Harald Reinl

Harald Reinl

Harald Reinl was an Austrian-born, director with a career of several unique distinctions, most prominent among them his role as the creator of several German-language westerns during the 1960s. His career began intriguingly, entering film via his skiing expertise by appearing as a stunt double for Leni Riefenstahl in Arnold Fanck's advunture "Avalanche" (1930) and then in "White Ecstasy" the following year. By the late '30s, Reinl made his debut as a writer-director, but World War II put a knot in his momentum, stalling activity until the late '40s. Through the '50s, Reinl directed everything from comedies to romances to war films, but it wasn't until the '60s that his impact was noticeable: in 1961, he followed on the heels of Fritz Lang to direct two "Dr. Mabuse" crime films, and in 1963, he made the first of four westerns, "Apache Gold," with frequent Reinl muse Lex Barker in the lead role. His next western, 1964's "Last of the Renegades," included then-wife Karin Dor and soon-to-be-notorious actor Klaus Kinski. In 1968, Reinl made two films starring the fictional crime novel character Jerry Cotton, each with "Death" in the title, as well as another western, "In the Valley of Death," with old hands Lex Barker and his wife, Dor. In 1970, Reinl took a very successful reprieve from fiction films to make the Academy Award-nominated documentary "Chariots of the Gods," which was based on a book about the world's ancient mysteries.