Monday, March 20, 2017


Earlier in the 1940s, the Falcon series featured George Sanders as a playboy detective named Gay Lawrence; soon, the role was taken over by Sanders' real-life brother Tom Conway, playing Tom Lawrence, Gay's brother. But by 1948, the character known as the Falcon seemed to have no relation at all to the original. Here, his name is Michael Watling and he's apparently an amateur magician—no doubt because the actor playing him, John Calvert (at left), was a professional magician. This film begins with the murder of Lucky Conroy, followed by a visit from Delgado, Conroy's apparent killer, to Watling (lounging in his bathtub). Delgado confesses to the murder, saying Conroy was having an affair with his wife, and gives Watling a key for safekeeping. A lawyer named Mallon is keen to take Delgado's case, even after we discover that Delgado's wife Margo was the beneficiary of Conroy's life insurance. Soon, Delgado, while in jail, is found dead—poisoned—and a couple of people show an interest in Conroy's key. Watling lets a thug named Naga steal the key and follows him to a bowling alley where Naga opens a locker and is killed by an explosion. As is often the case in Poverty Row mysteries, the plot becomes a bit too convoluted to follow clearly, so I was left to contemplate Calvert's occasional (and rather pedestrian) magic tricks and the antics of his dog Brain Trust. Actually, this isn't a bad way to spend an hour, but it's not in the same league as the earlier Falcon movies. Calvert gives a very low-key performance which is occasionally effective, but he's no replacement for George Sanders, or even for Tom Conway. The supporting cast includes Lyle Talbot, Roscoe Karns and Rochelle Hudson. Low-key is indeed the key to the proceedings. Perhaps the most interesting thing stylistically here is that there is no dialogue for the first five minutes. [Streaming]

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