First broadcast in 1973 as an episode for the long running, German detective series, Tatort (which still airs today.) Dead Pigeon On Beethoven Street is truly, the legendary Sam Fuller’s strangest film. It’s a bizarre film noir (in colour) that hypnotises you, urging you to keep watching.
New York private investigator Sandy (Corbett) travels to Germany to find out why his partner was killed over a compromising photo of a U.S. senator. Sandy meets up with agent provocateur, Christa (Lang, who later married Fuller in real life) who is part of a blackmail syndicate led by Mensur (Differing), who is also an expert sword fighter.
Gaining Christa’s trust by drugging her and creating his own compromising photos - in order to create the persona of a rival blackmailer - Sandy then infiltrates Mensur’s organisation, discovering his game of extorting world dignitaries for large sums of money. His mission is to then break the ring and get the senator’s photo.
Corbett and Lang have a nice onscreen chemistry and Differing plays a villain that would feel at right at home in a James Bond movie. The dialogue is great in some parts and very weird in others. There is a major lack of film coverage during the movie and the viewer has to fill in the blanks in their head during some crucial scenes.
You have to hand it to Fuller who shot this on a shoestring budget where there are lots of guerilla-style long shots and segments that he just went out and filmed with his actors running around adding in sound later. Fuller does make great visual use of a Mardi Gras type parade, that includes Mensur’s hitman/heroin junkie dressed up like a clown (who talks to himself) that’s sent to kill Christa, and his escape from a hospital that includes throwing a man in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs.
The fight between Corbett and Differing is one of the strangest battles in sword fighting history. It’s like the $1.98 version of the Prisoner of Zenda.
Fuller shines particularly in one segment where Sandy is alone with his thoughts in a café and a little girl approaches him lighting his cigarette. He tells her his problems and his love for Christa as she just listens. He tips her as he leaves and they both press hands against the café’s window smiling. It’s a touching moment.
Overall, its worth watching to see what Fuller created and the unexpected ending is particularly satisfying.
Special Features: Trailer / Documentary (by Robert Fischer- return to Beethoven Street with interviews by Christa Lang-Fuller, Eric P. Caspar, Wim Wenders and many more) / Essays (by Lisa Dombrowski author of the Films of Samuel Fuller and Samuel B. Prime) / booklet
DEAD PIGEON ON BEETHOVEN STREET / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: SAMUEL FULLER / SCREENPLAY: / STARRING: GLENN CORBETT, CHRISTA LANG, ERIC P. CASPAR, ANTON DIFFERING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW