Arsene Lupin Returns


1h 22m 1938
Arsene Lupin Returns

Brief Synopsis

A reformed jewel thief helps detectives track down a criminal.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Mystery
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 25, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on characters created by Maurice Leblanc.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

F.B.I. agent Steve Emerson's exploits in capturing criminals lead to so much publicity and photographs in the newspapers that his boss finally tells him that he can no longer operate effectively. Taking the loss of his job philosophically, Steve decides to become a private detective, but his career almost ends there too when his first client is tied up and robbed just before their appointment. As it turns out, the Count de Grissac, his niece Lorraine, and cousin George Bouchet were bound needlessly as the criminal stole a paste imitation of the famous de Grissac emerald necklace. Steve is intrigued, however, when he finds a card with the name "Arsene Lupin" written on it and discovers that a bullet found in the wall comes from the type of gun used by the notorious and presumed dead French jewel thief Arsene Lupin. The de Grissacs return to France, accompanied by Bouchet and Steve, and are met by Rene Farrand, Lorraine's fiancé. Steve, who is attracted to Lorraine, is jealous of Rene, and also suspects him, but needs to find more proof to corroborate his hunch. Rene, actually the retired Lupin, did not steal the fake necklace, but must now try to find the real thief with the aid of two old pals, Joe Doyle and Alf, who come to see him, mistakenly thinking that he is no longer "going straight." After other attempts to steal the real necklace and after Steve and Rene play a cat-and-mouse game with the Prefect of Police, Bouchet turns out to be the real thief. Overwhelmed by gambling debts, Bouchet used Lupin's techniques to steal the jewels, then attempted to fence the necklace with Papa Monelle but killed him after Monelle discovered that Bouchet gave him the fake. Rene traps Bouchet by covering the de Grissac safe with lipstick, thus leaving the identifying red stains on Bouchet's gloves and neck when he tries again to steal the real necklace. Certain that Rene is Lupin, Steve now asks for his "autograph," but tears it up after Rene signs Lupin's name, realizing that Rene is an honest man and the thief Lupin will remain dead. Rene then tells Lorraine that Steve is the only man who has an open invitation to visit them after they are married.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Mystery
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 25, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on characters created by Maurice Leblanc.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Arsene Lupin Returns


After earning the title of "The King of Pre-Code" as a suave yet lusty leading man at Warner Bros. before the motion picture industry's Production Code went into effect, Warren William switched to Paramount, then MGM, in the tamer days of the late 1930s. His star was fading with the new respectability in films, although he did manage to find a good vehicle at MGM with Arsène Lupin Returns (1938), one of many dramatizations featuring the fictional French jewel thief created by Maurice Leblanc in his 1909 novel.

Specifically, this film is a sequel to the 1932 mystery classic Arsène Lupin, starring John Barrymore as Lupin, the "prince of thieves," and his brother Lionel as the detective with whom he matches wits. In the sequel William is an American FBI agent turned insurance investigator on the trail of Lupin (now played by Melvyn Douglas), who is living under an assumed name after being presumed dead.

With his air of smart sophistication and roguish charm, William -- whose resemblance to John Barrymore had often been commented upon -- might just as easily have played the thief. Later he would play The Lone Wolf, a domestic variation on the Lupin character, in a Columbia Pictures series that ran in the late 1930s and '40s. As it happened, Douglas had done time at the same studio as the same character in The Lone Wolf Returns (1935).

Even though William is third-billed after Douglas and leading lady Virginia Bruce, Arsène Lupin Returns gives him one of his better roles of the period. He expertly duels with Douglas in a plot involving the attempted theft of a precious emerald necklace belonging to Bruce as wealthy society woman Lorraine de Grissac. Naturally, both men end up in romantic pursuit of the beautiful Lorraine.

Handsomely produced for the "B" production it is, Arsène Lupin Returns has a solid supporting cast including Monty Woolley, George Zucco, John Halliday, Nat Pendleton, E.E. Clive and Vladimir Sokoloff. The director is George Fitzmaurice, with whom William had shared the experience of being dismissed from the 1934 film Nana after producer Samuel Goldwyn decided to scrap his original production of the Anna Sten vehicle and start over. (The two may have found some satisfaction in the fact that the reworked movie was a huge flop, and Sten never realized Goldwyn's vision of her as the "next Garbo.")

Reviewing Arsène Lupin Returns in The New York Times upon its original release, Frank S. Nugent wrote that, "As a combination whodunit and who-got-the-jools, it is fairer than most in its presentation of clues, and more fortunate than most in its cast... Mr. William, of course, remains Mr. William, with his sideburns, brisk stride and long, equine jaw."

