Wow, it’s been a while, huh? Let’s do one of these. It’ll be fun.
Now, this is an episode of Insomniac Theatre. Some of you — probably not many, but possibly a couple out there — have hopefully noticed that this is not me watching The Shawshank Redemption. Truth be told, I’m still not ready to watch it. Although, based on the fact that the one episode of Family Guy I decided to tune to being the episode where they lambast Stephen King novels, including yes, Shawshank, I’m just going to have to dig in one of these nights and get it done. Because before I know it, Once Upon a Time will be introducing a stylized version of Andy Dufresne, and he’ll kill off Captain Hook, and you guys, I think that would kill me.
Oh hey! Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s on Chiller! HOLY SHIT and it’s not season seven! It’s “Nightmares”! Season One and the Master, yo! OH MY GOD if I’m still up at 2 a.m. I am TOTALLY watching “Prophecy Girl”! (I’ve only quoted it about a frillion times in the past few months.)
Anyway. Someday when I don’t feel pushed to watch Shawshank — because the more pushed I feel, the more likely it is that I will be completely biased and angry at the movie — I will watch it. But right now I’m all “LEAVE ME ALONE SHAWSHANK OR I’LL … oh shit, I had something for this.”
So, long story short — TOO LATE — let’s do an Insomniac Theatre. Tonight’s episode: The Gay Falcon.
Guys. GUYS. That’s George Sanders. You may remember him from such roles as Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, or Max Favell from Hitchcock’s first Hollywood feature film, Rebecca (which is a fantastic movie, and book, and you should totally watch the movie and read the book. No seriously, DO IT), but here’s where you should know him from: as Addison DeWitt, the phenomenal theatre critic and one of the narrators of one of the other best movies in the universe, All About Eve. In short, he is one of my favorite actors and honestly, he’s the only reason I taped this off of TCM.
The first in the ‘Falcon’ series finds the amateur detetive and ladies’ man on the trail of jewel thieves.
Amateur detective? Ladies’ man?! JEWEL THEIVES!!? SIGN ME UP. This sounds like a kick-ass, black and white version of Ocean’s Eleven, minus ten. Actually, with ‘jewel thieves,’ it could also be a kick-ass, black and white version of The Great Muppet Caper, minus Muppets.
Oh please let someone say “I’m gonna catch those thieves red-handed” … I’ve been ever so good.
And PS – this movie is only an hour and fifteen minutes long. So let’s get going!
A charming woman with a hat gets off an elevator and goes into the office for Gay Laurence. So WAIT — ‘Gay’ is his first name? Are you serious? Are you sure it’s not Guy Laurence? Who names their son ‘Gay’? Even back when ‘gay’ meant ‘happy’ more often than ‘homosexual’?
So I had this moment where I was going to call his character ‘Gay Larry,’ because I’m also the asshat who calls him Pope Frankie, but then I remembered that Buffy actually had a ‘Gay Larry,’ and Gay Larry was amazeballs, so instead, I’m just going to be easy on myself and call him Addison. Because unless he’s playing Favell or a tiger, George Sanders will always be Addison DeWitt to me.
Addison is sitting and staring out his office window at a woman who’s undressing in the next apartment. His visitor charmingly berates him as Addison whistles? Addison whistles?! He’s smiling and not being evil about it? This is a very different edition of Addison DeWitt. I’m not sure I like it.
Anyway. The visitor is Addison’s girlfriend, and she gets understandably upset when she catches him spying on the lingerie lady across the way. She says something to the effect of she thought he’d be busy breaking stocks or whatever it is that stockbrokers do, but instead he’s ogling. She exacts a promise out of him: she’ll marry him if, by September, he’s able to quit women and something called “Crime Solutions.” Crime Solutions? Sounds like a wacky diet trend. Maybe I should try that …
At 4:43, Addison and his administrative assistant, “Goldie,” who is a former criminal, take off for the day, seventeen minutes early. They go to … I don’t know, somewhere where Addison asks for a spinach juice, which, ick, and he is waited on by a very racist depiction of a waiter who happens to be of Asian descent. And that is all I am going to say about that, because there is no WAY I am going to comment on the offensive portrayal of that character because sadly, it clearly wasn’t offensive back in 1941.
