Friday, December 5, 2014

R.I.P.: Joachim Fuchsberger, Part III: 1966-2007

The German-Australian actor seen in numerous fun Edgar Wallace movies and krimis and more. He always got the girl. In the English-speaking world, he was sometimes credited as Akim Berg or Berger.

Go here for Part I: 1953-1960
Go here for Part II: 1961-65

Wer kennt Johnny R.?
(1966, dir. José Luis Madrid)
Aka La Balada De Johnny Ringo, 5000 $ für den Kopf von Johnny R. and Who Killed Johnny Ringo — the name "Johnny Ringo" being that of one the more famous if tertiary badmen of the wild west, John Peters Ringo (3 May 1850 — 13 July 1882). Among the many films, books, comics and other stuff his legend inspired is Lorne Greene's historically inaccurate country hit single, Ringo.
Lorne Greens sings Ringo in French:
Joachim Fuchsberger makes his second appearance in the wild west, playing second string to the child molester Lex Barker in this sauerkraut western directed in Spain for the German producer Artur "Tax Evasion" Brauner by Spaniard José Luis Madrid, the director of the Paul Naschy flick 7 Murders for Scotland Yard (1971 / groovy soundtrack) and Los crímenes de Petiot (1973 / scene) and The Horrible Sexy Vampire (1970 / trailer), amongst other fine cheese.
with Scenes from Wer kennt Johnny R.?
Spaghetti Western Net explains the plot: "Johnny Ringo is the mysterious leader of a gang terrorizing the region. His fiancée Bea (Marianne Koch of Coast of Skeletons [1965]) is the only one who has ever seen his face. One day the sheriff (Isidro Novellas) of a small western town thinks he has him cornered, but Johnny and his men take refuge in the ranch of an ex-army colonel, Jason Conroy (Sieghardt Rupp of Mädchen für die Mambo-Bar [1959]). The ranch is set ablaze and all people inside, including the Colonel's wife and children, die in the fire. Johnny Ringo is supposed to have perished in the fire too, but Colonel Conroy thinks he has escaped. One day Conroy receives a letter from the troubadour Monroe (Ralf Wolter of Dracula Blows His Cool [1979 / scene]), who tells him the villain is working as a marksman named Clyde Smith (Joachim Fuchsberger) for a travelling arms dealer."
While It Lasts —
The Full Movie, but Not in English:
SWN finds the movie disjointed and without rhythm, and goes on to say: "In spite of the presence of Lex Barker and Ralf Wolter [...] we're far removed from the romanticized world of Karl May, but there's no real spaghetti western atmosphere either. [...] Apart from the rather gruesome opening and the final shootout, there's not much western action. [...] Wer kennt Johnny Ringo? is uneven and far from great, but still has its moments. It was nicely shot on various locations in the North-East of Spain, among them the famous mountain range near Montserrat. [...] The film has a fine cast, with Marianne Koch (the eternal beauty of the Sauerkraut western) and Sieghardt Rupp both fresh from A Fistful of Dollars (1964 / trailer below), but I think the movie would've worked better if Fuchsberger and Barker had swapped roles. Fuchberger isn't a bad actor, but he doesn't fit the western genre very well and wasn't in the best physical form while making this movie. As a result, some of the action scenes look very poor. At the same time, Barker's role as the shady salesman is too passive."

Trailer to a Much Better Western —
A Fistful of Dollars (1964): 

Siebzehn Jahr, blondes Haar
(1966, dir. Franco Montemurro)
The Italian Franco Montemurro (1 Nov 1920 — 1992) was primarily active as a second unit director and only made five films of his own, of which this one, an Italo-German music film, is the second. Literally translated, the title would be "17 Years [Old], Blonde Hair", but when it was finally released in the English-speaking world in 1968, it was entitled Crazy Baby and/or The Battle of the Mods, the latter which is a literal translation of the Italian title, La battaglia dei mods. 
First 13 Minutes:
TCM has the plot: "Ricky Fuller (Ricky Shayne), a 20-year-old Liverpool guitar-player and member of the Mods, takes part in a gang war against the Rockers. His girlfriend is killed in the fracas, and Ricky flees with the police in pursuit. He travels from London to Paris and Genoa and finally to Rome, where he seeks out his father, Robert (Joachim Fuchsberger), an oil tycoon. The meeting does nothing to bridge the gap between Ricky and his father, who is planning a second marriage to Sonia (Elga Andersen, 2 Feb 1935 — 7 Dec 1994, of Un omicidio perfetto a termine di legge [1971 / soundtrack], Django — schwarzer Gott des Todes aka Starbuck [1968 / German trailer] and Ein Sarg aus Hongkong [1964 / German trailer]), a member of Italian high society. Sonia attempts to seduce Ricky, and the rivalry between father and son eventually drives Ricky from the comfortable surroundings of Robert's house. He becomes involved in the decadent life of young performers in Rome, meanwhile falling in love with Martine (Eleonora Brown of Two Women [1960 / full movie], Fifteen Scaffolds for the Killer aka 15 forche per un assassino (1967 / trailer) and Sieben Jungfrauen für den Teufel (1968 / German trailer]), Sonia's sister. Finally, Ricky succeeds in escaping with Martine from the morass of decadence in which they have been engulfed."
Udo Jürgens sings the Title Track —
Siebzehn Jahr, blondes Haar:
The movie made the French singer Ricky Shayne, born George Albert Tabett, a pop star in Germany for awhile, but nowadays he resides deep in the corner known as "Whateverhappenedto?"
Ricky Shayne sings No No No No
(from The Battle of the Mods):

