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Zimmer 13

Zimmer 13

Note: thanks to Keith for setting me up with a copy of this film.

West Germany/Denmark/France: Harald Reinl, 1964

Zimmer 13 (Room 13) is my first encounter with the krimi movement, a series of thrillers produced in Germany during the late 1950s to early 1970s based on the writings of British novelist Edgar Wallace and his son Bryan Edgar Wallace. These films are often compared to the Italian giallo movement, and indeed many gialli were marketed in Germany is krimis - for example The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, What Have You Done to Solange? and Seven Bloodstained Orchids. Compared with their Italian counterparts, these films tend to emphasise professional detectives and organised crime rather than amateur sleuths up against lone madmen, while the (70s) Italian modernism favoured by giallo directors tends to be eschewed in favour of an image of what appears to be a pre-World War 2 England.

Zimmer 13

I’m feeling in the dark here, so bear with me. The plot focuses on a private detective, Johnny Gray (Joachim Fuchsberger, who also appeared in Solange, further emphasising the krimi connection), asigned to protect Denise (Karin Dor), the daughter of Sir Marney (Walter Rilla), who finds himself owing a favour to the wrong crowd and fears for her safety. There’s also a razor-wielding maniac on the loose, and a maverick ganster named Joe Legge (Richard Häussler), planning a grand heist with his lackeys in the ominous Room 13.

The strongest element of the film, and its most giallo-like part, is the mystery surrounding the identity of the razor killer. I didn’t guess the outcome, and it came as significantly surprising, although I tend not to think too analytically about a killer’s identity the first time I watch a film. The heist itself, as it happens, is not particularly interesting or remarkable - the whole thing is made out to be intricately planned, right down to the second, but in reality it’s just a run of the mill train robbery. The ominous-sounding Room 13 also turns out to be anything but - it’s just a room in a club where the gansters meet (given that the film is named after it, I was expecting a little more).

Zimmer 13

Still, the film is nicely-paced, and the monochromatic Scope photography, by Ernst W. Kalinke, is rich and evocative (I always considered a shame that so few gialli were shot in black and white, with Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much being pretty much the only one I can recall right now). Elsewhere, Fuchsberger makes a reasonably effective lead, even if he’s not particularly convincing as a “brilliant” detective - a failing of the script rather than his performance. Karin Dor is also a sympathetic heroine/damsel in distress, cut from the Nora Davis (to again reference The Girl Who Knew Too Much) mould - vulnerable, but not completely gutless. Some attempts at comic relief, most involving bumbling police scientist Dr. Higgins (Eddi Arent), don’t work particularly well, given that they tend to crop up at the most inappropriate moments - usually immediately following a death.

As my first krimi, I don’t really know how this compares to the rest of the line-up. Chances are I’ve either slated what is considered a masterpiece or bigged-up a clunker. Who knows. I also have Dead Eyes of London to watch, so maybe I’ll have a better idea of what these films are generally like soon. In the meantime, this gets a 7/10.

 
Posted: Monday, January 01, 2007 at 9:56 PM | Comments: 6
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Gialli | Reviews

 
Comments

1.

Hi whiggles,

if you like these German Edgar Wallace movies you must check out Harald Reinl's Der Frosch mit der Maske and Alfred Vohrer's Der Hexer. To my mind, these are two of the best movies from the Wallace series.
Greetings from Berlin (Germany),
Marcel

Posted by: Marcel, January 2, 2007 11:45 PM

2.

Karim Dor. I'm sold.

Posted by: Marcus, January 3, 2007 5:28 PM

3.

Krimi making its debut on Whiggles.com!

This is fantastic news. Being a giallo fan I have long been interested in learning more on about this genre on which the italian thrillers have drawn for inspiration.

I have a couple of Edgar Wallace novels but have yet to see a Krimi film. I found your comments on Zimmer 13 most interesting and look forward to hearing yur thoughts on Dead Eyes of London.

By the way how does the DVD presentation stand up for these movies?

I have always been under the impression these movies, being quite old, have fell into decay with the original negatives suffering some wear and tear over the years. However, from the screenshots the material looks of a very high standard.

Posted by: Count Fosco, January 5, 2007 10:57 AM

4.

I’ve not had a chance to look at Dead Eyes of London yet, but Zimmer 13, which I believe comes as part of a German Edgar Wallace box set, fares pretty well. The image has been heavily noise reduced, which leads to some noticeable artefacts during movement, so the static screenshots are a little misleading. There is a decent amount of detail, though, and it’s preserved in its original aspect ratio.

Posted by: Whiggles, January 5, 2007 12:39 PM

5.

Just watched this yesterday for an upcoming discussion at a Eurotrash film group. Funny that this should be your first krimi as I think it's one of the best of the genre. I've found other installments to be over-plotted but fun, often relying on a last minute "wrap up" to tie all the loose ends of the various plots together.

Arent is a series regular and pops up as comic relief in a number of the films. I actually enjoyed the Higgins character -- he's like a krimi version of a CSI team member. Fuchsberger pops up in several others, too, including THE HEXER and while he's not in this one Klaus Kinski can be found in many films in the genre, too.

Interestingly, someone just started publishing a print zine (!) called Krimi Korner. You can e-mail Mirelski@aol.com for more info.

Two of my favorite Kinski krimis are CIRCUS OF FEAR (he has a largely bit part but it also stars Christopher Lee) and CREATURE WITH THE BLUE HAND (in which Klaus plays twins).

Posted by: Dan Taylor, January 13, 2007 5:40 PM

6.

Hey there,

you should watch some more of those "Krimis". At least if you have already seen most decent Italian Gialli and the chances are decreasing to explore new material. They are a nice little substitute between new findings and a couple of them are quite good.

Posted by: Stephan, March 20, 2009 11:36 AM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 31st 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

http://www.landofwhimsy.com

 

 
 
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