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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein!

„Die tolldreisten Abenteuer und auserlesensten Kochrezepte des Geheimagenten wider Willen Thomas Lieven.“ (The most daring adventures and most selected recepies of secret agent against his will Thomas Lieven.) This was the first sentence of a the German book called "Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein" (It must not always be caviar!) written by Austrian bestseller author Johannes Mario Simmel in 1960.
The book tells the adventures of a bank teller Thomas Lieven during World War II and the tricks he uses to stay out of the clutches of the different secret services on both sides of the front. His motto was: "I would like to live in peace, have a good meal and adore beautiful women!". A good meal for him was Boeuf Stroganoff and beautiful women he got plenty during the course of the war in the book but living in peace was not going to happen untill the end of the war!

The book was a huge success in German speaking countries with many translations in other languages. The success was mostly thanks to the tongue in cheek approach of the World War II story in the same vein as the World War I story of "Der Brave Soldat Sjweik". And with almost each successfull book or play soon after it's publication it would be made into a film or a television series. Already in 1961 the movie was filmed in two parts "Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein!" and "Diesmal muss es Kaviar sein!" (This time it must be caviar!) with O.W. Fisher as Thomas Lieven and other female movie stars like Eva Bartok (famous for her role in Mario Bava's "Blood and Black Lace") as Vera and Senta Berger (famous for her role in a "Man from U.N.C.L.E-episode and film and a part in the movie "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse) as Chantal. The movies were not very faithfull adaptations of the book but are now quite fun to see not only for the story which is rather amusing but also for the high Euro-cult connections with all the former stars from that era!

In 1977 the second German state television "Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen" (ZDF), in a coproduction with film production company "CCC Television" found it time to make a 13 part television series from the book for her evening programming. The part of Thomas Lieven would now be played by German television actor Siegfried Rauch and Marisa Mell as his love intrest Chantal, member of the French resistance against the German occupation of France. The series was filmed in 1976 at the Berlin Union Film studios. The series ran from wednesday May 11th until wednesday October 19th 1977. Marisa Mell plays in the parts 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the series. Because the hero of the series loves to cook the producers found nothing better than to close each episode with a recepy made by Siegfried Rauch. Although it had great production values the series was in the beginning not quite a complete success but during the course of its run the German audience opened their hearts to it and in the end embraced it. Even the recepies of the series were collected into a cook book, which became a bestseller. Today the series is regarded as one of the great high lights of German television in the 70's. In 1984 the ZDF did a re-run of the series with even more success because the audience now understood the tongue in cheek approach of the series and the book.

And with a lot of good stuff, the best comes at the end! In this case, ZDF in coproduction with Studio Hamburg are releasing a series of DVD's called "Strassenfeger" with all the best krimi's from the 60's and 70's. "Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein" is number 09 in the series! Street date was December 5th 2008. It is the first time ever that this series with Marisa Mell appeares on DVD in high definition quality. It is in German only but... it has Marisa Mell's own voice on it with her Austrian accent! So no horrible dubbing! This alone is a reason for owning the DVD because most of Marisa Mell's movies have been dubbed! The DVD is region "2" coded so you need to have a universal DVD player but now everyone else in the world, besides the Germans, can see this series and see Marisa Mell in another incarnation than the roles she played in the movies.


Keith said...

This sounds really cool. I've never heard of them before. Thanks for mentioning them up here. I've always been a fan of spy movies and the like.

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

I am really glad that after more than 30 years this DVD has come out of the TV vault! Finally!