Margit Carstensen in Effi Briest

It’s not for me to say why Fassbinder and crew dubbed Margit Carstensen’s voice over Irm Hermann’s character, but there is a fair amount of that going in Effi Briest. There is no doubt, however, that when Hermann opens her mouth, it is Carstensen that speaks, and I would only speculate on availability as the reason.

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Y Sa Lo in Lola

Austrian actress Y Sa Lo, makes yet another Fassbinder appearance as a prostitute! Although she made very little outside the Fassbinder work she did, Y Sa Lo is still a star capable of much more; and she has amazing looks to back it up, and always looks exciting, whenever she appears.

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Monica Teuber in Beware of a Holy Whore

It is perhaps a mark of set hierarchy that the character of Billi, the makeup artist, features large throughout Beware of a Holy Whore. She is the first one to speak (after Werner Schroeter’s weirdo Goofy joke) and as an anchor for the silliness and pretensions of the others, she is reliable.

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Barbara Sukowa in Lola

It’s easy to forget that the country Rainer Werner Fassbinder lived in doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a pity but there aren’t many Germans of his generation who missed out on the unification experience, but because of when he lived and died, Fassbinder was unlucky enough to find himself existing in a Westdeutschland that came into existence in 1949, a few years after he was born, and ceased to exist almost a decade after he died.

Read more: Barbara Sukowa in Lola

Y Sa Lo in Lola

Austrian actress Y Sa Lo, makes yet another Fassbinder appearance as a prostitute! Although she made very little outside the Fassbinder work she did, Y Sa Lo is still a star capable of much more; and she has amazing looks to back it up, and always looks exciting, whenever she appears.

Read more: Y Sa Lo in Lola

Magdalena Montezuma in Beware of a Holy Whore

Irma is the name of the Fassbinder character’s wife. Uh, I know Ingrid Caven was Fassbinder’s wife, and she plays somebody else’s wife in this; but Irm was the name of Fassbinder’s first (nearly) wife; and Irm was his first teenage move into theatre. The name is very close to Irm; I will leave it at that. I imagine that Fassbinder would have somehow imagined Irm Hermnan in this role; there are reasons why not.

Read more: Magdalena Montezuma in Beware of a Holy Whore

Barbara Sukowa in Lola

It’s easy to forget that the country Rainer Werner Fassbinder lived in doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a pity but there aren’t many Germans of his generation who missed out on the unification experience, but because of when he lived and died, Fassbinder was unlucky enough to find himself existing in a Westdeutschland that came into existence in 1949, a few years after he was born, and ceased to exist almost a decade after he died.

Read more: Barbara Sukowa in Lola

Isolde Barthe in Lola

It’s odd to think of a person as statuesque and handsome as Isolde Barthe being wed to someone as slight and cringeing as Hark Bohm, but life is full of these ironies. Isolde Barth plays the mayor’s wife with the same condescending black stares as the other middle class wives in the film, almost appearing to be in mourning gear, and eyeing her husband as if she is having a bad time indeed, and not getting anything out of the experience.

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Ingrid Caven in Beware of a Holy Whore

I often like to watch the way that Ulli Lommel, Karl Scheydt and so many other compatriots of the great Fassbinder age as the canon unfurls. It doesn’t really work with Ingrid Caven, Fassbinder’s wife; if anything she looks older in the older films; although in general I would call her timeless and ageless.

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Matthias Fuchs in Lola

In Lola, Esslin played by Matthias Fuchs is a conflicted and multi-layered character, who appears to be moral, being a good friend to Lola, and a prominent anti-war campaigner; but he also works for the corrupt city council that dominate the film, and is responsible for bringing the action to a head, by deviously bringing about the emotional collapse of his boss, Von Bohm, and his boss’ lover, Lola.

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Peer Raben in Lola

What makes Lola one of Fassbinder’s best, and makes it stand out from those around and about it, such as Veronika Voss, is Barbara Sukowa, combined with that splendid ensemble work in creating the neurotic small German town; and this marvellous music. There are as usual several constant themes throughout the film, generally used again and again, though not I would argue, overused.

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Ingrid Caven in Beware of a Holy Whore

I often like to watch the way that Ulli Lommel, Karl Scheydt and so many other compatriots of the great Fassbinder age as the canon unfurls. It doesn’t really work with Ingrid Caven, Fassbinder’s wife; if anything she looks older in the older films; although in general I would call her timeless and ageless.

