Monday, 22 September 2014

The Falcon in Hollywood (1944)

The Falcon in Hollywood is one of the best of the original RKO Falcon series, with the hackneyed plot more than compensated for with the breezy script, debonair star, and his sassy sidekick. In addition, we also get a fascinating behind the scenes tour of the RKO backlot.

This time the Falcon is on vacation, in Tinseltown, enjoying a relaxing day at the races. However, within minutes of the opening credits he is being questioned by police detectives and approached by beautiful women. Before you can say "how does he do that?", he is embroiled in a murder mystery involving a shady businessman, a neurotic, superstitious Shakespeare quoting movie producer and film that seems to be cursed.

The script keeps our hero busy locking horns with the police, the criminals, the filmmakers and the actresses. Helping and hindering in equal measure in the faithful sidekick role is cabbie Billie (Veda Ann Borg).Although the part is played by a woman, the character is pretty gender neutral and, refreshingly, she is not presented as merely a love interest who occasionally screams, but as great comic relief. 

Given the subject matter and setting, The Falcon in Hollywood qualifies as a film about filmmaking, with the focus on the behind-the-scenes drama as much as any taking place in front of the camera. With the ruthless scheming producer, autocratic director and pompous diva actors, it is fascinating to see how the movie world sees itself.