25 July 2003 | django-1
post-Tom Conway "Falcon" mystery, from dir. of "Decoy"
After the Falcon series ran its course with Tom Conway at RKO, the character was taken over for a few films with John Calvert in the role, made on a low budget for the interesting "Film Classics" company, which specialized in indie crime/noir/mystery films for a few years in the late 40s--this was the 2nd of 3 such Falcon entries. It most resembles the later PRC product, but is a step below PRC in the professionalism department, with a mix of veterans and seeming amateurs in the cast, and with a few small cheap sets. The plot revolves around art theft and fraud, and setting is LA and Italy, Italy being represented by a room and a staircase! John Calvert is quite different from Tom Conway as an actor--yes,he is tall and has a thin moustache, and he speaks in an subdued, educated manner, but he isn't the charmer or the wit of Conway's character, and here he is in the employ of an insurance company, where he reports to the hardest-working-man-in-b-movies, Lyle Talbot. There's never really any doubt about who does what to whom, but the various characters are all attempting to fool other characters as to their true identity and motives, so the "mystery" is how long that will keep up... as well as whether the Falcon will be able to resolve the art fraud situation. I've watched this film twice in the last year, and it's a decent late 40s low-budget mystery that's as good as the average 45-47 PRC film or late 40s/early 50s Eagle-Lion/Lippert output. Like a good little-known detective novel that you stumble across from the 40s or 50s, this film does what it needs to do and no doubt satisfied its audience in its day. Director Jack Bernhard--who made the amazing Decoy and the almost-as- amazing Violence the year before at Monogram--doesn't have the same kind of over-the-top, pulpy material to work with here, but no doubt could work efficiently in the vein of a William Berke or a Sam Newfield. Don't expect another Decoy here. Anyone who is seriously into low-budget post-WWII detective movies enough to even know what this film is will probably want to see it.