Read more: Ingrid Caven in Beware of a Holy Whore

Helga Feddersen in Lola

It is good that Fassbinder worked with just about every German actor of his and other generations, and although Brigitte Mira made many pictures with him, Helga Feddersen also had a long pedigree and had been acting on screen and in the theatre since the 1950s. Perhaps this made her a good choice for Fassbinder for this movie, immersed in that decade as it was.

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Harry Baer in Lola

I have never been able to find out, or even guess, what it must have been like to have been a Fassbinder regular, as Harry Baer was. He acted in at least 16 Fassbinder films that I know of, and is the model Fassbinder citizen: his first 9 credits are all Fassbinder, and then, like others in the troupe, the confidence, experience and exposure granted by his work with the great man, permitted him a career that went on until 2009; 40 years in all since his debut in Fassbinder’s Katzelmacher, in 1969.

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Peter Gauhe in Beware of a Holy Whore

It’s true that there are not many internet pages devoted to German photographer, actor, lighting man and technician, Peter Gauhe; but that is about to be rectified. It is of course typical to Fassbinder and his ever evolving team, that participants in his movies be multi-disciplined, something that first expresses something about himself – he was actor, editor, camera-man, director, producer, lighting engineer and many things himself at some point or another.

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Julianne Lorenz in Lola

If you are rolling with Fassbinder, then it’s likely the camera is rolling on you too. So it is that Julianne Lorenz, film editor and now director of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder foundation, makes a small appearance, here wearing a dynamically weird pair of spectacles and playing a frosty jeweller, very well made up and got out, giving anything but customer satisfaction.

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Barbara Sukowa in The Sicilian (1987)

Who saw The Sicilian (1987)? More to the point, which of the casting directors of The Sicilian saw Barbara Sukowa in Lola and decided to drag her into its hell, and endanger whatever likely career she may have had? The Sicilian is a hard film to watch, especially for an admirer of Barbara Sukowa. What The Sicilian proves is a prime example of Hollywood at work overseas —spotting somebody’s star quality and in attempting to harness it, the movie ends up trampling all over it and going for the nudity...

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Harry Baer in Beware of a Holy Whore

Well if they ever produced and avatar for the seventies man, Harry Baer in Beware of a Holy Whore might have cut it; the sort of look the Beastie Boys go a bundle for; and I have to admit it is certainly quite funny. He plays a husband, that is about it; the husband of Ingrid Caven; and he does it caveman good.

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Karin Baal in Lola

Weirdly, Lola’s mother’s kitchen is lit reddish pink, like much of the nightclub, a strange effect. In fact, when they step outside into the garden, in broad German daylight, the house is still lit pink. Both Lola and her mother lie to themselves and each other, but simply from convenience. Mother is a maid, while Lola is a singer. Her primary relationship in the film is not with Lola, however, but as with everyone else – with Von Bohm, the new building inspector.

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Barbara Sukowa in The Sicilian (1987)

Who saw The Sicilian (1987)? More to the point, which of the casting directors of The Sicilian saw Barbara Sukowa in Lola and decided to drag her into its hell, and endanger whatever likely career she may have had? The Sicilian is a hard film to watch, especially for an admirer of Barbara Sukowa. What The Sicilian proves is a prime example of Hollywood at work overseas —spotting somebody’s star quality and in attempting to harness it, the movie ends up trampling all over it and going for the nudity...

Read more: Barbara Sukowa in The Sicilian (1987)

Tanja Constantine in Beware of a Holy Whore

Linda, the interpreter fits into the horrid laziness of the shoot, much as the others. When viewers state that they think this film is incredibly funny, one must be careful, because there are not funny moments and jokes, so much as funny situations – such as the snogging and lazy walk and attitude of those like Tanja Constantine – ‘God that bitch is slow!’ complains Lou Castel, playing the director.

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Ivan Desny in Lola

Ivan Desny who plays Wittich in Lola (1981) was a Russian actor who was born in China, and worked most of his life in Germany, building up an impressive CV of over 150 films until he died in 2002. He was always a perfect Fassbinder actor, as he quickly and easily portrayed a certain type of hypocritical man, both respectable but with another side – as he is here – one of the city fathers, who like the mayor himself, spends his time in the local whorehouse.

