A society grand dame who hosts charity parties in her home is mixed up in a jewel theft racket which defrauds insurance companies. When she is murdered, Gay Laurence (a.k.a. The Falcon)and assistant 'Goldie' Locke are on the case with help from beautiful Helen Reed, who becomes a rival to Gay's fiancée Elinor for the sleuth's affections. Written by
[as Gay appears preoccupied]
Are you reasoning something out or something?
Yes, I'm wondering if I lived here, where'd I hide something if I wee clever and had something to hide.
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I haven't seen any of the other Falcon films, so I have the benefit of seeing this and not knowing what comes afterwards. Quite frankly, having watched I can't guess what comes next - whether Gay Lawrence (the Falcon) stays with his fiancée and an impending marriage that never quite comes off becomes some kind of running joke like John Howard's Bulldog Drummond of the late 30's, or if Wendy Barrie's character Helen Reed becomes the Falcon's new girl, or if the Falcon has no girl or another girl entirely in the coming entries, but the ending had me wanting to see the next one.
Of course the wit and wisdom of George Sanders is a plus in any film, and as The Falcon it is unclear what his background is in this entry. The Falcon seems to be a man of means, but he doesn't seem to have a profession nor does he seem to be a reformed criminal either. At the beginning of the film he has set up shop as a broker on Wall Street to satisfy his fiancée that he is through with "crime detecting" as she calls it and wants to settle down, although when she drops in to visit both The Falcon and his assistant Goldy Locke are dead asleep at their desks. She has come to ask him to a society party, the idea obviously bores him, and he declines. Later, though, the personal secretary of the society woman giving the party shows up (Wendy Barrie as Helen Reed) and pleads with the Falcon to attend the party, as jewelry has been stolen at all of the woman's recent parties, and another robbery will ruin her reputation. Suddenly the Falcon is interested in attending, but doesn't tell his fiancée why.
Jewelry is not stolen at this party, but one of the guests in attendance slips the Falcon an expensive ring while they are dancing - she has no explanation as to why she does this and seems to have the Falcon confused with someone else. A few minutes later she is found shot dead. Worse, Goldy is held as a material witness to the crime, so now the Falcon is involved and must solve the crimes. Meanwhile he has both an angry fiancée on his hands and the society lady's swooning secretary, who loves the adventure of tracking down criminals alongside the Falcon.
This is a very good entry that has a very interesting supporting cast. Allen Jenkins is a natural and in good contrast to the suave Sanders as the Falcon's assistant. Edward Brophy is cut from the same cloth as Jenkins and is good as a police detective. Turhan Bey shows up outside of a Universal film for a change as an exotic and mysterious suspect. Arthur Shields, brother of Barry Fitzgerald and a dead ringer for him, seems a bit out of place as Inspector Mike Waldeck, whom the Falcon is more than ready to give credit to for solving the crime.
Recommended as a fast paced good start to the series.
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