Lange Beine — lange Finger
(1966, dir. Alfred Vohrer)
Aka Long Legs, Long Fingers. Alfred Vohrer was a very productive director who usually averaged 2 to 3 films a year; he made this one the same year as Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand (1966 / German trailer) and Der Bucklige von Soho (1966 / German trailer) for producers Artur Brauner & Götz Dieter Wulf, the team that also brought you Russ Meyer's Fanny Hill (1964 / trailer).
Trailer to
Russ Meyer's Fanny Hill (1964):

Kinowelt has an English-language plot description: "Baron Holberg (Martin Held) and his extremely attractive daughter Dodo (Senta Berger, of Sherlock Holmes & das Halsband des Todes [1962]) lead a real jet-set life of luxury. However, they don't exactly earn the small change necessary for this rather costly lifestyle in a very honorable manner. Dodo is a skilled pickpocket while her beloved father has the best connections to the people who fence stolen diamonds. This puts them in the money... Baron Holberg therefore sets great value on solidifying the good business contacts to Mr. Snapper (Zeev Berlinsky), the most important diamond fence, with a family bond, which is the reason why Dodo should marry Mr. Snapper's son (Walter Wilz of Carmen Baby [1967 / trailer below]). But she falls in love with the renowned London lawyer, Robert Hammond (Joachim Fuchsberger), and wants to put her criminal past behind her as fast as possible. In order to sabotage her date with Lawyer Hammond, Daddy Holberg must stoop to trickery..."
Trailer to
Radley Metzger's Carmen Baby (1967):
To loosely translate the opinion of Kino Tagebuch: "Between his numerous Edgar Wallace variations, Alfred Vohrer pushed out this terribly well-behaved, unimaginative love and thievery comedy which not unskillfully simulates international flair, shady laissez-faire and satirical insubordination. But the playful ensemble, an André Courrèges-esque costume design and the realization that the honest have surpassed the dishonest because they have learned to be dishonest honestly cannot transform the conventionally hearted boldness of a stuffy boulevard play into a biting social persiflage."
While It Lasts —
The Full Film in German:

Bel Ami 2000
oder Wie verführt man einen Playboy?
(1966, dir. Michael Pfleghar)
From the movie —
Bel Ami a Go Go:
Fuchsberger takes some time off to play a tertiary role in a Peter Alexander flick aka How to Seduce a Playboy. Director Michael Pfleghar, who killed himself on 23 June 1991, was a TV director who over the course of his career made a grand total of three theatrically released movies, this one, Serenade für zwei Spione / Serenade for Two Spies (1965), and Die Tote von Beverly Hills (1964), the last which we looked at briefly at our R.I.P. Career Review of Walter Giller. Bel Ami 2000 is based on a novel of the same name by Anatol Bratt who, coincidentally, that same year wrote the screenplay to the guilty pleasure Wie tötet man eine Dame? aka How to Kill a Lady aka Target for a Killing (1966 / see below). This Peter Alexander movie here, actually, also verges on being a guilty pleasure...
Credit Sequence to
Target for a Killing:
TCM knows the plot: "A giant computer used by the editors of the internationally famous men's magazine Bel Ami to select their 'Playboy of the Year' spits out the name of Peter Keller (Peter Alexander), a bespectacled young accountant. Although the computer has obviously erred, senior reporter Boy Schock (Renato Salvatori of Burn! [1969 / trailer]) suggests that the magazine transform Keller into a public heart-throb and thus spare itself unfavorable publicity. Schock and Keller leave for a tour, during which the mild young man will be photographed with beautiful women around the world. Meanwhile, Vera (Antonella Lualdi), a rival reporter, learns of the computer's blunder and follows the pair to Paris in order to expose the fraud. En route, Keller is harassed by a number of women, all of whom compete for his renowned romantic attentions. Schock takes Keller to Tokyo, where the 'playboy', mistaken for U. S. Navy aquanaut Frank Peppiat, is forced to test a new underwater rocket. His supersonic voyage ends in Rome, where he is captivated by film star Anita Biondo (Scilla Gabel of Mill of the Stone Women [1960 / trailer], Colossus of the Arena [1962 / full movie] and Modesty Blaise [1966 / trailer]), who converts him into the dashing lover described by the magazine's publicity writers. When Vera finally catches up with the pair, she learns of Anita's passion for Keller and decides that perhaps his selection as 'Playboy of the Year' was not a hoax. Vera finally lands her man, though she loses her story in the process."
Over at imdb, jan onderwater of Amsterdam calls the movie "embarrassing" and says: "This is not only one of the endless 60's German/Austrian so-called comedies you feel ashamed watching, and after 30 years it must be an embarrassment for those involved as this one is also very badly made. TV director Pfleghar [...] shows no affinity with filmmaking; he inserts tricks that may be good enough for TV, but not for cinema."

