Helmut Käutner

Helmut Käutner – Die Rote AKA Redhead (1962)

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The film can be best described as Käutner goes Antonioni with Fellini’s cinematographer on the camera. The critics slaughtered the film as they did with many films of the era which only get rediscovered today and it didn’t help that the author attacked during a press conference the film which he had himself written following his own novel unwisely too closely while Käutner fought against that. Don’t let that disturb you, it’s quite a remarkable film and a great showcase for the cool understated beauty of Ruth Leuwerik who was correctly labeled the German Deborah Kerr. Read More »

Helmut Käutner – Himmel ohne Sterne AKA Sky Without Stars (1955)

Synopsis:
Anna (Eva Kotthaus) is a factory worker in East Germany. Her five-year-old son Jochen, lives with his grandparents in the West and Anna wants him to live with her, so she abducts him. Along the way she meets Carl (Erik Schumann) who helps her with her son and they fall in love. Read More »

Helmut Käutner – Wir machen Musik (1942)

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Karl Zimmermann plays piano at the Café Rigoletto because he needs the money, but actually his whole passion is classical music, and work on his own opera is in progress. Then he meets the pop singer and song writer Anni Pichler, whom he wants to convert to “serious” music, but even the private lessons at his bachelor pad cannot convince her. Despite everything, the two find each other appealing, and they marry after a short time.
Professionally now everyone goes his/her own way, but at home things don’t go well. Money’s always scarce, and Anni complains he could earn more if he’d write music people like. And when Karl’s opera bombs, he hits rock bottom and they break up. Read More »

Helmut Käutner – Unter den Brücken AKA Under the Bridges (1946) (HD)

Two barge skippers fall in love with the same woman.

“Under the Bridges”, made in the last year of the Third Reich, proves that artistic genius can flourish even under the most difficult circumstances. The film completely transcends its time and presents a simple love story, the themes of which are universal. Through both his settings and his actors, Kautner achieves a naturalism which has seldom been equaled. That he managed to do this in 1944-45 Germany is almost unbelievable. A fortunate and unexpected treasure from a most unfortunate time. Read More »

Helmut Käutner – Schwarzer Kies AKA Black Gravel (1961)

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In 1960, in a rural part of West Germany, an American military base is set up in a small village of 250 inhabitants. Now, 6000 soldiers are living in the region, and although no one really likes them, everybody is doing business with them. Some turn old barns in “typically American bars” where GIs can spend their pay for drinks; numerous prostitutes are visiting the region regularly to allow the Americans to forget about their homesickness for several costly minutes; others benefit from the construction of a military air base. Read More »

Helmut Käutner – Der Apfel ist ab AKA The Original Sin AKA The Apple Fell (1948)

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Lubitsch wrote:
Time again to raise more interest in post war German cinema before the Heimatfilm wave and Käutner’s witty and inventive comedy is just a fine example to do that. Again it’s in the end no masterpiece, but not unlike Geheimnisvolle Tiefe you can feel the experimental impulse and vibrancy of these early post war films.
An apple juice producer can’t decide between his wife and his secretary and tries to commit suicide. Being committed to psychiatry (the doctor being played by director Käutner himself) he falls asleep and dreams of adventures as Adam and Eve in heaven and hell. The realistic frame story is shot like a parody of a rubble film with tilted camera angles throughout, while the main story line, the dream, takes place in a surrealistic heaven and hell decoration which takes input from Dali, Miro and other artists. Read More »

Helmut Käutner – In jenen Tagen aka Seven Journeys (1947)

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Synopsis:

Told in seven chapters, Käutner’s first postwar film portrays the lives of average people overwhelmed and traumatized by the impact of fascism. Käutner uses the framing device of an automobile whose various owners serve as the film’s protagonists and initiate its episodic structure. The characters represent an interesting cross-section of the German people including a deserting soldier, a Jewish couple and a composer who has been labeled as subversive. During a time when most Germans wanted to forget the past, Käutner eschewed the controlled setting of the UFA studios and chose to film in the bombed out streets of Berlin, crafting a humanistic rendering of recent history. Read More »