Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Tonight's Movie: The Falcon's Brother (1942)

THE FALCON'S BROTHER was George Sanders' fourth and final film starring as Gay Lawrence, the "Falcon."

The title character of this entry, Tom Lawrence, was played by Sanders' real-life brother, Tom Conway. The Lawrence brothers work to stop the murder of a South American diplomat, after which the series was handed over to Conway. Conway would star in nine more FALCON films before ending his run in the series in 1946.

THE FALCON'S BROTHER is a pretty good exemplar of the FALCON series. The story gets off to a fast start with Gay meeting his brother Tom's ship, only to be told his brother is dead in his stateroom. Gay pretends that the body he's shown is Tom in front of the police, but quickly informs his new chauffeur Lefty (Don Barclay) that the dead man is not Tom. Thereafter, the first order of business is for Gay and Lefty to locate Tom and figure out what's going on.

The mystery gets a bit complicated at times, but it's wound up nicely in 63 minutes. Tom does the majority of the leg work on the case, as Gay is laid up for a while after being hit by a car. I must say that although I knew it was Sanders' last film as the Falcon, I was surprised by the manner in which Gay was written out.

Jane Randolph (CAT PEOPLE) is perky as a newspaper reporter trailing Tom, and Keye Luke is also on hand as Gay's houseboy, who occasionally drops his educated English and uses pidgin to confuse the police. Both actors have winning personalities and bring a nice energy to the film in their scenes.

Edward Gargan returns as dim-witted Detective Bates, partnered this time around with Cliff Clark as Inspector Donovan.

One of the scenes which caught my notice involved Jane Randolph's character being refused entrance to a nightclub because she did not have a male escort with her. Such movie moments are brief but provide an interesting peek at how times have changed over the decades since the film was made. One can only imagine the fuss in the media, not to mention the lawsuits, if such a law were enforced in this day and age.

THE FALCON'S BROTHER was directed by Stanley Logan and photographed by Russell Metty. The editor was Mark Robson, who shortly thereafter became a director himself, starting out with Val Lewton films. Robson directed a Robert Sterling Western I really like, ROUGHSHOD (1949), as well as several Dana Andrews films. As a matter of fact, Robson directed the movie I just watched on New Year's Eve, EARTHQUAKE (1974).

The previous films in the Falcon series were THE GAY FALCON (1941), A DATE WITH THE FALCON (1942), and THE FALCON TAKES OVER (1942).

THE FALCON'S BROTHER is available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive in The Falcon Mystery Movie Collection, Volume I.

It's also available on Region 2 DVD.

This film can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies.


Blogger Mark McGlone said...

I love the Falcon movies. Tom Conway was not nearly the actor his brother was, but in this film he's quite good. Much better than in his other appearances as the Falcon. Maybe the presence of his brother gave him confidence.

8:23 PM  

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