Klaus Kinski hangs out with a Professional

Commando Leopard aka Kommando Leopard (Dir Antonio Margheriti / Anthony M Dawson, 1985)

Basic plot:  A group of freedom fighters, led by Carrasco, set out to destroy the dictatorship that rules their state.

Cast: Silveira – Klaus Kinski; Carrasco – Lewis Collins; Maria – Cristina Donadio; Padre Julio – Manfred Lehmann; Smithy – John Steiner; Capitan – Hans Leutenegger; José – Thomas Danneberg; Pater Miguel – Michael James; Homoza – Subas Herrera

Filming location: Maracaibo, Estado Zulia, Venezuela; Pagsanjan, Laguna, Philippines

Release date: 24 October 1985 (West Germany)

Availability:  The DVD of Commando Leopard is readily available and I understand a new version is to be released by Arrow Films on 19 November 2012 (available to pre-order for just £6.99 here).  I wonder if this new version will be a full length version as the running time for the film is listed as 103 minutes on IMDB, with a 100 minute edit in Norway.  The Anchor Bay version I have runs to just 99 minutes though.  The Anchor Bay version has a Making Of… featurette as a bonus feature, which has already been reviewed by me separately here.  Very amusing it is, too!  Note that on the Anchor Bay DVD the cover states that the soundtrack is provided by Ennio Morricone – it’s not; the Casio pan pipes sounds come courtesy of Goran Kuzminac.

The film – *SPOILER ALERT*:

I have been saying I will review this film since June this year when I reviewed the Making Of featurette and I have been procrastinating ever since.  It has to be said that action films are not my cup of tea, at all – anyone who read my review of The Soldier  will have gathered that.  But I have watched Commando Leopard 3 or 4 times now to make notes and take screen grabs &c and so this review just has to be done so I can move on and put this nightmare behind me at last.  Right then, let’s go for it!

The action starts on September 11th when there are big explosions aplenty – now I’m not saying that Antonio Margheriti was having a Powder Keg moment of precognition but he must surely have foreseen that there would be explosions on set at least.  Between Klaus Kinski and someone; in this case Lewis Collins.  Good job then that they were on the opposite sides of this civil war so they (or Klaus mainly) could take out their anger on each other during the filming as well as off-camera.  No need to bottle it up, eh?

There’s plenty here for the action movie fans as immediately there is throat slashing and shooting with darts.  Loads of low angle shots of a dam and people the viewer just doesn’t know.  I don’t know if I’m supposed to be on their side because I don’t know who they are or what they are doing.  Even by the end of the film I’m still not quite sure what’s happening, but I’m quibbling, aren’t I?  Why should there be a narrative to follow when all you need to know is there are two groups fighting each other?

All the elements of action movies have been covered in Commando Leopard.  Typically just 3 minutes in there is “a look” between Carrasco (Lewis Collins) and a character called Maria (Cristina Donadio) – yes, as ever, there is time for sexual tension even in the midst of a terribly violent civil war.  There are tanks, tankers, barbed wire, abseiling down rocky cliff faces, machine guns, grenades, dynamite, choppers and explosions left, right and centre.  Margheriti puts on a real show for us, but what actually happens?  Like I said before I’m not entirely sure but I’ll take a pop at it and try to see if I can make any sense of it.

Carrasco is the leader of the rebels but he inexplicably has traces of a Merseyside accent and sometimes looks like he has been “blacked-up” a bit, mainly because he has.  He’s not supposed to be from Merseyside, you see, he’s supposed to be (indeterminate) Latin American.  This is a problem.

He is fighting against some dictatorship we’ve not yet been introduced to and he has to make tough decisions like whether or not to blow up a dam even if it means that innocent people downstream will die.  Of course he blows up the dam because he sees it as being for the greater good of everyone else; some innocent people will die but it will help to put an end to the evil regime that is currently ruling them.  He also manages to lose some men in a chopper explosion as well.  Not sure how many of the “good folk” will be left by the end of the film, but it’s not looking like a good start, that’s for sure.

Add to this the Casio pan pipes music fading in and out, which just serves to make the film even more annoying (as far as I’m concerned at least).

