The shadow man

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Original title The shadow man
Country of production Germany
original language German
Publishing year 1996
length 580 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Dieter Wedel
script Dieter Wedel
production Walter Saxer , Dieter Wedel
music Willy DeVille (title song),
Michael Landau ,
Günther Fischer ,
Wolfgang Hammerschmid ,
Rainer Kühn
camera Edward Kłosiński
cut Tanja Schmidbauer ,
Birgit Bahr

The Shadow Man is a five-part television thriller by Dieter Wedel from 1996 .


After a failed police operation in which his partner Otto Tötter was killed, Chief Inspector Charlie Held is appointed as an undercover investigator on the powerful mastermind of the Frankfurt underworld, Jan Herzog , whom he holds responsible for the murder of Tötter.

With generous funds under the cover name "von Hellberg", Held is increasingly enjoying the pleasant life that he has to play for the underworld boss in his role. With the attractive Barbara at his side, he becomes a friend and protégé of Herzog and is soon even considered his successor. His private life as a "simple" police officer, his real wife and his old home environment are increasingly becoming a burden for him.

The early retired police officer Erich “King” Grobecker is employed as a bodyguard and driver “von Hellbergs” and copes better with this role than a hero. Grobecker behaves in a morally correct manner and observes with concern how Held becomes increasingly entangled in his role and can no longer cope with reality.

One reason for this is that underworld boss Herzog is not portrayed as "the big gangster", but also as a loving father and trusting friend who is committed to solid moral values, but who can also ruthlessly carry out his projects.

Held sinks deeper and deeper into favors, false loyalty to Jan Herzog, corruption and the beautiful world of the rich. He loses his wife and ends up losing his job as a police officer and goes to jail. During an outdoor activity he can persuade Herzog to admit that he is indirectly complicit in the death of his wife Anneliese. He is eventually released from prison and is picked up by his friend King and his daughter.

On the way back to King's apartment, it is indicated from the off that all three are victims of a car bomb. Jan Herzog had earlier mentioned in a conversation with his late son Louis that he himself could “see to it that certain things happen or not” from prison. It remains unclear whether Herzog will actually be charged or even convicted.

The series episodes

(EA = first broadcast)

  • Mitten unter uns , 120 min., EA January 1, 1996, ZDF
  • Janus , 125 min., EA January 3, 1996, ZDF
  • The Chameleon , 105 min., EA January 6, 1996, ZDF
  • Silent business , 110 min., EA January 8, 1996, ZDF
  • Headhunter , 120 min., EA January 10, 1996, ZDF


Mario Adorf played Jan Herzog .
  • In some scenes, passers-by carry shopping bags from the “Bellheim department store” on the street. The great Bellheim (1993), also with Mario Adorf , was Dieter Wedel's great previous success.
  • In the first episode, director Dieter Wedel appears briefly in a cameo . When Grobecker with a lambskin-lined coat and cowboy hat enters a chic hotel bar to meet Charly Held, Wedel asks: "Where did he tie his horse?"
  • In addition, the first episode shows a TV discussion moderated by the then ZDF journalist Wolf von Lojewski .
  • In the second episode, Hans Möllbach and Jan Herzog give a press conference in which a newly signed footballer is introduced. This is ex-national player Maurizio Gaudino , who plays himself.
  • In the second part you can also see an old friend who plays himself: Chris Norman . The former singer of the band Smokie was hired for a garden party and presented three songs from his album "The Album" (1994).
  • The book for the film is entitled "Held" and is written by Dieter Wedel and Sven Böttcher .


Shortly after it was broadcast, there was heavy criticism of Dieter Wedel in the German media. The accusation was that he had stolen scenes and plot elements from various Hollywood films as well as from John le Carré's 1993 novel The Night Manager . The staged dangerous situation of the son, from which the investigator rescues him in order to gain the trust of the target person, occurs there as well as a play on words about the term “vicious cave”. Were also mentioned by name The Godfather , Three decades in the Mafia - Goodfellas and The Untouchables - The Untouchables . Numerous sayings are borrowed from the film Wall Street . Barbara Sattler's (played by Jennifer Nitsch) embarrassingly uncovered lighter theft (DVD episode 2, chapter 11: Garden party, 1:45, 1:50, 1:52) comes from Fellini's Il Bidone ("Die Schwindler", 1955, with subtitled original scenes extended German DVD version, there approx. 0:45:00 to 0:50:00).

Wedel later admitted in remarks that he had used other films, but said that he thought the excitement about it was exaggerated.

These and similar criticisms were also heard about Dieter Wedel's 1992 film “ The Big Bellheim ”.


  • 1996: Bavarian TV Prize to the actors Mario Adorf, Heinz Hoenig and Günter Strack
  • 1996: Golden Lion to Dieter Wedel for the best screenplay and Nikola Hoeltz for the best costumes
  • 1996: Telestar to leading actor Stefan Kurt
  • 1996: Honorable mention at the Festival de Télévision de Monte-Carlo for cameraman Edward Klosinski
  • 1996: Romy in the Best Director category for Dieter Wedel
  • 1997: Adolf Grimme Prize in the series and multi-part series category to Dieter Wedel (script / director) and Stefan Kurt and Heinz Hoenig (on behalf of the cast)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Dieter Wedel, Sven Böttcher: Hero . 1st edition. Wunderlich, Rowohlt Verlag GmbH, Reinbek near Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-8052-0572-4 , p. 314 .