The Wicked Dreams Of Paul Schultz
EVEN if your idea of a good time is to watch a lot of middle-aged Germans, some of them very fat, all reddening, grimacing, perspiring, and falling over Elke Sommer, I think you ought to skip “The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz,” because this first film of the year is so unrelievedly awful, in such a number of uninteresting ways.
The plot concerns an East German Olympic star (Miss Sommer) who escapes from a lecherous East German propaganda minister (Werner Klemperer) by pole-vaulting over the Berlin Wall in her black-lace underthings. She is ultimately betrothed to a reformed American black-market operator (Bob Crane), who had previously tried to sell her to the East Germans and to the C.I.A.
The real story, however, is a bit of bumbling, color pornography, a little nude film that lost its way on 42d Street and drifted on over to the Astor.
It seems to view the cold war as a vast conspiracy to get people undressed, as clumsily and joylessly as possible. In various scenes, Miss Sommer has her sweatshirt removed by the weight of some medals on her front, her bathrobe drawn off by a vacuum cleaner, her black-lace underthings reeled in by some fishermen on a riverbank, her dress split by a climb up the wall of a hotel, and so on. For the special interest groups, there is a moment when Miss Sommer tears the skirt off a rather substantial matron in uniform, and another in which (still in her underthings) she runs a gantlet of machine-gun fire. Many other characters are unbecomingly disrobed as well.
The movie neglects no opportunity to be gross (everyone’s pudgy hands, for example, are constantly on someone else, and there are two burps in the script, presumably for high comic effect), and yet it can’t quite relax and be porcine. In some scenes and complications of the plot, there is a perceptible strain toward heavy-breathing whimsy, which—since no one involved in the film has any comic talent whatever—becomes grotesque.