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|Index||16 reviews in total|
The Falcon was a character, like The Saint and The Lone Wolf and Boston Blackie, who belonged to the more-American decade of the 1940s. This was the era of individualism in movies, of the private investigator, the lone adventurer, the tough-minded gent who refused to be intimidated by bullies and crime bosses. If the era's screenwriters showed some preoccupation with physical violent potential that led to the denigration of mental toughness in favor of physical courage (during a WWII era), they also produced a few intelligent heroes such as The Falcon. He is a Brit, one who attracts trouble, and women, the way a magnet does iron filings--and who is adept at dealing with both. The part also ably played by his brother George Sanders here is essayed by low-key leading man Tom Conway. The delightful element in this entry in a low-budget fun series is that the producers play the quiet, suave Falcon off Billie", a brassy, talkative and beautiful cabbie entrusted as a role to comedic genius Veda Ann Borg. I find it miraculous that the studio bosses of the time did not notice the potent chemistry between the two characters and make a sequel with Billie as a more streetwise companion to their somewhat-taciturn hero. The other thing that is noteworthy about this story I suggest is that the action which begins at a racetrack with the old 'switched handbag routine" leads to multiple murders at a movie studio; studio-based and later location-based problems with a production headed by Shakespeare-quoting dour John Abbott help to make possible some clever character revelations, and the eventual unraveling of an intricate mystery of motivations, mayhem and secrecies. Among others in the extraordinary "B" film cast are able Sheldon Leonard, lovely Barbara Hale (later of "Perry Mason" TV fame), Rita Corday (aka Paulie Crozet), Konstantine Shayne as a nasty director, Jean Brooks in an intelligent role, and Emory Parnell and Frank Jenks as befuddled policemen.. All are very adequate at doing whatever is asked of them. This is a low-budget production all the way, of course; only localizing it in a movie studio's existing soundstages and sets obscures this fact. The location jaunt is a delight, featuring a swimming pool area and additional zones, and the racetrack sequence is also very ably directed by action-film great Gordon Douglas.. Technical credit should be given to the sound department and to Renie for her fine costumes also. This was in its day a "programmer", a story enlivened by good and by cheap touches of inspiration. But anyone who dares to call it dated needs to look at the post 1972 filmmakers' 99% fizzled blockbusters consisting of inadequate acting, special effects and missed script opportunities, This is the best of the Falcon series, and from my perspective as a writer, that is rather a proud accomplishment in the area of providing entertainment on the cinematic screen.
I was watching this movie on the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown in Ulithi lagoon in the Western Caroline islands in 1945. I remember a scene at a swimming pool. Then a Kamikaze struck the Randolf, an aircraft carrier anchored next to us. The movie was stopped and we went to battle stations. I have tried to locate a copy of this movie so that I could see the ending with no luck.
A great tour of the RKO backlot. Tom Conway suave as ever gives us a turn
around the streets of 1940's Hollywood, including a trip to the Hollywood
Bowl. Barbara (Della Street) Hale is on hand again as are the fabulous
Sheldon Leonard and Robert Clark(I) in his second film role. Veda Ann Borg
is brash and funny, Konstantin Shayne mutter Shakespeare with panache, and
Jean Brooks(II) adds her charm to an early send up of Edith Head. And take
a look at that lovely underrated under used Rita Corday. It all starts at
the Hollywood race track, a mad dash around street cars down the Boulevard
and ending up at the RKO gate. Prop rooms, prop building, soundstages,
costume shop, the RKO stock swimming pool and finally the loft of the
soundstage. It's fast, funny and an exceptional tour of a working studio.
There is even a charming Arab actor Useff Ali as the "I can play any ethnic"
in what is only one of his two film roles. Too bad he didn't have a longer
The B pics at RKO had a great family of ensemble players..........Enjoy them.
