Monday, August 13, 2012


Jürgen Roland, 1961
Starring: Gert Frobe, Klausjürgen Wussow, Karin Dor, Eddi Arent, Harry Wüstenhagen

Though this is one of Edgar Wallace's most well-known novels and was already adapted as a feature length film several times before this version, this is one of the weakest entries in the Rialto krimi series. The complicated, convoluted plot essentially centers around a haunted British estate. The alleged ghost is a figure called the Green Archer, who dates back to the 14th century and was known to terrorize the aristocratic manor-owners in a Robin Hood-like fashion. The current owner is Abel Bellamy, an American businessman with a questionable past. When some of his estranged family members move into a nearby estate against his wishes, the Green Archer returns with his lethal bow and arrows to cause havoc. 

The Green Archer suffers from typical krimi issues. There are too many story lines that intersect too late, red herrings that dead end on themselves and a plot so convoluted it frequently leaves the Green Archer in the dust. The major offense of the film is its poor attempts at humor by way of Eddi Arent, who stars as the comic relief in a wide variety of krimi. In this film, his character, a reporter, introduces the film and makes interludes about the action. These self-referential attempts at humor and irony fall incredibly short and distract from both the plot and the pacing of the film. It has a William Castle-like gimmicky feel to it, but is unfortunately not well written enough to actually be funny or clever. The Green Archer is completely ignored for much of the film and during the conclusion the revelation of his character is disappointing. The plot runs so far afield and there are so many twists and turns that it is difficult to tell what is going on at times. The sheer number of characters and subplots feels frustrating. 

The best thing that I can say about this film that there’s a wonderful performance from Gert Fröbe, known to international audiences for his portrayal of Auric Goldfinger in Goldfinger (1964). Where he is serious and menacing in Goldfinger (“Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.”), here he absolutely rages. Though it is hard to believe that an obviously German actor with a thick accent is remotely American, he still manages to steal the film and deliver one of the most robust performances in the entire Rialto series. Karin Dor and Eddi Arent feel underused and wasted, though they appear in their traditional roles of alluring victim and comic relief. The lackluster Klausjürgen Wussow stars as the Scotland Yard detective, though this is his second and last Wallace film. 

The Green Archer has entertaining moments and moves at a fairly quick pace, but it ultimately drowns in its desperate attempts at irony and humor. There is no region 1 DVD available, though there are two German region 2 versions, both presented by Ufa. The film is available as a single disc and as part of an Edgar Wallace box set that also includes Fellowship of the Frog (1959), The Terrible People (1960) and The Crimson Circle (1961).

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