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Franz Josef Gottlieb, Director - A Biography

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2009

Franz Josef Gottlieb on (re)Search my Trash

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It's hard to get overly excited about a director like Franz Josef Gottlieb. Gottlieb has directed numerous films and TV-series from the 1960's to the 2000's, of pretty much every genre popular in the German movie industry, yet his oeuvre simply lacks any highlights or even significant and entertaining lows. He couldn't even be described as anything that remotely resembles an auteur, since his film simply lack any kind of personal note, just like his career lacked any distinctive direction, he was the born genre-hopping craftsman ... which is exactly why he was so popular with his producers, he didn't feel himself to be an artist and considered his whole function being to entertain as big a crowd as possible with whatever he did - and as a result Gottlieb could be assigned to pretty much everything, and while his films almost always left (large) room to improvement, he rarely failed to deliver a totally marketable picture, a picture without any bumps - be it political messages, artistic experiments or whatnot - that could alienate the average target audience.


But don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that Gottlieb was totally unremarkable for the German film industry (and later for television), quite the contrary, he made films with some of the biggest names of the German entertainment industry, including Gunther Philipp, Lex Barker [Lex Barker bio - click here], Joachim Fuchsberger, Eddi Arent, O.W. Fischer, Peter Weck, Rex Gildo, Cornelia Froboess, Rudi Carrell, Ilja Richter, Hansi Kraus, Thomas Gottschalk, Helmut Fischer, Roy Black, Maximillian Schell and of course the omnipresent Herbert Fux, and filmed for pretty much all of the bigger studios, including CCC Filmkunst, Rialto and Lisa Film [Lisa Film history - click here] ... and while I wouldn't exactly claim he was the backbone of the German film industry, he was certainly one of those unsung workmanlike directors who put meat on the bones ...



Early Life, Early Career


Franz Josef Gottlieb's early career, just like many of his films, couldn't be more undistinguishable from what is considered norm, with no bumps one way or another: He was born 1930 in Semmering, Lower Austria, Austria, and after graduating from high school studied at the Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst (= academy for music and performing arts) in Vienna. He worked as an actor at the Akademietheater while studying and graduated in 1953 with a degree in directing.


Degree in hand, he started working as assistant director on a bunch of Austrian-produced films like Die Wirtin zur Goldenen Krone (1955, Theo Lingen), Wo die Lerche singt/Where the Lark Sings (1956, Hans Wolff), Im Prater blüh'n wieder die Bäume/Trees are Blooming in Vienna (1958, Hans Wolff), Gitarren klingen leise duchr die Nacht (1959, Hans Deppe), and Wenn das mein grosser Bruder wüsste (1959, Erik Ode). Mostly, these films were Heimat-films (= rural dramas or comedies), operettas, romances or musicals, in other words exactly those genres that were popular in the 1950's and were easy enough to produce in a country as small as Austria and marketable throughout the German language countries. Of course, none of these films has since become a classic or is even well-remembered nowadays even in Gottlieb's native Austria - and in some way, that rings even true for many of Gottlieb's films as a director as well ...



Starting out as Director


For Mikosch im Geheimdienst (1959, Franz Marischka), a light comedy set in Imperial Austria-Hungary starring Guther Philipp, a favourite with contemporary audiences, Franz Josef Gottlieb was promoted from assistant director to co-director - though it's not quite clear what's the difference between assistant director and co-director as opposed to director as such (a credit that goes to Marischka alone).


Gottlieb came into his own as a director the following year though, filming Meine Nichte tut das nicht/My Niece doesn't do That (1960), where he had sole directing responsibilities and was no assistant or co to anyone. The film however can hardly be described as creative outburst of someone who has spent his time in the shadow of others for way too long, quite the contrary, it's a light musical comedy starring Schlager stars Conny Froboess, Fred Bertelmann and Rex Gildo (Schlager = German language popsongs from the cheesy end of the spectrum) plus actor Peter Weck (who will pop up in Gottlieb's films every now and again over the years) that's pretty much indistinguishable from the films Gottlieb worked on as an assistant.


At the beginning of his career as a director, Gottlieb would remain loyal to the Schlager-formula, filling light entertainment with a few songs and a handful of popular musicians (a formula Gottlieb would return to tíme and again during his long career by the way). Musik ist Trumpf (1961) for example is the sort-of bio-pic of popular bandleader Hazy Osterwald (playing himself), and the film also stars singers Rex Gildo and Bill Ramsey, while Saison in Salzburg/Season in Salzburg (1961) stars Schlager-superstar Peter Alexander (who in the 1950's and 60's also had a remarkable movie career in the German language market), and Die Försterchristel (1962) was based on an actual operetta from 1907. The film was once again set in the Austro-Hungarian empire and has Peter Weck playing Austrian emperor Franz Joseph.



