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The Falcon Takes Over (1942)

Approved | | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 29 May 1942 (USA)
The Falcon and reporter Ann Riordan try to solve a string of murders after an ex-wrestler, released from jail, goes looking for his girl friend.

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Storyline

One night in New York, beefy escaped convict Moose Malloy goes hunting for his ex-girlfriend Velma, leaving a trail of mayhem behind him. Velma seems to be well-hidden, and adventurer The Falcon, intrigued, investigates on his own, approaching the heart of the mystery via a varied sequence of shady characters and attractive women. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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MYSTERY that you'll laugh at...when -- The Falcon TAKES OVER


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Approved | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

29 May 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Falcon Steps Out  »

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(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the story is supposed to take place in contemporaneous 1942, the stock footage of Times Square was evidently shot two years earlier as the first run marquee shows "The Boys from Syracuse" released in 1940. See more »

Goofs

In a night club scene The Falcon and Diana Kenyon are sitting close together talking. There is a plant pot on a ledge behind them, partially obscured and on the table a champagne glass is in front of Diana Kenyon. In the next shot, there is a gap separating the two, the flower pot is now centrally placed between them and the champagne glass has moved position. See more »

Quotes

Moose Malloy: Velma, why did you do it, Baby? Why did you do it?
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Connections

Followed by The Falcon in Mexico (1944) See more »

Soundtracks

There's Only One Way to Say I Love You
(uncredited)
Written by Herman Ruby and Sam H. Stept
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User Reviews

 
Entertaining, unusual, comic early take on the film noir universe.
15 August 2001 | by See all my reviews

This little known entry in a minor series might ring a few more bells when it is known that 'the Falcon takes over' is the first adaptation of Raymond Chandler's wonderful novel 'Farewell my Lovely'. And rather good it is too. Unlike its more famous successors - Edward Dmytryk's 1943 'Murder my sweet' and Dick Richards' 1975 remake, both the very definition of earnest film noir and neo-noir - this film has a vein of parody, irony and wit, that brings it closer to Robert Altman's iconoclastic 'The Long Goodbye', or, at the very least, Eddie Constantine's Lemmy Caution series of films in France.

Of course, this has largely to do with the fixed needs of an already established series, to which any source material was fitted - Chandler was clearly just another hack writer towards whom little respect need be paid. There is none of Chandler's profound disillusionment here, no attempt to trace a society or analyse its corruption. this is the noir equivalent of a Broadway musical comedy, with background strictly a setting, like a ship or a drawing room, in which familiar types do their routine.

There is no angst-ridden, isolated, defeated knight Philip Marlowe here; in his place is the Falcon, a heavy, louche, even leery amateur of dubious sexuality (like Lemmy he is clumsily eager for the ladies, and tends to bed them as soon as he meets them (or in such a way as Hollywood code could at the time suggest); but he lives a determinedly bachelor life in a large house with his 'bit of rough' sidekick Goldie, who likes to wear incongruously svelte dressing gowns in the morning (another kind of Hollywood code), his unseen fiancee fortuitously miles away).

It is important to stress that in the very early days of noir, there was an in-built awareness of the need for parody. Noir is a powerful vision, especially in a culture of such blinding, gaudy brightness as the US. But sometimes, in its macho fatalism and frightened misogyny, it can be an exhausting vision - too much straight noir can be bad for your mental health.

But this is not to say that 'Falcon' is just a big joke. Like that other great serial film that transcended its modest origins - 'Sherlock Holmes and the Pearl of Death' - it is closer to the horror film than the detective genre. Moose Molloy's lumbering, unthinking violence is similar to Karloff's Frankenstein. The scene where the Falcon, impersonating a drunk, first meets him, is filmed with mock-horror sensationalism, as is O'Hara's creeping up on Goldie's neck later. There is an attempted murder in a fog-wafting cemetary. The scene at Jules Amthor's exotic haven has the feel of those Egyptian horrors like 'the Mummy' Universal used to churn out in the 1930s, while the soundtrack has the mysterious anxiety of horror rather than the strident fear we expect from noir.

In a genre which centres on the detective, on knowledge, on the possibility of explaining and repairing breaks in the social and moral order, the intrusion of horror will be disturbing. It asserts the opposite - the limits of knowledge, darkness over the light of reason, the vulnerability of bodies, the point of breakdown. the Falcon in this mystery is singularly inept, and is only saved from death by a singularly unconvincing deus ex machina. He is utterly exposed, his reason and detective status irrelevant faced with the cold fact of Death in a lonely forest, a very horror milieu. In this way, the amiably silly 'Falcon' is actually closer to the spirit of Chandler than more 'serious', faithful versions (Despite the scriptwriters' brave efforts, though, the plot is typically intransigent!).


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