Mister Dynamit —
morgen küßt Euch der Tod
(1967, dir. Franz Josef Gottlieb)
Opening Scene:

Aka Die Slowly, You'll Enjoy It More and Spy Today, Die Tomorrow. Fuchsberger makes a cameo appearance as an army MP in this Italo-German spy flick starring the child-molesting Lex Barker. Fuchsberger spends less time on screen than we took to write this entry on the movie.
This movie is one of three films, as far as we know, based on the writing of the Teutonic pulp scribe "C.H. Guenter" (24 March 1924 — 5 June 2005) aka "Bert F. Island" and "Joe Amsterdam" and who-knows-what-else — real name: Karl-Heinz Günther — an author hardly known in his homeland and definitely unknown outside, as it seems that little to none of his work has been translated into other languages. He created the once extremely popular German pulp-fiction figure Joe Walker, a NY-based private eye better known as "Kommissar X". There were a good half dozen Italo-German Kommissar X movies made between 1966 (Kommissar X — Jagd auf Unbekannt [German trailer]) and 1971 (Kommissar X jagt die roten Tiger [German trailer]), all starring Tony Kendall and the hunkadelic Brad Harris (of The Mutations [1973 / see below]), plus a couple of TV series; however, only two of the entries in the movie series, Kommissar X — Drei gelbe Katzen (1966 / German trailer) and Kommissar X — Drei grüne Hunde (1967 / German trailer), are based on books written by C.H. Guenter before he gave up the series to other authors.
Trailer to
The Mutations aka The Freakmaker (1973),
with Brad Harris:
In 1965, C.H. Guenter created a new pulp series built around the BND (German Federal Intelligence Agency) agent named Robert (Bob) Urban, alias "Mister Dynamit" (German spelling). Gottlieb's movie, Mister Dynamit — morgen küßt Euch der Tod, the title of which means "Mister Dynamite — Death Will Kiss You Tomorrow", is based on the same-named Pabel Pocket Novel No. 212, the very first Mister Dynamit pulp novel ever. (It is not in any way inspired by the forgotten 1935 Universal movie Mister Dynamite, which is based on a Dashiell Hammett short story.) Mister Dynamit — morgen küßt Euch der Tod was planned to be the first of a movie series ala Jerry Cotton, Dr Mabuse, Kommissar X, etc., etc., but after Lex Barker had to sue to get paid he dropped the project and it never got picked up again.
Flick Facts has the plot: "Millionaire Baretti (Amedeo Nazzari) pays a gang to rob an atomic bomb from an American silo, and then blackmails the USA Government for a huge amount of money. German secret service (BND) agent 'Dynamite' (Lex "I Want Candy" Barker) will use his fists, guns and more in a violent bomb chase. In the end, Barelli's accomplices are dead or arrested, but he escapes unmolested, while Mr. Dynamite spends time in a Mediterranean resort with a lovely woman (Maria Perschy [23 Sept 1938 — 3 Dec 2004] of The Ghost Galleon [1974 / trailer], The People Who Own the Dark [1976 / trailer] and Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll [1974 / trailer])."
Over at imdb, gridoon2014 is of the opinion that "The title [...] (Spy Today, Die Tomorrow) is much better than the movie itself. Lex Barker plays a CIA agent whose only distinguishing characteristic seems to be the fact that he's a ventriloquist! He is assigned to stop a villain whose only distinguishing characteristic seems to be the fact that he enjoys playing around with model trains. Oh, he also has stolen an atomic bomb and he threatens to drop it somewhere in the USA if they don't pay him one billion dollars. Sounds kind of similar to Thunderball (1965 / trailer), and the film does boast OK production values and a good music score, but it's overlong and not too strong on coherence, either. The women have limited roles (as does, surprisingly, third-billed Brad Harris), which is probably another reason why I found this one often boring, which is the last thing a Eurospy entry should be."
German trailer to
Mr Dynamit:

Feuer frei auf Frankie
(1967, dir. José Antonio de la Loma)
The Spanish director and author and screenwriter José Antonio de la Loma (4 March 1924 — 6 April 2004) was active in both serious and genre projects; Feuer frei auf Frankie (aka Target Frankie and Playboy to Kill) belongs to the latter. Fuchsberger plays the title character, Frankie Bargher, as well as Frankie's older brother, Dr Werner Bargher. Here in Europe, at least, the forgotten movie was recently re-released on DVD.

Fan-made trailer to
Feuer frei auf Frankie:
The Kiss Kiss Kill Kill Archive says: "Kicking off with a fun pop art cut-out animation sequence, the film zips along with a jolly Piero Umiliani score. Professor Peers (Charles Fawcett of The Witch's Curse [1962 / trailer] and I vampiri [1957 / full movie] and Capitan Sindbad [1963 / trailer]) is killed and his assistant Dr Werner Bargher (Fuchsberger) is wounded by an international organisation 'Rainbow'. CIA agents Maud Taylor (Erica Blanc) and Kaiser (Eddi Arent) are sent to find his playboy brother to impersonate him. Fuchsberger is to be found on the sky slopes of Switzerland. By employing him they can draw out the enemy whilst protecting his brother. [...] Fuchsberger has to fend off assassination attempts not to mention sultry Elena (Rosealba Neri) and her red sports car. There is plenty of action: double crossing, helicopter pursuits, kidnapping, gas, machine guns and visionary science. (Chinese scientists include E=MC2 in their calculus to work out the Peers formula.) Feuer frei auf Frankie is a worthwhile and overlooked Eurospy entry that has an upbeat feel and plenty to enjoy. 6/10"

The German-language website Splash Movies seems to disagree with KKKKA's verdict of the film, saying: "The story of a formula for a revolutionary fuel is far from innovative. The object of desire is, as Alfred Hitchcock would've said, merely a MacGuffin that is arbitrarily interchangeable and is only needed to set the action in motion. The rest of the story doesn't look any different. Sonny boy Frankie stumbles from one gangster attack to the next, frees himself, and then flirts a bit with the ladies. In-between, there's some deliberate confusion backstage that's hardly worth talking about, and the suspense actually gets in the way. Individual scenes are certainly entertaining, but the movie is simply too slack to be solidly entertaining."

