A bit over a year after releasing the
first seven Falcon
films, Warner Archives have put out the last six movies that RKO
made in the
series. These are pretty good B-Films,
each one featuring a mystery, some fabulous 40's fashions, and some
banter. With more hits than misses, this
set is well worth picking up.
George Sanders first played Gaylord Lawrence, amateur
detective and man-about-town known as The Falcon in The
Gay Falcon (1941). After
three outings as the character, Sanders turned the role over to his
both figuratively and literally. In The Falcon's Brother (1942) the
detective work gets passed on to Gay's brother, Tom Lawrence, played by
Sanders real-life brother Tom Conway. It
was a nice move, and Conway
does a good job in the role, equal if not superior to his brother's. This collection feature that last six movie
with Tom Conway in the role.
The films included in this collection are:
The Falcon Out West
When a wealth ranch owner gets fatally bitten by a
rattlesnake in the middle of a New York club, the Falcon gets
interested in discovering
exactly what happened. Could he have
been killed by his jealous ex-wife, the business partner with whom he
stormy relation, or his fiancé, who would have inherited his whole
they had been married first? To settle
the matter Tom travels out west where he encounters surly ranch hands,
inscrutable Indians, and a couple of additional murders.
For some reason they decided to take The Falcon out of his
native habitat, the glitz and glamour of New York night clubs filled with
beautiful women, and
transplant him into a western setting.
It doesn't work well. The mystery
isn't that engaging, I never really cared who killed the rancher, and
two New York
detectives fly out also to act as The Falcon's foils just seems forced. Tom's faithful manservant Goldie is missing
from this picture too, which doesn't help things. It's not a bad film,
a so-so entry.
The Falcon in Mexico (1944):
Once again the powers-that-be tried to boost interest in the
franchise by making The Falcon a world traveler. When
Tom encounters a young, attractive lady
trying to break into an art dealer's showroom, he does the noble thing
helps her. She claims that to be an
artist and that the dealer refuses to return one of her works, but when
break in he finds that the painting was actually done by an artist who
died in Mexico
and years ago, and it's an image of the woman that Tom's assisting. Not only that, but the proprietor has been
killed. The police arrive and figure
that Tom is the killer so The Falcon nabs the picture of interest and
to Mexico (with the daughter of the long-dead artist) to see just
This was a bit better than the last film, but still not one
of the shining examples of the series.
Goldie is still missing, but in his place is a Mexican taxi
his son who provide a lot of comic relief.
This mystery is also has more twists and turns, which was
enjoyable. The resolution felt a bit
contrived, but that's nothing new to the world of B-picture mysteries.
The Falcon in Hollywood
After the last two films, I didn't have much hope of the
series. Fortunately this is one of the
best installments of the franchise.
While on vacation in Hollywood,
The Falcon stumbles onto a soundstage and finds a dead body. It's a movie star who has a long list of
people who would like to see him dead.
It's up to The Falcon to find the killer before he ends up as
I have a soft spot for movies about movie making (I love to
see how Hollywood
portrays itself) and this was great for that.
The cast includes an irritable German director, a vain and
actress (who wears some outrageous outfits) and an intellectual
goes around quoting Shakespeare and is working his way to an ulcer. Not only that, the mystery is pretty good
too. What makes the film though is The Falcon's sidekick for this film,
brassy female cab driver named Billie (Veda Ann Borg).
She steals every scene she's in and is a
great comic relief/ partner for The Falcon.
It's only too bad that she wasn't allowed to continue the role
rest of the Falcon films.
The Falcon in San
Traveling to SF on a vacation (what does Tom Lawrence do for
a living anyway, and why does he need a vacation?)
The Falcon and Goldie Locke (the character
makes his first appearance in a while, having skipped the last five
the series... this time he's played by Ed Brophy) meet a charming little
Annie (Sharyn Moffett). The tyke
complains that her nurse is mean and that she'd being kept a prisoner
own home. When the gruff guardian takes
the girl away, Tom doesn't think any more of her, but when the nurse
dead that evening, The Falcon knows that something suspicious is going
This was another very solid mystery. There
are a lot of twists and turns in the
plot and some surprising developments.
