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Mystery & Crime Series 30's & 40's

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Mysto, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Well, I went on at length about it today in the "Thanks, Universal" thread on the Blu-ray/UHD forum since the disc was a Blu-ray. Have seen the movie several times, love it as a wonderful mystery, and the Blu-ray transfer was outstanding.
     
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  2. Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Second Unit

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    Welcome to the thread, Russ! Great post, couldn't agree with you more about the wonderfulness of The Thin Man and William Powell. Just class acts all the way. I like all six Thin Man films, but there's no denying that after the second film (as good in its own way as the first, IMO), the characters of Nick and Nora settle into more of an "old married couple" vibe and some of the crackle and spark goes out of their relationship, and the films. Still good fun, and some good mysteries, but certainly not in the same league as The Thin Man and After the Thin Man.

    As much praise as Powell deserves, Myrna Loy was integral to the series' success. Those two just had a one-of-a-kind chemistry. The one-off Powell mysteries, Star of Midnight and The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, while fine, fun comedy-mysteries in the same mold, with great leading ladies, just don't sing like the Thin Man films do - and I think that's down mostly to a lack of Loy.
     
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  3. Rustifer

    Rustifer Supporting Actor

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    I've noticed that besides the Thin Man series, Charlie Chan seems to be a big topic in this neck 'o the woods.
    I've been a Chan Fan for many a year--mainly for its tongue-in-cheek noirish quality that was achieved by so many B films of the era.

    True Fact: I had the honor of sewing up a win in a Trivia game contest by being able to name the creator of Mr. Chan, Earl Derr Biggers. No one else came close. This being a crowning moment for me is a sad indictment of my life as a bachelor prior getting married to my lovely spouse 35 years ago. As an aside, she thought 'Earl Derr Biggers' was a pet nickname for my you-know-what. Ahhh, inventive girl indeed.

    "Short, round and dark" as he was described by his wife, Biggers said at his 25th class reunion. "I am quite sure that I never intended to travel the road of a mystery writer. Yet here I am, and with me Charlie Chan. Thank heaven he is amiable, philosophical--a good companion. For I know now that he and I must travel the rest of the journey together."

    upload_2018-7-11_10-29-26.

    Biggers tried desperately to avoid painting Chan with a pidgin English characterization, yet it unfortunately seeped into the lexicon in the movie versions. He did draw the line, however, by having Charlie exclaim "By the bones of my honorable ancestors, I will not say velly..."
    Rumor was that Biggers based Chan on Chang Apana, a Hawaiian police detective who for some strange reason wielded a bullwhip as a kind of iconic trademark, lived on Punchbowl Hill (wherever the heck that it) and had a slew of kids. Earl never confirmed it, but always sent Apana signed copies of his newest novels.

    So, I'm sure you regulars in here have had the inevitable debate: Warner Oland or Sidney Toler?
    [​IMG] upload_2018-7-11_10-40-6.
    Warner and Sydney respectively, without the guise of their meal ticket

    Oland (who was actually Swedish) needed very little cosmetics to achieve Chan's oriental visage; it was said all he would do is curl down his moustache and curl up his eyebrows.
    I'm putting my money on Warner, mainly because he drank and smoked himself to death. Gotta like a guy who walks the tightrope of life without a net.
     
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  4. Richard V

    Richard V Cinematographer

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    I'm just a Sidney Tolar kinda guy. Had great chemistry with Victor Sen Yung, although special place in my heart for "Number One Son" Keye Luke.
     
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  5. Message #205 of 265 Jul 11, 2018 at 10:37 AM
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018 at 10:43 AM
    Mysto

    Mysto Second Unit

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    Oland also claimed Mongolian ancestry as part of his look (eyes).
    Added: There was an extra on one of the DVD's that showed CC at the Race Track. Oland is supposed to watch the horses go past. They claimed he was so drunk they had to fire a pistol to get him to look to the other side. (and they paid him too)
    I'll never think of Earl Derr Biggers the same way again - in fact I may try to forget him completely;)
    Really hasn't been the which one debate - for me either one anytime - Winters only on occasion.
     
  6. Rustifer

    Rustifer Supporting Actor

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    Well, heck. I took some time and went back through the pages of this thread only to discover most of my posts so far are old news to you guys. Here I am thinking I'm spreading light, harmony and knowledge. Just slap me in the face and call me Betty.
    Never one to give up (especially in this way cool category), I promise to try to be less repetitive and more original in my subject matter going forward.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Mysto

    Mysto Second Unit

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    I've enjoyed your views on every post Russ and I'm sure the others have as well. This isn't just about facts but opinions - likes - dislikes - thoughts - and all the BS we can muster.
     
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  8. Mysto

    Mysto Second Unit

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    Thanks for jumping in Richard - always great to see a new voice. Isn't great we have all those CC movies to chose from.
     
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  9. Message #209 of 265 Jul 11, 2018 at 11:06 AM
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018 at 12:23 PM
    Rustifer

    Rustifer Supporting Actor

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    I'm with you, Richard, regarding Keye Luke. He and I share a similar history--we both started our careers as commercial artists. Keye painted the murals inside Graumann's Chinese Theater, as well as many movie posters.

    upload_2018-7-11_12-0-29. upload_2018-7-11_12-0-46.

    As for me, I was doing editorial art for magazines and advertising illustrations for ad agencies for nearly 20 years in Chicago and Indianapolis.

    IMG_0005.
    Original art for one of my covers for a magazine. For those of you who have a Mad Magazine fetish, you'll recognize my bent towards Jack Davis.
     
  10. Rustifer

    Rustifer Supporting Actor

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    Ohhh, yes...the lovely Myrna!
    I recently stumbled across an article about her and Henry Fonda from the NY Times in 1981. The Boston ABC affiliate wanted to enact a Bill Phillip's script "Summer Solstice" for a 1 hour special and was astounded that Henry Fonda asked for a role in the play. He had just finished "On Golden Pond", which had many similarities to "Summer Solstice". Even more astounding to the network was his offer to bring along his old friend Myrna Loy as his co-star. Needless to say, the station producers had to run home and change their underwear from an undue overload of excitement.
    "Acting for the first time together in their long careers, Mr. Fonda and Ms. Loy demonstrate splendidly why they remain stars" states the NY Times review.

    upload_2018-7-11_12-32-6.

    The special was shot in Cape Cod. Sadly, It was to be both Myrna's and Henry's last roles.
     
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  11. criblecoblis

    criblecoblis Second Unit
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    I quite agree, Marv. I look at it this way: when watching an old film that includes racial stereotyping or insensitivity, it helps me to understand what minorities had to face at the time, and I rejoice in how far we have come since then.
     
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  12. criblecoblis

    criblecoblis Second Unit
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    Actually, these sound as if they are right up my alley.
     
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  13. Mysto

    Mysto Second Unit

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    Different lids for different pots.:P
    Even though Vic (Bryan) didn't care for them - I think the Torchy Blaine series does a better job at this type of movie. My moods change and marginal programs move in and out of favor so tomorrow it might be my cup of tea as well. (But CC - Thin Man - Marple stay there forever):rock:

    Good to have you in the discussion.
     
  14. Message #214 of 265 Jul 12, 2018 at 6:50 AM
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018 at 2:45 PM
    Mysto

    Mysto Second Unit

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    The Falcon
    [​IMG]
    George Sanders

    The Gay Falcon
    A Date with the Falcon
    The Falcon Takes Over

    [​IMG]
    Tom Conway

    The Falcon’s Brother
    The Falcon Strikes Back
    The Falcon and the Coeds
    The Falcon in Danger
    The Falcon in Hollywood
    The Falcon in Mexico
    The Falcon Out West
    The Falcon in San Francisco
    The Falcon’s Alibi
    The Falcon’s Adventure

    [​IMG]
    John Calvert

    Devil’s Cargo
    An Appointment with Murder
    Search for Danger

    We really can’t do a review of The Saint without doing a review of The Falcon. The Saint appeared in print over a decade before Michael Arlen published the first Falcon story in Town and Country magazine. RKO bought the rights and brought the character to the screen less than a year later removing George Sanders from the Saint role and making him Gay Lawrence the Falcon. These were more or less copies of the Saint, only adding a sidekick and making his source of income a little more ambiguous. So similar, they sparked a plagiarism lawsuit by Saint author Leslie Charteris.

    The Falcon movies started with an oncoming marriage that never consummates (shades of Bulldog Drummond). Watching the first three Falcons is like watching the Saint with a sidekick. The accomplice was Goldie Locke who was in all the Sanders films but only occasionally appeared in the Conway flicks.

    Goldie Locke –Allen Jenkins played in the all Sander’s Falcons

    Other Goldies in the Conway series were played by:
    Vince Barnett
    Don Barclay
    Edward Brophy
    Cliff Edwards

    Someone posted the TCM intro to the Gay Falcon on youtube –as it is just a clip for educational purposes I think it meets the guidelines here.




