Sometimes I read about Fassbinder’s relationship with Irm Hermann and I become sadder and sad, and unsure if I should believe what I read. From when I first saw her, I was a fan of Hermann’s, but it was not pleasant to begin to read about her, and pick up stories of how unpleasant her life with Fassbinder was.
Although, one must presume that it must have been fun also? And that there must have been good times? Perhaps, although there is little hint of it here, in her Fassbinder debut, in which she plays a character that is teased and doesn’t know that she is being teased, robbed and doesn’t know she is being robbed, used and then left behind. It is the famous sunglasses scene – another seminal moment in 60s cinema, for sure – in which Fassbinder’s gangster character asks her for a pair of round glasses, ‘you know, like the ones the cop wears in Psycho.
The scene is reminiscent of a drama exercise, actually – an exercise to indicate basic points of timing to actors – in which three interact with each other and a central one, in order to create a farcical type of comedy – an exercise certainly, but probably the sort of thing you would put in a film. It is typical of Fassbinder however that it is in a film, and not just that, but a film with a lead who does not want to be an actress, and featuring in the bit-part of the fooled and robbed shop assistant, a young woman who was desperate to be an actress.
This subversion of roles and cruelty was to go on and on, from this point in 1969, for 13 years until 1992, 42 films later, of which most would feature Hermann – until Fassbinder died, and doubtless released her – if she hadn’t already released herself by then.