Wednesday, July 20, 2011

R.I.P.: Heinz Reincke

Heinz Reincke
28 May 1925 (Kiel, Germany) – 13 July 2011 (Purkersdorf, Austria)

Born Karl-Heinz Reincke, as a young lad he originally followed his father's advice and studied at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in his hometown of Kiel, but by the age of 17, when he got his first theatre role at the city theatre of Landsberg an der Warthe, he knew that he was going to be an actor. His first film role came 12 years later, in 1955, in the TV movie Das heiße Herz ("The Hot Heart"), which was performed and broadcast live; a year later he debuted on the silver screen in Eugen York's Ein Herz kehrt heim ("A Heart Come Home"). At the time of his death at the age of 86 from lung cancer on 13 July 2011, he could look back at a career of hundreds of parts large and small in film, on TV and on stage, not to mention his numerous jobs as the German voice of such actors as James Coburn, Marlon Brando and Alec Guinness. Always a regular face on TV, after 1985 he no longer appeared in cinematic releases and concentrated instead on theater performances and a variety of popular television series, including such popular mainstream drivel as Schwarzwaldklinik ("Black Forest Clinic"), Zwei Münchner in Hamburg ("Two Munich Men in Hamburg") and Der Landarzt ("The Country Doctor"). Admittedly, Heinz Reincke is hardly a familiar name to most readers of this blog. But within the German-language sphere of Europe, neither his face nor name are unfamiliar. He may not have been an award-winning actor or even a cult actor, but he was a popular and long-lasting one and, as such, also offers an excellent example of the film career of the successful (non-international) German actor of the 60s and 70s: unlike, say, Gert Fröbe or Curd Jürgens or even Peter van Eyck, Reincke was a rare face in non-German productions and seldom the headlining star, but like many he moved without second thought between German exploitation and family films, pursuing his career where he could. For that, however, he also had a firm grip in the television industry and on the popular stage, which is perhaps one of the reasons his list of sleazy or exploitive projects is not quite as long as some of his contemporaries. Still, his career was a varied one, which is why it is also an interesting to look back upon.
And thus, here at A Wasted Life, we want to pay our respects to Heinz Reincke not for being the "people's actor" that he was, but for being the character actor he was throughout his career prior to abandoning the big screen in the mid-80s. Particularly during the years of the so-called crisis in German film (the 1960s, when attendance went into a free-fall), when the German film industry cut production and concentrated on genre and exploitation films, he was one of the familiar faces that would fill the important secondary or tertiary role. As such, aside from the occasional "serious" film, he appeared in numerous westerns, crime films, comedies, kiddy films, "Heimatfilme", exploitation films and other such popular movies that enjoyed local success but little international distribution and are today, in Germany, preferably ignored and forgotten by the masses. It is a period of German film history that is dire need of rediscovery and reevaluation, particularly for those who enjoy the type of trash that A Wasted Life does.
Heinz Reincke, may he R.I.P.

Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull / Confessions of Felix Krull
(1957, dir. Kurt Hoffmann)

Confessions of Felix Krull, based on the unfinished novel by Thomas Mann, is Reincke's first film of note, though he has only a small part as "Stanko." The poster above is from the original film release, while the excerpt below actually comes from the 1982 television mini-series remake with which Heinz Reincke had absolutely nothing to do. It is included here merely as an excuse to show some breasts, which we here at A Wasted Life are always happy to do.
Scene from the 1982 version of Confessions of Felix Krull:

Nasser Asphalt / Wet Asphalt
(1958, dir. Frank Wisbar)
A film by Frank Wisbar (née Wysbar), the director of the great but forgotten film Fährmann Maria (1936), who had to leave Europe under the NS because he was married to a non-Aryan. In Hollywood, he spent many a year working for Poverty Row studios such as the Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) making forgotten films like Devil Bat's Daughter (1946), the cheap remake of Fährmann Maria entitled Strangler of the Swamp (1946), and Secrets of a Sorority Girl (1945). Wet Asphalt tells of jailbird Greg Bachmann (Horst Buchholz), a young journalist assigned to cover a "news" story of a blind Nazi soldier who supposedly survived six years in a buried bunker... The film is trashed here at HorrorTalk. Above, the poster; left, Heinz Reincke – you can't see it here on the poster above, but though Reincke isn't listed in the opening credits of the film, his name is on the poster.
Opening Credits:

The Longest Day

Heinz Reincke gets to play a Nazi commander, Oberst Josef Priller, in this perennial favorite war film, available in two versions: the version for idiot masses, in which everyone speaks English, and the version for the rest, in which the dialogue is in the given native language of the characters and subtitled. A star-studded cast, and Reincke is (according to imdb) uncredited, but for that he is seen here in the trailer – he says "Alright, here vee go" in the bomber.

