24 August 2013

Helmuth Schneider

Blond, handsome actor Helmuth Schneider (1920-1972) appeared in more than 50 films and also worked as an assistant director. He worked in Germany, but also in Latin America, Italy and France.

Helmut Schneider
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel. Photo: Wega / NF / Michaelis.

Star of the Heimat Film
Helmuth (often Helmut) Schneider was born in Munich, Germany in 1920. Her studied medicine in his hometown in 1938, and then attended the drama school of the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. In 1942 he made his stage debut in the comedy Sophienlund. He had to quit his engagement at the Deutsches Theater for the war effort, and he was wounded in France.

Schneider made his film debut for the Ufa with a small part in the musical drama Träumerei/Daydream (Harald Braun, 1944) about the love story of Clara Wieck Schumann (Hilde Krahl) and Robert Schumann (Mathias Wieman). In 1946, Schneider left Germany and stayed in Latin America where he worked in the film business under the name Alexandre Carlos. In 1952, he was back in Germany and and played at the Deutsches Theater in Göttingen.

In the cinema, he co-starred with Edith Mill in the romantic drama Zwei Menschen/Two People (Paul May, 1952). It made both stars of the Heimat film. The following years he was the handsome hunter or forrester in several forgettable German rural romances, such as Der Fischer vom Heiligensee/The fisherman from Heiligensee (Hans H. König, 1955), Drei Birken auf der Heide/Three birch trees on the heath (Ulrich Erfurth, 1956) and Jägerblut/Blood of the hunter (Hans H. König, 1957). In 1959, he starred as Kara Ben Nemsi in the Karl May adventure Der Löwe von Babylon/The Lion of Babylon (Johannes Kai, Ramón Torrado, 1959) with Georg Thomalla and Theo Lingen.

Helmuth Schneider
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 880. Photo: J. Arthur Rank-Film. Publicity still for Unter den Sternen von Capri/Under the stars of Capri (Otto Linnekogel, 1953).

Helmuth Schneider
German postcard by F.J. Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 704.

Helmuth Schneider
German postcard by Kunst und Bild.

Unsympathetic Nazi Officer
In the 1960s, when the German film industry experienced a downturn, Helmuth Schneider worked for television, such as for the crime series Stahlnetz (1960-1963), the German version of Dragnet. He moved to Rome, which was the new centre of the European cinema. He had a supporting part in the adventure film Captain Sindbad (Byron Haskin, 1963) starring Guy Williams and Heidi Brühl, and the war film The Secret Invasion (Roger Corman, 1964) with Stewart Granger and Raf Vallone.

In France he appeared as an unsympathetic Nazi officer in war dramas like Le facteur s'en va-t-en guerre/The Postman Goes to War (Claude Bernard-Aubert, 1966) starring Charles Aznavour, and Paris brûle-t-il?/Is Paris Burning? (René Clément, 1966) starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Charles Boyer. He played such a role again in the war comedy La grande vadrouille/Don't Look Now, We've Been Shot At (Gérard Oury, 1966) with Bourvil and Louis de Funès. He also had a part in the fifth and final episode of the Angélique series with Michèle Mercier, Angélique et le sultan/Angélique and the Sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1967).

In Italy he made a Spaghetti Western, Ciakmull - L'uomo della vendetta/The Unholy Four (Enzo Barboni, 1970). Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “It's one of those Spaghetti Westerns in which the heroes and heavies are virtually indistinguishable. Though the outlaw leader (played by George Eastman credited by his birth name Luigi Montefiore) is evil incarnate, he isn't much worse than the four mercenaries hunting him down. Stalwart John Ford-regular Woody Strode is given plenty of screen time, and he makes the most of it. Director Enzo Barboni was billed as E. B. Clucher in the American prints.” Schneider also played in another war film Gott mit uns/The Fifth Day of Peace (Giuliano Montaldo, 1970) starring Franco Nero. His final film was À la guerre comme à la guerre/War is war (Bernard Borderie, 1972), a historical war comedy starring Leonard Whiting and Curd Jürgens.

Helmuth Schneider died in a traffic accident in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1972. He was 51.

Helmut Schneider
German postcard by F.J. Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 543. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation. Publicity still for Die Göttin vom Rio Beni/Strange World (Franz Eichhorn, 1951).

Helmuth Schneider
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1268. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Central Europa Film / Prisma. Publicity still for Die Schützenliesel/Schützenliesel (Rudolf Schündler, 1954).

Helmuth Schneider
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3546. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: König / Kopp-Film.

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Peter Hoffmann (Biografie.de) (German), Tom B. (Westerns…all Italiana), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

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