Rätsel der Roten Orchidee, Das (1962)

vt Secret of the Red Orchid; vt The Puzzle of the Red Orchid
West Germany / 82 minutes / bw / Constantin, Rialto Preben Philipsen Dir: Helmuth Ashley Pr: Horst Wendlandt Scr: Trygve Larsen Story: When the Gangs Came to London (1932) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Franz Lederle Cast: Christopher Lee, Adrian Hoven, Marisa Mell, Pinkas Braun, Christiane Nielsen, Eric Pohlmann, Fritz Rasp, Wolfgang Büttner, Herbert A.E. Böhme, Günther Jerschke, Sigrid von Richthofen, Hans Paetsch, Edgar Wenzel, Benno Gellenbeck, Kurt A. Jung, Klaus Kinski, Eddi Arent.

Red Orchid - 0 opener (Minelli & Steve)

Another of the Rialto/Constantin Edgar Wallace krimis, and as entertaining as any of them, albeit relatively lacking in the series’s hallmark bonkersness: while the plot reaches levels of implausibility that English-language cinema rarely achieves in thrillers outside the James Bond movies and their imitators (but see Operation Diplomat [1953]), it doesn’t have anyone disguising himself in a froglike mask, cunningly using an air pistol to fire poison-tipped darts whose flights are not feathers but plastic models of black widow spiders or prancing around in red monkish attire while brandishing a whip. But there’s plenty of other fun to be had here, not least being a plethora of tremendous, manifestly noir-influenced cinematography, with great exploitation of the black-and-white medium, in particular the use of shadows. In addition there are two noted UK thespians in leading roles, Lee and Pohlmann.

Red Orchid - 1 O'Connor's gang try to enjoy a nice game of poker

O’Connor and his gang try to enjoy a nice game of poker.

In Chicago in 1960 the gang boss O’Connor (uncredited) is playing poker with his buddies in a basement at the Plaza Hotel when a couple of gunmen burst in and mow everyone down. Seemingly the sole member of the gang to escape is Der Schöne Gunner Steve (Kinski), who was late getting to the game but did his best to phone through a warning to his boss. As they depart, the gunmen tell the pile of corpses that they’ve brought a message from rival gang boss Kerkie Minelli (Pohlmann).

Red Orchid - 2 Gunner Steve realizes what's about to go down at the Plaza Hotel

Gunner Steve (Klaus Kinski) realizes what’s about to go down at the Plaza Hotel.

Soon we see Kerkie Minelli being put aboard a ship by Chicago cop Captain Allerman (Lee). The Chicago PD hasn’t been able to get enough evidence against Minelli for the O’Connor murders, but they have enough else on him to Continue reading

Operation Diplomat (1953)

UK / 68 minutes / bw / Nettlefold, Butcher’s Dir: John Guillermin Pr: Ernest G. Roy Scr: A.R. Rawlinson, John Guillermin Story: Operation Diplomat (1952 TV series) by Francis Durbridge Cine: Gerald Gibbs Cast: Guy Rolfe, Lisa Daniely, Patricia Dainton, Sydney Tafler, Ballard Berkeley, Anton Diffring, Michael Golden, James Raglan, Avice Landone, Brian Worth, Eric Berry, Edward Dain, Alexis Chesnakov, Ann Bennett, Jean Hardwicke, William Franklyn, Desmond Llewelyn, Derek Aylward.

Operation Diplomat - 0 opener

Mark Fenton (Rolfe), a surgeon at St. Matthew’s Hospital in London, is strolling along the Thames one evening when a nurse (uncredited; possibly Jean Hardwicke) leaps out of an ambulance to tell him to come quickly: there’s an urgent case he must attend to. Implausibly—but this is a Francis Durbridge tale—he agrees to climb into the back of the ambulance with her, finding not a patient but a sinister, gun-toting man called Wade (Tafler). Wade tells him they must drive a distance to where the patient is, but declines to yield up any more information.

Operation Diplomat - 1a Fenton is walking by the Thames when . . .

Fenton (Guy Rolfe) is walking by the Thames when . . .

Operation Diplomat - 1b. . . a pretty nurse leaps from an ambulance and urges him to come with her

. . . a pretty nurse (uncredited; possibly Jean Hardwicke) leaps from an ambulance and urges him to come with her.

Hours later they arrive at a mansion. Aided by a doctor who’s been struck off the Medical Register, Edward Schröder (Diffring), by the nurse we’ve already met and by a nurse with swoony eyes, Fenton operates on the man, whom we’ll discover before too long is missing diplomat Sir Oliver Peters (Raglan), Chairman of Western Defence. Afterwards, Wade gives Fenton a tumbler of Scotch, which he Continue reading