Dead Woman from Beverly Hills

Young, cheeky and experimental. With “Die Tote von Beverly Hills” (English title “Dead Woman from Beverly Hills“) Michael Pfleghar turned German cinema upside down in Cannes in 1964. The film will be released on 26 July 2019 for the first time as a digitally restored HD version on DVD and VoD.

For Heidelinde Weis the memories of the shooting of “Die Tote von Beverly Hills” are still a lot of fun. In the booklet of the DVD to the now digitally restored HD version, the now 79-year-old tells us that she was cast by Michael Pfleghar “to the horror of all the film-mighty” for the rule of Lu at short notice, even though she herself found that she had no discernible special appeal to men whom she was supposed to turn their heads in rows in the film. After its release, the film was lifted up into the sky and partly shredded. But one thing is still clear to Heidelinde Weis: “The director was years ahead of his time.”

On 26 July 2019, UCM.ONE and moviemax will release “Die Tote von Beverly Hills” (English title: “Dead Woman from Beverly Hills“), a piece of German cinema history in a digitally restored HD version on DVD and VOD. The film was invited to Cannes in 1964 as an official German contribution and won the Bambi as “most artistically valuable film” in 1965. A production that was made without much money. The cinema debut of Germany’s greatest show director Michael Pfleghar (“Lieben Sie Show”, “Wünsch Dir was”, “Klimbim”, “Zwei heavenische Töchter” and others).

The story comes from a novella by the then master of comedy Curt Goetz. It was shot with a budget of 1.2 million German Marks  in October and November 1963 in Beverly Hills, partly hidden, without filming permits. Legend has it that the then 29-year-old producer Hansjürgen Pohland only had a letter of recommendation from the then mayor of Berlin, Willy Brandt. Heidelinde Weis writes in her memories for the DVD that she drove through Beverly Hills “with giant cars without a driver’s license”.

Die Tote  von Beverly Beverly Hills” plays with all the facets of cinema. With clichés, with logic and surreal dreams. Sometimes in colour, sometimes in cinemascope, sometimes in black and white. The male image of the time was turned upside down. Somewhat stupid guys with a “crazy look” who are brought under control by a self-confident young woman without will.

Summary of the film

A man named C.G. (Klausjürgen Wussow) finds the naked body of 17-year-old Lu (Heidelinde Weis) in the woods of Beverly Hills. Her diary shows that she wasn’t at all a young innocent woman, but a nymphomaniac. The work is a record of erotic adventures. Among her lovers were an opera singer, a rich painter, an examining magistrate, an altar boy and an emigrated Czech archaeologist. But is there also the name of the murderer? The detective Ben (Wolfgang Neuss) follows all traces. These finally lead him to Las Vegas, where the Tiddy Sisters are on stage every evening…

Press comments

Der Spiegel (1964): “On the Hollywood boulevard of Beverly Hills, cars were jammed: in the middle of an intersection stood a roughly carved black coffin. Suddenly the coffin lid rose, a narrow, white hand came out and waved – at the roadside a camera began to whirr. When the recording was finished, the coffin carried by the intersection and the traffic was fast again, a passer-by approached the film people: “Are you communists?”

Thorsten Krämer in “Verführer im System!” calls the film “one of the strangest star vehicles the German film has ever seen, in which the Kessler twins of all people turn out to be cruel murderers.”

Ekkehard Knarrer (Jumpcut Magazine): “In addition to the joy of playing with the original, there is the pleasure of dissolving all sense structures. Logic never comes up for discussion during the investigation of the criminal case, which is quite actually the case (the murderers are, as one would hardly expect otherwise: the Kessler twins). Figures are conjured out of the hat and back again. Abstruse ideas and delicious, sometimes simply through and through stupid dialogue lines alternate, a highlight is the wedding of the heroine with an archaeologist, who proves his love in typical Zuckerscher (“Die nackte Kanone”) increase logic last as a driver of a giant excavator: “Rudolf digs everything up for me”.”

“The fear of death is unreasonable, because as long as we live, it is not yet there, and when it finally comes, we are already gone,” says Curt Goetz, Spiritus rector of the German pre-war humor. And he has written a lot in his life, including the erotic novel “Die Tote von Beverly Hills,” which Michael Pfleghar filmed in 1964.

Titel: Die Tote von Beverly Hills

Director: Michael Pfleghar

Based on the novel by: Curt Goetz

Written by: Peter Laregh, Michael Pfleghar, Hansjürgen Pohland

Cast: Heidelinde Weis, Klausjürgen Wussow, Horst Frank, Wolfgang Neuss, Alice Kessler, Ellen Kessler, Walter Giller, Bruno Dietrich, Ernst Fritz Fürbringer, Peter Schütte, Herbert Weißenbach, Walter Giller

Producer: Hans Jürgen Pohland

Produktion Manager: Harald Zimmer

Production Assistant: Peter Genée

Cinematography: Ernst Wild

Electrical Department: Jürgen Jürges

Film Editing: Margot von Schlieffen

Costume Design: Helmut Holger

Music: Heinz Kiessling

Production Company: Modern Art Films

Year of Production: 1964

Genre: Drama, Crime

Country: Germany

Language: German

Locations: Berlin (Germany), Hollywood, Los Angeles, California (USA; Las Vegas, Nevada (USA); Los Angeles, California (USA); Schwetzingen, Baden-Württemberg (Germany)

