Krüger, Hardy


Krüger, Hardy
(1928– )
   Actor Hardy Krüger was born on April 12, 1928, in Berlin. He portrayed Captain Potsdorf in BARRY LYNDON. Kruger began his stage and screen career in his native Germany, making his film debut in the 1943 German movie Junge Adler (Young Adler) at the age of 15. He first attracted attention outside of Germany by taking the role of the German flyer Franz von Werra, who escaped from several British prisoner-of-war camps during World War II, in the British biographical film The One that Got Away (1957). Krüger garnered international praise in Joseph Losey’s Blind Date (released in the U. S. as Chance Meeting, 1959), a British mystery with Krüger as a young painter framed for the murder of his mistress. Krüger costarred in several American films, among them Howard Hawks’s Hatari! (1975), opposite John Wayne; but he continued to appear in movies originating in Germany, France, England and even Russia, such as The Red Tent (1970).
   Hardy Krüger replaced another international star, the Viennese actor Oskar Werner, in STANLEY KUBRICK’s Barry Lyndon (1975), derived from the WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY historical novel. In the movie, Barry Lyndon (RYAN O’NEAL) joins the English army during the Seven Years’War, in which the British and the Prussians are fighting the French and their allies. Werner enacted the role of Captain Potsdorf, an officer in Frederick the Great’s Prussian army, for three weeks before Kubrick decided that he was unsuited for the part; Kruger then came in to play Potsdorf.
   Barry Lyndon, ever the opportunist, has managed to pose as a British officer, when in fact he is only an enlisted man—until the canny Captain Potsdorf sees through Barry’s masquerade. Potsdorf dresses Barry down in the following terms:“You’re idle, dissolute, and unprincipled. You have done a great deal of harm to the men, and for all your talents and bravery, I’m sure you will come to no good. ”
   Barry shrugs off Potsdorf ’s criticism by blaming his bad companions for his conduct unbecoming a soldier. As a matter of fact, Potsdorf ’s evaluation of Barry is endorsed by the film’s narrator, who comments in voice-over on the soundtrack:“At the close of the Seven Years’War, the army so renowned for its disciplined valor was officered by native Prussians. But it was composed for the most part of men from the lowest levels of humanity,” who had been pressganged from almost every country in Europe. “Thus Barry fell into the very worst of courses and company and was soon very far advanced in the science of every kind of misconduct. ”
   Because Potsdorf has the goods on Barry for impersonating an officer (a capital offense), after Barry is demobilized, Potsdorf blackmails him into becoming a police spy on a disreputable pseudonobleman who poses as the Chevalier de Balibari (PATRICK MAGEE). The chevalier makes his living by cheating at cards in various European gambling salons. The spurious nobleman converts Barry into an expert cardsharp, and together they rook the aristocrats at the gaming tables.
   Krüger has since directed some TV documentaries and he has appeared in a handful of films since Barry Lyndon, including A Bridge Too Far (Britain, 1977) and The Inside Man (Britain, 1984).

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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