Anyway. While Addison and Goldie wait for his spinach juice, they find a pretty woman snooping around in Addison’s study. *ahem* SHE’S TOO SHORT FOR THAT GESTURE. It went out with Minnie Fiske. Addison asks her what she’s looking for — too politely for Mr. DeWitt — and she jumps up, excited to meet Mr. Laurence, “the Falcon,” who apparently was the Sherlock Holmes of his day? If that’s the case, why haven’t I heard about this Falcon before now? Goldie swans in and sits down, telling her that Addison’s pledged “no more crimes and no more dames.” I realize that this is the first of the Falcon movies, but was there a source material that I’m just completely missing? I feel like I want to know more about these crimes and why it’s so important that he’s giving them up. Did he get himself into trouble in one of those cases?
The woman gasps at Goldie’s entrance, and says, “That must be your Dr. Watson! Your faithful and loyal colleague! All characters like you have a kind of a, a stooge, don’t they?” DOCTOR WATSON WASN’T A STOOGE. Don’t you read? Or at least watch Sherlock? No, seriously, watch Sherlock, it’s AMAZING.
I feel like I’m promoting everything but the movie I’m actually watching. And also, Shawshank.
So anyway, at this point, Addison introduces Goldie as his associate, “Doctor Jonathan Locke.”
Wait. WAIT. Goldie’s name is … John Locke? (I don’t care if it’s spelled without the ‘e’ on the end.) Are you serious? ARE YOU SERIOUS?! You guys, I am sorry in advance. Because now I get a legitimate chance to make ALL THE LOST JOKES. BEST. Insomniac Theatre. EVER.
The woman finally introduces herself as the secretary to Maxine Wood, who happens to be throwing the party that Addison’s girlfriend wanted to go to that night. (Oh yeah, that’s why Addison’s girlfriend visited him – they were invited to Maxine Wood’s party and she wanted to go, but he convinced her to stay home instead.) Apparently, every time Maxine Wood throws a party, some jewelry gets stolen.
(DUDES. Does Maxine have a brother? I’ll bet it’s her brother, Nicky Wood. Nicky, the derelict no-goodnik brother of Lady Holiday who tried to steal the Fabulous Baseball Diamond from the National Gallery? Yeah, it’s totally that guy.)
And now I feel the need to make a joke that myself and maybe Amelia will get, but I’m going to do it anyway. Sorry in advance. See, when I was at the University of Southern Maine, two of the dorm towers were named Dickey-Wood. I don’t know why, probably after famous people or something. (I really wish now it was named Dicky-Seamus. That would make this story so much better.)
Anyway, the Dickey-Wood towers were the crappiest place to live on-campus (excepting Upton-Hastings, the freshman dorm). (For my FPC gang, the equivalent would be … a rotting version of Edgewood, I guess?) (For other readers, make your own equivalent). And some of the letters were falling off the towers. So maybe everyone called the towers Icky-Woo.
So now you know why I’ll be calling the fictitious brother who stole the jewelry Icky Woo. (Also, Nicky Holiday, you guys. How is that NOT the best Muppet movie?)
Oh shit, Addison’s on the phone. The secretary’s gone because Locke pushed the woman out a window eight flights up of the room, emphatic that they’re out of the crime-solving racket. Back to Addison’s phone call. He’s calling his girlfriend, whose name is Eleanor. He’s changed his mind about not going to the party; now he wants to go. Locke stands there, shaking his head, and saying “Here we go again.” Addison looks up at him and says, “DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO.”
Okay, maybe he didn’t.
