this is even more misleading:

“Byron Levin (Ray Sharkey) has two sides. One is Byron the workaday L.A. banker quick to defend a harassed co-worker. The other is a pent-up employee who’ll say something outrageous to a stranger for shock effect. Increasingly, Byron’s risk-taking nature takes hold. And it becomes a stranglehold when Byron is seduced by the deadly allure of Love and Money in this tantalizing thriller from James Toback (The Pick-up Artist, Bugsy). Byron accepts a million-dollar deal with a global silver magnate (Klaus Kinski). His reason says no but his passions say yes: he’s begun an illicit affair with the tycoon’s exotic wife (Ornella Muti). In return, he must persuade a former college roommate, now a Latin American strongman (Armand Assante), to stop nationalizing the silver mines. And if words fail him, bullets will do.”

Don’t believe it – there’s only one side to Byron Levin and it’s not very nice.  And the bullets thing?  He only touches a gun once (it’s not his, he finds it in a drawer) and even then he has it confiscated before even taking one pot-shot.  Whoever wrote the summary for the film had clearly not seen it; lucky them.

I know I’m shooting myself in the foot here (you see, even reviewing the film I get closer to a gun than Byron does in Love and Money) by saying these bad things about Love and Money – I doubt I’d get an interview with James Toback after slagging the film off this much, would I? – but I don’t care.  I just cannot lie and pretend I’ve enjoyed it; as hard as it is to believe I cannot find any redeeming quality in Love and Money that could make me rustle up some grudging admiration.  And this is despite the fact that Toback wrote the screenplay and directed the film (Fingers) that the rather wonderful De battre mon cœur s’est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, dir Jacques Audiard, 2005) was based on.  Toback also wrote the screenplay for the award winning Bugsy (dir Barry Levinson, 1991) and was a creative writing teacher for some time.  But this is so hard to believe when you look at Love and Money.  What went wrong?  From my point of view, it looks like everything.

Anyway, as painful as it may be (for all of us) I am reliving my experience of Love and Money for you:

The first problem for me is Ray Sharkey.  There are no two ways about this: he is an absolutely appalling actor.  He looks like a cross between James Caan and Robert Downey Jr, but a poor man’s version at that; a James Caan’t, if you will.  He can’t help that, I suppose, but what he can help is his rather mannered way of acting.  When Sharkey is acting out the scene where he is meeting Catherine Stockheinz at Casey’s bar, he walks into the bar and immediately is behaving like he does not believe she will turn up.  As soon as he walks in he grabs a stranger’s arm to check the time on her wristwatch; he repeatedly taps his thighs with both hands; he takes another look at the woman’s wristwatch; he calls the hotel to check on Catherine; when Catherine refuses to take his call he stares at the telephone.

Now, I understand that this is all to indicate impatience and nervousness but it’s an acting style that is unacceptable if the viewer is to attempt to suspend their disbelief.  I wonder if Sharkey thought he was being “quirky” but as far as I’m concerned it’s just eye-rollingly embarrassing.  And the less said about his impersonation of Frederic Stockheinz (Klaus), the better – since when did Klaus have an Italian accent?!!

The next things I find problematic with the film are the characters of Vicky (Byron’s girlfriend) and Walter Klein (Byron’s grandfather).  Well, I’ve already illustrated Vicky as just rummaging around piles of books and doing nothing more than this (and I’m not exaggerating on that point at all) in my previous Love and Money article but the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that I didn’t even bother mentioning Walter Klein in that article.  Why?  Because his character is absolutely superfluous.

The only thing in his favour is that Walter Klein is played by the wonderful film director King Vidor (who directed Marion Davies in Show People and The Patsy, and directed The Big Parade, Stella Dallas, Duel in the Sun and the Kansas sequences in The Wizard of Oz, amongst many other things).  This was King Vidor’s first real acting role and sadly it was a poor choice of films to take part in; really he should have stuck to the directing.