Edgar Wallace

In 1963, Franz Josef Gottlieb finally broke away from the Schlager-film mold when he was assigned to make a film based on a book by Edgar Wallace, Der Fluch der gelben Schlange/Curse of the Yellow Snake. Since the late 1950's, Edgar Wallace-adaptations were extremely popular in the German language market, and while this was basically an accomplishment of production company Rialto, which started the trend with Der Frosch mit der Maske/Fellowship of the Frog (1959, Harald Reinl [Harald Reinl bio click here]), it was never below producer Artur Brauner of CCC Filmkunst to jump onto a successful bandwagon and try to copy the style of someone else's series to the t - he even hired two of Rialto's most popular Edgar Wallace-actors, Joachim Fuchsberger and Eddi Arent, to remain in tone with the competitors' successful series (to which Rialto eventually reacted by forcing exclusive contracts onto Fuchsberger and Arent concerning the Edgar Wallace-series). As a director, Brauner needed someone who could easily duplicate the style of the Rialto-series established by series director Harald Reinl and to a lesser extent his successor Alfred Vohrer [Alfred Vohrer bio - click here] without trying too hard to be original - a job description that fitted Franz Josef Gottlieb almost perfectly, so much so that he was also entrusted with co-writing the screenplay. And unfortunately, the screenplay is Curse of the Yellow Snake's main fault: While on a visual and atmospheric level the film closely resembles Rialto's Edgar Wallace series, it tries just too hard on a story level to include all pulp mainstays associated with the Edgar Wallace series and cook them up to a fittingly convoluted murder mystery that it ultimately to loses itself in its world of far fetched plot devices and narrative improbabilities.


Still, the film was a success in 1963, and apparently, someone at Rialto must have liked it for what it was (a carbon copy of their successful formula), since in the very same year, the studio hired Franz Josef Gottlieb to shoot another Edgar Wallace adaptation - but this time for them and not some competing studio.

(CCC Filmkunst by the way didn't produce another Edgar Wallace-adaptation until Der Teufel kam aus Akasava/The Devil Came from Akasava [Jess Franco] in 1970.)


The first Edgar Wallace-feature Franz Josef Gottlieb made for Rialto was Der Schwarze Abt/The Black Abbott (1963), a film that pretty much fulfilled all the expectations of Rialto - as in being a film in tune with their successful series that did not veer off the beaten track one way or the other - and became expectedly successful ...- and thus it shouldn't come as a big surprise that in 1964, Gottlieb was asked back by Rialto to direct yet another entry into the series, Die Gruft mit dem Rätselschloss/Curse of the Hidden Vault.

As Curse of the Yellow Snake and The Black Abbott before it, Curse of the Hidden Vault was devoid of artistic ambitions or the like, but a solid if somewhat uninspired entry into the series, fitting it perfectly in style and clichés.


Artur Brauner and CCC Filmkunst in the meantime might have given up on genuine Edgar Wallace adaptations after Curse of the Yellow Snake, but even before that film (with Das Geheimnis der Schwarzen Koffer/Secret of the Black Trunk [Werner Klingler] in 1962 to be precise) he has come up with another ploy to cash in on the success of the Edgar Wallace-films - simply by adapting novels by Edgar Wallace's son Bryan Edgar Wallace, whom he needed of course mainly for his famous name, and while the novels of the younger Wallace were more in the spies-and-intrigue genre, Brauner had no problems with changing the plots of his books around so that they had the feel of the novels of Wallace' senior father to them. And of course, Brauner occasionally hired an Edgar Wallace-wise director for one of his Bryan Edgar Wallace adaptation, be it Harald Reinl [Harald Reinl bio click here], Franz Josef Gottlieb or much later Jess Franco.

Gottlieb's contributions to Brauner/CCC Filmkunst's Bryan Edgar Wallace-series were Das Phantom von Soho/The Phantom of Soho and Das Siebente Opfer/The Racetrack Murders (both 1964), which, much to the satisfaction of his employer, were almost indistinguishable in style from the Edgar Wallace films of the time.


