From days gone by when one could collect movie posters without it costing an arm and a leg, I managed to purchase a few. They all met two qualifying factors: a) I had to have really thought highly of the film and, b) the posters had to have intriguing artwork. I still have five of the posters, four of them full-size. Two of the five were movies starring Bruno Ganz and, sadly, he passed away this past week. What I always liked him was that he had a great on-screen presence yet he was very understated. I think the first one I saw him in was the great Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE (1979). I saw this film because, like so many, I was captivated by the work of the wonderfully bizarre, charismatic Klaus Kinski who portrayed Nosferatu and who Herzog had a notoriously near-murderous director/actor relationship with. Ganz played Jonathan Harker and while he wasn’t the centerpiece, he was central. As German filmmakers were very cutting edge in those days, another director I heard about was Wim Wenders. His work attracted me due to his interest in the great American director Nicholas Ray (Ray directed James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE but if you want to see a TRUE strange classic it’s his underrated and overlooked JOHNNY GUITAR that you need to check out.) Even as Ray was suffering the effects of the cancer that killed him, the young Wenders went to New York to include him in a film that starred Dennis Hopper and was the first Ripley-charactered film I ever remember hearing of ‘THE AMERICAN FRIEND’. It co-starred, who else?: Bruno Ganz and happily I grabbed a French version of the big one sheet.
That was a time in New York where there were real movie houses that catered to a variety of distinct tastes — and in that era there really were distinctions. I loved these films. Such different perspectives on filmmaking from what we were spoon fed in America. Wenders and especially Herzog (who never seems to stop moving) are still turning out great work. But it was Wenders, who worked with Sam Shepard to make the great PARIS TEXAS with the late Harry Dean Stanton and Kinski’s daughter Natassia as well as the same AMERICAN FRIEND cinematographer, Robby Muller, who would go on to make one of my all-time favorite films: WINGS OF DESIRE. Ganz starred in this incredible black’n’white, surrealistic, spiritual film set in Berlin about a guardian angel who comforts dying people even as he longs to become human himself. It is a classic that tops the list of many a critic as one of the greatest films of all time.
Unfortunately, movie poster prices had increased too much by the time I saw this one & I never snagged one of those. I regret that, because it would a beautiful addition to my little collection. But I still have Bruno’s here. Even if he’s now gone from human to angel.