21 October 2014 | l_rawjalaurence
Neat Little 'B' Thriller That Entertains Despite the Predictability of the Plot
For fans of Hollywood 'B' Movies during the so-called 'Golden Years,' the identity of the murderer in Ray McCarey's thriller should be obvious from the start. Like most of the major studios, RKO tended to cast actors in specific character roles; and this film proves no exception.
Nonetheless THE FALCON'S ALIBI does contain some incidental pleasures on the way to the resolution of a complicated plot involving counterfeit pearls, three murders and a so-called 'sophisticated' middle-aged lady (Esther Howard) who turns out not to be quite what she seems. There is a considerable amount of comic by-play involving the Falcon (Tom Conway) and his sidekick Goldie (Vince Barnett): Barnett plays Goldie as a fast-talking New Yorker who can neither make sense of the situation in hand nor comprehend the Falcon's motives. Nonetheless he proves a useful person to have around - especially when the Falcon hatches a plan for discovering the whereabouts of the missing pearls.
Conway gives a mannered performance as the eponymous hero - sometimes his gestures are a little telegraphed, as a means of registering various emotions, but he retains the kind of insouciance that enables him to cope with ticklish situations, especially when Detective Williams (Edmund Cobb) accuses him of murder. We know that he will escape the officer's clutches, but it's fun to see the intrigues he concocts in order to plan the escape.
Like all 'B' Movies, McCarey directs THE FALCON'S ALIBI in brisk fashion, combining studio settings with stock footage (of cars driving along the San Francisco streets). There are at least two musical interludes (RKO believed in trying to attract all types of film-goer to its 'B'-fare), pleasantly delivered by Lola Carpenter (played by the youthful Jane Greer). McCarey also has an ingenious means of using the songs to bridge the transitions between the musical interludes talking place on a night-club stage and the scenes of intrigue in Lola's dressing-room and its environs.
This was the twelfth entry in the Falcon series; by the mid-Forties, it was becoming a little repetitive in terms of plot and characterization. Nonetheless THE FALCON'S ALIBI is still worth a look, if only for the amount of action, incident and music that it packs into its hour- long running-time.