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Lisa Film

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2005

Films produced by Lisa Film on (re)Search my Trash

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The Austrian/German production company Lisa Film might be known to different people for a variety of different reasons: For producing incredibly cheesy romantic comedies in the late 1960's/early 1970's, for producing typical & charming German erotica in the 1970's, for co-producing some of Jess Franco's wilder (but not necessarily better) films in the early 1980's, for producing an endless string of bad German comedies throughout the 1980's, and for being one of the top TV producers for the German-language market today.

 

But first things first:

Karl Spiehs, born in Vienna 1931, took over Lisa Film in 1965, when the then new company, founded by popular Austrian actor Paul Löwinger, was still in production of its first feature, Das Mädel aus dem Böhmerwald, a so-called Heimatfilm (Heimatfilms are very cheesy rural melodramas & comedies, mostly in front of mountainous backdrops, a genre typical for Austria & Germany).

 

Spiehs was no stranger to the filmbusiness back then, he has worked as a production manager for Franz Antel's Stadthalle Film since 1960, working mainly on Heimat- & Schlagerfilms (a Schlager is a German language popsong exclusively from the very cheesy end of the genre). The first film he worked on was consequently a Schlagerfilm, Und du mein Schatz bleibst hier, with then fresh Schlager-singer Udo Jürgens in a supporting role - he will return to the story much later. Occasionally something more unusual like one of the very few Austrian Westerns (Der Letzte Ritt nach Santa Cruz/The Last Ride to Santa Cruz starring Klaus Kinski & Mario Adorf) would slip in as well. It can safely be said, Karl Spiehs had learned his trade.

 




From Das Mädel aus dem Böhmerwald on, Lisa Film would put out Heimatfilms, Schlagerfilms & romantic comedies (more often than not, 2 or all of these genres combined) in rapid succession (e.g. Immer Ärger mit den Paukern, Unser Doktor ist der Beste, Wenn mein Schätzchen auf die Pauke haut, Hilfe, ich liebe Zwillinge, Tante Trude aus Buxtehude, Das haut den stärksten Zwilling um). Often, these movies would use the Carinthian lake Wörhtersee as a pittoresque backdrop - more on the Wörthersee later.

 



But by the late 1960's/early 1970's, thanks mainly to the competition of TV that gave the audience cheesy films for free, Lisa Film's prime market did run dry, so in order to survive the company had to like most other European companies, try its luck on that new & promising market - the sex- & exploitation-film.

(Actually, already Lisa Film's second film, Das Rasthaus der Grausamen Puppen/The Devil's Girls would be an early German venture into exploitation, while another early production [co-production actually, to be more precise], Mille Dollari sul Nero/Sartana, saw the company make a rare excursion into the spaghetti Western market).

 

One of the most successful of the Lisa Film-produced sexfilms probably was 1970's Josefine Mutzenbacher, the story of a Viennese prostitute based on a novel that was allegedly written by Felix Salten of Bambi-fame, which quickly developed into a series of softsex-films (not to be confused with the hardcore films producer/director Hans Bilian built around the same character).

 

 

Other sexfilms quite openly tried to profit from the success of the Schulmädchen-Report-/Schoolgirl Report-films, produced by competition (& sometimes colloborator) Rapid Film, which is often reflected even in the titles (Liebesspiele junger Mädchen a.k.a. After School Girls, Was Schulmädchen verschweigen starring Swedish sex-film-import Christina Lindberg [Christina Lindberg bio - click here], Die Schulmädchen vom Treffpunkt Zoo starring young Katja Bienert in her first film [Katja Bienert interview - click here], & even 1984's Schulmädchen '84). Another ingenious stroke was to hire young Syilvia Kristel for an erotic film (Der Liebesschüler a.k.a. Julia) right after her success with Emmanuelle.

During the late 1970's, too, Lisa Film also helped to launch the career of Olivia Pascal with sexfilms like Griechische Feigen/The Fruit is Ripe, Vanessa and Insel der Tausend Freuden/Island of 1000 Delights, who over the years would have quite a successful career in German cinema and television.

 

 

In the early 1980's though, when hardcore had established itself as a seperate genre, even the sex-business had run dry  ... & hardcore porn was a genre Lisa Film like so many other companies was never interested in. Lisa Film tried, with some Jess Franco-films it co-produced with other companies, to branch out into other genres like the cannibal movie (Il Cacciatore de Uomini/The Devil Hunter), the sleazy end of the women in prison-genre (Sadomania, Die nackten Superhexen vom Rio Amore/Linda - Naked Superwitches of Rio Amore) and the slasher film (Die Säge des Todes/Bloody Moon), & while these movies are cult faves today, they were not the hoped successes upon release, so these lines of film (& the collaboration with Jess Franco) were soon abandoned.

