West Germany 1963
Horst Wendlandt for Rialto
directed by Alfred Vohrer
starring Heinz Drache, Barbara Rütting, Günter Pfitzmann, Jan Hendriks, Inge Langen, Agnes Windeck, Wolfgang Wahl, Siegfried Wischnewski, Siegfried Schürenberg, Albert Bessler, Heinz Spitzner, Erik von Loewis, Stanislav Ledinek, Winfried Groth, Eddi Arent, Klaus Kinski, Michael Chevalier
screenplay by Harald G. Petersson, based on the novel by Edgar Wallace, music by Peter Thomas
Rialto's Edgar Wallace cycle, Edgar Wallace made in Germany
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Criminals are dying left and right, and it's all the work of the
myserious Squeaker, who's believed to be a fence who has the habit to kill
those who refuse to sell to him at a too low price. More often than not,
the Squeaker uses the poison of a mamba to take out his prey, sometimes
via blow darts, sometimes via the snake itself. This eventually leads
Scotland Yard inspector Elford (Heinz Drache) to animal trader Sutton
(Günter Pfitzman), who has made exotic animals his specialty. Sutton in
turn is engaged to Beryl Stedman (Barbara Rütting), a crime novelist and
niece of rich philanthropist Lady Mulford (Agnes Windeck), who runs a
charity that among other things helps ex-convicts to reintegrate into
society by giving them jobs - among others at Sutton's company.
Eventually, one of Sutton's employees, the mute Krishna (Klaus Kinski), is
identified as the Squeaker's hitman, and as for the Squeaker, Elford
eventually starts to suspect Sutton, who tries to skip country together
with Beryl, a plan that's ultimately spoiled by his secretary Millie (Inge
Langen), who's then eventually killed by one of Sutton's snakes. In the
finale, Lady Mulford invites Sutton over for tea and confronts him with
her suspicion that he has driven her husband to suicide - but when Sutton
wants to "silence" her for that, he has to realize she has
drugged him to hand him over to Scotland Yard for the picking.
Arent plays a journalist desparate to try to get a job at reluctant
Siegfried Schürenberg's newspaper until it's revealed that he's actually
the top journalist of the rival paper in town.
As is pretty
much the rule for German Edgar Wallace movies, this one doesn't make
perfect sense. Basically the idea itself that the Squeaker would use snake
poison that can easily be traced back to his legal business instead of
pretty much anything else borders utter stupidity - but to be quite
honest, it's these lacks of reason and other narrative shortcomings that
make these movies even more charming. The story of this film as such feels
much more like a patchwork of thriller mainstays than anything else, but
even though the film, overconvoluted as it might be, is told stringently
and with plenty of action and suspense. No classic by any meaning of the
word, but a pointless yet fun ride on the nostalgia train.