Heimweh nach St. Pauli / Homesick for St. Pauli
(1963, dir. Werner Jacobs)
A Freddy Quinn "drama" – which, to translate for people unfamiliar with German culture, translates into a dull story with musical interludes, Freddy Quinn being a once-popular Austrian singer (who still appeals to the geriatric set). Reincke has a part somewhere in this film that we haven't seen about a Hamburg man (Quinn) who has become a successful singer but is hit by unending homesickness when he runs into an old friend in NYC; his manager tries to stop him from remaining in Germany. Will love conquer? Included here primarily just to be able to share the surreal sight of Jayne Mansfield, a "co-star" of the film, singing in German.
Jane singing Wo ist der Mann:

Wartezimmer zum Jenseits / Mark of the Tortoise
(1964, dir. Alfred Vohrer)
The closest that Heinz Reincke ever got to being in one of the popular Edgar Wallace films of the 60s was this Horst Wendlandt produced krimi directed by Alfred Vohrer, who helmed some of the most outrageously best (and some of the most outrageously worst) Wallace films throughout that decade. What a cast this krimi has: Hildegard Knef, Götz George, Pinkus Braun, Klaus Kinski and others – running around in a movie "based" on a James Hadley Chase novel but that plays like a somewhat earthed Wallace flick.

Freddy, Tiere, Sensationen / "Freddy, Animals, Sensations"
(1964, dir. Karl Vibach)
Reincke somewhere in another Freddy Quinn film, this time one about a successful performer in the USA who returns home (to Germany) to help save the family circus. Big drama. For your aural torture, one of the songs that Freddy Quinn sings during the film –
Vergangen, Vergessen, Vorbei:

Der Mörderclub von Brooklyn / Murderers Club of Brooklyn
(1967, dir. Werner Jacobs)
The fifth of eight Jerry Cotton films starring the strapping and happy George Nader, of Robot Monster (1953 / trailer), as the titular hero, the FBI agent Jerry Cotton. It is also the first color film of the series. Jerry Cotton and his partner Phil take down a murdering group of blackmailers in NYC; Reincke plays a hood named Sam.The Theme to Jerry Cotton:

Wenn es Nacht wird auf der Reeperbahn / When Night Falls on the Reeperbahn
(1967, dir. Rolf Olsen)
Rolf Olsen is one of the great unsung heroes of the German exploitation film industry, a name long and unjustly overlooked, if not forgotten. An actor, writer and director, by the time he retired in 1990 (he died in '98) he had a truly remarkable oeuvre of projects behind him. (One of the lesser projects that he participated in was Mädchen für die Mambo Bar [1959], in which he only acted.) Wenn es Nacht wird auf der Reeperbahn, German trash filmmaking at its finest, tells of a young scion of a rich family who produces LSD for a bunch of drug suppliers who use the drugs to take the will away from young girls that they then procure to old men. The police get active when a young lass dies, but everyone that makes waves also dies. The bodies pile up as the situation goes out of control...

Der Arzt von St. Pauli / Bedroom Stewardesses
(1968, dir. Rolf Olsen)
The great Rolf Olsen does it again! Literally translated, the title would be "The Doctor of St. Pauli", but for the US release it was entitled Bedroom Stewardesses. Another St. Pauli exploiter starring Curd Jürgens, for its re-released in the USA added scenes were shot by Al Adamson, the director of such classics as Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971). Jürgens is a doctor with a heart for the down and trodden; his gynecologist brother, Klaus, only treats the rich and when bored, attends orgies. A murder has a trail that leads to Klaus... who knows where Reincke is in the movie, or how they managed to twist that plot to fit the title Bedroom Stewardesses, but over at Temple of Schlock, we learn it was supposedly briefly first released in the US as Females for Hire* before being redone as Bedroom Stewardesses. Sleaze-film producer Samuel Sherman says: "Bedroom Stewardess will never be seen [again]. It wasn't bad either." The Bedroom Stewardesses poster was drawn by the great Gray Morrow.

