Friday, January 24, 2014

Ady Berber (14 Feb 1913 – 03 Jan 1966)

Ady Berber was German cinema’s equivalent to the likes of Milton Reid or Thor Johnson, a burly world wrestling champion who later in life started a career in movies. Despite being physically impressive he was rarely given a chance to shine acting wise even though he had studied at the renowned Max-Reinhard-Seminar in Vienna.

His Krimi credits include Die Toten Augen von London/Dead Eyes of London, Im Stahlnetz des Dr. Mabuse/The Return of Dr. Mabuse, Die Tür mit den 7 Schlössern/The Door with Seven Locks, Die schwarze Kobra/The Black Cobra, Die Nylonschlinge/Nylon Noose, Das indische Halsband/The Indian Scarf, Scotland Yard jagt Dr Mabuse/Dr. Mabuse vs Scotland Yard, Frühstück mit dem Tod/Murder by Proxy, Tim Frazer jagt den geheimnisvollen Mister X/Case 33: Antwerp, Hotel der toten Gäste [Hotel of the Dead Guests], Der Mörder mit dem Seidenschal/The Killer with the Silk Scarf and Der Würger vom Tower [The Strangler of the Tower] though he also appeared in a good number of comedies and German musical productions and had a small supporting part in Ben Hur. He also showed up in some international productions such as the circus strongman threatening Anne Baxter’s life in Carnival Story.

His cinematic career began with a very small number of movies in the 1930s and 1940s but did not really kick off until after the war.

A legend in the world of professional wrestling, he was twice World (1938, 1947) and three times European champion (1938, 1948, 1949). He operated a restaurant carrying his name in Vienna and also ran a second establishment, Das Arbeiterheim, in Neunkirchen which also contained a wrestling ring in its back rooms.

After withdrawing from sports in the early 1950s, he actively focused on his acting career and studied at the Max-Reinhard-Seminar in Vienna.

At 6’5” in height and weighing in at 33lbs, he was memorable primarily through his threatening physique and rarely was offered proper speaking parts. At his best he impressed with roles such as the silent brute Blind Jack in Dead Eyes of London. His roles were often short but always highly memorable.

He passed away much too young of cancer just shortly before his 53rd birthday. 

Though he is generally known as Ady, his grave spells his name with an “i”, a spelling that is also at times displayed in the credits of some of his movies. He was born Adolf Berber but wisely opted against using this first name during his career

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Joachim Kramp/Gerd Naumann: Das große Album der Edgar-Wallace-Filme

Shortly before Christmas German publishers Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf finally brought out Das große Album der Edgar-Wallace-Filme, a book that was 5 years in the making. Joachim Kramp, the original author, sadly never saw his project come to fruition as he had passed away a year previously. Kramp is known as one of the major Krimi- and Wallace aficionados and had previously written a number of other Wallace related tomes.

Though there have been other German books about the Wallace series Das große Album is especially of interest to an International clientele as it is primarily a lavish coffee table tome with little text. Other than some short introductory texts and forewords/interviews from Matthias Wendlandt, Peter Thomas, Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor and Karin Baal the bulk of the hernia inducing hard cover is dedicated to the publication of 2000 Wallace related PR photos, lobby cards and behind-the-scenes shots. A good number of those have previously never been published before. A good chunk, however, already has. The 5-year wait has unfortunately diminished the rarity of some of the material. Especially the German lobby cards which make up a good portion of the book have in the meantime already been reproduced elsewhere. Instead of some of those I would therefore have loved to see a stronger focus on International promotional material, an area that to this moment remains largely unexplored. Still, this is a lavishly illustrated labour of love and something I am proud to have on my book shelf.

Even better.....

Prior to the regular edition that is going to be out later this year, Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf have released four sets of 500 limited copies each with autographs by Karin Dor, Peter Thomas, Karin Baal or Uschi Glas respectively at no additional costs. My own is signed by Miss Krimi, Karin Dor, herself.... and so is pretty much everyone else's who has ordered a copy so it appears that the Dor version is likely to sell out very quickly.

The downside.... ?

Well, what can I say? It ain't cheap.

The book goes for EUR 99.95 and can be ordered from the publisher or from Postage within Germany, Austria and Switzerland is free, within the rest of the EU consecutively higher and as a rule and due to prohibitive postal charges the book is not being sold outside that area.

Unless you ask nicely. 

It appears that the publishers may ship to the US once it is requested by direct email request. Be, however, prepared to pay a shipping fee of around EUR 65.

Wanna get a good idea what the final product looks like? Head over here for a glance at some of the pages.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Visit to Klaus Kinski's birthhouse

How to enjoy a drink in Klaus Kinski's birthhouse in three easy steps:

Step 1:

Watch the German language Kinski documentary Ich bin kein Schauspieler and marvel at the fact that his birthhouse in Sopot (Poland) is now a bar and a gallery. (In order to view the entire documentary you may need to download the Veoh player but the relevant sequences are right at the start of the clip.)

Watch Klaus Kinski - Ich bin kein Schauspieler in Lifestyle  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Step 2:

Find out exactly where the house is located (Tadeusza Kościuszki 10, 81-704 Sopot) and then discover that there are direct flights from Cork to Gdansk which is just down the road from Sopot.

View Larger Map

Step 3 (7 months later):

Arrive at the door of the bar and enjoy a few bevvies.

