Taxi zum Klo

West Germany 1981, 98 mins
Director: Frank Ripploh

Taxi zum Klo is a largely autobiographical venture, with Frank Ripploh and his former lover Bernd Broaderup reproducing their real-life situation. After a 1978 article in Stern in which he openly admitted to his homosexuality, Ripploh left teaching when disciplinary action was taken against him, and devoted himself full-time to filmmaking. This, his first feature, was made on a shoestring but the result is a mature work, perfectly controlled and finely photographed. Its mainstay is an attention to detail rather than generalisation, whether it is the jar of vaseline next to the alarm clock, or the omnipresence of the media from TV morning exercises or Liberace to the taxi-driver’s lurid tabloid. This is the manner of the opening sequence, where the visual exploitation of the badges and postcards on Frank’s wall, overlaid with Ripploh’s pat autobiography, points to the multi-faceted and even contradictory portrayal which will follow.

This and the film’s maturity and lack of drama recall Sunday Bloody Sunday, which examined similar questions of fidelity and homosexuality but in a vastly different milieu. Similarly, the subject of a gay teacher and the film’s relentless realism – notably the night drives through the city – owe much to Nighthawks [Ron Peck, 1978]. But here the central situation goes deeper into the issues surrounding a loving relationship, and rather than plodding, the narrative rhythm varies between the gradual introduction of highly endearing characters and the irruption of a number of unashamed gags in which Ripploh’s comic talent is evident. Unlike the Peck/Hallam film, the sex scenes are explicit and vary from the tender (Bernd and Frank bathing and shampooing each other) to the brutal (sadomasochism with the garage attendant). Moreover, the relationship with the heterosexual world is not as self-conscious: there is no scene where Frank confesses and explains his homosexuality to a colleague – simply, for example, the conversation with Irmchen about relationships in general.

Confrontation is represented obliquely – the stable boy revealing that he would lose his job if his homosexuality were known, the mocking reaction of a woman passenger to Frank and Bernd in fancy-dress. This approach is true of the portrayal of politics as a whole – Frank deciding to go to the baths instead of a meeting on Chile, his amusement at a neo-Nazi on TV calling on homosexuals to be put in work-camps. The most sustained ‘political’ sequence is the projection of the anti-gay film – required viewing at Ripploh’s own school – which also reveals the director’s assurance in his medium: the film-within-the-film combines with the favourite device of the cross-cut (often to-ing and fro-ing between Bernd and Frank) to show how Frank in the other room is trying, not to seduce his pupil, but to get him to pay attention to the dictation. The ending is not schematic: Bernd hugging a lamb in the countryside is the ‘tender’, couple-oriented homosexual; Frank is restless, but he does love Bernd, and the revelation of their reconciliation implies that nothing is really resolved. But the film’s irony, though often self-directed, hints at the creatively subversive nature of the subject: when Frank ‘comes out’ to his pupils, the result is not a round of serious questioning but the manifestation of anarchic revolt.
Bill Marshall, Monthly Film Bulletin, January 1982

Director: Frank Ripploh
Production Company: Filmwelt
Producers: Laurens Straub, Frank Ripploh
Production Assistance: Karl Beckers, Hajo Corsten, Günther Kortwich, Christian Moldt, Knut Schaller, Andreas Höhne
Assistant Director: Peter Fahrni
Screenplay: Frank Ripploh
Director of Photography: Horst Schier
Assistant Photographer: Hannes Geyer
Editors: Marina Runne, Matthias von Gunten

Frank Ripploh (Frank)
Bernd Broaderup (Bernd)
Orpha Termin (female neighbour)
Peter Fahrni (garage attendant)
Dieter Gödde (masseur)
Klaus Schnee, Bernd Kröger, Markus Voigtländer, Irmgard Lademacher, Gregor Becker, Marguerite Dupont, Eberhard Freudenthal, Beate Springer (teachers)
Millie Büttner (strange woman)
Gitta Lederer (mother)
Hans Gerd Mertens (1st leatherboy)
Ulla Topf (prostitute)
Franco Papadu (Italian)
Tabea Blumenschein (lady)
Magdalena Montezuma (doctor’s assistant)
Jürgen Möller (skin doctor)
Valeska Gerstenberg (Irmchen)
Brigitte Knigge (travel agent)
Hans Kellner (taxi driver)
Ric Schachtebeck (2nd leatherboy)

West Germany 1981
98 mins

The screening on Mon 8 Jan will be introduced by Scala usher Vic Roberts

Basket Case
Mon 1 Jan 15:20; Thu 25 Jan 20:40
Pink Flamingos
Mon 1 Jan 18:20; Fri 19 Jan 18:20; Fri 26 Jan 20:50 (+ intro by Mark Moore and Tasty Tim)
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Tue 2 Jan 18:20; Thu 18 Jan 21:00 (+ intro by film scholar and writer Virginie Selavy)
Taxi zum Klo
Wed 3 Jan 20:50; Mon 8 Jan 20:40 (+ intro by Vic Roberts, Scala usher)
The Warriors
Sat 6 Jan 18:15; Sun 14 Jan 12:00; Wed 17 Jan 20:55 (+ intro by SCALA!!! co-director Ali Catterall)
Sat 6 Jan 20:00; Sun 14 Jan 14:10
The Evil Dead
Fri 5 Jan 20:45 (+ intro by Graham Humphreys, freelance illustrator and designer of the original UK marketing for The Evil Dead); Tue 30 Jan 18:10
Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom
Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma
Tue 9 Jan 20:35 (+ intro by season curator Jason Wood, BFI Executive Director of Public Programmes & Audiences); Tue 23 Jan 18:10
Sight and Sound Presents: Scala Spirit 1993-2023
Thu 11 Jan 18:20
Thu 11 Jan 21:00; Sun 21 Jan 15:20
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
Fri 12 Jan 18:10 (+ intro by Ben Roberts, BFI CEO); Wed 31 Jan 18:20
Pink Narcissus + Un chant d’amour
Fri 12 Jan 20:40; Thu 25 Jan 18:20
The Saint: Teresa + intro by Dick Fiddy, Archive TV Programmer + The Avengers: A Touch of Brimstone
Sat 13 Jan 14:30
Looking for Mr Goodbar + Dick
Sat 13 Jan 17:45 (+ intro by season curator Jane Giles); Mon 22 Jan 20:10
The Thing
Sat 13 Jan 20:40; Mon 29 Jan 20:45
The Beast La Bête
Tue 16 Jan 20:45; Tue 23 Jan 20:50
Surprise Film + intro by season curator Jane Giles
Sat 20 Jan 17:10
A Clockwork Orange
Sun 21 Jan 18:00; Wed 31 Jan 20:25
Shock, Horror! The Scala All-nighter: An American Werewolf in London; The Creature from the Black Lagoon – 3D; Videodrome; The Incredible Shrinking Man; A Nightmare on Elm Street
Sat 27 Jan 22:30 BFI IMAX

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
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