Moving Pictures 29.08.2007

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More Dean Reed - As I Knew Him

Festival director Ron Henderson had invited Will Roberts to present his documentary American Rebel: The Dean Reed Story. It proved to be one of the main attractions of the festival.

Relaxed and in his element, Dean talked a great deal about his popularity as a rockstar in Argentina. About beating out Elvis Presley on the charts with "Our Summer Romance." About his own talkshow in Buenos Aires.

In fact, he covered his whole career in private conversations and at press interviews.

When the topic of conversation shifted to radical political thought, he didn't hesitate to speak his mind. About meeting Salvador Allende and Victor Jara in Chile. About accepting an invitation to perform in Russia while attending the 1965 World Peace Conference in Helsinki. About being expelled from Argentina in 1966 for his political activism. About moving on to Italy, where he starred in 15 "spaghetti westerns" and other potboilers. About leaving Rome for East Berlin in 1973.

Unless I am very much mistaken, that Denver film festival turned out to be the watershed moment in Dean Reed's life.

For while he was there, he was getting hammered from all sides by the press and media. A local radio show questioned his American patriotism. A national publication ridiculed his singing and acting talent. The only visible support he had on the occasion was his Denver family.

And then came a phone call from a guy named Davidov in Minnesota. Marv was organizing a weekly vigil before the Honeywell Building in Minneapolis. Honeywell manufactured land mines and cluster bombs. Would Dean care to visit?

Our last meeting was in West Berlin. In late May of 1986. Shortly after my return home from the Cannes film festival. And a few weeks before his death.

Dorothea and I were attending a premiere at the Theater des Westens. When we bumped into Dean Reed and Renate Blume in the foyer, I invited them to a late dinner in a Chinese restaurant across the street. We spent an hour together chatting about his next film project: The occupation of Wounded Knee by the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the subsequent FBI siege.

No longer Wounded Knee but now Bloody Heart the production had changed titles and was going through a final rewrite. Together with Günter Reisch, who was to codirect. Dean Reed in the role of the American photographer Dave Miller. Renate Blume as the Mexican journalist Jane Gonzales.

Dean didn't look depressed at all. And hardly a suicide case. But then who really knows what goes in the mind of a radical rockstar? They live on a different planet than the rest of us.

Günter Reisch stopped by while I was putting the final touches on this blog for MPM. He handed me the last rewrite of the screenplay for the Bloody Heart project. To be produced by the DEFA-Studio in East Germany.

Fascinating reading. A different image of Dean Reed than seen in his previous films. A whiff of Robert Jordan, the Hemingway antihero in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

He also confirmed that location shooting in Kirghizstan had been subsequently approved by the Soviet Union. A Soviet coproduction was also possible. And photos in his dossier also show that Central Asian actors do bear a close resemblance to the Dakota Sioux.

The approval, however, came too late.

Ron Holloway

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Letzte Änderung: 2008-10-28