Film maker Frank Ripploh helms this classic of gay cinema in which he also stars. A partly autobiographical account of his life, Ripploh plays himself, a teacher who cruises bars and public lavatories looking for one night stands. He then meets Bernd (Bernd Broaderup) and the two develop a relationship, but will Frank be able to give up his promiscuous lifestyle? The film offers a sexually explicit slice of gay culture in West Germany at the dawn of the 1980s and has gained cult status over the years, even gaining a mention in the UK top 40 hit, 'Atmospherics', by Tom Robinson in 1983.
That is the literal translation from the German. This is `a lost gay classic', in that it has been banned since its' release in 1980. The reasons why that was the case, come pretty quick (forgive the pun)in that this is an honest, raw, explicit autobiographical tale of Frank Ripploh. He wrote, directed, produced and starred in it; this was his story of leading a double life as a school teacher by day, and a sex addict experimentalist by night.
He goes out to meet men for sex, but this can mean marking his pupil's homework whilst on the toilet awaiting `glory hole' action. He finally meets boyfriend material and they set up house, however, he can not stop his proclivities and gets caught, his reaction is to say `next time - join in', sound advice indeed.
There are a host of supporting actors or characters a particularly voluptuous `party girl' is one of the best. There are very graphic scenes throughout which led to the 25 year ban, but thanks to Film 4 they managed to get a classification in 2005 but because of the `cultural significance' of the film taken as a whole - the water sports would still be too much for a main stream (oops another pun) audience. This could be seen as pornographic, but it is just a raw and honest take on gay relations and real emotions. One of the reasons why it works so well is that they are nearly all friends of Frank (only two real actors), they worked for credit and he by passed the authorities to get the kids to act too. The street scenes are all shot in real time, the passers by are real.
This is a ground breaking, entertaining, vital and visceral film that needs to be seen by anyone interested in gay cinema and or gay culture, This is fully restored but the sound quality goes a bit seventies porno in places which, for me, added to the mood and humour.
There are some excellent extras including an introduction from Mark Kermode, the original UK trailer and a short history of the film. This is very human very real and obviously made with a lot of heart - I can not recommend this film highly enough and it may even give you some ideas for post viewing entertainment.
What a find! Taxi Zum Klo (Taxi to the Toilet) is a rare gem. The film was originally not released in the UK as the BBFC would not allow certain scenes to be seen. Rather than edit the film and allow the film to be censored a decision was taken not to release the film. In 2005, Film4 resubmitted the film to the BBFC who allowed the film to be classified as an 18 uncensored. The film does contain some gay sex scenes in and has a watersports scene which may not be to everybody's taste. However they are all vital parts of the film and certainly make this into the masterpiece that it is. I loved seeing the way Berlin was back then. The film certainly looks dated in some places, but that is part of its charm. This will be a film that I will watch again sometime soon. Well worth a watch!
Taxi zum Klo is every bit as in-your-face and vulgar as its title suggests, and is all the better for that ... especially given that Frank Ripploh is such an engaging figure, and the film has so much energy. Above all it is the humour that makes it memorable, right from the opening sequence where he locks himself out of his flat while naked and has to climb round the balcony from a (female) neighbour's flat. He's the kind of guy who can pull this sort of thing off. At the same time he is very goodhearted and caring towards the children he teaches, and certainly seems to be excellent at his job. His desire for constant sexual adventure leads him even to do his marking while sitting in a cubicle of a public toilet waiting for someone to come in to the next cubicle for some action. This is typical of the incongruity of tone the film achieves, seemingly effortlessly. When he meets his lover, Bernd, they are interrupted on the first night by a woman high on drugs who has been beaten by her husband, and their attention to her is really quite touching in the circumstances, but finds Frank dispensing advice in his underwear while Bernd is more modest in a floral dressing gown. A later scene shows Frank leaving his hospital bed - he had hepatitis - and getting a taxi from one toilet to another in search of an encounter. In fact there is a continuity problem here because he gets up wearing blue briefs, very fetchingly, but by the time he meets a partner in the snow behind a public convenience they have become white, or beige ... But this is a minor hitch! It's a very entertaining film that has abrasiveness and charm in equal measure and raises questions about gay life and how it might be in practice that are refreshingly honest. As a reminder of the pre-Aids era, it is rather out of kilter with today's more politically correct take on the subject. It's a bit as if, in terms of honesty, we've taken a step backwards, even though politically much has been achieved - the colour and vibrancy of lives such as these had a lot to commend it, you feel, and it seems to me that Frank has a great talent for living.
Just a couple of notes really, to add to the other reviews. "Taxi Zum Klo" was released in a censored form in the UK. I saw it at a cinema in Salford in late 1983 (Ironically enough I was at Uni in Manchester with Mark Kermode at the time). When it was released on video in theUK in the 90s it was the same cut print. I have yet to see this edition to confirm how complete it is but it does claim to be uncut, so here's hoping. The previous cuts really only involved penetrative sex acts and the film was still very graphic even in its trimmed state. It is a raw, bleak, warts and all movie, with no glossy veneer, and it can seem empty and sordid, but it does have moments of warmth and humour and was a very courageous, groundbreaking release for its time.