A 1961 television docudrama about the assassination of the German Foreign Minister for the Weimar Republic who tried to make peace with the Soviets. A morality play about the impossibility of finding common ground when you’re dealing with fascists.
The Night on the Autobahn
After graduating from medical school, a young doctor crosses paths with West German spies in this dark spy/crime film from the early sixties. Right after the Wall was built, politicians were anxious to demonstrate that the Wall would have no effect on creative freedom, and that, if anything, it would protect the average person from … Continue reading The Night on the Autobahn
This DEFA/West German coproduction about a daring bank robber was a huge hit on both side of the German border. It’s based on an actual bank robbery that took place in Berlin in 1951. In November of 1951, a man named Walter Pannewitz rented office spaces on the ground floor of the Römischer Hof, a … Continue reading The Break-In
Those “Porcupine” Films (Das Stachetier)
Several of DEFA’s most well-known actors and directors got their starts making short films for the Das Stacheltier group. Here’s a look at the group, the films, and the people who made them. If you’ve read more than a couple of the articles on this blog, you’ll have come across the name “Das Stacheltier.” Formed … Continue reading Those “Porcupine” Films (Das Stachetier)
An East German customs official goes undercover to investigate an international drug trafficking ring operating between Berlin and Budapest. The late sixties saw the trend in international intrigue move from the Cold War to the Drug War. It started with the made-for-TV movie The Poppy is Also a Flower—which was financed by the United Nations … Continue reading Heroin
Murder on Monday
East Germany dips into the Krimi film genre with a movie about the seedy underbelly of Frankfurt. Germany has given the world plenty of great films and filmmakers, but their greatest contribution to genre cinema is the Krimifilm. Literally, this just means crime film, but the Krimi is much more than that. A good Krimi … Continue reading Murder on Monday
What Should I Watch?
New to East German films? Here are a few from DEFA with English subtitles that are well worth seeing. All of these films are currently available on the Kanopy streaming service. I’m often asked for recommendations on East German movies that people should watch. There’s no one answer to this. I once showed my personal … Continue reading What Should I Watch?
Do You Know Urban?
In Do You Know Urban? (Kennen Sie Urban?) a man's search for a man named “Urban” takes his life in an entirely new direction. While recuperating in the hospital Hoffi (Berndt Renné) meets Urban (Manfred Karge). Urban, has worked as an engineer on projects all over the world, and Hoffi sees him as a source … Continue reading Do You Know Urban?
A murder has been committed at the Pension Boulanka, but there are too many suspects. Here's a classic example of a German Krimi, East German-style. A few years back, I was talking to the “Czar of Noir” Eddie Muller. Eddie is the man behind the Noir City, a film noir festival held every year at … Continue reading Pension Boulanka
Interrogating the Witnesses
At first, Interrogating the Witnesses (Vernehmung der Zeugen) looks like it’s going to be a murder mystery, or a police procedural. A boy named Rainer (Mario Gericke) has been stabbed to death, and the doctor investigating the scene believes her son Max (René Steinke) is the killer. It turns out she’s right, and the the … Continue reading Interrogating the Witnesses