Tuesday, 16 August 2022


The long-running German crime drama The Old Fox (Der Alte) is now available in France on DVD, starting with its 10th season, with the "Le Renard - Intégrale saison 10" boxset from Elephant Films (All Zone, 12 episodes).

Der Alte ("The Old Man") was launched in 1977 on ZDF by producer Helmut Ringelmann as the successor to Der Kommissar, a series made by his company Neue Münchner Fernsehproduktion for the pubcaster. Set in Munich, Der Kommissar ran from 1969 to 1976. It starred Erik Ode as Kommissar Herbert Keller, a father figure to his team of investigators inspired by Maigret. The first Freitagskrimi (1) of the channel lasted 97 episodes, all penned by Herbert Reinecker. This prolific scritwriter also wrote each of the 281 episodes of Derrick, a crime drama devised by Ringelmann with Reinecker as an alternative to Der Kommissar (2)though once again set in Munich and shown on ZDF from 1974 to 1998
Produced by Neue Münchner for ZDF, ORF (Austria) and SRG (Switzerland), Der Alte employed several authors. Writer and producer Hans Gottschalk (Raumpatrouille Orion) conceived the main character, Hauptkommissar Erwin Köster (3) of the Munich Mordkommission II (Homicide Squad II). Siegfried Lowitz, a familiar face from the Edgar Wallace films, became the "new Kommissar". Erwin Köster was given assistants: Gerd Heymann, played by Michael Ande (Fußballtrainer Wulff, Treasure Island), and Martin Brenner (Jan Hendriks, another Edgar Wallace regular) (4). Henning Schlüter was Köster's chief, Kriminalrat Franz Millinger. Der Alte premiered on Easter 1977 with a 94-minute pilot titled Die Dienstreise, written by Oliver Storz (Raumpatrouille Orion) & Jochen Wedegärtner (Graf Yoster gibt sich die Ehre) and directed by Johannes Schaaf. 
Der Alte schlägt zweimal zu, an episode written and helmed by French novelist/filmmaker José Giovanni, stirred controversy for the methods used by the detectives in the story. Karl Heinz Willschrei, one of the scriptwriters of the series, co-created Ein Fall für zwei (1981-2013) for ZDF. At the end of 1984, Siegfried Lowitz expressed his desire to leave Der Alte with the 100th episode (aired in January 1986) and return to theatre. Helmut Ringelmann gave the role of the new boss of Mordkomission II, Hauptkommissar Leo Kress, to Rolf Schimpf. Ringelmann noticed the actor in Der Sheriff von Lisenbach (1984) and first hired him in Mensch Bachmann, a family series he produced the same year. Schimpf was no stranger to the crime genre because he played Waldi Zeldmann in  SOKO 5113 since 1978.

Gerd Heymann remained but Martin Brenner got transferred. The Polizeiarzt  ("police doctor") played by Ulf J. Sohmisch since 1983 stayed a few years more but never got a proper name. Leo Kress came from Augsburg with his own assistant, Henry Johnson. This black detective (a first in the history of German TV) was based on a real-life black investigator from the Munich police named Raimund Eichner and he was portrayed by Charles M. Huber (credited Charly Muhamed Huber). A new theme intro, composed by Eberhard Schoener, replaced the theme by Peter Thomas. Sold in more than 100 countries, Der  Alte arrived in France in 1987 as Le Renard. The French dubbing of the Erwin Köster era being unaivalable, Elephant Films releases Der Alte on DVD in France from its 10th season. The "Le Renard - Intégrale Saison 10" 6-disc DVD boxset contains the following episodes:

- Zwei Leben. The great 100th episode was written by Adolf Schröder & Günter Gräwert, who helmed it. Köster and Heymann investigate the disappearance of a woman from Gerd's circle of friends. Katja Flint, Friedrich von Thun (Die Verbrechen des Professor Capellari), Sven Eric Bechtolf and a pre-fame Christoph Waltz are amongst the guest stars. In German with subtitles.
- Sein erster Fall (69 minutes). A brilliant first case for Leo Kress written by Leopold Ahlsen, Volker Vogeler and Günter Gräwert under the pseudonym of Tobias Bertram. Gräwert directed the episode. A man arrested by Erwin Köster years ago is released from prison. With Klaus Löwitsch (Welt am Draht, Peter Strohm), Amadeus August and Evelyn Opela (who married Helmut Ringelmann in 1986). Last episode with Martin Brenner. Volker Vogeler wrote 181 episodes of Der Alte. In German with subtitles.

