The Black Panther of Ratana (1963)

aka Der schwarze Panther von Ratana
Article 5027 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-23-2015
Directed by Jurgen Roland
Featuring Roberto Bianchi Montero, Horst Frank, Heinz Drache
Country: West Germany / Italy / Thailand
What it is: Krimi, sort of

Four men take part in the heist of a sapphire from a temple, but two of them are double-crossed. Years later, one of the latter men locates one of the men who betrayed him, but enemies of this man tend to fall victim to panther attacks…

I used the phrase “sort of” above to indicate that in some ways this movie resembles the German krimis of the era; it has a somewhat involved crime plot with surprise twists, some comic relief, and a bit of horror feel to the proceedings. However, in many ways it feels very different; it has no association with Edgar Wallace, is in color (most krimis of this period were in black and white), and was shot on location in Thailand rather than taking place in London, the usual location for the form. The movie’s refusal to show us the panther responsible for the attacks and the extreme convenience for certain individuals in its choice of victims will certainly clue you in that there’s no real panther on the loose, and the horror content is rather slight, so this is fairly marginal in terms of its genre content. The plot is also somewhat easier to follow than is usual the case for krimis, and you’re not going to be too surprised by some of the final revelations. For what it is, it’s a passable enough entertainment, but it’s probably more noteworthy for crossing the krimi and adventure genres than for anything else.


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