I watched The Fake (1953) last night, a somewhat noir film starring noir stalwart Dennis O'Keefe. I write "somewhat noir" because the whole production was, for the most part, so good-humored. It's about art fraud; the plus were the nice black and white night time shots. It's a bit of a curiosity in that many sequences were filmed in the Tate Gallery in London - my son and I were there in March - and that it heavily used musical themes from Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," which I suppose was appropriate in subject matter but not in actually use. It was weird hearing this concert music used as background music.
I also watched another wry film, The One That Got Away (or as I like to call it in a heavy Cockney dialect, "The One Wot Got Away") (1957), about the real life escape of a World War II German flyer from imprisonment by the R.A.F., Franz von Werra. Read the wikipedia article - apparently this guy was Mister Escape. The part of von Werra was played by the amusingly named Hardy Krüger (note umlaut), the go-to guy in the late 1950's and 1960's for parts requiring blond, Aryan-looking Germans. I tried to find an image of him wearing lederhosen standing in front of the Alps, but the closest I could get was the Kraftwerkian shot above. Nice shirt.
As long as I'm on the subject of German clothing sensibility, allow me to state that I think the entire race is colorblind, or at least has an entirely different color sense than the rest of the world. Remember the chocolate, mustard and pea green colored Mercedes-Benz sedans? Bleah. Working as a defense contractor I once served in Berlin from December 1990 to February 1991 (with a break to go home for Christmas). My job was to maintain PCs and instruct R.A.F. users in an audio transcription system we developed in Virginia; they were listening in on the East German pilots' air traffic. It was a marvelous experience, and I got to know Berlin pretty well. What surprised me were the clothes of the average German. Example: Brown slacks, lavender shirt, dark green tie. Or mustard polo shirt with dark green pants. The streets of Berlin were, frankly, a fairly continuous parade of colors that didn't go together well - at least not to Anglo-Saxon eyes. And the women! The twentysomethings all dyed their hair in a red that has no counterpart in nature. As I recall, they also wore the little squarish framed glasses which are now popular and said "Ah - so" a lot. A curious lot, those Berlin girls.
I worked at the R.A.F. listening post at Teufelsberg (now abandoned), the "Devil's Mountain," so-called, we were told, because the hill was made up of rubble from a bombed-out Berlin. The structure thereupon was a curious building which had as a prominent feature a tall shaft with a radome atop it, with two smaller radomes on either side at the base... and yes, you can imagine how the young servicemen described it! I find that this particular shot provokes memories. Every morning the NAAFI truck used to pull up here with sweets and baked goods, and I'd buy a doughnut therefrom... I recall the NAAFI baked goods as being especially delicious.
One morning I slipped away from a job briefly to go buy a doughnut and hurried back. When I did, I was heedless about a piece of metal welded onto a door frame at somewhat under what I would consider to be standing height (the R.A.F. guys all seemed short to me); I caught the top of my head on the metal and gave myself a good CLONK and a cut. As the metal was somewhat dirty and appeared to have some grease on it, I gave myself a small tattoo which I still have on my head and will until my dying day - my souvenir from Teufelsberg. A stern fellow I was working with, Franklin Winklereth (the Germans called him "Vinklaret"), told me, "Serves you right. Had you been were you were supposed to be, this wouldn't have happened."
Story about Winkerleth: He was a rather crusty fellow who worked for the same Virginia contractor I did, which is why we were both at Teufelsberg. He liked to go live shooting with the NS-SA, the North-South Skirmish Association, in a Union unit who called themselves the "Washington Blue Rifles." At the time I was in the 3rd Maryland, where a reenactor I knew well was also a member of the Washington Blue Rifles. I put two and two together and asked if this fellow knew Franklin Winklareth. "No," he'd say, "Never heard that name before." The same from the other guy. How odd! How can this be? This went on for a couple of years when I finally realized - I forget how - that they had been having me on all this time! Of course they knew one another...
The NS-SA guys were primarily shooters, not authentic Civil War battle reenactors, and so dressing up authentically as soldiers wasn't one of their priorities. They sensibly wore modern glasses when competition shooting, etc. I once had a shell jacket (a coat styled like a WWII "Eisenhower" jacket that stopped at the waist) that my friends all taunted me about: they claimed I looked exactly like a well-known reenactment officer who was a major league jerk. So, feeling bad vibes about the coat I sought to sell it to rid myself of it. Franklin learned of it and bought it, seeking to upgrade his look a bit. I warned him that it had bad vibes, and we both laughed, ha ha.
The very first NS-SA event he wore it to was a series of major and minor calamities: a fire broke out, somebody had a heart attack and there was some other incident at the cookery which I forget. Anyway, Franklin told me about this and we both laughed. That happened, I think, in 1992 - a weird year in reenacting. A year later Franklin died suddenly of an embolism. I see the Washington Blue Rifles has him on their Honor Roll.
Rest in peace, Franklin. Sorry about the shell jacket.
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