Producer: John W. Considine Jr.
Director: Geo Fitzmaurice
Screenplay: James Kevin McGuinness, Howard Emmett Rogers, George Harmon Coxe (original story and screenplay); Maurice Leblanc (character); Hugo Butler, Walter Wise (contributor to treatment, both uncredited)
Cinematography: George Folsey
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: Franz Waxman
Film Editing: Ben Lewis
Cast: Melvyn Douglas (Rene Farrand aka Arsene Lupin), Virginia Bruce (Lorraine de Grissac), Warren William (Steve Emerson), John Halliday (Count de Grissac), Nat Pendleton (Joe Doyle), Monty Woolley (Georges Bouchet), E.E. Clive (Alf), George Zucco (Prefect of Police), Rollo Lloyd (Duval), Vladimir Sokoloff (Ivan Pavloff).
BW-81m.

by Roger Fristoe
Arsene Lupin Returns

Arsene Lupin Returns

After earning the title of "The King of Pre-Code" as a suave yet lusty leading man at Warner Bros. before the motion picture industry's Production Code went into effect, Warren William switched to Paramount, then MGM, in the tamer days of the late 1930s. His star was fading with the new respectability in films, although he did manage to find a good vehicle at MGM with Arsène Lupin Returns (1938), one of many dramatizations featuring the fictional French jewel thief created by Maurice Leblanc in his 1909 novel. Specifically, this film is a sequel to the 1932 mystery classic Arsène Lupin, starring John Barrymore as Lupin, the "prince of thieves," and his brother Lionel as the detective with whom he matches wits. In the sequel William is an American FBI agent turned insurance investigator on the trail of Lupin (now played by Melvyn Douglas), who is living under an assumed name after being presumed dead. With his air of smart sophistication and roguish charm, William -- whose resemblance to John Barrymore had often been commented upon -- might just as easily have played the thief. Later he would play The Lone Wolf, a domestic variation on the Lupin character, in a Columbia Pictures series that ran in the late 1930s and '40s. As it happened, Douglas had done time at the same studio as the same character in The Lone Wolf Returns (1935). Even though William is third-billed after Douglas and leading lady Virginia Bruce, Arsène Lupin Returns gives him one of his better roles of the period. He expertly duels with Douglas in a plot involving the attempted theft of a precious emerald necklace belonging to Bruce as wealthy society woman Lorraine de Grissac. Naturally, both men end up in romantic pursuit of the beautiful Lorraine. Handsomely produced for the "B" production it is, Arsène Lupin Returns has a solid supporting cast including Monty Woolley, George Zucco, John Halliday, Nat Pendleton, E.E. Clive and Vladimir Sokoloff. The director is George Fitzmaurice, with whom William had shared the experience of being dismissed from the 1934 film Nana after producer Samuel Goldwyn decided to scrap his original production of the Anna Sten vehicle and start over. (The two may have found some satisfaction in the fact that the reworked movie was a huge flop, and Sten never realized Goldwyn's vision of her as the "next Garbo.") Reviewing Arsène Lupin Returns in The New York Times upon its original release, Frank S. Nugent wrote that, "As a combination whodunit and who-got-the-jools, it is fairer than most in its presentation of clues, and more fortunate than most in its cast... Mr. William, of course, remains Mr. William, with his sideburns, brisk stride and long, equine jaw." Producer: John W. Considine Jr. Director: Geo Fitzmaurice Screenplay: James Kevin McGuinness, Howard Emmett Rogers, George Harmon Coxe (original story and screenplay); Maurice Leblanc (character); Hugo Butler, Walter Wise (contributor to treatment, both uncredited) Cinematography: George Folsey Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Music: Franz Waxman Film Editing: Ben Lewis Cast: Melvyn Douglas (Rene Farrand aka Arsene Lupin), Virginia Bruce (Lorraine de Grissac), Warren William (Steve Emerson), John Halliday (Count de Grissac), Nat Pendleton (Joe Doyle), Monty Woolley (Georges Bouchet), E.E. Clive (Alf), George Zucco (Prefect of Police), Rollo Lloyd (Duval), Vladimir Sokoloff (Ivan Pavloff). BW-81m. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Maurice Leblanc's book Arséne Lupin (Paris, 1907) marked the first appearance of the fictional French jewel thief. The opening title credits of the film place an accent over the first "e" in Arséne, however, the name is shown written or printed several times throughout the film without the accent. According to news items in Hollywood Reporter in 1936, the film was originally intended as a vehicle for William Powell as Arséne Lupin and Spencer Tracy as the American detective, with a screenplay by George Harmon Coxe and Erich von Stroheim. In February 1937, it was announced that Myrna Loy had been added to the cast, then, in August 1937, Robert Montgomery was named as Powell's successor. Melvyn Douglas, Warren William and Virginia Bruce were named as the eventual stars shortly before production began. Stroheim's name is not mentioned in connection with the screenplay after 1936, and the extent of his participation in the completed film has not been determined. A news item in Hollywood Reporter on December 14, 1937 noted that actress Ula Love had just been added to the cast. but her participation in the released film has not been confirmed. For information on other films based on Leblanc's character, for the 1932 M-G-M picture Arséne Lupin.