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This is the most Famous Falcon Film, the one where one brother gets fed
up with the title role so the other brother steps in and continues the
series for another 4 years. George Sanders was nearly always good in
these kind of roles but personally I always preferred Tom Conway, maybe
he just looked more comfortable in B pictures. I also preferred as
sidekick Allen Jenkins as Goldie to Don Barclay as Lefty. The film
quality isn't very good at this distance, sometimes it's so jumpy and
grainy the continuity and the acting resemble Monogram more than RKO -
are all extant copies from '50's TV dupes?
Basically Gay Lawrence is after the people who murdered someone supposed to be his brother Tom, for a while both are on the case before Gay becomes hors de combat. Tom has to do the detective work himself for most of the film.
The patter between the Inspector played by Cliff Clark and flatfoot Ed Gargan is repetitive but entertaining - "I'm boss. You don't mind do you?", James Gleason was also good in the role previously. Jane Randolph as the nosey reporter who doesn't seem to do much reporting is decorative but apparently unappealing to the Falcon: the solving of the crimes are everything. Not so vice versa - the Falcon would continue as a lady-killer of seismic proportions!
All in all a most enjoyable 1940's murder mystery B film, but nothing really extraordinary in a most enjoyable series of 13 up to 1946.
Of all the Falcon movies, this is probably the most tongue-in-cheek, or just plain "corn", but engaging nevertheless, and you had better pay attention to every bit of it or you'll be lost. The main reason for the film is that George Sanders wanted out of the role (this was the fourth in the series), and stipulated that he be killed in the plot, therefore avoiding any returns in the future. His real-life brother Tom Conway, fell heir to the series and went on to make nine appearances as the Falcon. In this offering, a dead body appears almost immediately, first thought to be that of the Falcon's brother. Not so! The ship that he was supposedly on also carried an assortment of spies and shady types, who weave in and out of the plot, giving both Falcons plenty of opportunities for sleuthing and woman-chasing. After sifting through all the South Americans, Mexicans, native New Yorkers and high-society women, the original Falcon (Sanders) gives his life shielding a foreign diplomat from an assassin's bullet. Just as it seems that it's all over for Falcon lovers, and brother Tom is about to head for home, he receives a telephone threat, so he decides to stay and become the Falcon himself! Nine more movies evolved in the series, now starring Tom Conway.
George Sanders plays The Falcon for the last time in "The Falcon's
Brother," a 1942 programmer starring Sanders, Tom Conway, and Jane
Lawrence. The intricate plot focuses on a fashion house and a fashion
magazine, poisoning with cigars, mistaken identity, and lots of other
things in a mere 1 hour and 10 minutes or so. It's 1942, so you can
also expect Nazis to be involved. "Something changed after Pearl
Harbor," a character tells Gay (Sanders). "Most things," he agrees.
This film was the transition so that Sanders' real-life brother, Tom Conway, could take over the series. Sanders was somewhat smoother than his brother, more suave and handsome, but Conway was a serviceable actor, and their speaking voices were somewhat close. There was just something about Sanders that made him so good as the Falcon and the Saint - panache maybe. Both Gay and Tom go after the women like crazy in this one. Always fun and light entertainment.
This is a B-movie detective film from back in the day when such series
were common. While The Falcon series isn't as interesting or fun as
Charlie Chan or Sherlock Holmes, it is one of the better examples of
the genre. Interestingly enough, growing up I often couldn't remember
if I'd just seen a Falcon film or a Saint film, as both series were
produced (for the most part) by RKO and many featured George Sanders
playing the same character in almost every way aside from their name!
The formula and action was identical--both detectives were
sophisticated rich guys who mostly dabbled in investigating crimes out
of a desire to avoid boredom or meet women! From a historical
standpoint, this is THE must-see film of either series, as it stars
George Sanders AND his nearly identical-looking and talking real-life
brother, Tom Conway--who when on to play The Falcon in nine films! It
seems that George was tired of this series work and wanted out of the
contract, so they decided to use his equally talented older
brother--who made a smooth transition to the role. In fact, it's pretty
cool to see BOTH Falcons in the same film and I really appreciated the
unusual and unexpected ending (which I WON'T divulge so I'll keep it
Apart from Conway and Sanders, the film is also better than the average Falcon film, as the plot is very good and the supporting cast all do an excellent job of combining mystery with a light sense of humor. This isn't an intellectual or deep film, but represents a good and watchable B-movie that has held up well through the years.
This is the fourth of the Falcon films, in which both George Sanders and his real life brother Tom Conway appear. It was the occasion for the handover of the role. Sanders and Conway have many scenes together, and vie to out-do each other in suaveness and urbanity, and it is a tie. Then Sanders is knocked unconscious and spends much of the film in bed, which he doubtless found restful. At the end, Sanders sacrifices his life in the struggle against Nazism (it is after all 1942 and the plot deals with German agents) and presto, Tom Conway is and for the remaining series of films will be the Falcon. This film has a higher budget than the preceding ones (there is even a ship), the plot is complicated, it is all more solid and convincing. In fact, it is a very entertaining tale. Keye Luke has now become the falcon's butler, adding his own charm and wit to the team, and doing amusing impersonations of pidgin English (he was Chinese) when he wants to put off 'dames' who phone too often. The falcon's sidekick is now played by Don Barclay, which like the addition of Keye Luke is a great improvement. This film was edited by Mark Robson, later to be a famous director, and the improved editing shows. However, because the screenwriters have changed, all the great gags and one-liners have disappeared, there is no more crackling dialogue, and the Falcon series is no longer a laugh a minute.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
George Sanders leaves the series and his brother in real life as well
as the series, Tom Conway takes over the series as the international
man of mystery known as the Falcon.
