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Sunday, 9 December 2007

The Falcon in Danger (1943) William Clemens

The Washington plane crash lands on arrival but nobody was on board. Stanley Harris Palmer, noted industrialist was on that plane at some point but literally vanished in thin air. The other two people missing were his assistant and the pilot, the plane landing roughly by automatic controls. The police are baffled and so go talk with Tom Lawrence, the Falcon. Naturally so does the industrialist's daughter who has a ransom note, and the assistant's niece who has another one.

The mystery deepens when Palmer turns up back at home, even though the ransom had been paid in cut up pieces of newspaper, but Fairchild is still missing and other things have already come to light. The Falcon investigates, for both young ladies, and has to do so in the company of a third, Bonnie Caldwell, who is apparently a loud mouthed young lady from Texas who feels it her duty to marry him because he saved her father on another case.

She's played by Amelita Ward who is great fun even though she really ought to be incredibly annoying, which makes her a good fit with her future husband, Leo Gorcey, Muggs from the East Side Kids. She only made twenty films over seven years, but they included one East Side Kids movie and two Falcons (as different parts each time). Her last film was in 1949, the year she married Gorcey. As much fun as she is here, she's forgettable, as sh disappears halfway through the film and it took till the end for me to notice.

Incidentally, the multiple characters concept was hardly rare. Jean Brooks, who plays Iris Fairchild, appeared in no less than six of the Falcon films, as a different character each time round. Elaine Shepard, who plays Nancy Palmer, only appeared in this one but then she was hardly a prolific actress. The rest of the cast are predictable: Tom Conway returns as the Falcon in the second of nine solo outings. Cliff Clark and Ed Gargan return as the cops, Inspector Donovan and the half witted Detective Bates. The story isn't, being a nudge up on the usual entry in the series.

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