Monday, April 21, 2014



When the latest diamond robbery occurs and a Scotland Yard man talks about trying to follow the crooks, flippant reporter Alastair Sim suggests that they follow the diamonds instead. Indeed, this is the latest in a string of incidents involving an underworld fence nicknamed "The Squeaker"; he gets a low price for the booty offered to him because if he doesn't get it, he threatens to call the police on the thieves. The Squeaker knows who pulled the job, but they never see him. Meanwhile, jewel thief Robert Newton pulls one last job, stealing the Van Rissik pearls, before settling down with exotic singer Tamara Desni. The pearls are worth quite a bit of money but the Squeaker, who deals with the thieves from inside his darkened car, writing his offers in the fog on the car window, only offers a pittance and Larry says no. As the Squeaker drives away, Larry thinks he recognizes him. Scotland Yard winds up getting assistance from a disgraced alcoholic former detective (Edmund Lowe) who goes undercover at a company run by Sebastian Shaw, who specializes in hiring men who need a second chance. Lowe and Ann Todd, daughter of the company's owner, carry on a flirtation while he tries to tie up all the threads of the case and catch the Squeaker.

This mild thriller is based on a story by prolific English author Edgar Wallace, and has been adapted at least three other times. The gimmick of the mysterious tattletale fence known as the Squeaker is a good one and this adaptation is fine, though because Lowe is a weak leading man, the movie belongs to the supporting cast. He and Todd have no chemistry, though Todd tries hard. Newton (pictured to the left of Lowe) and Shaw are both very good, and Sim gives an eccentric comic performance; he is not central to the plot but he's fun when he's on. There are some awkward jokes made at the expense of Lowe's alcoholism, and the climax, which involves a strange set-up by Lowe as he tries to trap the Squeaker, is odd and a little creepy. Desni has a couple of musical numbers in which she comes off as a second-tier Dietrich. [Criterion streaming]

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