Posts tagged: Klaus Kinski

Krimi Korral #4: The Indian Scarf

indian scarf

Das Indische Tuch aka The Indian Scarf (Alfred Vohrer, 1963)


I responded quite positively to this one, finding it possibly my favorite in the Rialto/Wallace series that I’ve seen thus far. I suspect I’m on a bit of an island in feeling that way. I like these “Ten Little Indians”-ish stories, with a finite number of suspects being inexorably reduced. It features more than the normal helping of humor, and more than a little of that humor being of the meta, fourth-wall breaking variety. Think mid-period Avengers and you’re about there.

In slowly working my way through these films, there have been some surprises. I’m surprised by how amused I am by Eddi Arent. I’m surprised at how well the Pete Thomas scores consistently work. What I did not imagine I could be surprised by is finding any great tonal deviations between the films. The reputation of the Rialto Krimis is very much one of formula – a handful of basic plots reworked a handful of ways by a handful of directors working with a handful of core actors. A product. And yet I have been surprised by some varying tones within these strict bounds. The style of self-knowing comedy here is alien to the similarly-plotted The Strange Countess from just two years earlier. This is all to the good, and a reason to keep going back to the Krimi well.


This gimmick is used twice. The setting, a rich old English mansion, is presented as a tapestry, which is then raised like a curtain to create a proscenium arch effect. The artificiality of film is frequently referenced, and suspension of disbelief is actively foiled. Director Vohrer insists we watch self-referentially.

The same tapestry later on, as characters convene in the mansion. The lights go on!


Edward, the strange scion of this wealthy family. This tableau sort of hits the visual nail on the head for what is to come – a fair number of statues/effigies with a wtf-juxtaposition. A stuffed horse? In one’s bedroom? Sure, everything’s hunky-dory around here!


His father, Lord Lebanon. The first victim of the scarf strangler.



The phone falls as he dies, from which we receive the standard opening catchphrase:

Halloo! Hier ist Edgar Wallace!



Always happy to see Eddi Arent’s credit come up.


Lord Lebanon’s survivors gather for the reading of his will. The lawyer administering, and hero for this entry is played by Heinz Drache. Joachim Fuchsberger gets to take a break.



Events conspire to belay the reading of the will, allowing us to evaluate this band of potential heirs: the predictable collection of blowhards, kooks, connivers, secret long-lost relatives, inscrutible servants, and the sweet innocent young girl. The actress playing the girl is named, no kidding, Corny Collins. Nothing whatsoever to do with the emcee from Hairspray, I assure you.

Naturally, the power goes out and the phone lines are cut, because how’s a crazy killer s’posedta go on a locked-house murder spree without doing that?



Black-gloved killer, reporting for duty!


Comin’ at ya with scary fashion accessories!

Drache goes investigating, discovering secret passages and tunnels connecting rooms. What would a Wallace Krimi be without secret underground passageways?


This one emerges into a false shelf in an armoire. As luck would have it, it’s Corny Collins’ room, and she just happens to be undressing. Our hero pervs out.



Let’s move on from the appetizers to the main event – Klaus Kinski!:


Klaus shatters a glass in his bare hand, providing this lovely still. It looks like he’s got a fistful of fiberglass.


Klaus plays an illegitmate son of the Lord, an angry artist, and consumer of injectible “medicine”.



Ady Berber, the blind killer of Dead Eyes Of London, here plays an idiot servant whom Klaus is making a bust of.


Love them disembodied black glove shots!



A nice juxtaposition in back-to-back scenes. First Heinz confronts Klaus across his bust-in-progress, then young Lord Edward and a relative talk around this giant bust (Beethoven?) in the next scene.


Klaus gives us the crazy eyes that made him famous.


Every mansion needs a steam room.


The killer goes for a twofer.


Every time another person in the house is killed, Butler Arent wordlessly removes a place setting at the dining room table. In one of the meta-movie moments, he silently beckons a wheeled serving table to come to him of its own power. It does. He places dishes on it and motions it away. It zooms off.


Going up to feed the pigeons, Eddi notices legs dangling in midair where the should not be


The end of Ady Berber.


Evidently the soup was not to his liking. I’d say they’re dropping like flies now, but flies are hardier than this.


Heinz is trapped in the dungeon, leaving Klaus free to menace Corny Collins:



Hairy tarantulas, weapon of choice for bound girl terrorizing.


I have no, repeat NO use for a mansion that doesn’t feature inexplicable hanging skeletons and cobwebs in the basement.


The end of Klaus Kinski.


Actor Hans Clarin as Edward Lebanon, giving Klaus a run for his money in the crazy eyes department.


In the wrapup, the will finally gets read, with no one left alive to hear it but Corny and the Butler.


Another sight gag. As Heinz begins reading, all the empty chairs around the table lean forward, as if occupied by the ghosts of all the now-dead family members, still caring about how they all came out in the will. Heinz, slightly irritated, tells them all to calm down. He comes to the punchline, telling them that Lord Lebanon has left the lot to “The greatest author of the 20th century…” (he addresses the camera)…Edgar Wallace!

Krimi Korral #1

Das Indische Tuch, aka The Indian Scarf, 1963 (Vohrer).  That’s Klaus Kinski under the plaster, by the way.

The Edgar Wallace Krimis were German crime films of the 60s (and a little 50s and a little 70s), derived from Edgar Wallace stories (plus some from his son Bryan).  I’ve never read a one of these, but they certainly moved copies back in the day.  They mostly faded from print in America but remained quite common and popular in several other countries, Germany most conspicuously.  They were mystery/thrillers, sometimes featuring a madman killer, or an evil genius, or some sort of locked house Ten Little Indiansish thing about secret wills and murdering one’s way to an inheritance.  Some of the masked villains would have fit in just swell in a Scooby Doo cartoon. 

There were quite a few cheap english-language film adaptations in the 30s and 40s, but this 60s German incarnation featured jazzy scores, a rotating cadre of detective heroes, a dash of naughty/bloody luridness and a fair amount of fourth wall-breaking humor, of the sort that would eventually find a happy home in The Avengers.  The genre seems to be a substantial tributary to (and die in favor of) the Italian black-gloved killer giallos of the 70s.  To learn more, do check out, which has some nice English-language information.  Also have a look at Video Watchdog #134, where Kim Newman has a lengthy, just-the-facts-ma’am rundown of 8 DVD boxes worth of Rialto Studios Edgar Wallace Krimis.

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