At some stage in their career, many actors decide to try their hand at directing. Often the reasoning behind this move is that as actors, they get to share their own vision with film audiences instead of having to be the tools to portray what someone else thinks. One actor who has made the move and is now better known as a director is Ulli Lommel.
The German acting stars Karla van Cleef and Ludwig Manfred Hommel had their son Ulli in December 1944. This was five weeks before their town fell to the Red Army and became part of Poland. The boy grew up in West Germany, however, and first performed on stage at the age of four.
After a clash with his father about wanting to become an actor too, sixteen-year-old Ulli ran away from home. His relationship with his father never recovered. However, he followed his dream and worked with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who at that stage was mainly a theater director. When Fassbinder started directing and producing movies, he gave the young actor parts in many of these and also let him work behind the scenes as production designer, producer and assistant director.
Ulli finally made his debut as director in 1971, with a movie called 'Haytabo'. He continued working with Fassbinder, who produced some of his films. Fassbinder even had small parts in some of these movies, including 'Haytabo'.
The film widely regarded as the director's masterpiece is his third movie, 'The Tenderness of Wolves', which he directed in 1973. It tells the story of a real-life German serial killer, Fritz Haarmann. Haarmann's victims were young boys who he raped before he murdered them and then ate their flesh. The film has become a cult classic.
Ulli moved to New York in the mid-Seventies. Here he got to know Andy Warhol and they worked together on two movies. 'Cocaine Cowboys', from 1979, was about a band of rock musicians who smuggled cocaine. One of the stars was Jack Palance. 'Blank Generation' was made the next year and was about a journalist who follows a punk rocker in order to write about him. It starred French actress, model and future Bond girl Carole Bouquet. Both films also featured Warhol as himself.
A common theme to many of Ulli's films seems to be that of murders and serial killers. Some of these are based on events that really happened. They include 'Son of Sam', based on the murders by serial killer David Berkowitz; 'Green River Killer' about killer Gary Ridgway; and 'D. C. Sniper' about the killing spree of John Allen Muhammad. Most of these murder movies were B-grade, straight-to-video releases.
Ulli Lommel has also made some very interesting movies in genres other than horror and suspense. One film that is regarded as vastly underrated is 'Adolf and Marlene'. This is a drama that speculates about the obsession Adolf Hitler had with the actress and singer Marlene Dietrich. Another great film is 'Revenge of the Stolen Stars'. This comedy stars Klaus Kinski, the legendary German actor. Other film legends who have worked with Lommel include the Carradines John and his son David.
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