A bulky German character player with small, often sad eyes and heavy facial features, Lamprecht in middle age played a number of key roles, some of them leads, in films during the 1970s and 80s. Very much of a working class, "big lug" type, Lamprecht has sometimes been compared to an earlier German star, Emil Jannings, for the penchant for stoical yet masochistic suffering which his characters often seem to indulge. On occasion, though, Lamprecht's roles have been of a heartier and more cheerful nature, placing him in a tradition of slovenly, good-natured joes ranging from Wallace Beery to John Goodman. And sometimes Lamprecht's harsh military types or sullen oafs can implode with their own anger or neurosis like Rod Steiger or Ned Beatty.
Several of Lamprecht's most notable film performances were directed by one of the giants of New German Cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder; Lamprecht first acted for him in "Martha" (1973). He also played a supporting role in Fassbinder's superb "The Marriage of Maria Braun" (1978), but Lamprecht's most important work for the director, indeed, his most important work in film, was in the leading role of Franz Biberkopf in Fassbinder's monumental 15 1/2-hour "Berlin Alexanderplatz" (1980). Made as a miniseries for German TV but given an international theatrical release, Fassbinder's detailed and absorbing epic adapted Alfred Doblin's novel about the travails of a dull-witted transit worker released from prison after accidentally killing his girlfriend. Lamprecht was quite extraordinary as the hapless center of gravity as Biberkopf is drawn into and betrayed by Berlin's underworld in the days spanning from the end of WWI to the Nazi era.
Lamprecht had played proletarian leading roles in films such as mild small-town comedy "The Baker's Bread" (1976) before his great success in Fassbinder's miniseries. He also played the leading role in the German TV-movie, "Frontiers of Darkness" (1978). The early 80s, though, saw a brief period of greater exposure for the actor, including a part as a captain in the sterling ensemble of Wolfgang Petersen's grim suspenser, "Das Boot" (1981). Lamprecht was called on to suffer again in the old-fashioned tearjerker "Love Is Not an Argument" (1983), as a man whose wife has an affair with their daughter's boyfriend. Better received was the Warsaw Ghetto-set Holocaust drama "Fair Game" (1983), in which he played a compliant German commandant. Leading roles gradually petered out, but Lamprecht did work in various German media, and played prominent character parts in films such as "Super" and "Red Kiss" (1985).