Calendar, The (1948)

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An Edgar Wallace yarn about a man addicted to the geegees . . . and to the curves of Greta Gynt!

UK / 77 minutes / bw / Gainsborough, GFD Dir: Arthur Crabtree Pr: Antony Darnborough, Sydney Box Scr: Geoffrey Kerr Story: The Calendar (1929 play) and The Calendar (1930), both by Edgar Wallace Cine: Reg Wyer, Cyril J. Knowles Cast: Greta Gynt, John McCallum, Raymond Lovell, Sonia Holm, Leslie Dwyer, Charles Victor, Felix Aylmer, Noel Howlett, Sydney King, Barry Jones, Diana Dors, Claude Bailey, Desmond Roberts, Fred Payne.

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A modest but rather jolly screen adaptation of one of Edgar Wallace’s plays, which he subsequently rewrote as a novel. In fact, this wasn’t the first adaptation; it was preceded by The Calendar (1931; vt Bachelor’s Folly) dir T. Hayes Hunter, with Herbert Marshall, Edna Best and Anne Grey, which I haven’t seen. This, the 1948 remake, while in theory a thriller has in practice many of the attributes of a bedroom farce, although it’s not really a comedy either: just a piece of entertainment.

Captain Garry Anson (McCallum), a compulsive better on the ponies, owns a string of racers; his trainer is the lovely Lady Mollie Panniford (Holm), who, as a woman, is a rarity in the male-dominated horse-training world of the time. “What you mean is that, as a girlfriend, I’m a pretty good trainer,” she observes ruefully to him at one stage. The reason for the rue is that he’s besotted with Wenda (Gynt), to whom he’s been engaged for many a yonk. Then the news comes that the will of his recently deceased aunt has brought him Continue reading

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Bande des Schreckens, Die (1960)

vt The Terrible People; vt Hand of the Gallows

West Germany / 91 minutes / bw / Rialto, Constantin Dir: Harald Reinl Pr: Helmut Beck Scr: J. Joachim Bartsch, Wolfgang Schnitzler Story: The Terrible People (1926; vt The Gallows’ Hand) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Albert Benitz Cast: Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor, Fritz Rasp, Dieter Eppler, Ulrich Beiger, Karin Kernke, Ernst Fritz Fürbringer, Eddi Arent, Karlgeorg Saebisch, Alf Marholm, Elisabeth Flickenschildt, Otto Collin, Günter Hauer, Josef Dahmen, Werner Hedman.

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One of the earliest in the long series of Rialto/Constantin krimi movies based (increasingly loosely) on the works of Edgar Wallace—it’s #3 on the list if I’ve counted right—this isn’t as bonkers as some of the later entries . . . No, no, no, I take that back. It’s not as flamboyantly bonkers as some of the later entries, but it’s major-league bonkers all the same.

For a long time Inspector Blacky Long (Fuchsberger) of the Yard and his boss Sir Archibald (Fürbringer) have been on the tail of the notorious master-criminal Clay Shelton (Collin), and finally Long nails him in a bank in the act of cashing a fraudulent check. Shelton tries to bluff it out, claiming really to be the check’s token signatory, Colonel Proudley, but no go. He makes a break for it, and before he can be subdued he’s put a fatal bullet into a uniformed copper.

Bande des Schreckens 1 Shelton judges his judgers, soon before hanging

Shelton (Otto Collin) judges his judgers.

On the morning of his 8am hanging, Shelton persuades the prison authorities to summon a collection of individuals to his cell, and to each of them he promises a nasty death even after he himself has departed this mortal bourne. They Continue reading

Mönch mit der Peitsche, Der (1967)

vt The College Girl Murders; vt The Monk with the Whip; vt The Prussic Factor
West Germany, Denmark / 84 minutes / color / Rialto, Preben Philipsen, Constantin Dir: Alfred Vohrer Pr: Horst Wendlandt Scr: Alex Berg (i.e., Herbert Reinecker) Story: The Terror (1927 play) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Karl Löb Cast: Joachim Fuchsberger, Uschi Glas, Siegfried Schürenberg, Grit Böttcher, Konrad Georg, Harry Riebauer, Tilly Lauenstein, Ilse Pagé, Siegfried Rauch, Claus Holm, Günter Meisner, Hans Epskamp, Heinz Spitzner, Jan Hendriks, Rudolf Schündler, Narziss Sokatscheff, Tilo von Berlepsch, Kurt Waitzmann, Suzanne Roquette, Susann Hsiao, Inge Sievers, Ewa Strömberg, Bruno W. Pantel, Kurt Buecheler, Wilhelm Vorwerg.

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One of the long series of krimi movies loosely (usually very loosely) based on works by Edgar Wallace and designed to make as little sense as possible. This one seems intended especially to appeal to fans of the Diana Rigg-era The Avengers (1965–8), with touches of Bondesquerie thrown in.

