(director: Walter Colmes; screenwriters: Irving Elman/Frank Gruber/based on the novel Simon Lash, Private Detectiveby Mr. Gruber; cinematographer: Jocky Feindel; editor: Robert Jahns; music: Alexander Laszlo; cast: Richard Arlen (Simon Lash), Veda Ann Borg (Joyce Bonniwell), Tom Dugan (Eddie Slocum), Michael Branden (Sheriff Rucker), Marjorie Manners (Evelyn Price), Earl Hodgins (Jeff Bailey), Francis Ford (King Connors), Edward Earle (Jim Bonniwell), Herbert Rawlinson (Vincent Springer), Sherry Hall (Castleman); Runtime: 66; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: John K. Teaford; PRC; 1946)

“Though the plot seems contrived and the acting more mechanical than inspiring, this little crime drama is nevertheless diverting.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Accomplice is based on Frank Gruber’s novel on the eccentric private detective Simon Lash. Simon (Richard Arlen) is the brusque, bookish ex-lawyer now a noted but struggling private detective based in Los Angeles, who is asked by Joyce Bonniwell (Veda Ann Borg), the woman who jilted him at the altar ten years earlier to marry Jim Bonneville (Edward Earle), to find her missing amnesiac banker hubby. Simon takes a retainer of a thousand dollars from the mink draped blonde, and learns that Jim’s the vice president of a bank. When the detective checks to see if any bank money is missing, he instead learns that the president of the bank, Vincent Springer, is also missing but no funds are lost. The trail leads to a love nest kept by Bonneville, under an assumed name, set up with dance hall redhead Evelyn Price. When Bonneville is found murdered at the mink ranch he secretly owns, with his head blown off by a shotgun, the rural Palmdale sheriff, Rucker, suspects Simon and Joyce of being in cahoots to collect the insurance money. But things don’t add up when a worker at the mink ranch and a lying witness, Castleman, is murdered and so is Miss Price.

Warning: spoiler to follow in next two paragraphs.

Simon, with the help of his assistant Eddie Slocum, begins to put the pieces to this complex puzzle together and goes to the desert area around Mesa to confront crooked sheriff King Connors (Francis Ford, John Ford’s older brother), who keeps a hideout for criminal fugitives. Once there, Simon learns that Bonneville is alive and that Joyce and her hubby are involved in a bank scam and planted false clues as part of their scheme to cover up their embezzling by using the private detective as a patsy.

In a concluding shootout, a panicky Bonneville mistakenly plugs his wife and Simon knocks off the cold-hearted banker.

It’s a cheapie, shot in four days. But director Walter Colmes does a fine job with keeping the action going at a rapid pace (there’s an exciting car chase scene across the desert, which for some inexplicable reason has many close-ups of the tires). Though the plot seems contrived and the acting more mechanical than inspiring, this little crime drama is nevertheless diverting.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”