Tuesday, 16 August 2022

The Falcon In San Francisco

The San
Francisco Kid

The Falcon In
San Francisco

USA 1945
Directed by Joseph H. Lewis
RKO/Warner Archive DVD Region 1

And once again a short review for another short movie in the successful series of films about The Falcon, aka Tom Lawrence. This time around it’s The Falcon In San Francisco, another cracking yarn in the franchise and, it has to be said, these films really didn’t just sit still and let them be held to too much of a formula... as long as they stuck with the character set up, the studio seemed to be happy to not just keep repeating variations of the same film over and over and the series kept getting tweaked.

Case in point, we have the return of The Falcon’s side kick Goldie Locke, brought back into the series for a couple of times but this time he’s played by Edward Brophy, a much loved character actor who’s voice would become beloved by children when he recorded the dialogue for Timothy, the mouse in Dumbo. Here he’s still the ‘not so smart’ ex-con established by previous actors in the role and he’s given some appropriately comical dialogue routines with The Falcon, played once again by Tom Conway, including a running gag about trying to find a wife to help him simplify his insurance forms.

The plot starts right away as The Falcon and Goldie, travelling on a train to Frisco, meet a kid... a young girl played by Sharyn Moffett along with her well trained dog, Diogenese. She strikes up a friendship with the two and, it’s just as well, as they have to put off their vacation in order to help the girl and her much older sister, when the child’s nanny is found murdered on the train. It all leads back to the young girl’s parental lineage, a new identity for an old time hoodlum from prohibition days and some kind of silk smuggling racket on board a ship. Can The Falcon help the two young ladies get out from under a dark inheritance of family trouble and foil the various criminals, in what turns out to be a fairly convoluted plot? Well sure he can, although he’s not above making a few mistakes of his own in this one and he doesn’t see the obvious betrayal coming until it’s too late... not that I’m going to spoil the story for you here.

The film is easy going and breezes along at it’s own pace, helped along by a strong bunch of actors including, as a somewhat hard to pin down character, Robert Armstrong  (who people may best remember for his portrayal of the original Carl Denham in King Kong and its quick follow up Son Of Kong back in the 1930s). It also has a very striking ‘heavy’ played by Carl Kent in this one and I wonder if some cuts were made to tone the nastiness down here (which does seem a little out of character for the series in general).

Why I wonder this is because there’s a scene where The Falcon leaves a restaurant with two men who present themselves as police and the next shot is a transition into him waking up the next morning having been beaten up by them. He’s still the prisoner of one of the villains in this film by this point and when he fails to give an answer to a question which, to be fair to him, he doesn’t know anything about when asked, he is beaten up some more. Which seems unusual and a much more sustained degree of villainy for the series than what were used to, I feel.

Still, it’s a fun enough film and, bearing in mind the running time of the pictures were just over 65 minutes long by this point, they manage to cram an awful lot into the story and give everyone plenty to do. You certainly can’t fault the pacing on this one, for sure.

Another unusual thing about this one is that there’s no steady romantic figure in the movie for the Tom Lawrence character. I mean, sure, he turns on the charm a couple of times and engages in the usual flirtations but there’s nobody chasing him and each time he gets interested in one of the various ladies in the film, he finds he knows them less well than he thought, as there’s usually a character reveal somewhere very soon relating to them.

Other than this... no, I really don’t have much more to say about The Falcon In San Francisco. Musical continuity is kept with some of the previous films on the opening credits and, just like the previous two films in the series (The Falcon in Mexico, reviewed here and The Falcon In Hollywood, reviewed here) the film doesn’t feature a cliffhanger leading to an unfilmed Falcon adventure. All in all, another fine entry in the series and, I think I only have two more left to watch based on this character (the later films after Tom Conway stopped playing him were based on an entirely different character, also called The Falcon but accredited to the wrong writer... but that’s another story, I guess).

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