Percy Adlon

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Percy Adlon
Paul Rudolf Parsifal Adlon

(1935-06-01)1 June 1935
Died10 March 2024(2024-03-10) (aged 88)
Occupation(s)Director, screenwriter, producer
Years active1975–2024
SpouseEleonore Adlon[1]
RelativesLorenz Adlon (great-grandfather)
Pamela Adlon (former-daughter-in-law)
Gideon Adlon (granddaughter)
Odessa A'zion (granddaughter)

Paul Rudolf Parsifal "Percy" Adlon (German: [ˈpɛɐ̯si ˈaːdlɔn]; 1 June 1935 – 10 March 2024) was a German director, screenwriter, and producer. He is associated with the New German Cinema movement (ca. 1965–1985), and is known for his strong female characters and positive portrayals of lesbian relationships.[2][3] He is best known for his 1987 film Bagdad Cafe, starring Marianne Sägebrecht, CCH Pounder and Jack Palance and subsequent films such as Rosalie Goes Shopping (1989), Salmonberries (1991) and Younger and Younger (1993). Adlon's films were shown in competition regularly at international film festivals, such as the Cannes Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, and others.

Early life[edit]

Adlon was born on June 1, 1935 in Munich, Germany.[4] He grew up in Ammerland, Starnberger See. He studied art, theater history, and German literature at Munich's Ludwig-Maximilian University; took acting and singing classes; and was a member of a student theater group.[5]


Adlon started his professional career as an actor, became interested in radio work, was a narrator and editor of literature series and a presenter and voice-over actor in television for 10 years. In 1970, Adlon made his first short film for Bavarian television, followed by more than 150 documentary films about art and the human condition.[6] His first was a one-hour portrait of French artist and writer Tomi Ungerer, entitled Tomi Ungerer's Landleben. Adlon became fascinated by Ungerer after meeting at an exhibition in Munich and spending time at his home in Nova Scotia, so decided to make him the subject of his first film.[7]

Adlon's first feature film Céleste (1980) was about the relationship between the French writer Marcel Proust and his cook Céleste Albaret during the last years of Proust's life.[8]

In 1987 he directed Bagdad Cafe, starring Marianne Sägebrecht as a German tourist, CCH Pounder as a motel and truck stop cafe owner in the Mojave Desert, and Jack Palance. Critically acclaimed,[9][10][11][12] Roger Ebert awarded the film 3½ out of 4 stars in his review, stating that "[Percy Adlon] is saying something in this movie about Europe and America, about the old and the new, about the edge of the desert as the edge of the American Dream" and that the charm of Bagdad Cafe is that "every character and every moment is unanticipated, obscurely motivated, of uncertain meaning and vibrating with life".[11] The Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa cited Bagdad Cafe as one of his 100 favorite films.[13]

In 1989, Adlon directed Rosalie Goes Shopping, starring Sägebrecht, Brad Davis, and Judge Reinhold, which was screened at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival.[14] The film met mixed critical reviews, with Deseret News describing it as "dark satire masquerading as bright comedy" and a comment on American consumerism,[15] while Rita Kempley of The Washington Post considered it to be "deficit of dramatic tension" and thought that Adlon's message was "scatterbrained".[16]

In 1991, Adlon directed Salmonberries, a picture starring k.d. lang as Kotzebue, an orphaned Eskimo and young woman of androgynous appearance who has a lesbian relationship with an East German widowed librarian. The film was generally well-received,[17] with Kevin Thomas of the L.A. Times describing it as "endearing, remarkably assured and stunning-looking" and noted that Adlon with sensitivity "raises crucial questions of cultural and sexual identity",[18] though Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it a "halting, awkward effort" with "stilted direction" and "sharp camera angles, arty editing".[19]

In 1993, Adlon directed the film Younger and Younger, starring Donald Sutherland, Brendan Fraser and Lolita Davidovich. The film won Adlon the Silver Raven Award at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival.[20] Leonard Klady of Variety considered it to be an "unusual human comedy", a family yarn which "spins out from its simple premise into fantasy, music, black comedy and innumerable offbeat digressions." Klady further noted that the film illustrated "Adlon's unique method of tackling everyday life", which has "ironically been the greatest strength and most problematic aspect to his commercial appeal".[21]

In 1997, Adlon co-produced Eat Your Heart Out, a romantic comedy film filmed in Venice Beach, California, which was directed by his son, Felix Adlon [de].[22]

Adlon co-directed his final picture, Mahler on the Couch (2010) with his son Felix, a period film about an affair between Alma Mahler and Walter Gropius, and the subsequent psychoanalysis of Mahler's husband Gustav Mahler by Sigmund Freud. In a review for The Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt wrote that the film "manages to pose a serious, intimate study in obsessive jealousy while, like a gaga celebrity hunter, bumping into just about everybody who's anybody in Viennese society circa 1910... The film's great gift, though, is Romaner... She fully inhabits the role of this complex personality whose passion for love and art collides with her role of wife and mother."[23]

