Mystery & Crime Series 30's & 40's

Mysto

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I thought I would start a thread for one of my favorite things - those great 1930's and 40's mystery and crime series. These mostly B movies were churned out on a regular basis, mostly by the smaller producers. Some are cohesive series and some are only superficially linked. Some have a single character and a few are anthologies. They all have one thing in common - they were all fun.

I put this in the movie section because (with the exception of Sherlock Holmes) none of these appears to be available in blu ray and in fact some are not even available in dvd. I have collected my copies from wherever I could get them and try to upgrade as they become available. Here is a list of the series I have identified:
Arsene Lupin

Boston Blackie

Bulldog Drummond

Charlie Chan

Crime Doctor

Denny O’Brien

Dick Tracy

Ellery Queen

The Falcon

Fast Company

Frankie Darro/Mantan Moreland Series

Fu Manchu

Hildegard Withers

I Love a Mystery

Inner Sanctum

Inspector Hornleigh

Kitty O’Day

Lone Wolf

Michael Shayne

Mike Hammer

Miss Marple

Mr. Moto

Mr. Wong

Nancy Drew

Nero Wolfe

Nick Carter

Paul Temple

Perry Mason

Philip Marlowe

Philo Vance

Poirot

The Saint

Sarah Keate

The Shadow

Sexton Blake

Sherlock Holmes

Thin Man

Torchy Blane

The Whistler

Whistling

I'll be posting thoughts - reviews - whatever. I hope you'll all share your ideas here as well.
 

Matt Hough

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I have watched the Chan DVDs so much I'm almost overdosed on them. I started on Sunday the Tom Conway Falcon Vol. 2 set with The Falcon Out West. These are enjoyable little action mysteries with B-movie production values but fine actors. I'll continue to mention them as I work my way through the set. I'm trying to pace myself.
 

Mysto

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I have watched the Chan DVDs so much I'm almost overdosed on them. I started on Sunday the Tom Conway Falcon Vol. 2 set with The Falcon Out West. These are enjoyable little action mysteries with B-movie production values but fine actors. I'll continue to mention them as I work my way through the set. I'm trying to pace myself.
Somehow I had a feeling you'd show up on this thread Matt:D

I have memorized most of the Charlie Chans myself. I wish they would release them in Blu Ray. Right now we've started on the Rathbone Sherlock Holmes Blu Rays. The projection system is new for us and I'm getting to see them on the big screen for the first time. It's almost like falling in love all over again:dance:I'm hoping several people join in here and we can discuss whatever.. Love to hear your thoughts and insights on the Falcons. I always thought Tom Conway was a pretty good actor - he was in a lot of B's but never really broke out of them like his brother George Sanders.

Maybe tomorrow I'll post some thoughts on the Rathbone Sherlocks.
 

Matt Hough

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Maybe tomorrow I'll post some thoughts on the Rathbone Sherlocks.
Talk about films that I've memorized. I know all 14 by heart! And I really enjoy revisiting them all the time. Yes, I even like the ones that are not universally liked: Pursuit to Algiers and Sherlock Holmes in Washington.
 

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Mr. Chan gets an annual showing, the beauty of it is i have friends who have never seen the films so its an introduction, i actually had one friend say that Lee Chan was a player that got smacked down by his dad, and laughed about it. Love the Rathbone Holmes series as well.

i agree that i would love to see many more make the HD, jump, but luckily, i do have David Suchet's Poirot and Joan Hickson's Miss Marple in wonderful portrayals, And the tour de force that was Jeremy Brett' s Sherlock Holmes, wish he would have lived long enough to complete the stories, as he embodied the personality like none other.

If Warner Archive ever gets around to it, i am waiting on The Thin Man
 
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Mysto

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Mr. Chan gets an annual showing, the beauty of it is i have friends who have never seen the films so its an introduction, i actually had one friend say that Lee Chan was a player that got smacked down by his dad, and laughed about it. Love the Rathbone Holmes series as well.

i agree that i would love to see many more make the HD, jump, but luckily, i do have David Suchet's Poirot and Joan Hickson's Miss Marple in wonderful portrayals, And the tour de force that was Jeremy Brett' s Sherlock Holmes, wish he would have lived long enough to complete the stories, as he embodied the personality like none other.

If Warner Archive ever gets around to it, i am waiting on The Thin Man
I would kill for blu ray copies of the Thin Man - the good news is that the dvds are so nice that they look pretty good on the big screen. The chemistry between Powell and Loy is incredible. These and the first two Sherlocks are probably the only Big Budget mystery series from the 30s - 40's.
 

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I agree about The Thin Man. All six hold up nicely to upconversion, though the latter entries in the series look better than the original.

I watched The Falcon in Mexico last night. Not as good or as well paced as some of the other entries in the series though it did have a couple of nice surprises in it.
 

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Although they date from the 1950s, you might add the Bill Elliott Detective Mysteries to your list. Available from the Warner Archive in a boxed set. Nice transfers, too.
 