Trailer for a TV broadcast of
Feuer frei auf Frankie:
Although we haven't seen Feuer frei auf Frankie, we find it hard to believe that a movie that has Erica Blanc (of Kill Baby Kill [1966 / trailer], The Devil's Nightmare [1971 / trailer], The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave [1971 / Italo trailer], Mark of the Devil II [1973 / trailer] and A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (1974 / Spanish TV trailer]) and Rosealba Neri (of Lady Frankenstein [1971], The Beast Kills in Cold Blood [1971 / trailer], The French Sex Murders [1972 / German trailer], Full Moon of the Virgins* [1973 / Italo trailer], L'amante del demonio [1972 / title melody] and the José Ramón Larraz movie La muerte incierta [1973 / trailer]) as the two female leads can be all that bad...

* This film (Full Moon of the Virgins) and Django's Cut Price Corpses (1971 / trailer), are supposedly re-edits — with new scenes added — of the "lost" trash film Django Vampire Hunter (1970 / trailer), all films credited to the dead and under-appreciated Italo Z-film auteur and "hack-of-all-trades" Luigi Batzella (27 May 1924 — 18 Nov 2008)... and we have a bridge to sell you.

Der Mönch mit der Peitsche
(1967, dir. Alfred Vohrer)
Aka The Monk with the Whip and The College-Girl Murders. Three years after Alfred Vohrer's B&W Der Hexer, Fuchsberger finally does another Wallace film, the 27th of the series, which was at that point in the full flower of its pop-colored Baroque persiflage phase. Gone were all traces of Expressionism and any true horror, and the Italo-sleaze of the last films had yet to raise its head. And just like Vohrer's Der Gorilla von Soho (trailer), which was to follow a year later in 1968, was a remake of Vohrer's 1966 Wallace Der Bücklige von Soho (trailer), Der Mönch mit der Peitsche is a "re-envisioning" of Harald Reinl's 1965 B&W Wallace Der Unheimliche Mönch (trailer). We have a review of this movie on the back burner — we weren't exactly thrilled by it — but for now, let's look what other people have to say about it.

German trailer:
DVD Verdict says: "[...] This genre-blending slice of European cheese [...] promises a lot of ghoulish thrills dressed up in late '60s kitsch. [...] There's not much to recommend here for horror fans. Sure, the red monk is an appropriately ghoulish fiend; but this is really more of a quirky detective story than a horror film. The two detectives get the most screen time, and a lot of their deducing is played for laughs. [...] Viewers going into this film expecting suspense will be surprised to see so much screen time devoted to two clowns and their verbal slapstick. The movie might be lacking in story and acting, but it has great production design. [...] Also worth noting is the '60s era horns-and-bongos-centric score, which will really get your toes tapping. [...] As a relic of another time, this one can't be beat. A lot of fans have compared it to campy classics such as the Adam West Batman, or the '60s spy capers such as Our Man Flint (1966 / trailer). Fans of that era, and that style, will probably find a few laughs here. But for the rest of us, the bad far outweighs the good."
Trailer to
Starring Adam West (2014):
The blogspot Watching the Detectives totally hates the flick, which perhaps explains the brevity of their plot description: "The students and staff are dropping like flies at an all-girl's college: They are being gassed with an unusual poison and having their necks snapped by a mysterious, whip-wielding figure in a red cloak and hood. Will brilliant sleuth Inspector Higgins (Fuchsburger) find the connection between the killings and find the murderers before so many of the characters are killed there won't be a mystery left?"

Both Der Mönch mit der Peitsche and 1965's Der Unheimliche Mönch, by the way, were inspired (based on?) Edgar Wallace's novel The Terror, from 1929, which in turn was based on an earlier play of his; the novel was released a year after director Roy del Ruth made the first film version of the "gothic" thriller in 1928, likewise entitled The Terror, which according to Denis Gifford's Pictorial History of Horror Movies, as the second full-length talkie ever made, is also the first sound horror film ever made. A commercial success — and, according to Gifford, an artistic one, too — del Ruth's now-lost version of The Terror inspired two later remakes: Howard Bretherton's criminal comedy The Return of the Terror (1934), a sequel of sorts starring Mary Astor and Lyle Talbot (and featuring J. Carroll Naish) which, while not lost has yet to make it off the shelves of the Library of Congress, and the far more serious (and true to its source) British production directed by Richard Bird four years later, again entitled simply The Terror.

Full Movie —
Richard Bird's The Terror (1938):

Der Mönch mit der Peitsche was the last Wallace film that the great Martin Böttcher was to score. 

(1968, dir. Alfred Vohrer)
English Trailer:

Based on the Wallace novel The Hand of Power. In 1968, the year after Der Mönch mit der Peitsche, Alfred Vohrer assembly-lined three complete Edgar Wallace movies, the ridiculous Der Gorilla von Soho aka The Gorilla Gang (German trailer), the entertaining if childish Der Hund von Blackwood Castle aka The Horror of Blackwood Castle (German trailer), and this movie here, Im Banne des Unheimlichen aka The Hand of Power aka The Zombie Walks. Fuchsburger returns as Inspektor Higgins in Im Banne des Unheimlichen, but Sir John (Siegfried Schürenberg), who producer Horst Wendlandt jettisoned because he asked for a pay raise, was replaced by a new head of Scotland Yard, the queeny but — like Sir John — emphatically heterosexual Sir Author (Hubert "Hubsi" von Meyerinck, rather gay in real life); Sir Author lasted 3 Wallace movies (von Meyerinck, however, actually appeared in 5 Wallace movies in total).
German Trailer:
For our opinion of the movie, read our review found here.

