Friday 9 March 2007

The Lone Wolf Strikes (1940) Peter Godfrey

Phillip Jordan owns an incredibly valuable string of pearls but the woman he thinks loves him has merely strung him along in order to steal them. When he discovers this and asks for them back he turns up mysteriously dead. Jordan's partner, Stanley Young, asks the Lone Wolf, Michael Lanyard, for the favour he owes him, so Lanyard investigates, both to recover the pearls and find Jordan's killer.

That's not a huge amount of plot but then this one whistles along to the end in a mere 57 minutes. Warren William returns as the Lone Wolf. This time round he's discovered the wonderful world of fish but is otherwise little different from the previous movie. He's calm and restrained for most of the film, with a few moments of pure William genius. There's no daughter any more and no major female name. The leading lady this time round is Joan Perry, as Jordan's daughter, soon before she became Mrs Harry Cohn, the wife of the man who ran Columbia Pictures. She gets plenty of opportunity to cause unexpected trouble for Lanyard, dropping the wrong names at the wrong times.

The major new name is Eric Blore who spent almost his entire 85 film career playing butlers, valets and gentlemen's gentlemen. He's a much better Jamison, Lanyard's butler, than Leonard Carey from the last movie, and that must have been a common opinion as he continued on the series even longer than Warren William did, ending with The Lone Wolf in London in 1947. He overacts here shamelessly but it brings a lot of laughter, especially when he's being copied eyebrow for eyebrow by the cops chasing him at one point.

The Lone Wolf Strikes is not up to the standard of The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt, but I hope that trend won't continue. These are fun fluff but little more than that. They're worthwhile to me because I'm a huge Warren William fan but you'd need an excuse like that to really justify the expenditure of time.

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