austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I've been chased and I've been bit

Another in the Movies Watched While WiiFit Exercising catalogue: 1940's The Lone Wolf Keeps A Date, starring Warren William as Michael Lanyard, the Lone Wolf. I first encountered William, and the Lone Wolf, on some old-time radio series that portrayed The Lone Wolf making a return. Since I'd not heard of The Lone Wolf before I didn't know if it was an established character or something whipped up for whatever 1940s hourlong slot this was dropped into, but I guessed it was something established. The patter between Michael Lanyard and his valet Jamison (played by Eric Blore, who was also a valet in Top Hat, that time to Edward Everett Horton) felt too lived-in to be a synthetic creation, and sure enough, I was right.

Lanyard, the Lone Wolf, was a reformed gentleman-bandit, former jewel thief turned private eye, from a series of novels by Louis Joseph Vance, who I never heard of either. But the basic elements are, gentleman-thief, reformed; keeps stumbling across crimes; has to solve them before the police arrest him on suspicion. Add lots of comic dialogue, most of which works, and that peppy lighthearted air of non-noir private eyes in silly little B pictures and you have the idea.

In The Lone Wolf Keeps A Date, Lanyard's attempt to buy a rare stamp in Cuba gets him entangled in a kidnapping when his stamp collection is mixed up with the ransom, and we pretty much follow those threads: Lanyard wants his stamps back; attractive female romantic-lead unit wants her fiancee back; Jamison wants to carry out petty scams; Inspector Crane for some reason comes down to Miami (where most of the action is) to chase after Lanyard and/or the kidnappers although I don't see how he'd have jurisdiction; and add in some local gangsters and a pompous police chief who's trained his men to respond to whistles with the precision and crime-fighting effectiveness of a marching band.

There's a lot in here that's clever and lighthearted fun, such as a scene in a department store where Lanyard gets rid of some excess MacGuffin by secretly tucking it inside the suit he's having delivered to (for complicated reasons) the Inspector's hotel room, just in time to be searched by the Inspector and found clean. Later, Jamison needs the police to chase his boat; how can they arrange that? Oh, call the marina police himself and report his own boat being stolen.

It's all quite fine comic mystery-flavored movie stuff.

Trivia: Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy was the number one non-fiction seller in 1927. The Book of the Month club did not make it a book of the month, but did recommend the book to readers. Source: 1927: High Tide of the 1920s, Gerald Leinwand.

Currently Reading: Brilliant: The Evolution Of Artificial Light, Jane Brox.


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