Frankly, all other directors should be jealous. The director’s mother in no less than 16 (?) of Fassbinder's films; and not just there but also secretary when need be. She is indeed ... holding it down, and in Mother Kusters, she plays secretary, and was also the director's secretary on set. An awesome mother and son combination.
The other thing is that Lilo Pempeit does is that she is also a great Rainer Werner Fassbinder scene stealer and not just in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven; part of the cast insofar as they doubtless competed for this as all troupes, groups and ensembles do; but the scene stealing part on so many occasions. It's quite funny, and so is she, though she will never smile.
I love bringing out the word iconic when discussing the Fassbinder actresses, and it’s happened again. His iconic mother. If you are in any doubt look at the hair; the shafts of the light crimson blouse; the stamps on her desk like chess pieces; the typewriter. This isn’t the only time she played a secretary; no. Instead I’ll argue that she plays a secretary in every film and television production; an argument I may have to work on.
And the fact that aside from mother, she was Fassbinder’s own secretary in real life. You have to love him. He loved his mother and he loved all his actors; you can tell in the way they are all beaming, all of the time, every last one down to Gottfried John. He loved them all and they thanked him for it on the camera, with career-bests, every time they made a film; and they made so many.
Adrian Hoven and Lilo Pempeit
I am very enamoured of Lilo Pempeit's appearance in Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven because I believe she expresses plainly the rejection people feel when approaching media, bureaucracy and so forth. It's even in the way Pempeit, Frau Fassbinder, is sitting.
I'd like to add that I believe that is Eva Mattes sitting in the rear of this shot, but that I am not 100% sure. It looks like her, although at the same time it does not, laregly due to the extra weight she seems to be carrying. At the present time, I'll say that it is Eva Mattes, and hope this turns out to be true.
The Fassbinder casting system, that strange entity that even allows me to keep this blog, means that people were called for small items of background work, as readily as they appeared for starring roles. It's a curious thing this, that fassbinder in a sense di not believe in extras, but would always rather call on a regular. I find that this would be an unimaginable system today, when contractual issues would be the least of a director's worries. Just think of the egoes! None of our actors, certainly not the American sisterhood and brethren, would tolerate being the 'star' one day, only to be called back to fill in in the background the next.