Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Christine Kaufmann Dies at 72 - the "Town without Pity" girl

Christine Kaufmann (January 11, 1945-March 28, 2017) was a ballerina with the Munich Opera company, and gradually began to develop a film career. She gained international attention (and a Golden Globe award) for starring in the gang rape-shocker "Town Without Pity" in 1961. A bunch of soldiers (including Frank Sutton before he became Sgt. Carter on "Gomer Pyle") attacked her in the woods, after she went swimming.

Critics at the time found the film lurid and distasteful.

The New York Times especially loathed the theme song, sung by Gene Pitney, and whenever the film was on TV, the capsule review commented on how awful that noisy music was.

Today, the theme song lives on, and the film is mostly forgotten. And so, it seems, is Christine Kaufmann. At least, as a film star.

Kaufmann made "Escape from East Berlin" the following year, and married Tony Curtis. This storybook romance (he, the Jew born Bernard Schwartz, she the daughter of a Luftwaffe officer) lasted several years, and produced two childen. She appeared in "Taras Bulba" in 1962, "Wild and Wonderful" in 1964, "Murders in the Rue Morgue" in 1972, and her last big year of film making was 1981 ("Day of the Idiots,""Lili Marleen" and "Lola").

She married a few more times and became known as a health and fitness buff. She had success in Germany with her own line of cosmetics.

Since you all know Pitney's version of "Town without Pity," and maybe even the German language version of it called "Bleibe Bei Mir" ("Stay with Me") the salute to Kaufmann offers the oddity of a female version of the song.

Mathilde Santing is a Dutch singer known internationally (maybe), for her cover versions of Randy Newman, Paul Simon and others. Her unique voice sometimes lacks emotion (ala Judy Collins) but she often enhances her haunting style with weird changes in tempo. She slowed down Paul Simon's "Hazy Shade of Winter" into an icy dirge, and here, a gypsy rhythm infuses her warbling, which may remind you of a menopausal Kate Bush.

The song "Town Without Pity" doesn't address the theme of the movie, which involves the "she asked for it, the slut" stigma involving rape. Instead, Ned Washington's lyrics for the unusually swinging Dimitri "Guns of Navarone" Tiomkin music focus on the raging hormones of misunderstood teenagers. Ten years earlier, Washington and Tiomkin won an Academy Award for the "High Noon" tune "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling," sung by Tex Ritter.

They were nominated for "Town Without Pity" but lost to "Moon River" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Yeah, they gave it to a song that calls a river a "huckleberry friend." You can bet "Town Without Pity" lost because of the grown-up voters sneering at Gene Pitney's chipmunk wailing! Below, elegant Netherlands gypsy Mathilde gets verklempt.

Mathilde Santing Town Without Pity Instant download or listen on line. No royalties paid BUT, the blog is not getting paid either for any “hard work” in uploading the track.

1 comment:

Timmy said...

Great bass work in this number.