 

Runtime 110 Min

FSK: 12 (bis Mai 2919 FSK: 18)

Aspect Ratio: 2,35:1 (Remastered)

Sound Mix: Mono

Resolution: 4K ( 2019)

Other titles:

English: Dead Woman from Beverly Hills, Lu, That Girl from Beverly Hills, The Corpse of Beverly Hills

French: La morte de Beverly Hills

Spanish: Crimen en Beverly Hills

Finnish: Kauniisti kuollut

Greek: Eglima sto Hollywood (transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title)

Prizes:

1964 Cannes Film Festival:

Technical Grand Prize -> Michael Pfleghar

1965 Bambi:

Artistically most valuable film -> Die Tote von Beverly Hills

Nomination:

1964 Cannes Film Festival:

Palme d’Or -> Michael Pfleghar

Filmlabel: M-Square Classics

Distributor: UCM.ONE

Theatrical Start: 08.04.1964

DVD-Start: 26.07.2019

VoD-Start: 26.07.2019

Picture during the restoration process of a scene with the Kessler twins

Walter Potganski (moviemax) commented on the film: “Pfleghar, who years later was to enliven television entertainment with “Klimbim”, staged the story about the murder of the girl with visible joy in the dissolution of all sense structures: The logic is consistently ignored, figures suddenly appear and disappear just as quickly, absurd ideas and crazy dialogues alternate, primeval German actors such as Klausjürgen Wussow, Horst Frank or the Kessler twins stroll through Californian landscapes, underscoring the contrast between the petty bourgeoisie stink of the Adenauer era and Hollywood’s high-society fuss. One event is Heidelinde Weis, who became a movie star through the role of the man-killing Lu. To cut a long story short: “Die Tote von Beverly Hills” is probably the most daring German film of the 60s, it is a cinematic treasure that combines realistic and surreal stylistic devices in a virtuoso way, thus anticipating the spirit of the Zucker brothers (Die nackte Kanone) and Helge Schneider.”

Memories of the shooting of Heidelinde Weis

“I wasn’t meant to be with that man-demanding LU. A French woman was occupied, a beautiful young woman who unfortunately, shortly before the shooting began, confessed that she was already very pregnant. In the emergency, Michael Pfleghar reached for me, to the horror of all those powerful in the film. I was neither beautiful, nor had I a recognizably special attraction for men. I was only an actress. Not a glittering star, only an actress. I knew Pfleghar. In 1962 I played Olivia in Shakespeare’s “Was ihr wollt”, directed by Franz Peter Wirth, we were shooting in Bavaria. Pfleghar was often in the studio watching us. He liked me. And in 1963 he got me for his “smallest show in the world”. I played, sang and danced, together with Wolfgang Reichmann, a clown. It was a lot of fun, although I had no idea about show.

Far away from LU it was. Far away from that LU I was supposed to play now. But Pfleghar believed in me, he occupied me against all odds. I knew about the risk, but the pleasure in the adventure “The Dead of Beverly Hills” was enormous. It started out really well. The cameraman found me terrible, he said: “she looks like a field mouse”. From Horst Wendlandt, the famous film producer, one heard: “she has no face”. He didn’t like me at all.

In America we had to work secretly for the first time, we had no permission to shoot. I had to drive these huge cars, but I didn’t have a driver’s license. I could go on endlessly. Only our team was one unit, unbelievable! Everyone went through fire for everyone, Helmut Holger worked miracles with me. Anni Fürkötter, a gifted make-up artist, all gave me confidence. And the new cameraman, my beloved friend Ernst Wild, saw me like Michael Pfleghar.

The film was shot in parts, partly lifted into the sky, partly torn to shreds. The director was years ahead of his time. Today we know that. Only when “La muerta de Beverly Hills” received a prize in Acapulco and was invited to Cannes, was one more gracious and I was suddenly the new German vamp. Which of course was even bigger nonsense. The LU was a stroke of luck, a wonderful role and only in this constellation could I fulfill the task.

How sad it is that today we no longer have the time, indeed the time and devotion, to promote a talent with care and love. We lack the great breath we had in the 60s.”    

Trailer (Remastered)

Filmfacts

BRD 1964 | D: Michael Pfleghar | B: Michael Pfleghar, Hansjürgen Pohland, Peter Laregh, after the novella by Curt Goetz | C: Ernst Wild | M: Heinz Kiessling | Length movie 110 min

Content and technical data of the DVD

Film in the original cinema version, booklet, original programme booklet as reprint, picture gallery, film clips in split screen (before and after restoration), trailer, interview with Heidelinde Weis, barrier-free film version (audio description and subtitles for the hearing impaired) | picture format 16:9 anamorphic, 2.35:1 (remastered) | total running time of DVD 1:43:49 | 25fps | FSK 12

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