 




Instead, Lisa Film would during the 1980's concentrate on German (slapstick-)comedies with films like Sunshine Reggea auf Ibiza, Seitenstechen, Geld oder Leber, Banana Joe (starring Bud Spencer), & they even tried to establish a new German comedy duo with Thomas Gottschalk & Mike Krüger - both of whom later became successful TV-hosts -, who co-starred in 4 films (Die Supernasen, 2 Nasen tanken Super, Piratensender PowerplayDie Einsteiger), and hired international B-talent like David Hasselhoff - then extremely popular especially in Germany thanks to Knight Rider -, Deborah Shelton - who back then was famous for having a recurring role in TV's Dallas - or Michael Winslow - of Police Academy fame - for some of these films (all of the above did for example star in Zärtliche Chaoten 2). Zachi Noy, star of the Israeli/German Eis am Stiel/Lemon Popsicle-series, was another frequent guest in Lisa films.

 

By the late 1980's, even this market had run dry, as the German film industry in general had gone to hell, & the main source of income for Lisa Film was from royalties of their old kitsch films that now played on TV - which is when the story came full circle, & Lisa Film was granted another profitable lease of life ...

 


Unlike in most other countries, especially the USA, there wasn't a privately owned TV station in Germany until the mid-1980's, & by 1990, private TV channels were still in their infancy, mainly perpetually re-running old films & TV-series, when the channel RTL+ (later RTL) & Lisa Film had the bold idea of producing a TV-series based on the still popular kitsch-movies of the late 1960's/early 1970's ... & thus the series Ein Schloss am Wörthersee was born, re-using the popular Wörthersee-sets, starring Roy Black, a popular Schlager-singer from the 1970's who had also played in a few Lisa films back then but since become an alcoholic, as well as a few other faces popular from earlier Lisa films in guest roles (like Karl Dall, Otto W.Retzer - who also wrote & directed some episodes - & Zachi Noy). International guest stars included Telly Savalas, Larry Hagman & Linda Gray.

As you might imagine, the project was immediately ridiculed ... & became a tremendous success.

 


After only 2 seasons though, Roy Black died under alcohol-related circumstances - & Lisa Film stayed true to the series concept by hiring another 70's kitsch-star for the lead, Uschi Glas, who had starred in a few films with Roy Black back then ... for Lisa Film, at the Wörthersee. Lisa Film even went so far as to use portions of these old films to establish her character in relation to his.

To support Uschi Glas, Lisa Film also hired French actor Pierre Brice [Pierre Brice bio - click here], who had gained immense popularity almost exclusively in the German language countries playing the titular Indian chieftain in the Winnetou filmseries (produced by Rialto Film) back in the 1960's. In one of these films, Winnetou und das Halbblut Appanatschi, he even played opposite Uschi Glas.

 




After 3 seasons though, Ein Schloss am Wörthersee, came to an end, but Lisa Film didn't. From here on, the studio produced mostly for TV, be it rural comedies (Peter und Paul starring Hans Clarin & Helmut Fischer), medical (or veterinary) dramas (Klinik unter Palmen with Klausjürgen Wussow & Harald Juhnke, Tierärztin Christine with Uschi Glas), romances (Liebe, Lügen, Leidenschaft), crime-series & -movies (Der Pfundskerl, Agathe kann's nicht lassen, Die Rückkehr des Tanzlehrers/The Return of the Dancing Master), with even the occasional adventure flick slipping in (Der Blaue Diamant, partly filmed in Thailand & starring Pierre Brice, Ernest Borgnine, Otto W.Retzer - who also directed -, Brent Huff & Julia Kent - who also wrote the script). Eventually even an Ein Schloss am Wörthersee-special was produced, starring again Uschi Glas - & Udo Jürgens from Karl Spiehs' very first movie.

 

The quality of these movies & series, for the objective (re-)viewer, varies considerably, but mostly they are not made for the objective (re-)viewer in the first place but a certain target-audience - & no matter how bad one finds some of them, they always seem to hit a nerve with the projected audience.

& for some reason, Lisa Film now produces exactly the kind of movies for TV it had to abandon producing due to the overwhelming competition of television, & the road to their present success led through sexploitation, sleaze & bad comedy.

 

Information on the company can also be found on their website, www.lisafilm.at, unfortunately only in German language.

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
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and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

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