    George Sanders was tired of the B movies and the Falcon. He was fast becoming an A picture star and after three pictures he left on the fourth, appearing in The Falcon’s Brother almost as a cameo. His brother Tom Lawrence took on the Falcon mantle and the really neat part… it was Sanders real brother Tom Conway.

    Tom Conway’s Falcon is enjoyable. Many series fade when the star is replaced but the Conway Falcon series continued for 9 more movies. Just like George, Tom Conway’s Falcon is smooth and has a wonderful English accent. It’s hard to explain the differences between Sanders and Conway but they are both alike and different. Conway is a little more straight forward, a little less droll, and perhaps even more of a ladies man. Where Sanders showed almost a nonchalant boredom (perhaps he was) Conway’s Falcon has an energy that also served him well in his stint in his two Bulldog Drummond outings. George may arguably be the better actor but the Falcon series actually became more popular when Tom took the helm. My take – I enjoy them both and this series is one of my favorites and I have watched all of them multiple times.



    The RKO series Falcons ended in 1946 but in 1948 the series was resurrected with Falcon Pictures Corporation with the Falcon becoming Michael Waring (the same name carried in the TV series). This set of three poverty row productions starred stage magician John Calvert. These were very cheaply made in a matter of just a couple of days each and it shows in sets, acting, and music. I was lucky to have spent some time with John and he was a fascinating man – he flew his own airplanes – starred in movies – sailed the Bahamas with a bunch of women performing magic shows – the list goes on and on. When I met him he celebrated his 90th birthday doing a magic show for several hundred people. He died a few years ago at age 104. But – he was not the best Falcon by a long shot. IMO these movies are not that strong and only real fans of B mysteries need apply. You might want to watch the first one just to see him perform some magic. The director needed padding so John did some tricks from his show.

    The Falcon went on to live in the 40 episode TV Series with Charles McGraw playing Michael Waring the Falcon from 1954-55 transforming into a government agent. (Don’t get this confused with the 2012 TV series Falcon by a different author)

    The Sanders and Conway Falcons are available from WAC.

    Devil’s Cargo with John Calvert is on youtube and Archive.org – the other two – you’ll have to hunt for.

    Some of the Falcon TV series is on you tube and you can watch Tom Conway as another TV detective Mark Sabre on youtube as well
     
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  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Having gone through the Conway/Falcons recently, I can certainly attest they are usually entertaining but there are occasional stumbles that we have to endure to enjoy what else the films have to offer. I need to rewatch the Sanders/Falcons at some point.
     
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  16. Mysto

    Mysto Second Unit

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    Thanks Matt - We have very much enjoyed the comments on the individual films as you were watching. Like all movie series - some are better than others and like all "B's" there are occasionally warts.:lol:
    Please keep posting your comments and views (and get that HDMI fixed - ouch!)
     
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  17. SAhmed

    SAhmed Supporting Actor

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    I have been through and enjoyed the Falcon series and as a general statement found the Sanders Falcon movies to be slightly more preferable as George Sanders was, I think, better able to bring the "roguish" charm.

    Regards,
     
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  18. Rustifer

    Rustifer Supporting Actor

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    Excellent summary, Marv.
     
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  19. Message #219 of 265 Jul 12, 2018 at 8:32 AM
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018 at 8:48 AM
    Mysto

    Mysto Second Unit

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    Thanks Russ. When I started this thread, it was my intent to do a summary on every one of the b movie mystery and crime series. The idea is to build a digest to perhaps help others to discover some new series that may be worth exploring.

    The only downside is I think it may intimidate some others from posting. I hope not. I really want this thread to be a place where all can celebrate these fun movies. I enjoy every post (including those that disagree with my views or don't like a movie I like). It's fun to talk about one of my favorite things and to learn from others views. Just a post of - "I watched this and I liked it" makes me feel good.

    I also don't want to force an order to the discussion. Sherlock Holmes was posted first in the thread but I would be happy to talk about him today. The summaries are only for reference not a start and stop of discussion.

    I really have enjoyed your informative and funny posts so far. Thanks for joining in - you have enriched the thread.
     
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  20. Rustifer

    Rustifer Supporting Actor

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    Since you mentioned Sherlock Holmes, I’m gonna jump in on that. Tomorrow.
    I’ve got a 77 SS episode to catch up on right now. Stay tuned.
     
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