|Index||9 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of my favorite movies from the 5-Cent Saturday morning shows
the Metro Theatre back in the 1950s! It's a Classic film that has
everything a person could wish for, very funny and witty dialogue,
first-class actors, great sets and settings, and all in all, an A movie of
the best kind! Melvyn Douglas and Virginia Bruce have chemistry, Warren
William is at his debonair and charming best, and Monty Woolley --
of the crusty old gent with a soft heart -- plays the secret
A fantastic movie that deserves an audience!
Melvyn Douglas (Ninotchka, 1939) plays Rene Ferrand in this 1938 film, one of the many follow up films to the "first" talkie Arsene Lupin movie from 1932. Warren William is insurance agent Steve Emerson, who accompanies the Grissac family Lorraine (Virginia Bruce) and the Count (John Halliday). Monty Woolley, with his Santa Claus beard, best known for "The Man Who Came to Dinner" is Georges Bouchet; Familiar face Nat Pendleton (always played the henchman or tough guy) is Joe Doyle, Ferrand's sidekick, and Vladimir Sokoloff is Ivan Pavloff, the mysterious prowler. When a thief tries to steal a valuable necklace, everyone is a suspect. Then things get complicated. Fun scene near the end where the necklace turns up, and it goes from one pocket to another in slight of hand -- then more shooting, more accusations, and a clever way to catch the thief. We aren't really given any early clues in "Murder She Wrote" style - in this one, we can only watch as it all takes place, and try to guess which are the red herrings. Good story, but much more buttoned down and proper than the 1932 Lupin story, starring the Barrymore brothers. TCM showing the collection in November 2007.
The Barrymore brothers scored well as Arsene Lupin and the dogged
detective trailing him back in the early days of sound, so MGM decided
the old thief could use a second go around.
It turns out he didn't die as per the original film, but is now living in quiet retirement, at least until some enterprising thief decided to do a job and pin it on him. Now it's up to Lupin to clear himself.
The plot of Arsene Lupin Returns is remarkably similar to Alfred Hitchcock's classic To Catch A Thief, right down to the French locale for most of the story. Of course this B film was shot on the MGM back lot.
For a B film, Arsene Lupin Returns boasts a remarkable cast of classic players. Melvyn Douglas, Warren William, John Halliday, Monty Woolley, George Zucco and Tully Marshall all had years of stage training before going into film. In fact when about five of these guys were in the same scene, I have to say I haven't so much perfect diction this side of a Ronald Colman film.
Given however it is a B film with a limited cast too much talk will give away the culprit. Looking over the list I can say any one of these guys by past roles could have been the thief. I'll say this though, leading lady Virginia Bruce didn't do it.
No color cinematography, no good French Riviera locations, but Arsene Lupin Returns has a nice story done by a group of the classiest players ever to be assembled on one movie.
And for a B film besides.
Melvyn Douglas, (Arsene Lupin) keeps his real name a secret from everyone and gets himself involved with a stolen necklace and also has a romantic relationship with Lorraine DeGrissac, (Virginia Bruce) who both give an outstanding performance throughout the entire film. There is plenty of laughs and comedy in this film and it captures your attention and then turns quickly away from stolen jewelry and centers around all the characters involved in this mystery. George Zucco, (Perfect of Police) instead of playing the role as a crook which he has done all his acting career, is now a police man who tries to catch his criminal and suspects Arsene Lupin of stealing this necklace. Georges Bouchet, (Monty Wolley) plays low key in this film and has some very dark secrets which he does not want to reveal.
The first MGM Arsene Lupin sound movie featured John and Lionel Barrymore as mighty antagonists, master thief and super cop. The RETURNS movie builds up the contest of similar seeming antagonists, a successful G-Man, forced to resign because of his self-promoting publicity, and a legendary thief who seems to have come back from the dead. The beginning of the film builds up the character of Warren William as a sleuth on the trail of a thief calling himself "Arsene Lupin." In short order, William is in France where he meets an aristocratic lady (the beautiful Virginia Bruce) with four young Boston terriers, which we never see again, and Melvyn Douglas as her friend. Douglas apparently has a country estate with various farm animals running around. Then begins the apparent duel -- William versus Douglas, one man suspecting that the other is the real thief who escaped death and the other thinking that he has to evade suspicion for committing a crime and maintaining his life style. The two dance around each other with their witty exchanges, while paying attention to the lovely Bruce. Douglas has to contend with the unexpected appearance of two buddies from his past (Clive and Pendleton) who think that their old life style has returned. Meanwhile, a formidable French police officer (George Zucco) is on the trail. Then begins a succession of events, all centering around a $250,000 emerald necklace, amid a flurry of misdirections, red herrings, shadowy figures, safe cracking, and a deadly shooting, until the satisfying conclusion is reached. A nice touch: the "confetti" thrown at the end. William is as suave as he is in his role as Perry Mason, Douglas is as debonair as he is in his films with Garbo, Bruce is more gorgeous than she is in BORN TO DANCE, even Zucco is more believable than he is in his horror films of the 40's. Also, watch for noted screen chewer Vladimir Sokoloff in his much younger years. One of the better crime films of the '30's with witty repartee, handsome actors, and a clever plot.