Apart from making Edgar Wallace- and pseudo-Edgar Wallace-movies for both Rialto and CCC Filmkunst, Franz Josef Gottlieb was also at the whelm of Das Geheimnis der Schwarzen Witwe/La Arana Negra/The Secret of the Black Widow (1963), a crime drama co-produced by German International Germania and Spanish Procusa. Basically the film was a vehicle for O.W. Fischer, one of the most popular actors in German language countries of his time - but if you take a second look at the cast, you might stumble upon quite a few Edgar Wallace-regulars like Karin Dor [Karin Dor bio - click here], Klaus Kinski and Eddi Arent ... Franz Josef Gottlieb did not stray too far from the flock after all.



A Little Bit of Everything in the Mid to Late 1960's


In 1965, it was upon Franz Josef Gottlieb to prove his versatility when he was hired by Artur Brauner of CCC Filmkunst to film a two-part adventure story in Spain (standing in for the Orient). By that time, Brauner had made various attempts to jump onto another bandwagon started by Rialto, which just had phenomenal successes with their Winnetou-movies based on the books by popular German novelist Karl May. Brauner had already made an actual Winnetou-film, Old Shatterhand (1964, Hugo Fregonese), starring the series' leads Lex Barker [Lex Barker bio - click here] and Pierre Brice [Pierre Brice bio - click here] well established by the Rialto-films. When Rialto put both of them under exclusive contract regarding the series as a consequence and Brauner figured the audience would not accept other actors playing the lead roles, he mined the other books by Karl May instead, coming up with May-characters Kara Ben Nemsi and Karl Sternau as protagonists for two new series. To not stray too far away from the Winnetou-formula, he hired Lex Barker and Ralf Wolter to play hero and sidekick respectively in both series (just like they did in the Winnetou-movies), and for the first Kara Ben Nemsi - Der Schut/The Shoot (1964) - and both Karl Sternaus - Der Schatz der Azteken/Treasure of the Aztecs and Die Pyramide des Sonnengottes/Pyramid of the Sun God (both 1965) - he got himself Hollywood veteran Robert Siodmak as director.


The Karl Sternau-movies bombed at the box office, but The Shoot did well enough to spawn a sequel, a sequel in two parts actually - Durchs Wilde Kurdistan/The Wild Men of Kurdistan and Im Reiche des Silbernen Löwen/Attack of the Kurds (both 1965) -, as Brauner figured it was cheaper to make two films in one go than to make them seperately, and he even tried to pay his actors (including Lex Barker) just for one movie instead of the two they actually shot - a practice for which Barker took Brauner to court.

For the two Kara Ben Nemsi-movies, Brauner tried to cut corners in other places as well - like his director. Brauner must have figured without a doubt that for a series movie, he didn't need a director with such a big name (and undoubtedly a pricetag) as Robert Siodmak when a copycat director like Franz Josef Gottlieb with no artistic ambitions and more modest monetary demands would do just as well.

Filming conditions in Spain though were less than perfect however, as massive rainfall, extras going on strike, and certain financial difficulties plagued the film - to such an extent actually that Gottlieb and Brauner had a fall-out and ultimately, Brauner fired Gottlieb - a unique event in Gottlieb's career - and Gottlieb sued Brauner for outstanding wages, a matter that was ultimately settled out of court. The two-part-film by the way was later finished by Werner Klingler and Roy Rowland, though neither of them received an on-screen credit for it.

The films themselves weren't too bad though, your typical naive adventure cinema, high on action if thin on plot, very much in style of The Shoot and the Winnetou-series if lacking any personal note. In other words, Gottlieb once again delivered exactly what the producer wanted. Nevertheless, due to their financial dispute he wouldn't work for Artur Brauner again for more than 20 years.


Artur Brauner might have been one of the biggest producers in Germany, but his fall-out with Franz Josef Gottlieb didn't mean Gottlieb was in any way out of work, in fact after the German/Austrian/Hungarian co-production Ferien mit Piroschka (1965), an a little clueless romantic comedy, he even filmed with Lex Barker again. The film Mister Dynamit - Morgen küsst Euch der Tod/Spy Today, Die Tomorrow (1966), based on a German pulp magazine series, was an effort to establish Barker as a sort of German James Bond - unsuccessfully though because the film came already late in the game of James Bond-rip offs and did not have the budget or original ideas to live up to the British superspy series. Still, as a piece of espionage-camp from yesteryear, the film might be fun to watch.


While with his previous films, Franz Josef Gottlieb waas always forced to jump onto one bandwagon or another, trying to cash in on any which trend there was, he found himself literally riding the crest of the wave with his next film, Das Wunder der Liebe/The Miracle of Love (1968).

