24 November 2013

Ingrid Schoeller

Tall, slim and blonde Ingrid Schoeller is best known for her roles as an action heroine in the 1960s. The gorgeous German actress played the lead role in such Italian spy films as 002 agenti segretissimi/Oh! Those Most Secret Agents (1964) and A008, operazione sterminio/Lightning Bolt (1965).

Ingrid Schoeller
Italian postcard by Rotalcolor, Milano (Milan), no. 216.

Glamorous Eye Candy

Neither IMDb nor Wikipedia has information about when and where Ingrid Schoeller was born.

She was one of the starlets photographed by Peter Basch for the ‘The Girls from Germany’ spread featured in the November 1964 issue of Playboy magazine.

She had started her film career with a supporting part in the Italian-French coproduction Arrivano i titani/My Son the Hero (Ducio Tessari, 1962) starring Pedro Armendáriz and Giuliano Gemma.

The film had an interesting history. It started out as a straightforward Peplum (the Italian sword and sandal genre) about the quest for a magic helmet in ancient Thebes.

But according to Hal Erickson at AllMovie American audiences saw a comedy: “Well cast (Pedro Armendariz is the star) and extremely well photographed, the original film was still not sufficient different from all the other Italian strongman films glutting the American market in 1963. Thus the American distributors hit upon the notion of transforming the film into a satire, by redubbing all the actors and hoking up the sound effects. What resulted was a heady mixture of Yiddish accents, Borscht-belt one-liners and rippling pecs. The single joke wears out pretty quickly in My Son, the Hero, but the concept is a workable one, as Woody Allen proved two years later with What's Up, Tiger Lily?”.

IMDb reviewer John Seal denies that the film was transformed: “Incidentally, the rumours attributed to both the Maltin Guide and the Psychotronic Film Guide are wrong: there's no evidence that any of the dubbing was done to achieve comic effect (though there are some intentionally funny moments).”

John Seal adds about the film: ”it blends fantasy elements into the standard strong man vs evil king story. It even manages to foreshadow the 'stranger' themes of spaghetti westerns in its final scenes.”

Ingrid Schoeller stayed in Italy after this debut and appeared as glamorous eye candy in the costume action film Il vendicatore mascherato/Gentlemen of the Night (Pino Mercanti, 1964) starring Guy Madison.

Margaret Lee
Margaret Lee. German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/361. Photo: Georg Michalke.

The Year of the Italian Spy Thriller

Ingrid Schoeller’s next film was the anthology film I Maniaci/The Maniacs (1964) by director Lucio Fulci who went on to find cult fame for his thrillers and horror films in the 1970s and 1980s. This comedy gives an hilarious portrait of the Italian society of the sixties.

I Maniaci, starring Walter Chiari, Margaret Lee and Barbara Steele, is divided in several sketches. Each segment spotlights a particular mania, with a special attention to the sexual ones (nymphomania gets an extended treatment).

That year Ingrid Schoeller also played the female lead in 002 agenti segretissimi/Oh! Those Most Secret Agents (Lucio Fulci, 1964) opposite the comedy duo of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia as two simple-minded Italian guys, who are mistaken for KGB spies.

1964 was the year of the Italian spy thriller. In the Italian cinema operated colleagues of secret agent 007, who was himself busy making Thunderball at the time.

One of Ingrid Schoellers’ best films in the Euro-spy genre was the fast-paced thriller A008, operazione sterminio/Lightning Bolt (Umberto Lenzi aka Antonio Margheriti, 1965). The British Secret Service sends agent 606 (Alberto Lupo) to Cairo, to collaborate with an American colleague, MacDonald, in search for a stolen anti-radar device. Arriving in Egypt, he finds that agent A008 is actually an attractive woman, played of course by Ingrid. Their assignment proves to be no picnic, as a criminal mastermind named Kemp has sent his henchmen out to destroy them.

Cult director Umberto Lenzi’s thriller offers plenty of action, but also great locations and a wonderful 1960s score by Angelo Lavagnino.

Ingrid Schoeller also appeared on TV in episodes of two popular TV series about spies: The Saint (1964) with Roger Moore as Simon Templar, and I Spy (1966) with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby.

Roger Moore and Dawn Addams in The Saint
Roger Moore and Dawn Addams in The Saint (1963-1966). Spanish postcard by Postal Oscarcolor, no. 553.

Spaghetti Western

Ingrid Schoeller then appeared in another typical Euro-genre: the Spaghetti Western. She played the female lead in Il figlio di Django/The Son of Django (Osvaldo Civirani, 1967) with Gabriele Tinti and Guy Madison.

 In 1968 she starred in the costume adventure Il figlio di Aquila Nera/The Son of the Black Eagle (Guido Malatesta, 1968) with Edwige Fenech.

In her next film, the violent Italian/Spanish gangster film Tiempos de Chicago/They Paid with Bullets: Chicago 1929 (Julio Diamante, 1969) a country bumpkin rises to the top of the mafia game when he pits two rival gangs against each other.

The film featured a mostly German cast lead by Peter Lee Lawrence, who after arriving in Chicago quickly becomes an influential criminal. The gang rivalry gives ample opportunity to show plenty of machinegun battles. Ingrid Schoeller plays a particularly sly and nasty woman in the film.

Her last film was the gangster film C'era una volta un gangster/Once Upon a Time a Gangster (Marco Masi, 1969) with Richard Harrison.

Then she disappeared, at least from internet. I could only find that Ingrid Schoeller also recorded a 45 in the 1960s: Ieri, Domani (Today, Tomorrow). That’s all.

Original Italian trailer for I Maniaci/The Maniacs (1964). Source: FreakyMidnightShow (YouTube).

The leader and first scene of 002 agenti segretissimi/Oh! Those Most Secret Agents (1964). Source: ItaliaMovies (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Chris Mayo (Severed Cinema), Wesley Alan Britton (Onscreen and undercover: the ultimate book of movie espionage), John Seal (IMDb), The Wild Eye, Wikipedia and IMDb.