Book thief/forger sells a fake book to a Nazi through a female agent. A detective tries to uncover who the forger is and gets in the middle of a three way struggle for rare books and revenge in a public library.
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Jim Fleg (George Sanders), a ruthless, egotistical criminal, steals a priceless Shakespeare folio from the public library, killing a guard during the crime. With his partner, Myra Blandy (Gail Patrick), Fleg forges and sells copies of the folio to unscrupulous collectors. Hal McByrne (Richard Denning), a tough, unrelenting detective traces several of the forgeries back to Myra. She and Fled plot to eliminate McBryne at the scene of the original crime---the public library. In the meantime, a buyer of one of the forgeries is demanding his money back--or else---and trails Myra and Fleg to the library. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Master forger of rare books (Sanders) gets mixed up with Nazis (Blackmer), a detective (Denning) and a double-crossing dame (Patrick).
The convoluted script may take a Rosetta Stone to solve, still it's a slickly done TCF programmer. Those two smoothies Sanders and Patrick are well cast as a couple of A-team masochists, engaged in a game of one-upmanship and about as trustworthy as rattlesnakes. In fact, Patrick's character qualifies for the Devious Dame Hall of Fame, with her warm personality and stone cold heart. Still, I'm a bit surprised that some of that pain-loving dialog Sanders relishes made it past the censors. Usually old Hollywood just hinted at such things instead of belaboring them.
Denning and Roberts are clearly America's team, though Denning may wobble at times. One thing for sureset design and art direction come cheap since most of the action takes place in a single setting, a library. Still, director Larkin keeps things moving. And get a load of baldy Kurt Katch's mute Nazi. He's about as inviting as the polar ice cap and just as chilling. But, I'm still wondering which thug belongs to which gang, which does get confusing.
Oh well, things do sort out, I think. Then too, it's 1942 and the war is still in doubt. Byron Foulger's officious little air warden may be on the silly side, but the blackouts weren't. These old movies do show us things the history books can't. Anyhow, the movie may be nothing to write home about. But it's still impressive how Hollywood could turn out such slick little programmers in the middle of a big war.
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