Talkie of the Week: The Falcon in Hollywood
USA 1944, 67 minutes, black & white, RKO. Director: Gordon Douglas, Written by Gerald Geraghty, Based on the Falcon character created by Michael Arlen. Cast: Tom Conway, Barbara Hale, Veda Ann Borg, John Abbott, Sheldon Leonard, Konstantin Shayne, Emory Parnell, Frank Jenks, Jean Brooks, Rita Corday, Walter Soderling, Useff Ali, Robert Clarke
Plot summary: The Falcon is on vacation in Hollywood and stumbles into murder case on the Sunset studio lot which seems to be linked to a raising starlet and her ties to the local mob.
Review: In his third consecutive adventure from 1944, Tom Conway returns to the silver screen as The Falcon in Hollywood. Officially on vacation, the famous urban detective finds a new case at a horse race where he meets a young lady who has trouble written all over her face. Chased by the police, she uses the Falcon as her cover only to take flight from him as well. Going after his accidental date in a cab, he makes the acquaintance of another young lady who’s as feisty in her pursuit of him as she’s reckless at driving. Together, they reach the lot of Sunrise Pictures where the Falcon stumbles right into a murder scene.
Like in his previous adventures in 1943 and ’44, Tom Conway did a beautiful job playing the charming sleuth who has a way of attracting women to his cases, as helpers or murderesses. He was supported by a hilariously feisty Veda Ann Borg as witty cab driver Billie Atkins whose tongue was sometimes quicker than her mind and a lovely but tough Barbara Hale as Peggy Callahan. The Falcon in Hollywood was Ms. Hale’s second stint on the popular franchise in which she played an actress who got her first shot at the movies. Slowly landing bigger parts for herself as one of RKO’s promising starlets at the time, Barbara Hale showed yet another side of her natural talent as a versatile young woman who’s smart and quick on her feet. She was an entertaining riddle for Tom Conway’s Falcon, her motives, background and ambitions almost as shadowy as her alibi.
Shot primarily on the actual RKO lot, The Falcon in Hollywood combined a suspenseful story with a glimpse into the actual world of the studio with its college campus atmosphere (as Barbara Hale once so sweetly put it) and numerous sound stages. Today, it is a wonderful look back at a place and era that’s long gone. The film is funny, diverting and very L.A. – a true gem for anyone who appreciates the style and humor of the Tinseltown’s Golden Age.
Available on DVD.