A mad scientist, Cabble (Vorwerg, who was also one of the movie’s art directors), invents a new poison, based on prussic acid, that can used in aerosol form. He demonstrates its efficacy first on rats and then on his hapless assistant (uncredited), in the latter instance using a spraying device concealed within a hollowed-out book. No sooner has he handed over the formula and the device to his unseen paymaster than he is himself murdered—by a monk clad from head to toe in red, complete with KKK-style hood, who wields a bullwhip Indiana Jones-fashion, wrapping the lash around the victims’ throats and then, Continue reading

Blaue Hand, Die (1967)

vt Creature with the Blue Hand
West Germany, Denmark / 87 minutes / color / Rialto, Preben Philipsen, Constantin Dir: Alfred Vohrer Pr: Horst Wendlandt Scr: Alex Berg (i.e., Herbert Reinecker) Story: The Blue Hand, or Beyond Recall (1925) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Ernst W. Kalinke Cast: Harald Leipnitz, Klaus Kinski, Siegfried Schürenberg, Carl Lange, Ilse Steppat, Diana Körner, Hermann Lenschau, Gudrun Genest, Albert Bessler, Richard Haller, Ilse Pagé, Fred Haltiner, Peter Parten, Thomas Danneberg, Heinz Spitzner, Karin Kenklies.

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But is he?

We open with a court scene in which David Donald “Dave” Emerson (Kinski), son of the third Earl of Emerson, is being sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of the estate gardener, Amory (Haller)—a sentence commuted, because of his diagnosed unsoundness of mind, to indeterminate detention in the mental facility run by Dr. Albert Mangrove (Lange). But Dave’s not long there before someone slips a key into his cell; using it, he’s able to make his escape and flee the few miles home to Gentry Hall through the spookily foggy woods. Once there, he goes to the room of his identical twin Richard (also Kinski); finding him absent, Dave purloins a set of his clothes so that he can pass as his brother.

Also in Gentry Hall are Dave’s other brothers Robert (Parten) and Charles (Danneberg) and the youngest sibling, Myrna (Körner), none of whom can believe that Dave is really guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. More enigmatic on the matter are the ex-stripper stepmother of the Continue reading

Geheimnis der Schwarzen Witwe, Das (1963)

vt The Secret of the Black Widow
WG, Spain / 96 minutes / bw / Germania Dir: F.J. Gottlieb Pr: Alfons Carcasona Scr: Rolf Becker, Alexandra Becker, F.J. Gottlieb Cine: Gottfried Pacheco Cast: O.W. Fischer, Karin Dor, Doris Kirchner, Werner Peters, Eddi Arent, Klaus Kinski, Claude Farell, Gabriel Lopart (i.e., Gabriel Llopart), José Maria Caffarel, Anton Casas, Felix Dafauce, Fernando Sancho, Cris Huerta, Belina.

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A dozen years ago, in 1951, Professor Alfons Avery led an expedition to Mexico in search of Aztec treasure. Because of what was claimed to be a fatal encounter with a black widow spider, he never returned from that expedition. His companions did, however, and with the proceeds from the treasure they were able to set up London Sensations, which has become the most successful newspaper in all England. Now, however, someone is murdering the companions, cunningly using an air pistol to fire poison-tipped darts whose flights are not feathers but plastic models of black widow spiders.

After Morten (uncredited) and Robins (uncredited) are gunned down in this unorthodox fashion, the other Continue reading

Circus of Fear (1966)

vt Das Rätsel des Silbernen Dreieck; vt Scotland Yard auf Heißer Spur; vt Circus of Terror; vt Psycho-Circus

UK, WG / 91 minutes / color / Circus, Proudweeks, Warner-Pathé, Constantin, AIP Dir: John Moxey (i.e., John Llewellyn Moxey) (UK), Werner Jacobs (WG) Pr: Harry Alan Towers Scr: Peter Welbeck (i.e., Harry Alan Towers) Story: see below Cine: Ernest Steward, John von Kotze Cast: Christopher Lee, Leo Genn, Anthony Newlands, Heinz Drache, Eddi Arent, Klaus Kinski, Margaret Lee, Suzy Kendall, Cecil Parker, Victor Maddern, Lawrence James, Tom Bowman, Skip Martin, Maurice Kaufmann, Dennis Blakely.

Circus of Fear - Klaus Kinski as creepy crook Manfred Hart

Klaus Kinski as creepy crook Manfred Hart.

This is usually listed as being based upon The Three Just Men (1926) by Edgar Wallace, but has nothing to do with that novel. It was filmed in color, although most of the copies released to the US (as Psycho-Circus) were in black-and-white.

Circus of Fear - descent from Tower Bridge

The daring descent from Tower Bridge to the waiting boat.

A mysterious criminal mastermind organizes an armored-van heist on London’s Tower Bridge, the gang escaping along the Thames via speedboat. When one of the van guards puts up a fight, he’s shot by his erstwhile colleague, corrupted guard Mason (Maddern). Gang leader Jackson (Bowman) is all for offing Mason, who has turned a simple robbery into a murder case, but the boss, on the phone, issues different instructions: Mason must bring the loot from the heist to The Old Farm, near Windsor. When Mason gets there he finds the place is the winter quarters for Barberini’s Worldwide Circus. He doesn’t have time to discover much more, though, because Continue reading