With The Miracle of Love, based on a book by popular German author and journalist Oswalt Kolle, the genre of the German sex education film was born. German sex education films were actually just sex films, but to attain a certain degree of respectability and evade censorship at the same time, they were presented as documentaries or docu-dramas often based on books and/or presented by scientists or wannabe scientists. Oswalt Kolle, who not only wrote the source novel and screenplay for The Miracle of Love but also produced it, was definitely merely a wannabe scientist, but the scandal his book had caused and the success it enjoyed had already made him Germany's number one sex educator . And just like the book, the film became a sensational success ...

Watching the film from today's point of view though, one can't but find its (pseudo-)scientific approach, its almost conservative attitude towards its subject matter and its dead seriousness rather amusing, however back in the day, it totally met with audience tastes (not at least because of the unprecedented amount of nudity), and a new style - that of the pseudo-scientific skinflick - was born, a style German sex cinema only eventually got over ... why, even the initial entries into the Schoolgirl Report-series featured (fake) documentary scenes and interviews with experts to come across as more serious, scientific and fact-based as they actually were.


Franz Josef Gottlieb apparently seemed unfazed from his descent into sex cinema, as he did his job on The Miracle of Love as competent (and as workmanllike) as he had done his previous movies without naked bodies in them, but it is exactly his certain degree of indifference and proffesionalism that made him perfect for the genre, and thus it wasn't long before former employer Rialto (the Edgar Wallace-series) knocked on his door and offered two more sex education films in their employ, Die Vollkommene Ehe/Ideal Marriage/The Secret Desires of Women (1968) and Das Leben zu zweit - Sexualität in der Ehe/Every Night of the Week (1969), both somehow based on books by Dutch gynecologist Theodor H.Van de Velde, again pseudo documentaries that are ridiculous in their pretended seriousness from today's point of view but found their audiences back in the days.


In between his two Van de Velde-sexfilms, Gottlieb, again for Rialto, made Klassenkeile/Spanking at School (1969), a perfectly family-friendly highschool comedy starring the ultimate wholesome German girl of her time Uschi Glas - as for a few years in the late 1960's/early 70's, great business could be made from highschool comedies for the entire family in Germany. And while in their days, Gottlieb's sex education films were considered almost pornography by some, Spanking at School (despite its misleading English title) was free of all naughtiness, raunichiness or even sexual innuendo ...


Gottlieb's last film of the 1960's, Ehepaar sucht Gleichgesinntes (1969) is interesting inasmuch as it blends the innocent humour of Spanking at School and the naughtiness of his sex education films (though the film didn't go nearly as far) into a (completely pointless) romantic comedy. Other than that, the film is also important for Gottlieb's career as it marked his first film in the employ of Lisa Film [Lisa Film history - click here], his main employer during the next decade ... 



Sex and Slapstick in the 70's


With the turn of the decade from 1960's to 70's, German cinema went into decline, as audience tastes changed, the country's most successful series like the Winnetou- and the Edgar Wallace-series were breathing or had already breathed their last, growing competition from a recovering American film industry took its dent in the film market, and a young breed of filmmakers, first and foremost Rainer Werner Fassbinder, took German cinema into a new, less commercial direction.

With the German cinema as such in decline, the careers of many successful (genre-)directors from previous decades went on the decline as well, first and foremost probably  that of Harald Reinl [Harald Reinl bio click here]. In contrast, Franz Josef Gottlieb was not only left unfazed by the changes in the German film industry, as a matter of fact, for him the 1970's turned out to be an incredibly productive decade.


Why Franz Josef Gottlieb kept in high demand all through the 1970's is pretty obvious, now more than ever, producers needed a director that could produce on a (rushed) schedule and on (limited) budget, a director that had experience on one hand but did not shy away from sex and nudity on the other (if needed), and a director who could handle whatever stuff was thrown at him ... and a director of Gottlieb's adaptability and lack of artistic ambitions seemed to be nothing short of a godsend.


It's interesting to note in this context that in the 70's, Gottlieb did not just direct sexmovies but also quite a totally family friendly fare like the romance Wenn Du bei mir bist (1970) - which is notable mainly for being Lex Barker's [Lex Barker bio - click here] last feature film (in a supporting role) -, the Schlager-comedy Das haut den stärksten Zwilling um (1971) starring Peter Weck and a host of then popular pop stars, another highschool comedy with Betragen Ungenügend (1972), the last part of the rather bad Lümmel von der ersten Bank-series, and three more wholesome films with German wholesome girl Uschi Glas, Wir hau'n den Hauswirt in die Pfanne and Hilfe die Verwandten kommen (both 1971), and Trubel um Trixie (1972).



