lundi 19 octobre 2009

Tip not included

(lire en français)
In 1966, I shoot my first film in the german language, "Die rechnung eskalt serviert" (litterally : "the bill - served cold", which I prefer to the french title "a coffin of diamonds"). It was a french-german co-production with "les films Jacques Leitienne" and Constantin film.

A new adventure of Jery Cotton inspired by the successful dime thrillers starring the FBI agent. Espionnage intrigues and gang fights, very popular at the time.

the story :
Two gangs are competing for the armored truck of the New York treasury.
Jerry Cotton ( George Nader) is investigating the death of wheeler, Violet's (Yvonne Monlaur) boyfriend, a chemist hunted for treason by Anderson, a gang boss ( Horst Tappert). Anderson gets ahead of his rivals and steals the truck. With Violet's help, Cotton tracks him. He and Violet manage to escape from the hangar where Anderson holds them prisoners. Cotton hangs from the helicopter carrying Anderson and the loot. After a fight in mid-air, Cotton neutralizes Anderson and his henchman and delivers the helicopter and the money to the police forces.

I liked Violet's part. Here I had an opportunity to express my love of music. I was playing a cabaret singer. I was dubbed in german for the dialog scenes, but was singing in english myself.

TIP NOT INCLUDED was the fourth Jerry Cotton film for George Nader, a very professional american actor of Lebanese extraction (1). An intelligent man who was undoubtedly worth of better roles than those he played throughout his career. I heard, later on, that he became a successful novelist, and I wasn't a bit surprised.

On the set, Nader was not a very expansive individual. As soon as a take was over, he went back to his trailer and did not linger on the set. I remember quite well when his life partner, the star Rock Hudson, came to Hamburg to join him for the week-end. They invited me to dinner and George relaxed a little bit. Hudson very humbly spoke about his prestigious career. He was a warm and very simple man. We had a wonderful time together.

In the film, I was surrounded by a whole generation of talented german actors, among whom Horst Tappert (since immortalized by his portrayal of the placid inspector Derrick on tv), Heinz Weiss, Christian Doermer and glamorous pulp lady Birke Bruck, in real life a true "mamma", very much earth-bound, who, in front of the camera, changed into a superficial air-head with a disconcerting facility. She reminded me of Jayne Mansfield (whom I had met at Bray studios when she visited the set of BRIDES OF DRACULA with her husband Mickey Hargitay).

TIP NOT INCLUDED was shot in Hamburg, a beautiful port city of which the film only showed contemporary espects : industrial zones, administrative buildings, large freeways.
Jerry Cotton's adventures were supposed to take place in New York, and our director Helmuth Ashley (2) had to outdo himself to deliver a convincing american city, the emblem of emblems of "fim noir".

Through camera compositions with forced perspectives, and a tight editing, Ashley managed to give the film all the energy it needed. At the time, they used a lot of stock-shots (many real shots of New York are inserted in the film) to give some credit to the whole picture. Finally, when I see the movie today, Jerry Cotton's New York looks more like a fantasy New York conceived by European fans of the many american thrillers available in theaters at the time.

TIP NOT INCLUDED was a very physical shoot, and not only for George Nader. We rehearsed a lot and shot very few takes. Ashley gave us some creative freedom. In that respect, he was a bit similar to Terry Fisher in the way he directed us. He was cool but very precise.

During a large portion of the film, I spend my time running with George Nader, climbing or descending staircases, dodging bullets. During these scenes, there was a third actor that we had to pay a lot of attention to : the fireworks expert !

We had precise instructions regarding where to go on the set in order to be perfectly safe from explosions. Not enough !

During a scene (cut from the final film), the rigger's bad timing involved me in an accident during which I thought I had lost my hearing.
I was behind a door, wearing a trenchcoat and my hair tight. The explosion occurred before I was able to reach the little wall I was supposed to get to for protection. Unconscious from the shock, I had received shots of powder in my cheek.
I was very worried, considering that I was expecting my first child at the time.
I decidedly did not have a love affair with fire ! (3)

The doctors gave me one week's rest, time enough to heal. I took advantage of my convalescence to visit Hamburg, the port, the Kunstalle, the Pauli district and the Reeperbahn.

TIP NOT INCLUDED was released in Paris as UN CERCUEIL DE DIAMANTS on the Grands Boulevards circuit. I remember going to see the film with a friend. I had put on a lovely scarf and dark glasses in order not to be recognized. Lights dimmed and I was able to enjoy the reactions of an enthusiastic audience of thriller lovers.
( next : The terror of the tongs)

1- He is well known from fans of B-movies for his first part in the 3-D z-series flick "Robot monster"
2- Helmuth Ashley directed many episodes of the popular tv series "Derrick" starring the famous Horst Tappert.
3- see : The beginning of my english career

5 commentaires:

Holger Haase a dit…

Fantastic memories! I am a great fan of the Jerry Cotton films and this post really gave fascinating insights into the Making Of!!!

Anonyme a dit…

Great story Yvonne. Today everybody knows about Nader and Hudson relationship and seems that nader was very discret during the film production. How come you realise he was gay?
Best wishes from Rio de Janeiro! Daniel

Yvonne Monlaur a dit…

I realised he was gay when Rock Hudson came to visit his friend George Nader. Best wishes from Paris.

The Shadow a dit…

Helga Schlack was the girl who played the secretary to the FBI chief.
I believe it was Birke Brucke who played the blonde gangster moll, and who had the look of Jayne Mansfield

Yvonne Monlaur a dit…

Thank you for pointing this to us, Mike. You are right.I have corrected this mistake.