18 October, 2006

Klaus Kinski was born 80 years ago today...

In Gdansk/Danzig, Poland. The rest is, as they say, history. But what a history! Some say he was mad! Crazy like a fox may be more like it since he knew that taking the money while he could was the way to go, especially for a child of extreme poverty. If he were still around it's likely that he'd be performing in some capacity.
Along with his Werner Herzog-directed triumphs there was his career in European war movies (FIVE FROM HELL, A TIME TO LOVE AND A TIME TO DIE, HEROES IN HELL) where he often played a Nazi, ironically since he spent some of his early years in a concentration camp, Spaghetti Westerns (his soft spoken villain in the Sergio Corbucci masterwork IL GRANDE SILENZIO is indelible), krimis (THE AVENGER, THE CREATURE WITH THE BLUE HAND), Italian gialli (DOUBLE FACE, SLAUGHTER HOTEL), and four roles for Jess Franco: The Divine Marquis in JUSTINE; the playboy killer in VENUS IN FURS; Renfield in EL CONDE DRACULA; the title character in JACK, THE RIPPER. Franco wisely cast him as these very human monsters probably knowing that he would manage to move inside their tortured psyches and reveal the primal fear behind their madness.
In a way, he was the perfect Jess Franco actor who, as the director has pointed out, was an attention commanding presence, yet managed to find sympathy for the Devil.
One of my prize possessions is a rare 1988 hardcover edition of his long-withdrawn autobiography "All I Need Is Love", which was later republished in a toned-down, retitled version. This original version names famous names and is a chock full of all kinds of actionable material, a high powered attorney's dream come true. Everyone who Kinski came into contact with during his long film career, from Herzog to Billy Wilder to Pasolini to Margaret Lee, gets axed or ratted out (Kinski loved to detail the hidden sex lives of the rich and famous). His only comment on his Franco work is that JACK THE RIPPER was "trash" which he filmed in 6 days betweens rounds of tennis!
What is your favorite Klaus Kinski performance?

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Mirek said...

Probably the first time I saw him, and certainly noticed him--as Wild, the hunchback.

Anonymous said...

Favorite Kinski performance? Sheesh... I guess it would have to be the power mad Don Lope de Aguirre. I never tire of watching Kinski as Aguirre.

He was the type of actor that made you forget he was acting. A rather impressive feat considering how familiar his face once was.

I read his autobio under the title "Uncut." So "Uncut" was cut was it? I walked away from the book saying to myself, "Damn, Kinski was one horny bastard!"

Happy Birthday Kinski!

Damian P.

Robert Monell said...

I think my favorite is in DOUBLE FACE, a very atypical interior Kinski performance where he portrays a man suspected of murdering his wife in an Edgar Wallace scenario. Worth seeing.
Yes, UNCUT is minus some names and actionable material.