To loosely translate the plot description as given at and by Rialto Film: "At the funeral for Sir Oliver, the ghastly laughter of the dead man resounds from the coffin. Peggy Ward (Siv Mattson) — a reporter — writes about and continues investigating the incident. Then, those belonging to the immediate circle of the dead Sir Oliver begin dying mysterious deaths — indeed, Sir Oliver's brother, Sir Cecil (Wolfgang Kieling), believes that Sir Oliver's ghost is out to get him. But Inspector Higgins (Fuchsberger) does not believe in ghosts. Together with the reporter Peggy, he sets out to unravel the mystery of the laughing corpse."

Trash Film Addict is of the opinion "The Hand of Power is set in that fabled '60s universe where cars are always driven at top speed with much swerving, men in turtleneck jumpers have lots of oil in their hair, women are all gorgeous, submissive bimbos and fall prey to clumsy killers readily and everyone — especially doctors — lights up using those enormous lighters. Ultimately I cannot say I loved The Hand of Power. It was too talky, too conventional and just too lightweight. There were some nice stylistic flourishes, including the trippy opening credits animation sequence, some atmospheric scenes and a kitschy killer wearing a black cape, fedora and an oversized skull mask. There's fun to be had with this movie, just don't expect it to ever take itself seriously."

The relatively untalented Swede playing Peggy, Siv Mattson, went on to have minor parts in two Swedish exploiters, One Swedish Summer (1968 / trailer below) and Eva: Swedish and Underage (1969) and then disappeared.
Trailer to
One Swedish Summer (1968):

Som havets nakna vind (1968) US TRAILER von klubbsuper8

Himmelfahrtskommando El Alamein
(1968, dir. Armando Crispino)
In this Italo war film, Fuchsburger — listed last on the opening credits, even after Götz George, as "Akim Berg" — plays the "Good Nazi" of the movie, Oberleutnant Heitzel Agen (aka Professor); he'd rather be teaching than killing, but duty is duty. Aka Commandoes and Sullivan's Marauders, the movie is supposedly based on a short story by Menahem Golan (!) and Dario Argento is one of the four credited scriptwriters.
As is director Armando Crispino (18 Oct 1924 — 6 Oct 2003), an unjustly forgotten director of limited output who is remembered today — if at all — by cult film fans for his horror movies The Dead Are Alive (1972 / trailer) and Autopsy (1975 / trailer) as well as his violent western John the Bastard (1967), his nunsploitation entry, The Castro's Abbess La badessa di Castro (1974 / film), and the totally obscure comic sexploitation horror movie, Frankenstein all'italiana (1975 / scene).
Full Public Domain Movie —
The Ace Black Blog, which doesn't like the movie but nevertheless says "Commandos does find a unique and memorable ending, a quiet anti-war moment forcing reflection on the wastes of war", explains the plot: "Sergeant Sullivan (Lee Van Cleef) is in charge of an American commando unit, tasked with parachuting into North Africa to seize and hold a strategic water supply site at a desert oasis. Sullivan and his men are to eliminate the Italian squad defending the well, and fool the nearby German units until the full American invasion force arrives to relieve the pressure. Sullivan immediately clashes with Captain Valli (Jack Kelly of She Devil [1957 / trailer] and Cult of the Cobra [1955 / trailer]), an inexperienced officer assigned to lead the operation. [...] The North Africa mission initially unfolds relatively smoothly, except that Valli refuses to kill all the Italian defenders, taking some as prisoners instead. The ruse to convince the Germans that all is well at the oasis hits some rough spots when a German engineering unit makes an unexpected appearance at the well, and the mission ultimately begins to unravel when the Italian prisoners take the initiative."

Eccentric Cinema, on the other hand, is of the opinion that "Commandos is an interesting, above-average example of the Italian 'Macaroni Combat' genre. Don't expect any lighthearted moments of humor as in Inglorious Bastards (1978 / trailer) — it's an uncompromisingly grim, downbeat affair. War is anything but an adventure in this film, a reflection of not just the Vietnam era in which it was made but also one a little bit closer to reality." 

Sieben Tage Frist
(1969, dir. Alfred Vohrer)
The movie can be watched in English at
Alfred Vohrer promptly followed up his last Edgar Wallace movie, Der Mann mit dem Glasauge (1969 / German trailer), with the now forgotten sex comedy Herzblatt oder Wie sag' ich's meiner Tochter? / Heart Break (1969) and this krimi here, aka School of Fear and/or Seven Days Grace. It's based on the novel Sieben Tage Frist für Schramm by Paul Hendrick (aka Edvard Hoop, 19 May 1925 — 5 Nov 2008), and it would seem that although this is a Krimi of sorts, this movie was one of Vohrer's "more serious" projects. God knows the trailer is boring enough...