- Das Attentat. An excellent episode written by Volker Vogeler and directed by Zbyněk Brynych. The return of an old acquaintance from Kress's Augsburg days is part of a machiavellian plan. Wilfried Klaus (Behrend) was a regular of SOKO 5113/SOKO München from 1978 to 2009. First appearance of Bettina Redlich as Leo's daughter Sabine. With Herbert Stass and Peter Kuiper. In French or in German (without subtitles).
- Der Mord auf Zimmer 49. A man (Manfred Zapatka) who spent several years behind bars is suspected of the murder of a hotel chambermaid. Written by Bruno Hampel (Polizeifunk ruft) and helmed by Günter Gräwert. Third appearance of Gert Burkhard this season, in different roles. In French or in German (without subtitles).
- Der Trugschluß. Written by Volker Vogeler and directed by Theodor Grädler. Kress and his colleagues investigate in a market hall. With Jutta Speidel, Hans Georg Panczak and a young Hannes Jaenicke. In French or in German (without subtitles).
- Terzett in Gold. Written by Bruno Hampel and helmed by Wolfgang Becker. With Jochen Horst and Rainer Hunold before Balko and Ein Fall für zwei. The lady in the train is played by Eva Maria Bauer (Die Schwarzwaldklinik). In French or in German (without subtitles).

- Gigolo ist tot. A splendid work by Volker Vogeler. Two burglars find a dead body and Kress faces a devious adversary. Günter Lamprecht plays a Columbo-esque (and racist) villain. First appearance of Marküs Böttcher as Werner Riedmann, a role he played for 29 years. With Bettina Redlich (Sabine), Claude-Oliver Rudolph, Anja Jaenicke, etc. Directed by Dietrich Haugk. In French or in German (without subtitles). 
- Killer gesucht.  A chemist (Udo Vioff) has the bad idea to hire Henry to kill his wife (Christiane Hörbiger). Meanwhile, the new girlfriend of the wife's younger lover is shot dead in the street. Penned by Volker Vogeler and helmed by Alfred Weidenmann. In French or in German (without subtitles). 

- Tödliche Freundschaft. A bank robbery is a strange way to reconnect with an old school friend. Written and directed by Günter Gräwert. Based on an idea by Adolf Schröder, this episode is carried by the performances of Peter Sattmann (Hans) and Walter Renneisen (Ingmar). In French or in German (without subtitles). 

- Falsch verbunden. A young woman takes a phone call from someone who tells her he's about to commit suicide. Penned by Bruno Hampel, this episode feels like a Derrick (like Hampel's Der Mord auf Zimmer 49). Amadeus August guest starred in 7 episodes of Der Alte vs 9 for Sven Eric Bechtolf. Directed by Wolfgang Becker. In French or in German (without subtitles). 

- Floßfahrt ins Jenseits. A classic written by Bruno Hampel and helmed by Dietrich Haugk, who has an uncredited cameo. Irene Möller (Eva Kryll) tries to run the taxi company of her lazy and drinking husband Bartholomäus (Rainer Basedow). With Uwe Friedrichsen. In French or in German (without subtitles). 

- Tadverdacht. The reconstitution of an armed robbery goes wrong. Second appearance of Manfred Zapatka in Der Alte. With Lisa Kreuzer (Der amerikanische Freund), Eva Maria Bauer, etc. Written by Volker Vogeler and directed by Günter Gräwert. In French or in German (without subtitles). 

In 1998, Leo Kress and his men appeared in the final episode of Derrick. Kress retired at the end of the 322nd episode (2007) but Rolf Schimpf returned as the ex-detective in Episode 340. He was succeeded by Walter Kreye as Hauptkommissar Rolf Herzog (2008-2012) and Jan-Gregor Kremp (Hauptkommissar Richard Voss, 2012-2022). Michael Ande decided to leave the series in 2016 after 39 years as Gerd Heymann. Charles M. Huber left in 1997 and was replaced by Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss as Axel Richter until 2015. Huber changed career for politics and humanitarian work. Bonus material of the "Le Renard - Intégrale Saison 10" boxset is comprised of a photo gallery and the trailers of some other titles of Elephant Films, like Derrick, Hunter (with Fred Dryer), Frank Riva (with Alain Delon), Ein Fall für zwei and Commissaire Valence. Next year Thomas Heinze will be the new Hauptkommissar of Der Alte.

