THE GAY FALCON

THE GAY FALCON

(director: Irving Reis; screenwriters: Lynn Root/Frank Fenton/story by Michael Arlen; cinematographer: Nicholas Musuraca; editor: George Crone; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: George Sanders (Gay Laurence), Wendy Barrie (Helen Reed), Allen Jenkins (Jonathan G. Locke), Nina Vale (Elinor Benford), Gladys Cooper (Maxine Wood), Damian O’Flynn (Noel Weber), Arthur Shields (Inspector Mike Waldeck), Edward Brophy (Detective Bates), Willie Fung (Jerry), Turhan Bey (Manuel Retana), Lucile Gleason (Mrs. Gardiner), Hans Conreid (Herman); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Howard Benedict; RKO; 1941-B/W)

A most entertaining episode in the long-running series.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This was the first of sixteen Falcon movies. It was made in 1941. It’s a most entertaining episode in the long-running series. Irving Reis (“Three Husbands”/”All My Sons”) does a wonderful job directing with energy the B film programmer, that blends comedy with a mystery crime story. You got me why the sleuth is called the Falcon, since it’s never told why in any of his films. The debonair sleuth was created by Michael Arlen in his 1940 short story Gay Falcon. Writers Lynn Root and Frank Fenton provide the snappy screenplay. The Falcon is suavely played by George Sanders (he played The Falcon four times, and after the 1942 film The Falcon’s Brother, he’s killed off and replaced by his real-life brother Tim Conway). Sanders played The Saint in five films made by RKO. There’s really no difference in any film between the characters or stories of either The Saint or The Falcon. It begins on Wall Street, with Gay Laurence (George Sanders), The Falcon, trying to leave his sleuthing to be a Wall Street stockbroker, as the dashing ladies man(ironically named Gay) tries to keep a promise made to his fiancée Elinor Benford (Nina Vale), who promises to marry him if he complies with her job request and no longer chases the ladies for three months. But The Falcon when approached by the attractive personal secretary Helen Reed (Wendy Barrie), who works for the famed wealthy society party giver, Maxine Wood (Gladys Cooper), can’t resist the charms of her secretary or the allure of catching jewel thieves, he therefore accepts the job to be at Wood’s party to make sure one of the guests, the wealthy Mrs. Gardiner (Lucile Gleason), isn’t robbed of her valuable diamond ring. Goldy Locke (Allen Jenkins) is The Falcon’s goofy, wisecracking, dumb and loyal sidekick, who sneaked into the party to avoid the $100 ticket and remains out of sight to help The Falcon track suspects. When the victim is not only robbed but slain, it brings the cops around, led by Detective Bates (Edward Brophy), who wrongly suspects The Falcon. One of the villains is played by Turhan Bey, who is so oily he’s dripping from oil the moment he comes on screen. Hans Conreid has a funny bit as the crotchety effete police sketch artist (an outdated politically incorrect portrayal). After another murder, a plot twist, a series of mix-ups, plus a double-cross, The Falcon successfully schemes to nab the ring of jewel thieves and everything returns to normal in Gotham.

REVIEWED ON 5/1/2019 GRADE: B    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/

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