Michael York is Konrad the smooth, ambitious young man cycling in Bavaria who sees the fairytale castle and step by step manages to take it over, by insinuating himself with the Von Ornstein family, who can no longer afford to maintain it. Konrad’s murderous plans include getting rid of the butler and taking his place, and getting close – very close – to the gay son Helmuth (Anthony Corlan, later Higgins). The chubby daughter of the family is the delightful Jane Carr (Mary McGregor from MISS BRODIE) and mother Countess Herthe Von Ornstein is Angela Lansbury, in her first starring role and does she go to town on it! She swoops around delivering bon mots (“There are no men any more – just facsimiles” or "I particularly asked for strawberries") as she bewails the loss of the good old days. Konrad slowly reveals his plans to her, as he has also befriended the vulgar but rich Pleshkes from the city, whose daughter Anneleise (Heidelinde Weis, whom critic John Simon was very cruel about in his review) he has seduced. Konrad engineers the marriage of Helmuth and Anneleise (while keeping them both in his thrall) but soon it is time to get rid of the Pleschkes once the castle has been restored.
But just as Konrad and the Countess are poised to marry …. It is still a delicious black comedy, with Lansbury marvellous in full throttle here. Greek actress Despo (Melina’s friend in NEVER ON SUNDAY) is also a riot as her companion/masseuse. There is lots of local colour and it remains a treat; scripted by Hugh Wheeler.