A man's dead body is found on Beethovenstrasse, a street in Germany, and is identified as that of a detective whose partner, Sandy (Glenn Corbett), arrives from the United States to investigate his murder by gunshot. Talking to official Kressin (Sieghardt Rupp), he ascertains that the man was killed for having a set of negatives in his possession that could prove to spark a sex scandal among the world of politics for a certain politician, but much as Sandy needs to get his hands on them, this proves tricky. Not least because the killer has been captured, but does not have the negatives on him, and after escaping from the hospital room he was being kept in he is chased by Sandy across the streets and into a railway station, getting away...
Technically, Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street was not a movie, as it was actually a television episode from the longest-running German drama series of all time, Tatort, though it was only a mere couple of years old at that point. The idea was that for each episode, a selection of detectives from around the country would investigate a murder, allowing cast changes as time went on which was just as well considering what director Samuel Fuller wanted to do with the format. It was obvious he desired to make a new movie rather than part of series television, so that is what he did, getting rid of the regular leads in favour of import Corbett whom he had given his first big break to back in the nineteen-fifties with a different thriller, The Crimson Kimono.
That film was intended to be taken seriously, but this? Hmm, not so much, indeed Fuller's exile in Europe after his then-recent Hollywood projects had foundered seemed to have driven him somewhat round the bend judging by the demented nature of what may not have been the most complicated of plots, but was one which spent a lot of its time arseing about with random elements. It was as if Fuller was using the German small screen to try out various ideas which he could have applied to bigger productions, and his wife Christa Lang was given a vehicle for her talents into the bargain as a character mired in espionage who Sandy is determined to bend to his will. That was the film noir element - she was the femme fatale - and there was a lot of that genre present in spirit, if not faith to the original aspects.
Although this came on like a hardboiled pulp yarn torn from the pages of your average paperback potboiler, there were signs Fuller was tiring of that style since he endless tinkered with that and sent it up. Time and again, what started as a sincere scene would by the end of it be part of a cumulative set of daft sequences, strung together with so little cohesion or forward motion that they almost appeared to have been thrown together randomly. Whether this was incredibly smart or just plain stupid did not trouble Fuller too much, and his cast played it with a kidding air, especially Lang and Anton Diffring as the Mister Big who in the final stages had a fight in his armoury with Sandy, he with a sword and Sandy with every other weapon he could grab off the walls of the room. The dialogue started half-German, half English, but within half an hour more or less everyone spoke English, and if Fuller's plan was to get this theatrically released, his dream came true as most of those who saw it outside of Germany in an expanded showing would have little to no idea of its provenance. It was all over the place, but the director's fans would be intrigued by its existence. Music by kosmische musik favourites Can.
Pioneering independent director, best known for his tough 60s thrillers. Fuller began his career in Hollywood in the mid-1930s, and after a spell in the army and many frustrated years as a writer, directed his first film in 1949, the Western I Shot Jesse James. Fuller's third film, The Steel Helmet, was the first movie to deal with the Korean war and was a huge success. Other films Fuller made in the 50s include Pickup on South Street, House of Bamboo and Run of the Arrow.
The 1960s saw Fuller deliver dark, ground-breaking thrillers like Underworld USA, Shock Corridor and the infamous The Naked Kiss, which divided critics with their mix of melodrama and brutal realism. Fuller subsequently found it hard to find employment in Hollywood and largely worked as an actor throughout the 70s. The 1980 war movie The Big Red One was something of a comeback, but his next film, the anti-racist White Dog caused yet more controversy, and it has rarely been seen in its intended form. Fuller's final feature was the 1989 crime drama Street of No Return, although he worked in TV until the mid-90s. Died in 1997 aged 86.