Der Bucklige von Soho
The Hunchback of Soho
West Germany 1966
Horst Wendlandt, Fritz Klotsch (executive) for Rialto
directed by Alfred Vohrer
starring Günther Stoll, Pinkas Braun, Monika Peitsch, Siegfried Schürenberg, Eddi Arent, Agnes Windeck, Gisela Uhlen, Hubert von Meyerinck, Uta Levka, Suzanne Roquette, Joachim Teege, Hilde Sessak, Susanne Hsiao, Kurt Waitzmann, Ilse Pagé, Albert Bessler, Richard Haller,
screenplay by Herbert Reinecker, based on a story by Edgar Wallace, music by Peter Thomas
Rialto's Edgar Wallace cycle, Edgar Wallace made in Germany, Sir John (Siegfried Schürenberg)
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Wanda Merville (Monika Peitsch) comes to London to accept the
inheritance of her estranged father, no less than half a million Pounds,
but then she's kidnapped, and another woman, Gladys (Uta Levka), is taking
her place while her lawyer (Joachim Teege) is blackmailed into confirming
Gladys is indeed Wanda.
In an at first seemingly unrelated storyline,
Scotland Yard inspector Hopkins (Günter Stoll) is investigating a series
of murders, committed by the mysterious "Strangler", with all of
the victims being pretty girls. Eventually he stumbles over a correctional
facility run by General Perkins (Hubert von Meyerinck) and his wife (Agnes
Windeck), and the General just happens to be Wanda's uncle, but has little
trouble accepting the fake Wanda for the real one. Now the thing about the
correctional facility is that it's actually a recruiting place for a white
slavery and prostitiution racket run by the warden (Hilde Sessak) and the
priest (Eddi Arent), who work in tandem with a casino/brothel run by
sinister Alan Davis (Pinkas Braun) and Mrs Tyndal (Gisela Uhlen), and this
group is also responsible for the kidnapping of Wanda, and for the murders
by the Strangler, who's actually their in-house hunchback (Richard Haller)
taking care of the girls trying to get away. Soon though there's discord
between all the baddies, and eventually they fall one by one, with
inspector Hopkins really more trying to catch up with the body count than
doing any actual investigating, but at least he can unmask the fake Wanda
- who soon enough bites the dust as well. After the dust settles though,
Hopkins pulls the "real culprit" out of the hat, General
Perkins, who of course wanted Wanda's inheritance, and a bit of money from
white slavery on the side can't hurt much either.
takes another turn as Sir John, chief of Scotland Yard.
first German Edgar Wallace film shot in colour - and that's probably the
only attribute that makes this one special, as everything else is as it
always was, a terribly convoluted story that involves pretty much every
crime you could throw at it and that would stick, plus plenty of secret
passageways and trap doors, and a hunchback on top of all, blended
together in a story that makes little sense and has it's baddie pulled out
of the hat at the end rather than building up to its resolution. Now sure,
people like me will still get a kick out of this for its campiness and
over-reliance on clichés, but in all honesty, while earlier entries into
the series were better murder mysteries, later movies were much funnier
(if often for the wrong reasons).