Harald Reinl, 1961
Starring Karin Dor, Hellmut Lange, Siegfried Lowitz, Eddie Arent
Based on the Edgar Wallace novel, The Forger, this is Rialto’s seventh Wallace-sourced krimi and was directed by their second most popular director, Harald Reinl. This is one of Reinl’s five krimi for Rialto between 1959 and 1965 and one of over 20 films he made with his wife, actress Karen Dor, who co-stars. Peter, a wealthy playboy, is believed to be part of a counterfeit ring, but due to a bizarre combination of amnesia and schizophrenia, he claims he can’t remember. When his new, young wife Jane finds a money printing machine hidden in the house and she suspects that he is the infamous “Forger of London.” When they honeymoon at Longford Manor, odd things begin to happen. Jane is attacked and then witnesses Peter printing money in a secret room, though he later claims ignorance. When Jane’s friend is murdered by an unknown assailant, Peter’s doctor recommends that he should be declared insane and Jane should claim her inheritance. Anyone with information about the counterfeiting ring begins to drop like flies and two rival inspectors are determined to prove Peter’s innocence or guilt.
Written by regular krimi writer Johannes Kai (aka Hanns Wiedmann), he was forced to use a pseudonym because of his writing career during the National Socialist period. Kai includes are a number of unusual elements in the The Forger of London, such as the slew of unlikable characters, most of whom are openly financially motivated, including Jane. Played by Reinl’s wife Dor, she was a regular krimi fixture from the first film in the series, Fellowship of the Frog (1959), usually appearing as the innocent love interest. Dor reached international film a few years later when she appeared as the first German Bond Girl in You Only Live Twice (1967).
Unlike most other krimi, the film lacks a defined moral center, a role usually filled by the protagonist/Inspector. Like the later Klaus Kinski vehicle, The Creature with the Blue Hand (1967), The Forger of London includes potential mental illness as a major plot element. Because Peter’s character wavers back and forth between innocence and guilt, sanity and insanity, Reinl cast the mostly unknown Hellmut Lange in the starring role. Lange would go on to become one of the most popular German television actors in the late ‘60s.
This is an unusual entry in the series in the sense that it attempts to tread some new ground with plot material. Though it is flawed and occasionally confusing, the film borrows some interesting plot elements from Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse series and some visual cues from his American noir, Scarlet Street (1945). This is one of the loveliest black and white krimi and has a definite noir sensibility with it’s expressionistic set pieces and stark emphasis on black and white.
The Forger of London is only available in the U.S. as a Sinister Cinema DVD-R, though there are two German releases from Ufa. Here's hoping for a English-friendly krimi box set in the near future.