Erwin C. Dietrich

Erwin C. Dietrich (4 October 1930 in Glarus[1] – 15 March 2018 in Zurich)[2][3] was a Swiss film director, producer and actor, often regarded as one of the most influential cinematographers in Switzerland.

Erwin C. Dietrich
Born(1930-10-04)4 October 1930
Glarus, Switzerland
Died15 March 2018(2018-03-15) (aged 87)
Zurich, Switzerland
OccupationFilm director, film producer, actor, cinematographer


He quit his dream of becoming an actor rather early on and instead started focusing on his sense for artistic trends appealing to audiences. Starting in 1955 he began producing movies, first with his company "Urania": The films The Man in the Black Derby and The Model Husband starring Swiss comedian Walter Roderer turned into big successes. At around the time where the "Edgar Wallace" thrillers became popular in Germany, Erwin brought Nylon Noose and The Strangler of the Tower starring German movie stars, such as Dietmar Schönherr, to the cinemas.

He achieved commercial success with his directorial debut in 1968, the film adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's novel The Colonel's Nieces. Over 45 more films followed until 1980. Movies that he either directed or produced, often using pseudonyms such "Michael Thomas" or "Manfred Gregor" under the umbrella of newly "Elite-Film" (later: "Ascot Film GmbH"). Most of these movies came to life in a very informal environment, with a small crew in his studios in Rümlang, where the set pieces were rearranged on the fly. Some highlights can be found, in particular those starring Ingrid Steeger or French erotic star number one, Brigitte Lahaie. These movies have meanwhile advanced to cult status and are long running favorites at movie festivals and in home cinemas worldwide. Erwin often mentioned his favorite movie to be his remake of THE COLONEL’S NIECES, starring Brigitte Lahaie.

Jess Franco, who for years has been ridiculed as a cheap grunge director and yet in the end received the "Goya" award, the Spanish Oscar, made 17 films in this work period with Erwin C. Dietrich and called it the most productive and pleasant period of his career. Film such as Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun or Jack the Ripper with performances by Klaus Kinski were praised by industry friends and fans such as Joe Dante and Quentin Tarantino who once called Erwin the "Swiss Roger Corman".

The Story of Piera produced by him and directed by Marco Ferreri, starring Isabelle Huppert and Marcello Mastroianni, may not have been a commercially comparable success to Erwin's other productions but it turned into a huge hit at the festivals, and Hanna Schygulla received the "Golden Palm" in Cannes for her performance.

The action film The Wild Geese which he co-produced with Euan Lloyd garnered him international recognition. The cast included Richard Harris, Roger Moore, Richard Burton, and Hardy Krüger did its share; the movie was seen by 4 million movie-goers in Germany alone and advanced to become a huge blockbuster in 1978, ultimately winning the "Goldene Leinwand" award. Following this success Erwin launched similar additional big productions on the big screen, including Escape to Athena and The Sea Wolves. Convinced by their success Erwin began production along with business partner Peter Baumgartner (and Peter's dubbing studios in Berlin, "Cinephon") three action spectacles to be shot in the Philippines. Emphasized by a gigantic marketing campaign (including an ecstatic Klaus Kinski dominating the promo tour) he released in the mid-80s the "mercenary trilogy" consisting of Code Name: Wild Geese, Commando Leopard and The Commander on the big screen, the cast included Klaus Kinski, Ernest Borgnine, and Lee Van Cleef.

During that time he also opened up the first cinema-multiplex in Switzerland called "Capitol". Later he expanded it with the "Cinemax". In the beginning of the 1990s, after the dance film Dance Academy 2: Dance to Win, the two Swiss comedies Ein Schweizer Names Notzli and Der Doppelte Notzli, Deitrich retired from the active movie production business and committed himself to his movie distribution company "Ascot-Elite" which was taken over by his children.

Selected filmographyEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Eppenberger, Benedikt; Stapfer, Daniel (2006). Mädchen, Machos und Moneten – Die unglaubliche Geschichte des Schweizer Kinounternehmers Erwin C. Dietrich. Zürich: Verlag Scharfe Stiefel. ISBN 978-3-033-00960-8.


  1. ^ Rico Bandle: Das Schweizer Filmwunder In: Die Weltwoche vom 4. November 2011.
  2. ^ Der Spiegel Nr. 14 vom 31. März 2018, S. 125.
  3. ^

External linksEdit