Yesterday Turner Classic Movies hosted a day of "B" movies directed by Lew Landers. I've enjoyed several Landers films in the last few months, so my DVR was humming Monday!
Most of the Landers films I recorded don't run much more than an hour. They all have terrific casts for fans of '30s and '40s "B" movies, including names like Chester Morris, Anne Shirley, Bonita Granville, Lee Tracy, Allan "Rocky" Lane, Lucille Ball, and Florence Rice.
I confess to having a bit of a crush on Preston Foster ever since seeing him in THE HUNTED (1948) a couple of years ago, so the first movie I watched from this group was DOUBLE DANGER, a 62-minute film in which Foster plays Bob Crane, a mystery writer who is also a jewel thief known as "the Gentleman."
The Police Commissioner (Samuel S. Hinds) is about to retire and is determined to catch the Gentleman first; for reasons which aren't completely explained, he's narrowed the Gentleman's identity down to either Bob or Carolyn Martin (Whitney Bourne), a lovely young society woman. The Commissioner invites both Bob and Carolyn to his palatial country estate for the weekend and sets a trap. But nothing goes quite as the Commissioner expects!
I found this little movie to be a very enjoyable and relaxing hour. Some aspects are a bit silly -- the Commissioner isn't really a very smart man, and one wonders if he was on the take to afford that huge mansion! -- but the cast all seem to be having a good time, particularly Foster and Cecil Kellaway, who plays Foster's valet and safecracker-in-training. It's a fast-paced, congenial hour which leaves the viewer smiling at the end.
Naturally, Bob isn't a very intimidating jewel thief, and anyway he's decided he wants to go straight and marry Carolyn, with whom he's fallen head over heels in love. When Carolyn's former partner in crime (Paul Guilfoyle) snarls "I hope she can't cook!" Bob simply smiles and says "Doesn't matter, I can!"
Bourne, who plays Carolyn, is a pretty, elegant actress. There's a touch of an overtone of TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) with Bourne and Foster admiring each other's "work." Bourne only made 10 films, all in the '30s, and also had several Broadway credits in the same decade. She passed on in 1988.
The supporting cast also includes Donald Meek as a hapless jewelry store owner and Arthur "Dagwood" Lake as a young man courting the Commissioner's giddy daughter (June Johnson).
I'd love to know exactly where the movie's opening "heist" scenes were filmed; I assume it's a neighborhood somewhere in the Los Angeles area.
The Warner Archive has released at least one other film directed by the prolific Landers, SMASHING THE RACKETS (1938), starring Chester Morris. I'd love to see the Archive bundle some of these short little movies in collections. So far all of the Landers films I've seen have been quick-moving, diverting entertainment. I'm looking forward to watching more!