I think Toback included the character of Walter Klein to indicate that Byron is loving and caring, although there are only actually a couple of instances to indicate this (making cream of wheat for Walter; cutting his hair; explaining things to him when he becomes “confused”).  For the most part Byron is just as selfish with Walter as he is with anyone else – he says he won’t ever leave Walter but he does abandon him twice, first when he goes off unannounced to spend a few days with Catherine Stockheinz and then when he goes to Costa Salva with Frederic Stockheinz.  In fact, it is when Byron is sleeping off his visit to Costa Salva that Walter wanders off alone and gets lost in the streets of LA.  None of this indicates that Walter is at the centre of Byron’s world, so why bother with the character at all?  You could totally eliminate the character and it would not affect the narrative one little bit.  Well, it would because if you were to eliminate Walter Klein you could also eliminate Vicky – after all, she herself says: “You are the joy of our lives.  If you weren’t here, I don’t think I would be either.”  Let’s get rid of ’em both then!

The next thing I can’t abide is the singing – for some unknown reason three of the characters in the film feel the need to break out into song at certain points: (i) Walter Klein makes an appalling (and slightly self-referential) joke about Vicky looking like a Biblical beauty, “Delilah… Bathsheba… Marion Davies…” and then he starts singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; (ii) when Byron is trying to concentrate on getting an erection he asks Catherine to recite the lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner and then he starts singing it in a dissonant fashion; (iii) even though Byron says he does not want to hear it, Lorenzo sings a dirge-like thing that he says is the new national anthem he has written for Costa Salva – it’s awful; (iv) and Lorenzo is a repeat offender, after making out with a lady in the bushes he emerges singing Carlos Puebla’s Hasta Siempre really badly.  All of this singing could be edited out and this would instantly improve the film (a tiny bit).

The next problem though is the big one: the story, the narrative, the dialogue.  We’ll start with the story.  The story is crap and here’s a summary to prove it: Byron Levin was roommates with Lorenzo Prado back at university.

If Ray Sharkey is a poor man’s James Caan, Armand Assante is a poor man’s Paul McCartney

He now works at a bank and shares a flat with his book-dealer girlfriend Vicky and his grandfather who suffers from dementia; meanwhile Lorenzo is President of a country called Costa Salva.

Byron is contacted by the owner of Trans Allied Silver, Frederic Stockheinz, who offers him $1 million to convince Lorenzo not to nationalise Costa Salva’s silver.  Byron is not interested in Stockheinz’s offer of $1 million for one weekend’s work but he is interested in his wife Catherine.  Byron starts to fantasise about Catherine and she seduces him to ensnare him into helping Frederic.  Byron is easily taken in and ends up going to Costa Salva with Frederic Stockheinz just so he can see Catherine again.

He meets up with his former roommate and tells him what Stockheinz has asked him to do.  Lorenzo tells Byron that he has misunderstood what Frederic has asked of him and that he is certain that Frederic means that he will pay $1 million for Byron to kill him not just to convince him about the silver.  Byron is shocked, but not as shocked as when he realises that Lorenzo is as bad as Frederic.  Byron is heartbroken when Catherine says that she only seduced him to get him to help Frederic.

When Stockheinz suspects that there is something going on between his wife and Byron, he orders his assistant Blair to shoot him but Blair turns his gun instead on Frederic Stockheinz.

Byron realises that Lorenzo has paid off one of Frederic’s men to kill Frederic and he fights off Blair and stops him from shooting.  Frederic shoots Blair and leaves Byron at the roadside with the dead body and then he and Catherine flee the scene.

Byron is arrested and is faced with the firing squad.  At the last moment Lorenzo arrives and stops his men from shooting Byron.  But Byron is disappointed in his old friend’s behaviour and says he won’t join Lorenzo and work for him.

He goes back to California and immediately tries to call Catherine Stockheinz but there is no answer.  When he gets home, Vicky is in the middle of packing all her belongings as she has decided to leave Byron.  Byron makes no attempt to make things up or to explain to Vicky (thinking he’s funny, he just tells her that he cut himself shaving) and he simply falls asleep.

When he wakes up she has gone, and so has his grandfather.  Byron runs out into the streets looking for his grandfather and eventually finds him listening to a brass band and wearing a visor  in the street.  He takes him home and they pack up their few belongings to leave the house now that Vicky has gone.  Byron gets into the car and is about to drive off when Catherine arrives and asks if she can come with them.  Byron asks her if she thinks they stand a chance of lasting together and she says no.  Byron does not think they do either but they drive off together anyway.

