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Beware of a Holy Whore
Beware of a Holy Whore
Actors: Herb Andress, Marquard Bohm, Rudolf Waldemar Brem, Lou Castel, Eddie Constantine
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy
NR     2003     1hr 43min

Fans of the prodigiously gifted Rainer Werner Fassbinder will find Beware of a Holy Whore the German director's most revealing look inside his filmmaking process. A kind of neurotic backstage comedy, the movie details the ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Herb Andress, Marquard Bohm, Rudolf Waldemar Brem, Lou Castel, Eddie Constantine
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/20/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1975
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 43min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 13
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: German
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Perverse and Hilarious Genius!
06/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"One of Fassbinder's best -- visually ravishing while at the same time invigoratingly threadbare, brutally funny and self-deprecating, squalid and sexy and filled with cutting-edge glamour still, more than 25 years after its release -- you cannot miss this one! Watch for the breathtaking set piece on the hotel balcony with Hanna Schygulla's strangely affecting Marilyn Monroe dance, an outrageous drag-queen hanger-on getting his hair done, "Let's Go Get Stoned" playing in the background, and the funniest fistfight you'll ever see in a German movie....it'll take your breath away. Sheer genius."
One of Fassbinder's best
J. Clark | metro New York City | 08/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Don't let the tongue-in-cheek title, which refers to cinema, deter you! Beware of a Holy Whore (1971) looks even better - and more complex - than when I first saw it theatrically several years ago; and Wellspring's DVD transfer is gorgeous (you can also choose either the original mono or new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack). Fassbinder himself ranked this his best film on the list he made, shortly before his death, of "The Top 10 of My Own Films." Not only is this knowing satire - part screwball comedy, part existential pseudo-documentary - one of his two out-and-out comedies (1976's Satan's Brew is the other), it is also a probing, wickedly funny, yet celebratory film about filmmaking. Although some will heartily disagree, for me it ranks with such classics of this rarefied subgenre as Godard's Contempt and Fellini's 8-1/2 (both 1963), and seems more illuminating, and even entertaining, than Truffaut's wonderful Day for Night (1973).But there is much more of interest than its behind-the-scenes peek at dysfunctional moviemaking. There are its autobiographical layers (Fassbinder not only appears in a crucial supporting role as the harried production manager Sascha, he parodies himself wickedly through the central character of the tyrannical director, Jeff); a brilliant use of rhythm, both within scenes and in the overall flow of the film (Fassbinder was also the co-editor); some of the most beautiful, subtle and complex visual design - and camera movement - of any of his films up to that point (the great Michael Ballhaus was the cinematographer; he now shoots Scorsese's films); an ecelctic, brilliantly deployed soundtrack ranging from Peer Raben's haunting original score to songs from Leonard Cohen, Ray Charles, and Elvis Presley to a haunting Donizetti aria; a superb ensemble cast (it follows about a dozen major characters - although it focuses on Jeff - and looks ahead to, say, Altman's Nashville); not to mention psychological insight, and some surprising yet on-target character revelations.Fassbinder delves into extremely dark and tangled emotions in this comedy; and although there are many laughs, they often stem from violence. When a character asks Jeff what type of movie he is directing, he replies, "It's a film about brutality. What else would one make a film about?" Fassbinder was an enormously complex artist, and man, who understood from personal experience the cruel power plays, and blindness, of people in love. He admitted that he was capable of oppressing the people close to him (often his crews and cast were also his friends and lovers), yet he showed enormous compassion - in his life and work - for both victims and victimisers; and he understood that the same person could play both roles. And although this pivotal film - which looks back to his earlier, more abstract works and ahead to his unique melodramas - often has a languid pace, Fassbinder never stops digging beneath the surface, exploring the sources of human need: love, desire for power, longing, dependency, repressed wishes, unfulfilled dreams, and all manner of frustrations. With emotional meltdown possible at any moment, it is no wonder that the title begins with "beware," immediately telling us that that this is a cautionary tale. The title's other two words suggest the struggle, in each of us, between the spiritual and the raw.Filmmaking proves a fascinating combination of those two distinct yet intertwined qualities, especially as embodied by Jeff. On the one hand, he makes life a living hell for his producer Manfred (Karl Scheydt) - who's in love with him, his production manager Sascha (Fassbinder), his fling Babs (Maragrethe von Trotta) - who happens to be Sascha's girlfriend, his ballistic ex named Irm (Magdalena Montezuma) who has convinced herself that she would "bear his children," and especially his on-again/off-again boyfriend Ricky (Marquard Bohm). Not to mention everybody else. But we also see Jeff's redemptive love for filmmaking, such as the spellbinding scene in which he tells his cinematographer exactly what he wants in a complicated shot and why. There is real fire in Jeff, and a natural poetry in his words, as writer/director Fassbinder turns cinema into language, even as the camera movement he uses counterpoints Jeff's vivid description of what he plans to film. But film is not all "holy," and throughout the camera often suggests voyeurism, both of cinema and of us, the audience. It often seems to be peeking around corners or pillars, as if it were eavesdropping.Although film production is not part of most people's lives, Fassbinder manages to make it a probing metaphor for universal human experience, in one of his most hilarious, disturbing yet deeply moving pictures."
Interesting Early Fassbinder
Gregor von Kallahann | 05/26/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This (relatively) early Fassbinder effort deserves to be seen. It has several flashes of brilliance but remains of interest mainly in light of what was to come. The film has a certain Morrissey/Warhol deadpan charm--you could almost envision Viva! or Joe D'Allesandro showing up any minute. Visually it can be quite striking. The cast varies in acting ability and star quality. There's a hint or two of Hanna Schygulla's later greatness. Fassbinder appears in a significant role (not merely the usual cameo) and is affecting. Ultimately one of those meta-films about making a film that young directors are partial to. Whether it provides the viewer with much insight is another question. Just how much do you care to know about this demimonde? Something of a curio thirty years after its release.One has to wonder though why this film is available when "Maria Braun" is out of print. Of course the entire Fassbinder oeuvre should be on the market, but "Maria" remains one of his masterpieces, and it's scandalous that it's not currently available."
"Beware" Of Fassbinder
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 05/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"If Francois Truffaut's "Day for Night" shows the joy of cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "Beware of A Holy Whore" shows the downside of cinema. The pain and misery which goes into a production. What a contrast between the director Truffaut played, who had one bad incident after another occur, but through it all had a smile on his face and the director in this film, Jeff (Lou Castle) who does nothing but complain and yell at the top of his lungs when the slightest problem occurs.

