An extortionist & unscrupulous murderer, calling himself the Red Circle,
is loose in England, invariably targeting rich people for far-fetched
blackmailing schemes, & killing them in cold blood should they call the
police. But one of his victims, Sir Beardmore (Alfred Schlageter), a stubborn
old man, refuses to pay & hires famed private detective Derek Yale
(Klausjürgen Wussow) to protect him. However, Scotland Yad somehow gets wind
of Yale's employment, & unconventional inspector Parr (Karl-Georg Saebisch)
invites himself to guard Beardmore as well ... with a small army of police
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Needless to say, Beardmore is killed novertheless, by bow & arrow, &
pretty much everybody who has been only in the slightest suspicious
beforehands, has been seen at the scene of the crime: Beardmore's nephew Jack
(Thomas Alder), the sole heir & master bow-&-arrow marksman, his
girlfriend (& notorious thief) Thalia (Renate Ewert), shady French
businessman Marle (Richard Lauffen), who is desperate to buy one of Beardmore's
warehouses, ... none of them can however been proven guilty - yet.
Next on the Red Circle's blackmailing list are Beartmore's neighbour, the
rich & greedy Froyant (Fritz Rasp) - incidently the employer of Thalia, who
fires her though upon finding out she's a thief - & the banker Brabazon
(Heinz Klevenow) - who employs Thalia, who has since hooked up with the Red
Circle & who is to control Brabazon from within.
Brabazon soon steals all the money from his own bank to comply with the Red
Circle's demands & is made his prisoner for that (which doesn't make
toomuch sense anymore), & Thalia, who has taken some of the bank's money
for herself, is caught by Parr & Yale with the stolen money ... &
immediately employed by Yale (which makes even less sense).
Soon Froyant's blackmail money is to be handed over at Yale's office, &
despite it being heavily guarded by the police, a thief has somehow sneaked
into the office & managed to overcome Yale & steal his money.
Soon the list of suspect grows longer & longer, with financial
counsellor Osborne (Ulrich Beiger), who has tried his hands at kidnapping,
Froyant, who has stolen the files of a prime suspect from the French police,
& even poice inspector Hackett (Eddi Arent), who is doing quite a bit of
out-of-the-order work on his own, among them, but in the end the Red Circle
turns out to be ... private detective Yale himself, who had escaped the French
hangmen 15 years ago. but now he was too clever for his own good - & he
probably won't escape the British hangman.
& to tie a few loose ends up, Thalia turns out to be not a thief at all,
but inspector Parr's own daughter, who has been working undercover to catch the
Red Circle, & now it is all over, she will look into a brighter future with
Jack Berdmore ... (why she was always caught stealing stuff remains unexplained
While the first of the Rialto-Edgar Wallace adaptations, Der
Frosch mit der Maske at least made modest attempts to be (moderately)
original, Der Rote Kreis, the second movie of the cycle, steeped
kneedeep in (1930's) pulp fiction-motives, with hooded villains, killings by an
array of then-favourite weapons like bow-&-arrow, poison, ..., more
eccentric characters than you can shake your stick at, over-complicated
blackmail schemes, impossible-to-pull heists, & both victims & suspects
falling out of the cupboards (almost literally) ... & this more or less set
the tone for the remaindeer of the series.
This all of course made Rialto's Edgar Wallace-series not the most
original in movie history ... but at the same time gives it an old-fashioned
charm that is hard to ignore.