13 October 2013

Hans Richter

Hans Richter (1919-2008) was a German film actor, who started as lovable rascal in many Ufa comedies. Between 1931 and 1984, he appeared in more than 130 films.

Hans Richter
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3526. Retail price 25 Pfg. Photo: Lantin / Bühne und Film / Prisma.

A Cheeky Rascal

Hans Richter was born in Nowawes, Germany (now Potsdam) in 1919. He was the son of a singer and a concert master.

At the age of 12 years, he made his film debut as a child actor in the classic Erich Kästner adaptation Emil und die Detektive/Emil and the Detectives (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1931). The script was written by the young Billy Wilder and Emeric Pressburger while author Kästner also attributed to the script.

Richter played one of the Berlin boy detectives, a cheeky rascal, who comes to help Emil (Rolf Wenkhaus) against the man who robbed him from his mother’s money.

With his face, sprinkled with freckles, his protruding ears and snub nose Richter was the ideal choice for lovable school rascals, hotel pages, and newspaper boys.

During the 1930s, he became one of the most important child actors of the Universum Film AG (Ufa).

Richter played one of the pages in the comedy Der Page vom Dalmasse Hotel/The Page from the Dalmasse Hotel (Victor Janson, 1933) starring Dolly Haas.

He appeared in the notorious Nazi-Propaganda film Hitlerjunge Quex/Our Flags Lead Us Forward (Hans Steinhoff, 1933).

He then appeared in Die Englische Heirat/The English Marriage (Reinhold Schünzel, 1934). In this comedy Renate Müller played a young German woman who is engaged to marry a British aristocrat (Adolf Wohlbrück), but has to win over his hostile family. Richter appeared as one of the nephews.

That year he also played a small part in the drama Der schwarze Walfisch/The Black Whale (Fritz Wendhausen, 1934), the German version of Marcel Pagnol’s masterpiece Fanny, starring Emil Jannings.

He also could be seen in the comedy Onkel Bräsig/Uncle Bräsig (Erich Waschneck, 1936) featuring Otto Wernicke, and in Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war/Sherlock Holmes (Karl Hartl, 1937) with Heinz Rühmann.

During the war years, he played in the propaganda film Der Fuchs von Glenarvon/The Fox of Glenarvon (Max W. Kimmich, 1940), portraying the years of the Irish fight for independence during World War I, and in the war film Der 5. Juni/5 June (Fritz Kirchhoff, 1942).

He also appeared as a student with Heinz Rühmann in one of the most popular comedies of the era, Die Feuerzangenbowle/The Punch Bowl (Helmut Weiss, 1944).

Hans Richter
German postcard by Film-Postkarten Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 132. Photo: Real-Film / Lilo.

Chauffeurs, Bus Drivers or Waiters

After graduating from high school in Nowawes in 1943, Hans Richter studied art history and took acting classes with Albert Florath. In 1944 he was drafted into the army and was taken prisoner.

After the war, he performed in cabarets in Munich, but then settled in Hamburg, where he lived until 1960.

In 1949, he finally had a leading role as a clown in the film Artistenblut/Artists blood (Wolfgang Wehrum 1949). It was one of his few serious parts.

Richter played in numerous Heimat films like Schwarzwaldmädel/Black Forest Girl (Hans Deppe, 1950), Grün ist die Heide/The Heath Is Green (Hans Deppe, 1951) and In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus/In Munich stands a Hofbräuhaus (Siegfried Breuer, 1952).

He continued his film career with supporting parts as chauffeurs, bus drivers or waiters in films like the Austrian political satire 1. April 2000/April 1, 2000 (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1952), starring Hilde Krahl.

Twice, in Vatertag/Father's Day (Hans Richter, 1955) and Hurrah – Die Firma hat ein Kind/Hurrah - The company has a child (Hans Richter, 1955), he directed himself.

He played a ghost opposite Liselotte Pulver in Das Spukschloß im Spessart/The Haunted Castle (Kurt Hoffmann, 1960), a sequel to the hit Das Wirtshaus im Spessart/The Spessart Inn (Kurt Hoffmann, 1958).

At the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival, the comedy won the Silver Prize.

He was an inspector in the Austrian comedy Die Schwarze Kobra/The Black Cobra (Rudolf Zehetgruber, 1963) starring Adrian Hoven.

He also played in the remake of Die Feuerzangenbowle/The Punch Bowl (Helmut Käutner, 1970), this time as Dr. Brett.

His last major film was the political thriller Section special/Special Section (Costa-Gravas, 1975), situated in occupied France during the WWII.

Hans Richter, Peter Vogel
German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag. Photo: Wiener Stadshalle / Bavariafilm. Publicity still for Sing, aber spiel nicht mit mir/Sing, but don't play with me (Kurt Nachmann, 1963) with Peter Vogel.

His Own Theatre Festival

Since the late 1950’s, Hans Richter mainly worked in the theatre.

He acted for several years under the direction of Gustaf Gründgens at the Hamburg Schauspielhaus.

He played in Woyzeck by Georg Büchner, in Bertolt Brecht's play Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe (Saint Joan of the slaughterhouses) and in Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett.

In 1974, Hans Richter founded the Heppenheim festival, which henceforth he managed as his own theatre company.

Since 1945, he was married with the publisher and author Dr. Ingeborg Bieber and had two sons, Hans Joachim Richter (1946) and Thomas Richter (1947).

In 1992, Thomas took over the management of the Festival of his father.

In 1983 he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Germany’s Cross of Merit) and in 1989 the Filmband in Gold.

Hans Richter died in Heppenheim, Germany in 2008.

Extract of Emil und die Detektive/Emil and the Detectives (1931). Source: BFI Film (YouTube).

Scene from Das Spukschloß im Spessart/The Haunted Castle (1960). Source: Synchro Total (YouTube).

Sources: Film-Zeit.de (German), Filmportal.de (German), Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.

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