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Der Schwarze Abt

The Black Abbott

West Germany 1963
produced by
Preben Philipsen, Horst Wendlandt, Erwin Gitt (executive) for Rialto
directed by Franz Josef Gottlieb
starring Joachim Fuchsberger, Grit Boettcher, Dieter Borsche, Charles Regnier, Eva Ingeborg Scholz, Werner Peters, Alice Treff, Harry Wüstenhagen, Friedrich Schoenfelder, Eddi Arent, Klaus Kinski, Kurd Pieritz
screenplay by Johannes Kai, Franz Josef Gottlieb, based on the novel by Edgar Wallace, music by Martin Böttcher

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

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Lord Chelford (Dieter Borsche) is possessed by the idea that there's a treasure hidden and Chelford Manor - and it seems it's only thanks to his custodian Alford that he doesn't dig up the whole place. Lord Chelford is also madly in love with Leslie Gine (Grit Boettcher), whom he considers his fiancée, even if she has never officially accepted his proposal, because you know, she's secretly in love with Alford of course. Now Leslie's brother Arthur (Harry Wüsenhagen) is a crooked lawyer who has lost all of his money gambling and has embezzled some of Lord Chelford's money. His right hand man Gilder (Werner Peters) knows that ... because he's Arthur's bookie, and has made quite a fortune from his employer's bad luck. And now he tries to blackmail Arthur in giving him Leslie's hand in marriage, otherwise he'll see to it that he's thrown in the slammer. Something Alford tries to prevent at any cost, because he's also in love with Leslie. There's also Chelford's ex employee Mary Wenner (Eva Ingeborg Scholz), who claims she knows where the Chelford treasure is, and now tries to get Gilder to get her in favour with Chelford again and get Leslie out of the way so she can marry Chelford - in exchange for the treasure. Now on top of all this, there's a killer on the prowl, The Black Abbott, who starts killing people involved with the story, and soon enough everything collapses like a house of cards, and when two Scotland Yard inspectors (Charles Regnier, Eddi Arent) arrive on the scene, they only succeed in creating an even bigger mix-up, until in the very end, Chelford goes totally bonkers and dies in a collapsing tunnel looking for the treasure, Alford is (to nobody's real surprise) revealed to be the good guy of the piece, and of course he gets the girl in the end.

Klaus Kinski plays Lord Chelford's butler, but is little more than a creepy red herring.

 

Even for an Edgar Wallace adaptation, this movie has a very convoluted and confusing plot, with a few too many characters having a few too many hidden motives, while the ending's (almost as per usual) pulled out of the hat rather than grounded in the narrative. But really, if you enjoy German Edgar Wallace movies (as do I), especially from a nostalgic perspective, you've pretty much come and expect this and leave the part of the brain at the door anyways that notices leaps of reason, and then this film becomes a likeable little romp that moves fast, is full of the usual eccentricities, and is competently enough crafted to entertain in the series' typical, even for the early 1960s slightly old-fashioned way.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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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
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out now on DVD