Best Laid Plans – Rediscovering ‘Bloody Friday’ / ‘Blutiger Freitag’ (Germany 1972 – 97 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - October 22, 2014
Best Laid Plans – Rediscovering ‘Bloody Friday’ / ‘Blutiger Freitag’ (Germany 1972 – 97 mins)

Based on true events, the 1972 German-Italian co-production ‘Blutiger Freitag’ is an exiting and often vicious story of a bank heist and the subsequent getaway. While it falls firmly in the exploitation category it does at least take time out to develop the story’s characters, unsavory though they are.

After escaping from a Munich court, lowlife criminal Heinz (Raimund Harmstorf), and his partner Luigi (Gianni Macchia), begin planning a bank robbery using machine guns stolen from a nearby army base. Along with Luigi’s naïve and pregnant girlfriend Heidi (Christine Böhm) and her brother Christian (Amadeus August), they take hold of a city bank, taking both staff and customers hostage. With the ransom paid, and after making their getaway, things soon get out of hand with casualties mounting, leading to a violent, blood-soaked finale.

Although ‘Bloody Friday’ is supposedly based on a 1971 robbery of a branch of the “Deutsche Bank” in Munich, the movie is very much exploitation while mixing in some social commentary along the way. As well as some brutal and bloody action, perhaps the most memorable scene is the one during the robbery when a small child picks up a dropped hand-grenade, resulting in the rescuing policeman paying the price for retrieving it. A very gory scene.

The cast here is very strong, with even the minor cast members giving worthy performances. Tough guy actor Raimund Harmstorf is a towering presence as the amoral and bearded Heinz. Harmstorf had earlier found fame on German television in Jack London’s ‘The Seawolf’ (’71), and had further roles in other Jack London inspired adventures, including ‘The Call of the Wild’ (’72) with Charlton Heston, and Lucio Fulci’s ‘White Fang’ (’73). The wonderfully named Amadeus August plays Christian Hofbauer, the army deserter brother of Heidi, played by pretty Christine Böhm, who perhaps gives the films best performance as the confused yet devoted young girlfriend of Luigi, played by Italian second-lead Gianni Macchia. Böhm was a talented actress of both stage and screen but, just as her career was flourishing (including a good role in Jacques Demy’s ‘Lady Oscar’-’79), sadly died later that year, aged just 25. In fact, all three of the leads died relatively young (Raimund Harmstorf committed suicide in 1998 aged 58, and Amadeus August died of AIDS in 1992, aged 50).

Writer, actor and director Rolf Olsen does a pretty good job, especially in the well-crafted action scenes, employing a sometimes in-your-face approach which brings you right into the often violent action. Known for directing famed German actor Curd Jürgens in a number of films, Olsen later made the controversial documentary ‘Shocking Asia’ (’76) and its 1985 follow-up. The enjoyably funky score was by the excellent Francesco de Masi, who composed the music for numerous cult features including ‘The Inglorious Bastards’ (’78) and ‘The New York Ripper’ (’82).

A pretty good low budget exploitation piece, ‘Bloody Friday’ is both gritty and violent, but never boring. It’s shocking in places and a bit sloppy at times, but overall it’s a decent little crime flick featuring good performances and a few memorable moments.

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