Talkie of the Week: The Falcon out West
USA 1944, 64 minutes, black & white, RKO. Director: William Clemens, Written by Billy Jones and Morton Grant, Based on the Falcon character created by Michael Arlen. Cast: Tom Conway, Carole Gallagher, Barbara Hale, Joan Barclay, Cliff Clark, Edward Gargan, Minor Watson, Donald Douglas, Lyle Talbot, Lee Trent, Perc Launders
Plot summary: The unusual murder of a wealthy Texan at a thriving party in New York brings the Falcon out West to solve the case on unfamiliar grounds.
Review: The Falcon was created by Michael Arlen in 1940 and introduced in a short story called Gay Falcon which was first published in Town & Country magazine. In 1941, the character was picked up by RKO in an adaptation loosely based on the original story. The film was called The Gay Falcon and presented an altered lead character who resembled Leslie Charteris’ The Saint, previously adapted by RKO in a series of successful movies starring George Sanders. Sanders was also cast as the first Falcon in a series of movies that were shot in the 1940s. In 1943, he bowed out and passed his part over to his brother Tom Conway who had played the Falcon’s brother one year before.
The Falcon Out West was Conway’s fourth endeavor as the Falcon, a film that took the city sleuth out to the Wild West. The plot was filled with wide array of Western clichés that tested the character’s usual sophistication, his big city wit and charm. Tom Conway did make it work however and played the fish out of water to a tee. His talents worked beautifully with an ensemble cast of characters who knew how to mix humor with suspense, especially with RKO’s upcoming starlet Barbara Hale. Introduced to movie goers in Higher and Higher in 1943 alongside Frank Sinatra in his first role, The Falcon Out West was Ms. Hale’s second credited part and her first Western. It was also the first out of two Falcon movies she starred in, both shot and released in 1944.
For fans of the Falcon series or Tom Conway, this film is a must-see. The same goes for detective story enthusiasts and classic movie buffs. For Barbara Hale fans The Falcon Out West is one of those early gems that give you a glimpse of her full potential long before her quiet Perry Mason fame. For everybody else, the movie offers a good hour of murder, laughs and mayhem in the black and white world of Hollywood’s Wild West.
Available on DVD. The Falcon Out West intro scene