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Private Detective (1939)

When they are forced to work together, rival detectives fall in love.


(as Noel Smith)


(screen play), (screen play) (as Raymond Schrock) | 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Rickey
Mona Lannon
John Ridgely ...
Donald Norton
Nat Flavin
John Eldredge ...
Millard Lannon
Capt. Murphy
Inspector Evans (as William Davidson)
Simmy Sanger (as Selmar Jackson)
Mrs. Widner
Julie Stevens ...
Detective Dolan
Henry Blair ...
Bobby Lannon
Justice of the Peace (scenes deleted)


Private detective "Jinx" Wilsnow is working on the case of a divorcée who is accused of murdering her ex-husband. She and police detective Jim Rickey, working on the same crime, cross and criss-cross each other's path to the extent they decide more progress would be made if they work together. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Hey Fellows...LET'S GET IN TROUBLE...JANE WYMAN'S A DETECTIVE NOW! (original ad) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 December 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Detetive Particular  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Myrna "Jinx" Winslow: Jack, when are you going to use your head for something besides a place to put your hat?
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User Reviews

Wyman and Foran Make it a Must See
9 January 2012 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Private Detective (1939)

*** (out of 4)

Surprisenly effective "B" picture from Warner about private (Jane Wyman) and homicide (Dick Foran) detectives, obviously dating, who are trying to find the killer of a millionaire. The homicide detective thinks it was the man's ex-wife who he was in a custody battle with but the private detective has her own thoughts. PRIVATE DETECTIVE is one of those low-budget films that studios were pumping out back in the day to fill up second bills or to try and push new talent onto film-goers. There's no question that I've seen dozens, if not hundreds, of these mystery movies but this one here is certainly among the most entertaining and it's a real shame that it's not better known. I'd also add that it's a shame Wyman and Foran didn't get to do this as a series because the duo have a terrific chemistry together and when they fight they seem like a real couple. Both stars do a very good job here and they certainly help sell the film. Even though it only runs 56-minutes there's a pretty good story here for them to work with. Wyman is extremely adorable in her part of the private detective who is constantly getting herself into trouble by trying to figure out the truth. Foran is also impressive in his part as the tough guy and he not only has great chemistry with Wyman but also Max Rosenbloom who plays his partner here. All three actors really help sell the film as does supporting players John Ridgely and Morgan Conway as a jerk lawyer. What also helps push the film over the edge is the very strong direction by Noel Smith. He certainly brings quite a bit of style to a film like this and I'd argue that it's the perfect example of a pre-noir. It's not too hard to figure out who the killer is but this doesn't hurt the film because the screenplay offers up several nice twist and turns along the way. Fans of the genre will certainly want to check this one out.

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