Monday 12 March 2007

The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady (1940) Sidney Salkow

Joan Bradley is about to get married. She has a valuable diamond necklace already but will obtain much more once she's hitched. However there's a former husband who comes back into her life because he wants the necklace. The catch is that they're not supposed to be divorced, he's supposed to be dead, leaving her with a necklace stolen by a dead man, a dead man who does indeed become dead very quickly indeed.

Her one piece of luck is to almost get run over by the Lone Wolf who thus gets involved in the issue. He tries to help her out by setting up her explanation of how she was in the bath when shots rang out and she discovered a dead man in her room. Unfortunately the police don't believe her and so she escapes to find Lanyard, the Lone Wolf. Of course the police follow Joan, who unwittingly follows one of the real thieves, but Lanyard is a master of misdirection with nerves of steel so he hides Joan and obtains the thief a lift with the cops. Now all he needs to do is confirm the real killer and locate the necklace.

As much as the title suggests that we're going to get a major leading lady here, we actually do without one for the first time in three films. Jean Muir gets very little to do and isn't a patch on people like Ida Lupino, Rita Hayworth or even Joan Perry. Warren William however gets far more opportunity to stamp his authority on the role and he relishes all the double dealing, subterfuge and blatant manipulation of the police.

Eric Blore is finding his feet here, half annoying and half hilarious, and the cops have the same effect. Thurston Hall is Inspector Crane for the first time and Fred Kelsey is Detective Dickens for the second; both stay with the series for a while and they certainly have fun here. Mostly though it's just good news for Warren William fans because this is the point at which he gets to be in charge and that's how all Warren William fans like it. He could twirl anyone round his little finger and it's almost criminal to deprive him of the opportunity.

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