Strange Adventure, A (1932)

An old dark house and a hooded figure, oo-er!

vt The Wayne Murder Case
US / 60 minutes / bw / Chadwick, Monogram Dir: Phil Whitman Pr: I.E. Chadwick Scr: Lee Chadwick, Hampton Del Ruth Story: Arthur Hoerl Cine: Leon Shamroy Cast: Regis Toomey, June Clyde, Lucille La Verne, Jason Robards Sr, William V. Mong, Eddie Phillips, Dwight Frye, Nadine Dore, Alan Roscoe, Isabelle Vecki, Harry Myers, Eddie Chandler, Snowflake.

A Strange Adventure - closer

Vile old plutocrat Silas Wayne (Mong) is, though still mobile, nearing death. Unmarried, he brings all his nieces and nephews together in his home for a pre-mortem reading of his will. Before the great performance, however, his nephew and secretary Claude Wayne (Phillips) opens the old man’s hidden safe—all the family seems to know where this is, and how to get into it whenever they want to!—and scans the provisions of the will. One of these concerns the housekeeper, Miss Sheen (La Verne):

“To her and her children I leave the Candor diamond, in the hope it will continue to be an evil omen!”

Another relates to his married niece Sarah Boulter (Vecki), who’s to get $100,000 upon the birth of her first child—a prime example of the old man’s psychological sadism because, as we find, he well knew that Continue reading

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.

Bande des Schreckens 0 opener

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.

Monch mit der Peitsch - 0 opener

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.

Blaue Hand - 0 opener

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.

Geheimnis - 2 other opener

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

Frosch mit der Maske, Der (1959)

vt Face of the Frog
West Germany, Denmark / 87 minutes / bw / Constantin-Filmverleih, Rialto-Film, Preben Philipsen Dir: Harald Reinl Pr: Preben Philipsen Scr: Trygve Larsen, J. Joachim Bartsch Story: The Fellowship of the Frog (1925) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Ernst W. Kalinke Cast: Joachim Fuchsberger, Eva Anthes (i.e., Elfie von Kalckreuth), Jochen Brockmann, Karl Lange (i.e., Carl Lange), Dieter Eppler, Eva Pflug, Walter Wilz, Fritz Rasp, Erwin Strahl, Ernst W. Fürbringer, Eddi Arent, Ulrich Beiger, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Michel Hildesheim, Charlotte Scheier-Herold, Siegfried Lowitz, Werner Hedman.

An amiable piece that’s very loosely based on an Edgar Wallace classic; it has the distinction of being the first in the long series of German krimi movies based on Wallace’s work. All London lives in terror of a criminal mastermind, called The Frog because of the goggle-eyed mask he wears to keep his identity a secret even from his closest henchmen; said henchmen, of whom there are nearly three hundred, can be identified by the frog emblem indelibly stamped on their forearms, as we discover when the cops try to infiltrate one of their number, Inspector Genter (Hedman, uncredited), into the gang. Before his gruesome death, Genter was given orders to kill Ray Bennet (Wilz), wastrel son of an enigmatic, taciturn, dictatorial father, John (Lange). The hit is now put in the hands of another henchman, the knife-throwing Everett aka K33 (Beiger), who muffs it, not only throwing his knife at the wrong person but missing.

That wrong person is rich private eye Richard Gordon (Fuchsberger), the nephew of top cop Sir Archibald (Fürbringer), who happens to be supervising the cop who’s leading the hunt for The Frog, Inspector Elk (Lowitz). Richard’s attention has been caught by Ray Bennet’s sister Ella (Anthes), and he is walking with her through the woods near her home when the errant knife is hurled. Unknown as yet to either of them is that The Frog, too, has set his sights on her.

Ray is fired by his boss, Maitland (Rasp), for impertinence. His immediate superior, Philo Johnson (Brockmann), is sympathetic, and indeed it’s not too long before Ray gets another job, this time in an unspecified role at the Lolita nightclub, whose hostess, Lolita (Pflug), easily seduces him into the right state of brainlessness that he doesn’t wonder at all what’s really going on.

Frosch mit der Maske - 3 Lolita gives Ray a job interviewLolita (Eva Pflug) conducts a job interview.

Frosch mit der Maske - 4 Ray () takes the jobRay Bennet (Walter Wilz) agrees to take the job.

We soon discover the club is owned by Maitland . . . except that Maitland’s really just a figurehead for The Frog. The Frog, you see, is hoping that, by framing Ray for murder—the murder of the Lolita club’s manager, Lew Brady (Kolldehoff), in fact—he can 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

Case of the Frightened Lady, The (1940)

vt The Frightened Lady; vt The Scarf Murder Mystery

UK / 80 minutes / bw / Pennant, British Lion Dir: George King Pr: S.W. Smith Scr: Edward Dryhurst Story: The Case of the Frightened Lady (1931 play) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Hone Glendinning Cast: Marius Goring, Penelope Dudley Ward, Helen Haye, Felix Aylmer, George Merritt, Ronald Shiner, Patrick Barr, Roy Emerton, George Hayes, John Warwick, Elizabeth Scott, Torin Thatcher.

In a decaying country pile, Mark’s Priory, live the last of the ancient Lebanon lineage, the widowed Lady Lebanon (Haye), her pianist/composer son William “Willie”, Lord Lebanon (Goring), and the latter’s second cousin, Isla Crane (Dudley Ward), who works as Lady Lebanon’s secretary.

There are many peculiarities about the household. For one, the servants are barred from entering the main portion of the house after 8pm, at which time the two sinister footmen Gilder (Emerton) and Brooks (Hayes) take over. For another, the room in which the late Lord Lebanon spent his last years of illness and eventually died is kept permanently locked. A frequent visitor from London is the sinister physician Dr. Lester Charles Amersham (Aylmer), who seems to have some hold over Lady Lebanon and certainly has been extracting large sums of money from her. And someone has just put a bolt on the outside of the bedroom door of Isla Crane—who’s in consequence the (understandably) frightened lady of the title.

The frightened lady . . . with pursuing shadow . . .

Lady Lebanon is urgently intent that her son marry Isla pronto in order to continue the line. Unfortunately for her plans, Continue reading