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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Das Rätsel der Roten Orchidee

After the success of the movie "Die Seltsamen Gräfin", based on a book by the British author Edgar Wallace, the new follow up movie would center around the story "Die Tur mit den 7 Schlössern". The production company "Rialto Films" published in the German press that the start of filming this new movie would begin around November 1961. But the producer of these Edgar Wallace-movies Horst Wendlandt found that the "7 Schlösser" script was much to clobbered to go into production and that it needed a rewrit badly. Another problem was that, also at the same time of the press release, the movie theatre owners had been told that the new movie would be expected in their theatres around February-March of 1962 so that they could keep their film agenda's free around that period to welcome the new movie. To honor this commitment, Horst Wendlandt was determined to keep this date. He would not postpone the premiere of his next Edgar Wallace-film. So a solution had to be found very quickly. Several scripts were in production with several screen writers but none was ready to go for the cameras. The only script based on the book "Gangster in London" or the English title "When the Gangs came to London" was found almost ready to start being filmed. It just needed a few technical adjustments.
So the strange thing happened that the complete crew, which was originally being hired to film the movie "Die Tür mit den 7 Schlössern", did the production of "Das Rätsel der Roten Orchidee" or in English "The Mystery of the Red Orchid". Production started in Hamburg (Germany) at the "Real Film Studios Hamburg Wandsbek" where most of the interior and some of the exterior filming was done dubbeling for London. Some exterior scenes were filmed in London (UK). The film was made under the working title "Gangster in London" but due to the success of the movie "Das Geheimniss der Gelben Narzissen" in 1961 the working title was retitled to "Das Rätsel der Roten Orchidee".

In the Edgar Wallace Krimi-series of movies, this movie holds a strange place. Although the production is German based with mostly German crew the actors are not. There is no German actor in the cast: Christopher Lee (UK), Klaus Kinski (Poland), Pinkas Brown (Switserland), Adrian Hoven (Austria), Eric Pohlmann (Austria), Eddi Arent (Poland) and Marisa Mell (Austria). Even the director Helmuth Ashley is from Austria.

The production sheet of that period gives us a little inside info of the production schedule. The production took 6 weeks to shoot in 28 shooting days starting on monday December 5th 1961 untill monday January 15th 1962. During the X-Mas and New Year period the production took a one week holliday. Marisa Mell was scheduled to film her part of secretairy Lilian Granger in 10 working days starting in the 3 week of production on wednesday December 14th 1961 for one day and filming all of her remaining days in new year in week 4 en 5, starting on tuesday January 2nd untill friday January 12th. The movie made it into the theaters as promised on March 1st 1962 after having recut two scenes to comply the Film Board in Germany and getting a FSK 12 rating. The DVD rating in Germany is now FSK 16.

After the premiere the critics were not very kind to this movie. They found it more of the same as in previous movies, a cold hearted movie, not really Alfred Hitchcock-material. At the box office the movie sunk and had the least total of audience attendance from all of the untill then made Edgar Wallace movies.

Marisa Mell would star in another film linked to the Edgar Wallace series in Gemany called "Das Rätsel des Silbernen Halbmonds" in 1972 under the direction of Umberto Lenzi. In reality the movie was an Italian giallo called "Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso" heavily recut to fit the Edgar Wallace series, together with the classic opening speach of Edgar Wallace "Hier spricht Edgar Wallace" which was missing from the Italian version of the movie.


Keith said...

What a great write-up. It was quite fascinating to read the behind the scenes information about this film. I've never seen this film before. I learned some things about it. Hope you're having a good weekend.

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Hi Keith, it was fun to research this movie! Not many people have seen it in modern times unless you're Euro Krimi fan because it isn't that good for the spoiled modern eye, back in the days it was probably different! As movie, it is nice to see all these cult actors together like Marisa Mell, Klaus Kinski and all the others! Have a great weekend!

Logan Lamech said...

Well I'm convinced, I'll have to dig up this film and give it a veiwing.

Logan Lamech