Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Oh Boy, George!

During all our recent computer & Internet crises, we lost an actor who is quite unknown to the general public (in the U.S., at least), but who made a singular impression on me when I laid eyes on him for the first time. I wasn't able to pay him his due on the day he passed, but wanted to do a little something now.  The man in question is Götz George.
WHO?!?!  Well, Götz George was a German actor born on July 23rd, 1938 in Berlin. His parents were both actors, though his father Heinrich George was controversial in that he had initially been an active Communist, then - branded a non-desirable - switched to the Nazi party, working in their propaganda films. Ironically, he died in a Soviet concentration camp for his Nazi collaborations after he heretofore been a Communist for most of his life! The man had a burly, authoritative, almost Orson Welles-ish quality. Götz is shown below next to a sculpture of his father Heinrich.
His mother was the imposing Berta Drews, an acclaimed stage actress who essayed many character roles in films as well, even appearing in the 1979 international hit, The Tin Drum. She lived to be eighty-five, passing away in 1987

George embarked on a stage career at the early age of twelve and continued to act in plays during schooling at Berlin's University of Fine Arts. Landing his first film role in 1953 at only age fifteen, he was winning acclaim (and awards) by 1959.

It was in 1962 that he made the primary movie of that his I've ever seen, Treasure of Silver Lake (or, as its original title goes, Der Schatz im Silbersee.)
This was but one of many wildly-popular German-made westerns based upon books written in the 1890s by Karl May. May was an avid enthusiast of the wild west of the United States, despite never having been there. (In 1908, he and his wife spent six weeks in the northeast part of the U.S., but he never ventured to the area in which so many of his stories were set.) Elaborately filmed (those are real men on real horses galloping to a real fort in the middle picture!), they often featured hordes of extras and spectacular action sequences.

Most of these westerns featured some truly terrible voice-dubbing, but if one could get past that, they also featured entertainingly adventuresome stories and appearances by familiar performers such as Elke Sommer, Stewart Granger, Rod Cameron, Terrence Hill and, in the case of Silver Lake, Lex Barker, Herbert Lom and Karin Dor. Most of all, however, they typically featured eye-popping scenery with unique rock formations, rugged terrain and stunning waterfalls. Once seen, these colorful and lustrous settings aren't easy to forget.

Also hard to forget was the enthusiastic and athletic George, careening around the movie with aplomb. He did all his own stunts, some of which were entertaining to behold. With his fit, but stocky, frame, a husky chest, a sly grin and two piercing blue eyes, he really did make an impression.

At one point he takes a shirtless swim in Treasure Lake and let's just say that there was more than one type of treasure to be found in it on that day! He was also captured and held captive along with Ms. Dor for those into the bondage thing.  LOL  He exuded such charm throughout the entire thing that he has stayed in my mind for years after (the film is difficult to find here, though every once in a while it will pop up!)
George went on to do two more Karl May-derived westerns, Amongst Vultures (aka, Frontier Hellcat, 1964) and Winnetou and the Crossbreed (aka Half-Breed, 1966.) He also proceeded to a long, rewarding and heavily-awarded career in German movies and television.
Check out his trim waist, tight jeans and he-man looks in 1987's The Crack Connection (aka, Zabou.) The back of this video box hilariously states, "First there was 'Stallone' and then 'Schwarzenegger.' Now there is the new screen sensation 'Schimanski.'" Well.... I'm not sure about that! Maybe more of a Tom Selleck or Lee Horsley?
Also of interest is The Trio (1998), a comedy in which George portrays a gay thief whose lover and whose daughter (from a long-ago straight fling) form a trio of larcenous schemers. When the lover is injured in an accident, George and his daughter take on a new partner in crime, yet find themselves both attracted to the newcomer!
Though his hair and beard are dyed within an inch of their lives for the role, he still has those luminous blue eyes, a devilishly handsome smile and an enviable physique (at age sixty!) You can view a trailer of the quirky, at times heartwarming, film here. This was quite a year for him in that he also went full frontally nude in erotic crime drama Solo for Clarinet.

Götz George was still taking home awards for his acting as recently as 2013 and 2014, those blue eyes still sparkling. Sadly, he died of a short illness on June 19th, 2016 at age seventy-seven. His first wife of ten years (1966-1976) was an actress named Loni von Friedl and they had a daughter together. A second wife wed him in 2014, but became his widow last month.

I don't know how many of my readers will ever see The Treasure of the Silver Lake or any other movie of George's, but I wanted to give him a little shout-out because I enjoyed him and hope to see more of his output in the future. Clearly, based upon the avalanche of acclaim that he received in his homeland, there is plenty of product worth watching when the time comes.


Gingerguy said...

Super interesting, and a gorgeous man. Bradley Cooper eyes and a little Jeff Bridges in the one shot. Gorgeous man and bless him for staying hot past middle age (is there hope?). I do have a theory that gorgeous old people were gorgeous young people though. I kind of remember his Mother in "The Tin Drum" which was one of those 80's movies I could have only seen on cable, living in the suburbs, and it really stuck with me, in a disturbing but good way. I saw a lot of westerns with my Dad as a child and most aren't that interesting to me anymore. As an adult though, I find the foreign made ones fascinating. They projected so many themes onto the canvas of the wild west (Johnny Guitar!). I bet this is a good watch just for art direction alone-and Herr Gotz. Great post, I feel like a got a mini film course in German westerns.

Poseidon3 said...

"Treasure of Silver Lake" was my first one and remains my favorite, but there are several I really enjoy. Their names seem to forever be changed here and there but a recent one I really liked was "Desperado Trail" (aka-Winnetou:The Last Shot) The scenery was absolutely amazing at one point, with waterfalls galore. And Rik Battaglia was in it, who is such a hunk. Thanks for your comments and support. I'm beginning to think I could do a post on pond scum and you'd find something complimentary to say about it! LOL ;-)

Gingerguy said...

I love pond scum!!! LOL!!!