(1) Friday crime drama.
(2) Unlike Der Kommissar, Derrick was filmed in colour and produced by Helmut Ringelmann's other company Telenova for ZDF, ORF and SRG.
(4) The team was later completed by Meyer Zwo (Wolgang Zerlett, 1979-1987) and Löwinger (Jan Meyer, 1985-1986).
See also: 

Tuesday, 28 June 2022


 To Monique Planson.
The cult German crime drama A Case for Two (Ein Fall für zwei) ran for 300 episodes from 1981 to 2013 on ZDF. Its  first season (5 episodes) is now available in France on DVD in the "Un cas pour deux - Intégrale saison 1" boxset from Elephant Films.

Ein Fall für zwei was born from an idea by scriptwriters/producers Georg Althammer and Karl Heinz Willschrei, who wanted to make a crime drama whose main character wouldn't be a cop or an amateur sleuth. Experts in their craft, both worked for Bavaria Atelier on detective dramas like Der Nachtkurier meldet... (1964-1966) or  Graf Yoster gibt sich die Ehre (1967-1976). Karl Heinz Willschrei wrote the espionage series Alexander Zwo (1972). He also penned several episodes of Tatort (1) and Der Alte (between 1977 and 1979). Althammer and Willschrei founded their own production company, called Monaco Film, in 1976. A subsidiary named Galmon-Film (later Odeon Film) was set up in 1981 to produce Ein Fall für zwei for the Freitagskrimi (Friday crime drama) line-up of ZDF. The concept pitched to the channel was a duo composed of a young lawyer and an experienced private eye. When Georg Althammer and Karl Heinz Willschrei were told that the great actor Günter Strack (The Odessa File, Torn Curtain) wanted to be in a TV series, they changed the tandem for an experienced lawyer — to be played by Strack — and a young detective.

Georg Althammer gave the role of the P.I. to Claus Theo Gärtner. Regularly on stage like Günter Strack, Gärtner won of the Deutscher Filmpreis of the Best young actor for the film Zoff (1972). He played in the 1977 sci-fi TV movie Operation Ganymed and starred in the series Die Straße (1978).  Ein Fall für zwei was launched by ZDF in September 1981 (2) with a 75-minute pilot titled Die große Schwester. Josef Matula (Gärtner), a 31-year old police officer in Frankfurt am Main, starts a romance with the sister of a young delinquent against whom he testified in court. The behaviour of his girlsfriend's brother, defended by lawyer Dr. Dieter Renz (Strack), puts his career in jeopardy and he decides to quit the force. Renz, who finds Josef sympathetic, hires him as his private investigator. Günter Strack left Ein Fall für zwei in 1988 after 60 episodes and the billiard player detective teamed up with three other lawyers during the impressively long run of the series: Dr. Rainer Frank (Rainer Hunold, 1988-1997), Dr. Johannes Voss (Mathias Hermann, 1997-2000) and Dr. Markus Lessing (Paul Frielinghaus, 2001-2013). 

In autumn 2011, Claus Theo Gärtner expressed his desire to leave after 30 years as Josef Matula. The duo Matula-Lessing bowed out with Letzte Worte, the 300th episode, in March 2013. Surprisingly, ZDF decided to revamp Ein Fall für Zwei around attorney Benjamin "Benni" Hornberg (Antoine Monot, Jr.) and private detective Leo Oswald (Wanja Hues). The new version started in May 2014, with the same title and even a cameo of Claus Theo Gärtner (in 2015) but minus the famous theme intro by jazz musician and television/film composer Klaus Doldinger. Founder of the band Passport, Doldinger composed the music of classics such as The Neverending Story (Die unendliche Geschichte, 1984) and Das Boot (1981) or the theme of Tatort. Sold in more than 50 countries, the original Ein Fall für Zwei arrived in France in 1991 and the series is still repeated there. For a long time, Klaus Doldinger's work was replaced by a local intro but it was restored for repeats. The "Un cas pour deux - Intégrale saison 1" 3-disc DVD boxset from Elephant Films, which has the right theme, contains the following episodes (one-hour except for the pilot):

- Die große Schwester (65-minute version). Written by Karl Heinz Willschrei and directed by Wolfgang Storch (Star Maidens). With Daniela Ziegler (Laura Schneider), Michael Drescher-Stierhofer (Paul Schneider), Eva Pflug (Raumpatrouille Orion) as a judge, Ludwig Haas (Wunderlich), etc. Music by Rolf Kühn (The Vengeance of Doctor Mabuse/La venganza del doctor Mabuse). In French or in German (without subtitles).

- Fuchsjagd. A brilliant episode written by Plym Pahl (Graf Yoster gibt sich die Ehre, Okay S.I.R.) & Enno Hollrath and directed by Reinhard Schwabenitzky. Claus Brinkstedt, a former horse riding champion, tells his friend Dr. Renz that he wants to divorce his wife Charlotte. After he dies during a fox hunt event, an insurance company asks Matula to investigate. With Hannelore Cremer (Charlotte), Dietmar Schönherr (Raumpatrouille Orion) as Claus, Joachim Wichmann (Dr. Rasch), Henry Van Lyck (Dr. Schultzen), Dirk Galuba (Dr. Muller-Adorni), etc. In German with subtitles.

- Das Haus in Frankreich. A masterpiece penned by Willshrei. Produced and helmed by Hans Peter Renfranz (Der Alte). Birgit Weißenborn, an old flame of Dieter Renz, asks him to serve as an intermediary for the sale of her family house in France. She wants to use the money to buy a paint factory without telling her husband. Fans of the Edgar Wallace film series will recognize Barbara Rutting as Birgit. With Karl Heinz Vosgerau (Konrad Weißenborn). The music is from American composer Sam Spence (the NFL films, Wie ein Blitz). In French or in German (without subtitles).

- Todfreunde. Another piece of brilliance from Karl Heinz Willschrei. Directed by Michael Braun (Graf Yoster gibt sich die Ehre, Raumpatrouille Orion). Dr. Renz receives Matula and some guests for dinner at his home when a young man named Armin Fest wants to see the lawyer. He says he has just killed his girlfriend. Alexander Radszun is fabulous as Armin. Also with Brigitte Grothum (Prosecuting attorney), Hans Häckermann (Horst Senftleben), Siemen Rühaak (Lutz Hegart), etc. Music by Klaus Doldinger. In French or in German (without subtitles).

- Brandstiftung. This excellent episode, written by Werner Doering and helmed by Peter Weck, is actually the first of Season 2. Hans Hohmann, an alcoholic, is accused of burning down the car rental company of his ex-employer. With Ilse Neubauer (Margot Hohmann), Dieter Hufschmidt (Hans Hohmann), Karl-Heinz von Hassel (Tatort) as Ellerwein, Dieter Prochnow (Bender). Music by Andre Bauer. In French only.

Besides Ein Fall für Zwei, Georg Althammer and Karl Heinz Willschrei continued to provide their expertise in the crime genre with three episodes of Eurocops (in 1989, 1990 and 1991), private channel Sat.1's hit Wolffs Revier (1992-1999) or A.S. (1995-1998). Althammer produced Die Kommissarin (1994-2006), starring Hannelore Elsner. From 2017 and 2019, Claus Theo Gärtner returned to his signature role for three 90-minute specials. Season 8 of the revamped Ein Fall für zwei was shown recently by ZDF. Bonus material of the "Un cas pour deux - Intégrale saison 1" boxset is comprised of a photo gallery and the trailers of some other titles of Elephant Films, like the German crime drama Derrick, Hunter (with Fred Dryer), Fantasy Island, The Virginian and The Quest (with Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson). After Derrick and Ein Fall für zwei, Elephant will release a boxset of the 10th season from Der Alte in July.

(1) The crime drama collection of ARD, launched in 1970 and still aired today. Karl Heinz Willschrei penned 10 Tatort TV movies, including the most watched episode ever, Rot - rot - rot (26.57 million viewers on January 1, 1978).
(2) ZDF aired the first season of Ein Fall für zwei from September 11, 1981 to December 18, 1981 in alternance with Der Alte and Derrick.

https://tattard2.blogspot.com/2022/06/derrick-seasons-1-2-french-region-2-dvd.html (Derrick on DVD)

See also:

https://tattard2.blogspot.com/2017/04/matula-zdf_28.html (Matula #1)
https://tattard2.blogspot.com/2018/04/matula-der-schatten-des-berges-zdf.html (Matula #2)
https://tattard2.blogspot.com/2019/04/matula-tod-auf-mallorca-zdf.html (Matula #3)

Monday, 13 June 2022


[Spoiler-free review] The amazing Audrey Fleurot (Spiral, A French Village) is back in HPI. The 8 x 52-minute second season of French private channel TF1's record-breaking comedy/crime drama concludes brilliantly with episodes 7 & 8.

