Fiona and I were discussing Thea Von Harbou, top screenwriter of 20s-30s German cinema (including DIE NIBELUNGEN) and wife of Fritz Lang.
Fi: “What did she look like?”
Me: “Like him.”
From Patrick McGilligan’s Fritz Lang, The Nature of the Beast ~
‘”I was especially impressed by her ability to concentrate,” recalled [production designer Erich] Kettelhut. “She could sit amid the chaos if the studio during a shoot, knit, dictate a new novel to her secretary, and meanwhile watch her husband direct and offer him her advice. She chatted with two women visitors in French and English while she replaced the piano player, accompanying the filming with music.”‘
What especially wowed me was McGilligan’s account of T.V.H.’s death.
Post-war and post-Lang, she was living in an apartment with a picture of Gandhi and a picture of Hitler (this apartment is a perfect MAP OF HER HEAD). Invited to attend a screening at the Berlinale in 1954 of DER MUDE TOD, a Lang film she scripted thirty-three years earlier, she answered questions from the audience. So moved was she by the experience of seeing the film again, that she wasn’t watching her step as she left. She fell, developed a hip injury, was hospitalized, and her already unstable health declined within a few days of checking in.
Assassinated by her own film!
I know of very few instances remotely like this, although director Seth Holt died during the making of BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, struck down by a fatal case of hiccups.
“No, really, it’s true! I’m not making this up.” ~ Willoughby Kipling.