More notorious than all of those films were probably Gottlieb's efforts in the slapstick genre though, first and foremost the Tolle Tanten-films - Wenn die Tollen Tanten kommen/When the Mad Aunts are Coming (1970), Tante Trude aus Buxtehude (1971) and Die Tollen Tanten schlagen zu (1971) -, rather lame cross-dressing comedies starring Ilja Richter - then a semi regular in Gottlieb's films - and Dutch comedian Rudi Carrell, who was by the time these films were made finding fame and fortune in Germany, and whom Gottlieb also directed in Rudi, benimm Dich (1971) and Crazy - Total verrückt (1973) as well as helping out as director in Carrell's popular gameshow Am laufenden Band.


In all, Gottlieb's comedies were anything but great, their lack of budget, rushed schedules, sloppy comic timing and incompetence in properly handling slapstick sequences are all to obvious for the discriminating viewer. However, these films seemed to nevertheless give audiences what they wanted, they featured many popular stars of their time, more often than not a few musical interludes - all popular tunes to make sure -, and a broad humour that was sure to catch on with less discriminating viewers.


As mentioned above, Franz Josef Gottlieb didn't shy away from making sexfilms alongside his family friendly comedies all through the 1970's, movies like the naughty fairytale Hänsel und Gretel verliefen sich im Wald/The Naked Wytche (1970), the Schoolgirl Report-rip-off Liebesspiele junger Mädchen/After School Girls (1972), or the Heimatfilm-spoof Auf der Alm, da gibt's koa Sünd'/Bottoms Up/Bouncing Boobs (1974). It's interesting to note in this context that the humour of Gottlieb's sexfilms only differed very gradually from that of his family films, and - also thanks to his most frequent employer Lisa Film [Lisa Film history - click here] - even parts of cast and crew were the same.


In the latter part of the 1970's though, the family friendly comedies that Gottlieb was so prolific in  making had definitely run their course, and - apart from a thriller based on a book by popular German writer H.G.Konsalik, Der Geheimnisträger (1975), featuring Sybil Danning on her way to international fame [Sybil Danning bio - click here], and the lame horror comedy Lady Dracula (1978) starring and co-scripted by Brad Harris [Brad Harris bio - click here] - Gottlieb saw himself forced to focus on erotic features almost entirely ... not that he seemed to mind all that much, his sex movies are about as competently made and about as artistically insignificant as his other movies.



It is interesting in this context though that on films like Sylvia im Reich der Wollust/The Joy of Flying/Sex at 7,000 Feet (1977), Hurra - Die Schwedinnen sind da and Popcorn und Himbeereis/Popcorn and Ice Cream (both 1978), Sunnyboy und Sugarbaby/She's 19 and Ready (1979) and Zärtlich, aber frech wie Oskar/Der Gendarm vom Wörthersee/Gentle, but Sassy like Oskar (1980), Gottlieb was able to work with some of the top erotic talent available in Germany at the time, women like Olivia Pascal, Bea Fiedler, Ursula Buchfellner, Gina Janssen, Dolly Dollar and Ajita Wilson - which is ironic since over the years, Gottlieb has also worked with most of Germany's mainstream box office draws.


Popcorn und Himbeereis/Popcorn and Ice Cream deserves a special mention here inasmuch as it was a clever cash-in on the Israeli box office smashhit Eskimo Limon/Lemon Popsicle (1978, Boaz Davidson) that even featured that film's most memorable actor (Zachi Noy) and had a title that closely resembled Lemon Popsicle's German title Eis am Stiel. Not that this says anything about Popcorn and Ice Cream inherent quality, but it's at least worth a mention ...





As quickly as the erotic feature had conquered the German screens in the late 1960's and early 70's, as quckly it disappeared at the beginning of the 1980's, due mainly to two factors: hardcore porn and home video - if you wanted to see dirty movies from now on, you needn't go to a movie theatre anymore, you could do it at home, and what's more, these films were much more explicit than anything you could see in a regular movietheatre (and I don't mean x-rated moviehouses here) ...