Trailer to
Sieben Tage Frist:
Film Affinity has the plot: "At a boarding school for boys in Northern Germany, one student named Kurrat (Arthur Richelmann) vanishes one night without informing anybody after having had a fight with one of the teachers. Soon, the police under the command of Inspector Klevenow (Horst Tappert of Jess Franco's She Killed in Ecstasy [1971 / German trailer], The Devil Came from Akasava [1971 / German trailer] and Der Todesrächer von Soho [1972 / a German trailer]) learns of Kurrat's ambivalent, at times rebellious personality and that he was admired by many of his fellow students, jealously despised by some and strongly disliked by a few of the teachers. The interrogations reveal that Kurrat could either be dead or actually playing a macabre joke. Has somebody been too jealous, vengeful, disappointed or betrayed? Has someone killed Kurrat and plunged his body into the near sea? When Stallmann (Paul Albert Krumm of the unjustly unknown movie Jonathan [1970 / German trailer]), a teacher with whom Kurrat was rumored to have had an affair, and Kurrat's father (Otto Stern) are found dead, the mystery grows. And when Kurrat finally and unexpectedly reappears alive, things get even more enigmatic. The solution of the mystery lasts back a long time into the past...

TV Guide gives away the motive: "A concentration camp doctor has taken on the identity of a camp victim and become a teacher in a posh boarding school. Here he is recognized by the father of one of his pupils, and is told that he has seven days in which to give himself up. A series of murders is the result."

Schreie in der Nacht
(1969, writ. & dir. Antonio Margheriti)
A rarity among Fuchsberger's films: he plays a bad person — but then, everyone in this film is a bad person. Aka Contranatura, Screams in the Night and The Unnaturals. 
Italian Trailer to
Yet another relatively forgotten crime thriller chiller cum horror film by the great trash master Antonio Margheriti — Alien from the Deep (1989), Web of the Spider (1971 / German trailer — a remake of his 1964 movie, Castle of Blood), The Virgin of Nuremberg (1963 / Italo trailer), Castle of Blood (1964 / trailer), Killer Fish (1979 / trailer), Cannibal Apocalypse (1980 / trailer), The War of the Planets (1966 / trailer), Battle of the Worlds (1961 / trailer), Assignment Outer Space (1960 / trailer), Yor (1983 / trailer), The Wild Wild Planet (1965 / trailer) and more more more — once again directing as "Anthony M. Dawson".
Castle of Blood
Margheriti's B&W Classic with Barbara Steele in Full:
It was a dark and stormy night ... a group underway gets stranded in the rain ... they take refuge in a secluded, nearby house inhabited by an old lady and her son....
At DD Cult, Phil Hardy, who doesn't seem to find the movie all that good, gives everything away: "After the psycho set in a girl's school, Nude… si muore (1968 / trailer), Antonio Margheriti, in a lean period, concocted this routine tale, set in England in the thirties, of a group of travelers, all with murky pasts, seeking refuge in an old mansion inhabited by a weird old woman and her son, both devoted spiritualists. The old woman, in a trance during a séance, reveals the horrible crimes committed by her guests, which includes incest and murder. It turns out that the spiritualista are in fact ghosts returning from the beyond to bring retribution: they unleash a flood which drowns everybody."

Over at imdb, on the other hand, Mario Gauci of Malta ( is of another opinion: "[...] It certainly ranks among the top three efforts by this major exponent that I am familiar with, along with two other Gothic horror entries i.e. The Long Hair of Death (1964 / full movie) and Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye (1973). For the record, this is a German-Italian co-production to which the director himself contributed the script — a highly atmospheric chiller (with a séance figuring prominently throughout) yet boasting an atypical elegance due to its 1920s England setting. Interestingly, the plot more or less harks back to vintage 'old dark house'-type pictures [...] which revolved around a gathering at some remote location for the sake of an inheritance that goes terribly wrong, resulting in a murder spree; actually, this takes things a bit further (also taking advantage of the permissiveness of the age with its inclusion of by-now quite mild instances of nudity) – where the vicissitudes of the crime are slowly assembled via multiple flashbacks (unveiling various illicit affairs, both financial and romantic, into the bargain) and the whole set-up ultimately revealed to be an elaborate retribution (incorporating surprisingly neat, i.e. not heavy-handed, apocalyptic connotations) from beyond the grave! [...]" 

