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Richard L. Bare
Hollywood 1961. Famous movie star Leroy Dane's fan club secretary has been brutally murdered. In her possession are old newspaper clippings regarding a missing heiress. Tom Alder, who specializes in finding missing heirs, investigates. Did the secretary know something about the mystery of the heiress, who was last seen at sixteen at a malt shop near school? When Tom goes to check up on Leroy Dane at a restaurant, Tom sees his ex-fiancée Linda for the first time in many years. Linda's friend Nikki is also at the restaurant. With the help of Tom's friends - a colonel in Washington D.C. who has access to military records and a detective in New York who has people doing research and running down clues - Tom begins to unravel a complicated story that involves Linda, Nikki, Leroy Dane, and his own past. Twenty Plus Two is a 1961 whodunit film that came out of the Allied Artists studio, starring David Janssen, Dina Merrill and Jeanne Crain.
This disjointed film noir is hobbled by a rambling narrative that spends too much time on a flashback and then devolves into a silly ending in North Dakota (with some hideous rear projection).
David Janssen stars as a finder of missing persons, especially heirs. He gets involved in a decade-old mystery in which a movie star vanished. Seems her rich daddy paid lots of hush money and she's long forgotten until her name comes up again after a woman is murdered.
Somehow, the case seems to involve a famous movie actor who seems to show up in odd places. Then there's an erudite fat man following him as well as an ex-wife who suddenly pops up.
Janssen gets hooked after visiting a a boozy ex-reporter who lets slips a few juicy details about the dead movie star. After a visit to her mother, he's on the trail that takes him, ultimately, to a shack in North Dakota.
The mystery isn't much and is given away in the flashback, after which the viewer just waits it out. But there are several excellent performances in this film. Janssen is solid. Jeanne Crain is wasted as the ex-wife. Dina Merrill is surprisingly good as Nikki. William Demarest is excellent as the boozy reporter as is Agnes Moorehead as the flinty mother. Jacques Aubuchon is also very good as the fat man, and Will Wright has a nice bit as the records keeper. Robert Strauss is good as Janssen's pal. That's TCM host Robert Osborne as the sailor with dance tickets. Brad Dexter is badly cast as the movie actor.
Certainy worth a look for some great acting and Gerald Fried's driving jazz score.
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