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
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?
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
It’s no secret that the East Germans and the West Germans spied on each other. Like the characters in Antonio Prohías’ Spy vs. Spy cartoon strip, each side continually sought new ways to find out what the other side was up to. The listening post on the Teufelsberg in Berlin is an example of this. … Continue reading Radio Killer
The Persons Involved
The Persons Involved (Die Beteiligten) came out in June, 1989, and was the last Kriminalfilm DEFA released prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is based on an actual crime that occurred back in the early sixties. The film follows the story of two police inspectors investigating the drowning death of a young … Continue reading The Persons Involved
Track in the Night
In America, we tend to parse out films about crime into specific categories, such as heist films, detective films, film noir, mysteries, and so on. In both East and West Germany, these films are lumped into one big group: Kriminalfilme, or “crime films,” usually referred to as “Krimis.” Many West German Krimis center around a … Continue reading Track in the Night
No Proof for Murder
No Proof for Murder (Für Mord kein Beweis) belongs to the film genre that Germans (East and West) call Krimis. We’d call them “crime films,” although we never do, preferring instead to parse things out as film noir, mysteries, and thrillers. No Proof for Murder is a good example of the East German style of … Continue reading No Proof for Murder