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Master Criminal the Frog is having a jolly good time committing all sorts of
crimes, from ransacking rich folks' houses to even murder, & he seems to
have an ever-growing gang, too. The police on the other hand - & especially
inspector Elk (Siegfried Lowitz) - are pretty much left without a clue, &
every atempt to undermine the Frog's organisation seems to blow into their own
faces: when they send the Frog an undercover agent, the Frog kills him in cold
blood, when they send a spy to prison to get some information out of some
of the Frog's arrested henchmen, the spy turns out to be Number Seven (Erwin
Strahl), one of the Frog's own men who has helped his henchies to escape from
prison on numerous occasions, ...
But thank god there's Richard Gordon (Joachim Fuchsberger), one of these
rich kid anmateur investigators, & he sees quite some clues thepolice have
missed, the most promising one leading to the home of John Bennett (Carl Lange)
& his kids, good girl Ella (Eva Anthes) & careless youth Ray (Walter
Wilz) ... & really, before long the Frog visits Ella & tells her she
would soon have to join him ... then disappears.
Before long, Ray Bennett visits the Lolita bar, where he gates a job as host
& falls in love with Lolita (Eva Pflug), but the Frog might have his hands
in the bar & Ray's employment as well - but Richard Gordon is already on
the spot, having taken on a job as light technician to keep a watchful eye over
Ray - to little avail though, as Ray is soon mixed up in a robbery that
includes murder, but is caught by the police & sentenced to death.
... & now it gets silly. On his way to the gallows, Ray realizes the
hangman is his own father, who, once alone in the execution room with his son
(& of course a handy noose) just cannot kill him & instead they talk it
over until papa is convinced his little boy is no killer ("I see it in
your eyes ..."). In the meantime Gordon has gathered enough evidence to
prove Ray's innocence, & Ray is freed from the gallows on a legal level,
The Frog meanwhile, having lost Ray to the side of good, kidnaps Ella, but
Gordon & Inspector Elk are already on his trail & soon free her &
When they unmask him, the Frog turns out to be ... Philo Johnson (Jochen
Brockmann), who really didn't do all this much during the movie (I was
hardpressed to remember hm at all).
& why did he do it all ?
To blackmail Ella's hangman father into helping him break his men free
Eddie Arent (who would go on to act in a great number of German Edgar
Wallace-adaptations, up until the 1990's) plays the comic relief here as
Gordon's butler James, Ernst Fritz Fürbringer plays chief of police Sir
The very first of 32 Edgar Wallace adaptations produced by Danish-German
production company Rialto (a series that is now regarded as a major
precursor for the Italian giallo-genre), & most of the elements are
already firmly in place: the reliance on pulp fiction mainstays (like the
hooded villain, knifethrowers, shadow & fog, seedy nightclubs, seductive
nightclub singers, ...), a whodunit with invariably a surprise ending (whereby
- like in this one - the emphasis is rather on surprise than on the logical
buildup of a good whodunit), & of course a dashing hero & his damsel in
Despite Harald Reinl's obvious talent as a mystery director though, this is
a lesser film of the series as its mix of elements doesn't seem too right &
way too many subplots obscure the view at the big picture, especially since
many of these subplots (like the hangman father & his convicted son) are
outright stupid. Also, the unmasking of the Frog is somewhat less than