Schachnovelle (1960)

vt Brainwashed; vt Three Moves to Freedom; vt The Royal Game
West Germany / 102 minutes / bw / Roxy, NF Dir: Gerd Oswald Pr: Luggi Waldleitner Scr: Harold Medford, Gerd Oswald, Herbert Reinecker Story: “Schachnovelle” (1941; vt “The Royal Game”) by Stefan Zweig Cine: Günther Senftleben Cast: Curd Jürgens, Claire Bloom, Hansjörg Felmy, Mario Adorf, Hans Söhnker, Albert Bessler, Rudolf Forster, Alan Gifford, Jan Hendriks, Albert Lieven, Harald Maresch, Dietmar Schönherr, Karel Stepánek, Wolfgang Wahl.


Like Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), this is based on a Stefan Zweig story. It’s a fascinating and distinctly noirish psychological piece, and in most of the important respects it’s surprisingly faithful to the original.

It’s the immediate aftermath of WWII, and the departure of the SS Adria, bound for New York, is being held back to await, as First Officer Nadis (Hendriks) explains to Glasgow blowhard MacIver (Gifford), the arrival of a special passenger. When world chess champion Mirko Czentovic (Adorf) arrives aboard with his manager cum flunkey Baranow (Stepánek), MacIver declares himself honored by the delay; as someone with more than a little experience of the chessboard, he can appreciate a man like Czentovic.


Czentovic (Mario Adorf) and Baranow (Karel Stepánek) arrive at the dockside.

Which is more than Czentovic can do for the Adria or anyone aboard it. It looks like a refugee ship to him, and if he had his druthers he’d travel to his North American tournament in better company. In short, Czentovic is an obnoxiously arrogant toad, a Backpfeifengesicht, and it’s clear some of the Adria’s crew wouldn’t mind decking him.

Nadis tells MacIver that in fact this isn’t the passenger they’re waiting for. The passenger they’re waiting for is someone really special.

When the mystery passenger arrives, in the company of Bishop Ambross (Söhnker), he proves to be Continue reading

Dark Light, The (1951)

UK / 82 minutes / bw / Hammer, Exclusive Dir & Scr: Vernon Sewell Pr: Michael Carreras Cine: Moray Grant Cast: Albert Lieven, David Greene, Norman MacOwan, Martin Benson, Catherine Blake (i.e. Katharine Blake), Jack Stewart, Joan Carol, John Harvey, John Longden.

Yachtsman Roger (Harvey) and his wife Joan (Carol) are sailing near the Thimble Rock Lighthouse when they see that its light is dark. Going ashore with mate Stephen (Longden), they find a Mary Celeste-like situation, the place obviously having been not long abandoned, albeit in orderly fashion . . .

Flashback to the previous day, when the three-strong crew of the lighthouse—young, near-simpleminded Johnny (Greene), older, cynical Matt (Stewart) and skipper Rigby (MacOwan)—rescue the occupants of a dinghy—Mark Conway (Lieven), Linda (Blake) and Luigi (Benson)—who tell a story of their yacht having foundered. We soon find out that in fact the trio are bank robbers on the run, that under cover of fog they scuppered their escape vessel, the Egret, and that during the robbery Luigi fatally shot a cashier.

The Dark Light - 1 'Coo - one of them's a girl' says Johnny of the dinghy

“Coo — one of them’s a girl,” says sharp-eyed Johnny of the dinghy.

Skipper Rigby is adamant that the trio stay aboard until morning, when help can be sought from a passing ship, but unsurprisingly they want to be well away by then. They rope Matt in to aid them in getting to the French coast and then, when it emerges they’ll have to row the whole way, Linda uses lies and half-promises to lure Johnny into joining them. Just before they depart, unknown to the others, Luigi goes back and, after a fight, murders Continue reading