It would take a greater film buff than I to calculate it, but the chance are high that of all the actors working on Leibe ist Kalter als der Tod, Schaake was the most experienced. She had already had a hit with What’s New Pussycat, and had been in the business 10 years already – since Fassbinder was 14 actually. Knowing Fassbinder, it’s a little difficult to understand why he would sanction someone with so much experience being in his film, but then the appearance is so brief as to almost be insulting, and it’s never a bad thing to have a ‘name’ attached to any project, especially if one is starting out.
During the brief scene she shares with her husband, Schaake symbolically offers him an apple, and he asks her about sex – the kind of verbal sexual abuse that was permissible in the 1960s and which for a spell favoured men – as it played on so-called ‘female liberation’ – and in a muted climax which says more about the decade than many director’s output, Schaalke puts her hand in her shirt, fakes the mildest of arousals and says she is thinking about the revolution.
Then, as Uli Lommel rather hammily fails to blow out the flame of his petrol lighter, she allows him to take all her money. It’s so hep – and in its four minute glory, must surely be the decade’s second greatest ‘art-film within an art-film’ – after the Godard dance sequence.