Carrasco takes his men to see how things are on the other side of the mountain – it seems that what they really want is some food, water and a rest before they go on their way to fight some more.  They don’t seem to care that they are effectively stealing the food and water from the villagers who have very little and they seem to see it as their right to take it anyway because they are fighting to save everyone from the evil regime.  As far as I can see they are not that far removed from being an evil regime themselves, especially Smithy (John Steiner) who is rude and nasty and grasping.  Smithy helps himself to some soup, which he eats like a pig.  He’s told that it’s the kids’ supper and now they’ll have to go hungry but he carries on eating regardless.  They’re going about all this the wrong way as far as I’m concerned and I’m proved right only moments later…

Yes, by going to the village Carrasco and his group of rebels have made the villagers part of the militia’s target; the militia are after Carrasco, of course, but if they have to attack an entire village to get Carrasco they will do it in the same way that Carrasco attacked the dam and killed civilians downstream.  So thanks to Carrasco the entire village is set on fire and the villagers are gunned down by the Capitan (Hans Leutenegger, yay!) and his men.  The rebels are doing so well, aren’t they?

During this attack some kid, who had earlier been befriending Maria in one of those “this has to be the heart-warming moment” in the film, sees his dad being shot repeatedly.  You know Maria will take him with her and he’s going to end up joining the rebels even though he is only about 7 years old.   Again, she probably thinks she is helping him and yet she is actually drawing him into the firing line.

The rebels don’t want their wounded slowing them down (they are nice like that) so Maria is sent off to a hospital to get treatment for them.  Carrasco and Smithy and the other rebels will carry on without them.  Just as well Maria has gone as she’s a woman and she would have slowed them down, what with her hair and make-up and shoes and that.  She’s just a liability so let’s banish her, yeah?

Meanwhile the Capitan surveys the damage the militia have caused to the village and Silveira (Klaus Kinski) is called before the President to explain why the valley is full of militia men.  The President is not very happy at all but Silveira just dismisses it all as “stupid propaganda”.  We find out a little about Carrasco now as well – his father is one of the richest men in the country, who gave everything up to fight for the people.  I don’t know what to make of that nugget.  Silveira lights a huge cigar and tells the President if he is given more fuel and men that the rebels can be crushed.  There are obvious tensions between Silveira and the President; maybe I’m going all precog on you now, but something tells me that this is not a very happy partnership.

If Silveira is dismissive of Carrasco (and he is – he tells the President that Carrasco is “like all the others; he wants your place”), he is equally dismissive of the President (whose place Silveira undoubtedly wants for himself).  When the President is shown on TV making a speech to the people, Silveira turns the volume down because he’s just not interested in what the President has to say.

Meantime Maria had been taking some behavioural lessons from the ever-charming Smithy – she’s arrived at the hospital, which has seen better days, and is demanding beds, antibiotics and surgical instruments at gunpoint.  When she is told that there are only 2 beds free she starts dragging sick people out of their beds to make way for the wounded rebels.  One of the Fathers who are working at the hospital tells Maria in no uncertain terms that she can’t be doing that and that as far as he’s concerned the rebels are just like the militia.  Maybe this makes Maria think about her actions because there is a quick about-turn with Maria revealing that she was a medical student and diagnosing one of the hospitalised men as needing operating on immediately.

Whilst Maria springs into action in the hospital, the militia have heard news of where Carrasco’s gang are holed up, so it will only be a matter of time before another attack takes place.  But Carrasco and Smithy are trying to put an end to the dictatorship by retrieving some explosives that were sunk during the dam explosion.  They plan to do this by setting up a bomb with what looks like a bedside alarm clock and some putty.  As they swim around underwater, you know it’s going to go wrong and indeed it does – the timing is out and Smithy suffers some injuries when one of the bombs goes off.  Carrasco manages to get away with the help of some of his men but he has to leave Smithy behind as dead – remember, the rebels can’t let the wounded slow them down.

Another oblique insight into Carrasco’s back story – one of his men says to him, “If your father was here to see that…”, to which Carrasco responds, “He’d probably shoot me.”  He also says that he was brought up believing that the rich came before the poor.  I’m not quite sure what point he is making here as he seems to be behaving in such a way that says that the rebels come before the civilians who are not fighting; there’s not a lot of difference.  These little snippets of information about Carrasco’s father do not help with the narrative development at all really.

