Katrin Schakke has a silent role in Fassbinder's Beware of a Holy Whore. To commence with, she is the solitary dancer, the woman creating the Chelsea Hotel effect during the first 50 minutes, when she can be seen barefoot, slowly dancing by herself. Her acting role – scriptgirl – is made clearer during the second half of the film from when Ulli Lommel (Schaake’s husband) hands her the morning juice and she is one in a long line to frown at him instead of saying thank you.

 

Fassbinder’s own casting relied largely on instinct, and hence so many newcomers and non-actors appear in his films. Katrin Schaake however demonstrates here that on a Fassbinder set there is no hierarchy (other than that managed by the auteur himself) – and so it doesn’t make any difference to the director here who is playing who – and so he asks Schaake, the scriptgirl, to step in when he has had enough of Margret, his real actress.

It is Katrin Schaake who takes over in the final scene, then, in the shooting of one scene of Patria o Muerte – which is an amazing treat. I say this because it is really a grand joke; we have witnessed the shenanigans and hatreds, the indolence and the violence, and nothing has happened; and it has all been about shooting this film, one short scene of which we are blessed to see.

A footman makes a long walk down the staircase while Schaake waits above; the door is opened and it is Eddie Constantine, acting this time. He clubs her with his pistol and she slumps on the rail, and there she waits until the unheard word ‘cut’ is said and they are all smiles and kisses again. Cinema within cinema is an old theme, but here it’s a real dramatic payoff, because we have been watching so much behind the scenes indolence, it is as much a relief for us as viewers as it is for the actors themselves.