It is rumored that this film was inspired by events on the set of Fassbinder's previous film, "Whity", he version of a western. If there is any truth to this we have to wonder how on earth did Fassbinder direct 43 films! It's amazing that he ever completed one. Some suggest that the film is really a parody. That Fassbinder is making fun of himself. But, here's the thing. The film can only be a parody if there is some truth behind it. So once again I'll ask, how on earth did Fassbinder direct 43 films in this sort of environment?

The film has a group of people, including Hanna Schygulla, who worked many times with Fassbinder and Fassbinder himself is in the film, all waiting to shoot a film. Everyone seems to be in a daze, I wonder if Werner Herzog hypnotized this cast as well, as he suppossedly did on the set of his own film "Heart of Glass". But there is also a werid sexual vibe going on. We see various characters kissing one another as everyone seems to be jumping from one person to the next. And to be honest no one really stood out to me.

One thing that surprised me, and I don't know why it did, was the level of violence in these characters. Fassbinder did lead a frantic lifestyle of drugs and alcohol, so perhaps all of his characters were a reflection of him, but in this film I came to strongly realize what a group of violent people Fassbinder liked to make films about. So you have film-makers like Herzog making films about characters I find crazy and Fassbinder making films about violent people, where do you go to watch normal people. Both directors have succeeded in making films about people we wouldn't want as neighbors.

A lot of people, even Fassbinder fans, will become annoyed with the film. It doesn't seem to be doing much. But something about it held my interest. Maybe it was just the fact of seeing such strange characters. I don't think of this as one of the great Fassbinder films in a class with "The Merchant of Four Seasons", which would be his next film, or "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant" or even "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul". But I still think people should make an effort to see it. So a moderate recommendation.

Bottom-line: Not one of the great Fassbinder films but has some interesting moments. Could be seen as the flip-side of Truffaut's "Day for Night""