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Gottfried John in Asterix and Obelix Take On Caesar (1999)

From time to time in his work and elsewhere, Jean-Luc Godard will remind us that it was the French that invented cinema. It can be a useful reminder in trying to make sense of Asterix and Obelix Take On Caesar, starring Gottfried John as Caesar, largely because of the job it makes in trying to appeal to that magical mass American market. So what happens when you take that trusted and expensive blueprint to France?

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder in Leibe ist Kalter als der Tod

Love is Colder Than Death wasn’t just Fassbinder’s debut; in fact just about everyone in it started here, and although most of them went on to make many films with Fassbinder (some more than others) this is unlike any other film debut, in that it commemorates the birth of an entire troupe. And just as Fassbinder was in charge from the off, he’s the first we see.

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Elisabeth Volkmann in Lola

The credit sequence of Lola is fairly dramatic for a Fassbinder opening – in fact all we are treated to is a photographic still from the 50s era, in which a late middle aged man sits in his home examining what we can guess are the trappings of the Wirtschaftswunder – the German economic miracle. It’s hard to tell of the man is interested in or despairing of his new home media equipment. Down the side is an interesting take on the German flag (East and West, it was the same, aside from the hammer and sickle on the Eastern version) and the colourful letters, which are a taste of ther many colours to come in the production.

Read more: Elisabeth Volkmann in Lola

Gottfried John in Asterix and Obelix Take On Caesar (1999)

From time to time in his work and elsewhere, Jean-Luc Godard will remind us that it was the French that invented cinema. It can be a useful reminder in trying to make sense of Asterix and Obelix Take On Caesar, starring Gottfried John as Caesar, largely because of the job it makes in trying to appeal to that magical mass American market. So what happens when you take that trusted and expensive blueprint to France?

Read more: Gottfried John in Asterix and Obelix Take On Caesar (1999)

Ingrid Caven in Leibe ist Kalter als der Tod

There is a recurring pattern for many of the actors in the Fassbinder troupe – and it is the brief appearance. All of them at some point have their starring role, and for some there were many starring roles. But in this wide circle of cruelty, one of the methods of control, if you like – or in the very least – the cementing of this group – is the brief appearance.

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Karl-Heinz von Hassel in Lola

The genius of presenting the self-absorbed and corrupted provincial community of Lola, is in the group work of the actors, each of whom have a different role and yet the same role.  So just as local government is represented, so are other institutions such as the clergy and the police, here in the smooth persona of Karl-Heinz von Hassel.

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Marcella Michelangeli in Beware of a Holy Whore

The unhappy, bitchy, and barely-glamorous actress Margret is portrayed by Marcella Michelangeli. She blends into the set very much like all the other vapid and pretty girls of her era; found on the arm of most of the men at some point. To give you an idea of how vacant she is, the character announces at one point that she feels she would like to play the role naked, to give it extra depth.

Read more: Marcella Michelangeli in Beware of a Holy Whore

Ingrid Caven in Leibe ist Kalter als der Tod

There is a recurring pattern for many of the actors in the Fassbinder troupe – and it is the brief appearance. All of them at some point have their starring role, and for some there were many starring roles. But in this wide circle of cruelty, one of the methods of control, if you like – or in the very least – the cementing of this group – is the brief appearance.

Read more: Ingrid Caven in Leibe ist Kalter als der Tod

Rosel Zech in Lola

The meanest star turn in this film is offered by Rosel Zech, a real late period Fassbinder favourite. If there is one character that you want to punch, smother and scream at in Lola, it is the amazingly acerbic Frau Schuckert. You wouldn’t even notice that this character was played by Rosel Zech, so jaw-dropping horrible is she. Frau Schuckert is unhappy, censorious, rude, racist and is above all the master of the bourgeois put-down; the classic here being: ‘the refuges seem to have brought a lot of new dishes with them,’ referring to Lola’s mother’s dinner party fare.

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Herb Andress in Beware of a Holy Whore

What amuses Fassbinder for some of the time during the telling of Beware of a Holy Whore, is the external life of the actor. Obviously the most that we see of them is in action, interesting, superhuman always, in drama or in villainy. The reality, he observes, of actors is that they are often vain, seedy and shallow – human all too human.

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Irm Hermann in Love is Colder Than Death

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.

Read more: Irm Hermann in Love is Colder Than Death