Personal life[edit]

Percy Adlon was the great-grandson of Lorenz Adlon, the founder of the Hotel Adlon. He was the grandson of Louis Adlon Sr.,[24] and the son of opera tenor Rudolf Laubenthal [de].[25] His son, Felix, also a film director, is the former husband of American actress Pamela Adlon and the father of her three daughters, including actresses Odessa and Gideon Adlon.[26]

Percy and Eleonore Adlon lived in Pacific Palisades, California.[1] Percy Adlon died there on 10 March 2024, at the age of 88.[6][27]

Thomas Meyerhöfer [de] is a half-brother of Percy, 15 years younger and son of Emil Meyerhöfer.[28][29][30][31]


Award Year Recipient(s) Category Result Ref.
Adolf Grimme Awards, Germany 1979 The Guardian and His Poet (1978) Award in Gold Fiction/Entertainment Won, shared with lead actor Rolf Illig [32]
Amanda Award, Norway 1989 Bagdad Cafe (1987) Best Foreign Feature Film (Årets utenlandske spillefilm) Won [33]
Bavarian Film Awards 1988 Bagdad Cafe (1987) Best Screenplay (Drehbuchpreis) Won, shared with Eleanore Adlon [33]
Fünf letzte Tage (1982) Best Direction Won [20]
Bavarian TV Awards 1997 The Glamorous World of the Adlon Hotel (1996) Directing Won [34]
Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film (BIFFF) 1994 Younger and Younger (1993) Silver Raven Won [20]
Cannes Film Festival 1989 Rosalie Goes Shopping (1989) Palme d'Or Nominated [35]
Chicago International Film Festival 1984 The Swing (1983) Gold Hugo Best Feature Nominated [36]
Fünf letzte Tage (1982) Gold Hugo Best Feature Nominated
Céleste (1980) Gold Hugo Best Feature Nominated [37]
César Awards 1989 Bagdad Cafe (1987) Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger) Won [33]
Bagdad Cafe (1987) Best Film of the European Community (Meilleur film de l'Europe communautaire) Won [38]
Ernst Lubitsch Award 1988 Bagdad Cafe (1987) Ernst Lubitsch Award Won [33]
Film Independent Spirit Awards 1989 Bagdad Cafe (1987) Best Foreign Film Nominated [39]
French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Award 1989 Bagdad Cafe (1987) Best Foreign Film Won,
tied with The Dead
Guild of German Art House Cinemas 1989 Bagdad Cafe (1987) Gold German Film (Deutscher Film) Won
Céleste (1980) Silver German Film (Deutscher Film) Nominated
Manhattan Film Festival 2012 Céleste (1980) Buzz Award Won
Medias Central European Film Festival 7+1 2011 Mahler on the Couch (2010) Audience Award Best Picture Won, shared with Felix Adlon [de]
Montreal World Film Festival 1991 Salmonberries (1991) Grand Prix des Amériques Won
Robert Festival 1989 Bagdad Cafe (1987) Best Foreign Film (Årets udenlandske spillefilm) Won
Tokyo International Film Festival 1993 Younger and Younger (1993) Tokyo Grand Prix Nominated
Valladolid International Film Festival 1985 Sugarbaby (1985) Silver Spike Won [40]
Venice Film Festival 1982 Fünf letzte Tage (1982) OCIC Award Won [41]
Fünf letzte Tage (1982) Golden Lion Won


Other work[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Bock, Hans-Michael; Bergfelder, Tim, eds. (2009). The Concise Cinegraph: Encyclopaedia of German Cinema. New York: Berghahn Books. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-1-57181-655-9.
  • Haase, Christine (2007). "4: Crossing Boundaries, Connecting People: The German-American Films of Percy Adlon". When Heimat Meets Hollywood Book: German Filmmakers and America, 1985-2005. Boydell & Brewer. pp. 134–161. JSTOR 10.7722/j.ctt16314n0.
  • Milicia, Joseph (2000). "Percy Adlon". In Pendergast, Tom; Pendergast, Sara (eds.). International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers. Vol. 2 (4 ed.). St. James Press. ISBN 978-1-55862-449-8. OCLC 611728059. Retrieved 21 July 2022. he has still achieved a handful of works which remain important and distinctive, particularly for their mixture of cool detachment and genuine compassion for lonely eccentrics.
  • Lühr, Tanja (23 September 2020). "Percy Adlon, ein vielseitiger Regisseur" [Percy Adlon, a more versatile director]. Münchner Merkur (in German).