Back at the hospital Maria is pulling a blinder in her role as Florence Nightingale.  She is so distracted with her medical work that she doesn’t even notice that the militia have arrived.  The Capitan is there with his men and they want to know where the rebels are; Hans Leutenegger tries to act as mean as possible but you just know he’s a pussycat underneath it all.  The Father tells Maria to stay inside but she insists on fighting for her beliefs – whatever they are – and goes outside only to get shot immediately.  The Father runs out and they share one of those magic moments; a bit like “the look” she shared with Carrasco earlier.  She’s a one, that Maria.

Then the chopper arrives with Silveira onboard – now we know some real damage will be done, yay!  Silveira does the rounds at the hospital, although he’s not so hot on the bedside manner – when one of the injured men shouts out to him, “Colonel! I’m one of yours!”, Silveira shows no sympathy and just mutters, “You let yourself be captured, uh?”, as he walks away.  Same rules apply as with the rebels, I guess – “Don’t let the wounded slow you down.”

Silveira heads over to José, one of the injured rebels, and asks him if he was one of the technicians at the dam and if he knows who was in charge.  Instead of acting dumb, José tells Silveira, “Find them yourself, you son of a bitch!”  His last words, alas, as he is immediately shot to pieces by the militia.  The Father tells Silveira to stop and gets a gun smacked around his face for his trouble – Silveira wants to take Maria and the Father but he also wants the hospital set on fire and all the equipment shot to pieces.  He leaves the injured militia behind to perish in the fire as well.

As Carrasco and his men arrive armed with guns, the Casio pan pipes kick in again.  That’s enough to send Silveira and the Capitan back to their chopper in which they escape.  Carrasco blows up a chopper, but it’s not Silveira’s.  Maria and the Father have inadvertently been left behind and Carrasco goes over to see them.  The Father asks Carrasco what he will do with the people now that the hospital has been attacked.  Carrasco avoids answering and simply tells the Father that he should get his face wound looked at before it gets infected.  The Father is right though, if the militia come back they will be massacred but all Carrasco says he can do is give them trucks to get away.  When the Father says he will take the people with him instead, Carrasco is dismissive – “Where to?  The Promised Land?”  Got any better ideas yourself, Carrasco?  No, thought not.

It’s now one week since the film started – I mean, since the action started; it just feels like the film’s been on a long time, that’s all.  Nothing much has happened really but we now discover that Smithy survived the underwater blast after all and has been captured by the militia.  He’s currently sitting naked on a chair and Silveira is looking at him through a barred window.  Kinky!

Carrasco has dressed up in civvies and gone into town to see a man about a dog – or something.  A strange little man follows him around but Carrasco knows all about it and in the film’s (unfunny) comedy moment, Carrasco surprises the man by sticking a gun in his mouth which makes his eyes go all googly, look:

Carrasco wants to know where Pépé is – maybe I’m right after all and he is going to see a man about a dog, Pépé sounds like a dog’s name, right?  But, no, Pépé is in fact a chap who thinks he can get Smithy and the others out of prison.  It seems that Smithy is a famous mercenary brought back from Europe by Carrasco to join the rebels.  The next day Smithy and his fellow inmates are broken out of the prison, one of them dies on the way out, but Smithy gets out intact.

Smithy has to pass Carrasco a message to say that President Homoza is planning a fact finding tour of the province on Thursday.  This is the only bit of the film that makes me laugh because, no word of a lie, I had to rewind and watch this segment about 5 times before I realised that it was a “fact finding tour”; it sounded just like “fat fanny tour” to me (if you’ve got the Anchor Bay version of the film, go to 58 mins 15 secs and see what you think) which means something else altogether really.

It’s now 2 weeks since the action started.  Smithy is back with a couple of dubious looking new recruits – he goes with Carrasco and the new recruits to see Homoza.  They are all hanging out at a landing field when suddenly one of the new recruits runs off as a plane lands.  It seems that the new recruits were using Smithy to lure Carrasco into a trap.  Carrasco shoots the man and then shoots at the plane believing that something untoward is about to happen.  The plane explodes, which Carrasco believes he is responsible for, but in fact the plane has been shot down by Silveira’s men with a rocket launcher.  Silveira drives off, believing that this incident will prove to be the end of Carrasco.

Carrasco is shot and the Casio pan pipes kick in again – that’s adding insult to injury, that is.

