Sunday, August 14, 2022

St. Pauli zwischen Nacht und Morgen aka St. Pauli Between Night and Morning (1967) Hamburg Noir

"I think your Helmut has deceived everyone. You, your friends and us"

Directed by José Bénazéraf (Joë Caligula). 

Written by Wolfgang Steinhardt. Cinematography by George Balogh and Peter Baumgartner and Music by Frank Valdor.

The film stars Eva Christian as Arlette, Helmut Förnbacher as Helmut Schmidt, Leiter der Interpol Zürich. With Dunja Rajter as Tänzerin, Rolf Eden as Bernie, Hans Waldherr, Tom Riedel, and Bob Iller. 

Hamburg-Mitte, St. Pauli district in the 1960s St. Pauli is on the right bank of the Elbe river, the nearby Landungsbrücken (is the largest docking site in the Port of Hamburg) is the northern part of the port of Hamburg. St. Pauli contains a world-famous red-light district around the iconic Reeperbahn area. 

Eva Christian as Arlette

Helmut Förnbacher as Helmut Schmidt

A French dancer Arlette (Eva Christian) is causing trouble again because she doesn't want to perform her masked striptease for nightclub owner Bernie (Rolf Eden). One of his bouncers slaps her around to get her to cooperate. 

Arlette and club manager (Hans Waldherr)

Don't worry boss I'll take care of her

Another female club employee Tänzerin (sort of a mother hen to the strippers) gives her a shot of heroin to make her more docile. 

Tänzerin gives Arlette a shot of heroin 

The shot does the trick and Arlette puts on her costume and mask and goes out and performs her routine.

Arlette's Strip

Arlette's act

Club owner Bernie (Rolf Eden) lt. with his manager Hans

A few days later, when she finally comes down enough, she runs out of the club and into the streets of St. Pauli.

Arlette's Escape

Coming down

Running out of Bernie's Club

dodging sailors

Eventually she runs into the arms of Helmut (Helmut Förnbacher), who brings her into a café, talks to her, calms her down, and tells her that he will care of her.

Falling in love

In the sack

They spend the day together and the night together it's love at first sight. Arlette has found new strength to carry on. Helmut however is a Swiss undercover narcotics cop who has information that Bernie's Club is a cover for drug dealing. So instead of whisking Arlette away from danger Helmut accompanies her back to the club and tries to observe and get a handle on the M.O. of the drug dealing. 

Arlette tells Tänzerin that she is in love while Tänzerin is taking a bath at the club. The change in Arlette is very noticeable.

Helmut gets an in to the gang when the club is knocked over by some small time hoods. He's was upstairs with Arlette when the robbery begins. 

The Robbery

The robbers pull guns and tell the men to separate from the women. The men are told to pile their wallets and their valuables on a nightclub table. The women are stripped of their jewelry.  Helmut comes down the stairway and when he sees what is going on pulls his gun and breaks up the robbery shooting a couple of the robbers.

Helmut coming down the stairs

Bernie is grateful and offers him a job with the club. Bernie was so impressed with Helmut that he brings him into a plan to rob the equivalent of an armored car. The route of the van is plotted and timed and and the robbery is successfully carried out. 

Bernie filling in Helmut on their plan to rob the payroll van

Helmut showing off his expertise with the machine gun

The route of the van is carefully plotted on a map and timed. The gang follows the Mercedes payroll van in a 1965 Buick LeSabre. They even stage a dry run in a junkyard. 

Deutsche Bank

1965 Buick LeSabre

1956 Mercedes-Benz L 319 payroll van

Van arrives at the company

The gang at the wrecking yard

Testing out the fire bombs

The day of the robbery arrives and it is successfully carried out. 

However it all goes Noirsville when the temptation is too much for Helmut who double-crosses Bernie and the gang and with a stolen 1961 Ford Taunus police car takes off with all the loot. Now both the remainder of the gang and the police are after him.


Bernie's GoGo Girls

An interesting companion piece to José Bénazéraf's Joë Caligula. Worth a watch with archival footage of Hamburg docks and streets 6/10.

According to Bretzelburger on the blog The heath is green - German film from 1930 to 1980. 

Exact audience numbers can no longer be determined today, but it sounds credible that the rush at the box office for "St. Pauli between night and morning" in 1967 was great, as described in the sleeve text of the Pidax DVD. At the end of the 1960s, films that presented a morally disreputable, erotic scenario were booming. The Swiss filmmaker Erwin C. Dietrich, who was still solely responsible as producer for "St. Pauli between night and morning", was to achieve one of the biggest public successes of the year in 1968 with the erotic film "Die Nieten der Frau Oberst" and the name "St . Pauli" became very popular in the film title, because it promised the viewer a voyeuristic look through the keyhole into a world unknown to him.

A film like "St. Pauli between night and morning" fell completely into oblivion, although in its mixture of eroticism and crime film it superficially considered similarity to the Edgar Wallace films of the time ("The Monk with the Whip" (1967)), which are still popular today....

In fact, the success of "St. Pauli between night and morning" in Germany can only be explained by the context of the time, because the film has little in common with the German entertainment films of the 1960s, both in terms of imagery and narrative structure.... 

When developing his films, Bénazéraf was less concerned with the inner coherence of the story than with an expressive visual language with which he worked out the characters of his protagonists. In one of the film's best sequences, the camera accompanies boss Bernie (played stoically self-confident, almost French by Rolf Eden) from behind as he enters his club, capturing the reactions of the people he encounters. The use of spatial depth is typical of Bénazéraf. While Bernie is talking to a confidant in the foreground, two women are sitting at their table behind them, whose conversation the film captures in parallel, while a striptease dancer undresses in the rear perspective. As in "Joë Caligula - Du suif chez les dabes", nudity is never superficially staged, but rather emerges from a pictorial context.

A minor adjustment to the German market can be seen in the nude scenes, which are much more economical than in "Joë Caligula", but both in the staging of the attractive female cast and in the uncompromising approach of the police, "St. Pauli Between Night and Tomorrow" captures the spirit of the French gangster film.

For the same reason why the film quickly fell into oblivion, it is now almost compulsively viewed by fans as trash, overlooking the fact that José Bénazéraf's film is an artistically idiosyncratic, very aesthetic film that radiates its eroticism in the background and interpreted the German crime film in an avant-garde way.

Filme sehen und erinnern (Watch and remember movies) - Oliver Noeding

"If you don't want to, you don't have to tell me who you are. It doesn't matter."

“Who are you?” “A man. Just a man, nothing special.”

"I want you to lie to me. That you tell me fairy tales."

"I want you without a mask. i want you The way you are."

“I think your Helmut has deceived everyone. You, your friends and us.”

Three movements from José Bénazéraf's ST. PAULI BETWEEN NIGHT AND MORGEN - a film that is just as enigmatic as its title suggests - which not only indicate what is going on between the lines, but which are also suitable to illustrate the viewing experience of the viewer who finds himself in goes down that intermediate realm between night and morning. ST. PAULI BETWEEN NIGHT AND MORGEN tells an actually extremely simple, almost archetypal story: The taciturn Bernie (Rolf Eden) organizes his drug deals from his dim strip bar in the neighborhood. The young Scheiz drug investigator Helmut (Helmut Förnbacher) wants to undermine the organization and therefore goes into Bernie's orbit, where he falls in love with the drug-addicted dancer Arlette (Eva Christian). When the club is ambushed, Helmut is presented with an opportunity to buy Bernie's friendship and entry into his gang, a chance he takes with callous determination. But Bernie is no longer interested in the drug business: he is planning to rob a money transporter. And Helmut is at the forefront, drawn to life as a gangster...

One can easily imagine this material being produced by one of the German exploitation directors active at the time: Rolf Olsen, Jürgen Roland, Ernst Hofbauer or Alfred Vohrer produced similar goods at almost the same time on an assembly line with remarkable results. José Bénazéraf, on the other hand, began his career in 1963 with erotic films; later he would switch to pornography entirely. Also ST. PAULI BETWEEN NIGHT AND MORGEN is an erotic film: Not in the sense that he observed people in aestheticized lovemaking, but because his film is about sensuality and seduction, about a dark desire that cannot be described in words and about the unbridgeable gap that separates words and feelings. Inevitably, it's hard to write anything about the film that does it justice. Bénazéraf plunges the viewer into that mysterious twilight in which it is no longer entirely clear what is dream and what is reality. You glide along the images, trying to hold on to something here and there, taking something away from the somnambulistic flow in order to take a closer look at it later, but everything dissolves as soon as you grasp it, like the memory of a dream in the first hours of the day. The plot also progresses dreamily: ST. PAULI BETWEEN NIGHT AND MORGEN is by no means surreal, rather he is characterized by a very sober view of things. The knowledge that one cannot intervene in their course. There is a smoke screen between the viewer and the actions of the characters, who appear not as actors but as drawn. The sequence of scenes is absolutely logical, but the glue that would hold them together is missing. At times one would expect the characters to wonder where they are, so abruptly are they placed from one setting to another with no reference to space or time. Just like sometimes you don't know where you are when you wake up in the dark in a strange room. The film is never unsettling or uncanny, rather it exudes a great sense of calm and conveys a feeling of security. Like floating in the warm amniotic fluid, weightless and safe. The progression of events becomes unimportant, what counts is what you feel. The desire to surrender to this feeling grows. Just as Helmut does in the end, when he cuts all ties to the world of the day, decides to stay forever in this twilight, between night and morning, where everything is possible.

Like a Greek choir, three girls keep appearing in Bernie's club. They aren't strippers, and it's not entirely clear if they're really club employees. As if at an invisible command, they give up their passivity in order to dance together, but rather side by side, independently of one another. Each of them has their own style, which they don't change from song to song. For the duration of the piece there is nothing but her dancing, the feeling of merging with the music in movement. They say nothing about the whole film, they have no names, they are not related to anyone, their eyes never meet anyone else. And when the music is over, they go back to their original place, waiting for the next signal. But as long as the music is playing and they're practicing their moves, they seem to be the happiest people in the world. Unconditional, unconditional, just there.

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