Publisher Martin Jamison sends for Philo Vance as he wants to hire him as a technical advisor on the crime stories he publishes. Paul Morgan, Morgan's partner, regards the plan as foolish. ...
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Publisher Martin Jamison sends for Philo Vance as he wants to hire him as a technical advisor on the crime stories he publishes. Paul Morgan, Morgan's partner, regards the plan as foolish. Jamison tells his secretary Mona Bannister to bring Vance to his home that night and he will reveal the solution to the seven-year mystery of the killing of Sam Philips, former partner in the firm. Philips ex-wife, now a receptionist for the company, is alarmed when she overhears. As Vance and Mona drive up, two shots are heard and Jamison's body is later found in the trunk of Vance's car. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
1947's "Philo Vance's Secret Mission" began the short 3 film series of Vance films produced by Poverty Row's PRC (Producers Releasing Corporation), which would soon be absorbed into Eagle-Lion Films. All three had been completed by January 1947, with this initial entry issued last (Aug 30 '47)- number 2 "Philo Vance's Gamble" came out first (Apr 13), number 3 "Philo Vance Returns" released second (June 19), making for odd continuity as it starred William Wright in the title role rather than Alan Curtis, who had played Vance in the first two. This was the final screen incarnation of Philo Vance, nothing like the sophisticated investigator first played by William Powell, who based his deductions on the psychology behind the crimes (there is a mention of District Attorney Markham in "Philo Vance's Gamble"). They must have correctly assumed "Secret Mission" to be the best, saving it for last (shot late Sept-early Oct 1946): the Alan Curtis Vance is burdened with a sometimes helpful, mostly unfunny sidekick in Frank Jenks' Ernie Clark, basically repeating his own Doc Williams character from Universal's Crime Club trio of Bill Crane mysteries, "The Westland Case," "The Lady in the Morgue," and "The Last Warning." Curtis is neither suave nor urbane, but provides what the script required, a hard bitten gumshoe more typical of the 40s, in the style of The Falcon, with the same predilection to help out damsels in distress. A pulp magazine publisher, Martin Jamison (Paul Maxey), calls in Vance to help him solve the murder of his partner seven years earlier, an unsolved mystery due to the swift disappearance of the corpse. Sheila Ryan plays a model who quickly attaches herself to Vance (either him or Ernie!), and when they later arrive at Jamison's home a gunshot is heard. Imagine their surprise when the body is found in the trunk of Vance's car, putting him in the position of having to clear himself. Some very interesting turns succeed in making this one head and shoulders above the two that followed. As the still grieving widow, lovely Tala Birell enjoys a more substantial role than she would have in the next, "Philo Vance's Gamble," while Toni Todd, who survives here, would not survive the next. James Bell plays the unorthodox sheriff, less obtrusive than Frank Jenks, whose 'detecketive' work leaves much to be desired.
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