Created by Alice Chegaray-Breugnot and Nicolas Jean two of the creators of La Mante with Stéphane Carrié (1), HPI established itself as a ratings phenomenon in France and Belgium during spring 2021 when its first 8 x 52 minute season broke historic records (2) and ranked amongst the most watched dramas in Europe. Sold in 90 countries, the series confirmed its status with the second season. Audrey Fleurot shines as Morgane Alvaro, a mother of three (from two different fathers) with a disdain for authority and a 160 I.Q. that makes her HPI (Haut Potentiel Intellectuel). She was a cleaning lady at the commissariat de Lille until Commissaire Céline Hazan noticed her abilities and offered her a consultant job in the team of Commandant Adam Karadec. The no-nonsense cop tries to adapt his style of policing to the red tornado, as genius as she's uncontrollable.

The actors alongside Audrey Fleurot are excellent: Mehdi Nebbou, who worked for Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott and appeared on German TV in Allmen and Tatort and in the U.S. drama Homeland, plays Adam Karadec. Céline Hazan is played by Marie Denarnaud (La malédiction du volcan). The other regulars are Bruno Sanches (Gilles Vandraud), Bérangère McNeese (Daphné Forestier), Cypriane Gardin (Théa) (3), Noé Vandevoorde (Eliott), Cédric Chevalme (Ludovic Mullier) and Christopher Bayemi (Luther) as Dr. Bonnemain. Clotilde Hesme (Lupin) joins them as Commandant Roxane Ascher, of the internal affairs. HPI does its own take on Knives Out with 55 kilos. The body of Hélène Lecoq, the recently deceased owner of a frozen food company, has been stolen and there's a statue in her coffin. The woman was terminally ill so why did someone strangle her? Karadec and Morgane investigate in the luxurious manor of the Lecoq family, all suspects in a real game of Cluedo. The commandant tries to guess the plans for his birthday party.
This gem was written by Émilie Clamart-Marsollat (Caïn, Une chance de trop), Nicolas Jean, Marion Carnel, Julien Anscutter and Alice Chegaray-Breugnot. The end of the episode is incredible. With Niels Dubost (Father Clément), Francis Leplay (Pierre Lecoq),  Agnès Tassel (Hélène Lecoq), Nicolas Moreau (Olivier Marchand), etc. With the participation of Rufus as Henri. This season, the creative forces behind HPI bring back the Romain Destat story. Romain, Morgane's boyfriend and Théa's father, went missing 16 years ago. Initially, Morgane accepted to work for Céline only if she found out what happened to him. This looked like the arc of the first season until filming was interrupted because of COVID. Serendipity, the magnificent finale of this second season, masterfully fixes the way Romain's fate was handled last year (4). Patrick Chesnais guest stars as Serge Alvaro, Morgane's  card counting father and a crook with a 161 HQ. Both the character and the actor are a fantastic addition to the series.

Fans of the Laurence/Avril/Marlène era of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie will be happy to see François Godart and Dominique Thomas. Olivier Bonjour plays Le Belge. With the participation of Michèle Moretti as Agnès Alvaro. Written by Julien Anscutter, Stéphane Carrié and Alice Chegaray-Breugnot. Story arc by Alice Chegaray-Breugnot, Julien Anscutter and Stéphane Carrié. Episodes 7 & 8 directed by Djibril Glissant. Produced by Septembre Productions and Itinéraire Productions with TF1 and the participation of Salto (the French streaming service). Co-produced by Be-Films, RTBF (Télévision belge), Umedia, Pictanovo and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Filmed with the support of Région Hauts-de-France. Jean Nainchrik, Anthony Lancret and Pierre Laugier are the line producers. Patrice Onfray exec produces. Produced by Anthony Lancret, Pierre Laugier and Bérengère Legrand.
Music by Yannis Dumoutiers. Cinematography by Isarr Eiriksson. Editing by Pascal Jauffres (55 kilos), Olga Penot (Serendipity). Casting by Christophe Moulin. Main title design by Brett & Cie (Crimes parfaits). Graphic animations by La Brigade du Titre. Visual effects by Super 35 Productions and Umedia. Supported by the Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique and the investors of the Tax Shelter, with uFund. High Intellectual Potential (the international title of HPI) is distributed by Newen Connect. Seasons 1 & 2 are available on Salto. Season 1 is available on DVD thanks to UGC. 55 kilos was shown last thursday on TF1 and Serendipity will air this week. 
(1) Based on an idea from Nicolas Jean. Djibril Glissant and Franck Martins contributed to the series.
(3) Cypriane Gardin also plays in France 3's crime drama Police de caractères.
The second season of HPI was our Favourite of the Month in May.
See also:
https://tattard2.blogspot.com/2022/05/hpi-season-2-episodes-1-2-2300-calories.html (Episodes 1 & 2)