Udo Kier’s First Feature Film

Udo Kier plays a rising gang leader in the bleak 1968 crime expose SHAMELESS (German title: Schamlos).

Long before Udo Kier became the go-to eclectic supporting actor who stole his scenes in films such as Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho (1991), the sci-fi fantasy Johnny Mnemonic (1995), Wim Wenders’ The End of Violence (1997) and numerous films by Lars von Trier, the German actor was already firmed established as a cult film icon from the 1970s. In addition to playing the lead in two Andy Warhol productions, Flesh for Frankenstein (1973) and Blood for Dracula (1974), he starred in the sadistic period piece The Mark of the Devil (1970), Just Jaeckin’s S&M erotica The Story of O (1975), Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) and R.W. Fassbinder’s The Third Generation (1979). Kier, who was born in 1944, is still going strong today at age 78 with more than 250 film and TV series in his filmography and a rare leading role in Swan Song (2021), in which he plays a retired hairdresser who agrees to perform one last makeover on a deceased client. But if you want to see him at the beginning of his career, look no further than his debut feature film Shameless (German title, Schamlos, 1968), in which he plays a ruthless young gangster who tries to muscle in on his rival’s business operations in Vienna, Austria.

Udo Kier has a rare starring role in the bittersweet comedy-drama SWAN SONG (2021).
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The Cinema Art House Visionary

When did movie theaters specializing in repertory cinema, foreign language films and alternatives to Hollywood mass-produced entertainments become an option for movie lovers in the U.S.? Some might think it all began with the Landmark Theater chain, founded in 1974, which eventually expanded into a network of 46 cinemas in 26 markets. No, the concept of the art house cinema can be traced back to 1952 when the Beekman Theater on Manhattan’s East Side opened and turned movie-going into an event. The man behind the venue was Donald Rugoff and his entrance into the world of film exhibition was due to his father Edward’s partnership with Herman Becker; the two men had built up a small empire of theaters across New York City during the days of the nickelodeon and vaudeville. Rugoff would soon have a major impact on movie-going, film distribution and film culture in the 1960s and 1970s but he is virtually forgotten today. Ira Deutchman, a former employee of Cinema V, Rugoff’s trail-blazing film distribution company, is bound to correct that situation with his fascinating, warts-and-all homage, Searching for Mr. Rugoff (The documentary was completed in 2019 and is finally screening and streaming at various venues).

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Dusan Makavejev for Beginners

How to describe this blast of creative anarchy from 1965? Fascinating and engaging on so many levels, Man is Not a Bird (aka Covek nije tica, 1965) could be seen as a political parable or a social satire or an offbeat romantic drama or an attempt to merge documentary and fiction in some new form of Eastern European neorealism. Continue reading