|Index||3 reviews in total|
Johnny Fletcher and Sam Cragg have skipped on their board bill and try to sneak into their room to get their trunks, when they find a corpse on their bed clutching an old Spanish coin. Fletcher being a pseudo-detective learns the nature of the coin from a numismatist named Vedder, but learns that he is mixed up some way with the murder. Apparently the murdered man was mixed up with a gold smuggling outfit where the coins were actually stolen gold forged into the rare coins. However Fletcher has to find out the murderer and how & where the stolen gold is located. This is a very enjoyable B mystery aided especially but the witty dialogue by Frank Gruber, who also wrote the novel the story is based on. Its a shame however that Republic didn't decide to continue the series. Dekker and Mazurki are obviously enjoying themselves in the picture and Dekker does add a somewhat sophisticated touch to what could have been an ordinary urbane role. The movie does move nicely but the end Dekker's character does seem to change to a more hardboiled sleuth than the fly by the seat of his pants character he was. A good B-repertoire cast (Ankers, Foulger especially) make this an enjoyable hour plus. Rating, 8.
"The French Key" is a byzantine murder mystery. Albert Dekker and Mike
Mazurki do private detective work. The tables are turned when they
discover a dead body in their hotel room, whose door is sealed by a
French key broken off in the lock due to their failure to pay their
rent. A $5 gold piece is grasped in the corpse's hand. This has to do
with a scheme to convert then-illegal bullion into fake rare coins, the
latter being legal. Dekker and Mazurki are one step ahead of the
police, and sometimes not even that. The trail leads in several
directions, but how do they tie up? And which of the many people
involved is behind it all? The story mixes comic lines with seriousness
in an excellent balance. Neither overwhelms the other. As one who
prefers the serious, I was not at all put off by the comic elements in
this movie. They were handled gracefully and without overdoing it.
Evelyn Ankers provided female support. This kind of mixture was a
strong point for the Republic Pictures studio.
I found the picture enjoyable as well as a challenge to follow. The actors are capable. The writer, Frank Gruber, did much fine work. I've always found Dekker's work to be very interesting and to stand out. He has many fine credits. Mazurki's parts were smaller but no less memorable.
Mike Mazurki (Sam) recounts the story that starts off with a French
key. The key had been put into the keyhole of his and room-mate Albert
Dekker's (Johnny) room by the landlord and then deliberately broken off
in the keyhole so that they could not return due to unpaid rent. They
manage to get back into the room only to find a dead body and a gold
coin. So begins the mystery.
The cast play the film as a comedy and there is the occasional humorous moment but there are also plenty of dumb, silly segments that try to pass as humour. Detective Joe DeRita (Fox) is a stereotypically stupid investigator who looks like the fat one out of Abbott and Costello. It's actually a pretty poor show when he ends up being the best thing about the film. The story is just not very interesting and Albert Dekker doesn't cut it in the leading role.
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