There have been several murders in London. A man from Paris, another from Frankfurt, a third from Hong Kong and finally one from London. They all come from different backgrounds and have different professions but they all travel quite a bit. All of them have been stabbed through the heart. One bizarre thing is just before the men are killed their suitcases have been packed.
Inspector Finch (Joachim Hansen) from Scotland Yard arrives at the latest murder. Tailing him is his annoying cousin Arnold (Chris Howland). Arnold is a sound collector. He is never without his microphone and tape recorder. On hand is Dr. Bransby (Leonard Steckel). Bransby saw the commotion and stopped to help but the victim was killed instantly. Finch visits Humphrey Curtis (Hans Reiser), a criminologist he knows. Finch wants to borrow a book on professional performers that have committed crimes. He thinks perhaps the knife murderer was a professional knife thrower. Curtis is also interested in the recent crimes. Finch mentions that in the last crime one of the victims suitcases went missing. Arnold mentions that perhaps the doctor picked it up.
Finch visits Dr. Bransby at his practice. Bransby seems a little absentminded and runs off on an emergency. Finch meets Bransby’s assistant, Susan Brown (Senta Berger) with whom he becomes quickly infatuated. Bransby’s emergency patient is Kudernacz (Stanislav Ledinek). The man has malaria so Dr. Bransby gives him a shot. Not long after Dr. Bransby leaves, Kudernacz is killed. When Finch finds out that Dr. Bransby has been in the vicinity of both of the last victims he decides to keep a close eye on the doctor.
Tests show that that Kudernacz’s clothes show traces of Mescadrine. Mescadrine is a synthetic form of mescaline. Now that drugs are involved Dr. Bransby becomes a suspect but he’s not the only one with secrets. Susan seems to have secrets of her own. She moved to London to look for her brother. Supposedly he is dead but she is convinced he is alive. Finch believes that Curtis is also up to something but what is unclear. While Finch is busy trying to unravel how all these suspects tie together Arthur stumbles on to important clues and manages to solve the case and save some lives along the way.
“The Secret of the Black Trunk” AKA “The Secret of the Black Suitcase” AKA “Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Koffer” was released in 1962 and was directed by Werner Klingler. It is mystery crime thriller and a krimi. The movie is based on the book “Death Packs a Suitcase” by Bryan Edgar Wallace, the son of Edgar Wallace. Bryan took up the mantel of writing mysteries from his father. Both Bryan and his father wrote in a similar style.
Like most krimis and most Wallace novels, the plot of the movie is multifaceted. Wound around the plot are subplots that add a little something to the main plot. Even though the plot is confusing it is still interesting. Similar to an amusement park ride, one doesn’t always know which way is up but eventually you get to end; you just have to hold on. Along the way there are some nice noir aspects and occasionally an eerie atmosphere that adds to the enjoyment.
One of my favorite parts is the special effects given to the knife throwing that gives it a look right out of a comic cook animation sequence complete with a swooshy thwangy sound effect. I loved it but then small things amuse small minds. Finch’s cousin Arthur is the comic relief. Fortunately he’s only slightly annoying and does manage to come in handy from time to time.