Thursday 24 May 2007

The Falcon and the Co-Eds (1943) William Clemens

The gates are locked after 10.00pm at the Bluecrest Seminary, so one of the lovely young ladies has to sneak out to find the Falcon. Her roommate Marguerita is apparently psychic and predicted the murder of a schoolteacher, who amazingly enough quickly turned up murdered, though everyone has proclaimed it suicide. So, because she'd met the Falcon, Tom Lawrence, once in her mother's dressing room at a premiere, Jane Harris heads for him first. Now given that the place is populated by nothing but lovely young ladies of every description, it's hardly surprising that he finds his way there very quickly indeed, even though she'd stolen his car to get back herself.

Tom Conway, brother of the original Falcon, George Sanders, ended up making ten Falcon movies, far more than his brother. Until now, I've only seen the one they shared, The Falcon's Brother, but this one's notably fun with the mystery being pretty decent to boot. Something is definitely afoot at Bluecrest, whatever it might be, and quite a few people are caught up in it, almost all of which were, like Conway, regulars in Val Lewton movies. In fact there's obviously a huge amount of something going on behind the scenes, as Jean Brooks, who plays the gaunt yet beautiful drama teacher, was in not only three Val Lewton movies but six of the Tom Conway Falcons, in a different part each time, building them up from uncredited Spanish Girl in The Falcon Strikes Back to Baroness Lena in The Falcon's Alibi.

Most enjoyable are the three Ughs, the caretaker's young and precocious daughters: Juanita Alvarez, Ruth Alvarez and Nancy McCollum. Amazingly enough for such promising talents who could each have taken Bonita Granville's role as Nancy Drew, Nancy didn't appear in another movie and Ruth only returned for The Falcon in Mexico, though Juanita (later Nita) would find herself in ten movies: two Falcons and two Val Lewtons. Unfortunately they don't get anywhere near the size of parts they deserve. Conway is solid, Brooks is good and only George Givot's accent is really annoying. It doesn't feel the same without George Sanders, but it feels a heck of a lot better than I expected!

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