Addison and Eleanor arrive at Maxine Wood’s party. They start dancing when the over-excitable secretary shows up and pretty much makes Eleanor think that Addison is not only cheating but also solving crimes again. I’m not sure which one she considers to be worse. The secretary whisks him away on the dance floor, and at some point he’s traded off to this old woman who kind of looks like Miss Inch from the original Parent Trap, and she gives him her diamond ring to protect it from being stolen. She is apparently Mrs. Gardner. Addison goes back to Eleanor, who’s been dancing with her friend Manuel, and for a second I thought his last name was Tunt because I couldn’t really hear but oh my god that would MAKE MY LIFE, but according to the imdb. his last name is Retana, and not only have I been spelling Elinor incorrectly, but also now I’m sad I can’t make more Archer jokes.
Locke tries to get in to the party, and because this was filmed during WWII, there are raffle tickets up for sale, and there’s a bit where Locke tries to buy a dozen for a dollar and then he learns that it’s actually $100 each, and he runs away quicker than Lost!Locke doing anything ever on Craphole Island. Because Locke couldn’t run. Because he was crippled. OH MY GOD LOCKE WAS RAY!
Oh look! Locke is trying to crash the party by climbing up the fire escape! Sneaky!
Addison is dancing with Maxine Wood, and damn, her voice sounds familiar. *imdb. search* HOLY SHIT IT’S MRS. ‘IGGINS FROM My Fair Lady! Anyway, Addison can barely hear Mrs. Higgins talk, and as he’s bribing the band conductor to play something slower and softer, a shot rings out! Oh shit, son!
Double Oh-Shit! It’s Mrs. Gardner, the old lady with the ring! She’s dead now! And because that was the room that Locke was climbing into, they think Locke killed her! Look, unless she died by a plane falling on her, I think Locke’s in the clear. I can’t speak for the Man in Black, though. Anyway, Locke gets framed and Addison puts the diamond ring on one of the fast-talkin’ detective’s cigars and sticks the cigar back into the detective’s pocket, and I’m not sure why that’s happening. Then Addison goes to tell Elinor that he has to go to police headquarters because he got mixed up in crime again, and there’s this hilarious little moment where she completely overreacts as she says her line: “WHY do I put up with this? Why?!” Like, there’s a little head-shake in there, and wide eyes, and she’s playing to the balcony, folks, but she doesn’t realize that on film, there is no balcony.
Addison tricks the stereotyped Irish cop into letting Locke out of jail in hopes of using Locke as unwitting bait for the real murderer. As Locke’s being released from prison — oh shit, I had something for that — something about a hatch — Addison takes back the detective’s cigar and removes the diamond ring. Apparently, Addison used the detective as a means of smuggling the ring from out of the party! That’s my Addison.
Now there’s this sequence where there’s this snarky sketch artist, and he’s trying to get Locke to describe the murderer, but Locke doesn’t understand sketching terms. I get the feeling that, were I to continue to watch the Falcon series of films, this gag would be repeated in every episode. Much like Archer saying “Oh shit, I had something for this” in almost every episode of Archer.
Also, apparently Locke was describing the Irish chief of detectives. Oh, you guys are funny.
The secretary meets Addison and Locke outside of the police station and offers them a ride, which they’re both happy to accept. Until Locke realizes that they’ve got people following them. IT’S THE OTHERS. Addison explains the whole “bait” concept to Locke, who responds, “Oh, in that case I don’t mind a couple of dicks around.” Except that I didn’t hear the setup to that line, I just heard the word “dicks” and went to the twelve-year-old space in my head. Heh heh couple o’ dicks. Hee.
Addison, Locke, and the secretary — whose first name is Helen, apparently OH SHIT LOCKE AND HELEN?! — lose the tail and Addison and Helen go somewhere, leaving Locke alone in the car. Stay in the car, Locke. He only thinks DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO at Addison, and then gets out of the car to go play pinball somewhere. Addison and Helen go up to an apartment somewhere — I’m not sure if it’s Addison’s apartment or someone else’s. As Locke plays pinball, a gangster comes up behind him and walks him out of the pinball store. That can’t be good.
Back at Addison’s apartment, Helen has brought over Mrs. Higgins and they’re discussing the case. Mrs. Higgins asks Helen to bring sugar for tea, and there’s this cute little moment where Helen keeps trying to talk over Mrs. Higgins, so excited she is to participate in the conversation. What’s really cute is when Helen comes back with the sugar and no one wants any. She has this little tiny pout moment, and it’s cute.
Addison suggests that Mrs. Gardner was involved in insurance fraud – she thought he was the jewel thief she needed to hand her diamond ring to, and then she could file a claim on her insurance for her lost diamond ring. She assumed Addison was the jewel thief because his boutonniere was a silver carnation, and that may have been the signal for “JEWEL THIEF.” His fiancée Elinor gave him the carnation, which she took from — *gasp* — Manuel Tunt! (Yes, I am calling him that, shut up.)
Addison wants to know more about Manuel. He’s apparently much in the swing of the social circle. And as Helen says, “Oh, he’s wealthy and respectable. He owns diamond mines in South Africa!” Well that settles that, then! No one is more above-board than a South African diamond mine owner!
Mrs. Higgins asks Addison to take the case, and there’s no arm-twisting whatsoever. They agree to meet for lunch, and then they agree to call each other by their first names, which infuriates Helen with jealousy. As Addison walks Helen back to the car, she gives him shade about all the women friends he has that allow him to call them by their first names, and why doesn’t he just go back to calling her Miss Reed, when all of a sudden she asks, “Hey, where’s the Doctor?” Because Locke is not in the car when they asked him to stay in the car, Chuck, because whenever someone asks someone to stay in the car, Chuck, they NEVER stay in the car, Chuck, and also, it’s not like they locked Locke into the car — it’s a fucking convertible!
Instead of going to look for Locke, Addison takes Helen back to his apartment because he doesn’t have time to drop her off at her own place. She is entirely too excited for all the wrong reasons for going to Addison’s apartment: he is not going to ravage you, Helen; he is going to lock you in a room so you don’t bug him anymore. Jeez, it’s like Eve being able to take a nap before going on in Footsteps on the Ceiling.
Meanwhile, the goon brings Locke up to this apartment and tells him to phone Addison, tell him to mail Locke the ring ‘general delivery’ (I don’t know what that means — this postal service is all antiquated terms to me now. What’s a stamp?) so that the goon’ll receive it tomorrow, and maybe he won’t kill Locke. Well, while Locke’s dialing the phone, someone pokes a gun through a window and shoots the goon, and all that needed was a film projector and some laughing weasels, because that was nearly the exact same scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit when Judge Doom murdered R.K. Maroon. Locke tries to escape, but the boarding house lady didn’t like him making phone calls to sex workers who turn out to be ex-girlfriends, the cops show up VERY QUICKLY for what I assume to be New York City, and recognize Locke enough to take him downtown. Maybe I should start calling Locke Sawyer.
Addison is able to get a parking spot directly in front of his apartment building, because this is clearly a movie and not real life. When he and Helen get upstairs, the Detective Chief or whatever and his assistant are waiting for him, sitting with the Jovial Butler of Asian Persuasion. They inform him that Locke is again behind bars, and they’d like Addison to come downtown again. Addison embraces Helen, asks her to faint, and as she does he passes her body off to the Chief or Whatever, and then he escapes through a hidden passageway in his closet.
This will be the only time I do this: too many Gay jokes, not enough time.
