In a small Georgia town, twelve year old tomboy Frankie Addams feels unconnected to the world, a fact troubling to her. Her unconventional views for a twelve year old girl make her an ... See full summary »
Brandon De Wilde
As a train speeds through the Arizona night, a man posing as a physician holds up the baggage-car crew and escapes with a $500,000 payroll. The fake doctor, Paul Bruckner, leaves the train ... See full summary »
Blind detective Duncan Maclain is visited by old friend Norma Lawry, looking for help in getting rid of one of her old beaus, who is courting Norma's 17-year old step-daughter. When the old beau is found murdered, Norma is the chief suspect until Duncan (aided by his guide-dog Friday) pays a visit to her home and uncovers a plot to steal her husband's military secrets for the enemy. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
[talking to Duncan Maclain's dog]
I'm off to the Harlem Squash and Tennis Club to meet my dream girl.
[Alistar opens the door and the dog flattens him to pursue a female canine in the street]
Why, you wolf!
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I'd never heard of this film, but discovered it bundled in with a lot of other 30s/40s B-movies in the "Mystery Classics" collection from Platinum Video. It's a surprisingly good film, really a near-great film that's hobbled a bit by it's middle act.
The first part of the film is really the only part that's a straight-forward detective romp, w/ a blind detective and his seeing-eye-dog and his hired muscle simpleton helping him sleuth out a fairly typical wrongfully-accused-murder plot. This part of the film is all golden, partially, I think, because the Detective's characters (All intended to be recurring characters in an ongoing film franchise that never quite got off the ground after this really good first chapter) feel like they have a past together, they feel like they know who they are, which is unusual for a potboiler of this era.
The second act resolves the murder a bit too quickly - in fact, it's never exactly resolved, the film merely abruptly changes focus from the detective et al to the murderers themselves discussing why they did it. This robs the film of most of it's dramatic strength, and essentially the middle act becomes little more than filler. It's entertaining enough filler - a sort of World War II version of "Wait Until Dark" - but it doesn't really advance the plot much.
The third act is the somewhat-rushed climax/resolution, though it features an unexpectedly cool shootout filmed in a very unusual style, and extended sequence with the detective's amazingly-well-trained dog. (Seriously, this dog is great! He could easily do his own taxes. He makes any other trained film dog - and really most trained film monkeys
look like idiots by comparison). On the whole, the film ends well,
but it never fully recovers the momentum it lost by shifting focus in the middle, and as a result the final wrap up just comes across as slightly unsatisfying. It is, however, a more than satisfying introduction to what no doubt would have been a great detective series which, sadly, never really took off. I'm very surprised the concept was never revisited on TV or Radio, since the central character is endlessly entertaining.
One odd note: the ending feels a bit truncated, with some of the action happening off-camera. For instance, early on one of the bad guys is captured and held by the detective's men. Later on, we're shown the detective's men bound and gagged, the bad guy having evidently escaped. Later the bad guy reunites with his own people, but the transition is so abrupt that it feels like we're missing a scene or two. Also, there's a subplot in which the bad guys are hiding family information from one of their own people. This sets up what is obviously intended to be a major plot point, but, in the end absolutely nothing comes of it. Again, is this a missing scene, or simply bad writing? I can't tell.
Still and all, this is a near-classic film with a great character and some fantastic performances that unfortunately hobbles itself. Well worth a viewing, however.
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