Mysto

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Although they date from the 1950s, you might add the Bill Elliott Detective Mysteries to your list. Available from the Warner Archive in a boxed set. Nice transfers, too.
Why not? I already cheated as I have Poirot on the list and they are all much later than 30s-40s. Thanks for the suggestion. I have not seen the boxed set and should probably give that a go (as long as my CC holds out) How do you find the stories?
 
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Matt Hough

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I watched The Falcon in Hollywood this afternoon. It's obvious Mel Brooks was familiar with the motive for the murders in this movie when he was concocting the fraud plot for The Producers.
 

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Mysto, you might find my piece on "Asian Detectives in 1930s Hollywood" interesting. It focuses mostly on entries in the Moto and Wong series and a couple of other random 1930s films with Asian detectives.

https://briandanacamp.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/asian-detectives-in-1930s-hollywood/

Thanks for sharing. I have seen your article previously. Well researched, written and informative. When I watch the films, I don't worry about the casting as I recognize that was the time and I try not to place current morality on history, but still to recognize and learn from it. IMHO The Moto and Wong films would have never gone to an Asian as they were Chan Copies - vehicles for Lorre and Korloff and they were the draw. I am glad that things have changed. At least in the portrayal of Charlie Chan - the Asian was "the smartest guy in the room".
 
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Mysto

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Sherlock Holmes – Basil Rathbone Series


I recognize that most of the people visiting this thread probably know more about these films than I. But, there may be others that have never viewed these – so I thought we’d explore each series over time.

The Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes Series is probably the most approachable of all of the golden age mystery series. Hundreds of portrayals of Sherlock have been filmed ( including the inspired Jeremy Brett TV series) but my first was Basil Rathbone, and, for me, he will always be Sherlock Holmes.

There are 14 films in all from 1939 to 1946. The first two were big budget films from 20th Century Fox then the Series went to Universal Studios as (very well done) B pictures. Universal “re-imagined” them into the then current times and had him against Nazi’s as well as Moriarty.

The films have been restored thanks to, among others, Hugh Hefner. They are available in DVD and Blu Ray. Four of the films went into public domain and colorized versions are available. If you just want a look, most of them are available on You Tube and Archive.org.

Hound of the Baskervilles
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon
Sherlock Holmes in Washington
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death
Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman
The Scarlet Claw
The Pearl of Death
The House of Fear
The Woman in Green
Pursuit to Algiers
Terror by Night
Dressed to Kill

These are films of the 30's and 40's and have the quirks we expect from B pictures. An obvious one is the requirement of a humorous side kick. In the Chan's we have #1 or #2 son or Birmingham Brown in the Sherlock Holmes it's Watson. In this series Watson is not too bright and more fanciful than the actual book portrayal. They also don't follow the original stories too well and that may bother some. For me these movies are warm fuzzy slippers - or comfort food. I don't analyze them, I just watch and enjoy. I have seen everyone of these at least 4 or 5 times and several have passed the 10 times mark.
Some of my favorites include the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and for the later films, I like, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death. I know it's not the best of the films but I'm a sucker for the follow the clues to the treasure plot (so there).;)
 
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Thanks to Warner Archive, I'm looking at a shelf containing all the RKO Saint, Falcon, the WB Perry Mason, Torchy Blaine and Brass Bancroft series. If only Sony had been as smart in releasing their MOD line, we could have all the Columbia Lone Wolf, Boston Blackie, Whistler and Crime Doctor series as well.
 

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Thanks to Warner Archive, I'm looking at a shelf containing all the RKO Saint, Falcon, the WB Perry Mason, Torchy Blaine and Brass Bancroft series. If only Sony had been as smart in releasing their MOD line, we could have all the Columbia Lone Wolf, Boston Blackie, Whistler and Crime Doctor series as well.
I agree but I have heard that part of the problem is the prints need a lot of work. I really want BD but I would be happy with just really nice DVDs. I guess we can hope.
 

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My favorite of Rathbone's Universal series is The House of Fear. Very like Ten Little Indians in some ways but with a completely different (and surprising for me the first time I saw it) denouement. I do think The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the best of all his efforts.
 

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Excellent reviews. I will not add to the Inner Sanctum material but will let this post and link stand as information for anyone that wants to know more about the 6 films. Thanks for the link.
 

Mysto

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Although one of my very favorites is Charlie Chan - it is not a favorite of my wife. Last night she was tired and retired early so I took the opportunity to watch Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (the San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition) 1939. The murder occurs on a plane in route to San Francisco but the rest of the story is on the ground with yet another trip to a spooky seance. This is the third movie using a seance: Warner Oland uses a seance in CC Secret. The others are Sidney Toler - this one and Black Magic (Murder at Midnight). CC at Treasure Island is a solid entry in the series with a pretty good surprise at the end. Stock shots of the Exposition give a quick look into the fair. This is probably my 7th or 8th viewing of this movie.
 

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