Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nur Tote Zeugen Schweigen (1962, Spain/Germany)

A stage show hypnotist engaged to his heavily mascaraed female assistant Magda (Eleonra Rossi Drago) is murdered by his jealous partner who was Magda’s main squeeze until the hypnotist came along. A boxer with sticky fingers that moonlights as a flower deliverer (a young Götz George) is framed for the murder, but he manages to escape and sets out to prove his innocence. He doesn’t get far. The denouncement at the end of the film is unexpected primarily because what at first seems to be the most unbelievably idiotic and dated aspect of the film is actually the set up leading to the final twist. Wallace-film regular Heinz Drache is Inspector Kaufman, the good policeman who senses something isn’t kosher about the first murder; his part is a by-the-number repeat of the role he usually played in the Edgar Wallace films.
The film is an early product of Eugen Martin, the man behind such Euro-trash classics as Nightmare Inn (1970) and the eternally popular masterpiece Horror Express (1972). Entitled Ipnosi in Spain and Dummy of Death in English-speaking countries, the film is not really all that special but does pass by quickly enough. It is a typically European early 60s B&W crime film, heavily influenced by the Edgar Wallace films of the day. Although a quick and easy film to watch, Nur Tote Zeugen Schweigen hardly transcends the genre or manages to reach any such inane heights as some of the other Wallace-inspired movies of the time such as The White Spider (1963). Nonetheless, like many of its ilk, Nur Tote Zeugen Schweigen is better than the worst Wallace flicks but worse than the best—which basically means, if you like the early B&W German Wallace productions, which I do, you’ll probably like Nur Tote Zeugen Schweigen—like I did. To its advantage, the film has two violent murders, some misplaced but enjoyable arty cinematography and equally incongruent but fun supernatural overtones, but the story itself is improbably illogical and is riddled with unbelievable inconsistencies. (Hmm, sounds like a Wallace flick.)


Elliot James said...

The cast is a powerhouse lineup. Krimi regular Heinz Drache, action star Gotz George, ladies man Jean Sorel an the incredibly gorgeous Elenanora Rossi Drago. The story is weak, the continuity choppy, the police are the typically inert cops typical of Krimis, more interested in socializing than following police procedure. The angle with the ventriloquist dummy could have steered the plot into an interesting supernatural tale but this was a dismissed. It resembles the dummy from the British flick Devil Doll, which was a supernatural being. The writer does treat the dummy as a creepy red herring to make one of the leads think he's losing his mind. There's one very suspenseful moment when George's sister is trapped in a room with a descending floor and because she's a secondary character, the viewer can't predict if she'll survive. Sorel carries the picture but can't save an unexciting climax.

Abraham said...

Can't remember the bit about the sis in the trapped room, but it's been over a decade since I saw it. But I think I would agree with your overall assessment, though I am not sure Gotz George was a star of any sorts that early in his career. Given the chance, however, I think I would re-watch the krimi. Unluckily, these type of krimis are almost never screened on the tube nowadays.

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