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Sunday, 7 October 2007

The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date (1941) Sidney Salkow

This was Warren William's fourth outing as Michael Lanyard, the Lone Wolf, between the four that I've already seen. He's on form from the very beginning, in Havana to which he's flown to buy a stamp for his collection. This was 1941 so William was subject to the restrictions of the Production Code, but he could still say more with a smile or a leer than most actors of the time could say with words. When he looks at leading lady Frances Robinson and asks if she thinks she could trust him, he at once appears to be the most reliable and the most dangerous man in the world.

He gets caught up in the story here when he aids a young lady, who is trying to save her fiancee, an innocent man arrested for murder as part of a kidnapping. She's brought back $100,000 from Cuba that the kidnappers want but the the thieves end up with Lanyard's stamp collection instead, so he gets to play three games at once. He has to find the real kidnappers and save Scotty the fiancee, retrieve his stamp collection and outwit Inspector Crane who believes that he's probably behind the whole thing.

The story is fun but the whole inept cops thing is about as unsubtly depicted here as it had been since the days of the Keystone Kops. It's one thing to watch Warren William and Eric Blore run riot with the material, it's another to get completely embarrassed at the antics of Inspector Crane and Detective Dickens, let alone Captain Moon and his bunch of saluting morons. Oh my goodness, the film would have been better without all of these characters in it, and unfortunately that makes it the worst of 29 Warren Williams I've seen thus far.

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