Helmut Käutner

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Helmut Käutner in 1960 in the Netherlands

Helmut Käutner (born March 25, 1908 in Düsseldorf , † April 20, 1980 in Castellina in Chianti , Italy ) was a German director , actor and cabaret artist . He was one of the most influential film directors in German post-war cinema and became known for his sophisticated literary adaptations. At Radio Hamburg (later NWDR) he also had great success with radio plays . He has also appeared as a songwriter in several of his films .


Beginnings in theater and film

In 1928 Helmut Käutner, the son of a Düsseldorf businessman, began to study in Munich . From 1931 to 1935 Käutner played cabaret in the ensemble Die Nachrichtener , wrote feature articles and reviews for the Bavarian university newspaper. From 1936 to 1938 he was an actor and director at the Schauspielhaus in Leipzig , the Kammerspiele in Munich, the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm , the Komödie and the cabaret of comedians in Berlin. From 1936 to 1939 he was an actor and director at the Leipziger Schauspielhaus .

In 1938 he drew attention to himself as a screenwriter. Among other things, he wrote the scripts for the films Schneider Wibbel , Salonwagen E 417 , The Voice from the Ether , and Marguerite: 3 . 1939 began his career as a director with the film Kitty and the World Conference ; He had already gained film experience as a screenwriter and with a brief appearance in the feature film Kreuzer Emden .

Käutner was not part of the resistance , but he was able to maintain a certain degree of independence in his work during the Nazi era . He made a film with Kitty and the World Conference that was banned by the censors as being pro-British. With Große Freiheit No. 7 (see Hamburg-Hymne ) and Unter den Brücken , he created two films that strongly contradicted the National Socialists' view of the world in their emphasis on the individual and which the German audience only got to see after the end of National Socialism. The films Clothes Make People and Romance in Minor also deviated from the models of National Socialist film ideals .

After the Second World War

In 1947 he shot In those days , a debris film describing post-war reality , his first film after the World War. In the next few years he did not have any audience success with films like Der Apfel ist ab (1948) or Königskinder (1950). In 1954 he was successful with the anti-war film The Last Bridge at the Cannes Film Festival in 1954 and received the Prix ​​International for it . In the following years he had films such as Ludwig II: Glanz und Ende einer König , and in 1955, 1956 and 1958 the Zuckmayer films Des Teufels General with Curd Jürgens , Der Hauptmann von Köpenick with Heinz Rühmann and Der Schinderhannes , again with Curd Jürgens great success. In 1959 he shot in the USA, with Charles Coburn and Sandra Dee , among others , A Stranger in My Arms .

After the Oberhausen Manifesto of 1962 and the declared will of the “ New German Film ” to create a new style, Käutner, by and large, distanced himself from cinema. The house in Montevideo from 1963 with Heinz Rühmann and Ruth Leuwerik , the popular film adaptation of Ludwig Thomas Lausbubengeschichten from 1964 with numerous popular actors of that era and the remake of the Feuerzangenbowle in 1970 with Walter Giller and Uschi Glas , remained his last works for the big screen .

He began to produce for television and occasionally appear as an actor (for example, as Sir Frederic Fairlie in the TV street sweeper Die Frau in Weiß (1971) ). He was also increasingly involved as a theater director.

In 1967 he was awarded the Adolf Grimme Prize in gold for his in Saarland Radio produced television production Valentin Katajews surgical procedures in the mental life of Dr. Igor Igorovich . In 1974 he played the title role in Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's film Karl May .

In addition, Helmut Käutner worked for Radio Hamburg , later part of the NWDR , where he transferred his work and staging methods to radio plays . Among other things, he edited Thornton Wilder's Our Little City as a radio play in 1945 .

His extensive written estate is in the archive of the Academy of Arts in Berlin.


Helmut Käutner was married to the actress Erica Balqué since 1934 , who has acted as an assistant director in almost all of his films since Die last Brücke . He spent the last years of his life, already seriously ill, with his wife in Tuscany in his house in Castellina in Chianti , in the north of the province of Siena . There he died at the age of 72.

Helmut Käutner was buried in an honorary grave of the city of Berlin in Section III-U-7 at the Zehlendorf Forest Cemetery in Berlin. In his memory, his hometown Düsseldorf has been awarding the Helmut Käutner Prize since 1982 . In Essen , Berlin and Munich-Neuperlach streets were named in his honor.


Directed unless otherwise stated


watch TV

  • 1962: Advertisement theater
  • 1964: The Canterville Ghost
  • 1965: Romulus the Great
  • 1965: the bottle
  • 1966: Robin Hood, the noble knight
  • 1966: Live like a prince
  • 1967: The Spanish doll
  • 1967: Stella
  • 1967: Valentin Katajew's surgical interventions in the mental life of Dr. Igor Igorovich
  • 1968: Bel Ami
  • 1968: Babeck (role: Dr. Brenner)
  • 1969: Diary of a woman murderer
  • 1969: Christopher Columbus or The Discovery of America
  • 1970: Invitation to the castle or The Art of Playing the Game
  • 1970: All the time in fear (Hauser's Memory) (Actor)
  • 1970: The Commissioner : Episode 20: Knife in the back (role: Hugo Blasek)
  • 1970: The Commissioner : Episode 27: Anonymous Call (Director)
  • 1971: Tatort - The Judge in White (role: Prof. Dr. Kemm)
  • 1971: The Woman in White (1971) (Role: Sir Frederic Fairlie)
  • 1971: The fake goddess
  • 1972: The strange adventures of the secret office secretary Tusmann
  • 1972: Ornifile or the angry sky
  • 1974: The Prussian marriage (based on the comedy "Zopf und Schwert" by Karl Gutzkow )
  • 1974: Derrick : Only excitement for Rohn
  • 1976: Margarete in Aix
  • 1976: Derrick : On your own
  • 1977: Eichholz & Sons
  • 1978: Mulligan's return

Radio plays


Honorary grave in Berlin


Web links

Commons : Helmut Käutner  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Spiegel Online , Hamburg, Germany: Died: Helmut Käutner - Der Spiegel 18/1980. In: spiegel.de. Retrieved November 2, 2016 .
  2. See Käutner! Rudolf Worschech in Epd-Film 3/2008 on epd-film.de, accessed on January 2, 2015.
  3. ^ Helmut Käutner Archive Inventory overview on the website of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.
  4. ↑ Grave of Honor, Potsdamer Chaussee 75, in Berlin-Nikolassee
  5. Announcement of awards of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In: Federal Gazette . Vol. 25, No. 190, October 9, 1973.