The Missing Lady (1946)

US / 60 minutes / bw / Monogram Dir: Phil Karlson Pr: Joe Kaufman Scr: George Callahan Story: Stories in Shadow Magazine based on characters created by Walter B. Gibson Cine: William Sickner Cast: Kane Richmond, Barbara Reed (i.e., Barbara Read), George Chandler, James Flavin, Pierre Watkin, Dorothea Kent, James Cardwell, Claire Carleton, Jack Overman, Jo Carroll Dennison, Frances Robinson, Almira Sessions, Nora Cecil, George Lewis, Dewey Robinson, Anthony Warde, Bert Roach, George Lessey, Douglas Wood.

The third and mercifully the last of Monogram’s series of The Shadow B-features. Surprise, surprise, but The Shadow/Lamont Cranston (Richmond) finds himself accused of murders he didn’t commit—although, as Lamont himself points out, there’s a variation in the formula: last time, in Behind the Mask (1946), Lamont had to clear The Shadow of murders he didn’t commit; this time The Shadow has to clear Lamont.

Barbara Read as Margo (left) and Dorothea Kent as Jennie

Wealthy collector James Douglas (Lessey) is murdered in his home and a valuable statuette, the Jade Lady, is stolen. The obvious culprit, so far as we viewers are concerned, is hoodlum Ox Walsh (Overman), whose enmity Lamont Cranston has previously earned. More murders follow, notably that of Ox’s seemingly estranged wife Anne (Robinson). At every turn there’s a good case to be made, at least so far as Inspector Cardona (Flavin) is concerned, that Lamont is the murderer.

Jo Carroll Dennison as Gilda and Kane Richmond as Lamont

This is a significantly less moronic movie than its predecessor—although admittedly that’s a low hurdle to clear. The screenplay has some fleeting brighter-than-expected moments:

Cop: “Do you need an introduction before murdering someone?”
Lamont: “Well, it’s more polite.”

And:

Ox: “Don’t try to be as smart as you think you are.”

Jack Overman as Ox

And (for all you incorrigible sexists out there):

A Bar Drunk Called Waldo (Roach): “You know why I’m here? My wife intercepted a pass I made at a waitress and I’ve been afraid to go home ever since.”

After two movies Joseph Crehan yields the role of the hapless (and clueless) Inspector Cardona to James Flavin; to be honest, it’s a change for the better. Even though it’s obvious the term “missing lady” applies to a stolen statuette, Cardona persists in the assumption he’s dealing with a kidnapping case. Crehan may have (perhaps wisely) abandoned ship, but, contrariwise, James Cardwell, who played early-exiting baddie Jeff Mann in Behind the Mask, here plays insurance investigator Terry Blake. You lose some, you lose some . . .

James Flavin as Inspector Cardona (left) and Pierre Watkin as Lamont’s uncle, Commissioner Weston

Mixed up in all the skulduggery somehow is vampish artists’ model Gilda Marsh (Dennison), shady lady and rival to Margo in the Silly Hats department. George Lewis plays artist Jan Field who, unlike others in his trade, employs life models to pose with their clothes on.

Frances Robinson as Anne Walsh

As I say, overall this movie sets itself a slightly higher standard than its predecessor. There’s one area of exception. Unfortunately Lamont’s gal Margo Lane (Reed) and Shrevvie’s gal Jennie Delaney (Kent) are now reduced to nothing but comic-relief airheads, constantly trying to catch out the boyfriends they assume are cheating on them. I guess this situation might in a better movie have been cleverly handled; alas, in this one it ain’t.

George Lewis as Jan Field

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