Of course the story would be far more interesting if Byron really did have two sides as the DVD cover suggests – a film about someone who is absolutely torn between doing what’s right and being seduced into committing immoral acts with the promise of vast amounts of money and a very attractive woman would at the very least allow Byron to be a two-dimensional character rather than the one-dimensional idiot that he is.  But that is all – I doubt Byron could ever be a complex or believable character, not with Ray Sharkey playing him…

If the story is crap, then the dialogue is absolutely dire.  Here are a few of the most appalling low points:

Seconds after meeting Catherine Stockheinz, presumably because he’s fallen in love instantly, Byron says to her:  “If you ever touch [your husband] again, or any other man, I’ll kill ya.”

The whole section where Byron and Catherine are arguing about Byron manhandling her is cringeworthy:

Byron – I’ll never touch you again.  Until you ask me to.
Catherine – You must think I’m as insane as you are.  Answer me!
Byron – What’s the question?
Catherine – What is so special about me that you do all these things that I could have you arrested for?
Byron – Your eyes, yours smile…
Catherine – I didn’t smile at you.
Byron – Okay, I guess it was your eyes then… It’s just that when I saw you, I knew… that God had put his elbow in my ribs.
[Catherine opens car door whilst the car is moving and tries to get out]
Byron – I said if you ever made love to your husband…
Catherine – I did.
[Catherine gets out of the car but leaves the door open as she walks off, Byron reverses the car and continues talking to her]
Byron – Come on! Come aaahnnn!
Catherine – Why?
Byron – Because we’re gonna fall in love and last together.
Catherine – I couldn’t hear what you say.
Byron – I said…
[Catherine makes out she is not getting back into the car but then she does anyway and they drive off together] 

When Byron tries to get it on with Catherine and encounters some problems:  “I can’t believe it, I can’t get a hard-on.  Five minutes ago outside I had a hard-on I coulda hung a towel on it, now…”

When Byron and Catherine argue again, he says to her:  “Don’t say that.  We’re going to be everything to each other… I’m your father; you’re my mother; I’m your husband; you’re my wife; I’m your chauffeur; you’re my car…”

I could go on but I am certain you don’t want me to at this point.  Aside from the dire-logue (Hey! If Toback is going to make bad jokes, I will too), I really have a problem with the lazy method of story-telling that Toback utilises throughout the film.  If you’ve ever read an interview with Toback you’ll understand what I mean but I think he’s full of a large amount of BS, so my guess is he would say that he didn’t want to go for the classical filmmaking style and that he wanted something a bit more punchy, a bit more fast-paced, a bit “different”.  But what we’re left with is, in my opinion, an unsatisfactory narrative discourse – given what story and dialogue there was to work with I guess you could not hope for anything better.

What I object to more than anything is the way Toback provides story information to the viewer by either including long-shots of Byron and Catherine on car rides with what seems to be a voice-over of them chatting to fill in the narrative, or alternatively having them carry out lengthy conversations whilst sitting in their hotel room.  Whole chunks of something resembling their back-stories are provided during these conversations in the most unsubtle way, presumably in order to do away with actually showing things or revealing things in a more natural fashion.  And this always seems to be done with Catherine and Byron either not in shot at all (the long-shots in the car) or with them both facing the camera (and therefore not facing each other) – is this a stylistic device?  I think not as there is no interesting cinematography to speak of in Love and Money.  Further adding to the unnatural method of story-telling Byron and Catherine always carry out what are essentially very intimate conversations without once looking at each other.

That said, Toback includes a couple of scenes that are clearly choreographed – for example, the sequence where Byron arrives at Catherine’s hotel room and appears to force his way in (even though he is actually invited) and then paces dramatically towards Catherine as she paces away from him.  This is closely followed by the sequence in the car park where Byron tries to kiss Catherine and she turns her face away and then they kiss seemingly forever as the camera circles them from above.

What with the lazy story-telling sequences and the numerous telephone calls (I really think Toback was influenced by Herbert Ross/Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam in this respect, although the constant telephone calls were used with humour by Ross/Allen) there is hardly any need for any of the characters to look at each other let alone interact in Love and Money.

