Presiding over the society that Fassbinder creates and mocks in The Niklashausen Journey, is the local bishop, played by Kurt Raab. The bishop lives and works in an absurdly rococo room, around which lounge half naked boys, the slumped sloven of a woman, and other inactive beings who partake of various slow and unspecified pursuits on the floor. For both Fassbinder and Kurt Raab (both homosexual and also lovers off and on until the inevitable split) filmmaking was about total vision, and Kurt Raab’s real skill outside acting, was dressing sets, which he did for many of the films.
Kurt Raab (as Fred), here in Beware of a Holy Whore, wearing a ridiculous hairstyle, is struck high and dry on this endlessly boring movie shoot, with nothing better to do than drink all day and shout at the Italian hotel staff. I say Italian, because although Beware of a Holy Whore (1971) is set in Spain, it was shot in Italy; in fact it’s a super-lingual mix, even late at night when Raab (who has gone to bed and gets up again to re-join the drinking) bursts in on Lou Castel reflectively quoting the title of Fassbinder’s first film – in French – while David the soundman disagrees.
‘You know very well you can’t smoke in a department store’ This is the extent of Kurt Raab's dialogue in Love is Colder than Death, making his appearance another short, rude and dismissive Fassbinder role. Fassbinder did like to present these cameos to his freinds, who were of course also his stars. One truly brave aspect of Fassbinder's movies is that everybody got a crack of the whip; that's the way it looks. Everybody in the Fassbinder collective however has films in which they star, and they all have films in which they play a minor role.
Kurt Raab is in a panic; he’s sweating cold and his eyes dart from side to side. He’s worried, he’s mad, and he’s under pressure. He can’t get money from his publisher; he might have to murder somebody for it. His hair is flicking up like Adolf Hitler’s hair and he is just as paranoid as the fuhrer.
It is typical of a Fassbinder film that all would muck in when called upon to do so, and this it appears would operate on several tiers. Therefore, when it came to dubbing Effi Briest, and when - we must presume - that Hark Bohm was no longer available, the job fell to Kurt Raab. Perhaps Raab was at hand, and was cheaper, but it would have been unlikely that he could have been first choice. Raab’s voice is smooth and always slides along from word to word, whereas Bohm’s own voice, more meancing and quiet, would have been better for the role of Apotheker Gieshübler.