"Arsene Lupin Returns" is a 1938 film starring Melvyn Douglas, Virginia
Bruce, Warren William, Monty Woolley, and John Halliday.
Rene Farrand (Douglas) is engaged to a wealthy, beautiful woman, Lorraine de Grissac (Bruce). When a fabulous emerald necklace is stolen from Lorraine's uncle, everyone is a suspect. A private eye who once worked for the FBI, Steve Emerson (William) is brought in to investigate. The name of the famous jewel thief, Arsene Lupin, is tossed around, though he is dead. However, Emerson has never believed that, and there are clues pointing to his return from the grave.
Emerson is very suspicious of Farrand, and suspects that he might be the dead Lupin. In one scene, the necklace keeps turning up, first in one person's pocket, and then another's.
One bone to pick. One review here complained that NO ONE in this movie had a French accent, even though this story takes place in France. In France, the people speak French. They don't speak English with a French accent. So no accent is needed since one assumes they're speaking French. Following the line of thought of the review, if these people needed accents, so would anyone performing a Chekhov play need Russian accents, and you'd need Swedish accents for Strindberg. Incorrect.
This is a good movie with nice performances all around; the series never caught on, in part due to the fact that Arsene was played by different actors all the time.
MELVYN DOUGLAS is debonair, WARREN WILLIAM is clever and sophisticated,
and VIRGINIA BRUCE is decorative but bland as a lovely blonde, but
ARSENE LUPIN RETURNS is pretty much a replay of the original film
"Arsene Lupin" with little variation in plot and theme.
The supporting cast includes such dependable actors as GEORGE ZUCCO and MONTY WOOLLEY, but the story never becomes more than a routine mystery with overtones of comedy, despite the handsome MGM production values.
It's interesting mainly to see how Douglas will evade detection as the police close in on the man suspected of being the jewel thief whose theft of a precious emerald from a safe has them on his heels, just waiting for a chance to catch him in the act. The plot takes an unexpected twist when a cast member who is the least of the suspects, turns out to be the man responsible for murder and theft.
Overall effect is that it's a watchable film, mainly because of the cast, but it's a forgettable item as a mystery.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Beautifully mounted (especially in the photography and costume
departments), but dull talk-fest. The normally stylish director George
Fitzmaurice can do little with the slow-moving script. In this
follow-up to the superb 1932 film, Maurice Le Blanc's celebrated
"prince of thieves" has retired from criminal activity to enjoy life as
a country gentleman. A jewel robber then usurps his identity. But who?
To everyone but the dialogue-bound players in this drawing-room
"mystery", the identity of the real thief is obvious.
The support cast is studded with some of my favorite players, although I make an exception for Nat Pendleton who grossly over-acts as usual. The principals pour on the charm. Virginia Bruce looks stunning in Dolly Tree costumes. Melvyn Douglas and Warren William, both likewise impeccably dressed, vie for her affections, but John Halliday is forced to wrestle with a nothing role.
The Arsene Lupin films have been around since well before the advent of
talking pictures and a wide variety of actors have played the role of
this gentleman thief (sort of like the Lone Wolf or Boston Blackie
before they went straight). Because of the massive turnover of actors
and generally lackluster films, despite the series continuing on and
off for decades, it never caught on with the public.
In this installment, it picks up three years after the last film. While the actors were different, the plot was a logical follow-up to the earlier film and once again, while the film was set in France, no one spoke with even the vaguest of French accents. This time, a fat-headed but brilliant detective (Warren William) is out to catch the thief but must contend with some decent plot twists to untangle the mystery.
This is a pretty good film of about the same quality as the earlier ARSENE LUPIN starring John and Lionel Barrymore. While this film did not have quite the same star power as this other film, Melvin Douglas and Warren William are both entertaining to watch. Sadly, however, despite a decent supporting performance by Virginia Bruce, there were also some disappointing performances as well. George Zucco (a perennial heavy from B-films) and Monty Wooley (a likable sort of rogue in most films) are pretty much wasted, as they are given very little to do. It's a shame, because with better writing, these two could have been major assets in the movie. Instead, Douglas and William are pretty much the whole show.
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