*He seems confused here, for other sources generally claim that Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb eins (see further below) was released as Females for Hire.
Radio Ad to Bedroom Stewardesses:


Himmelfahrtskommando El Alamein / Commandos
(1968, dir. Armando Crispino)

A scene from Himmelfahrtskommando El Alamein:

Read the review here at The third film of Italo trash director Armando Crispino, who co-wrote Requiescant (1967 / trailer) and went on to make such memorable Eurotrash films as 1975 Frankenstein all'italiana (1975 / surreal scene that turned me gay for an hour), Autopsy (1975 / trailer) and The Dead Are Alive (1970 / trailer). In the indiscriminate scene shown above (in German), Heinz Reincke is seen briefly as one of the two soldiers dancing together. The plot, according to Wikipedia: "It is the middle of World War II and in the deserts of Africa, Sgt. Sullivan (Lee Van Cleef) puts together a group of Italian-Americans into disguise as Italian soldiers in order to infiltrate a North African camp held by the Italians. After the soldiers have killed the Italians in their beds, they find a hooker living at the camp. Sullivan's commandos are to hold this camp and its weaponry until an American battalion arrives, all the while these Italian-Americans pretend to be Italian soldiers, often hosting the enemy. Cpt. Valli (Jack Kelly) is a young, by-the-book officer who constantly argues with Sgt. Sullivan, who tells his superior that he has no idea what he is doing. One man on the base is an entomologist who is killed and then things get terrible."
CommandosThe full film:

Die Brücke von Remagen / The Bridge at Remagen
(1968, dir. John Guillermin)
Another war film, this time from the director that brought you Shaft in Africa (1973 / trailer), King Kong (1976 / trailer) and Sheena: Queen of the Jungle (1984 / trailer). Peter van Eyck's last film; filmed in Czechoslovakia, production was interrupted by the Russian invasion of '68.

Heintje Films
Oh, the torture! The torture! The Dondi of Germany. Heintje (true story) was the son of a Dutch coal miner, the family of which was living in poverty. Heintje won a local song contest and then went on to become one of the most popular actors and singers in Germany in the 1960s; his classic song Mama still sends millions of German moms and grandmothers into blissful trances whenever they hear it. The song, like the films, is torture for everyone who isn't German. Without a doubt, a true low in the Reincke's career – he appeared in four of the six films Heintje made – though he probably didn't see it that way. Three of the four films are as follows – prepare to gag.

Heintje – Ein Herz geht auf Reisen / Heintje: A Heart Goes on a Journey
(1969, dir. Werner Jacobs)

Heintje – einmal wird die Sonne wieder scheinen / Heintje: Once the Sun Will Be Shining Again
(1970, dir. Hans Heinrich)


Heintje – mein bester Freund / Heintje: My Best Friend
(1970, dir. Werner Jacobs)

And for the masochistic out there...
Heintje singing Mama in German:

Heintje singing Mama in Dutch:

Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb eins / Shock Treatment / Females for Hire
(1969, dir. Rolf Olsen)
Another Rolf Olsen exploiter with Curd Jürgens in the lead role and Reincke supporting – and once again, Al Adamson filmed the added material for the 1971 US release, retitled Females for Hire. (The literal translation of the title would be "On the Reeperbahn at Half Past Midnight".) The film is actually a remake of the same-named German "classic" from 1954, which stars Hans Albers and Heinz Rühmann. Curd is former seaman released from 8 years of jail for a crime he was framed for who, since he is forbidden to pursue his old career, tries to get an old bar going again, and Reincke is there to help. Along the way Curd gets a (sexless) thing going with a gal young enough to be his daughter – which she turns out to be. As to be expected with an Olsen film, the movie touches upon murder, drugs, prostitution and corruption.
Radio Ad for Females for Hire:

The trailer for Females for Hire as part of a triple feature with The Naughty Cheerleader and Hard Women:

Der Pfarrer von St. Pauli / The Priest of St. Pauli
(1970, dir. Rolf Olsen)
Rolf Olsen goes to St Pauli, again! Heinz Reincke is there, too. This time around, Curd Jürgens plays a submarine commander who turns to serving God. He's got a heart, fists of steel and an unmovable willy and crosses paths with a gang who see him as interference. St. Pauli, by the way, for those of you who don't know, is the hooker district of Hamburg, so that cleavage-rich gall on your bottle of St Pauli Girl is anything but a simple waitress...

