Serenade for Two Spies

Serenade for Two Spies” (German title: Serenade für zwei Spione“) is a mischievous kneeling before genre cinema and its intellectually relaxed reception, a kneeling before a cinema as has never been and tragically never will be in Germany, carried out with such fervour that it almost single-handedly compensates for this loss. What would our hero John Krim alias 006 say? “I’ve always known that I could do better than these Yanks. I just didn’t have the chance to prove it!”

After “Dead Woman from Beverly Hills” (German title: Die Tote von Beverly Hills“), UCM.ONE and moviemax are releasing the second film “Serenade for Two Spies” by Germany’s greatest show director Michael Pfleghar (“Lieben Sie Show“, “Wünsch Dir was“, “Klimbim“, “Zwei himmlische Töchter” and others) in digitally high-quality restored HD version as DVD and VOD. “Serenade for Two Spies” is unfiltered love for larger-than-life cinema escapism, the likes of which German cinema has perhaps never seen again. Pure cinematic sex appeal with the courage to be silly but a strict rejection of the rag.

Synopsis

An international gang of gun dealers in the USA has stolen the prototype of a laser rifle from a German laboratory. The FBI agent Cormoran is being sent to recover the state-of-the-art and highly effective weapon. But there are some indications that he has defected to the enemy. Since agent 007 is currently on another mission, the chief of intelligence has to fall back on his second best man, the previous number 006.

And so the German secret agent John Krim is given the assignment to get the rifle back, find evidence of Cormoran’s treachery and finally eliminate the colleague. Krim’s journey takes him across the ocean, and there he experiences incredible adventures in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Two women get in his way, and Krim can’t be sure whether he can trust them or whether they too are working for the other side.

Director Michael Pfleghar uses every opportunity to demonstrate that his second feature film is a wacky James Bond persiflage. He does not exclude even the most absurd ideas: His Bond imitation 006, who regularly sleeps his way through the beds of the beautiful girls, has to deal with a nuclear helicopter, a dynamite bun and exploding toilets. In Pfleghar’s film, bicycles suddenly appear in the desert when needed, and a plane “parked wrongly” on the Las Vegas Strip in front of the Horseshoe promptly receives a ticket. The absurd highlights of the flic include a rock ‘n’ roll ballet and a bizarre underwater shootout.

Serenade for Two Spies was filmed in Spain as well as in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

Christoph Draxtra writes in “Escalating Dreams”

“That’s it. The only true German spy film – if there ever was such a thing as a German spy film. This is it, the only true spy movie parody, if there ever was a really witty, pointed spy movie parody. […] A film that carries Pop Art into German cinema, anticipates the acid aesthetics of the late 60s and early 70s, and […] pursues cinematic postmodernism in the spirit of Quentin Tarantino in 1965 with an excess and playful self-evidence that makes your chin drop in stunned helplessness and disgusted enthusiasm.”

Original title: Serenade für zwei Spione

Director: Michael Pfleghar

Screenplay: Klaus Munco, Michael Pfleghar

Actors & actresses: Hellmut Lange, Tony Kendall, Barbara Lass, Heidelinde Weis, Wolfgang Neuss, Mimmo Palmara, Annie Giss

Producer: Hans Jürgen Pohland

Cinematography: Ernst Wild

Techincal Departement: Jürgen Jürges

Editing: Margot von Schlieffen

Costumes: Helmut Holger

Music: Fransesco De Masi

 

Production companies: Matheus Film, Modern Art Films

Year of production: 1965

Genres: Thriller, Comedy

Countries: Germany, Italy

Language: German

Dubbing: English

 

Lenght: 87 Min

Rating: FSK 16

Aspect ratio: 2,35:1 (Remastered)

Sound Mix: Mono

Resolution: 4K (2020)

Other titles:

English: Adventures of a Secret Agent

Italian: Sinfonia per due spie

Spanish: 006 contra los pepitas

Portuguese: Agente Secreto 006 ½, Serenata para 2 Espiões, Aventuras em Las Vegas

