Robert Hussein reads the "Frankfurter Rundschau". Although an article is shown about the vampire of Düsseldorf, another article is about eastern Berlin. The newspaper itself is from the 1960s. The Frankfurter Rundschau was founded after the Second World War. It did not exist in the 30s. See more »
Serial killer in 1930 Dusseldorf strikes young women
Robert Hossein stars in this film noir that he also wrote and directed. He plays an unemployed workman who is a serial killer. The female lead, who plays a nightclub singer (Anna) that is his love interest, is played by the magnetic Marie-France Pisier. Both were teamed up a year earlier in Death of a Killer, another very good Hossein noir.
I try to find and watch any Hossein movie I can, as actor or director. He's in such good ones as Chair de Poule and Rififi. He obviously knows what he is doing in his pictures and he does it well. There is a certain silence or understatement or air of mystery that involves the viewer. This movie has a number of personal entanglements and attractive cinematography.
In this one, there are many dark streets, parks, and squares. They are usually very lonely. But Nazis suddenly appear to smash a window, burn books, or beat up a communist.
Hossein's killer, Peter Kurten, has several linked motivations. He has been ill-treated as a child, resents authority and is unemployed. He flaunts his killings against the police with notes and close calls. He is a humorless man who kills women as a means of power and to compensate for his evident sexual inferiority and clumsiness. His walk is a strange motion with short mincing steps, like those of someone much older and his arms do not swing naturally. He is clever enough, for a time, to think up diabolical schemes and he mocks God very subtly in one scene in what appears to be a church.
The movie draws parallels between Kurten and the Nazis (they are S.A. at this time), who also are exercising brute force. Kurten never fails to dress up in smart night clothes (black) and don a hat. That's his uniform. The S.A. was known to have homosexual elements, such as Ernst Rohm. In a way, Kurten's personal actions represent the breakdown of both law and order and respect for law and order. After a man is victimized by Nazis, Kurten and Anna walk right by him and don't stop even to see his condition.
Anna sings at a nightclub (and does a wonderful torch song like Dietrich) named El Dorado, which symbolizes the riches that the people do not have and also something unobtainable. Anna is what Kurten wants, but it's unclear that he can consummate the relation. She is his El Dorado. Kurten romances Anna and wins her over. Does he finally make love to her? Perhaps he does, but it's doubtful because he is stretched out fully clothed on the bed in his apartment. This is of no great moment because time is working against him anyway.
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