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Das Rätsel der roten Orchidee

Secret of the Red Orchid
The Puzzle of the Red Orchid / Das Geheimnis der roten Orchidee / Gangster in London

West Germany 1962
produced by
Horst Wendlandt for Rialto
directed by Helmuth Ashley
starring Christopher Lee, Adrian Hoven, Marisa Mell, Pinkas Braun, Klaus Kinski, Eddi Arent, Christiane Nielsen, Eric Pohlmann, Fritz Rasp, Wolfgang Büttner, Herbert A.E. Böhme, Günther Jerschke, Sigrid von Richthofen, Hans Paetsch, Edgar Wenzel, Hans Zesch-Ballot, Ernst Fritz Fürbringer, Peter Frank, Benno Gellenbeck, Kurt A. Jung, Frank Straass, Konrad Mayerhoff, Xaver von Dombrowsky
screenplay by Egon Eis (as Trygve Larsen, based on the novel When the Gangs Came to London by Edgar Wallace, music by Peter Thomas

Rialto's Edgar Wallace cycle, Edgar Wallace made in Germany

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Over in Chicago, the gang of Kerkie Minelli (Eric Pohlmann) blows the gang of rival O'Connor pretty much to pieces - but FBI man Captain Allerman (Christopher Lee) gets Minelli on lesser charges and deports him to Europe. And ultimately, Minelli settles in London, as does handsome Steve (Klaus Kinski), the only survivor of the O'Connor gang, who now makes a living as a tobacconist.

One year as gone by, and suddenly the wealthies all over town receive blackmail letters prompting them to pay a substantial sum of money or die - something both the Minelli and the O'Connor racket specialized in, so it's only logical that the investigating Scotland Yard inspector Weston (Adrian Hoven) asks Captain Allerman for help. One of those blackmailed is old man Tanner (Fritz Rasp), whose secretary Lilian (Marisa Mell) Weston has grown quite friendly with. He asks for Scotland Yard protection, but is shot before they can arrive. Tanner has left his whole fortune to Lilian, which doesn't faze his only known (estranged) relative, orchid collector Edwin (Pinkas Braun), in the least, but he starts to spend a lot of time with Lilian, and she kind of falls for his charms, much to the dismay of Weston. Thing is, seems there wasn't much of an inheritance left, and soon Lilian has start to work at a bank, with her boss becoming one of the next would be victims, but the FBI lures his assailant (Edgar Wenzel) into a trap. Weston and Allerman find out though that the bank in question might be at the center of the whole affair, so Weston asks Lilian to investigate the vaults.

In the meantime, Minelli and the handsome Steve start a gangwar, followed by an even deadlier seize fire that costs both men their lives while also blowing up Steve's tobacconist's shot and revealing a secret passageway between there and the bank's vault which Weston and Allerman follow just in time to find Edwin confronting Lilian as he's not only the mild-mannered orchid collector everybody has taken him for but also (under another alias and in disguise) the owner of the bank, and of course also O'Connor, that gangster from Chicago, who has somehow escaped his own death. But of course, everything ends happily.

Eddi Arent does the comic relief, playing a butler who has the talent of picking his employers as the next on the blackmailers' lists, thus losing his job due to his respective employer's death on a regular basis.

 

If you take Das Rätsel der Roten Orchidee seriously and try to make perfect sense of it, chances are you'll hit a brick wall pretty soon, as the whole thing is unnecessarily convoluted, contrieved, and not always rooted in reason. Plus, everything's a bit too in-your-face here to make for a solid suspense piece. But all of this is also the charm of the German Edgar Wallace adaptations at large, they're not known for their subtlety or for their concise storytelling, rather for a tad of spectacle, some cheap thrills, a bit of romance thrown in for good measure, all attached to a clichée riddled story that moves swift enough to keep one from overthinking things while watching. Now some of these movies do it better than others, and this one's pretty much average by series standards, it sure enough is ok entertainment, but lacks anything to make is special, one way or the other.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD