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Films based on works by Edgar Wallace

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edgar Wallace (1875–1932) was a British novelist and playwright and screenwriter whose works have been adapted for the screen on many occasions.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • "Edgar Wallace Presents: The Ringer": Out on DVD 27/01/2014
  • Top 10 Movies On Hulu


British adaptations

His works were adapted for the silent screen as early as 1916, and continued to be adapted by British filmmakers into the 1940s. Anglo-Amalgamated later released a separate series of 47 features entitled the Edgar Wallace Mysteries, which ran from 1960 to 1965.

British silent films

  • The Man Who Bought London (1916)
  • The Green Terror (1919) based on the novel The Green Rust
  • Pallard the Punter (1919) based on the novel Grey Timothy
  • Angel Esquire (1919)
  • The River of Stars (1921)
  • The Four Just Men (1921)
  • Melody of Death (1922)
  • The Crimson Circle (1922)
  • Down Under Donovan (1922)
  • The Diamond Man (1924)
  • The Flying Fifty-Five (1924)
  • The Green Archer (1925)
  • Mark of the Frog (1928) serial
  • The Terrible People (1928) serial, made in the U.S.
  • Valley of Ghosts (1928)
  • The Forger (1928)
  • The Ringer (1928)
  • The Man Who Changed his Name (1928)
  • The Flying Squad (1929)
  • Prince Gabby (1929)
  • The Clue of the New Pin (1929)[1]

British sound films

Edgar Wallace Mysteries (1960–1965)

This was a series of British B-Pictures, produced at Merton Park Studios for the Anglo-Amalgamated production company. There were 47 films in the series, all released theatrically between 1960 and 1965.

Harry Alan Towers films

Harry Alan Towers produced four Edgar Wallace films in the early 1960s that were international co-productions with Germany:

British television series

German Krimi adaptations

The crime films produced by the German company Rialto Film between 1959 and 1972 form their own subgenre known as Krimis (abbreviation for the German term Kriminalfilm (or Kriminalroman). Aside from the Rialto productions, other Edgar Wallace adaptations in a similar style were made by the Germans Artur Brauner and Kurt Ulrich as well as the British producer Harry Alan Towers.

Early history of the German Edgar Wallace movies

As early as the silent movie era, German film producers discovered that the novels of Edgar Wallace were easily adapted to the screen. The first German production of an Edgar Wallace story, Der große Unbekannte (The Unknown), was filmed in 1927. Wallace personally visited the production of the next movie Der rote Kreis (The Crimson Circle, 1929) in Berlin. The Crimson Circle was trade-shown in London in March 1929 in the Phonofilm sound-on-film system.

In 1931, Carl Lamarc adapted The Squeaker, one of Wallace's best known works, as the sound film Der Zinker. Adaptations of The Ringer (Der Hexer, 1932) by Lamarc and The Double (Der Doppelgänger, 1934) by E. W. Emo followed. From 1934 to the mid-1950s, no German-language films based on works by Edgar Wallace were produced. Then, in the mid-1950s, the German film distributor Constantin Film began plans for a series of films. Due to the perceived unpopularity of the crime genre in Germany at that time, however, no film producer willing to take such a risk could be found, delaying the project until 1959.

The 1960s German "Krimi" film movement

In 1959, the Danish company Rialto Film, with its producer Preben Philipsen produced Der Frosch mit der Maske (based on The Fellowship of the Frog), targeting the German film market. The film (a.k.a. The Face of the Frog) turned out to be surprisingly successful and started a veritable fad of crime movies, known as Krimis (abbreviation for the German term "Kriminalfilm" or "Kriminalroman") which lasted until significant changes in the direction of the German film industry in the early 1970s occurred. Rialto soon acquired the exclusive rights to nearly all the Wallace novels, founded a German subsidiary company and, unconcerned by the many copycat productions by others, moved towards the artistic and commercial peak of the series in the early 1960s.

There were a total of 39 German movies based on works by Edgar Wallace from 1959 to 1972. Beginning with Der grüne Bogenschütze (The Green Archer, 1960/61), the leading examples of the genre were produced by Horst Wendlandt and directed by Alfred Vohrer or Harald Reinl. Following Der Bucklige von Soho (1966), all of Rialto's Krimi movies were shot in color. Additionally, the original novels were increasingly disregarded in favour of original stories. From 1969 onwards, Rialto Film started four co-productions with Italian producers to minimize costs. Audiences began to lose interest in the genre, which ended with Das Rätsel des silbernen Halbmonds in 1972.

The German Edgar Wallace "Krimi" filmography (1959–72)

These films were all produced (or co-produced) by Rialto Film of Germany (Horst Wendlandt) unless noted otherwise. (Rialto co-produced 32 of the following 39 German films.)[4] Where the German title is different from the English release print, a translation of the German title is also provided.

Year German Film Title English Release Title(s) Produced by Director
1959 Der Frosch mit der Maske (The Frog With the Mask) Face of the Frog (based on the novel Fellowship of the Frog) Harald Reinl
1960 Der rote Kreis (The Red Circle) The Crimson Circle Jürgen Roland
Der Rächer The Avenger Kurt Ulrich-Film Karl Anton
Die Bande des Schreckens (The Gang of Terror) The Terrible People (a.k.a. Hand of the Gallows) Harald Reinl
1961 Der grüne Bogenschütze The Green Archer Jürgen Roland
Die toten Augen von London Dead Eyes of London (based on the novel Dark Eyes of London) Alfred Vohrer
Das Geheimnis der gelben Narzissen (Mystery of the Yellow Daffodil) The Devil's Daffodil (based on the novel The Daffodil Mystery) Ákos Ráthonyi
Der Fälscher von London The Forger of London (based on the novel The Forger[5]) Harald Reinl
Die seltsame Gräfin The Strange Countess Josef von Báky
1962 Das Rätsel der roten Orchidee The Puzzle of the Red Orchid (aka Secret of the Red Orchid[6]) Helmut Ashley
Die Tür mit den sieben Schlössern The Door with Seven Locks Alfred Vohrer
Das Gasthaus an der Themse (The Inn on the Thames) The Inn on the River (based on the novel The Indian Rubber Man)[7] Alfred Vohrer
1963 Der Fluch der gelben Schlange Curse of the Yellow Snake (based on the novel The Yellow Snake) CCC-Film/ Artur Brauner Franz Josef Gottlieb
Der Zinker The Squeaker Alfred Vohrer
Der schwarze Abt The Black Abbot Franz Josef Gottlieb
Das indische Tuch The Indian Scarf Alfred Vohrer
Zimmer 13 Room 13 Harald Reinl
Todestrommeln am großen Fluß Death Drums Along the River (a.k.a. Sanders) Harry Alan Towers Lawrence Huntington
1964 Die Gruft mit dem Rätselschloß The Curse of the Hidden Vault (based on the novel Angel Esquire) Franz Josef Gottlieb
Der Hexer The Ringer (a.k.a. The Mysterious Magician) Alfred Vohrer
Das Verrätertor Traitor's Gate Freddie Francis
Sanders und das Schiff des Todes (Sanders and the Ship of Death) Coast of Skeletons Harry Alan Towers Robert Lynn
1965 Neues vom Hexer Again the Ringer Alfred Vohrer
Der unheimliche Mönch The Sinister Monk (adapted from the play The Terror) Harald Reinl
1966 Der Bucklige von Soho The Hunchback of Soho Alfred Vohrer
Das Geheimnis der weißen Nonne (Mystery of the White Nun) The Trygon Factor (based on the novel Kate Plus Ten) Cyril Frankel
Das Rätsel des silbernen Dreieck (Puzzle of the Silver Triangle) Circus of Fear (a.k.a. Circus of Terror and Psycho-Circus); based on the novel Again the Three Just Men Harry Alan Towers John Llewellyn Moxey
1967 Die Blaue Hand (The Blue Hand) Creature with the Blue Hand; re-edited in 1987 as The Bloody Dead with added gore by producer Sam Sherman Alfred Vohrer
Der Mönch mit der Peitsche The Monk with the Whip; a.k.a. The College Girl Murders (based on the novel The Black Abbot) Alfred Vohrer
Five Golden Dragons Harry Alan Towers Jeremy Summers
1968 Der Hund von Blackwood Castle The Hound of Blackwood Castle (a.k.a. The Monster of Blackwood Castle) Alfred Vohrer
Im Banne des Unheimlichen (In the Spell of the Unknown) The Hand of Power; a.k.a. The Zombie Walks (based on the novel The Hand of Power) Alfred Vohrer
Der Gorilla von Soho The Gorilla of Soho (a.k.a. The Gorilla Gang) Alfred Vohrer
1969 Der Mann mit dem Glasauge The Man with the Glass Eye (a.k.a. Terror on Half Moon Street) (working title was The Cruel Doll) Alfred Vohrer
Das Gesicht im Dunkeln (The Face in the Dark) Double Face/ A doppia faccia; a.k.a. Puzzle of Horrors Riccardo Freda
1971 Der Teufel kam aus Akasava The Devil Came from Akasava (based on the story Keeper of the Stone) CCC-Film/ Artur Brauner Jesus Franco
Die Tote aus der Themse (The Body in the Thames) Angels of Terror (U.S.) Harald Philipp
1972 Das Geheimnis der grünen Stecknadel (The Secret of the Green Pin) What Have You Done to Solange?/ Cosa avete fatto a Solange?); a.k.a. The School That Couldn't Scream (falsely promoted as an Edgar Wallace film) Massimo Dallamano
Das Rätsel des silbernen Halbmonds (Puzzle of the Silver Half Moons) Seven Blood-Stained Orchids/ Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso (falsely promoted as an Edgar Wallace film) Umberto Lenzi

Style in 1960s "Krimis" films

The typical Krimi movie of the 60s contains a number of distinct stylistic traits, which not only makes the films a true series, but – seen in context with other, similar German crime movies of that time – marks them as part of a true film subgenre as well.

In particular, two directors Harald Reinl (five movies) and Alfred Vohrer (14 movies) made their mark. While Reinl preferred long dolly shots /pans and exterior shots, Vohrer's films are known for their slight overacting and their distinct zoom and editing styles. Many of these Edgar Wallace krimis featured secretive, flamboyant, super villains whose faces were sometimes hidden from view, an archetype which would later become a staple of spy films in the mid-to-late 1960s.

The titles, which are usually the German language titles of the novels, were intended to evoke the typical image of an Edgar Wallace movie. Most titles mention the villain, like Der Frosch mit der Maske (literally "The Frog with the Mask"), Der Zinker ("The Squeaker") and Der Hexer ("The Ringer"). More abstract titles usually include the words Rätsel ("mystery") or Geheimnis ("secret"), for example Das Rätsel der roten Orchidee ("Secret of the Red Orchid") Das Rätsel des silbernen Dreiecks ("The Mystery of the Silver Triangle") and Das Geheimnis der grünen Stecknadel ("The Secret of the Green Pin"), while others hint at the location of the story, for example Der Fälscher von London ("The Forger of London"), Der Bucklige von Soho ("The Hunchback of Soho") and Die Tote aus der Themse ("The Dead Girl in the Thames").

The repeated casting of the same actors, generally for similar roles, is typical for the 1960s Wallace movies as well. Among the most popular lead protagonists are Joachim Fuchsberger, Heinz Drache and Siegfried Lowitz. Shady characters were mostly played by Fritz Rasp, Pinkas Braun, Harry Wüstenhagen and especially Klaus Kinski, while comic relief was offered by Eddi Arent, Siegfried Schürenberg and later Hubert von Meyerinck or Chris Howland. Additionally, well-known film and stage actors like Elisabeth Flickenschildt, Gert Fröbe, Dieter Borsche, Lil Dagover, Karin Dor and Rudolf Forster repeatedly appeared in important guest roles.

The location of the story is, like in the novels, mostly London and its proximity, with the characters mostly moving through old castles, mansions or country houses – even if the sets were actually in Germany. Seedy night clubs, asylums, dark basements as well as, especially in later movies, girl's colleges and of course Scotland Yard, are popular main and side locations for Edgar Wallace movies.

The stories are very similar across the series as well. The plot is most often centered on one inventively masked main villain. The motivations for the crimes are mostly greed, revenge, legacy hunting, and, especially in later movies, things like white slavery and the drug trade. Not unlike the later Italian subgenre of Giallo, the Wallace Krimi movies heavily revolve around the work of the police or a private investigator. Another typical feature is the hapless heroine, and it is not uncommon for the two protagonists to be happily in love at the conclusion of the story. The title sequences of the films were all in color from 1961 onwards, even if the rest of the film was in black and white. Also, in 1962 the voice-over "Hallo, hier spricht Edgar Wallace" ("Hello, this is Edgar Wallace speaking") was added to the beginning of the title sequence in the German versions only. Usually a murder is committed before the film's pre-credit sequence.