Japanese: レーザーライフル

Filmlabel: M-Square Classics

Theatrical start: August 19, 1965

DVD start: October 16, 2020

VoD start: November 15, 2020

About director Michael Pfleghar

The German film director and television producer was born in Stuttgart in 1933. He was trained as an editor and at the age of 21 became assistant director at Süddeutscher Rundfunk, where he began directing entertainment programmes in the mid-1950s. At the end of the 1950s he went to Bavaria Film near Munich. With his innovative shows he soon became Germany’s most famous television director. In 1964 he directed the feature film “Dead Woman from Beverly Hills” with Heidelinde Weis in the leading role. The following year he engaged her again for his second feature film “Serenade for Two Spies“. In 1967 he went to the USA and directed the award-winning music television special “A Man and His Music plus Ella plus Jobim” for Frank Sinatra with Ella Fitzgerald and Antônio Carlos Jobim. He lived with Sinatra’s daughter Tina Sinatra for a while in Munich in the late 1960s. His ZDF show series “Wünsch Dir was” and the comedy television series “Klimbim” from 1973 to 1979 gained great popularity.

Michael Pfleghar was married to the pop singers Bibi Johns and Inge Brück in the 60s. After a relationship with Ingrid Steeger, who played in “Klimbim“, he was the second husband of singer Wencke Myhre from 1981 to 1990. With her he has the son Michael Pfleghar and from a short relationship with Corinne Pulver a daughter. Pfleghar committed suicide in 1991.

About Heidelinde Weis

The Austrian actress, born in Carinthia in 1940, began her career at the Vienna Theater in der Josefstadt. At her parents’ request, Heidelinde Weis attended commercial school before training at the Max Reinhardt Seminar. While still at acting school she was discovered by Austrian television and signed on for the daughter role in the live series “Familie Leitner“. At the age of 19 she made her cinema debut in “Ich heirate Herrn Direktor“. This was followed by the Pfleghar films „Dead Woman from Beverly Hills” and „Serenade for Two Spies“.

Besides her film career Heidelinde Weis, who was married with the 21 years older theater producer Hellmuth Duna since 1960, was also very successful at the theater. At the end of the 1960’s she shifted her work more and more to television. She achieved great fame in 1971 in the three-part WDR television film “Die Frau in Weiß” (English title: The Woman in White“), in which she played the double role of Laura and the “Woman in White”.

In addition to guest appearances in popular series such as “Der Alte“, “Derrick” and “Ein Fall für zwei“, she appeared in the first seven episodes of the television series “Schwarzwaldklinik“. Since the middle of the 1960s she was also successful with chansons. In addition, she was involved as a narrator in various radio play productions.

Due to the long illness of her husband, who was cared for by her, she withdrew from public life until his death in 1998. Since then she has been seen on television more often, especially in series productions such as “Das Traumschiff“, “Rosamunde Pilcher” and “Utta Danella” adaptations. She also plays frequently at boulevard theatres. In 2016 it became known that Heidelinde Weis had cancer, which she has since overcome. She lives in Carinthia.

Pictures during the restoration process

Michael Pfleghar in Illustrierter Film Kurier (1965) to “Serenade for Two Spies”

“I have often been asked how I discovered Heidelinde Weis. After all, it was claimed that she was not the ideal type of woman for our time. Heidelinde worked at the time at Bavaria in Munich in numerous television productions, and was considered an excellent actress in professional circles. When I was preparing ” Die kleinste Show der Welt”, I wanted to cast the roles of the clowns not with show people, but with actors, because in my opinion the acting was in the foreground. I engaged Wolfgang Eichmann for one role, for the other I was looking for a delicate, almost fragile girl. Then I saw Heidelinde Weis in Geiselgasteig. I managed to get her for the role. And the cooperation was great. Heidelinde has tremendous empathy, she mastered the musical and dancing parts with astonishing ease. Then last year my first feature film “Dead Woman from Beverly Hills” came out. We deliberately didn’t want a star for the leading role. All experiments with young ladies failed. Then I remembered Heidelinde. And I think I made the right choice.

So it is almost natural that Heidelinde Weis is also in my second film, “Serenade for Two Spies“. I cannot and will not do without this great talent. In the first version of the script there was no role for Heidelinde in it, because originally all the girls were supposed to be played by Japanese women. Even in today’s version of our film there is no role for Heidelinde in the conventional sense. We cast her absolutely against her type and – I think – achieved a special effect. Of course you can only do something like that with such a great actress.

