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Several employees on a nobleman's estate show up at a former abbey, reputed to be haunted, to search for a hidden treasure. Howver, a mysterious hooded figure begins killing off those who may have figured out where the treasure is hidden.
Franz Josef Gottlieb
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The Strange Countess is one of the earlier German Edgar Wallace adaptations (or 'Krimi' films) and it's also one of the best. As always, the film takes place in the UK; although all the actors are German. The story itself is fairly strong and presents a good mystery that keeps the audience guessing and interested for the duration. However, the best thing about the film is undoubtedly the varied array of characters, which are all good in their own right and help to further the plot. The story itself focuses on Margaret Reedle; a secretary to a lawyer who is being tormented by phone calls. She has been offered another job with a Countess Moron, and has decided to take it. However, Scotland Yard has learned that somebody is out to kill the young girl and so have put their best man - Inspector Mike Dorn - in charge of keeping her safe. Around the same time, a Mary Pinder is being released from prison. She was put away twenty years earlier for poisoning, and seems to have some connection to the attempted murders.
The pacing of the film is very steady and it has to be said that there's not a great deal of real excitement in the film. However, the film works in spite of that as the story and characters are interesting enough in their own right. The mystery builds patiently throughout and small details are spoon-fed to the viewer. The bulk of the film takes place inside a sprawling and lavish mansion and this makes an excellent setting for the film and lays on a thick Gothic atmosphere. The murder attempts are good and include things such as bombing and poisoning - a near fall to the death from a balcony is the highlight in that respect. Most of the central cast will be familiar to anyone who is a fan of this sort of film as most of them appeared in other genre entries. As the plot nears the end, things get more and more complicated; and it has to be said that things get a little muddled by the end and the film loses its patient approach that served so well earlier on. Still, this is a very nice little mystery film and the climax is satisfying enough.
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