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Special Investigator

Special Investigator(1936)

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teaser Special Investigator (1936)

Warner Brothers demanded such exclusivity from bestselling mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of indefatigable defense attorney Perry Mason (hero of a series of Warner Brothers whodunits and played by Warren William, Ricardo Cortez, and Donald Woods) was so exclusive that the writer was forbidden, even if he and the studio were to part ways, from selling the character to other interested parties for a period of three years. Luckily, Mason was not the only ace that Gardner had up his sleeve and in 1936 he sold unrelated stories to Eastern Service Studios and RKO Radio Pictures. Based on Gardner's tale "Fugitive Gold" (which had been serialized nationally in the spring of 1935), Special Investigator (1936) stars Richard Dix as a Mob mouthpiece who changes his tune when his FBI agent brother is rubbed out by racketeers. Going undercover for the Justice Department, Dix succeeds in ankling the syndicate with the help of Margaret Callahan, sister of his brother's killer, J. Carroll Naish. RKO had originally announced Preston Foster as the star of Special Investigator, with Lucille Ball assigned to a supporting role, but a regime change within the studio favored Dix, an Academy Award nominee for Cimarron (1930). The film's director, Louis King, was the kid brother of Henry King, who helmed Song of Bernadette (1939) and Twelve O'Clock High (1949). A specialist in westerns, Louis King also directed a number of franchise whodunits, among them Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935).

By Richard Harland Smith

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