Elinor is madly brushing her curls before going to bed when she finds Addison on her balcony. She screams at him for leaving her at the party with no explanation, but when he tells her he’s hiding from the fuzz because he’s wanted for murder, all of a sudden she’s peaches and cream again. Hm. That … sounded less dirty in my head. Anyway. Also, Elinor — “wanted for murder” isn’t a trait I’d like to see in a fiancé. Maybe you should reexamine your priorities? The phone rings, and it’s Helen, trying to figure out if Addison made it safely. He tells her he did, pretending he’s talking to Jerry, which is apparently the name of the Jovial Butler of Asian Persuasion? There’s another racist joke in there somewhere, but my laptop only has an hour and a half left of juice and I’m entirely too lazy to go get the plug. Addison thinks he’s in the clear until he reaffirms one too many times that he’s talking to “Jerry.” Elinor swipes the phone out of Addison’s hand and hears Helen talk about being kissed by her ‘Darling,’ and before you know it, Addison’s running out of the apartment only inches ahead of a vase of flowers being thrown at him. Seriously, Addison? You have way more class than that. Miss Caswell never got pissed at you for working so closely with Eve.
The next morning, Addison comes up to Elinor on the street, and he’s dressed like a bum. She tells him to clear off because she’s dating Manuel Tunt again. He tries to tell her that Manuel is dynamite, but she doesn’t listen. He gets shoved off by a policeman who doesn’t recognize him, and then he goes to a pay phone (because this is back when New York actually had pay phones), calls his apartment, and is stunned to learn that Helen is still there, waiting for him. Uh, dude – she’s smitten. You’ve got your hands full with that one. There ain’t no frightened rabbits you can push her onto. In fact, she wants to be Addison’s assistant, because Locke is stuck in the hatch, entering the Numbers over and over again still in jail because no one’s bothered to bail him out.
She meets him in a café that night, and she’s wearing practically the same outfit Dolores was wearing when she went to tell Eddie that she had the tickets to Catalina. (Who Framed Roger Rabbit again. Sorry, this movie is making me make entirely too many references!) Addison wants to find out where Manuel Tunt lives so he can break in, and Helen is practically quivering with excitement as she asks, “You want to break in?”
Addison replies, “In a manner of speaking. Tonight is my night for backdoors.”
*ahem.* Too many Gay jokes; not enough time.
They are sneaking to Manuel’s apartment like a couple of vaudeville players. Which wouldn’t be out of place on a vaudeville stage, but in an apartment complex it looks as ludicrous as you can probably imagine. They manage to pick the lock with ease, because there’s no such thing as burglar alarms in the 1940s. They search the apartment, and Helen is as bad at it as you’d think she would be. She keeps tripping over phone cords and dropping books and basically, all she has to do is tap-dance on the coffee table and she’d still be more subtle than she’s being now. Addison tries to think about where a clever man might hide something precious when he hears Manuel come home.
Addison quickly tosses some mail out of the desk to make it look like a break-in and then he and Helen rush to the balcony. Apparently Manuel’s a really dumb Tunt and doesn’t go out to the balcony to check when he sees the mail everywhere. I mean, they were making a shit-ton of noise. If I was coming home, heard noise in my apartment, but didn’t see anyone leave through the only door, you know where I’d look? The balcony! If I had one, that is.
Manuel makes a phone call to someone, hides something behind a hidden panel, and then leaves to pick up Elinor. Addison sneaks back into the apartment and takes the thing, which turns out to be a gun. Lame. He and Helen escape via the fire escape, and fire escapes sure are getting a lot of play in this movie.
Addison makes Helen take him to the city morgue. He tricks the mortician into looking at the dead body that Locke supposedly killed while Helen actually does what she’s supposed to and stay in the car, Chuck. Except she gets to talking to a cop and tells a tale about her brother hoping that a dead girl is their sister. Anyway, Addison looks at the body, but we don’t see that scene because of the Hayes Code, and he goes back to meet with Helen. The mortician picks up the paper to continue reading Marmaduke when the front page falls out of the pile, and there’s Addison’s face, with the byline “FALCON EVADES POLICE: Playboy criminologist sought in mystery slaying.”
