The Falcon Takes Over


1h 5m 1942
The Falcon Takes Over

Brief Synopsis

A society sleuth and a lady reporter try to track down a murderous thug's lost girlfriend.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Falcon Steps Out
Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
May 29, 1942
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (New York, 1940) and characters created by Michael Arlen.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,680ft

Synopsis

As Jonathan "Goldy" Locke waits outside Club 13 for his boss, Gay Lawrence, the debonair sleuth known as "The Falcon," he is accosted by Moose Malloy, a threatening hulk who asks if he knows "Velma." When Goldy replies in the negative, Moose, who has returned for Velma after a five-year separation, strong-arms his way into the office of Montgomery, the club's manager. After gunshots are fired in Montgomery's office, Moose flees the club, jumps into Goldy's car and orders him to drive. Soon after, Gay arrives at the club and is met by police inspector Michael O'Hara. The coroner declares that Montgomery died of a broken neck, and when Moose's fingerprints are found in the office, he becomes O'Hara's prime suspect. O'Hara tells Gay that Moose has just broken out of jail after serving five years of a twenty-year sentence for manslaughter. Consequently, when Goldy returns from his ride with Moose, the police arrest him as an accomplice to murder, but release him after questioning. When Goldy tells Gay that Moose forced him to drive to an address in Brooklyn, the detective proceeds to the house, where he is confronted by the hulking Moose. To avoid Moose's wrath, Gay pretends to be drunk, and Moose steals his car and drives away. Gay then enters the house, where Jessie Florian is shouting hysterically into a telephone, demanding protection from Moose. Jessie is instructed to send Moose to a certain address, which she writes down on a piece of paper. When Gay questions Jessie about Velma, she explains that Velma is dead, but that before she died, she worked at Jessie's husband's nightclub, which has since been taken over by the Club 13. Before leaving the house, Gay glances at Jessie's note paper, on which he sees the address 415 Morton Avenue. Upon returning to his apartment, Gay receives a call from Quincy W. Marriott, who hires him to deliver some ransom money for a stolen jade necklace. Gay agrees to deliver the money to a deserted graveyard, but when he gets out of the car, Marriott grabs Gay's gun and shoots him, after which Marriott is shot by an unseen assailant, who speeds into the night. At that moment, Ann Reardon, a reporter who has been trailing Gay, steps out from behind some bushes and helps the detective to his feet. Explaining that the gun was loaded with blanks, Gay searches Marriott's coat pockets and finds a business card from psychic consultant Jules Amthor, of 415 Morton Avenue. Gay asks Ann to track down the stolen neckalce, and when she reports that it belongs to socialite Diana Kenyon, Gay visits Diana and makes a date to meet her at the Swan Club later that night. While he visits Diana, Gay sends Goldy to Amthor's address. As Goldy is admitted to the psychic's chambers, Moose arrives, the lights go out and shots are fired. When the lights are turned back on, O'Hara, who has followed Goldy, enters and upon discovering Amthor's dead body, threatens to arrest Goldy for murder unless he cooperates with the police. That night, Goldy and Gay return to Jessie's house and discover that her neck has been broken. After deducing that Jessie sent Moose to Amthor's to be killed, Gay finds a signed photo of Velma, but when he examines the signature, he realizes it is written in Jessie's hand. Gay confiscates the photo and returns to his apartment, where he meets Ann, who has spent the day at police headquarters investigating the records of the Moose Malloy case. Gay becomes intrigued when Ann tells him that the police think that Moose pleaded guilty to the manslaughter to protect Larry Burnett, the owner of the Swan Club. That night, when Gay meets Diana at the Swan Club, he asks for an introduction to Burnett. When Gay shows the photo of Velma to Burnett, Diana claims she saw her dancing at a road house and offers to drive Gay there. As her chauffeur drives them along a deserted country road, Diana pulls a gun on Gay, who calmly calls her Velma and says that he knew the photo was a fake because of the forged signature. Gay accuses Diana, Amthor, Burnett and Marriott of being involved in a blackmail scheme, concluding that Diana shot first Marriott, because he was weak, and then Jessie, because she knew too much. When Diana orders her chauffeur to pull over, Moose, who supplanted Diana's chauffeur and has overheard Gay's entire conversation, jumps out of the car and confronts Diana. She shoots him and is about to turn the gun on Gay when Ann, who has followed the car, drives up. Diana becomes startled by the sound of Ann's car backfiring, and Gay seizes her gun and arrests her. With Diana in jail, Goldy is exonerated of murder and Ann gets her scoop. Gay is about to leave the squadroom to meet his fiancée when a glamorous woman asks for his help and he comes to her aid.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Falcon Steps Out
Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
May 29, 1942
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (New York, 1940) and characters created by Michael Arlen.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,680ft