At first it doesn't look like anyone's taking over anything as Sanders identifies a body that he says is his brother Tom. But that's just to give him investigating room to find out what his brother Tom has himself involved in.
We meet Conway soon enough and he's hot on the trail of some Nazi agents who are operating out of a fashion magazine. Like Communists later on, those Nazis get involved everywhere. They've even got spies in the police department, heaven forfend.
What these Nazis got cooked up is an assassination plot for a Latin American minister. Remember all Latin American countries with the exception of Argentina had declared war on the Axis powers. Hitler boasted he could take South America with a telephone call. This movie shows that he was doing a bit more than chatting on Ma Bell's lines.
As is well known to fans of the series Sanders dies foiling the plot and Conway takes over the series with the same elegant touch that Sanders brought to the role. Other than that The Falcon's Brother is an average entry in the series.
George Sanders makes his last appearance as Gay Lawrence, aka the
Falcon, in this fun if fairly standard B mystery. There's a corpse in
an ocean liner stateroom; the victim is apparently Tom Lawrence, the
Falcon's brother; Gay Lawrence goes aboard and quietly identifies the
body. Not surprisingly, it's not as simple as all that.
A clever shot introduces Tom Conway as the Falcon's brother: First we watch the Falcon, just off of the ship, race off in a taxi following another taxi as the cops hop into their car to follow him. Then, over in a shadow, we see a dark figure strike a match and light a cigarette, his face lit up just for a moment before the match goes out and he is in darkness again. It's the Falcon's brothernot so deadwatching it all from the shadows.
Eventually we learn that the plot involves Nazi espionage, some South American spies, and a fashion magazine. The cast of characters includes the usual grumpy police inspector (Cliff Clark, this time, as an Inspector Donovan) and dumb assistant detective (Edward Gargan back as Detective Bates, always saying "Sorry, Chief").
Jane Randolph is lively and funny as the usual spunky girl reporter who sticks her nose in and helps out: "Well, I'm only a fashion reporter," she admits early on, "but I'll get a police beat someday!"
Conway is good as the new Falcon, stepping into the role quite confidently. Sanders, on his way out of the series, is perhaps a little less interested but fun to watch nevertheless, especially in the couple of scenes he shares with brother Conway.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How do you keep a franchise going when your lead actor tires of the role? Bring in his brother and keep going with him. Its brilliant move that allowed for George Saunders to get away from the programmers he was stuck making (he had been in the Saint series prior to this) and allowed him to go do other things. Tom Conway, who took over the role, is just as good, and perhaps better than his brother since he managed to both be above everything like his brother, but he also came across as actually caring about the mystery at hand. Lets face it Saunders really didn't seem to care by this stage, though to be honest he did put in bit of effort here since I'm guessing he knew he was free. I like this film a great deal, as I like the entire series. Its worth seeing either because you want to see a footnote film in a movie history or because you want to see a really good mystery.
Except for the switcheroo, it's a routine Falcon entry. The series was
never big on mystery or atmosphere, staples of better whodunits like
the Chan series. Instead, the entries lean heavily on sprightly charm
supplied first by Sanders and now by Conway, and a steady stream of
statuesque, well-upholstered girls, which this entry supplies in
spades. Looks like RKO may have used the series to photograph some of
their younger talent.
It turns out here after a couple false starts that the brothers are on the trail of Nazi spies, not surprising for 1942. However, I am surprised that the two actors generally deliver such engaged performances over the course of the entire series. After all, the Falcon role is basically one-dimensional, requiring only that the actor be suavely charming and not much else. I expect Sanders had become bored and quit before losing interest; at the same time, Conway picks up nicely on what has become a family trust.
The best scenes are with Conway and the sprightly reporter Randolph, whose well-scripted chemistry works. It's also a good chance to ogle high fashion, circa 1942. On the other hand, is the witless comedy relief from Clark, Gargan, and Barclay, blowing little lame holes through the proceedings. Anyway, the movie may be unique in film series annals for the way it creates the switcheroo, which really does amount to a startling departure. Otherwise, it's strictly a routine affair.
Wow, I really enjoy "The Falcon" movies and this has it's good moments. It also has some very bad moments. George Sanders is good for as long as he is in the movie. Tom Conway also does a good job as the Falcon's brother, Tom. Suave and smooth go hand in hand with Sanders and Conway. There is a real problem with the supporting actors, especially Don Barclay as "Lefty," the Falcon's side kick. The actor is just terrible, a droning monotone, complete lack of facial expressions and a delivery that shows the actor just walked through his lines. Cliff Clark as Inspector Donovan mugs his way through all of his scenes and Jane Randolph as reporter Marcia Brooks is entirely too predictable and annoying. But then so is her character. Mind you, I don't expect Academy Award material from these "B" movies but the first three "Falcon" movies were much better. Well, the first and third movies were better than this. I haven't seen the next movie with Conway, where Conway takes over the role of The Falcon but with the name of Tom Lawrence. The ending is also a bit abrupt and unsatisfying. All in all there are much better examples of these "B" movies. But there are worse ones as well. If you really want to see all of the movies, don't miss this one. It would leave a gap in your knowledge. One thing I really enjoy is seeing character actors doing bit parts that are quite often uncredited. Keye Luke in this one and Hans Conrad in several of the Falcon and Saint movies. Good stuff.
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