FALCON’S BROTHER, THE(director: Stanley Logan; screenwriters: Stuart Palmer/Craig Rice; cinematographer: Russell Metty; editor: Mark Robson; cast: Tom Conway (Tom Lawrence), George Sanders (Gay Lawrence), Kay Aldridge (Victory Gown Model, Spanish Girl), Gwili Andre (Diane Melford), Don Barclay (Lefty), André Charlot (Savitski), Cliff Clark (Inspector Timothy Donovan), James Newill (Paul Harrington), Jane Randolph (Marcie Brooks), Charlotte Wynters (Arlette), Amanda Varela (Carmela, Spanish secret service), George J. Lewis (Valdez, Spanish secret service), Charles Arnt (Pat Moffett), Mary Halsey (Nurse Ross), Keye Luke (Jerry), Edward Gargan (Detective Bates), Eddie Dunn (Detective Grimes ); Runtime: 63; RKO; 1942)
“If you’ve seen one Falcon episode, then you might as well have said you’ve seen them all.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
For a B-film that runs close to 70-minutes and is short on plot, it does a nice job in getting its hugh cast to be part of this crime caper.
The suave star of the Falcon series, George Sanders, has grown tired of the role of ace private sleuth and wanted to move on to bigger and better things in Hollywood, so what better way to do it than to get his younger brother Tom Conway to become the next Falcon. This is smoothly arranged in the script by RKO, as Sanders gets knocked unconscious for most of the film and Tom shows us that he can play the Falcon with the same deftness as his Russian born brother can. When the surprise ending comes, Sanders gets himself killed off the series and graciously passes the role onto the future Falcon who will appear in eight more of these lightweight crime stories. The reason Tom has a different name, is because George came first and Hollywood decided that Tom should be the one to change his family name.
The Falcon’s Brother is a routine espionage story that is formulaic, but is crisply executed to perfection. Gay Lawrence (Sanders) goes to meet his brother Tom (Conway) coming in by boat from Nassau, whom he hasn’t seen for 5 years. When he arrives with his stooge-like cohort, Lefty (Barclay), he is told that his brother committed suicide. When he goes to identify the body he realizes that is not his brother, but he doesn’t tell that to Inspector Timothy Donovan (Clark) and instead follows an attractive woman, Diane Melford (Andre), who hurriedly leaves the boat.
The place Diane leads the Falcon and Lefty to is a woman’s fashion salon, where the head designer is Arlette (Wynters) and her love interest is her underling, Paul Harrington (Newill). Diane is also having a relationship with Paul. But before you can catch your breath and take in the fashion show, Diane is shot and the Falcon is suspected of killing her for revenge of his brother’s death. He’s a suspect since she was dating him on the boat trip and the Falcon was spotted by the police following her after she left the boat.
The Falcon goes on the run collecting evidence on the way, he already has the poison cigar that killed the unidentified body aboard the boat proving that it wasn’t a suicide. The Falcon runs into his brother in the alley and gets sideswiped by a car trying to kill him, and this will incapacitate him for most of the film as Tom without missing a beat takes over the case.
There’s not much to the plot, it’s about Nazi agents trying to assassinate some South American diplomats and Tom hooking up with a fashion model reporter Marcie Brooks (Randolph). She has ambitions to land a job as a crime reporter and to land the handsome future Falcon.
Everything in this B&W film goes as expected — the cops are gently razzed, the villains are easy to detect, the romance is easy to handle, the story is easy on the noggin, and if you are not looking for anything fancy here, you’ll extract your ounce of entertainment from it. If you’ve seen one Falcon episode, then you might as well have said you’ve seen them all. This one would rate as an average one. The best one that Sanders did is, probably, the first of his five The Falcon TakesOver (42). The reason they were so popular is because they’re so easy to watch and the stars exude a certain amount of charm, making these little crime capers enjoyable vehicles in the days before TV…when movies were the only show in town.
REVIEWED ON 12/24/99 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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