Articles

The Falcon Takes Over


Because of the long success of the Falcon series of detective films (16 pictures between 1941 and 1949), one would expect the title character to have been based on a succession of books or stories such as those that gave birth to Philip Marlowe, the Saint, and Nick and Nora Charles. But the Falcon was actually derived from a single short story by Bulgarian-born, English-bred writer Michael Arlen, a debonair man who drifted from medical school into journalism and eventually into writing minor screenplays in Hollywood. He married royalty and described himself as "indolent" and not very ambitious. So it's not surprising that the smooth, cynical character that emerged in the Falcon movie series more closely resembled Arlen than the protagonist of his short story "The Gay Falcon," who was more of a Sam Spade-styled tough guy. This wasn't due to any great influence on the part of the writer - he frankly didnÕt give a damn what they did to his creation - but came as a directive from the producing studio, RKO. They simply wanted to continue the successful image they started in another series based on the work of a writer far more picky than Arlen.

The "B"-movie detective series was establishing itself as a Hollywood staple by the beginning of the 1940s. Most of the studios were turning out at least one, and RKO had a good thing going with the Saint, based on a character created by Leslie Charteris. George Sanders had played Simon Templar five times by 1941, but the author balked at giving the studio any more of his properties because he said they were misrepresented in the screen versions. Searching for something to continue capitalizing on Sanders' popularity in the role, RKO bought the rights to Arlen's short story for $5,000 and filmed the plot with very few changes to Sanders' on-screen persona. The character immediately caught on, and a year later, with two successful Falcon movies already under its belt, the studio purchased Raymond Chandler's novel Farewell, My Lovely for a paltry $2,000 and turned the Philip Marlowe mystery into another Falcon story. It was titled The Falcon Takes Over (1942), shamelessly borrowing the name of one of Sanders' earlier hits, The Saint Takes Over (1940).

The plot of The Falcon Takes Over finds escaped convict Moose Malloy combing New York in search of his ex-girlfriend Velma, leaving a trail of corpses in his wake. Investigating on his own, the Falcon finds himself in the company of an ever-shadier set of lowlifes, vampish women, and bumbling cops (a comic-relief staple of the series). The same basic plot was used again by RKO when they remade Chandler's novel as Murder, My Sweet (1944), which faithfully followed Chandler's original storyline. The author's original title was thrown out because the studio feared audiences would think Farewell, My Lovely was a musical, especially since it starred Dick Powell, then just beginning to trade in his young crooner image for the tough guy roles he took on later in his career. Chandler's original title was finally used for a 1975 remake with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe. That film more closely followed the plot of the original material, including several characters and details deemed too sleazy for 1940s movie audiences.

Another curious fact about the Falcon: Sanders - who grew bored with the role - made only one more picture in the series, The Falcon's Brother (1942), in which he co-starred with his real-life older brother, Tom Conway. In that movie, Sanders' character is killed off and his brother (Conway) takes over his crime-fighting career. Conway made ten more pictures in the series before it was turned over to actor John Calvert for the remaining three (and least successful installments.

