(director: Alfred Vohrer; screenwriters: from the novel The Squeaker by Edgar Wallace/H.G. Petersson; cinematographer: Karl Loeb; editor: Hermann Haller; music: Peter Thomas; cast: Heinze Drache (Inspector Elford), Barbara Rutting (Beryl Stedman), Klaus Kinski (Krishna), Heinz Spitzner (Dr. Green), Inge Langin (Millie), Agnes Windeck (Mrs. Nancy Mulford), Günter Pfitzmann (Frankie Sutton), Jan Hendriks (Thomas Leslie), Wolfgang Wahl (Sergeant Lomm), Eddie Arent (Josua ‘Jos’ Harras), Siegfried Schürenberg (Sir Geoffrey Fielding); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Preben Philipsen /Horst Wendlandt; Sinister; 1963-W.Germany/France-in German with English subtitles)

The B-film reminded me of one of those admirable Sherlock Holmes stories they used to show on late-night TV, especially the ones starring Basil Rathbone.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Alfred Vohrer(“Hard Woman”/”An Alibi For Death”/”Dead Eyes of London”) competently directs in widescreen this thriller based on the 1927 mystery novel by Edgar Wallace. It’s part of a series of German films based on Wallace’s stories made during the 1960s. This is the third film version of the same name. The screenplay is written by H.G. Petersson.

London is experiencing a black-gloved killer nicknamed “The Snake” poisoning some selective city residents. The criminal, a feared blackmailer, uses an instrument to release the venom of the black mamba on the underworld victim. The mysterious Snake forces the underworld thieves to sell him their valuable stolen gems for a song or he either rats them out to the police or poisons them.

The leaders of the criminal world and Scotland Yard Inspector Elford (Heinze Drache), in charge of the investigation, are trying to find out the identity of the culprit. The Inspector, because of his investigation, checks out all the suspects involved in diamond robberies. The prime suspect becomes Frankie Sutton (Günter Pfitzmann), the operator of a pet shop that stocks poisonous snakes.

Agnes Windeck steals the show with a great performance as the elderly suspect Mrs. Nancy Mulford, who is involved in helping ex-convicts. Her husband had committed suicide years earlier and left the business, Mulford Ltd., to her. She has delegated most of the responsibilities of running the business to the manager Frankie Sutton. Meanwhile Windeck’s niece, Beryl Stedman (Barbara Rutting), is a crime story author and court reporter.

Also thrown into the mix of suspects is convicted criminal Thomas Leslie (Jan Hendriks), just released from spending two years behind bars when hired by Windeck. He works in the warehouse, where the poisonous snakes are kept. Thomas and Frankie’s secretary Millie (Inge Langen) are seen trying to break into the company safe, which makes her also a suspect. While another suspect who works in the warehouse is the peculiar Krishna (Klaus Kinski), who prowls around the place in a menacing silence.

For comic relief, Harras (Eddi Arent), the Telegraph newspaper reporter, tries to placate his crotchety boss Gerald Fielding (Siegfried Schürenberg) by getting the scoop on the murders before a rival newspaper reporter does.

In the Inspector’s thorough investigation, he finds the typing used at Mulford Ltd. is the same as the blackmailer’s notes. Thereby the Inspector cunningly gets a confession by setting a Charlie Chan-like trap for the suspect.

The B-film reminded me of one of those admirable Sherlock Holmes stories they used to show on late-night TV, especially the ones starring Basil Rathbone.