So what role did Klaus have in this pile of poop?  Well, let’s not pretend that Klaus was ever anything other than familiar with filmic piles of poop, so working on Love and Money would not represent a problem for the great KK.  He was, however, sadly under-used in the film and we only ever seem to see him barking down the telephone, telling his people to “Just do it!”, “Do it!” or “Let’s go!”, or ordering food and wine for his guests.  There is not even a love scene with the lovely Ornella Muti who, unbelievably, for the most part manages to keep her clothes on and is only ever seen naked from behind (Sorry boys! And this despite the fact that Toback filmed lots of nude sex scenes…).  There is the just the one big KK scene with the dinner party where Lorenzo arrives 90 minutes late and then tells a crappy story whilst Klaus wrings a napkin in his hands, rolls his eyes and then demands to know “What is so funny?”  It’s the only scene worth watching in the film and Klaus manages to offend just about everyone around the table by shouting at them all in turn.

Klaus looks great in his stylish suits and the standard issue beige and white he so liked to wear.  He also manages to be a bit cheeky (talking to Catherine in Italian in a section which is not subbed but you know he’s being naughty anyway) and gets to put his hands in his pockets a few times along the way as well.

Look at the guy in the background with the combover.  I didn’t realise Arthur Scargill had a supporting role in the film…

I wish I could say something more favourable about Love and Money but for once I am at a loss.  Toback clearly thinks that playing a bit of Bach over the film somehow makes it arty but he is sadly mistaken.  I enjoy such a wide variety of films and can usually see something good in most of them but this was really hard work and I still cringe now as I recall it.  This one is for the most committed Kinski fans only, I’d say.

Other information about the film: 

Well, there were no extras on the DVD and there seems to be very little out there about this film (possibly with good reason, of course) but I have tried my best to find out more information.

You can always rely on our friend Christian David for a little more information, as ever the source material is Kinski die Biographie (Aufbau, 2008, pp278-279).  Klaus was paid $75,000 for 3 weeks’ filming which Christian David says was relatively low at that time, but he also seems to have been offered a further 5% of the film’s profits which would have been a good thing if the film had been a success but unfortunately that was not to be the case.  Klaus worked from the end of November to the middle of December 1979 on the film.

Other than this, pretty much all I found was a couple of articles about Toback and Love and Money in Film Quarterly, both written by Michael Dempsey (presumably not the bass player who used to be in The Cure, Associates and The Lotus Eaters…) in 1980/1981/1982.

The first article Love and Money, Ecstasy and Death: A Conversation with James Toback (Film Quarterly, Vol 34, No 2, Winter 1980-1981, pp24-35) indicates that the film critic Pauline Kael was going to leave her job at The New Yorker to work on Love and Money with Toback directing and Warren Beatty starring.  This ties in with other reports I have seen of Kael accepting an offer from Beatty in 1979 to act as a consultant at Paramount Pictures, which she initially took up only to leave a few months later to go back to writing reviews.  According to Dempsey, Kael left the project after “differences of opinion” with Toback (p24).  My guess is she told him the film sucked a big fat one and he did not like it; this could also explain why Beatty was no longer attached to the project either.

Dempsey also says that Henry Miller had been Toback’s original choice to play the role of Walter Klein but that he was not well enough to take the role on, so it was offered to Harry Ritz who took the role on but became ill after the first day’s shooting.  At this stage it was offered to King Vidor (p24) who unfortunately for him was not sick enough to turn the role down!

In line with my earlier comments about Toback being full of bull, Dempsey quotes Toback as saying this about directing:  “After a certain point, a film takes its own direction, and what it means to direct it is not just to impose and lead but also to steer.  It’s something mysterious that I don’t quite understand.  But there is a point when you just realize that you’re in the rapids, and the most you can do is kind of guide it around rocks.  And reversing course becomes the analogous mistake to forcing an actor to say lines he can’t say or forcing a scene into the film that doesn’t work in the film or forcing a scene to be shot in light that isn’t suited to it.” (P31)  Somehow I think Toback couldn’t see the rocks for looking…

The most disturbing part of the interview comes when Michael Dempsey asks Toback about the sounds of the punches in the fight between Blair and Byron, which he says sounded strange.  To this Toback says: “They were real punches.  I punched myself in front of a microphone.” (P32)  I can only conclude that Toback realised he deserved to be punched in the face for making such a bad film.

