Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Lloyd Nolan has grown on me over time. I knew him mostly from his role as the old doc on Diahann Carroll's 60's sitcom Julia, and later as Mia Farrow's father in HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, but he's at his best in the B-movies that were his bread and butter in the 30's and 40's (including playing detective Michael Shayne in a handful of solid B-mysteries) before he became a familiar TV face. Here, he's a cocky reporter who, because he's in hot water with his girlfriend, Nancy Carroll, misses an interview with the D.A., and also misses reporting on the crime of the year when the D.A. is murdered in his office. After he's fired, he is determined to break the case and, with Carroll, gets on a cruise ship to keep an eye on some suspects. We find out that there are three different jewel thief gangs on board, with Carroll herself mistaken for a contact by shady Arthur Hohl. Other possible suspects include a crippled old man (John Wray) and his valet (Dwight Frye). The damsel gets in and out of distress, as do Nolan and his cameraman sidekick Harry Langdon before the murderer is brought to justice and Nolan gets his job back. The plot is solid, Nolan is good, and Carroll is serviceable, but Langdon, a former silent film comic near the end of his career, seems either developmentally disabled or perpetually drunk and just isn't very funny. I love that Frye's character is named Spike Jones, several years before the famous musician of the same name started his recording career. [TCM]

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