And while Franz Josef Gottlieb was not a direcor of all that much professional pride, he had no interest in seeing his career descend into hardcore pornography neither - and I very much doubt he was ever offered such a job, as the porn industry could do very well without a director of his mainstream experience - especially with the pricetag attached to it.


Anyways, while for many other directors, the death of the erotic feature meant the end of their careers, Franz Josef Gottlieb had no problems adapting to the changes in the filmworld, and he started directing for television, of all things with Manni der Libero (1982), a soccer-themed miniseries aimed at young boys - quite a giant leap from the sexfilms he had made only a few months earlier.


Manni der Libero was scripted by Justus Pfaue, a man who in the late 1970's and early to mid-1980's became known for (and quite successful in) writing mini-series for a primarily teen market, and obviously, Franz Josef Gottlieb was quite competent in bringing his script to the screen, as he was called back in 1983 to direct another Justus Pfaue-opus, the teen-orientedmystery-series Mandara.


Even apart from Justus Pfaue-adaptaitons though, Gottlieb had found his new home in television, directing countless televison movies - like several starring Inge Meysel as Paul Gallico's crime-solving cleaning lady Mrs 'Arris - and episodes of TV-series - including the ever-popular rural medical drama Der Landarzt.

Franz Josef Gottlieb would return to the big screen only twice during the later years of his career, for the adventure flick Der Stein des Todes (1987), which co-starred Brad Harris [Brad Harris bio - click here], Tony Kendall, Heather Thomas and Elke Sommer - and which was Gottlieb's first film for CCC Filmkunst in more than 20 years - and the Lisa Film-production [Lisa Film history - click here] Zärtliche Chaoten/Loveable Zanies/Three Crazy Jerks (1987), a lame comedy starring Thomas Gottschalk (who also wrote the film), Helmut Fischer and Michael Winslow, with a guest appearance by Pierre Brice [Pierre Brice bio - click here]. And while the former of these films didn't cause too much excitement at the box office anywhere in the world, the latter was at least successful enough to spawn a sequel, Zärtliche Chaoten 2 (1989), directed by Holm Dressler.


In 1990, Lisa Film, one of Gottlieb's most frequent employers, took a gamble in producing a series that deliberately used their own kitsch-films (rural comedies, romances, Schlager-films and the like) as blueprints, even re-employing many of their former stars - first and foremost hasbeen Schlager singer Roy Black - in key roles. And since Franz Josef Gottlieb was one of the few directors from that era still working, it was no big surprise that he was hired for several episodes.

The resulting seires, Ein Schloss am Wörthersee (1990 - 93), was pretty much slaughtered by the critics - but became an incredible success for the then still struggling private TV station RTL. Of course, from their point of view, the critics had every right in disliking the series that was intentionally reminiscent of movies they didn't like in the first place - but at the same time, like all those movies back then, the film was loved by the general public ... something that of course can also be said about many of Gottlieb's movies as such.


The rest of Franz Josef Gottlieb's active life was spent on TV-series, and by the mid-1990's, he seemed to have found a new home in the series Unser Charly, a series of which he directed no less than 45 episodes between 1997 and 2005. The series is of some interest inasmuch as it combines elements of soap opera and medical drama with the story of a pet chimpanzee residing in Germany - but having said that, ultimately the series is also as naive and pointless as it would seem to be.


Having worked almost exclusively on Unser Charly for the last few years, Franz Josef Gottlieb made another (made-for-television) feature film in 2005, Die Liebe eines Priesters, a melodrama about a priest falling in love starring Erol Sander and Maximilian Schell.

Of course, Die Liebe eines Priesters was anything but a serious examination of its subject mater - but in what it is, a piece of kitsch pretending to explore a serious subject - it was perhaps a perfect swan song for a man whose professional life was married to entertainment, without any kind of artistic ambitions or intellectual hindsight ever coming into the way of whatever he was trying to sell to his audience.


About a year after Die Liebe eines Priesters was released, in 2006, Franz Josef Gottlieb died from a brain tumor at the age of 75, and his death caused hardly a ripple in the German movieworld, and even less so among film journalists, who never had too high an opinion of Gottlieb as a filmmaker in the first place - but with all that said, he was one of those directors who put meat on the bones of the German film industry as such, who had a long and successful career doing what he did, and even though he might be an almost unknown for the general audience (which is not too interested in directors in the first place), it's amazing how many of his films from various stages of his career are nowadays available on DVD at least in the German language market ...


© by Mike Haberfelner

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.


There's No Such Thing as Zombies
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry


directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke


now streaming at


Amazon UK





Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from