At the end of 1970, the Filmmuseum in the City Museum of Munich showed a small Sirk retrospective (six productions from All That Heaven Allows to Imitation of Life). Fassbinder watched all of the ﬁlms in this showcase and was deeply moved: “That really breaks you up in the movie theater. You understand something about the world and what it is doing to you.” This cinematic experience must have been a revelation for him. He described his impressions vividly in an extensive essay, and came to the conclusion: “I have seen six ﬁlms by Douglas Sirk. Among them are the ﬁnest ﬁlms in the world.” The young ﬁlmmaker went to visit the Hollywood veteran, who was now living in the Swiss canton of Ticino. And when the almost eighty-year-old director was teaching at the Munich Academy of Television and Film (HFF/M), Fassbinder took on one of the parts in an academic production that Sirk was supervising. (He played in Bourbon Street Blues, the ﬁlm adaptation of a one-act play by the well-known writer Tennessee Williams). Sirk’s work experienced a renaissance, not least of all thanks to Fassbinder’s essay, but the inﬂuence Sirk exerted on him has nevertheless been somewhat exaggerated.
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