26 February 2018

Sabine Bethmann

German film actress Sabine Bethmann (1931) is best known for Fritz Langs’s Der Tiger von Eschnapur (1959) and the sequel Das Indische Grabmal (1959), together known as 'Fritz Lang's Indian Epic'.

Sabine Bethmann
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4230. Photo: Dührkoop / Ufa.

Sabine Bethmann
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4235. Photo: Arthur Grimm / CCC-Film / Constantin Film.


Sabine Bethmann was born in Tilsit, East Prussia (now Sovetsk, Russia), in 1931.

She studied to become a physiotherapist, but started her career as a model. At 24, she was discovered for the cinema. She made her film debut in Waldwinter/Winter in the Woods (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1956) starring Claus Holm.

A year later she played the girlfriend of Hansjörg Felmy in the anti-war film Haie und kleine Fische/Sharks and Small Fish (Frank Wisbar, 1957). By showing war in all its horror, as a shark devouring everyone and everything in its path, director Frank Wisbar made a powerful anti-war statement.

Bethmann then appeared in the adventure films Der Tiger von Eschnapur/The Tiger of Eschnapur (Fritz Lang, 1959) and Das Indische Grabmal/The Indian Tomb (Fritz Lang, 1959).

Fritz Lang returned to Germany to direct these films, which together tell the story of a German architect (Paul Hubschmid), the Indian maharajah (Walter Reyer) for whom he is supposed to build schools and hospitals, and the Eurasian temple dancer (Debra Paget) who comes between them. Bethmann played the sister of the architect.

She was then cast in the role of Varinia in Spartacus (1960), and began filming with Anthony Mann as director. But, when Mann was fired and Stanley Kubrick took over the direction, she was replaced with Jean Simmons.

Sabine Bethmann
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK 193. Photo: Klaus Collignon / Ufa.

Sabine Bethmann
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Templehof, no. CK-263. Photo: Klaus Collignon.

Dr. Mabuse

Sabine Bethmann starred in the Argentine, Spanish, West-German international co-production Juanito/Viva Juanito! (Fernando Palacio, 1960), set during the Mexican Revolution and featuring Pablito Calvo.

She also played the female lead in the German crime film Scotland Yard jagt Dr. Mabuse/Scotland Yard vs. Dr Mabuse (Paul May, 1963) starring Peter van Eyck.

During the 1960s, she also appeared in the Spaghetti Western Il ranch degli spietati/Oklahoma John (Jaime Jesús Balcázar, Roberto Bianchi Montero, 1965), and the drama Mädchen hinter Gittern/Girls behind bars (Rudolf Zehetgruber, 1965) with Heidelinde Weis.

Her roles became rarer and smaller. Her last film was the German crime comedy Die Herren mit der weissen Weste/Gentlemen in White Vests (Wolfgang Staudte, 1970) with Martin Held.

Then at 40, she retired and only appeared incidentally in TV productions, such as in an episode of the Krimi series Der Alte/The Old Fox (1979). In 1990 she played one more leading role in the short children’s film Kaffeeklatsch (Sabine Eckhard, 1990).

Sabine Bethmann lives in Berlin.

Sabine Bethmann and Joachim Hansen in Morgen wirst du um mich weinen (1959)
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag GmbH, Minden/Westf., no. 895. Photo: DCF / Arthur Grimm. Publicity still for Morgen wirst du um mich weinen/Black Triangle (Alfred Braun, 1959) with Joachim Hansen.

Sabine Bethmann
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Templehof, no. FK 4235. Photo: Arthur Grimm / CCC Film / Constantin Film.

Sources: Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-Line – German), AllMovie, Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.

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