Alfred University News

Nick Schlegel, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, publishes new book examining postwar German crime films

Alfred University Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Nick Schlegel’s book German Popular Cinema and the Rialto Krimi Phenomenon: Dark Eyes of London has been published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Alfred University Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Nick Schlegel’s book German Popular Cinema and the Rialto Krimi Phenomenon: Dark Eyes of London has been published by Rowman & Littlefield. Schlegel’s study of German crime movies – Kriminalfilme or Krimis ­– follows the publication in 2015 of his book on Spanish horror films, Sex, Sadism, Spain, and Cinema: The Spanish Horror Film, also published by Rowman & Littlefield.

In Dark Eyes of London, Schlegel examines the broad shape of post-World War II popular cinema in Germany and in particular the 32 movies produced from 1959 to 1972 by Rialto Film and based on the novels of English author Edgar Wallace. The Rialto Film movies not only provided a steady stream of entertainment for West German audiences, the thrillers also nourished West Germany’s convalescing film industry.

Rialto Film’s production of 32 Krimis between 1959 and 1973 was an extraordinary accomplishment in cinema, Schlegel notes. For comparison purposes, the James Bond franchise has produced 25 movies over the 60 years since the release of Dr. No.

Edgar Wallace, whose novels provided the inspiration for the films, was born in 1875 in London. He was a journalist who turned to writing novels as a way of settling outstanding debts; he eventually became a renowned writer of popular literature, creating the Green Archer novel series, as well as the J. G. Reeder detective series. He has been described by The Economist magazine as one of the most prolific thriller writers of the 20th century.

Rialto Film began tapping into Wallace’s popularity in the late 1950’s and produced, in 1959, the first of its Wallace-based movies, Der Frosch mit der Maske (translation: The Frog with the Mask), based on Wallace’s 1925 novel, The Fellowship of the Frog.

Reviews of Schlegel’s book include numerous ovations: “an insightful exploration of the dark and dangerous world of German Krimi cinema” (Kimberly Lindbergs, Film Journalist and Researcher); “an indispensable guide for anyone interested in these stylish, pulpy, and highly entertaining whodunits” (Ian Olney, York College, author of Zombie Cinema).

In addition to Dark Eyes of London and The Spanish Horror Film, Schlegel is the author of Hallo, hier spricht Jess Franco: How Franco Recoded the Krimi (Wayne State University Press, Spring 2018). He also has published numerous scholarly articles on horror films.