Meantime the President is told that the plane, believed to have been shot down by the rebels, was carrying 185 children on their way back from adventure camps.  That Silveira is a one!  He thinks this will turn the people against Carrasco for sure and he’s now as good as dead.  It certainly looks bad for him right now.

But they’re all a bit slow off the mark because it’s two weeks later when a chopper circulates propaganda to the people demanding that the rebels surrender.  The Father sees the propaganda but he doesn’t believe that Carrasco would deliberately try and cause a disaster; he believes Silveira is somehow responsible.  He’s right on that one.

Silveira tells the President that the militia were responsible for the plane being shot down but this fails to impress the President because, as he points out, he could have been on the plane himself.  Silveira is so annoyed with the President’s ungrateful attitude that he shakes his finger in the President’s face and tells him that he’s not afraid of him.  The relationship is really deteriorating now…

I’m not sure where he’s been all this time but Carrasco is back now and he’s injured from that shot he took about two weeks ago.  Carrasco asks the Father for some help – he wants to destroy the refinery so the dictatorship would be finished and in return he will escort the people to the border.  By now, of course, three-quarters of the rebels are gone so I’m not sure how Carrasco plans to do this, but I clearly know very little so just ignore me.

By luck it would seem that the Father was the garrison chaplain at the refinery so the militia won’t be suspicious when he turns up there.  The Father agrees to help Carrasco and as this part of the story unfolds it seems to me that the Father knows a bit too much about how to bring about utter destruction.  The Father goes to the train station with Carrasco, now dressed as a Father too, and he drops a case of sacred objects to cause a distraction whilst Carrasco puts explosives on the train.  The train driver knows the Father and insists on speaking with him, so the Father and Carrasco have to board.  They are just being asked to present their papers, which will be a problem for Carrasco, when the train pulls into the refinery and the bombs go off.  The Father and Carrasco jump off the train.

Silveira is still getting nowhere with the President – the tables are now turned and this time the President walks away from Silveira mid-sentence, dismissing his claims that Carrasco has now dug his own grave and that he will get Carrasco.

A few days later the Father leaves with the children on a bus, but unfortunately the bus is heading straight for some mine fields.  Silveira is looking out to see if Carrasco is onboard but he’s not.  Then the mines start to go off and the militia start shooting.

Carrasco and the rebels are on the road and a chap called General Bentez calls out that he wants to meet with Carrasco and that he comes in peace.  Carrasco decides to take Bentez at his word and goes to speak with him.  Bentez tells him that President Homoza has left the country and that he has left General Gomez in charge, who wants to restore law and order to the country.  It sounds unlikely but Carrasco shakes on it with Bentez and agrees to call an end to the civil war.  But unfortunately just as they make their agreement Carrasco is told that there are militia men in town killing more civilians and he has to forget the cease fire and head off to fight once more.

The children and the Father are now trying to get off the bus as they want to head back to the church.  But the militia men arrive and the Father decides that it’s a good idea to confront Silveira.  Silveira doesn’t appreciate that and just throws the Father to the ground; in turn the Father doesn’t appreciate being thrown to the ground either and he retaliates by grabbing a gun and shooting, without realising that it’s a flamethrower, oops!  Silveira shoots the Father for that and tells him, “Carrasco used you to save his ass.”

It’s the beginning of the end now as Silveira’s right hand man, the Capitan, gets shot at and then the bloody Casio pan pipes kick in again.  The kid drags the Father to safety as Silveira commences what turns out to be a bloodbath shoot out.  This is the best bit of the film really but it’s all over in a flash.

Trigger-happy Silveira soon runs out of bullets and gets cornered by the rebels who start to kick the crap out of him.  Carrasco arrives and tries to break it up but he’s arrived too late as Silveira is already dead.  That puts an end to it all, except that before the credits can roll we have to go through yet another of those embarrassingly heartfelt moments.  This one is an absolute corker – Carrasco tells the Father: “It’s our country again, Julio.  We are the future.”  The Father dies, probably of embarrassment at the corniness of it all.  Then people start banging stuff and I’m not sure why, maybe it is in an attempt to drown out a horrid song called “In The War” – bring back the Casio pan pipes, I say!

The horror!  The horror!  Thank goodness, it’s all over now… It’s all over now.  But I will, of course, be getting the Arrow Films version of Commando Leopard if it’s the original running time and contains more footage, so let’s hope that it doesn’t, eh?

