June 30, 2009, - 9:02 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Right now, I’m watching “This TV,” the digital TV channel, which airs in most cities (and you don’t need cable to watch it). Tonight’s prime time movie is the 1986 TV flick, “Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story,” starring Farrah Fawcett. It’s based on the book of the same name by Frederic Hunter.
Amidst all the Michael Jackson death hype and the “Charlie’s Angels”-focused coverage of Fawcett’s death, I’d forgotten this role–Farrah’s best–in which the late star played the brave daughter of a Wehrmacht officer who demands justice against Nazi war criminals, on behalf of Holocaust survivors.
While Farrah’s European accent isn’t the greatest, she plays the role quite well, and it’s pretty good . . . especially for a TV movie. Actor Tom Conti plays husband Serge Klarsfeld, a Holocaust survivor and her partner in Nazi hunting. I recall that, at the time the movie aired on TV (I was a freshman in college), Fawcett wasn’t taken seriously and came under attack as “too glamorous” and “beautiful” to play Klarsfeld. This was an utter insult to Klarsfeld, one of history’s great women. She may not have posed in a red bathing suit poster, but hunting down Nazis is very sexy. And frankly, watching it now, I think Farrah handled the role masterfully.
For those not in the know, Beate Klarsfeld dedicated her life to tracking down and demanding trial and punishment for Nazis, including Klaus Barbie. She travelled from Germany to France to Bolivia to do so. She suffered numerous arrests, jailings, beatings and torture, and death and bomb threats.
I can’t find it on DVD, but if you ever get a chance to see it on TV, it’s entertaining and worthwhile.
And, like I said, it’s the late Farrah Fawcett’s best work . . . and sadly most unsung and forgotten.
The death of Farrah Fawcett is a stark reminder of another death: the death of great made-for-TV movies on important subjects worth reliving on the small screen. I’d take Farrah as Beate Klarsfeld any day–especially over reality TV and “The Bachelorette.”