Thursday, March 15, 2012

Remembering Horst Wendlandt

Horst Otto Grigori Gubanov was born on March 15 1922 in Griewen, Brandenburg, Germany. The son of Russian parents and in fear of being imprisoned by the Nazis he changed his last name to Wendlandt and became an apprentice at Tobias Filmkunst at the age of 15. During World War II he joined the German army but was captured and forced into labor in the French coal mines. After the war he joined Arthur Brauner’s CCC Film Studio from 1956-1961 before moving on to Rialto which he would eventually run. Rialto had acquired the rights to the entire catalog of Edgar Wallace’s detective thrillers in 1962 and in the following years they transferred some thirty books into screenplays under Wendlandt. These films became a showcase for up and coming German actors and actresses and were a lucrative draw at the German box office throughout the decade of the 1960s. Soon thereafter he was approached by his son producer Matthias [1952- ], with the idea of adapting 19th century writer Karl May's series of Wild West adventures into a series of popular Euro-westerns. Those films, many of which were international co-productions, would eventually lay the foundation for the wildly popular 2002 parody Manitu's Shoe. Wendlandt became the major stockholder of Rialto in 1972 and produced 13 Euro-westerns in all from “The Treasure of Silver Lake” in 1963 to “Buddy Goes West” in 1981.Besides his son Matthias he is also the father of producer Susan Nielebock, and the grandfather of producer Felix Wendlandt and actress Laura Wendlandt. On August 30, 2002 at the age of 80 Wendlandt succumbed to cancer in Berlin, Germany. Today we remember one of the great German producer Horst Wendlant on what would have been his 90th birthday.

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