‘Playboy Criminologist.’ I would like that on my business cards, please. Right underneath ‘Obtainer of Rare Antiquities.’
There’s a small scene where Helen waltzes into the police station while the entire force is interrogating Locke, and she attempts to confess to the murder of the goon when the real Chief of Whatever pokes all the holes into her story. When they prove that the gun he has is the one that killed the goon, she spills that it’s the gun that belongs to Manuel Tunt, and he’s dining at the Swan Club, and he’s dining with a woman, so go ahead and break up that relationship so she and Addison can start dating, all right? That’s pretty much her thought process, and it’s kind of odd that that’s her only way of thinking.
Addison’s on the phone. Goodness, he spends a lot of time on the phone in this movie. If it was remade today, it’d be half an hour long, what with all the texting he could be doing instead of waiting for ringing phones to be answered.
Addison’s calling Elinor, telling her to pretend that her aunt is sick so she’ll be safe when Tunt gets arrested. She refuses, because she thinks that he’s just jealous. Meanwhile, Helen meets up with Addison at the diner and apparently it’s okay that she blabbed to the cops because the gun checked out as the murder weapon. Addison excuses himself to change clothes and meet up with Elinor, giving Helen a couple of bucks and telling her to get a soda and take in a movie. He practically calls her a kid. Stop calling her a kid. And then – THEN! – when he leaves, Helen looks to a waiter, and with very big eyes and overdramatics, she bellows, “I HATE MEN.”
“Bill’s 32. He looks 32. He looked it five years ago, he’ll look it twenty years from now. I hate men.” God, I love that line.
Oh no! The Jovial Butler of Asian Persuasion is tied up! Oh, Manuel Tunt tied him up and he’s waiting for Addison. Tunt ends up monologuing, but when he hears Helen sneaking up on Tunt, he shoots the door she’s hiding behind and Addison thinks Tunt’s shot her, but she only just fainted again. Addison leaves her with the Jovial Butler of Asian Persuasion and he goes to change clothes and meanwhile, Elinor shows up at the police station because she’s under arrest. She calls Addison but gets Helen instead, which just sets her off again. The Stereotypical Irish Cop agrees to meet up with Addison, and sends Elinor off to jail to keep her out of harm’s way. Irish Cop asks Locke if he wants to come with, but Locke decides to stay put on the beach and lead from that location.
Irish Cop and Addison arrive at Mrs. Higgins’s apartment. Apparently Mrs. Higgins’s life was threatened by someone, and she’s frightened. Addison brings the Irish Cop into Mrs. Higgins’s apartment to help keep watch while she sleeps. Mrs. Higgins is getting into bed, and as soon as she turns off the light, Tunt clumsily enters the bedroom through the balcony. After Addison and the Irish Cop take their damned sweet time rescuing Mrs. Higgins from her murderer, Tunt keels over dead. Mrs. Higgins is relieved, but Addison finds a syringe on the floor and watches Mrs. Higgins attempt to crush it with her slipper. OH ‘ELL NO, MRS. ‘IGGINS! YOU’RE THE BAD GUY?! But — but Miss Doolittle!
Apparently, the goon that was killed was Mrs. Higgins’s husband. Damn. I had all my money on brother. But here’s my question: if Mrs. Higgins was the brains behind the operation, why the FUCK did she ask him to take the case in the first place?! Oh, wait, they were trying to frame Tunt. Dammit. Never mind. Welcome to Insomniac Theatre, where your narrator sucks.
Addison rescues Elinor from the clink. Or, tries to. But she’s still pissed at him, so she says something along the lines of she’d gladly rot if she could just throttle him for a minute. At which point, Addison replies: “I think I could get you off if you’d promise to marry me.”
Too many jokes, not enough time.
There’s another two minutes of dénouement, but I’m going to end my recap here because that line is just perfect. Also, there is a distinct lack of falconry in this movie.