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Oliver Lane is "The Solitaire Man," a renowned jewel thief who is ready to retire and marry Helen, his partner in crime and his one true love. Their plans are shattered when another member of their gang, Bascom, walks in with a stolen necklace. Helen will not marry Oliver until the necklace is returned. Oliver's attempt to return the jewels later place the whole gang under suspicion for the theft and for the murder of a Scotland Yard inspector. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <DanNGM@aol.com>
"The Solitaire Man" is an undistinguished early talkie murder mystery from MGM about a jewel thief.
Herbert Marshall (1890-1966) plays the head of a gang that specializes in stealing gems. Marshall made dozens of films in the 30s and 40s, best known for "The Letter" (1929 and 1940), "Trouble in Paradise" (1932), 'Foreign Correspondent" (1940) and "Duel in the Sun" (1956).
The great Lionel Atwill plays a detective. Atwill is best remembered for his iconic role as the Inspector in "Son of Frankenstein" (1939). Between 1918 and 1946 he made 75 films, mostly horror (e.g., "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head", "Mystery of the Wax Museum", "Murders in the Zoo") and went on to play Sherlock Holmes' arch enemy, Moriarty, in "Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon" (1943) and for my money, he was the best Moriarty. This film certainly is one of his lesser works.
May Robson (1858-1942) plays a member of the gang. She was everyone's favorite granny, a part she played in films like "Irene" (1940), "They Made Me a Criminal" (1939), and "A Star is Born" (1937). She was nominated for an Oscar for "Lady for a Day" (1934). Robson is subdued in this film and her fans will want to look elsewhere.
Beautiful Elizabeth Allen (1910-90) plays Marshall's love interest and a gang member. She was popular in the 30s "Tale of Two Cities" (1935), "David Copperfield" (1935) playing British subjects.
Jack Conway (1887-1952) directs. Conway was a prolific director (over 100 films) who started out as an actor but decided directing was for him when he was asked to wrestle a lion. He directed MGM's first talkie in 1928 ("Alias Jimmy Valentine") and worked on "Birth of a Nation" (1915) as a second director. Conway was particularly good working with long films (e.g., "Viva Villa", "A Tale of Two Cities", "Northwest Passage") and with films featuring women (e.g., "But the Flesh is Weak", "Lady of the Tropics"). His work here is rather ordinary, perhaps due to the sets which make the film more like a play.
The NY Times said - "It is a feature which might justly be termed an amusing melodrama, for when persons are slain here the effect is invariably more humorous than tragic."
1933 was a good year for films. Box office hits were Mae West's "I'm no Angel" and "She Done Him Wrong", the star studded "Dinner at Eight", Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell in "42nd Street", "King Kong", and Garbo in "Queen Christina". The Oscar winners were "The Private Life of Henry VIII" (Actor), "Morning Glory" (Actress) and "Cavalcade" (Picture). Other notable films released that year included the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup", Laurel and Hardy's classic "Sons of the Desert", and "The Invisible Man". Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made their film duo debut in "Flying Down to Rio". FWIW 1933 was the year that Walt Disney referred to the gold statue as an "Oscar" when he won it for "The Three Little Pigs".
For films about Jewel thieves, among the best are Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief" (1955), "The Pink Panther" (1963), "Thief" (1981), and "A Fish Called Wanda" (1988).
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