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diger_jantzen

4 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Beautiful on-location-photography at Sardinia, one of the best episodes, 13 February 2009
8/10

The show tells about of a bunch of government agents and bureaucrats working for the German Customs Investigation Office at Hamburg. We have Hobel (Siegfried Kernen), the typical bureaucrat with the big glasses and the porn magazine under his desk, we have Doellke (George Meyer-Goll), the anarchistic new guy with beard and pony tail under his bald head, and we have, of course, grim, but honest Zaluskowski (Uwe Friedrichsen from Edgar-Wallace-fame), all of them working in the same shabby office, having to visit a number of dirty places, experiencing about every kind of dishonesty and hostility along their way, and all of them trying to make the big bosses of economy play by the rules – knowing even if they ever got one of them convicted, that they will never even be half as wealthy as the least important of their opponents' lawyers.

To give an example I just summarize one of arguably the best episodes this show has to offer: Because the Sardinian goat farmers live and work under such poor circumstances, EU law has agreed about an import subsidy of Sardinian goat cheese to support their business. The fact that a load of goat cheese contains not only goat cheese but also a considerable amount of German cow milk powder raises the suspicion of the German Customs Investigation Office. Zaluskowski drives to Sardinia where he realizes for the first time the desperate circumstances of the Sardinian farmers who are in desperate need of support. However, he also finds out that the import subsidies have been abused for fraud: numerous loads of goat cheese have in fact been imported, then exported in secrecy, then imported and imported again and again and again for no reason but to cash in the subsidies. Later, he resumes: "I never knew under which poor circumstances these goat farmers have to work and live. But do you actually believe that even one single penny of that big fraud will ever reach them? … Perhaps this law was even made for this fraud in the first place, and by the very people who have benefited from it…"

The show does NOT "blame it all on capitalism" or on some villainous CEO meant to represent it. It also criticizes the law (EU law in particular) or the way some people with the obvious intention of doing something good sometimes make it all too easy for others to loot and to exploit exactly the people which were originally meant to be protected and supported. Most of the time, the protagonists are not even up against actual business crime or some CEO's great bunch of lawyers, but against themselves: other bureaucrats and government agents and directives. In this case it is an old Professor who continues to argue about the amount of cow milk powder which is still "allowed" in Goat cheese and keeps Zaluskowsky and his team from acting far too long...

If you are looking for simple black-and-white solutions and the blaming of only one side, do not watch this show. It is always very well researched, takes its time to explain things and tries to show every side of the things and the people in question. It takes its time to explain that business crime, tax evasion and embezzlement of subsidies isn't just "being cleverer than others" or making money out of nothing, but that it actually has (negative) influence on the whole society and environment, that it means actually taking other people's money, welfare or jobs.

If someone thinks, the government would do best just to stick out of business and economy then probably even this show won't convince him otherwise. However, it may help him to understand why there are people thinking differently.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
"Corporate Cops" from Germany - great show about business crime, 13 February 2009
8/10

In the film "Bowling for Columbine", controversial American film maker Michael Moore suggested the reality TV-program "Cops" to be replaced by another: "Corporate Cops", wherein the protagonists would go after business crime and arrest CEOs instead of black people with knives. Mr. Moore, look no further, because this is actually it.

The show tells about of a bunch of government agents and bureaucrats working for the German Customs Investigation Office at Hamburg. They are probably the kind of people which usually, the viewer learns to hate: they're said to live off other people's tax payments, they dabble in other people's business and keep the economy from being free and efficient. This show, however, shows the whole thing from the viewpoint of the bureaucrats. We have Hobel (Siegfried Kernen), the typical bureaucrat with the big glasses and the porn magazine under his desk, we have Doellke (George Meyer-Goll), the anarchistic new guy with beard and pony tail under his bald head, and we have, of course, grim, but honest Zaluskowski (Uwe Friedrichsen from Edgar-Wallace-fame), all of them working in the same shabby office, having to visit a number of dirty places, experiencing about every kind of dishonesty and hostility along their way, and all of them trying to make the big bosses of economy play by the rules – knowing even if they ever got one of them convicted, that they will never even be half as wealthy as the least important of their opponents' lawyers.

