Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Falcon in Danger (1943)

The Falcon in Danger, the sixth of RKO's Falcon films, is an unremarkable affair, where an annoying sidekick, a dull script and flat direction undo the charming lead.

The story starts intriguingly, with freelance crime solver the Falcon, aka Tom Lawrence (played by Tom Conway) somehow getting roped into investigating a plane crash at an airport in New York. Missing from the wreckage is the pilot, two wealthy businessmen and $100,000 in securities.

Sadly instead of spending time developing this mystery properly, there is instead too much attention given to the Falcon's grating fiancée Bonnie Caldwell, and her, ultimately unsuccessful, attempts to keep Lawrence out of crime fighting. It is not that a character like the Falcon cannot work with a female sidekick; it is more that, whoever that sidekick is, they need to serve a function in the storytelling, whether that is getting the hero into or out of scrapes, or providing somebody for the hero to explain plot points to, for the benefit of the audience. Given that the film only has just over an hour to tell the story, the fiancé diversions are a mistake, and when we do return to characters and elements related to the crash, they feel rushed or poorly thought out.

Tom Conway took over the character of the Falcon from the original star, his brother, George Sanders, and while Conway is no George Sanders – who could be? – he still manages to be suave, (even when on roller skates) and entertaining enough to keep us watching, and make for mostly pleasant, if unessential viewing.