Phantom of Soho
Director: Franz Josef Gottleib

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Phantom of Soho Based on a novel by the son of Edgar Wallace, Bryan Edgar Wallace imitating his father, Phantom of Soho (Das Phantom von Soho, 1964) is a dead-on perfect imitation of a British thriller of the 1940s, though filmed in the early '60s in Germany, & dubbed for the English-speaking audience in good basic important-sounding British accents.

The one thing it does that the authentic English-made British thrillers of the era would not have done is include a high dose of sexual content, much more evocative of the Weimar Republic, or Decadent pleasure districts of pre-war Berlin, not so much Churchill's London.

With film noir lighting & doomful atmospherics, we're introduced to a seedy part of Soho where there's a club called the Sanzibar. It's part smoky jazz-club, part carnival, with one of the stage acts being a knife-artist.

Phantom of SohoProstitutes boldly ply their trade in the street outside the Sansibar.

A well-dressed middleaged man negotiates between them, avoiding their come-ons, until he arrives in a doorway where a figure unseen by us knifes him to death.

The cool jazz soundtrack by Martin Bottcher heightens the feeling of aesthetic decay & danger.

We're introduced to an array of Scotland Yard investigators, somewhat interchangeable except for the comedy relief guy.

They follow a trail of murders, insurance fraud, & vengeance to a skittish Dr. Dalmar (Werner Peters) & the apparently wheelchair-bound & somewhat monstrous owner of the Sansibar (Elisabeth Flickernschildt), with a "surprise" twist of a bigger villain-beyond-the-villains.

Storywise it's nothing special, but worth the time for the sake of the b/w cinematography this is a beautiful latter-day film noir, the jazzy score, & the sordid atmospherics.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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