One sequence shows Zaluskowski looking at the giant swimming pool underneath the big house of the CEO he has just convicted of a fraud which has cost not only billions of European tax money, but also several hundreds of jobs – and the only thing Zaluskowski is able to say, sighing, is: "Yes. That may have been worth it." The honesty about himself and his own feelings is, admittedly, one of the aspects which make Uwe Friedrichsen's character great. Occasional guest stars are usually from German TV and theater, most of them rarely known outside of Germany, but with wonderful character actors such as "Torn Curtain's" Günther Strack, Peter Pasetti, Herbert Fux, Dieter Eppler and Pinkas Braun (of Edgar-Wallace-fame, too). The greatest thing about the show is, however, the scripts.

Unfortunately, I have to admit it to Mr. Dick Hurlin, the producer of "cops": a show like this doesn't have much action in it. Since it deals with matters such as tax evasion, fuel tax, subsidy fraud, embezzlement and business crime, and tries to do it on a very serious but entertaining way, there is naturally a lot of talk, explaining, controversial dialog, and even some almost documentary sequences. Sometimes, it is like real life: a lot of crime goes unpunished. Sometimes, they get the small fish only, while the big one gets his ass "bailed out". Sometimes, they get the big fish only while all the small ones slip away. Sometimes, the crime is exposed, but no one can be punished at all.

Besides its criticism of some aspects of economy, this show is far from being a "socialist" program. The episode "Vereinigungskriminalität" (literally: "reunification crime") finds the old team transferred to the Eastern part of the reunified Germany where it is their sad and frustrating duty to help clean up the economical nightmare that has been caused by over 40 years of socialistic mismanagement.

The show does NOT "blame it all on capitalism" or on some villainous CEO meant to represent it. Rather, it criticizes the often unnecessarily complicated law (EU law in particular) or the way some people with the obvious intention of doing something good sometimes make it all too easy for others to loot and to exploit exactly the people which were originally meant to be protected and supported. Look at my summary of the episode "Hammelsprung" for an example. Most of the time, the protagonists are not even up against actual business crime or some CEO's great bunch of lawyers, but against themselves: other bureaucrats and government agents and directives that turn out to be somewhat contradictional. The show does not even criticize capitalism at all. It just shows and explains some of the numerous both good and bad side effects which we seem to have agreed about taking up with. If you are looking for simple black-and-white solutions and the blaming of only one side, do not watch this show. It is always very well researched, takes its time to explain things and tries to show every side of the things and the people in question. It takes its time to explain that business crime, tax evasion and embezzlement of subsidies isn't just "being cleverer than others" or making money out of nothing, but that it actually has (negative) influence on the whole society and environment, that it means actually taking other people's money, welfare or jobs. Usually, when Zaluskowski and his team have convicted a villain, he will almost certainly excuse his crime with the rest of his competitors: "If I had not done it – someone else of them would have." While Zaluskowski – or in this case, Hobel will answer: "If that was true and everyone was thinking just the same, your crime would have achieved you no advantage at all. No, there always must be some honest idiot left to make the ugly business pay off!"

If someone thinks, the government would do best just to stick out of business and economy then probably even this show won't convince him otherwise. However, it may help him to understand why there are people thinking differently.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Golden Globe for a great cast and a great script, 13 February 2009
7/10

This forgotten gem once won the Golden Globe as best foreign film of the year. It is the second cinematic adaption of Gerhard Hauptmann's naturalistic drama "Vor Sonnenuntergang" (1931) – not to be confused with his more important play "Vor Sonnenaufgang" (still lacking cinematic treatment). (The first adaption was Veit Harlan's "Der Herrscher" from 1937 which, unfortunately, had changed the original ending to fit the ideology of the Nazis.)

Hans Albers plays the 70 years old company owner Clausen who after a disagreement with the way Klamroth (Martin Held), his son in law, is running his companies now is called an "old man" and asked to finally "step back". However, after meeting the young girl Inken he finds a new meaning of life and decides to marry her – much to the disapproval both of his family and company members who will soon try to get him into an asylum.

Hans Alber's performance is heartbreaking from the start until the end and it is clearly one of his best serious performances ever. Annemarie Düringer as Inken could be better but still does a good job especially during her first dialog sequence. Equally good is Claus Biederstaedt as the seemingly "spoiled sun" who in the end turns out to be his father's only loyal supporter.

