Something stinks in the city of Cologne ( a very embarrassing fact for that German city, certainly ).
An international gang of thieves and swindlers decide to move their criminal operation to the Teutonic city of Cologne but Herr Tom Wilkens ,( Herr Henry Stuart ) one of the best agents of the international police, is not far behind and leads an investigation to unmask the criminals.
"Der Bettler vom Kölner Dom" ( The Beggar From The Dome Of Cologne ) (1927) is a very remarkable and well-done German detective silent film made by Herr the not well-known- Rolf Randolf.
The detective or police genre was fairly uncommon for the German silent cinema ( Teutonic audiences preferred more interesting metaphysical and depressing subjects for their entertainment ) although there were important exceptions such as Herr Harry Piel who starred in a lot of detective films full of mysterious adventures during the silent ( and talking ) era. He became the quintessential Teutonic silent hero and his very popular police films appealed to those German audiences who were fond of Amerikan detective movies.
"Der Bettler vom Kölner Dom" is clearly influenced by those obscure Amerikan silent detective films both in terms of aesthetics and film narrative ( this Herr Von saw through his monocle Herr Tod Browning's spirit in the underworld depicted in the oeuvre ) although Herr Randolf tailored these aspects to German idiosyncrasies in a very successful and remarkable way.
The film is carefully plotted ( although sometimes confusing ) and Cologne is given a mysterious and disturbing atmosphere with a sense of menace being artistically created.
"Der Bettler vom Kölner Dom" has many excellent moments depicting the gang and their activities, whether they are operating in the slums or in elegant circles. Nothing is what it seems to be and every detail enriches the tension. There are different tricks, disguises and gadgets all expertly and elaborately photographed. The film also has a lot of irony and humour ( German, natürlich! ) some of which comes from the characters of a singular pair of private detectives, Herr Napoleon Bonaparte Schmitz ( Herr Karl Geppert ) and Herr Carolus Caesar Müller ( Herr Hermann Blass ) who will help (maybe not a lot), Herr Wilkens during his police investigations. Their presence lightens the mood.
"Der Bettler vom Kölner Dom" is full of those ingredients that a good detective silent film needs; that is to say, an unscrupulous gang, a brave detective, dangerous fräuleins and a lot of action and adventures through the city of Cologne ( But this is a German film so the rhythm is sometimes slow). This is an unjustly forgotten and very remarkable silent film that thanks to the superb restoration made by the longhaired youngsters at the "Edition Filmmuseum"( which includes a superb new orchestral soundtrack by Herr Pierre Oser, that will be released during the next months), can be enjoyed and discovered by any silent film fan around the world.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must perfume himself with an entire bottle of eau-de-Cologne.
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