Kinski’s acting methods:  As ever, Kinski is a sight to behold in this film – he spends some of his time fiddling with his armpits, a lot of time smoking and blowing smoke in people’s faces, and the rest of his time with his hands in his pockets:

He also manages to stare through a barred window as well:

Other information about the film:  According to IMDB at the time of making Commando Leopard was the most expensive Swiss-budgeted film, with the special effects using up about half of the budget.  Christian David says in Kinski die Biographie that Kinski began work on Commando Leopard on 22 April 1985 and was paid $75,000 for two weeks’ filming.  The working title of the film was Guerrilleros / Bushfighter.

Regular readers of Du dumme Sau! will already have read my “review” of Kinski Talks 1 and specifically the Wer bin ich? interview with Helga Guitton, accompanied by Hans Leutenegger, to promote Commando Leopard.  Klaus didn’t make much effort as far as promotion was concerned – every time Helga asked a question he made every attempt not to answer it or if he did bother to answer he either did so mischievously or with disdain.  It has to be seen to be believed, but if your German is basic like mine just read my review (or look at the pictures) here.

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More Klaus Kinski photos

Apparently it seems I will do anything to avoid finishing off writing that review of Commando Leopard – so near and yet so far… I’ve been spending some time working on my other website Hero Culte but to prove to you that I have not been neglecting my Klausie, I just spent a small fortune on more Kinski stuff and here it is:

First up, one of my favourite stills from Nachtblende (L’Important c’est d’aimer), 1975, dir Andrzej Zulawski.  I’ve wanted this print for a while now and finally I have it!

An original 1960s postcard from Germany – “Kinski” in For a Few Dollars More, 1965, dir Sergio Leone.

Another original 1960s postcard from Germany, this time of Klaus looking totally arrogant alongside Pierre Brice (who I always remember for Star Maidens rather than anything else) in Winnetou II, 1964, dir Harald Reinl.  KK looks gorgeous, doesn’t he?

A shot from Fitzcarraldo, 1982, dir Werner Herzog.

A still from the Jesus Christus Erlöser show.

Klaus looking cute in his little pullover in La femme enfant, 1980, dir Raphaële Billetdoux.  I haven’t seen this film yet, but I really want to so I must get it even if it has to be without subtitles.

I’m not sure which film this is from – if anyone knows (Konrad?) send in some information, please!  I really want to see it (if I haven’t already) – Klaus in a hat, a dickie bow and sticking his tongue out as well, what’s not to like?!

This looks like it’s from Nachtblende again, but I could be wrong.  Anyone know?  A fabulous look though.

A shot from one of my favourite Klaus Kinski films, Zoo zéro, 1979, dir Alain Fleischer.  With the lovely Catherine Jourdan.

And finally two great shots of Klaus with Minhoi:

I don’t speak Italian but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that these photos were around the time of Klaus’ marriage to Minhoi and the press information also seems to mention the fact that Klaus was playing Edgar Allan Poe in Nella stretta morsa del ragno, 1971, dir Antonio Margheriti.  Anyway, what a handsome couple they made!

What’s next? I guess it’s that long awaited review of Commando Leopard

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The Berlin Guide to Klaus Kinski Pt 2 (2012)

Well, I have finally got my Berlin holiday photographs back so now I can provide a little update on Kinski related places to visit in Berlin.  I didn’t manage to get around everywhere I wanted to go but I did see and photograph a few more places, and revisited a couple from Part One to get better photographs too.

Anyway, without further ado – The Berlin Guide to Klaus Kinski Pt 2:

Friedrich-List-Schule, previously the Prinz-Heinrich Gymnasium – last time I visited I went around to the Klixstraße side of the school and got a really bad shot of some scaffolding as they were obviously doing some building work at the time.  This time I went around to the Grunewaldstraße side and got a slightly better shot:

Klaus Kinski attended the school in 1936 – or maybe he didn’t, as he claims to have skipped school for seven months because he preferred to hang around the streets!

Another place I previously visited in 2010, but here’s a different shot of it – the Paris-Bar,  Kantstraße 152:

I won’t repeat the story again but suffice to say that Klaus went to the Paris-Bar with his friend Sasha Kropotkin and met a Polish stripper…

On 16 November 1958, Klaus performed Der Ketzer von Soana by Gerhart Hauptmann at the Konzertsaal der Hochschule für Musik, Fasanenstraße 1:

From 7 – 20 June 1958, Klaus Kinski performed his Rimbaud recital at the Kammerspiele in der Kongreßhalle, John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10.  Then from 26 June – 4 July 1958 he performed his Villon recital there, and a show of extracts from Villon, Rimbaud, Goethe, Schiller, Wilde and Mayakovsky on 2 December 1960.

Whilst at the Kongreßhalle, I took the opportunity to hang out in the Tiergarten:

It’s kind of apt that this photograph of the bushes came out a little dark looking (and there’s a bunny rabbit in front of the bushes if you look hard enough), as it was in the Tiergarten that Klaus met the mysterious British Countess who wrote to him asking him to recite the Hamlet soliloquies for her, alone in her castle.  Over to Klaus:

“One week later she calls me up.  We are to meet in the Tiergarten.  You never know.  We take a long walk, and she rattles on about Hamlet.  She’s not pretty, nor does she turn me on particularly.  If worse came to worst, I could f*** her right in the Tiergarten.  Then I wouldn’t have to go to England, where the beer is as warm as p*** and has no head.  Her Hamlet obsession is starting to get on my nerves.

It’s drizzling.  I suggest that we take cover in the bushes to escape the rain, and so we charge into a thicket.  We find a place where we can’t be seen from anywhere.  I strip her naked and lay her out on the damp soil; she’s embarrassed because she’s having her period….

Long past nightfall I say I have to leave.  She remains lying in the bushes.

…Two weeks later Scotland Yard phones to ask if I know where the countess is; they say she hasn’t returned to England and that she left my address behind.  I tell them I don’t know her.  That she did plan to visit me but never called.

So the countess has vanished.  What’s next?”

(Kinski Uncut, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 1997, p143)

Here’s a vintage postcard I found of the Tiergarten and the Kongreßhalle.

Next up is the Standesamt Berlin-Charlottenburg, Alt-Lietzow 28:

This is where Klaus married Ruth Brigitte Tocki on 31 October 1960.

Now, this is somewhere that Klaus did NOT perform, apparently – the Schiller Theater, Bismarckstraße 110:

The reason the Schiller is mentioned is because…:

“Some asshole artistic director has the nerve to keep asking me if I’d be willing to perform at Berlin’s Schiller Theater.  His assistant keeps calling me, but I tell him: “You could offer me any amount of dough, but I’d rather do the lousiest movie than set even one foot in your graveyard!””

(Kinski Uncut, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 1997, p185)

So, there you have the “graveyard” that Klaus avoided at all costs!

Another place previously visited in 2010, the Gloria Palast, Kurfürstendamm 12-13.  Three shots, take your pick:

Again, I won’t repeat the entire story but Klaus met an usherette at the Gloria Palast and took her back to his apartment on Uhlandstraße.

Next up another theatre Klaus might not have actually performed in, but he does claim to have rented it for his recitals in Kinski Uncut (p129) – the New Philharmonic Konzerthaus, Gendarmenmarkt 2:

Now, I believe this to be correct but I’m not sure – the Ellington Hotel, Nürnberger Straße 50-52, is on the site of the old Berliner Theater where Klaus performed Villon, Rimbaud, Hauptmann and Wilde for ten days running from 12 -21 June 1959:

In mid July 1958 Klaus went to stay with his brother Hans-Joachim at Berchtesgadener Straße 20:

By the end of August that year, Klaus moved into a new place at Prinzregentenstraße 9:

In 1952, whilst working on Der Idiot with Tatjana Gsovsky, Klaus moved into her apartment at Fasanenstraße 64:

In Kinski Uncut (p110), Klaus says:  “In Berlin, I live with Tatjana.  She makes my bed, cleans my room, cooks for me and takes care of everything else.  She also trains sixteen hours a day.”  Sounds like the ideal landlady!

I have one more location photograph, but for the life of me I can’t find the reference to the location in any of my books now – I will seek it out and include it at a later date.

Finally, here is some Klaus Kinski graffiti artwork found by chance in the streets of Berlin.  Looks like Cobra Verde maybe:

That’s all folks!

Information and dates taken from Kinski Uncut The Autobiography of Klaus Kinski (Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 1997) and Kinski die Biographie by Christian David (Aufbau, Berlin, 2008).  Photographs by me, taken with my Diana F+ camera.

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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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