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"The Old Fox" Auf Leben und Tod (1983)"Der Alte" Auf Leben und Tod (original title)

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Passable entertainment

6/10
Author: guy-bellinger (guy.bellinger@wanadoo.fr) from Montigny-lès-Metz, France
5 April 2016

"Der Alte" is a never-ending crime series which, since its first airing on 11-4-1977, is still on TV screens today - a staggering record of duration considering the four decade time span it covers and its no fewer than... four hundred episodes! How it survived so long (and it is not the end yet!) is just mind-boggling, listless as its pace is (only second to its rival, the Derrick "saga") and formulaic as its concept is (discovery of a corpse, investigation by an all-knowing police chief inspector "assisted" by two less brilliant deputies, red herrings, final confrontation with the culprit and his/her final conviction)...! Or should I say WAS, for there has been a real change lately with more graphic violence, a less leisurely rhythm and the rejuvenation of the "kommissars". Filmed in 1982, "Auf Leben und Tod" obviously belongs to the period when chief-police inspector Köster was still active despite being beyond the normal retirement age, when an appropriate cushy rhythm helped him not to get over-tired and when the show of violence was less complacent than today. Nothing to do with Tarantino and his cronies, as you can see! About the plot, let's say Volker Vogeler's script is just passable, its main quality being that it mixes two stories. Neither of them (the murder of a man on the one hand and the kidnapping of a rich woman on the other) is really thrilling but intertwining them makes the sum a little more exciting than each of its two parts. Likewise, the direction is just middling but at least, Günter Gräwert (unlike his colleague Dietrich Haugk for instance) makes a few efforts to give this installment a minimum of life: some camera angles are more elaborate than usually is the case in the series. Plus, a couple of well-chosen and well-directed actors (Thomas Lantzmann, the star of "Qui êtes-vous Monsieur Sorge"; Lisa Kreuzer who had been the eponymous heroin of "Il faut tuer Birgitt Haas" ; and in the role of the old neighbor-gardener someone who did know the ropes of the trade, the always dependable Curt Bois, who had started his career in... 1907!). All this put together finally helps to sugar the pill, making this an acceptable entertainment. After all I said before, it will come as no surprise that I do not particularly recommend watching "Auf Leben und Tod". You can easily do without it. But if you do, there will be no harm done.

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