It was good to see Goldie back again, this time trying to find a
he can deduct her from his income tax return.
Sharyn Moffett was a nice addition to the cast too.
She was cute and perky, the studio was
obviously looking for more children who could be stars like Shirley
Sharyn had a lot of screen presence. She
is great in the role, and when she flirts with Tom it's funny rather
creepy, which is hard to pull off.
The Falcon's Alibi
If it's one thing The Falcon can't resist, it's a woman in
distress and that's exactly what he finds in Joan Meredith (Rita Corday
last Falcon movie... she was ultimately in six of them, playing a
in each, including most of the ones in this set). Joan
is the secretary of a wealthy woman,
Gloria Peabody, who was the victim of a robbery. Some
very valuable pearls were stolen and the
insurance investigator is sure that it was an inside job and Joan is
suspect. Tom and his sidekick Goldie
(this time played by Vince Barnett) accept Mrs. Peabody's invitation to
at her hotel, where he meets some of Mrs. Peabody's friends including a
suspicious band leader, the gorgeous singer in the lounge (Jane Greer),
DJ she's secretly married to, Nick (Elisha Cook).
This was the most noir-ish entry of the series, and quite
good. Most of the film was a typical
Flacon movie, with nightclubs and a decent mystery, but the end of this
gets a bit darker than any of the other films.
The killer (I won't reveal who it is) does a magnificent job,
goofy one minute and incredibly creepy the next. When
he pulls a girl close to kiss her, only
to shoot her in the stomach while their lips are still together, it's a
shocking, which is something I never thought I'd say about a Falcon
movie. The only real dull performance was
Barnett's. He's not as amusing Goldie
should be. Even so, the movie is well
In the final RKO Falcon movie, Tom Lawrence and Goldie
(played once again by Ed Brophy) are going to go fishing... that is until
see a beautiful woman being kidnapped.
Thwarting the attempt and avoiding the police (she doesn't want
involve them, though it's never made clear exactly why) the sleuth
that the woman, Louisa Braganza, is daughter to a scientist who has
method of synthesizing industrial diamonds.
A friend of the elder Braganza has arranged to sell the formula
large amount of money, but he has to get it to Florida first. While
talking to Louisa's father, a gangster
kills him and knocks out Tom, who happens to wake up just as the police
in. Once again on the lamb, The Falcon
and Goldie have to get the formula that he's managed to acquire to Florida and
before someone kills them, or Louisa.
This last film is only average. They get
to the McGuffin quickly enough, but
there are a few too many plot holes and contrived coincidences to be
satisfying. The ending seems forced too
and the whole mystery wraps up a bit too quickly... and involves Goldie
impersonating an alligator. That's not
to say the movie is bad, it's not. It
just is one of the lesser entries in the series, and it's a shame that
These six hour-long movies are contained on two single-sided
DVD-Rs which are housed in a single-width double keepcase.
The mono soundtrack is provided and it sounds fine.
There's nothing really exceptionally good or
bad about it.
The full frame image looks very good. These
movies haven't been restored but they
come from very nice prints with minimal damage.
Yeah, there are occasional spots or flecks of dirt, but they're
infrequent. The contrast is good and so
is the level of detail.
None. I would have
appreciated trailers but it's not a huge disappointment that they
After The Falcon's
Adventure, RKO sold the rights to Poverty Row producer Film
Classics. (They made three more Falcon
magician John Calvert in the lead role.)
Looking back, The Falcon movies are pretty good entertainment. These are light, fun B-movies that only run
around an hour each. Tom Conway, though
the second actor to play the role, really grows into it and does a
job and the supporting cast is always good.
The Warner Archives MOD discs look very good too.
This set gets a strong Recommendation.