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Germany 1974
Directed by
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
116 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


German television in the 1970s must have been strange for this film about a woman married to a sadist, like Fear Of Fear (1975), which was about a woman fighting a nervous breakdown, was commissioned by one of its networks.  

Fassbinder regular, Margit Carstensen plays Martha, a neurasthenic woman in her thirties with a troubled relationship with both her parents who marries a civil engineer (Karlheinz Böhm, who played the lead as a sadistically murderous photographer, in Powell and Pressberger's 1960 classic, Peeping Tom), a dapper sadist who gradually subjects her to more outlandish demands with which, in an effort to be a good wife, she complies.

Despite being shot on 16mm and a relatively small budget, it is one of Fassbinder’s more polished efforts with location photography in Rome and the knowing stylistic homage to Hollywood melodrama (Martha lives on Douglas Sirk St.) well bent to this more extreme subject matter.  Based on a short story, 'For The Rest Of Her Life', by Cornell Woolrich, the film was scripted by Fassbinder who apparently based the Böhm character on his own father.

DVD Extras: An audio commentary by Dr Adrian Martin of Monash University; The Sadist’s Smile, an interview with Karlheinz Böhm; and and essay on the film by Johnathan Rosenbaum.  Available as part of Madman’s excellent 3 disc release, Fassbinder On Melodrama, which also includes Fear Of Fear and Effi Briest.

Available from: Madman




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