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21 October 2011

Carl Möhner

Handsome Austrian film actor Carl Möhner (1921 – 2005) appeared in over 40 films between 1949 and 1976, including the French gangster classic Du rififi chez les hommes/Rififi (1955).

Carl Möhner
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 65. Photo: Bayer.

Carl Möhner
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H, Minden/Westf., no. 2309. Photo: Gloria. Publicity still for Wo die alten Wälder rauschen//Where the old forests rustle (1956).

Perfect Robbery Goes Wrong
Carl Möhner (sometimes Karl Mohner) was born in Wien (Vienna), Austria, in 1921. He visited the theater school in his hometown in 1937 and went on to work in several German and Austrian theaters. World War II interrupted his career. After the war he made his film debut in the drama Vagabunden/Vagabonds (1949, Rolf Hansen) with Paula Wessely. Next he appeared in a supporting part in Pünktchen und Anton/Punktchen and Anton (1953, Thomas Engel), based on the popular children’s book by Erich Kästner. In 1954 he had his breakthrough in Die Leitze Bruecke/The Last Bridge (1954, Helmut Käutner) filmed in a manner resembling Italian neorealism. The film starring Maria Schell and Bernhard Wicki won the International Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and was a commercial success. During the following years Möhner had a busy international film career. Among his best known films are the classic French gangster film Du rififi chez les hommes/Rififi (1955, Jules Dassin) - one of the best ‘perfect robbery goes wrong’ films, and the WW II thriller Sink the Bismarck (1960, Lewis Gilbert) in which he played the feared Captain Ernest Lindemann of the fabled German battleship Bismarck which had to be destroyed by the British navy. In Germany he appeared in Wo die alten Wälder rauschen/Where the old forests rustle (1956, Alfons Stummer) with Willy Fritsch, Die Geierwally/The Geierwally (1956, Frantisek Cáp) opposite Barbara Rütting, and Weißer Holunder/Elder White (1957, Paul May) with Germaine Damar. In France he again appeared opposite Jean Servais in another fine thriller by Jules Dassin, Celui qui doit mourir/He Who Must Die (1957). In the UK he played in the hospital-set drama Behind the Mask (1958, Brian Desmond-Hurst) with Vanessa Redgrave, and the war drama The Camp on Blood Island (1958, Val Guest). In Turkey, he wrote and directed Istanbul macerasi/The Istanbul Adventure (1958). He also appeared opposite Jayne Mansfield in the British crime drama The Challenge/It Takes a Thief (1960, John Gilling).

Carl Möhner
German postcard by F.J. Rüdel, Hamburg-Bergedorf. Photo: Gloria.

Carl Möhner
German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 1723. Photo: Kossler/Ringfilm.

Campy Euro-trash
By the early 1960’s, Carl Möhner began to dedicate himself to painting. Soon he had exhibitions in several European cities. In 1963 he won the gold medal in the IX Premio Internationale de Pittura San Vitto Romano. Later on, he was awarded several times more. His style is characterized as ‘simple’ and ‘childlike innocent’. In Italy he starred in the peplum Il Crollo di Roma/The Fall of Rome (1963, Antonio Margheriti aka Anthony M. Dawson). Möhner also appeared in three Euro-westerns: Jim il Primo/The Last Gun (1964, Sergio Bergonzelli aka Serge Bergon) with Cameron Mitchell, L'uomo dalla pistola d'oro/The Man Who Came to Kill (1965, Alfonso Balcázar), and 30 Winchester per El Diabolo/30 Winchesters for El Diablo (1967, Frank G. Carroll). He appeared in campy euro-trash as the shocker Cave of the Living Dead (1965, Akos Rathonyi), the sexploitation classic Carmen, Baby (1967, Radley Metzger), and Nazi-sexploiter Eine Armee Gretchen/She Devils of the SS (1974, Erwin C. Dietrich) featuring Birgit Bergen. His final film was the French drama Une Femme à Sa Fenetre/A Woman at her Window (1976, Pierre Granier-Deferre) starring Romy Schneider. Then Möhner retired from the film business, and moved to Texas to work on his paintings. Carl Möhner died in McAllen, Texas from Parkinson's disease. He was 83. He had two sons, Gunther and Gernot, who also worked as an actor.

Carl Möhner
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 259. Photo: Bayer/Divina/Gloria.

Carl Möhner
German postcard distributed by Rodenstock-Sonnenbrille. Photo: Rodenstock/Roth. In his film Weisser Holunder/White Elder (1957) Carl Möhner wore Rodenstock sunglasses.

Sources: Carl Mohner Artist.com, Tom B. (Westerns All’Italiana), Hal Erickson (Rovi), Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.

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