Footsteps in the Dark


1h 36m 1941
Footsteps in the Dark

Brief Synopsis

An aspiring mystery writer stumbles on to a real murder.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Mystery
Release Date
Mar 8, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Blondie White by Lazlo Fodor, Bernard Merivale and Jeffrey Dell (London production date undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,663ft

Synopsis

Unknown to his friends and family, investment councilor Francis Warren secretly writes detective novels using the pseudonym F. X. Pettibone. One afternoon, Francis has an appointment with Leopold Fissue, a suspicious character who wants to convert his supply of uncut diamonds to cash. When Francis objects, Fissue threatens to expose his secret life, so Francis reluctantly agrees to meet Fissue later that evening. Fissue is late for the meeting, however, and eventually Francis leaves without seeing him. Police inspector Mason, who knows Francis as Pettibone, ridicules his latest novel, stating that real crimes are not so easily solved.

When Fissue's body is found on his yacht, Francis, convinced that Fissue was murdered for his diamonds, decides to prove Mason wrong. A series of theater tickets leads Francis to burlesque dancer Blondie White, who has a habit of holding two matches together until they fuse. Having found two fused matches on the yacht, Francis is convinced that Blondie murdered Fissue, but her dentist, Dr. Davis, swears that she was in his office at the time of the murder. Meanwhile, Francis takes Blondie dancing as part of his investigation and is seen by friends of his wife Rita. Rita believes that Francis is having an affair and hires a private investigator. Blondie tells Francis that she must leave town to escape her ex-husband, Ace Vernon, and asks him for money. She also asks him to retrieve her suitcase from a storage locker. When Blondie does not show up, Francis rushes to her apartment, where the police, who have learned that Fissue was involved in a diamond smuggling ring, have found her dead body.

The police turn up a taxi driver who remembers driving a woman from Blondie's apartment to Francis' house. Francis hurries home to beat the police and confronts Rita, who believes that he killed Blondie. Francis, on the other hand, thinks that Rita is the murderer and urges her to leave town. When the police finally arrive, Francis' double life is revealed, and Rita admits that she went to Blondie's apartment to talk to her about Francis. Having found the missing diamonds in Blondie's suitcase, Francis realizes who Blondie's killer must be. He accuses Davis, who then attempts to inject Francis with the same poison that killed Fissue, not knowing that Francis has replaced it with water.

Tipped off by Francis' chauffeur, the police arrest Davis. Francis apologizes to Rita for keeping his writing a secret, but when he gets a call from Mason asking for his help in a new case, Rita is waiting to join him.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Mystery
Release Date
Mar 8, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Blondie White by Lazlo Fodor, Bernard Merivale and Jeffrey Dell (London production date undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,663ft

Articles

Footsteps in the Dark -


Of the ten movies Flynn made between 1938 and 1941, this is one of only three where he wore modern day suit and tie. Maybe that's why this mystery/romance requires Flynn's character to cycle through several assumed identities, as if that devil-may-care Tasmanian always needs a layer of costuming on screen. Mild mannered financial advisor Francis Warren (Flynn) has a secret life as crime novelist F.X. Pettibone, but his literary adventures never cross over into his mundane workaday world - until a shady client (Noel Madison) asks to launder precious gems into cash, no questions asked. When Warren balks, it sets off a chain reaction of events where Warren gets embroiled in murder, blackmail, and a sexy burlesquette (Lee Patrick), much to the chagrin of his wife Rita (Brenda Marshall). It's fun to see Flynn do a rare impersonation of a southern millionaire, complete with broad accent, but the movie billed as a dark noir is closer in spirit to an unusual romance. Flynn followed this picture with the modern day Navy drama Dive Bomber (1941) but was soon in historical duds once again in the Custer biopic They Died With Their Boots On (1941).

By Violet LeVoit
Footsteps In The Dark -

Footsteps in the Dark -

Of the ten movies Flynn made between 1938 and 1941, this is one of only three where he wore modern day suit and tie. Maybe that's why this mystery/romance requires Flynn's character to cycle through several assumed identities, as if that devil-may-care Tasmanian always needs a layer of costuming on screen. Mild mannered financial advisor Francis Warren (Flynn) has a secret life as crime novelist F.X. Pettibone, but his literary adventures never cross over into his mundane workaday world - until a shady client (Noel Madison) asks to launder precious gems into cash, no questions asked. When Warren balks, it sets off a chain reaction of events where Warren gets embroiled in murder, blackmail, and a sexy burlesquette (Lee Patrick), much to the chagrin of his wife Rita (Brenda Marshall). It's fun to see Flynn do a rare impersonation of a southern millionaire, complete with broad accent, but the movie billed as a dark noir is closer in spirit to an unusual romance. Flynn followed this picture with the modern day Navy drama Dive Bomber (1941) but was soon in historical duds once again in the Custer biopic They Died With Their Boots On (1941). By Violet LeVoit

Quotes

Trivia

The original play called "Katzenzungen" was written by Ladislas Fodor using the pseudonym W. George Selous. It was adapted into English by Bernard Merivale, with additional dialogue by Jeffrey Dell, and produced in London under the title "Blondie White."

Notes

According to information included in the file on the film in the USC Cinema-Television Library, Lazlo Fodor wrote a play in German called Katzenzungen under the pseudonym W. George Selous. The play was adapted into English by Bernard Merivale, with additional dialogue by Jeffrey Dell, and was given its only production in London. It was produced as Blondie White but different drafts of the play were variously titled The Case of Blondie White and Footsteps in the Dark as well as Blondie White. According to a June 12, 1940 news item in Hollywood Reporter, Edward G. Robinson was to have starred in the film.