The Body In Central Park (1967)

AKA: The Brooklyn Murder Club, Murderer’s Club Of Brooklyn
Director: Werner Jacobs
Starring: George Nader, Heinz Weiss, Helmut Fornbacher, Karl Spenanek, Helmuth Rudolph, Helga Anders, Helmut Kircher, Rudi Schmitt, Dagmar Lassander, Ira Hagen
Music: Peter Thomas
Based on the novel by Gustav H. Lubb

The Body In Central Park is the fifth film in the West German Jerry Cotton series. It is also the first to be shot in colour – although this may have been an after-thought, because the pre-title sequence is in black and white. And even though a bit more money was thrown at this production, is still uses a large amount of rear-projection – some good, and some pretty bad!

Here’s how Jerry gets drawn into the action this time: FBI Agents, Jerry Cotton (George Nader) and Phil Decker (Heinz Weiss) are invited to a lavish party in New Brighton. Upon arrival, three business men, McCormick (Rudi Schmitt), Johnson (Helmuth Rudolph), and the host Dyers (Karl Stepanek), confess that they have received blackmail threats. Each of them of them have been asked to supply the blackmailers, one million dollars or some harm will befall their children.

Before Jerry and Phil have had a chance to sample the selection of fine food from the buffet a team of masked men with machine guns gatecrash the party. As the party guests are kept at bay, the ‘perps’ rush up stairs and kidnap Jean Dyers (Dagmar Lassander). They disappear into the night with their hostage. Naturally Jerry and Phil tried to give chase, but the tires to their cars had been slashed.

It’s only after the kidnappers are in the clear, do they realise they have made a mistake. They did not grab Jean Dyers, they have grabbed her best friend, Sally Chester (Ira Hagen). Sally is of no use to the kidnappers, so they kill her, and leave her body in Central Park.

Mr. Dyers receives a new blackmail letter. This one says, pay the money or Jean’s fate will be the same as Sally’s. They leave instructions to leave the money in a locker at Kennedy Airport. Dyers arranges for the money, and as you’d expect from the F.B.I.’s top men, Jerry and Phil are at the airport, watching and waiting.

There’s a few good set pieces in this movie, and without giving too much away, the first features a chase through the New York Subway. And Jerry once again, gets to prove his prowess at crawling around on moving vehicles – one scene takes place on a moving freight train, and another on a refrigerated tray truck.

Like most of the entries in the Jerry Cotton series, The Body In Central Park is more of a crime film than a spy film, but it is still worthy of inclusion here. In fact this installment plays a bit like a Raymond Chandler mystery, with a ‘whodunnit’ element to the plot – rather than an outright villain.

The score by Peter Thomas is pretty good too. It is not as jazzy as earlier efforts, and in places, even ventures into electronic sounds (maybe Thomas had been listening to Oskar Sala). But naturally enough, whenever Jerry performs one of his trademark, outrageous stunts, we are treated to the whistling Jerry Cotton theme.

I enjoyed this entry in the Jerry Cotton series very much. I recommend it highly to fans of the series, and if you have never seen a Jerry Cotton film, and wondering where to start, this is a bit glossier than the earlier entries and as such is a bit more accessible. Not a bad place to start.

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