Another question I am often asked is about the difference between working for television and for film. The big screen is a beautiful toy for me. I also work a lot with optical means in my television shows. On the small screen, these often very laboriously worked out details don’t really come across. Thus, when working for cinema, one can also think in completely different dimensions optically. That’s the essential difference and for me it’s pretty much the only one.

The fact that I’m now taking a trip to the cinema for the second time with my film “Serenade for Two Spies” has another reason, of course: I was in danger of being pinned to television. Once you’ve had some success with entertainment programmes, you remain an entertainer. And I don’t want that. Besides, I’m fascinated by the idea of telling the audience a story with a film in my own unique visual language. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to do any more shows in the future. On the contrary, I love working for television. But I love variation to the same extent.”

Trailer (Remastered)

The imaginative camera – Ernst Wild – the photographer of the film “Serenade for Two Spies”, from Illustrierter Film Kurier (1965)

Question: “The cameramen you worked for as an assistant all have a conventional style. How did you come up with the style that you practiced on the film “Dead Woman from Beverly Hills” and are now using again on “Serenade for Two Spies”?”

Answer: “I closely observed the German cameramen at work. I have seen their films. And I have watched the films of the French, which are trend-setting for modern camera work. Due to my technical knowledge I was able to see exactly what the individual cameramen worked with. Then I waited for the right film. Before I photographed ” Dead Woman from Beverly Hills“, I had several offers. But how can I work with a director who doesn’t pay attention to me and to what I want to do?”

Question: “And Michael Pfleghar was the right director?”

Answer: “Yes. I met him at the show “In achtzig Takten um die Welt“. We got along well from the very first moment. We have almost the same ideas.”

Question: “What is the essence of your photography? And why do you deviate from the conventional style, where a backlight is always used, where everything is beautifully lit, where even when you walk through the room, the faces are consistently bright?”

Answer: “I want to show reality, truth. For example, when I walk through the streets at dusk or when I’m in the room by candlelight, I don’t see other people’s faces in a constant light.”

Question: “In the film “Serenade for Two Spies” you sometimes move the camera so that it comes directly into the light. Why do you do that?”

Answer: “I even often brought the spotlights into the picture. However, because of the different focal lengths, I have transformed the spotlights into blue, red or green light points, so that they no longer appear real. This creates unreal reflexes, which are actually there. As you can see, I remain true to my principle of showing the reality, actually with every setting.”

Question: “You use a carrying frame that allows you to carry the camera in front of you. Why do you work so little with rails and tripods?”

Answer: “If, as in our film “Serenade for Two Spies“, for example, two people are walking through the streets, I walk behind them with the camera in front of my chest. The resulting camera movements are more real than the clean image that is created when the camera is on rails. Often I even tie the camera around an actor. When he walks through the streets, what he sees appears much more real to the viewer in the cinema than when a fixed camera scans the fronts of houses and people walking.”

Question: “You work with different glass panes in your film to achieve certain effects. How do you do that?”

Answer: “The pane is fixed in front of the camera lens at a certain distance – this depends on the particular setting – and is completely smeared with Vaseline. The compendium is usually gone because I illuminate the pane from the front. This makes the picture grey or soft. I remove the Vaseline at the places where the actor is standing who is to be highlighted in the scene in question. Everything else, persons and objects that appear only at the edge of the picture, appear indistinct, sometimes hardly recognizable. This in turn is more real than if what is to be shown in this shot is evenly emphasized. When I talk to someone in a room, I mainly deal only with the person and only marginally with the objects of the surroundings.”

News

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After “Dead Woman from Beverly Hills”, UCM.ONE and moviemax are releasing the second film “Serenade for Two Spies” by Germany’s greatest show director Michael Pfleghar (“Lieben Sie Show”, “Wünsch Dir was”, “Klimbim”, “Zwei himmlische Töchter” and others).in digitally high-quality restored HD version as DVD and VOD. “Serenade for Two Spies” is unfiltered love for larger-than-life cinema…

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