Thursday, July 24, 2008


This is an entry in the Lone Wolf detective series, but it works pretty well as a stand-alone wartime spy thriller done with a very light touch. Warren William, in his last go-round as jewel thief-turned-detective Michael Lanyard, is in Egypt to meet Sir Roger (Frederick Worlock), but he's waylaid by a gang of Nazi spies who threaten to kill his faithful manservant (Eric Blore) if William doesn’t help them steal some secret British documents. William talks Worlock into playing along to see what they want, but actually they are sending him on a wild goose chase, planning on framing him for the theft of some Suez Canal plans, crucial to them for their plans to invade Turkey to get to Iranian oil. Much of the fun here is in the convoluted plot twists which I don't want to reveal, but there is equal fun in the exotic "dark streets" atmosphere and in the colorful supporting characters. Blore does his usual nervously droll manservant bit to good effect, and Sheldon Leonard is a hotel owner (think a B-movie Rick Blaine) who knows William from his old days. Robert Stanford is Blore's straight-arrow son and Ann Savage (the femme fatale from DETOUR) is Stanford’s less than straight-arrow fiancĂ©e who just might be a spy. Lloyd Bridges is one of the Nazis, and there are three shady characters named Cezanne, Rembrandt, and the Whistler. Despite being released well into the war, the film concentrates on action and humor over propaganda or inspiration, and doesn't feel like any Lone Wolf movie I’ve seen. By the end, it seems like the writers wrote themselves into a hole and just decided to end the movie, but it's still an enjoyable flick. [TCM]

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