Das Geheimnis der grünen Stecknadel
(1972, dir. Massimo Dallamano)
Four years after his last Edgar Wallace movie, Fuchsberger returns to the series which, by now, had entered its cheap and sleazy Italo phase and was gasping its last, desperate breaths. This one, based ever sooooo loosely on the Wallace novel The Clue of the New Pin, enjoys a very high level of cult popularity under the title What Have You Done to Solange? — in fact, some claim it to be one of the best Italo giallos of the 1970s. Although an Italo-German production, it was shot on location in London.
German Trailer:
Director Massimo Dallamano (17 April 1917—14 Nov 1976), whose career was cut short by a car accident, was primarily active as a cinematographer, but almost all the films he directed enjoy high levels of cult (if not critical) popularity. Among his projects: Bandidos (1967 / trailer), Venus In Furs (1969 / trailer), Dorian Gray (1970 / trailer), Super Bitch (1973 / music), What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1974 / trailer) and The Night Child (1975 / trailer).
The plot, in detail, from TV Guide: "The murder of a London schoolgirl leads to unsavory revelations about the students of an exclusive high school in this sleazy, well-crafted Italian-West German co-production. Italian gym teacher Enrico Rossini (Fabio Testi) is married to fellow teacher Herta (Karin Baal of Vinzent [2004 / German trailer]), and both work at St. Mary's Catholic School for Girls. Enrico is also engaged in an intense, flirtatious affair with a student, Elizabeth Eccles (Cristina Galbo of The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue [1974 / trailer] and The House that Screamed [1969 / trailer]), and while taking a boat ride with her on the Thames, she claims to see the flash of a knife from shore. He dismisses her fears, but the next day the body of young Hilda, another St. Mary's student, is found on the shore. Enrico incautiously goes to look at the body, and though all the teachers are interrogated by the police, he's singled out for suspicion by Inspector Barth (Joachim Fuchsberger). Reluctant to admit that he was near the crime scene because he fears that his relationship with Elizabeth will come to light, Enrico begins investigating on his own. A second student (Pilar Castel) is murdered, and then Elizabeth falls victim to the vicious killer immediately after admitting that she may have seen the killer, who was dressed in 'a long black habit' like a priest. Ironically, Elizabeth's death, and the revelation that she was still a virgin, brings Enrico and Herta closer together, and she helps him track down rumors that the three girls were part of a clique who participated in lesbian experimentation and wild sex parties with older men. The group included a girl named Solange (Camille Keaton of I Spit on Your Grave [1978 / trailer] and Tragic Ceremony [1972 / trailer]), to whom something terrible happened. Lust murder, Catholic school girls, lots of nudity and a general atmosphere of perversity helped make this nasty thriller a favorite of giallo fans."
English Trailer:
And like so many the Celluloid Highway likes the movie: "This is a film unusually interested in minor details, and the screenplay sets up a gallery of characters who are all hiding something. The film does waste far too much time on putting Enrico in the frame, but the revelations that end the film are genuinely surprising, and extremely effective. The grisly and shocking methodology of the killer becomes entirely plausible when the explanation is given. We are briefly afforded the sight of an X-ray of one of the victims, and it is amongst the most disturbing images to grace a giallo. In the first half of the film themes of innocence and purity are woven into the fabric of the narrative, and are then subverted in an ironic counterpoint at the conclusion. The film is full of little ironies, and it is able to alight on moments that seem inconsequential because of an incredibly patient and careful method of storytelling. The precise narrative is complimented by the beautiful and meticulous widescreen cinematography of Aristide Massaccesi; rarely has the frame been used to such excellent effect in a gialli. Another touch of pure class is the score by Ennio Morricone which is one of his most memorable. What Have You Done to Solange? is an unforgettable and poignant film, it is a quietly devastating examination of lost innocence. Its final freeze frame image of the bereft Solange (Camille Keaton) possibly the most haunting visual to feature in a giallo."

Ein Käfer gibt Vollgas
(1972, writ. & dir. Rudolf Zehetgruber)

Aka Superbug, Super Agent. We took a look at this rather pointless German version of Herbie the Lovebug at our R.I.P.: Career Review of Heinz Reincke, where we kept it short: "A cheap and crappie German sequel to The Love Bug Rally / Ein Käfer geht aufs Ganze (1970 / trailer), an almost as cheap and just as crappie German version of the Disney's The Love Bug (1968 / trailer) — two more German rip-offs were to follow by 1975." The latter two were entitled Ein Käfer auf Extratour aka Superbug: The Wild One (1973 / Australian trailer) and Das verrückteste Auto der Welt aka The Maddest Car in the World (1975 / German trailer). None of the three films other than this one here featured Fuchsberger anywhere.
Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings actually saw the movie, and said: "Given the fact that the primary human character of the Superbug movies has the name of Jimmy Bondi [director Rudolf Zehetgruber himself, credited as 'Robert Mark'], it's no surprise they should take a stab at the superspy genre. Still, the James Bond series weren't quaking in their boots with the encroachment of the Superbug series into their territory any more than the Herbie the Love Bug series did. I can't honestly say that the movie disappointed me, but that's because I've seen enough Superbug movies to keep my expectations where they belong (extremely low), and the movie was just as bad as I expected it would be. For the uninitiated, Superbug is a Volkswagen with a personality; it talks, and assaults anyone that insults it by hitting it with tires, hood ornaments, door handles, etc. Its big trick this time around is that it travels on water, and the movie is obsessed with showing this footage as much as possible. The movie is sluggish and painfully unfunny."
Rudolf Zehetgruber made better films than this, for example: Die schwarze Kobra (1963 / TV trailer), Die Nylonschlinge (1963 / German trailer), Das Wirtshaus von Dartmoor (1964 / trailer) and Das Geheimnis der chinesischen Nelke (1964 / trailer). 

Das Mädchen von Hongkong
(1973, dir. Jürgen Roland)
Aka From Hong Kong with Love and The Girl from Hong Kong. One Fuchsberger's last feature films before he concentrated on a long and successful career on television was this Wolf C. Hartwig production (the man behind Horrors of Spider Island [1960] and the mostly unknown — even in Germany — D-film, Isle of Sin [1960]). Fuchsberger had, of course, already worked with Jürgen Roland when Roland was pulled in to finish Die seltsame Gräfin (1961 / see Part II).
German Trailer:
We caught this movie many a year ago on late-nite TV — and fell asleep in the middle of it. All German reviews we've read about it, however, say it is psychotronically entertaining, so perhaps we were just tired that night.
The movie is supposedly based on the novel of the same name written by Herbert Reinecker (24 Dec 1914 — 27 Jan 2007), who also did the screenplay; Reinecker, a former supporter of the Nazi regime, editor-in-chief of the NS youth magazine Jungvolk and later war correspondent for the Waffen-SS, went on to become one of the most successful scriptwriters of Germany; he worked on six Edgar Wallace films, including one of our favorites, Die blaue Hand (1967 / trailer below).
Trailer to
Die blaue Hand:
Love Lock and Load says: "Spiced up with several fistfights, shoot-outs and some bare breasts (courtesy of Li Paelz and frequent Report-film starlet Eva Garden), the film features the ever likeable Joachim Fuchsberger as jack-of-all-trades Frank Boyd. Boyd arrives in Hong Kong trying to start a new life, only to find out that his friend Edward Collins (Jimmy Shaw) has been killed under mysterious circumstances. Before you can say 'Third Man', Boyd runs into shady figures and gets his life in danger more than once. The local police don't offer much help but finally Boyd manages to uncover the machinations of a large-scale drug syndicate all on his own. And then let's not forget that gorgeous Chinese beauty Mai Li (Li Paelz) whom Boyd has to take care of during his investigations... Das Mädchen von Hongkong is simple, light-hearted 70s crime action with the occasional red herring and story twist. Colourful and largely shot on location the film benefits a lot from the oriental setting, adding some interesting exotic flavour to what would otherwise have played out as rather unremarkable standard fare. Fuchsberger is in good form and steals the show with his tongue-in-cheek machismo attitude, not once losing his humour even when the bad guys try and give him a good thrashing (sorry guys, no martial arts here). Unfortunately, Véronique Vendell, Grégoire Aslan and bad guy Arthur Brauss don't get a lot to do with their rather underwritten parts and the Mai Li character is only loosely integrated in the plot. I had a good time with this picture, though — it makes for perfectly relaxed Sunday afternoon entertainment. The fabulous soundtrack is not credited to any composer as it is culled from music libraries." 

