Thursday, January 26, 2012


Lew Ayres is a New York radio personality, broadcasting sports during the day and hot city news at night. During a World Series game which Detroit loses to New York, Ayres wonders why Lefty, Detroit's well-known pitcher, didn't play. It turns out that Lefty wound up in possession of a screwy five dollar bill—the picture of Lincoln had a mustache drawn on it and a code in numbers was highlighted—and even though he spent the bill, a hard-faced blonde and a ruffian were after him to get the bill back. Ayers, whose sponsor, Mr. Gordon of Gordon's Garters, thinks his ratings need a boost, takes off with his sidekick Benny Baker to crack the case before the police, which they do. This hour-long B-mystery from Columbia is about par for the course. It winds up involving a decade-old kidnapping, a criminal's widow, and $200,000 hidden somewhere in the city. Ayers, a couple of years before he started his Dr. Kildare series, makes an appealing hero, though his sidekick (pictured above on the left with Ayres on the right) is a bit too laconic and his leading lady, Florence Rice, rather bland. Lack of background music and, more importantly, lack of action, hurts the film, though one scene set in the darkened office of a cryptologist is nicely atmospheric. There's not much humor, and no real chemistry between any of the leading players, but I did like the running gag of the Chinese houseboy named McNulty. [TCM]

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