The Indian Scarf
Here is another German Krimi, this one also based
on an Edgar Wallace writing (The Frightened Lady). As were most of these
Wallace German adaptations it was produced by Rialto Film. Rialto was to
gain the rights to many of the Wallace works and made about 32 films from
them beginning in 1959. This is directed by Alfred Vohrer who Rialto used
a number of times (he also directed Creature with the Blue Hand) for this
series of films. What is rather amusing is that Wallace was not just a line
on the credits but was a large part of the marketing and he is mentioned
twice in the film - at the beginning and at the very end. Though it makes
no sense in terms of the film.
There are more than a few similarities between this one and Creature with
the Blue Hand - murders taking place in a large mansion with more hidden
doors, peepholes and passages than a House of Horrors at an amusement park,
a house full of people you would never want to sit next to in the dark, an
overbearing mother, an odd and irritating butler and a long list of suspects
that slowly dwindle to a precious few. This also has strong similarities
to Christie's And Then There Were None. There isn't much of a plot but there
really doesn't have to be - gather a group of mainly unlikable people in
a house and kill them off one after the other. It might have been more interesting
if they had come up with more imaginative ways to kill the people but they
are all strangled by an Indian scarf.
Of course for this to work, you have to come up with a scenario in which
people just don't leave after the first or certainly by the second killing.
Here we have greed as the main reason to stay. Lord Lebanon is murdered in
the first scene while waiting for a call from . . . Edgar Wallace - but this
is covered up to be a heart attack and his family from around the world gathers
to hear the reading of the will - a married couple that hate each other,
a man who has returned from the Amazon and brought a poisonous spider with
him as company, a crazy twitchy eye popping illegitimate son (who else but
Klaus Kinski), a protective mother and her piano playing weakling of a son,
a greedy reverend, the corrupt doctor, a lawyer and the beauty of the story.
All in their own way worth killing. Not to mention the bizarre butler whose
serving tray on wheels follows his instructions like this is the Addams Family
(Eddi Arent - a regular in these films) and a giant of a handy man (Ady Berber
- kind of a Tor Johnson lookalike who also appeared in a bunch of these krimi's).
They sit down to hear the will, all excited with avarice when the lawyer
(Heinz Drache) tells them there are conditions - the will is to be read in
seven days in which only people who stayed for the entire time will receive
an equal portion. A fine recipe for murder - and an enormous storm has hit
Scotland where this takes place and they are cut off from the mainland and
unable to communicate. The first murder takes place in less time than it
does to mix a gin and tonic. It is shot in black and white and makes good
use of the interiors - there are no exteriors in fact. Fun guessing along
as to the identity of the murderer as the one you guess turns out to be very
wrong and very dead. Even the so-called hero of the film keeps getting it
wrong. Enjoyable enough though some 60 years later it feels like we have
been here before many times.