Following up on his move from The Saint to The Gay Falcon, George Sanders continues to dazzle in the lead role of a high society skirt chasing sleuth with a fiance in tow.
A secret formula. Synthetic diamonds. A femme fatale and James Gleason verbally sparring with Allen Jenkins add up to plenty of fun when Sanders as The Falcon gets mixed up with murder and mystery.
A Date With the Falcon was the second film of the series and released in 1941.
Wendy Barrie once again plays Sanders’ fiance who is constantly trying to get him to the altar when she isn’t throwing jealous fits at the seemingly endless line of attractive ladies throwing themselves at good old George. When the chemist who is capable of creating synthetic diamonds turns up dead, cop James Gleason brings Sanders into the case. Not long afterwards, Sanders and his sidekick Allen Jenkins are mired in a gang of hoodlums and a deadly dame played by Mona Maris.
The accent is firmly focused on comedy in this series entry. Sanders entertains us with madcap scenes ranging from walking the ledge of a high rise to the delight of people below, to messing up plans of the baddies by getting arrested for public drunkenness. Sanders keeps his tongue firmly in cheek and his eyes on the ladies while solving the mystery and keeping Jenkins out of trouble and jail.
In the end can Sanders keep his fiancé Barrie happy, evade Mona and right all the crimes within? It’ll take a fast paced 62 minutes to find out.
Having directed the first film in the series, Irving Reis returned to direct both this second feature as well as the third, The Falcon Takes Over from 1942.
Scripted by Lynn Root and Frank Fenton, the film is actually an on screen adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely. Subbing in for Philip Marlowe is Sanders as The Falcon. If your familiar with the story then you won’t be surprised to see the character Moose Malloy lumbering around looking for his Velma.
“I haven’t seen you for a half a dozen murders.” cracks James Gleason to George Sanders upon bumping into him at a swank nightclub where Moose has broken the neck of a lead he has as to the whereabouts of Velma.
In his latest adventure, Sanders is free wheeling with his fiance out of town. No sooner does a heavily padded Ward Bond as Moose commit murder that Sanders bumps into attractive Lynn Bari as a girl on the beat looking for a story. A popular plot device of the era. Sanders is drawn into the killing when number one sidekick Jenkins is bullied by Bond into driving him from the scene of the murder.
Detective Gleason couldn’t be happier then to think and hope that Jenkins and maybe even Sanders are mixed in with the guilty party. As in the earlier film, the banter between Jenkins and Gleason proves to be one of the film’s highlights.
Sanders is by now joined at the hip with Bari as they go about following the trail of Moose, a jade necklace and sending the under surveillance Jenkins to a phony fortune teller who may be involved. That fortune teller turns out to be an unbilled Turhan Bey whose role is cut down severely when Bond as the Moose turns up. When Jenkins is found at the latest murder scene, Gleason is sure that he has his man.
Sanders is once again a joy to see here toying with women, the police and Ward Bond as the strongman. As he tracks the clues he will encounter bullets flying in his direction, a sleazy Hans Conried and another dame who is just no good in the form of sultry Helen Gilbert. No good she may be but that doesn’t keep Sanders’ from doing his best to flirt with the blonde bombshell.
At another running time of just over an hour apiece, these two films make for a fine double feature from RKO studios. George Sanders proves once again that he could be a fun leading man without the devilishly dry tongue and villainous slant that he would ultimately become associated with. You might even be able to say that he’s acting in these films where by based on what I’ve read about him through the years, many of those unsympathetic characters he portrayed may have been closer to the real George.
George would appear in one more Falcon film and at the same time pass the baton on to his real life brother Tom Conway in the appropriately titled The Falcon’s Brother in 1942. The Falcon under the guise of Tom Conway would continue on for nine films afterwards.
TCM regularly features this fun series from the days of the seventy minute mysteries that make for pleasant diversions if you are so inclined.