A character actor like Hark Böhm was perennially of use to Fassbinder, and he could not be better suited to the provincial backwaters of late nineteenth century Prussia, with his peering face and slightly inadequate demeanour. What is odd (aside from the fact that he speaks in the unmistakeable voice of Kurt Raab) is the fact that he is not credited at all, for what is a fairly significant part.
The part of Apotheker Gieshübler is a curiosity. From the moment he arrives, you know that he is going to be hitting on Effi. The self-deprecation and the nervous glances, not to mention the longing all point to one thing, but in terms of casting Hark Bohm completely exemplifies the person who has never been young – he simply has one of those faces.
As character actors tend to, Bohm excels in period pose.; and when he declares his love for Effi, this is my favourite part of the film. The reason for this is Bohm alone, his acting, his hang dog, glumdog, spirits drooping, myopic, flat faced, misery, which he peddles so thick and hard in this it is in fact delightful, and almost impossible to stop laughing.