|Index||4 reviews in total|
Although the Frog Gang was thought to be out of business a sudden rash of
crimes shows the mark, literally, of their return. Before long Inspector Elk
is once again on the trail of the gang, only this time he's aided by Dale
Sandford from Chicago, who may very well be the one that calls himself the
I maybe over selling this movie by giving it a ten out of ten, but few of the mysteries of the time make me laugh, smile and sit on the edge of my seat the way this one does. This one has everything in abundance, chases, fights, smart ass lines, romance, and best of all genuine mystery, something most mysteries of the period are lacking. There is only one false note in the entire film and that is the performance of the Frog when he's revealed in the final moments.
No, its not the best movie ever made, there are "problems" with it that would keep it from being a "perfect" film, but I'm not looking for a perfect film. I, like most people I know, tend to watch the old mysteries for a feel that they engender, its not the mystery or acting but a place that they take you to and this one has it in spades. It feels like an old friend even when you're only just seeing it. Its a movie from a simpler time when the heroes were good, and the villains were bad and even though you know in the back of your head it will come out okay, you still sense that anything can and will happen. Its the old mystery you might have made had you had the chance to do so way back when.
Put this on my list of all time favorites, its destined to become a well worn DVD.
Thoroughly enjoyed 'Return of the Frog' and I felt it was a pleasant
surprise. I also thoroughly enjoyed Gordon Harker as Insp. Elk, an
actor with whom I was not familiar. I have to admit he did not get off
to a promising start. When the picture began here he was, a homely,
rumpled, potato-faced fellow who does not fit anyone's image of a
Scotland Yard Inspector, but within 5 minutes he took over the role and
became - he was - Insp. Elk of the Yard. In fact, he was the glue that
held the picture together.
It was too bad that they decided to inject humor into the movie. I dislike the 30's and 40's habit of mixing mystery and comedy on both sides of the Atlantic, but Hollywood does it better. Harker's mumbled asides were extremely funny (listen for them), but the film's sight gags were too obvious and poorly timed.
The story involves a mysterious figure known as The Frog who has a gang of criminals to pull off his villainy, and whose identity is unknown until 15 minutes to go in the film. By the way, disregard the plot synopsis at the top of the IMDb credits, as it isn't even close to the real story. It begins as an American detective from Chicago arrives at the Yard to learn about new police work techniques, and becomes an assistant to Elk. You take it from there. There were no noteworthy actors to my knowledge, save for Una O'Connor but without her trademark shrieking scene.
Return of the Frog was a very worthwhile 75 minutes. Allow for its age and feeble attempts at humor and you have a rating of 7 - and you might not guess the identity of the Frog.
Edgar Walace used to be the same kind of franchise that Alistair McLean or
Steven King would become.
Here we get the same succession of murderous ambushes, disguises, suspects and heedless detecting that his books offers (the fifties German films had little connection.) This team had the formula all down with the dockland atmosphere and so British players making it ring true.
Director Elvey was a sure craftsman at this stage and the pace is rapid enough to cover the illogical moments. Even the dreadful Gordon Harker is in his element.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are so many things wrong with this uneasy mixture of comedy and
crime, it's difficult to make a start. I don't like to single out
Gordon Harker but he must cop a fair share of the blame. As a comic
character actor, Harker is fine. As a whimsical police inspector
parrying smart dialogue with crooks and receivers, he's totally
unconvincing. Mind you, Cyril Smith seems equally out of place, but his
role at least is smaller, whereas Harker dominates almost every scene.
(Elk does not figure in Wallace's novel at all. The central character
is Inspector John Wade, but Herbert Wilcox wanted to capitalize on the
success of The Frog which he produced two years earlier).
The second big problem emanates from the "mysterious" Frog himself who boasts (via closed circuit television to his confederates) that no-one could possibly tumble to his true identity. Well, I've got news for you, Mr Frog. I didn't just suspect your identity when you first entered the scene, I knew instantly who you were. Your "disguise" didn't fool me for a second. Why? Three reasons: (1) You were markedly obvious to anyone who has read a few detective stories or seen three or four thrillers; (2) You overplayed the humble pie act; (2) the dopey director thrust you center stage as if to say, "Take special notice of this guy. He may seem a lackluster boob, but he's actually very important."
Which brings me to my third problem: the bumpy direction. Elvey's pacing is all over the place. Minor scenes with unimportant characters standing around chewing the fat are drawn out way beyond their welcome, whereas essential plot points are often hurried over at such a speed, the simple story becomes difficult to follow. (The way Harker mumbles his dialogue doesn't help either). On the other hand, Elvey does present us with a couple of thrilling action episodes, but these too often suffer from poor timing. In Elvey's hands, comedy, farce and drama just don't seem to mix.
That leads us to the fourth and final dilemma: a climax that's a real let-down (in both senses of the word). I expected something that would top the splendid action of the river bomb sequence. But this didn't happen. Instead the Frog was unmasked (or rather he revealed himself, despite the fact that 99% of the audience knew who he was all along), and was then summarily disposed of not by the eccentric inspector, but by his comic sidekick. The whole sequence was deliberately played mostly for laughs! Finally, the pleasant-faced Hartley Power character turned out to be Well, I won't spoil the "surprise" but that info was given to us almost in the very first scene.
Production values appear worthy enough, but all in all, the end result equates as somewhat disappointingespecially for Edgar Wallace fans!
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