The other night on the arte channel, a documentary about the Italian actor Carlo Pedersoli, aka Bud Spencer. Now, this was an area of film history of which I have been almost completely unknowledgeable. “Spaghetti westerns” meant Sergio Leone to me (and to most Americans, I assume), but the Terence Hill (aka Mario Girotti)-Bud Spencer-buddy-western-flicks were big over here, especially in Germany, and for a specific reason — the synchronization was really funny. The German dialogues were written by actor Rainer Brandt, who did the German voice-overs for stars like Elvis Presley, Tony Curtis, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Tony Randall. For the Hill-Spencer films he began a style of synchronization which incorporated vernacular puns, broke proscenium and generally veered far from the plot, thereby improving upon the original for German viewers.
This led to another discovery, assisted by the Beau’s own film knowledge — Brandt also did the synchronization for a short-lived UK “action adventure” series starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis, called “The Persuaders!” (in German, “Die Zwei”). While the show flopped in the US (to be fair, it hardly had a chance: it had been aired at the same time as “Mission Impossible”),in Germany Brandt’s dubbed dialogues elevated the show to cult status, with irreverent lines — “Son, quit talking big or they’ll cancel the series”, or “You have to talk faster or you won’t be in sync.” (And we all thought the stuff Bruce Willis did in the series “Moonlighting” was something new and original.) Wikipedia tells me that CBS news looked into this as late as 2006; why then, I have no idea. Bonus trivia: did you know Bruce Willis was born in the Rheinland-Pfalz region of Germany?