Fast paced mystery, surprisingly unpredictable. It's nice to see so many locations in Los Angeles of the mid 1940's. Much of the film gives you studio backlot scenes, and behind the camera context, within a Hollywood soundstage. Even so, the story draws you in, and the characters are believable. The film moves at a good pace, and keeps you guessing. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Back to the city and business as normal (?) for Tom Lawrence aka the
Falcon in solving crimes the cops can't [#10/13]. "Hollywood" had a
nice sunny feel to it, the War was a million miles away and people
wanted to get even further away from it with an escapist movie industry
The Falcon's busy losing at a racetrack but quickly gets mixed up with 2 beautiful women (Hale and Corday) and embroiled in tracking down an apparently stolen handbag. This leads to Sunset Pictures backlots where the body of a murdered man is discovered along with a gallery of suspects. The 2 best things here are the riveting but unfortunately intermittent tour of the RKO studios and props as the Falcon and his wisecracking female taxi driver played by Veda Ann Borg investigate, and the tight intelligent scripting. I wished there'd been much more behind the scenes for an even better picture of the studio. I kept expecting Borg to exclaim "Come up to my place!" Conway wouldn't have been as backward as Sinatra! John Abbott as the Shakespeare-obsessed studio boss had many amusing scenes, and Emory Parnell effortlessly swapped from baddie in Mexico to goodie in Hollywood. And the story actually made solid sense this time without detracting from the entertainment, you can follow it from first to last, and even though the baddie's identity is pretty obvious from early on it was all logically explained. The searching of dead Ted's apartment has always stuck with me though for the bit where the Falcon and Borg are philosophising about how sad a dead man's room is and the poignant line about if he had been "worrying about tragic things like a broken shoelace" that morning.
Recommended to fans of the genre, not to others. One of my favourite Falcon's, one I've watched again and again and still hope to.
This is the tenth Falcon film. It is one of the most amusing and satisfactory of the series. A new director, Gordon Douglas, came into the series, and injected some much-needed fresh energy. But chiefly, this film is remarkable for the pairing of Tom Conway with a female sidekick, a cabbie named Billie, played to superb comic effect by Veda Ann Borg. The two have a wonderful magic together. The producers had stumbled on a formula here which could have generated several more films of the wise-cracking guy and gal type, similar to the Thin Man series. But they retained neither the girl nor the director in future films, which shows that they were asleep at the wheel by this time. It is true that Veda Ann Borg's character gets a bit annoying after a while, through over-persistence, but that could so easily have been fixed. She and Tom Conway 'clicked' because she was not in the category of wolf's prey, so that he could relate to her as a person rather than as a curved shape (not that she was lacking in that department either, but her personality obliterated her looks entirely). Jean Brooks is there again, in her fourth Falcon film. Her icy demeanour makes her once again a chilling suspect. She always added so much to these films, because she was so convincing as either a villainess or a potential one. This film is extremely remarkable for a detective film of the 1940s in that a very large proportion of the dialogue consists of direct quotations from William Shakespeare, most of it uttered by John Abbott, by origin an Englishman who knew how to say the lines properly (he had appeared in England in 'The Importance of Being Earnest' (1937) and 'Mrs. Miniver' (1942) and was well grounded in the Bard). There is also one witty exchange of Shakespearian lines between Tom Conway and John Abbott. There is a wonderful cameo by an obscure uncredited actor, Chester Clute, as the manager of an apartment building (called a 'hotel' in the IMDb character list, though it was not a hotel in the story). The shots around Los Angeles and the RKO sound stages and lot are also fascinating. This is a real winner for avid Falconers.
Falcon in Hollywood, The (1944)
*** (out of 4)
Entertaining entry in RKO's series has The Falcon (Tom Conway) on vacation in Hollywood when a famous actor is murdered. The finger points to various people in the production so The Falcon must sort it all out. This is perhaps the best that I've seen from the series due in large part to a very good supporting cast and a nice little mystery that remains interesting throughout the film. Most of the action takes place on the backlot of a studio so we get all sorts of nice scenes, which work themselves well into the mystery. A lot of Hollywood props are used as gags or evidence and this too adds to the fun. The characters working on the film within the film are all very entertaining. We get your typical crazy German director, the playboy, a jealous wannabe star and a producer who's always going around quoting Shakespeare. Conway is also very energetic here and delivers his best performance in the role since The Falcon's Brother.
