Emil and the Detectives 1935
70 mins United Kingdom Director. Milton Rosmer
The British adaptation of Eric Kastner’s much-loved children’s book (previously filmed by Gerhard Lamprecht) is an evocative adventure on the streets of pre-war London. The story follows young Emil as he boards a train to London with £6 in his pocket, only to have it stolen by the mysterious man in a bowler hat. Enlisting the help of a gang of children, he endeavours to track him down.
Although it was common practice in the early days of sound film for foreign-language variants to be shot back-to-back, this remake was unusually filmed four years later. Although the original Berlin locations are substituted for British ones, the cast and crew otherwise seem to be working from exactly the same shooting script, resulting in a near shot-for-shot remake. The only differences remain in the final act of the film, where the British version is missing a few minutes of footage due to print damage (this presentation has been sourced from the only surviving film elements).
Despite the missing footage, this English version is still highly watchable and makes for a fascinating comparison to its more famous forerunner. George Hayes makes for a genuinely creepy villain (every bit as good as Fritz Rasp in his way) and director Milton Rosmer makes great use of London locations including the nooks and crannies of 1930s Soho.