Sunday, 9 October 2022

The Falcon's Adventure


Final Flight

The Falcon's Adventure
USA 1946
Directed by William Berke
RKO/Warner Archive DVD Region 1

The Falcon’s Adventure was the character’s swan song from the famous series, in as much as it’s the last of these particular movies based on the adventures of The Falcon, although certain websites might say otherwise and, if any of them do, I’ll point out why they’re wrong at the tail end of this review.

So, the thirteenth story in the series sees Tom Conway return as the titular character, alias Tom Lawrence. This was Conway’s tenth Falcon movie, after taking over halfway through the fourth film in the series, when his fictional brother Gay Lawrence, played by Conway’s real life brother George Sanders, was killed. So Tom became much more familiar in the public eye as the face of The Falcon, for sure.

This one is a plot involving an attempted kidnap of a woman, Louisa Braganza (played by Madge Meredith, more on her later) as just one of many attempts to wrestle free the secret formula invented by her uncle to manufacture industrial diamonds. As he and Goldie try to help her, The Falcon and his faithful sidekick are hindered and chased by the police, for both the murder of her uncle and also the murder of her uncle’s genuine customer for the formula. It’s up to them to stay two steps ahead of the law, protect Louisa and bring the criminals to justice. All in a couple of days work for The Falcon, of course.

It’s the usual romp full of wit, charm, mystery solving and action and, frankly, as entertaining as the best of them. The actors are all pretty good and this time around we have an actor returning too. I mentioned in my review of the previous movie in the series, The Falcon’s Alibi (reviewed here), that the faithful Goldie Locke character had been replaced once again by yet another actor, this time one without much personality for the role. Well, I guess the producers must have been of the same mind because Edward Brophy (aka Timothy Mouse in Dumbo), who had once played Goldie in The Falcon In San Francisco (reviewed here) returns to the role here and he certainly brings a lot more over the top and much needed humour back to the role.

There are a couple of other ‘items of interest’ in this one too. A little way into the Falcon’s misadventure, he has to come to the aid of a second damsel in distress on a long train journey. Turns out it was a ploy to wrestle the diamond formula away from The Falcon but, luckily, he had planned for just such an attempt and he sleeps through the trap... helped along by gas pumped through his sleeping carriage’s door... safe in the knowledge that he’s already substituted the envelope containing the formula with a fake, while the real one is in the safe hands of the conductor. I, on the other hand, was completely taken in by this attempt so, yeah, that was a nice surprise.

The other thing that’s interesting about this movie is a couple of the director’s segues in and out of a scene. The film opens with an establishing shot which the camera then pulls back from so that we can see that it’s merely a photograph being held up (kinda unnaturally but it makes the shot work) by Goldie as he and the Falcon pack their bags for yet another vacation they are destined not to take. It’s a nice piece of film syntax shenanigans and it’s kinda repeated in reverse later when The Falcon is handed a business card with a photograph of the alligator farm in Miami that the two intend to visit. The camera moves in on the photo and before we know it, it’s the establishing shot for the next scene... which is again pretty cool and a nice, visually sophisticated way of doing things.

Now I said I’d get to actress Madge Meredith so here it is. Shortly after the release of this and her next movie, Meredith was wrongfully convicted and jailed for four years in her involvement in a kidnapping case involving her agent. It was later overturned and her imprisonment cited as a mockery of the legal system, the rest of her short career playing out as supporting roles in television shows. So, maybe she would have gone far without the false conviction and may be not... we’ll never know.

And finally, this 13th film was indeed The Falcon’s last adventure, despite what you might read about there being 16 films in the series. Or at least, the last adventure for the character of Tom Lawrence. The rights to the name The Falcon were sold to another film company who made three more Falcon movies but, although on their credits they still cite Michael Arlen, the writer of the short story on which this character was based, those three films and also the subsequent 1950s TV show, The Adventures Of The Falcon, are all featuring an entirely different character, Michael Waring, based on the writings of a guy called Drexel Drake. Despite the Arlen erroneous credit, there really is no relationship between those films, the TV show... and the run of 13 Falcon films that RKO produced in the 1940s.

So in conclusion to both this review and my series of reviews of these films, I will say that The Falcon’s Adventure is yet another cracking, light hearted mystery romp which is to be recommended by lovers of the genre and that the film series did indeed, as was intended, give The Saint films (which you can also find reviewed on this blog), a run for their money. All thirteen of these films can be purchased on two muti disc DVD sets from Warner Archives in the US. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the mood for some light and frothy entertainment of an evening.

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