Director: Irving Reis
Producer: Howard Benedict
Screenplay: Lynn Root, Frank Fenton, based on a novel by Raymond Chandler
Cinematography: George Robinson
Editing: Harry Marker
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Feild M. Gray
Original Music: Roy Webb
Cast: George Sanders (Gay Lawrence, aka The Falcon), Lynn Bari (Ann Riordan), James Gleason (Inspector Mike O'Hara), Ward Bond (Moose Malloy), Allen Jenkins (Jonathan "Goldie" Locke), Anne Revere (Jesse Florian).
BW-63m.

by Rob Nixon

The Falcon Takes Over

The Falcon Takes Over

Because of the long success of the Falcon series of detective films (16 pictures between 1941 and 1949), one would expect the title character to have been based on a succession of books or stories such as those that gave birth to Philip Marlowe, the Saint, and Nick and Nora Charles. But the Falcon was actually derived from a single short story by Bulgarian-born, English-bred writer Michael Arlen, a debonair man who drifted from medical school into journalism and eventually into writing minor screenplays in Hollywood. He married royalty and described himself as "indolent" and not very ambitious. So it's not surprising that the smooth, cynical character that emerged in the Falcon movie series more closely resembled Arlen than the protagonist of his short story "The Gay Falcon," who was more of a Sam Spade-styled tough guy. This wasn't due to any great influence on the part of the writer - he frankly didnÕt give a damn what they did to his creation - but came as a directive from the producing studio, RKO. They simply wanted to continue the successful image they started in another series based on the work of a writer far more picky than Arlen. The "B"-movie detective series was establishing itself as a Hollywood staple by the beginning of the 1940s. Most of the studios were turning out at least one, and RKO had a good thing going with the Saint, based on a character created by Leslie Charteris. George Sanders had played Simon Templar five times by 1941, but the author balked at giving the studio any more of his properties because he said they were misrepresented in the screen versions. Searching for something to continue capitalizing on Sanders' popularity in the role, RKO bought the rights to Arlen's short story for $5,000 and filmed the plot with very few changes to Sanders' on-screen persona. The character immediately caught on, and a year later, with two successful Falcon movies already under its belt, the studio purchased Raymond Chandler's novel Farewell, My Lovely for a paltry $2,000 and turned the Philip Marlowe mystery into another Falcon story. It was titled The Falcon Takes Over (1942), shamelessly borrowing the name of one of Sanders' earlier hits, The Saint Takes Over (1940). The plot of The Falcon Takes Over finds escaped convict Moose Malloy combing New York in search of his ex-girlfriend Velma, leaving a trail of corpses in his wake. Investigating on his own, the Falcon finds himself in the company of an ever-shadier set of lowlifes, vampish women, and bumbling cops (a comic-relief staple of the series). The same basic plot was used again by RKO when they remade Chandler's novel as Murder, My Sweet (1944), which faithfully followed Chandler's original storyline. The author's original title was thrown out because the studio feared audiences would think Farewell, My Lovely was a musical, especially since it starred Dick Powell, then just beginning to trade in his young crooner image for the tough guy roles he took on later in his career. Chandler's original title was finally used for a 1975 remake with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe. That film more closely followed the plot of the original material, including several characters and details deemed too sleazy for 1940s movie audiences. Another curious fact about the Falcon: Sanders - who grew bored with the role - made only one more picture in the series, The Falcon's Brother (1942), in which he co-starred with his real-life older brother, Tom Conway. In that movie, Sanders' character is killed off and his brother (Conway) takes over his crime-fighting career. Conway made ten more pictures in the series before it was turned over to actor John Calvert for the remaining three (and least successful installments. Director: Irving Reis Producer: Howard Benedict Screenplay: Lynn Root, Frank Fenton, based on a novel by Raymond Chandler Cinematography: George Robinson Editing: Harry Marker Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Feild M. Gray Original Music: Roy Webb Cast: George Sanders (Gay Lawrence, aka The Falcon), Lynn Bari (Ann Riordan), James Gleason (Inspector Mike O'Hara), Ward Bond (Moose Malloy), Allen Jenkins (Jonathan "Goldie" Locke), Anne Revere (Jesse Florian). BW-63m. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was The Falcon Steps Out. A Hollywood Reporter production chart adds Willie Fung and Edward Dunn to the cast and credits Jerry Cady with original screenplay, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. This was Howard Benedict's last production for RKO before moving to Universal. For additional information about the series, consult the Series Index and for The Gay Falcon. The Raymond Chandler novel also served as the basis for the 1944 RKO film Murder My Sweet. The 1974 Avco Embassy film Farewell My Lovely, starring Robert Mitchum and Charlotte Rampling and directed by Dick Richards, was also based on the Chandler novel.