A temple in Hong Kong is robbed of a ceremonial artifact.  The artifact is a small statue of a jewel encrusted gold snake that is called the yellow snake.  According to legend, on November 17th, the day of the dragon, whoever possesses the snake and performs a specific ritual, will defeat his enemies and rule the world.  During the attempted robbery, a man is killed.  The would-be robbers are interrupted by Clifford Lynn (Joachim Fuchsberger).  Cliff manages to retrieve the statue but the perpetrators escape.  Cliff lives with his benefactor and stepfather, Joe Bray (Fritz Tillmann).  Joe sends Cliff to London on a special errand. 

Stephen Narth (Werner Peters) lives in London with his daughter Mabel (Doris Kirchner) and his niece and ward, Joan Bray (Brigitte Grothum).  Narth is in serious debt.  He receives a letter from his cousin, who happens to be Joe Bray.  Joe tells Narth that he is sending Cliff to London to marry Mabel.  With his daughter married to Cliff, and Cliff being Joe’s heir, Narth believes that Mabel will inherit Joe’s estate and he will be able to pay off his debts.  Cliff arrives in London and meets Narth, Mabel and Joan.  He decides that he is more interested in Joan than in Mable.  Narth is content with Cliff marrying either daughter.  Joan begins to warm to the idea of marrying Cliff.

Cliff’s half-brother, Graham “Fing-Su” St. Clay, is half Chinese and the leader of the Chinese cult that is after the yellow snake.  Fing-Su hatches a plan to acquire the snake idol and complete his mission to dominate the world by kidnapping Joan.      

“The Curse of the Yellow Snake” AKA “Der Fluch der gelben Schlange” was released in 1963 and was directed by Franz Josef Gottlieb.  It is a West German crime thriller and a krimi.  The movie is based on the 1926 novel “The Yellow Snake” by Edgar Wallace.

The film stars Joachim Fuchsberger, who is probably my favorite krimi actor.  Eddi Arent’s character is named Samuel Carter, but Fuchsberger calls him Eddie.  He is supposed to be the comic relief.  Half Chinese Fing-Su is played by Swiss actor Pinkas Braun, in yellow face.

The family dynamic is a little confusing.  Joan is Stephen’s niece.  Joan’s deceased mother was Stephen’s sister.  Joe is Stephen’s rich cousin.  Joe is Cliff’s stepfather.  Fing-Su St. Clay is Cliff’s half-brother.  They had the same father, but Fing-Su’s mother was Chinese.  I’m not sure how important this information is, or how much it helps in figuring out the plot. 

With standard krimi tropes and the usual Edgar Wallace racism the movie has some cringe worthy moments, especially the “funny” bits, but it’s also rather entertaining.  The plot is not as intricate as some krimis but it does manage to incorporate, in addition to the main world domination plot, kidnapping, murder, and gun running.  There are some plot aspects that are left unexplained.  Why Cliff has to marry either Mable or Joan isn’t really explained very well.  How the gun running fits in is also a question.  There are some leaps in the storyline but that has a tendency to happen in krimis.

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