Der Fan
(1982, writ. & dir. Eckhart Schmidt)
Aka Blood Groupie and Trance. We saw this movie years and years ago at a late-night triple feature in Berlin with Joe D'Amato's Papaya Love Goddess of the Cannibals (1978 / trailer) and Umberto Lenzi's Mondo cannibale (1972 / trailer). In all truth, this obscure movie, which includes cannibalism but can hardly be called a cannibal movie, can also not really be counted as a Fuchsberger project: he only appears as a talking head on the television for half a second, long enough to say "Und hier kommt, 'R'." But what the fuck, he is there...
Fuchsberger's Big Second in
Der Fan:
A horror movie that attempts at both social criticism and black humor, Der Fan drowns in its own seriousness and is hampered by a beautiful but incapable female lead (Désirée Nosbusch as Simone, "The Fan") and an equally wooden Deutsche Neue Welle singer (Bodo Steiger as "R"). Nevertheless, it achieves a sordid consistency if depressiveness that makes it very hard to forget. It might bore you to death, but it also keeps you fascinated — a dichotomy that very few films can lay claim to.
Director Eckhart Schmidt, whose past projects includes his debut feature film Jet Generation — Wie Mädchen heute Männer lieben (1968 / title track), the horror film Loft — Die neue Saat der Gewalt (1985 / German trailer), the new wave thriller Alpha City (1985 / trailer) and a variety of other less interesting projects, is a Serious Filmmaker, the type one might find on Sprockets. (And The Fan, for all its sleaze and distasteful appeal, is likewise a Serious Film.) Nowadays, Eckhart Schmidt concentrates on making documentary films.
Sprockets Dance:
A Full Tank of Gas explains the basics: "Like many girls her age, pretty 17-year-old Simone (Nosbusch) has a crush on the latest teen pop sensation, a Kraftwerk-like singer known simply as ‘R’ (Steiger). But as Eckhardt Schmidt's Der Fan unfolds we quickly come to realise that Simone's fixation on her idol goes far beyond that of most ordinary girls. Each morning she accosts the local postman as he starts his round to see if R has responded to her letters to him. She believes they share a special bond, and that he loves her as much as she loves him, even though they've never met and he never responds to her letters. Although her romantic fantasies about R are harmless enough, her obsession begins to affect her school life and her relationship with her parents. Already something of a loner, Simone withdraws into a world that revolves only around her idol, and she decides to hitch-hike to Munich to meet him in person. Incredibly, not only does she manage to do this, her good looks are enough to win her an invitation to see him record his latest single for a TV pop show. However, when R takes her to a friend's apartment, things take a decidedly dark and twisted turn."
A Song from the Film
(Rheingold — Abfahrt):

Neues vom Wixxer
(2007, dir. Cyrill Boss & Philipp Stennert)
The inference to the Wallace movie Der Hexer (1964 / German trailer) and Neues vom Hexer (1965 / German trailer) is of course intentional. Much like the US has rediscovered all the hit TV shows of the past as a source for new major movie releases, in Germany they have begun to turn to their hit movies of the past as a source for new movies, usually comedies. The first that we took notice of was the hilarious Der Schuh des Manitu (2001 / trailer), which works best if you grew up on Winnetou (1963 / trailer) and friends.
A few years later, in 2004, director Tobi Baumann released the Edgar Wallace homage and persiflage Der Wixxer (trailer), a title which more or less translates into "The Wanker". The comedy was not only a hit at the box office, but funny as well, notable among other things as perhaps being one of the first German movies to use Hitler — in this case, a character named Hatler (Christoph Maria Herbst) — as the source of a running joke. They tried to get Fuchsberger to make a guest appearance in it, but convinced that the movie would be laughing at instead of with his earlier Wallace movies, he declined. Der Wixxer was a hit, and even Fuchsberger saw it — and liked it so much that he agreed to appear in the sequel, this film, Neues vom Wixxer, as Lord Dickham. It was his first "real" feature-film appearance in 33 years!
The plot? Who cares — of you don't speak German, you'll probably never see it anyways. Part III, entitled Triple WixXx, has been announced.

Joachim Fuchsberger — May He R.I.P.

1 comment:

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