The most interesting thing about this all for me is that in the first article Dempsey seems to give the film a very favourable review for reasons I could not begin to fathom, but in the next issue of Film Quarterly there seemed to be some kind of withdrawal of this in what was described as Postscript on Love and Money (Film Quarterly, Vol 35, No 3, Spring 1982, pp61-63).

The article seems to outline several problems with the film, most prominently that the version he reviewed was not the version finally released or available to us today, aside from anything else the cut reviewed by Dempsey was 90 minutes long (and IMDB states that the film runs 90 minutes) but the version he refers to in his second article and the version on the DVD is just 84 minutes long.

Love and Money, according to Dempsey, was originally to be premiered either late 1980 or early 1981 following the release of two other Ray Sharkey vehicles as (rather misguidedly, I’d say) Sharkey had been tipped for the top, but as both films bombed Love and Money did not get released on schedule.  Then problems followed at the film company and Paramount finally decided to prioritise other films above Love and Money.  It seems that there were many factors at play here and Dempsey outlined another one: “Another story alleged that Frederick Stockheinz, Klaus Kinski’s character in Love and Money, bore an unflattering resemblance to Charles Bluhdorn, the boss of Gulf and Western, which owns Paramount.” (P61)

Even if that sounds unlikely (just because Bluhdorn had a strong Austrian accent and Klaus had a strong German accent?), there were lots of other reasons that the film had to be edited prior to release, according to Dempsey:

“Some Southern California viewers disliked the film, partly because they recognized Los Angeles area locations which had to stand in for Central America because of Toback’s tight $3 million budget and 30-day shooting schedule.” (PP61-62)

But considering the way the film was shot – largely in hotel rooms, otherwise in cars or outside community centres covered in bunting (my guess, not a fact) – and Klaus’ low salary (he was, of course, the star of the show when all’s said and done), a $3 million budget back in 1979 would not exactly have been “tight”.  I’m struggling to work out what Toback spent the budget on if I’m honest.  But little wonder that Klaus did not get his 5% of the profits as Dempsey says that when the film eventually opened over a year late in 1982, it opened “in one New York theatre, the only booking announced at that time and this writing.”

Welcome to Costa Salva?  Welcome to a community centre somewhere in Los Angeles, more likely!

The list of catastrophes continues:

“Moreover, a 1980 preview in Seattle yielded cards indicating that 81% of the audience objected to the ending: a frozen frame of Byron Levin as he runs along an LA street in search of his grandfather, followed by another of Catherine Stockheinz at the instant Byron first saw her.  David Picker, the (now former) Lorimar executive whom Toback credits with letting him make the film in the first place, then stated that it could not be released without a more “upbeat” ending.  Despite the credit “A Film by James Toback”, Toback did not have final cut and so, rather than letting Lorimar recut the film, he returned to the editing room himself.  Now Byron does succeed in locating his grandfather, Catherine does return to him, and they all prepare to drive off together into a new life – one of several possible conclusions that Toback had shot, considered, and discarded.  He also put back several scenes.”  (P62)

Apparently Toback tried to get some money out of Paramount to fix the ending later but did not succeed (p63) so the ending we see now is the one as described in the edited version.  None of this can have helped Love and Money but I doubt that it could have warranted the glowing review Dempsey gave it in his earlier review; no matter how much cross-editing Toback had in the first version, the dialogue and Sharkey would still have been there thus for me the film could hardly have been saved.  However, it seems that the scenes with Klaus had originally been longer so somewhere out there Toback (or Paramount, or Warner Bros) has some deleted scenes which could surface at some point.  Only the promise of more Klaus could get me to watch that film again, I’ve seen it three times now and that’s two times too many already…

One final thing, why does there appear to be purple ink stains on the closing credits photograph?  Shoddy!

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A bunch of Klaus Kinski photos and posters

I spent a small fortune at the weekend picking up a few more Klaus Kinski bits and pieces.  I think I’ve now got 97 films (which means I need to get more reviews done as soon as possible!) and my collection of photos, posters and books is increasing rapidly too.

