Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Who Are Those Guys? - Karl Braun

Karl Heinz Braun was of German decent born in Tokyo, Japan during the second world war. Per director Alex Cox, “Charlie’s birth certificate - as he would gleefully point out - had a swastika on it. He delighted in winding people up, and playing the bad guy, and yet he had no meanness in him, no cruelty of any kind. He was working as a ski instructor in Switzerland when he met Sergio Leone. Leone, always on the lookout for big, tough, blond guys, invited him to come to Almeria and play a cowboy in his next Western. The film was “A Genius”, produced by Leone and directed by Damiano Damiani. Charley had a few scenes with Klaus Kinski: if you see the film, he's playing cards with Kinski in the  “Once Upon a Time in the West” saloon. Charley liked the film world, liked playing a cowboy, liked the desert. So he stayed, finding a place in what was then a hippie enclave called Mojacar. He soon hooked up with Kate Mulock, widow of Al Mulock, another tough-and-crazy-looking character actor who had died during the filming of Leone's art Western. Blacklisted after I made “Walker” (1987), I returned to Spain. Charley had started a production company - Castillo Films - and opened an office in Tabernas. I became his partner.

“In '91 Lorenzo O'Brien invited me to Mexico to direct his script, “El Patrullero” (Highway Patrolman). We hired Charley to play the nameless drug dealer who Roberto Sosa kills and buries in an unmarked grave. Charley loved the locations - in Durango, Parras, Zacatecas and Sombrerete - returned briefly to Mojacar to pack his bags, and moved to Spain. The following year he produced “Death & the Compass”, which I directed.

“Thereafter Charley worked as a line producer, a location manager, and an actor. He fell in love with one of the locations he discovered - the lagoon at Sontecomapan, in Vera Cruz - and built a shack there. For a decade he commuted between Sontecomapan and Mexico City, where the work was. He was diagnosed with lung cancer a couple of years back. Despite the usual arduous and expensive treatments, the cancer spread. One of his last features was “Bandidas”: a mediocre “Viva Maria!” remake which he blessed with incredible locations. He played a minor bad guy in that film.

“As Charley's health worsened, his friends came through. Lorenzo and Miguel Camacho paid for his medicines. His magnificent daughter, Anouschka, travelled from Spain to care for him. Javier Gunther, the transportation captain, arranged for his return to Sontecomapan, where old friends visited.” Karl ‘Charley’ Braun died in his shack in Sontecomapan, Vera Cruz, Mexico on June 27, 2009."

BRAUN, Karl (aka Charles Braun, Charley Braun, Charlie Braun, Karl ‘Charlie’ H. Braun) (Karl Heinz Braun) [194?, Tokyo, Japan - 6/27/2009, Sontecomapan, Vera Cruz, Mexico (lung cancer)] – producer, production manager, stuntman, film actor, father of actress Anuschka Braun, founded Castillo Films.
My Name is Nobody – 1972 (Jim)
Sting of the West – 1972 (miner)
The Genius - 1975 (poker player)
Straight to Hell – 1986 (Blacksmith McMahon) [as Charlie Braun] [also production manager]
Renegade – 2002 (Charlie)
Bandidas - 2004 (regulator)

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