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Die Graue Dame

The Gray Lady
Sherlock Holmes

Germany 1937
produced by
Neue Film Erich Engels
directed by Erich Engels
starring Hermann Speelmans, Trude Marlen, Elisabeth Wendt, Edwin Jürgensen, Theo Shall, Ernst Karchow, Werner Finck, Werner Scharf, Hans Halden, Henry Lorenzen, Reinhold Bernt, Evan Tinschmann, Ursula Herking, Maria Loja, Charles Willy Kayser, Paul Schwed, Siegfried Weiss
screenplay by Erich Engels, Hans Heuer, based on the play Die Tat des Unbekannten by Müller-Puzika and characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle, music by Werner Bochmann

Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes in Germany

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Harry Morell (Theo Shall) has just made a groundbreaking invention - and then the papers are stolen from his office while he was lured out into the street by a dead man, Hewitt (Hans Halden) - who soon proves to be not dead at all. Inspector Brown of Scotland Yard (Ernst Karchow) is totally baffled by all of this, and only a certain Jimmy Ward (Hermann Speelmans) can somehow be linked to the case - but actually, there is no direct evidence against him, so he might just have been at the wrong place at the wrong time ... or indeed has he? Fact is, he soon follows the trail of the papers to a waiting car, occupied by none other than Morell's fiancée Maria (Trude Marlen), and he's quick to promise her to visit her in her hotel this evening - apparently to blackmail her.

Truth is of course, Maria is in league with Baranoff (Edwin Jürgensen) and her own sister Lola (Elisabeth Wendt), who all work for a spy ring hell-bent on getting Morell's papers out of the country, but now that she has been blackmailed by Ward, she hides the papers from the others as sort of her life insurance. Ward is quick to realize Maria is not one of the bad guys in this piece, only a pawn, so by pretending her hotel's on fire, he forces Maria to give up the whereabouts of the papers ... but they are gone - which is slightly odd because Maria claims nobody but her knew about the papers' hiding place (not that it would have been all that hard to find though). Here the film loses me because Ward then figures somebody will break into Maria's room to steal the papers (?), and somebody does, and drops the papers (don't even ask), so Ward gets his hands on the papers and returns them to Morell - but it's found out that the papers have been copied and are fake and therefore worthless (no idea - why would anybody copy fake papers, and if they're not fake and copied still, why would they be worthless?). Oh, and did I mention Hewitt was in the meantime killed for real by a poisoned cigarette, which Ward then gets his hands on?

Ok, for the finale, Ward figures he will be shot that very evening in his home, and so he is - but he has taken all the proper precautions to not die from it, and now he just waits who will show up at his doorstep to see if he's really dead ... and everybody shows up, Maria, Lola, and Baranoff plus an accomplice, and of course inspector Brown.

Now for no apparent reason, Ward hands Hewitt's poisoned cigarette over to Maria to smoke (actually, not the real one, just a decoy), and figures whoever will save her is the killer (because ...). Lola saves her, but not out of sisterly love - it turns out she is not her sister -, but ... I don't know. She then hits Ward over the head with a bottle, but is quickly arrested by the inspector, as are Baranoff and accomplice, only Maria is allowed to go free because she was forced to join the others ... and looks very innocent of course. While Ward's out cold though, inspector Brown checks his ID and finds out he's actually Sherlock Holmes. And it's Sherlock Holmes too who eventually finds the real papers: Inside the fake fur of Lola's poodle.

 

For the most part, this is a decently paced murder mystery/espionage flick that cleverly enough loosens things up a bit every now and again comedy (if not essentially good one) and that does feature a mostly decent cast. What pretty much ruins the film though is that narrative logic is thrown out of the window every now and again (see above), which makes it impossible to actually follow the story properly.

In other words, definitely not the worst (light-weight) murder mystery I've ever seen, but it could have done with a better script. And pulling Sherlock Holmes out of the hat towards the end seems somewhat ... cheap, actually.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD