The wealthy and eccentric Lord Francis Percival Lebanon is strangled by someone using an Indian scarf as a murder weapon. Everyone is told that he died of natural causes. The relatives of the deceased are gathered at Mark’s Priory, an old and eerie mansion in the north of Scotland, for the reading of the will.
The prospective bequeathed are, the Lord’s wife, Lady Emily Lebanon (Elisabeth Flickenschildt), his son Edward (Hans Clarin), his illegitimate son, Peter Ross (Klaus Kinski), his physician, Dr. Amersham (Richard Haussler) and assorted relatives, Isla Harris (Corny Collins), Sir Henry Hockbridge (Siegfried Schurenberg), Reverend Hastings (Alexander Engel), Mrs. Lebanon-Tilling (Gisela Uhlen), and her husband Mr. Tilling (Hans Nielsen). Also in the house are the Lebanon’s butler Richard Bonwit (Eddi Arent) and the slow witted cook, chauffer and all around handy man, Chiko (Ady Berber). Attorney Frank Tanner (Heinz Drache) is there to read the will.
A pre-will stipulates that the heirs must remain in the house for six days and six nights if they want to inherit. At the end of that time the actual will is to be read. Should anyone decide not to stay then their share will be split among the remaining heirs. At that time a hurricane off the coast creates flooding and the estate, which is on a peninsula, is cut off from the mainland. Everyone is stuck in the house whether they want to be there or not. Since everyone is either greedy, mad or both, heirs begin to be murdered by the scarf toting strangler. As the dead pile up the murdered are placed in the family chapel. The executor of the estate, Tanner, is left trying to figure out who the culprit is.
“The Indian Scarf” AKA “Das indische Tuch" was released in 1963 and was directed by Alfred Vohrer. It is a West German crime film and a krimi. The movie is based on the 1931 Edgar Wallace story “The Case of the Frightened Lady”. Alfred Vohrer directed quite a few krimis and does a decent job with this one as well.
The movie is your basic “Old dark house” mystery but with a stupid ending. Not the revelation of who the murderer is but the final scene is a lame joke that contributes nothing to the film. Not that the movie is anything special but it’s also nothing horrendous either. With the standard red herrings it is a fast paced film. The characters are varied and each has his or her own quirks. Klaus Kinski is probably the best actor of the bunch. Comic relief is Eddi Arent. The best part of the movie is the automated food trolley that Arent, who plays Bonwit, uses to serve meals. It reacts like a pet doing tricks and is more amusing than Arent.
The atmosphere is a combination of eerie and just plain odd. The mansion’s décor is early garage sale. There is a full-sized statue of a horse in one bedroom. The phonograph turns into a metal vase with metal flowers in it and there is a portrait of a reclining naked woman whose nipple is a peephole. Her right nipple. The mansion also boasts a dungeon and the usual secret passages and doorways. The house itself seems to give the impression of being a character, and one that is just as eccentric as any of the other characters.