Jack Tarling (Joachim Fuchsburger) is a security officer for Global Airways. It’s his job to find contraband coming into the country. In a shipment of plastic daffodils from Hong Kong he finds that they have been hollowed out and filled with Heroin. The flowers are addressed to Lyne and Company, China Import, London. When the drugs are destroyed by a bomb Tarling is left with no evidence. Fast on the scene is Ling Chu (Christopher Lee). Ling is a Chinese drug agent who is also on the trail of narcotics and is an old friend of Tarling’s. Tarling investigates the Lyne import company and meets Anne Ryder (Sabine Sesselmann). Raymond Lyne (Albert Lieven), the owner of the import company, denies ever ordering the flowers.
Tarling believes that the drugs may be tied to a series of murders called the daffodil murders. Several young women have been found dead with plastic daffodils tossed on their dead bodies. Inspector Whiteside (Walter Gotell) from Scotland Yard is not as convinced that the two are related. He believes that a sex killer is at loose and the daffodils are a coincidence. Tarling finds out that the girls who were killed all worked at a place called the Cosmos Club. The club is run by Mr. Putek (Peter Illing) but it is owned by Lyne. Lyne employs some sketchy people at the club. Gloria (Ingrid van Bergen) is the current entertainer. Peter Keene (Klaus Kinski) is an ex-convict and ex-junky that Lyne seems to have taken under his wing even though the man’s mental stability is in question.
While Tarling pounds the pavement to find clues and question suspects, his Chinese counterpart Ling Chu tortures a suspect/witness to get his information. Ling Chu has a personal stake in finding the killer. One of the dead girls was his daughter. As the bodies pile up Tarling begins to fall for Anne and is afraid that she may have come in the crosshairs of the serial killer.
“The Devil’s Daffodil” AKA “Das Geheimnis der gelben Narzissen” was released in 1961 and was directed by Akos Rathonyi. It is a British, West German crime thriller. It is the first of the Rialto krimis that was shot totally in England. A few scenes were shot on location on Piccadilly Circus and in other parts of London as well as Shepperton Studios. Both versions, the English and the German language, were shot simultaneously. The movie is based on Edgar Wallace’s novel “The Daffodil Mystery”.
The movie was made in both English and German versions using different actors in a couple of the lead roles. Christopher Lee, who played Ling Chu, appeared in both the English and the German films. Since Lee was proficient in German he did his own lines in the German version. Klaus Kinski plays Peter Keene in the German version. In the English version the part is played by Colin Jeavons. Jack Tarling was played by Joachim Fuchsberger in German version and William Lucas in English version. Gloria Lyne was played by Ingrid van Bergen in both the German version and English version.
The highlights of the movie are Klaus Kinski, in the German version, and Christopher Lee. Kinski plays an unhinged ex drug addict with psychotic tendencies and he does it wonderfully. He can be calm and appear sane one moment and then snap and go into a ranting rage the next. Lee, on the other hand, plays a Chinese investigator who is calm and methodical in what he does. Lee underplays his role but believing he is actually Chinese is a stretch. Joachim Fuchsberger, who plays Jack Tarling in the German version, is no stranger to krimis having played in over a dozen of them. He brings his usual charm and logic to his portrayal of authoritative figures and is usually the guy who gets the girl.
The movie itself is a little confusing at times. There are a lot of characters to keep track of. It is fast paced and the dead bodies pile up faster than you can get to know who they are. The only constant is the plastic daffodils that are everywhere and continually being replaced in various vases even though plastic daffodils don’t wilt.
I haven’t seen the English version, just the German version with subtitles.