A welcome return to form for the Falcon series -- having run out of
ideas for the standard city-based plots, the studio evidently tried
putting the Falcon into unaccustomed environments to try to milk a few
more scripts out of the formula, and oddly enough it actually tends to
work quite well. In these later films ("The Falcon and the Co-Eds",
"The Falcon Out West", "The Falcon in Hollywood") the focus seems to
swing back onto the actual crime rather than the amiable surrounding
tom-foolery, and the comic relief -- being more sparingly employed --
is more successfully funny.
"Hollywood" is in my experience the best of the films mentioned above, with a really quite ingenious plot and some interesting characters. Of course we've all seen "The Producers" now... but the cast of Hollywood 'types' -- from the Germanic martinet director to the playboy leading man, the distrait Shakespearean Englishman, the costume diva, the exotic star with a villa and swimming-pool and the gangster's moll trying to make her big break in the movies -- still has its own charms to offer, not least in watching the film subvert the stereotypes! (There's also a nod to a famous Sherlock Holmes case in there, for the alert.)
While on vacation on the west coast, the Falcon finds himself
approached by Peggy Callahan the girlfriend of criminal Louie
Buchanan. Peggy leaves her bag behind in place of Lawrence's
companion's bag. He pursues her in a taxi driven by gobby
taxi-come-stunt driver Billie Atkins and gets onto a the grounds of a
Hollywood studio. While looking for Peggy the Falcon and Billie stumble
onto the body of actor Ted Miles. The police are called and, even on
holiday, Lawrence finds himself investigating yet another crime.
After not thinking much of the Falcon being Out West and In Mexico during his last two films, I feared that him being in Hollywood would be another location gimmick replacing any actual substance or entertainment value. It may be because the Hollywood setting just meant that the production stayed at home and saved money on a lot of set design but this film was actually pretty good and used Hollywood well but as a backdrop to a solid mystery. It does take some work to get it started but once Lawrence gets onto the lot it livens up and keeps that pace well for the rest of the film. Unlike the last two films the mystery is actually pretty good and develops to a satisfying solution. Douglas uses the locations well (RKO itself being the main one) and the film has a great "off-set" feel to it that you don't always get with b-movies nice to see compared to the gimmicky feel to the West and Mexico and it bodes well for San Francisco (which I have not yet seen).
Conway seems a lot more relaxed and more like himself than when In Mexico. While in Mexico we had a Mexican "Goldie" character and here we have a female wise-@ss, in the shape of Borg; she is sassy and fu in a very clichéd and obvious manner but it works well. Parnell and Jenks are a poor man's Clark and Gargan but don't have that much to do. Perry Mason's Hale is good, as is Brooks. Shayne is a bit hammy but effective while series regular Rita Corday turns up yet again early on in the film.
Overall then an enjoyable entry in the series that fans will enjoy and may be slick and enjoyable enough to suit newcomers looking for an easy b-movie to watch. The location is not obtrusive and the material is good, giving the actors more to work with than in the last two films.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tom Conway was one of those natural actors, like Bob Mitchum or Dean Martin, who could stroll through the most low-budget and sometimes unworthy movies without losing his aplomb. Of Conway's Falcon movies this is certainly one of the better ones, but its claim to fame is not another smooth performance from its star but rather the twist at the end. If you don't want to hear it, read no further. I repeat: Stop reading this review. Okay, for the rest of you, let me just say this: Mel Brooks must have seen "The Falcon in Hollywood" before he wrote "The Producers." The big difference is that the Falcon (and the viewer) don't tumble to the shady accountancy until the end, which explains why the investors were killed off.
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