For the next issue of Mirek Lipinski's LATARNIA magazine I will write a more detailled account of my visit but for the time being enjoy some of the photos I took of it. Incidentally, for LATARNIA I will also seriously expand my previous posts about the Louis Weinert-Wilton movies with additional info on all four productions as well as on the original novels. Very little has been written about these novels in German, practically nothing about them in English so check out more announcements about these articles later this year.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Terror (1938)... and other YouTube Wallace gems

It ain't German but it is a classic British Wallace adaptation. And best of all it is available for free viewing from YouTube who seem to have more and more full length movies available.

The Terror (1938) had previously been filmed twice before and was also going to be adapted twice by Rialto as Der unheimliche Mönch/The Sinister Monk (1965) and Der Mönch mit der Peitsche/The College Girl Murders (1967). The 1938 version downplays the aspect of a mysterious Monk prowling a stately mansion until the very end making this a bit of a wasted opportunity though it is still a very entertaining way to pass 70 minutes of a Sunday afternoon.

And just after passing those 70 minutes I discovered that this is not the only Edgar Wallace movie on YouTube. Also available are The Case of the Frightened Lady (1940) and Sanders of the River (1935) both of which also received German adaptations in the 1960s. I haven't seen any of those two yet but will certainly catch up on them in due time.

Monday, January 24, 2011

El Diabolik's podcast

My feet are currently shwinging along to the German edition of the El Diabolik podcast. Those guys have a wonderful soundtrack related podcast that can be accessed through iTunes here.

What are you waiting for? Few things in life are free but this podcast surely is.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Renate Ewert (November 09, 1933 – December 12, 1966)

I recently watched Hotel der toten Gäste [Hotel of the Dead Guests] (1965), a German Krimi based on a novel by Heather Gardiner, an Australian mystery author who died in a car crash after just publishing two novels.

Despite having a truly Krimi-rific cast (including the likes of Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor, Ady Berber and a bunch of others) it is just a bit Meh, relatively static and quite talky. Not really bad but nothing that tempts me to write much about it.

What did, however, intrigue me was seeing Renate Ewert again. I had previously only known her from the early Wallace movie Der rote Kreis/The Crimson Circle (1959) in which she played the female lead.

So when I spotted her again in Hotel I was intrigued to find out a little bit more about her and what had become of her.

And what I learned had me absolutely stunned.

Her life was tragic and short and she comes across as part Femme Fatale, part innocent victim for chasing the wrong kind of dreams, losing touch with reality and ultimately causing death and destruction all around her.

Apart from Hotel and Circle she also starred in Das Rätsel der grünen Spinne [The Mystery of the Green Spider] in 1960, a Krimi I have not yet had the chance to see (or even to find).

Her early life was marred by deprivations that were only too common in wartime and post-war Germany. Born in Königsberg/East Prussia (now Kaliningrad/Russia) she and her family were forced to flee their home, experience hunger and face often certain death on their flight from home and establish a new life from scratch in Hamburg.

As a teenager she already knew that what she wanted was a life away from all this misery and in the limelight.

She convinced her father not to let her finish school and instead went to acting classes and subsequently played in some roles on stage. The moment she gets hired for her first movie in in the third part of Joachim Fuchsberger's 08/15 trilogy of WW2 dramas, the theatre is forgotten about and in the following ten years she subsequently appears in more than 30 films, mainly musical comedies.

She can often be found in the gossip pages of news magazines and gains a reputation for lateness and for not always being too reliable on set. Though she is relatively well known at the time, she never quite hits true star levels of fame.

Instead she surrounds herself with influential men and appears to have had liaisons with the likes of Curt Jürgens and Paul Hubschmid (aka Paul Christian from The Beast from 20.000 Fathoms). In actual fact her relationship with Hubschmid seems to have been the reason for the suicide of the actor's wife Ursula in 1963.

Hitting the big 3-0 resulted in serious mental issues for Ewert. Panicking about the appearance of her first ever so slight and possibly imaginary wrinkles she decides to get a face lift. It appears that someone then advised her to get as much sleep as possible in an attempt to combat the early aging signs so she takes to sleeping pills, blackens out her apartment windows with heavy sheets and lives in slumber land for the biggest part of the remainder of her life while gradually increasing the doses and becoming more and more unemployable. As a result of this life style she also seems to have simply forgotten to eat.

A few days after her death her corpse gets discovered by Susanne Cramer, a friend and fellow actress who was also to tragically die at the age of only 32 a short time later.

An autopsy reveals death by overdosis and a possible suicide. Ewert only weighs 35 kilos at the time of her death.

Distraught at the death of his daughter her father commits suicide a year after her by also taking sleeping pills. He is very soon afterwards followed by the mother who also poisons herself.

Today she is all but forgotten about in Germany and primarily known only as the girl from The Crimson Circle. I for one am glad to have watched Hotel around the 44th anniversary of her death and learned so much about her since then.

It pains me to see the life cut short of someone with such a promising career and such obvious (if maybe somewhat limited) talent. As a sign of my respect for her I will try and locate some more of her films and see if I can also locate more info about her in the coming months.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kommissar X - Drei goldene Schlangen/Three Golden Serpents

The last set of scans from my KOMMISSAR X collection. Hope you liked it.