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A GENTLEMAN AFTER DARK (HELIOTROPE HARRY) (director: Edward L. Marin; screenwriter: story “A Whiff of Heliotrope” by Richard Washburn Child/Patterson McNutt/George Bruce; cinematographer: Milton R. Krasner ; editor: Arthur Roberts; music: Dimitri Tiomkin; cast: Brian Donlevy (Harry Melton), Miriam Hopkins (Flo Melton), Preston Foster (Tom Gaynor), Sharon Douglas (Diana), Harold Huber (Stubby), Phillip Reed (Eddie Smith), Douglass Dumbrille (Enzo Calibra), William Henry (Paul Rutherford); Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edward Small; United Artists; 1942)
The outdated pic has outlived its shelf life.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The low-budget melodrama was filmed before as Heliotrope (1920) with Fred Burton, and again in 1928 as Forgotten Faces with Clive Brook, and again in 1936 as Forgotten Faces with Herbert Marshall. Edward L. Marin (“Johnny Angel”/”Nocturne”/”Invisible Agent”) directs in a pedestrian manner. It’s based on the story “A Whiff of Heliotrope” by Richard Washburn Child. Patterson McNutt and George Bruce write the smelly screenplay.

In 1923, the notorious dapper jewel thief, always wearing a flower in his lapel, Harry “Heliotrope” Melton (Brian Donlevy), wishes to move to the country and to go straight because he’s a father for the first time. But his criminal wife Flo (Miriam Hopkins) and his partner Eddie Smith (Phillip Reed) talk him into pulling one last jewel heist of a socialite. Afterwards the two untrustworthy partners try to frame Harry for it, but he outsmarts them by hiding the jewels.

When Harry catches Eddie and his wife kissing, he plugs him and warns his wife to stay away from their daughter Diana (Sharon Douglas). He also surrenders to his police captain detective friend, Tom Gaynor (Preston Foster), and turns over the stolen jewels. Gaynor agrees to take custody of his baby daughter so she can have a good upbringing. When baby Diana is grown up and getting married, Gaynor is now an important state judge. Flo decides to blackmail Gaynor by threatening to reveal Diana’s parents were criminals. Learning of Flo’s scheme from a jailhouse visit by his pal Stubby (Harold Huber), Harry escapes from prison. When Harry finds Flo and her new partner Calibra (Douglass Dumbrille), they both get killed while trying to tangle with him.

The outdated pic has outlived its shelf life.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”