A very distinct trait is the score by Martin Böttcher and especially by Peter Thomas. Three of the four late German-Italian coproductions are even scored by Ennio Morricone. Little is known about the composer Keith Papworth, who scored Das Geheimnis der gelben Narzissen, except that he died in March 1992.

Other Edgar Wallace-type German films

In the wake of the Edgar Wallace movies, the Krimi genre became a staple of the German filmmaking scene. In addition to those based on the works of Edgar Wallace, are the Artur Brauner-produced Doktor Mabuse film series and the stories of Bryan Edgar Wallace (Wallace's son, who was also a crime novelist) such as The Mad Executioners and The Phantom of Soho. Also, the Jerry Cotton and Kommissar X movie series, and the Father Brown and Louis Weinert-Wilton series, are stylistically closely related to the Edgar Wallace movies and all fall within the German Krimi genre.

The movies are still very well known in Germany today and there are frequent reruns of them on television – even if a large part of their appeal is their high camp factor. Since the Edgar Wallace style is a stock motive of German filmmaking, there are numerous parodies and spoofs, most recently the 2004 movie Der Wixxer (approximately "The Wanker", a parody of Der Hexer) and its 2007 sequel Neues vom Wixxer [de] (a parody of Neues vom Hexer), making fun of the now-clichéd conventions of the genre.

Bryan Edgar Wallace films

Seeking to emulate the success of Rialto Film's Edgar Wallace movies, CCC Filmkunst bought the rights to the written works of Edgar's son, Bryan Edgar Wallace. The stories were re-written as they were adapted into movies, but they were still promoted as "Bryan Edgar Wallace Movies" in the hope that his name would attract a large audience. The following were all CCC Filmkunst productions.[8]

(Note* - The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Handschuhe/ Secret of the Black Gloves) (1970), the last of the CCC Filmkunst productions, was falsely marketed in Germany as being based on a story by Bryan Edgar Wallace, but was actually adapted from Fredric Brown's novel, The Screaming Mimi.[9])


(CDs predominately featuring the musical scores of Wallace movies)

  • Kriminalfilmmusik von Martin Böttcher – Rough Trade, BSC 307.6518.2
  • Kriminalfilmmusik von Martin Böttcher Vol. 2 – Prudence, BSC 398.6534.2
  • Peter Thomas Kriminalfilmmusik – Prudence, BSC 398.6533.2
  • Kriminalfilmmusik No. 4 – Prudence, BSC 398.6560.2
  • Peter Thomas Film Musik – Polydor, 517,096-2 (one CD)
  • Peter Thomas Film Musik – Polydor, 845,872–2 (two CDs)


  1. ^ Workman, Christopher; Howarth, Troy (2016). "Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the Silent Era". Midnight Marquee Press. ISBN 978-1936168-68-2.
  2. ^ Edwards, Matthew Klaus Kinski, Beast of Cinema: Critical Essays and Fellow Filmmaker Interviews McFarland, 22 Jul 2016
  3. ^ The Mind of Mr. J.G. Reeder at IMDb. Retrieved on 14 December 2015
  4. ^ Kramp, Joachim (2001). Hallo—Hier spricht Edgar Wallace!. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf. ISBN 3-89602-368-3.
  5. ^ "Filmportal: Der Fälscher von London". Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  6. ^ "The Secret of the Red Orchid". Rotten Tomatoes.
  7. ^ "Filmportal: Das Gasthaus an der Themse". Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  8. ^ Dillmann-Kühn, Claudia (1990). Artur Brauner und die CCC. Deutsches Filmmuseum. pp. 240–290. ISBN 3-88799-034-X.
  9. ^ Lucas, Tim (2007). Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark. Video Watchdog. pp. 810–2. ISBN 0-9633756-1-X.
  • Florian Pauer: Die Edgar Wallace-Filme, 1982, Goldmann Verlag, ISBN 3-442-10216-2 (in German)
  • Christos Tses: Der Hexer, der Zinker und andere Mörder, 2002, Klartext-Verlag, ISBN 3-89861-080-2 (in German)
  • Joachim Kramp: Das Edgar Wallace Lexikon, 2004, Verlag Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, ISBN 3-89602-508-2 (in German)
  • Georg Seeßlen: "Die deutschen Edgar Wallace-Filme" in: Mord im Kino. Geschichte und Mythologie des Detektiv-Films. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1981, ISBN 3-499-17396-4 (in German)

External links

This page was last edited on 3 August 2023, at 07:45
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