The Trespasser (1947)

US / 70 minutes / bw / Republic Dir: George Blair Assoc Pr: William J. O’Sullivan Scr: Jerry Gruskin, Dorrell McGowan, Stuart E. McGowan Story: Jerry Sackheim, Erwin Gelsey Cine: John Alton Cast: Dale Evans, Warren Douglas, Janet Martin, Douglas Fowley, Adele Mara, Gregory Gay (i.e., Gregory Gaye), Grant Withers, William Bakewell, Vince Barnett, Francis Pierlot, Joy Barlowe (i.e., Joy Barlow), Fred Graham, Dale Van Sickel, Betty Alexander, Joseph Crehan, Bobbie Dorree.

A movie that starts off as if it’s going to be yet another of those countless, nigh-indistinguishable Hollywood comedy-crime B-features, albeit better played and produced than most, but, around the halfway mark, morphs into something distinctly grimmer and more noirish, with cinematography to match—indeed, the (well choreographed) punchup of the finale is marred by the fact that the shadows are so deep you can’t see who’s getting the upper hand (fist?) in the proceedings.

Warren Douglas as Danny and Janet Martin as Stevie

Despite the order of the credits, Janet Martin is the main star of the show, with Warren Douglas and Douglas Fowley as her supports. Dale Evans has a supporting role and sings a nice song (“It’s Not the First Love” by Eddie Maxwell and Nathan Scott), but was clearly regarded as being a much bigger name than the others. Plus c’est la même chose.

Dale Evans as Linda

Stephanie “Stevie” Carson (Martin) is the daughter of the late, lamented but legendary Evening Gazette investigative reporter Frank Carson, and so, fresh out of journalism school, turns up at the Gazette offices hoping for Continue reading

Exposed (1947)

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 Continue reading

Angel in Exile (1948)

vt Dark Violence
US / 86 minutes / bw / Republic Dir: Allan Dwan, Philip Ford Scr: Charles Larson Cine: Reggie Lanning Cast: John Carroll, Adele Mara, Thomas Gomez, Barton MacLane, Alfonso Bedoya, Grant Withers, Howland Chamberlin, Art Smith, Paul Fix, Tom Powers, Ian Wolfe, Elsa Lorraine Zepeda, Mary Currier.

Adele Mara as Raquel Chavez.

The movie sets out its stall early, declaring right there in the opening credits that

This is the story of a miracle. To those who do not believe in miracles, we can offer no explanation. We can only point out that the man to whom this one occurred . . . . didn’t believe in miracles either . . .

Like me, he probably didn’t know either why the first ellipsis was there. Whatever the truth about that, the stress on the “miracle” aspect of the plot—here and in most of the rare reviews—is probably why I overlooked Angel in Exile when drawing up the entry list for my Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir: the movie isn’t a film noir, but it has sufficient noirish interest to have qualified it for inclusion in that book.

Spring 1939 in California, and Charlie Dakin (Carroll) is released after five years in stir for his part in a heist that netted a million dollars’ worth of gold dust. He’s met at the gate by Ernie Coons (Smith), his partner in the heist, who’s been keeping the loot safe all through Charlie’s enforced absence. Ernie reckons the two of them can now split the proceeds; trouble is, the other two participants in the heist, Max Giorgio (MacLane) and Carl Spitz (Fix), have a different idea.

John Carroll as Charlie (left) and Art Smith as Ernie.

Ernie’s cunning plan for laundering the gold is to buy for a song an abandoned mine in the Arizona mountains, stow the dust there, then pretend to dig it up. It’s a good plan, too, until Max and Carl turn up. Another problem is that a local land-management officer, J.H. Higgins (Chamberlin), swiftly guesses what’s going on and demands to be cut in as well.

A further complication is the involvement of the inhabitants of a local village Continue reading

Catman of Paris, The (1946)

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Was he a vicious killer or just a harmless shapeshifter?
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US / 64 minutes / bw / Republic Dir: Lesley Selander Assoc Pr: Marek M. Libkov Scr: Sherman L. Lowe Cine: Reggie Lanning Cast: Carl Esmond, Lenore Aubert, Adele Mara, Douglass Dumbrille, Gerald Mohr, Fritz Feld, Francis Pierlot, Georges Renavent, Francis McDonald, Maurice Cass, Alphonse Martell, Paul Marion, John Dehner, Anthony Caruso, Carl Neubert, Elaine Lange, Tanis Chandler, George Davis.

In the closing years of the 19th century, bestselling author Charles Regnier (Esmond) is back in Paris after having spent a couple of years traveling in the Orient. His latest novel, Fraudulent Justice, is selling like hotcakes—in fact, his publisher, Paul Audet (Pierlot), declares that “Not since Balzac, not since Victor Hugo himself, has an author gained such popularity!” (What, no mention of Dumas?) All very atypical for publishers, who’re these days more likely to spend upwards of an hour telling you that the market’s tough, really tough, which is why you’ve yet again accrued no royalties . . . and then asking you to go dutch on the lunch they invited you to.

Charles’s patron and best friend Henri (Douglass Dumbrille).

But then Audet does indeed segue into what we might call Publisher Chagrin Mode. Although Fraudulent Justice is a huge bestseller, the book may destroy him. The cops are very suspicious of it, and may confiscate all copies, because it bears far too close a resemblance to the facts in the 1871 trial of one Louis Chambrais (sp?), a trial so scandalous and shocking that the records were stipulated to be kept under wraps for the next fifty years . . . and yet, a mere twenty-five years later, everything is being revealed in Charles’s so-called novel!

Lenore Aubert as publisher’s daughter Marie, whom Charles discovers he loves.

Charles is having a meal at his favorite nosherie, the Café du Bois, with his generous patron Henri Borchard (Dumbrille) when he’s suddenly smitten by yet another of the migraine-style headaches he has intermittently suffered ever since that nasty fever attack he suffered while abroad, and decides to cut the dinner short and walk home through the fresh air of the Parisian streets. (Fresh air? Parisian streets? At the end of the 19th century? Hm.)

He doesn’t get home until morning, by which time a librarian in the Archives section of the Ministère de la Justice, Devereaux (McDonald), has been ’ideously murdered while Continue reading

Alias Boston Blackie (1942)

US / 67 minutes / bw / Columbia Dir: Lew Landers Pr: Wallace MacDonald Scr: Paul Yawitz Cine: Philip Tannura Cast: Chester Morris, Adele Mara, Richard Lane, George E. Stone, Lloyd Corrigan, Walter Sande, Larry Parks, George McKay, Cy Kendall, Paul Fix, Ben Taggart.

Blackie (Chester Morris) and The Runt (George E. Stone) address the Christmas tree.

It’s Christmas Eve and Boston Blackie (Morris)—a sort of Robin Hood figure, a reformed criminal who now helps the downtrodden and solves crimes—has mounted a vaudeville show for the inmates of the state prison. Eve Sanders (Mara), a friend of the famous clown Roggi McKay (McKay), begs to be included in the company so she can have an additional chance to see her brother, Joe Trilby (Parks), who’s doing time for a crime he didn’t commit. During the performance, Joe overpowers Roggi, steals his clown costume, performs his act, and then travels back to the city on the performers’ bus—among his fellow-passengers being Blackie’s old nemesis, Inspector Farraday (Lane).

Joe Trilby (Larry Parks) becomes the fake Roggi.

Joe plans to knock off the two crooks who framed him, Duke Banton—”that tin-horn bookie from Saratoga,” as someone calls him—and Steve Caveroni (Fix), currently working as a cabby. Informed by Continue reading