US / 59 minutes / bw / Republic Dir: George Blair Assoc Pr: William J. O’Sullivan Scr: Royal K. Cole, Charles Moran Story: Charles Moran Cine: William Bradford Cast: Adele Mara, Robert Scott (i.e., Mark Roberts), Adrian Booth (i.e., Lorna Gray), Robert Armstrong, William Haade, Bob Steele, Harry Shannon, Charles Evans, Joyce Compton, Russell Hicks, Paul E. Burns, Colin Campbell, Edward Gargan, Mary Gordon, Patricia Knox.
Adele Mara as Belinda.
Not long after a goon called Chicago (Steele) tries to abduct her from her normal lunchtime eaterie, PI Belinda Prentice (Mara) is hired by a businessman, Colonel William K. Bentry (Hicks), to investigate his stepson and heir, William “Bill” Foresman III (Scott), who has been behaving unusually—notably by making unexplained withdrawals from company funds.
William Haade as Iggy.
Before Belinda—aided by hunky sidekick Iggy (Haade)—has properly gotten her investigation underway, the Colonel is found dead with a letter opener stuck in his chest. It’s soon revealed that the letter opener is a red herring: he was in the habit of toying with letter openers, and accidentally (and improbably!) stabbed himself while already dead, keeling over after a presumed heart attack. Belinda is pretty sure that was no heart attack, though . . .
Russell Hicks as Colonel Bentry.
Robert Armstrong as Inspector Prentice.
The police detective appointed to the case is none other than Belinda’s father, Inspector Prentice (Armstrong), whose catchline to his daughter—“Don’t get sassy”—wears pretty thin pretty fast. Suspects include not only Bill and Chicago but
- the Bentry family Butler With A Past, Severance (Shannon);
- Bill’s sister Judith “Judy” Bentry (Booth);
- the Bentry company attorney, Jonathan Lowell (Evans);
- Professor Maurice Ordson (Burns), the versatile scientist whose expensive experiments are the reason Bill’s been making those withdrawals; and
- Dr. Richards (Campbell), the Bentry family physician.
Harry Shannon as Severance.
Robert Scott (Mark Roberts) as Bill.
Belinda was right about its being foul play rather than natural causes that shuffled the colonel off this mortal coil. In the denouement, the relevant cast members are all gathered together, the inspector produces a logical but wrong solution to the case, and then Belinda trumps him by expounding the correct one; very Golden Age of Detection.
Adrian Booth (Lorna Gray) as Judith.
Edward Gargan has a petite role as Big Mac, a sort of drunk for hire. Joyce Compton is wasted in another small role, that of Belinda’s secretary, Emmy.
There are two good reasons to watch Exposed. The first is Adele Mara, a quite splendid actress whom Hollywood woefully underutilized—it was idiotic that she spent much of her screen career appearing in undistinguished B-movies like this. Three of her other movies have already been discussed on this site:
- Alias Boston Blackie (1942);
- Angel in Exile (1946), where there’s a brief bio and a fuller discussion of her career; and
- The Catman of Paris (1948).
Some of her other movies are discussed in THE BOOK:
- The TIGER WOMAN (1945)
- BLACKMAIL (1947)
- The INNER CIRCLE (1946)
- The LAST CROOKED MILE (1946)
- TRAFFIC IN CRIME (1946)
- COUNT THE HOURS (1953; vt Every Minute Counts)
It has to be confessed that Adele Mara is an actress who’s not just a site favorite but one upon whom this site has something of a crush—but in a very gentlemanly manner, of course.
Bob Steele as Chicago and Paul E. Burns as Professor Ordson.
Colin Campbell as Dr. Richards (left) and Charles Evans as Lowell.
The other reason to watch Exposed is for some of the dialogue. This is written in the style best described as Cut-Price Chandler, and when it falls flat it falls very, very flat:
“Trying to keep a secret of a stiff like the famous colonel is like trying to hide the Statue of Liberty in a telephone booth.”
Yes, right. There’s pseudo-profundity, too:
“Even lambs can become lions if the stakes are high enough.”
But when it works it can be really quite glorious in its cheapo fashion. Too many lines had me grinning in admiration to quote here, but help yourself to a couple:
Waitress: “He’s a bad egg, honey.”
Belinda: “Don’t worry, I’ll scramble him.”
Iggy: “Don’t you get no ideas or I’ll put this gun where you least expect it.”
Aside from these two reasons, the movie’s a fairly standard-issue program filler—the kind of thing it’s fun to watch on TCM as a means of avoiding Game of Thrones but hardly worth making an effort to track down. Then again, there’s Adele Mara. Sigh.