Gwenda Milton (Petra von der Linde) is the secretary for an attorney named Maurice Messer (Jochen Brockmann). Maurice and his partners, Reverend Hopkins (Carl Lange), Reddingwood (Kurt Waitzmann and Shelby (Karl John) are involved in white slavery. Gwenda finds out about their dealings and is killed. It turns out that she is the sister of a vigilante criminal known as the Magician. The Magician, who has been identified as Arthur Milton, escaped capture and moved to Australia where the police have not been able to get to him. Inspector Bryan Higgins (Joachim Fuchsberger) believes that the Magician will come to London for his sister’s funeral and to take revenge on the white slavery ring. He talks to his boss Sir John (Siegfried Schurenberg) about setting a trap for the criminal.
Cora Ann Milton (Margot Trooger) is the Magician’s wife. She has come to London from Australia for the funeral of Gwenda. The Magician manages to slip by the police by posing as a porter. Believing that Arthur will get in contact with his wife they begin keeping tabs on her. Also on the plane was a man named James W. Wesby (Heinz Drache). Wesby identifies himself as an author who writes stories about criminals. He is interested in writing about the Magician. Wesby manages to be wherever the action is and Higgins fully believes he is the Magician.
Inspector Warren (Siegfried Lowitz) is a retired agent from Scotland Yard. He was the only person who ever came close to catching the Magician. He comes out of retirement to assist Higgins. While Warren and Higgins are searching for the Magician the white slavery ring gets whittled down until the only culprit alive is Messer. After Reverend Hopkins is killed by the Magician panic infiltrated the rest of the conspirators. Shelby is killed by Reddingwood and Reddingwood is killed by Messer. The identity of the Magician is still to be unveiled.
“The Mysterious Magician” AKA “Der Hexer” AKA “The Ringer” AKA “The Wizard” was released in 1964 and was directed by Alfred Vohrer. It is a West German crime thriller and a krimi. The film was based on the 1925 novel by Edgar Wallace called “The Ringer” or “The Gaunt Stranger”. In 1965 a sequel titled “Neues vom Hexer” or “Again the Ringer” was done. An earlier German version of the story was done in 1932 that was also called “Der Hexer” or “The Ringer” in English. Britain also did a couple versions of the story. In 1928 and 1931 they released films that were both called “The Ringer”. Then Britain released two more versions, “The Gaunt Stranger” in 1938 and “The Ringer” in 1952.
What’s unusual about this film is that it has two leading men that were an intricate part of the krimi subgenre. Both Joachim Fuchsberger and Heinz Drache racked up their share of krimi roles as Police Inspectors and other various good guys. This is the only time they appeared in the same film and it makes the movie unique for that very thing.
Eddi Arent once again provides some of the comic relief as Archibald Finch, a pickpocket and Messer’s butler. He shares the comic aspects with Sophie Hardy who plays Elise Penton, Inspector Higgins love interest.
Reportedly Producer Horst Wendlandt kept the ending of the film a secret and kept the last pages of the screenplay in a safe. He is said to also require the leading actors sign a special non-disclosure in order to keep the surprise ending a secret.
There are also a few characteristics of this krimi that stray from the standards of the genre. As opposed to gialli, which are half sex and half blood, krimis are usually tepid in both areas. In this movie we have lots of sexual situations that, are still mild compared to gialli but, are steamier than most krimis. For example, the nude photograph of Sir John’s secretary Jean, the shower scene with Long’s girlfriend Elise and various other scenes that imply sex. There is also a really quick gay reference as well as white slavery as part of a subplot.