Here’s a few things I found this weekend:

Klaus Kinski and Alain Delon in Mort d’un pourri (dir Georges Lautner, 1977), which I just recently found with English subs (although I’ve not even watched it yet!).

Here’s Klaus playing with a toy bird and looking slightly demented whilst he’s at it!

Klaus looking a bit moody in his lovely brown leather coat!Klaus in Cobra Verde (dir Werner Herzog, 1987)

That wonderful image of Klaus in the rather brilliant Crawlspace (dir David Schmoeller, 1986)

Klaus with Max 404 in Android (dir Aaron Lipstadt, 1982), which I really must get reviewed soon.  A very enjoyable film.

I love this image of Klaus with Eddi Arent and Anthony Newlands on set of Circus of Fear (dir John Llewellyn Moxey, 1966).  Sorry about the streaky patches on the scan!  I need to add to my review of Circus of Fear as I now have the Blue Underground restored full length version of the film; so much to do to get all these films reviewed…

Klaus in the artwork for La mano che nutre la morte (dir Sergio Garrone, 1974), which is another one for reviewing…

Klaus Kinski in a Hamlet moment, for some reason or other flicking the V!

Klaus looking nice and hot in For a Few Dollars More (dir Sergio Leone, 1965).

Klaus looking world-weary in the wonderful Fruits of Passion (dir Shuji Terayama, 1981) – this is one I started reviewing a little while ago but it needs some serious attention as, for once, there is actually something interesting to say about this film, which can’t be said for the vast majority of Klaus’ films unfortunately.  However enjoyable they are.

You know me, I like Klaus.  I also like men who wear glasses.  Klaus in glasses – yum yum.  This is Klaus with Heinz Drache in Der Rächer (dir Karl Anton, 1960), which I don’t yet have in my collection – must find it soon…

Klaus in the Jack the Ripper (dir Jess Franco, 1976) artwork.  Thank goodness, this is one I have already reviewed on here!

Klaus in Jesus Christus Erlöser (dir Peter Geyer, 2008).  All together now: “Ich will dir nachfolgen, wohin du auch gehst!”

Colour and b/w Nosferatu the Vampyre (dir Werner Herzog, 1979).

A fabulous image of Klaus in Nosferatu a Venezia (dir Klaus Kinski, Augusto Caminito, Luigi Cozzi, Mario Caiano, Maurizio Lucidi, 1988).  Whatever anyone else thinks of this film, I think it’s fabulous – and, o no, I need to review this one as well…

Do I spend most of my time defending Klaus’ films?  I will definitely defend this one, I love Kinski Paganini (dir Klaus Kinski, 1989) and yah boo sucks to Werner Herzog and anyone else who said it would never work!

Klaus looking very handsome.

Klaus Kinski and Stéphane Audran in Pill of Death (dir Jean Delannoy, 1970), the film with many, many names.  I think I may have reviewed it on here under the title Only the Cool, but I can’t swear to it!

Only Klaus could play a gay guy in a film and get a scene where he’s lying naked with a big breasted woman and sucking his thumb! Klaus in the fabulous L’important c’est d’aimer (dir Andrzej Zulawski, 1975), which also needs to be reviewed…

After seeing this image of Klaus, I really wanted to see him in Nella stretta morsa del ragno (dir Antonio Margheriti, 1971).  Not enough Klaus in the film for my liking but he does look rather wonderful as Edgar Allen Poe.  This posting of so many images is just reminding me how many films I have yet to review – will my work here ever be done?!!

No Klaus images here, but some information about Our Man in Marrakesh (dir Don Sharp, 1966) in which he makes a short but sweet appearance.

Another The Little Drummer Girl (dir George Roy Hill, 1984) poster to add to my collection!  I love that this one says Diane Keaton in big letters and yet it has a bigger picture of Klaus on it.  I must watch the film some time…

Look at Klaus’ face in this Code Name: Wild Geese (dir Antonio Margheriti, 1984) poster!

And finally, a lovely little Fitzcarraldo (dir Werner Herzog, 1982) poster to add to the Klausy collection.

That’s all for today, and I haven’t forgotten that I’m supposed to be writing up the Love and Money full film review.  That’s in case any of you are actually waiting for it after the recent photo story posting!

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