Käpt’n Rauhbein aus St. Pauli / Nurses for Sale
(1971, dir. Rolf Olsen)
The infernal trio – Olsen, Jürgens and Reincke – just can't get enough of them St. Pauli girls! Add twenty minutes of exploitive padding for the US version, and you have Nurses for Sale. (The literal translation of the title would be "Captain Roughneck from St. Pauli".) The Vault of Bunchless says it didn't make it to the US until 1977 and points out the truth about the US poster: "Not very well executed, this poster nonetheless shows off some of the classic elements that make an exploitation movie poster work [...]. Even if the movie sucked, the poster's a whole lot of fun." Capt. Rauhbein (Jürgens) arrives in Hamburg to see his liquor cargo poured into the water by customs and the medical cargo stolen, for which he and his mate go to jail. They escape and go back to South America, where a bunch of nurses have been kidnapped by rebels.... Jürgens saves the day. Claimed by some viewers to be a not very funny comedy.

Fluchtweg St. Pauli – Großalarm für die Davidswache / Hot Traces of St. Pauli
(1971, Wolfgang Staudte)

Heinz Reincke returns to St. Pauli one last time, this time without either Olsen or Jürgens. Instead, a slumming Wolfgang Staudte is behind the lens – how far his career had sunken since The Murderers Are Among Us (1946) and The Man of Straw (1951). Reincke plays the good brother Heinz who takes in his bad brother Willy (Horst Frank) when he gets out of jail; Willy kills a man in a robbery and takes Heinz's wife as hostage. When Heinz goes after him, the police assume he is helping his brother.
One thing German exploitation flicks never had was bad music:

Ein Käfer gibt Vollgas / Superbug, Super Agent
(1972, dir. Rudolf Zehetgruber)
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. Reincke plays one of the laugh-a-rite thugs.Trailer:

Die blutigen Geier von Alaska / Deadly Eagle
(1973, dir. Harald Reinl)

Director Harald Reinl was already long past his prime when he helmed this B-level Euro-western starring the great non-actor Doug McClure (shot in the Alps, plays in Alaska). For more on the plot, go to Westerns...All'Italian. By now, Reincke had long entered the phase in which he was the last actor listed and always alone – the special five minute appearance, in other words. In fact, the only reason I've included this film here is so I have an excuse to include a clip from Roberto Blanco, a Cuban-born "Schlagersänger," who has one of his rare film appearances in Die blutigen Geier von Alaska, as an ex-boxer who serves a Bud-Spencer-like function in the film. If you truly watch the following clip to its end, you are truly wasting your life.
Roberto Blanco sings a medley of German Schlager hits:

Hurra, die Schwedinnen sind da / Hurray, The Swedish Girls Have Arrived
(1978, dir. Franz Josef Gottlieb)
During the 70s Germany had a wide variety of softcore sex film series on the market, featuring schoolgirls, Bavarians, housewives or whatever. Most aren't very erotic or very funny, though a good introduction to them is the outtakes film Aufklärungsrolle – Als die Liebe laufen lernte (1978). It seems like every German star over the age of 60 has one on their credits list, even though most would prefer to forget them. This film tells of a young hotelier who tries to save his business with the help of some friendly and usually naked Swedish girls and some local manly blokes by converting the hotel into a fitness hotel. Director F.J. Gottlieb had his long starting out with good stuff like the Edgar Wallace flick The Black Abbot (1963 / trailer) and other non-Wallace krimis like Das siebente Opfer (1964 / scene), Die Gruft mit dem Rätselschloß (1964 / trailer) and Das Phantom von Soho (1964 / trailer) before moving into non-funny German comedies and sexploitation like this film. Why Heinz Reincke took part in this film – playing a small part as "Heinz," seen in the background of the image to the left – is a mystery, but he surely enjoyed the sights.

Lady Dracula
(1978, dir. Franz Josef Gottlieb)
The same year Franz Josef Gottlieb made Hurra, die Schwedinnen sind da, he also directed this Brad Harris vehicle, a horror comedy. (Brad Harris, seen here to the left displaying his manliness, is found in many a great film, including the unforgeable flick The Mutations [1973].) Heinz Reincke doesn't really have an important role in this film, but he appears as in an un-credited part as a drunk man no one believes. Good enough a reason for A Wasted Life to include the truly ugly poster and funny trailer – in which you can see Heinz Reinckefor a full half second if you watch carefully...

Das Love-Hotel in Tirol / Love Hotel in Tyrol
(1980, dir. Franz Antel)
More Bavarian "porn", this time by Franz Antel. Two brothers inherit a hotel; one wants to make it turn a profit by filling it with pretty girls from Thailand, the other want to open a house of moral rectitude for girls. Confusion ensues. Hah-hah-hah-hah: White slavery – very funny.

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