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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>
What was it about jewel thieves in the 1930's? All the major studios seemed to thrive on them, especially in their "B" movies, one of the most delightful forays a film aptly titled "Jewel Robbery," from Warners, and starring dapper William Powell and clothes-horse Kay Francis. The sophisticate in The Solitaire Man is erudite Herbert Marshall, he of the rich, clipped English tones, a suave thief ready to give up his craft for love and move take his sweetheart, supportive Elizabeth Allen, to a manor home in respectable Devonshire.
Most films from MGM tended to be less snappy than the Warner's product, but this zippy little "B" begins on The Continent where rich folks hang out in fancy hotels, robbers sneak into lavish apartments, and there's even
a killer at work when the lights go out. This initial set up soon transfers to the interior of a small airplane (looking not unlike a large cardboard box with windows), where snappy give-and-take dialogue moves the pace along as fog closes in around the plane, the cool tones of Marshall contrasted with character actress Mary Boland, a rich, loudmouthed American from Peoria, who tosses out quips like candy while the rest of the cast quibbles about comeuppance.
This is not a film of great import, but if you are a fan of the period, it is great fun--with Boland and Marshall joined by such experts as Lionel Atwill and May Robson. On it's own merits, and not because it's a timeless classic, I'd give it an eight--It's a perfect Saturday matinée popcorn film--and there will be time for another feature, too!
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