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Black Gravel

Black Gravel

West Germany | 1961 | 113 minutes | Helmut Käutner

February 20, 2020

Noir City

A black-market trucker, whose former flame is married to a U.S. officer, tries to hide a fatal hit-and-run. Rescued Cold War cinema at its bleakest.

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Sohnen, a small village in rural postwar Germany, undergoes a nasty transformation when the American military decides it's the perfect spot for a missile base. Even though the locals detest the occupying force, they all angle for ways to personally cash in, legal and otherwise, on the sudden economic boom. Robert Neidhardt (Helmut Wildt), a prototypical noir character, is squeezing out a living as a trucker in this blackest of markets, playing both sides of the law. His hustling turns horrifying, however, when he's involved in a fatal accident during a run of stolen gravel. Fleeing the law plunges him further into ruthlessness and mayhem. Black Gravel caused controversy on initial release due to its uncompromising depiction of a nation in the grip of bitter defeat, lawlessness, and lingering anti-Semitism. Several offending scenes were cut, but its rediscovery as a lost noir classic has resulted in this new, and complete, digital restoration.

  • Original Language Title: Schwarzer kies
  • Director: Helmut Käutner
  • Principal Cast: Helmut Wildt, Ingmar Zeiberg, Hans Cossy, Wolfgang Büttner, Anita Höfer
  • Country: West Germany
  • Year: 1961
  • Running Time: 113 minutes
  • Producer: Walter Ulbrich
  • Screenplay: Helmut Käutner, Walter Ulbrich
  • Cinematographers: Heinz Pehlke
  • Language: German
  • Has Subtitles: Yes