The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance review by Matt Fuerst


Turner Classic Movies is a beautiful thing. I've read about some serial flicks from the 40's in many books, but TCM really gives me the opportunity to see some of them. Many of which aren't even released on DVD. Similar to The Whistler flick I watched last month, The Lone Wolf was a series of serial flicks throughout the 40's. From watching the movie, this one didn't seem to have it's origins in radio (unlike The Whistler flicks, which are very strong in their radio roots). A quick trip to the Wikipedia tells me that The Lone Wolf character actually has his start in fiction. Though the movie is a bit hammy in it's comedy for a novel, I can see some interesting, short books on the subjects.

Anyway, The Lone Wolf (Warren William) is a former jewel thief. He seems to consistently find himself in situations where he appears to be running afoul with the law, but in fact what he is doing is quite innocent or, in fact, helpful. Walking around town with his constant companion Jamison (Eric Blore - we'll get to their relationship in a bit) The Lone Wolf, AKA Michael Lanyard bumps into a his nemesis police inspector. The inspector makes a bet with Lanyard that he cannot stay out of trouble for 24 hours. And the movie is off to the races.

Lanyard's neighbor just so happens to have invented a rail car that is impenetrable, and is being used that very same night to carry the new money engraving plates to a United States mint. Bad guys break in and kidnap the neighbor and his girlfriend, Lanyard steps in to help and is, according to the formula, seemingly "caught" by the inspector red handed in a kidnapping. Lanyard is on the run from the police, while trying to rescue his neighbor and the damsel in distress. Hilarity ensues.

And there is a good amount of light hearted fun. Jamison plays the scaredy-cat role nicely and is a fun balance to Lanyard's quick wit. The pace is brisk, in the 40's these were played on double bills so the movies were designed to keep moving, The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance is around 70 minutes long. Really it's pretty cute, simple fun from a day long past.

I do have to point out a, shall I say, peculiar circumstance. I think of the 40's as an era of complete cinematic innocence. Output was strictly internally regulated and nothing seen as even a bit immoral or lacking in justice was going to be released. Still, working within these restrictive boundaries, you've got to imagine the creative people in Hollywood must have set up some intentional red herrings that didn't quite fit into the norm. My example from this flick...

The bad guys are closing in on the rail car inventor in a high rise apartment building. His buddy, in a desperate attempt to save him, crawls out onto the ledge, many floors up and goes around the corner attempting to get into his window to save him. He passes by The Lone Wolf's window, gets shot by a bad guy, and happens to release the drapes covering The Lone Wolf's window. Inside, we see Lanyard, fresh from a shower, shaving with bath robe on. The room is still filled with steam. Standing directly behind Lanyard, in the steamy, hot bathroom, is Jamison, dressed in a suit. So, to recap: Lanyard gets out of a shower, his completely innocent, fully dressed best friend Jamison hands him a robe to put on, and begins to shave with BFF Jamison looking over his shoulder... riiiiggght, completely innocent.

7 out of 10 Jackasses
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