  1. ^ a b Official bio
  2. ^ Hans Günther Pflaum; Hans Helmut Prinzler (1993). Cinema in the Federal Republic of Germany: The New German Film, Origins and Present Situation : with a Section on GDR Cinema : a Handbook (in German). Inter Nationes.
  3. ^ Forde, John (2006). "Percy Adlon". In Gerstner, David A. (ed.). Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture (1 ed.). Routledge. p. 7. ISBN 9780415306515. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  4. ^ "Our guest on 04.07.2010 Percy Adlon – filmmaker, author, producer". 5 July 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  5. ^ "Percy Adlon" (in German). Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  6. ^ a b "FIlmemacher Percy Adlon stirbt mit 88 Jahren" (in German). 11 March 2024. Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  7. ^ "Tomi Ungerers Landleben" (in German). Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  8. ^ "'Celeste', A Memoir Of Proust". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Thomas, Kevin (23 June 1988). "MOVIE REVIEW: 'Bagdad Cafe' Serves Endearing and Quirky Version of America – Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  10. ^ Maslin, Janet (22 April 1988). "Review/Film; Exotic U.S. In Bavarian Perspective". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  11. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (9 September 1988). "Bagdad Cafe movie review". Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  12. ^ "Bagdad Cafe", Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved 20 January 2022
  13. ^ Thomas-Mason, Lee (12 January 2021). "From Stanley Kubrick to Martin Scorsese: Akira Kurosawa once named his top 100 favourite films of all time". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  14. ^ Cannes Film Festival, All the films - Festival 1989. Retrieved 2007-05-26.
  15. ^ Hicks, Chris (19 May 1990). "Rosalie Goes Shopping". Deseret News. Archived from the original on 11 February 2002. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  16. ^ Kempley, Rita (23 March 1990). "Rosalie Goes Shopping". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  17. ^ a b "SALMONBERRIES (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  18. ^ Thomas, Kevin (7 April 1994). "MOVIE REVIEW : HEAD'Salmonberries' Goes Off the Beaten Path". L. A. Times. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  19. ^ Maslin, Janet (1994). "FILM REVIEW; K. D. Lang's Debut, In an Alaskan Chill". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Adlon, Percy".
  21. ^ a b Klady, Leonard (9 June 1993). "Younger and Younger". Variety. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  22. ^ Robinson, George (15 May 2012). "A Father-And-Son Team Take On Freud And Mahler". NY Jewish Week.
  23. ^ a b "Mahler on the Couch - Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  24. ^ Adlon, Hedda (30 December 1994). Hotel Adlon (in German). Heyne. ISBN 9783453009264 – via Google Books.
  25. ^ "Our guest on 04.07.2010 Percy Adlon – filmmaker, author, producer | DW | 08.10.2010". Deutsche Welle.
  26. ^ Battan, Carrie (4 February 2019). "Pamela Adlon, the TV Auteur Hiding in Plain Sight". The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 March 2024.
  27. ^ ""Out of Rosenheim" director dies at 88". 11 March 2024. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  28. ^ "Ein "Ciao" zum Abschied: Thomas Meyerhöfer geht in den Ruhestand -". Bayerischer Rundfunk. 29 June 2015.
  29. ^ "Das Werdenfels-Gymnasium Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1913 bis 200" (PDF). (in German). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  30. ^ Rundfunk, Bayerischer. "Eins zu Eins. Der Talk - Bayern 2 - Download, MP3, Video - Podcast - BR". (in German).
  31. ^ "radioWelt: Thomas Meyerhöfer - ModeratorInnen - Bayern 2 - Radio -" (in German). 26 January 2012. Archived from the original on 26 January 2012.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  32. ^ a b "Percy Adlon". Der Audio Verlag (in German). 2024. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g "Shout! Factory Reissues 'Bagdad Cafe' on Digital Platforms". Media Play News. 19 April 2021.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h "Bayerischer Filmemacher im Exil". Bayerischer Rundfunk (in German). 2 March 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  35. ^ "Official Selection 1989: All the Selection". Archived from the original on 14 December 2013.
  37. ^ a b CÉLESTE
  38. ^ "Cesar Awards (France) - Best European Union Film (Meilleur film de l'Union Européenne): All winners". (in German). 2024. Retrieved 18 March 2024.
  41. ^ a b c Fünf letzte Tage: 1982
  42. ^ "Out of Rosenheim (1987)". Swedish Film Institute. 15 March 2014. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014.
  43. ^ Elley, Derek (6 July 2001). "Hawaiian Gardens". Variety. Retrieved 18 March 2024.
  44. ^ "Koenig's Sphere: The German Sculptor Fritz Koenig at Ground Zero (2001)". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 18 March 2024.
  45. ^ Gershon, Joel (26 October 2007). "Japan's 'Khan' opens Thai fest". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 March 2024. There is also a retrospective on the career of German director Percy Adlon, who will be on hand. His 1987 "Bagdad Cafe," which earned him awards and high accolades, will be shown along with his recent documentary, "Orbela's People."

External links[edit]