The best thing about the film are probably Erich Schellow (the Macheath from Lotte Lenya's "Threepenny opera"-production), Wolfgang "Dr. Mabuse" Preiss and, most of all: the incomparable Martin Held. Although the original play is set in the early thirties, they fully succeed in portraying the darker side and the "efficient" economic coldness of Western Germany in the 50ies, an era which by now has become known as the German "Wirtschaftswunder" (the "miracle of economy"). Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" from 1949 covers some of the same issues. What isn't needed any longer is thrown away – things, people and most of all: a disagreeable past (which is perhaps the only issue that falls surprisingly flat in this otherwise brilliant German after-war-film).

If this film is almost forgotten today, it is perhaps because the cinematography is "adequate" rather than "excellent". The original music is good and adds a lot of atmosphere. However, direction and cinematography, though brilliant sometimes, too often convey the feeling of filmed theater.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A "teutonic" Holmes in a post-expressionistic thriller, 11 September 2006
7/10

During the 30ies, Czech director Carl Lamac directed a number of mystery-thrillers in Germany; most of them being adaptations of the works of Edgar Wallace - like "Der Zinker" or "Der Hexer" - and most of them featuring the great Fritz Rasp among the villains. Unlike Fritz Rasp, who had a big comeback after the war in Germany's successful Edgar-Wallace-murder-mysteries of the 60ies, Carl Lamac never received the appreciation he deserved.

"Der Hund von Baskerville" is one of his best films. It takes a lot of liberty with the original story; and it is not set at the end of the Victorian era, but in contemporary present. Actually, this is very usual for any Holmes-adaption of that period or before - ask Roy William Neill about that.

Yet, to be honest, Bruno Güttner as Holmes IS a problem. And I respect the many good reasons why most of the real Holmes-Fans will not be able to accept him as the "real" Holmes whom they know and love. To make it short, Güttner's Holmes is anything but "canonical". Pretty much like Margaret Rutherford's interpretation of Agatha Christie's "Miss Marple", he has absolutely nothing in common with the character presented in the books. Well, all three are creative thinkers, and that's the way how they solve the crime - as it should be. But: like Mrs. Rutherford, Bruno Güttner portrays a PROLETARIAN character. He does not "deduct", he "kombiniert"; a much less sophisticated and much more common (German) expression pretty well fitting the character Güttner portrays: he wears a sailor's overall instead of the Inverness-cape, and instead of the deerstalker a workers cap which actually was a very common peace of cloth in Berlin during the period. Obviously, the Germans did not get the message: the "real", canonical Holmes as described by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is neither common nor proletarian. He'd never wear a common cap, if not for disguise.

Anyway, this was the way the Germans saw or wanted to see the character. Hans Albers' Wannabe-Holmes from the great comedy-masterpiece "Der Mann der Sherlock Holmes war" looks almost the same. It is the way Holmes was portrayed in a series of German pulp-fiction-novels "Aus den Geheimakten des Weltdetektivs" written before the 1st World War and reissued some time after it. (You can see many of those during the opening credits of "Der Mann der Sherlock Holmes war".) Few Germans could have told you the difference between German Pulp-Holmes and Conan Doyle's.

But, taken as a mystery-thriller with creepy atmosphere and some inventive and effective studio-shots, it is a good movie nevertheless. Like Fritz Lang's "Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse", it is a thriller in the best tradition of the German silent-movie-expressionism, which has influenced about every important American Horror-movie of the 30ies, 40ies and 50ies, containing its typical effects of light, fog and shadow - and, taken just as a thriller, the Bruce-Rathbone-version does not compete with it.

Erich Ponto from Carol Reed's "The Third Man" remains in my mind as the best Stapleton I have ever seen (despite of William Shatner J), and Fritz Rasp gives a real creepy performance as the servant Barrymore.

(In the German version of 1929, the last silent "Baskerville" ever made, Fritz Rasp had played Stapleton instead. By the way, I don't understand, how that 1929 version got a 2-star-rating, or any rating at all. Actually, it is still reported to be lost, so, pray tell me, WHERE THE HELL IS THE SENSE OF RATING A MOVIE THAT DOES NOT EXIST? And how can you possibly rate a movie, that does not exist any more except you had gone to hell and watched it there? Well, why don't you just stay and save yourself the long way back there?)