Krimi Korral #2

Der Hexer (Vohrer, 1964) aka The Mad Magician


Der Hexer is one of the best-remembered of the Rialto Studios krimis, thought by some to be the best of the whole run. It nudges a little closer to early Bondian territory than most entries, what with a more playboyish Inspector and renting studio tank time for underwater filming. The score goes pretty far in its quest for jazzbo freakout status. It’s casually amoral without being prurient. It’s enjoyable, but not quite top-rank for me. I was disappointed Eddi Arent didn’t get to do much, and the total absence of Klaus Kinski is never a good thing. I think generically I prefer the family curse/inheritance krimis I’ve seen over the revenge/master criminal ones. Still, Alfred Vohrer directs with some spunk and it’s certainly a diverting 82 minutes. Recommended.

This girl is eavesdropping on her up-to-no-good boss’ call when this fellow creeps up. We get the mandatory shot of the killer slowly reaching for the neck from behind. The only weird thing here is the absence of the trademark black gloves.

This is not neccessarily vacant acting – this is an attempt to depict being dead. The girl’s body is placed in this odd two-man submersible.

Color! As per usual in the B&W entries in the series, the title card and sometimes the credits are in color. Accompanying the credits is composer Pete Thomas’ crazy theme song “Der Hexer”, which suggests to me epileptic orangutans. I mean that as a compliment.

The sub sails out to deeper darker waters where the girls’ body is ejected. Turns out she was the sister of The Hexer, a well-known vigilante/criminal who has been in hiding out of England for some time after causing several baddies to commit suicide. I think we’re meant to think that this is like unwittingly killing Batman’s sister – he’s unlikely to let it lie. Cops and robbers alike are convinced The Hexer will now return to England to exact vengeance.

Series regular Joachim Fuchsberger, as yet another of his interchangeable Scotland Yard Inspectors. This one is named Higgins, and he’s in something of a tug of war between his fiance and his secretary. They both call him “Higgy”.

Some classic rear-projection driving cheese. Note those authentic London backdrops! It’s the number 14 to Putney!

Naturally, the villain’s wall-mounted bearskin rug has a door buzzer mounted in its ear, to open the passage to the secret tunnels (aka the Criminal Tradesman’s entrance).

Aha, the old surveill-the-hotel-lobby-through-the-hole-in-the-newspaper trick!

Fuchsberger together with Heinz Drache, for once in a Krimi together. They more typically took turns playing the Scotland Yard hero. This time out Drache is the prime Hexer suspect.

Now there’s the black glove!

“What shall we do darling, drink or smoke? Why not both?” They drink, they smoke, they lie around, until interrupted by a phone call from Higgy’s secretary…

…who’s also smoking! This must be 1964! Puff away, you teutonic chimneys!

Aha, the old secret-lever-to-collapse-the-staircase trick! The lever-puller badguy is wearing a priest getup, another common trope of the series.

Series stalwart/comic relief Eddi Arent gets a much smaller role than usual this time out, as new butler to the criminals and possible undercover Hexer.

Aha, the old up-through-the insides-of-a-rotary-phone camera setup!

The cast gathers, the lights flicker as they expect The Hexer to appear. The lights go out and this title card comes up:

My german’s nothing special, but this should be “Do you want to know who The Hexer is now?”

The lights are restored, revenge has been exacted. The Hexer gives them the slip, leaving behind a mask. His/her identity is revealed, but I’ll not post it here. A year later, the sequel Neues vom Hexer was produced, continuing the chase.




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