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Fluchtweg St. Pauli (Hot Traces Of St. Pauli)

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    Ian Jane
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  • Fluchtweg St. Pauli (Hot Traces Of St. Pauli)



    Released by: Subkultur Entertainment
    Released on: 2014.
    Director: Wolfgang Staudte
    Cast: Horst Frank, Christiane Kruger, Heinz Reincke
    Year: 1971
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    This rough and tough German crime film made in 1971 by director Wolfgang Staudte follows a hardened criminal named Willy Jensen (Horst Frank) who busts out of the prison he's been holed up in for some time. Now a free man, he heads back to his home town of Hamburg where he hopes to hide out in an apartment belonging to his brother, a cab driver named Heinz (Heinz Reincke). When Willy arrives, Heinz believes him to be as innocent as he claims and so he lets him in, but fails to mention the fact that while Willy has been doing hard time, he's been slipping it to his sexy wife, Vera (Christiane Kruger).

    Willy is no fool, however, and he soon figures this out - in fact, it's made painfully obvious to him what's going on and once he realizes it, he decides to take Vera back. As the cops close in on Heinz's apartment, Willy flees, Vera now his hostage. Heinz, out of obligation to Vera and out of moral duty, opts to help the cops track slick Willy down to make him pay for his crimes, but of course, this isn't going to sit well with his older, tougher brother at all…

    Fast paced and tough as nails, Hot Flashes Of St. Pauli is a pretty fantastic crime picture. The camera work does a great job capturing the gritty side of Hamburg, really taking advantage of some of the sleazy sites the city had to offer in the early seventies and capturing it all with just the right amount of style. The fashions and décor on display may date the picture as a product of its era, but so be it. When the stunts and action set pieces hold up as well as they do here, it's hard to imagine anyone will mind and the swinging seventies vibe just adds to the movie's charm anyway.

    Strong characters are a bit part of the draw here too. Heinz is likeable as the man who is essentially the film's hero - though he's flawed and not exactly the innocent himself he is far from the criminal his brother is. Early in the film though his character is established when a drunken woman strips in her car. He brings her to the police, never bothering to have his way with her as the movie makes us think he may. Of course, his actions are then seen in direct contrast to those of Willy when he hits up the woman's husband for money, impersonating the driver and claiming she damaged the cab that night. This shows us then and there that he's not in the least bit concerned about his brother's morals or involving Heinz in his schemes when it suits him. We further learn what a bastard he is when he mistreats poor Vera. Granted, married women are not supposed to carry on behind their husbands back, incarcerated or not, but he react just as you'd expect a man of his character to react when confronted with the news he doesn't want to hear.

    The acting from the three leads helps a lot here too. Reincke is great as Heinz, ensuring that we want him to come out of this in one piece and making his way through the film in an amiable fashion. He's not the most handsome man to ever grace the silver screen but he looks right for the part. Christiane Kruger is both beautiful and sympathetic as Vera. Even though she was cheating on her husband it's hard to really blame her when Heinz treats her the way that he does in the film. She's both easy on the eyes and quite a talented actress, bringing good range and believability to her role here. Having said that, it's Horst Frank who really steals the show as Willy. This guy is a complete rat bastard, daring enough to make a bold prison escape but completely willing to throw anyone he needs to in under the metaphorical bus if it gets him what he wants when he wants it. He's only out for number one and Frank brings a serious sense of menace to the role.

    Great stunts and action scenes help to ensure that the movie goes at a good pace, while the character development continues to keep us interested in the more dramatic side of the story when things slow down a little bit. This one works and it works well - Hot Traces Of St. Pauli is a well thought out and well-made crime film that fans of seventies Eurocult style exploitation and Italian style cop films should definitely enjoy.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Hot Traces Of St. Pauli arrives on DVD from Subkulture in a solid anamorphic widescreen transfer. Some minor print damage shows up here and there and a few scenes show some color fading but by and large this is a good looking disc. Detail is about as strong as you can realistically expect from a standard definition transfer and the disc is free of compression artifacts and edge enhancement.

    The German language Dolby Digital Mono track, which comes with optional English subtitles, is fine. Range is a bit limited in spots but that's to be expected on an older mix. The dialogue is upfront with the effects and score balanced nicely in the background and the track is free of any audible hiss.

    Extras start off with a commentary track courtesy of Pelle Felsch and Christian Kessler but it's in German without any subtitles. There's a pretty nice trailer gallery on the disc too, including spots for Buttgereit's Captain Berlin, Dracula Jagt Frankenstein, Battle Of The Godfathers, Die Sieben Manner Der Sumuru and Wenn Es Nacht Auf Der Reeperbahn. Outside of that, the disc also includes a trailer for the feature, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    Additionally, this release comes with a bonus audio CD containing the film's entire soundtrack. Both discs come housed inside a nicely made cardboard slipcover featuring some great vintage poster art. A booklet of liner notes is also included inside (in German).

    The Final Word:

    Hot Traces Of St. Pauli is a tough and gritty crime film that throws in plenty of sleaze and action which is balanced nicely alongside some great performances from the leads and some rock solid location photography. Subkultur's disc is a good one and while most of the extras aren't English friendly, the inclusion of the soundtrack CD is a really nice bonus. A great package overall, here's hoping we'll see more German crime films like this from them in the new year.

































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