25 January 2006 | jennyp-2
A fun jewel thief romp
When we left our gal Sophie in The Notorious Sophie Lang (1934), the bewitching jewel thief made a clean get-away - at least with her leading man, gentleman bandit Max Bernard, if not with the jewels. Lang and Bernard sail into the sunset on a luxury liner bound for London while her priceless purloined pearls are discovered where she had concealed them in the plumbing of Lang's hotel room. After faking her own death so she can go straight and begin a new life, we find Lang five years later living in London under the assumed name Ethel Thomas. Lang/Thomas is a paid companion to the elderly Mrs. Araminta Sedley (Elizabeth Patterson) who just happens to be a jewel collector. (Get thee behind me Satan!) The two board a liner for New York and Mrs. Sedley locks up her valuable Kruger diamond in the ship's safe. On board are Ray Milland as newspaper reporter Jimmy Lawson to provide the romantic interest and Sir Guy Standing as the infamous Max Bernard to provide the conflict. Naturally, the diamond gets stolen, Sophie gets blamed and she redeems her past by catching the culprit. (Remember this sequel is POST-Code.) The character of Max Bernard, Sophie's beau, was played in the first film by the suave 39 year old Paul Cavanaugh. Curiously in the sequel, Max is portrayed by the much older Sir Guy Standing (63) and their past affair seems to have been forgotten. Likewise, the role of New York police inspector Parr went to a different actor, with Paul Harvey taking over the part from Arthur Byron. On board for directing duties is stalwart screen veteran George Archainbaud, in the middle of his 41 year career. Born in Paris, Archainbaud came to America in 1916 and began directing motion pictures soon after. He worked steadily through the next four decades, largely in television westerns such as Hopalong Cassidy and The Gene Autry Show in the 1950's. His best regarded film is The Lost Squadron, a bittersweet WW1 story. Gertrude Michael was likewise at the brightest point of her Hollywood fame, before succumbing to alcoholism and finding fewer film roles in the 1940's and 50's. She died in 1964. Contemporary reviews were complimentary. Frank Nugent of The New York Times concluded his admiring summation with "
we find ourselves thoroughly in favor of Miss Lang's return. May it be periodic." Alas, there was to be only one more episode in the series, Sophie Lang Goes West (1937).