G-Man Chick Gardner, posing as a taxi driver, convinces the members of a counterfeiting gang that he is on their side and is taken into the organization by Philip Strickland, the boss, over the objections of gang lieutenant Flash Dillon. Gardner meets Gilda Lee, a member of the gang, and learns of the planned smuggling of a load of counterfeit money at a remote wharf. He arranges with the Federal officers to foil the landing but their presence is detected and the gang escapes, with Gardner being wounded in the mêlée by his own men. Dillon discovers Gardner's true identity and tells Gilda to take him for a ride. Instead, she helps Gardner kill Dillon, in return for which he promises her immunity. She goes with Strickland to the yacht of John Rudd, who is the secret leader of the counterfeiters. Gardner and the federal agents follow her. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
1937's "Midnight Taxi" supplied Brian Donlevy with another starring role similar to "Half Angel," a federal agent, 'Chick' Gardner, posing as a cab driver to ferret out a dangerous counterfeit ring. The opening sequence is striking: a taxi forces another car off the road, its driver perishing in the flames, then the cabbie (Harold Huber) sends his own taxi down the same embankment, hurling himself after it to make it look like a tragic accident. We quickly learn that the dead driver was about to offer the feds some critical information, but was found out. Alan Dinehart makes a smooth villain, as does Gilbert Roland, but it's delightful to find gorgeous Frances Drake among them, her presence a welcome distraction for Roland (whose advances are firmly rejected) and Gardner (whose tough resolve makes an impression on her). Memorable turns come from Sig Ruman, Harry Semels, James Flavin, Otto Hoffman, and Zeffie Tilbury. As two federal detectives, Lon Chaney and Regis Toomey are a study in contrasts; Chaney is listed eighth out of ten, while Toomey is billed dead last, yet Lon's superfluous role as Erickson hardly registers (only two or three lines), while Toomey excels as Hilton, enjoying a standout scene in Donlevy's cab, disguised as an old woman before reporting the results back to headquarters. At this stage of Chaney's career, he had hopes that 20th Century-Fox would be using him extensively, but his two years there only resulted in an unbroken string of unbilled bits, few featured roles (his Fox farewell found him ignominiously listed 31st out of 31 in 1939's "Jesse James"). Despite such sterling results, Donlevy soon found himself moving down from leading men to supporting villains, particularly in the aforementioned "Jesse James" (he's the one who kills Jesse's mother).
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?